Although politicians have always had incentives to cast themselves and their policy proposals in the best possible light, they now seem to be going further than ever into the realm of hyperbole. And, increasingly, the public isn’t falling for it.
Gone are the days when political leaders saw credibility as their most precious asset. From presidents and prime ministers on down, economic policymakers have crossed into territory beyond the familiar terrain of political hyperbole, becoming increasingly disconnected from voters’ own understanding of reality.
There are multiple explanations for this. First, today’s communication environment favors extreme statements over cold, dispassionate, fact-based analysis. In a polarized society, politicians have grown more interested in feeding their extremist base than in offering moderation or compromise.
Second, forecasts sometimes turn out badly. The claim that “inflation is transitory” was not unreasonable at first; but it became more dubious with every passing month, partly because the public has a different understanding of the term than economists do. To the average voter, transitory means “gone quickly,” a description that does not fit a problem that has not only persisted but worsened. The American baseball legend Yogi Berra famously observed that prediction is tough, especially when it is about the future. In fact, because economic data sometimes must be substantially revised, even a description of current conditions can go astray.
Third, political leaders hate to be the bearers of bad news, preferring to blame problems on their opponents or some political foil like the oil and gas industry. Every time gasoline prices spike, the left claims it is the result of a nefarious conspiracy of domestic producers. Yet to my knowledge, no such conspiracy has ever been found. Though the OPEC cartel may seek to profit from market shifts, the price at the pump is ultimately subject to the forces of supply and demand.
The failure to see this reflects widespread economic illiteracy, which is the fourth reason for the current situation. Most voters have limited capacity or time to absorb seemingly subtle points such as the differences between “high” and “rising,” “net” and “gross,” and “short run” and “long run,” let alone to understand probability. And, unlike economists, politicians usually don’t bother much with nuance.
Consider inflation. To economists, statistical agencies, central banks, and finance ministries, inflation means prices are rising. But to the general public, inflation implies that prices are uncomfortably high for one’s budget. Suppose the 6.8% year-on-year increase in the US consumer price index were to fall to zero over the next 12 months. Many people would still feel that inflation was not under control, because the previous increase in prices would not have been reversed.
Or, consider how economists and statistical agencies define a recession. Technical issues aside, it means that the economy is contracting – hence the oversimplified rule of thumb that a recession occurs when real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth is negative for two consecutive quarters. A recession therefore ends when the economy starts to grow again. But to the layperson, a recession hasn’t really ended until good times and plentiful jobs have returned. That is why slow economic recoveries are painful for those in power.
The difference between net and gross is another frequent source of confusion. A good example is the (usually exaggerated) claim that millions of jobs would be created by rapidly phasing out fossil fuels by relying on subsidies and mandates for wind and solar power. Never mind all the fossil fuel-related jobs that would be lost. This argument emphasizes the gross while ignoring the net effect.
Another example is the budget-scoring gimmickry used to hide the true costs of legislation like US President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” (BBB) bill. To cram as many “progressive” policies as possible into a ten-year $1.75 trillion budget window, many benefits supposedly would end after a short period. The implication is that programs lasting one, three, or six years would be paid for with ten years’ worth of tax hikes.
In fact, nobody believes that these programs will be allowed to lapse when their expiration dates arrive. As President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Nothing lasts longer than a temporary government program.” Hence, when the Congressional Budget Office scored the budgetary cost as if the BBB programs would last the full ten years, the total soared to almost $5 trillion, $3 trillion of which would be added to the already unprecedented national debt.
Democrats are hardly alone in using budget gimmickry. When Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, was unable to get enough spending cuts to satisfy a law requiring that the budget forecast show a balanced budget a few years out, he included a famous asterisk: “spending cuts to be decided later.”
There are also different interpretations of short- and long-run time horizons. Economists measure the short run in quarters or a year or two; but for the general public, short-run means weeks – or a couple of months at most.Sign up for our weekly newsletter, PS on Sunday
Feeling increasing pressure from rising inflation, Biden often repeats the claim by some prominent economists that his BBB bill will reduce inflation. The logic here is that greater subsidies for childcare, paid family leave, and the like will enable more parents to work. That is a debatable empirical proposition. But even if true, the argument relies on a claim about inflation in the coming years, not in the coming weeks or months. It would be absurd to claim that massive additional government spending will quickly reduce short-run inflation in an economy that is already close to full employment. Not surprisingly, recent polls show that the public isn’t falling for it.
All political leaders feel pressure to try to circumvent the laws of economics or even the laws of arithmetic – as Biden has done by claiming that his bill costs nothing. Whatever temporary advantage this tactic confers, the resulting erosion of credibility eventually comes back to haunt political leaders of all stripes. That is especially true when politicians need public support the most. As my friend George P. Shultz used to say, “Trust is the coin of the realm.”
From the beginning of the United States of America’s war in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, triggered by the September 11 attacks, American, and later NATO involvement went through four phases. The first phase was brief and only lasted for two months. As a result, the Taliban was defeated and al-Qaeda was decimated. The second phase, from early 2002 until 2008, was marked by the Bush Administration’s attempt to build a unified nation of the many ethnic groups, religious sects, tribes and clans of forty million Afghans. The third phase, under President Obama and his alleged foreign policy guru Vice President Joe Biden was basically designed to ignore the Taliban as a political/military force and to lead the transformation of Afghanistan from behind. The fourth phase, under President Trump, was about ending the war more or less honorably. The second, third and fourth phases were political and military failures.
The reasons for these tragic miscalculations were manifold. Most glaringly, Afghanistan has never been a state and a nation according to the West’s understanding. More brutality put it, Afghanistan as a state and as a nation has never existed. Moreover, with the exception of the first phase, the United States of America and NATO have never displayed the resolve to win decisively by completely eradicating the Taliban and to do the hard lifting of establishing the foundation for a central government. Finally, neither Washington, D.C. nor Brussels has laid down unequivocally the rules by which the successive Afghan governments should have ruled through competence, honesty and transparency.
Clearly, neither the Karzai nor the Ghani government has ever succeeded to extend their authority to the entire country and their armed forces were equally unsuccessful to effectively fight the Taliban by themselves. In the United States of America, the over politicization of the Afghan war, coupled with political, military and intelligence incompetence, made it impossible to forge a coherent and lasting strategy for Afghanistan. As nearly six decades ago in Vietnam, the United States of America has again faced national humiliation both at home and abroad. And as then, when the United States of America’s real crisis was not in Vietnam, today’s Afghanistan is the most recent and emotionally the most painful symptom of this great country’s catastrophic malaise at home.
Prior to analyzing the current situation from the American perspective, allow me a quick journey back to my past experiences. In my country of birth in Hungary, the Communist overlords finally realized in the early 1970s, that instead of loyal but incompetent political party hacks they needed educated individuals to run the bureaucracy, and made clear to me that I am “an eminently qualified, highly competent and indispensably useful screw in the machinery of the Socialist state.” In Germany, as a “Manager of a Civil Service Position,” in German Verwalter einer Beamtenstelle, I was told that regardless of me being a foreigner, Auslaender in German, the only thing that matters is my competent professionalism. When the United States Congress hired me from a German Institute at the end of August 1977, I was tossed into a pit of native as well as foreign-born incompetent liars claiming expertise in individual foreign countries. Their modus operandi to protect their jobs from the much better qualified newcomer culminated in first spreading the rumor that I am actually a “sleeping Soviet spy,” and then that I am not the person that I pretend to be. Following these totally groundless accusations, they tried to sabotage me by claiming that my analyses were biased by my anti-Communist leanings, and therefore, dead-wrong. In their pernicious efforts, they were enthusiastically supported by an equally incompetent and unprofessional department head, whose understanding of the world was near to zero. The only thing that prevented me from returning to Germany in disgust was a dual invitation from a Senator as well as the Supreme Court to advise them on international law and foreign policy.
Throughout my almost thirteen years of service in the American federal government, I have not encountered a more incompetent, yet arrogant bunch of bureaucrats, than most of the employees of the State Department. Young people in their twenties, fresh out of college or graduate school, were appointed desk officers for countries that they knew close to nothing, including the languages of those nations. My personal experience was that they were a community of desperate people in search of power and stable paychecks. The situation was barely more satisfactory on the higher levels. Ambassadors were appointed based on the size of their campaign contributions and Assistant Secretaries used their personal connections to land political appointments. Clearly, the State Department was a largely useless institution for the decision makers in the White House and in Congress.
To illustrate the utter idiocy of domestic ideology-driven personnel policies, again a personal experience. In the late 1970s, under the Carter Administration, I was called by a friend and senior adviser of the President regarding a high-level position with one of the top intelligence agencies. After I was interviewed for the position, the same person called me and said that he is sorry but the position is reserved by affirmative action for a Black person. To wit, the position required fluency in at least three languages spoken in the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and mindestens a Master’s degree from one of the major European universities. Needless to say that the position remained vacant throughout President Carter’s tenure and beyond. Unsurprisingly, American foreign policy and intelligence services have been a collection of discombobulated failures with few exceptions.
Afghanistan is the latest case in point in the humiliating disasters of the American foreign policy as well as military establishments, including the manifold intelligence agencies. Imbued with the destructive idiocy of Wokeism, including the Critical Race Theory, and guided by an overwhelming hatred for the United States of America, these hypocritical Knights of minority rights and intellectual madness have long been committed to kill individual freedoms, professional competence, as well as constitutional democracy in their fallacious quest to secure the country for their dictatorial minority rule.
The famous proverb of unknown origin says that a fish rots from the head down. This proverbial fish in the United States of America is President Joseph (Joe) Robinette Biden Jr. A man of gregarious disposition, but with well-known brainless intellect, he resembles an imbecile Doofus in Chief rather than a competent Commander in Chief. Moreover, with countless telltale signs of advanced dementia, hapless Joe has been ripe even before his presidency to the care of a closed mental institution and, following his election, to the invocation of the 25th Amendment. His laughably hollow and lying campaign slogans of “America is back,” “all out healing,” “national unity” and “inclusiveness through diversity” have been thrown out of the large French windows and doors of the White House as well as the numerous buildings of the federal government minutes after his return to the Oval Office. Instead of governing as a statesman, demented Joe has gone about fighting, like one possessed by evil spirits, the ghost of his predecessor. Gross falsifications of history under the guise of Black Awakening, slander of entire ethnic groups for their skin color, promoting the Marxist-Leninist “equity” deceptions, manipulating the lie about alleged White Racism combined with baselessly wild White supremacist/extremism/terrorism charges, using the English language to mislead an entire nation regarding illegal immigration, lawlessness as well as the shameful justification of outrightly criminal behavior, and the corrupt manipulation of law enforcement agencies by Marxist political agitators have been de rigueur du jour since January 20, 2021.
Demented Joe’s appointments, under the catchphrase of “diversity,” have populated the federal bureaucracy with woefully incompetent political hacks, such as his Vice President Kamala Harris, who is a huge embarrassment for her gross amateurishness and uncultured hysterical public as well as private behavior, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was called an incompetent bureaucrat by the late Senator John McCain already in 2014, his Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, whose most important contribution to the cabinet is his Blackness and his eagerness to introduce neoracist political correctness in the military, his Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has proven that Senator Mitch McConnell was right by opposing him to the Supreme Court, his Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, whose value is that she has contributed to the diversity of the Biden cabinet, his Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who has gazed to commerce through the lens of her Marxist ideology, his Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, who knows nothing about health care, his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, who has been a political and professional nonentity, his Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who as a mayor of South Bend was incapable of managing the traffic in his small town, his Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, who has used his perch to fight alleged White Supremacy and has promoted the most unscientific idiocy of Critical Race Theory, his Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who has created a royal mess of illegal immigration, and his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who has not have a single right foreign policy recommendation during his disastrous professional career, among others.
The combined results of Biden’s idiocy and his coterie’s Wokeism have been the egregious
domestic and foreign policy failures of his administration since January 20, 2021. Demented Joe’s domestic agenda can be reduced to a single sentence – to make the federal government the owner of the entire American economy, finance and spiritual realm by aligning them with the most radical Marxist-Leninist Woke policies. Internationally, this demented president, in tow with his incompetent collection of advisers, is determined to destroy his country’s reputation to the fullest by cutting ties with America’s allies and appeasing its enemies by capitulating to their demands. In order to hide their incompetence, continuity, predictability and reliability of policies were thrown out of the window with zero concerns for present as well as future consequences or dangers for the United States of America. Demented Joe’s Administration turned foreign policy into a race-based partisan issue, with absolute disregard for the United States of America’s national security interests.
Personal virtues, the glorious attributes for the American success stories, such as patriotism, education, industriousness, respectability, truthfulness, compliance with the laws, religious faith, have been labelled as inherently White Racism. Demonstrating proficiency in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography and History have been declared the arrogant manifestations of White Supremacy, which are not needed for minority students to succeed in life. While exercising dictatorial harshness toward Americans concerning COVID-19 restrictions, foreigners infected with the coronavirus can storm into the United States of America with impunity in the millions. While still pursuing unsubstantiated allegations regarding former President Trump, the FBI is in relentless pursuit after the so-called January 6th perpetrators with reckless abandon. Meanwhile, demented Joe’s worthless son Hunter is selling his laughably primitive and amateurish paintings for half-a-million dollars to undisclosed buyer. The United States of America is drowning in the hurricane of moral, political, financial and establishment sponsored corruption.
In light of America’s domestic tragedies, it is painful to state that the Afghan crisis is exactly what demented Joe, the Democrat Party and their extremist partners in Black Lives Matter, Antifa as well as in other like-minded organizations wanted. Having declared former President Trump the enemy of America and a hostage of Russia, the Biden Administration named the majority of Americans as the “common foes we face,” and not China, where the Biden family enriched themselves, or Pakistan, which supported the Taliban politically, militarily and financially. To wit, the real domestic terrorists of Black Lives Matter, Antifa and other Marxist organizations that spewed anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness and violence have been shielded by thuggish politicians as well as corrupt law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
As demented Joe said: “Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.” In reality, he has meant that those who capitulate to Wokeism will be spared, but those who resist will mercilessly be eliminated. Clearly, the war that is going on in the United States of America has always been about culture, and Woke culture has always viewed Afghanistan as the graveyard of America as it has been for almost two hundred forty years.
Yet, the present societal schism goes much deeper than party or group affiliation. It has already penetrated education from kindergarten to graduate schools, from domestic politics to international affairs. If the activists of the Democrat Party, members of the Squad, Black Lives Matter and Antifa would have their ways and say – there would not be the United States of America for long in normal existence. Adding insult to injury, demented Joe and his incompetent administration well on its way to transform the United States of America into a Stalinist despotism, complete with minority totalitarianism, political subordination to the Democrat Party, collectivization of the economy, racial cleansing and religious persecution.
The majority of Americans have finally started to realize this truth in its cruel and ruthless fullness. And they are fighting back. Because, if demented Joe and his administration will manage to finish “vaccinating” all the voters with their anti-American and anti-Democratic nonsense, it might be given the opportunity to establish a hell on earth for the most decent freedom loving people in history.
Yet, when the sun is covered by impenetrably dark clouds, nature can still show the shining stars in the night sky. The timeline of the United States of America’s withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban advances have proved that the Critical Race Theory about the intrinsic origin of White Racism and the false narrative that America is fundamentally racist, lack any real foundation in facts, and as such scientifically ahistorical and in reality a Big Lie. Ibram X. Kendy, the author of “How To Be An Antiracist,” essentially claims that to fight racism one must turn himself into a super racist. Then, the super racists, the good guys according to Kendi, can save the world from the United States of America by changing the “very underpinnings and structures and systems of this country.” Clearly, this moron, who masquerades as a scholar, could not explain why only upon the withdrawal of American troops have summary executions, mass rapes and other extremely evil acts have been committed in the name of Islam by the Taliban. Indeed, evil has existed in many places of the world before White people set foot there. Albeit in an amateurish way, the United States of America intended to better the lives of the Afghan people. The waves of desperate Afghans who want to leave mainly to the United States of America are the best proof against the idiotic notion of “Institutionalized and Systematic Racism” and the allegedly ruthless “White Supremacy” advocated by mostly hypoctritical Black semi-intellectuals.
In closing, as demented Joe has claimed repeatedly, “The buck stops with me.” Paraphrasing his statement, the buck stops with the American people. Demented Joe, his incompetent administration and all those responsible for the utterly botched withdrawal, must go! After that, the American people must wise up and finally begin to create a competent and accountable civil service in place of a power hungry federal bureaucracy.
National Republicans have spent much of the last few months confounded by a challenge. Their opponents are attempting to compel them to choose between embracing Donald Trump and rejecting him. The former president’s shadow looms over everything—and will, until he announces his intentions for 2024.
A lot can happen between now and then. GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) need to go to the American people now with alternatives to what the Democrats are offering. Waiting on Trump to make up his mind or worrying about what he will say is a big mistake.
The Republicans came out of the last election in a much stronger position than many commentators are willing to acknowledge. They gained seats in the U.S. House and, were it not for Trump’s post-election temper tantrum, would have maintained their majority in the U.S. Senate instead of losing two seats in Georgia they should have easily won.
Trump’s campaign autopsy put the blame for the president’s defeat on a failure to manage the COVID crisis effectively. That may have been more perception than reality—since his inauguration, Biden has done little more than stick to the plan already in place regarding what to do after a vaccine was developed. Yet, having voted for the “moderate” Democrat who would “fix” the pandemic, many Republicans and Independents now find themselves incredulous at the speed with which he’s moved to the hard left.
Biden hasn’t been able to get his agenda through, but not because the GOP has pushed back persuasively. The GOP is benefitting from an ideological split among their Democratic opponents who, with the narrowest of majorities in both chambers, are led by two spectacularly unimaginative leaders. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are intent on getting everything passed in one or two bills. With the slim majority they have, that’s a bad strategy.
The GOP leadership needs to reflect on how long it can go before it must posit substantive alternatives to the Democrats’ radicalism. It needs to pivot and refocus the conversation on the most important issue: jobs and the economy.
While the economy is adding jobs, it’s not as many as most economists predict it should be. Republicans should find it galling that Biden claims the credit when his initiatives are job killers. The jobs we’re seeing the economy add were created under Trump after the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act but eliminated because of the lockdowns that governors—most of them Democrats—kept in place far too long.
Instead of focusing on Washington, McConnell, McCarthy, RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel and the rest of the GOP leadership should direct the American people’s attention to the states. That’s where the contrast between the two parties really shows.
It’s the Republican states where jobs are coming back the fastest. The five states with the lowest unemployment rates in June 2021 have Republican governors and at least nominal GOP legislative majorities. The eight with the highest unemployment rate are led by Democrats. Republican leadership in the states is succeeding first because their economic fundamentals were sound to begin with. And second because the governors of those states, unlike their Democratic counterparts, had the good sense to suspend the unemployment bonus payments that allowed people to stay at home drawing checks rather than look for work.
In Arizona and Ohio, for example, GOP governors Doug Ducey and Mike DeWine just signed off on tax cuts that will improve the business climate and the outlook for family budgets already being squeezed by “Bidenflation,” with consumer prices already up by more than 5 percent over last year. In Mississippi, GOP leaders like House Speaker Philip Gunn are pulling together a plan to increase competitiveness and attract jobs by phasing out the state income tax. All this is happening at the same time that Joe Bidenand his administration are trying to raise taxes through the roof in the U.S. while getting the industrialized nations of the world to agree to adopt a growth-killing minimum global corporate tax.
The GOP has a compelling tale to tell. It’s a story of how one political party will, if given the chance, take the American people down a path leading to limited government, more personal choice in key areas of life like health care and education, lower taxes, incentives to grow the economy and new jobs while the other party is primarily concerned with making government bigger and then feeding its unending hunger through higher taxes. The choice could not be clearer, so why not talk about it?
The president’s ‘transformative’ agenda runs into reality
Sometime in the last week, Democrats looked at the calendar and realized that President Biden is in trouble.
My theory is that the moment of truth arrived on May 27. That was when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had to scramble to save one of his priorities, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, from falling apart. Then, on May 28, the proposed commission into the January 6 riot at the Capitol failed to clear the filibuster.
The panic started. You began seeing articles about the “summer slump” that afflicts presidencies. You started hearing that Biden can’t let negotiations with Republicans drag on. Before leaving for Memorial Day recess, Schumer told reporters that when the Senate returns he plans to hold votes not only on the constitutionally dubious “For the People Act,” but also on the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Equality Act, and two gun-control bills.
And that’s just what the House has passed already. The president’s $4 trillion American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan haven’t come to a vote in either chamber of Congress. They haven’t been put into legislation. The fate of these projects depends in large part on Biden’s ability to strike a deal on infrastructure with Republican senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. The likelihood of a bargain? Not great.
For Democrats, the Biden presidency is an hourglass and the sand is running out. They have two years to enact the “transformational” agenda that, presto change-o, will turn Biden into the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And since they have incredibly narrow margins in the Congress—four votes in the House, a tied Senate—they have to remain unified. “That is a problem with the Democratic Party,” the activist Rev. William J. Barber II told the Washington Post. “What you see with Republicans—they stick together no matter what.” He must not see many Republicans.
It is still a problem with the Democratic Party, though, because Democrats agree on one thing alone: They oppose Donald Trump. They’re happy he’s not president. They don’t want him to be president again. Beyond Trump, however, Democrats are all over the place. They have Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on one side of the caucus and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the other.
The coalition that elected Biden is even broader, stretching from Cindy McCain to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. An alliance formed on the basis of opposition to one personality is never going to be ideologically uniform. Nor is it going to be stable. The Democrats face a similar problem as the coalition government that was agreed to in Israel this week: What do you do after the boogeyman is gone?
The Senate filibuster isn’t the Democrats’ chief obstacle. Coherence is. Biden is pretending he has 60 votes for the liberal wish list. In reality, he doesn’t have 50. So what does he do? He blames his party’s congressional majority of “effectively, four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.” He doesn’t ask why the majority is so small. He doesn’t rethink his plans. Instead, he amps up the rhetoric. He says Republicans are engaged in an “un-American,” “truly unprecedented assault on our democracy.”
It’s part of a strategy to browbeat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia into reversing his well-documented support of the filibuster and becoming the 50th vote for the “For the People” Act. More than 100 left-wing groups sent a letter to Schumer this week demanding that the filibuster be junked. As Rev. Barber told the Post, Democrats “need to let Manchin understand we elected Joe Biden—not Joe Manchin—to be president.”
Joe Manchin isn’t president, of course. He’s a senator from a state that gave Donald Trump a 39-percent margin of victory in the last election. Nor is it only Manchin who’s keeping the filibuster alive. Sinema, who won a narrow victory in 2018 in a state that went for Biden by some 10,000 votes in 2020, is too. And Dianne Feinstein seems to agree with them—at least when her staff isn’t around. There are probably several other Democratic senators who are happy to let Manchin and Sinema take the heat for a policy they privately agree with.
If you listened only to Biden, you might conclude that the 2020 election was a victory for the left. It was not. The election continued a three-decade-long partisan stalemate and, for at least two years, handed slight control of government to the Democrats. Why? Because the public disapproved of Donald Trump.
It is this failure to recognize the limited nature of his electoral mandate that has set Biden up for disappointment. “June should be a month of action on Capitol Hill,” he told the audience during his speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week. It more likely will be a month of frustration. The president’s long hot summer is just getting started.
President Biden and the Democratic Party still cannot answer a simple question: “Will you, or will you not, blow up the judicial branch of the United States government?”
This should not be a tough one — especially for Joe Biden. Last time a Democratic president considered destroying the Supreme Court, his party described the proposal as “the most terrible threat to constitutional government that has arisen in the entire history of the country” and recommended that it “be so emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.” As a senator, Biden concurred with this assessment. “Roosevelt,” Biden said, “I remember this old adage about power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely — corrupted by power, in my view, unveiled his Court-packing plan.”
Evidently, the presidency does that to some men.
Perhaps aware of the gravity of what they are attempting, the Democrats are running a two-track play. President Biden, through whom many of the party’s most radical ideas are laundered, is simply refusing to answer whether he supports the idea, and, in an attempt to extend the uncertainty, has unveiled a bipartisan commission to “study” the issue. Equally wishy-washy is Nancy Pelosi, who generated headlines yesterday by saying that the current proposal would not get a vote in the House, but did not rule out the idea so much as hide behind Biden’s commission and insist that it needed to be “considered” and is “not out of the question.” In the meantime, less protean Democrats are making the affirmative case. A bill introduced by no less than the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet would add four new justices to the Court — exactly the number needed to hand Democrat-approved judges a majority.
Subtle, this is not.
The justifications that the Democrats have proffered are ridiculous on their face. They claim that the Republicans “packed” the Court themselves when, as the party in the majority in the Senate, they merely used their constitutional powers to approve or reject the candidates they were sent. They claim that the Court must be expanded to keep up with population growth and the workload that results — a contention that miscasts what the judicial branch does, and that does not make sense on its own terms (because all justices participate in every case, a court of 13 will not be able to take more cases than a court of nine, and in any event, the Court’s docket is smaller than it was a half century ago). And, finally, they claim that the Court is suffering through a crisis of legitimacy — which, given that it is more popular and more trusted than it was prior to the additions of Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, represents the very opposite of the truth.
What is the truth? That, as it grows more progressive, the Democratic Party senses that it will more frequently hit up against the Constitution itself, and that, when it does so, it is going to need judges who are not interested in what that Constitution actually says. To comprehend this is to comprehend the whole grubby initiative, which will confer benefits upon the Democrats irrespective of its success. If Biden and Co. succeed in their undertaking, the Court will become merely another legislature, there to rubber-stamp the Democratic Party’s transgressions. If the endeavor fails, the Court may nevertheless be so intimidated by the attempt that they begin to bend at the knees. And, either way, the public is taught to mistrust Article III.
There is only one way out of this treacherous scheme, and that is the emphatic rejection that the congressional Democrats of 1937 envisioned. It must be rejected by the Republicans. It must be rejected by the Democrats. And, ultimately, it must be rejected by the people — who did not vote for a regime consumed with freeing itself from any meaningful constitutional restraint, and do not deserve to live under one.
The movie that couldn’t be made from the story that couldn’t be told (because of mainstream and social media suppression ahead of the November 2020 election) is soon coming to a theater near you. Filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney have announced they’ll begin shooting the Hunter Biden story – in all its embarrassing glory – sometime in the summer of 2021.
The film, tentatively titled “My Son Hunter” will, the website says, “tell the story of the Biden Family Corruption through the eyes of Hunter Biden. You will be shocked by what you see on screen. You may think you know the story, but the truth is more damning than you could ever imagine!”
In interviews about the project, McAleer and McElhinney have said they intend to examine the life and exploits of President Joe Biden’s son younger son Hunter by focusing on “established facts” rather than speculation or conspiracy theories of the kind that circulated widely in the months leading up to the last election.
“Somebody has to tell this story, so we decided to make this movie,” McAleer told Fox News. “People need to know this story. It’s about some of the most powerful people in the country. Nobody knows it. But it’s shocking.”
The younger Biden’s life and business dealings were subjected to much speculation during the fall campaign. Allegations that he acted as a go-between or bagman for his father while the elder Biden was Vice President of the United States were seized upon by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who used them to try and blacken his opponent’s reputation.
The allegations were given a momentous push forward after stories began to circulate that a laptop had been located in a Delaware repair shop containing salacious material that might confirm some or all of the stories about financial misdeeds and international corruption that were being spread about the younger Biden’s activities Those stories, which were eventually published in the New York Post, were later suppressed by social media outlets including Twitter which took the then-extraordinary step of suspending the paper’s account to keep the story from spreading.
McAleer and McElhinney are hoping, they said, to raise $2.5 million over the next 60 days to fund the project but show little concern they will be unable to do it. A previous crowdfunding effort of theirs raised more than $2.3 million which they used to make an eponymous film about Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell that was released to theaters in October 2018.
Hunter Biden, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, is under investigation by the federal government over tax matters as well as his business dealings in China and Ukraine. Overseeing the inquiry is David Weiss, a Trump-era appointee to the position of United States Attorney for Delaware who was asked to stay on in his current role in early February after almost all other U.S. Attorneys were asked by the Biden Administration to submit their resignations by the end of the month.
“This is an incredibly fascinating story,” McElhinney said. “It’s ‘Austin Powers’ meets ‘King Lear’ with a dash of ‘House of Cards.’ The story is so compelling that viewers on both sides of the aisle will find it incredibly entertaining.”
No casting choices have been announced and the script, McAleer said, was still in production. Filming is expected to begin in the summer of 2021, somewhere in Eastern Europe.
“Saturday Night Live” is known for many things, especially the commercial spoofs that for decades have lampooned merchandise and marketing trends. One of the most iconic featured Chevy Chase as a pitchman hawking a product that was both “a dessert topping and a floor wax.”
That kind of absurd duality is funny. That kind of duality in a political group is dangerous and calls into question the advocacy in which they engage.
Everyone thinks AARP, the group formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, represents the interests of millions of seniors, making it one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington. People don’t realize it’s also an insurance company and rakes in hundreds of millions selling Medigap coverage to its members.
Which interest is dominant: the commercial or the political? Given the group’s influence on important issues like healthcare, it’s a fair question. A recently released Juniper Research Group report suggests commercial concerns now may override in importance the lifestyle and economic issues on which AARP made its name.
Citing several sources, the report says that although AARP members contacting the group’s headquarters opposed the Affordable Care Act by a margin of 14 to 1, it went ahead and backed the bill anyway. Could that be because its insurance company partner – UnitedHealth – was more interested in getting a law on the books requiring every American to purchase health insurance than what its members wanted?
The report, available at www.CommitmentToSeniors.org and compiled for the group American Commitment, says the money coming from the purchase of supplemental health insurance coverage is now AARP’s main revenue source. However, rather than helping seniors select a plan tailored to their needs or financial resources, the group sells UnitedHealth insurance exclusively in return for a 4.95% cut on every plan sold.
This relationship brought more than $600 million into AARP’s coffers in 2017. Some might see that as evidence the group has evolved into a marketing vehicle for the nation’s largest health insurer. Several ongoing lawsuits contest that the money flowing to the group from its deal with UnitedHealth constitutes an “illegal kickback” because the potential customers are told the policies are cheaper than what’s available in the marketplace when identical coverage can be obtained without paying AARP’s commission.
Many of the same politicians who criticized the health insurance industry and other corporate interests as being selfish during the debate over Obamacare nonetheless hang on every word issuing from AARP headquarters. Obviously, they’ve failed to ask themselves if the group is speaking for its members or its funders.
American needs healthcare reform. Obamacare distorted the system in all kinds of ways. It made it difficult to keep the doctors we like and to utilize the insurance we bought because deductibles have risen so much. If we’re going to have an honest discussion about how to get out of the mess we’re in, the key players need to show their cards – or have them shown for them.
The elite media and so-called good government groups keep a close eye out for conflicts of interest, both real and potential, in the advocacy community on the right.
They argue against the influence of so-called “dark money” on all kinds of issues, not just healthcare. The watchdog groups who like to tie groups that question the existence and impact of climate change to oil companies and supporters of the Second Amendment to gun manufacturers seem to have missed the link between United Health and AARP.
Maybe they just don’t want to see it.
Voter skepticism of politicians remains high, according to a new survey released Friday yet President Donald J. Trump gets high marks for keeping the promises he made in his first run for the White House. According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, nearly half of all voters believe he “has delivered more than most” on the pledges he made in 2016.- Advertisement –
The survey, conducted by telephone and online, found general disappointment widespread with elected officials when it came to them doing what they said they would do when running for office. Just 16 percent of those surveyed viewed successful candidates as promise keepers while a whopping 70 percent said they were not with the remaining 14 percent undecided on the question.
Rasmussen Reports called the results “a noticeable improvement” over voters’ response to the question in previous years. In November 2009, the first year the question was posed, only 4 percent of those surveyed said winning politicians “kept their campaign promises.”
Trump fares better than most in this latest poll. Of the voters who participated, 45 percent said they believed he “has kept his campaign promise more than most presidents,” up from 38 percent in a March 2018 survey.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats were more critical of Trump than Republicans, with 66 percent saying Trump had kept his promises “less than most presidents” while 68 percent of Republicans said he’d kept them more. Nearly half of the unaffiliated voters in the survey, 47 percent, sided with the GOP.
Overall, Democrats are “a lot more likely” than either Republicans or independents to believe politicians follow through on their campaign commitments after they are elected. Just 14 percent of those in the GOP and 9 percent of unaffiliated voters believe most politicians can be counted on to govern on the platform they ran on compared to 23 percent of Democrats who agreed with the statement.
The lack of confidence the American electorate has in Washington is probably explained to a considerable degree by these numbers. Neither party finds the political class trustworthy.
The results should be a boon for Trump who, according to every recent national survey, is trailing Joe Biden by as much as double-digits in their battle for the presidency. In his speech accepting his party’s nomination Thursday night, the former vice president seems to say repeatedly he wanted voters to base their vote on how they felt about the character of the men running for the nation’s highest office.
In a contest of competence versus character, a theme likely to underscore the GOP fall campaign, Trump may have a narrow lead. Among voters who think most politicians don’t keep their campaign promises, 48 percent said “Trump is doing better than most presidents” while 38 percent disagreed.
The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted August 18-19, 2020 by Rasmussen Reports and has a +/- 3 percent sampling error at a 95 percent level of confidence.
American’s trust in our politicians’ ability to handle domestic and international problems is at its lowest point in more than two decades. A Gallup poll in January showed 35 percent of Americans do not trust the U.S. government to handle domestic problems, and only 41 trust it to handle international problems.
If Americans’ faith could be restored in our politicians’ ability to make prudent decisions, we would no doubt see an increase in trust. To be this trusted politician, the Greek philosopher Aristotle said requires practical wisdom, also called prudence. Such a man or woman must be able to choose the clever choice of action and have good intentions.
There are two components to our choices. One is our moral goal, the other is our practical goal. What moral thing do we want? Good choices not only involve good moral intentions, but they also involve practical decisions that pick through the circumstances to determine the correct action.
Dr. Larry P. Arnn said in his free online lecture at Hillsdale College that prudence “is the facility to calculate circumstances and find and issue true command.” It is practical wisdom about things that are always changing.
“Statesmanship is the scene where practical judgment is demanded intensely all the time,” Arnn said. Things are constantly changing, demanding good judgement of situations.
Practical wisdom is different than knowledge, however. Aristotle defines knowledge as “knowing a thing that is fixed and can be relied on,” Arnn said. Practical wisdom and judgement, on the other hand, are adaptable, as they are about changeable things.
Practical judgement is “a truth-disclosing active condition involving reason that governs action, concerned with what is good and bad for a human being,” Aristotle wrote in “Nicomachean Ethics.” It finds the truth about what to do and then does it. It is key that the judgement fit the circumstance.
We learned in Book One of “Ethics” that something is good only if it fulfills its purpose. A cup is only good if it has a bottom; otherwise it is not a cup. Likewise, a judgement is only good if it fits the circumstance that it is in. It requires wisdom because accurately placing judgement on ever-changing circumstances is difficult.
This is how we can determine a good politician in these always changing circumstances. Those who can calculate means and ends, and can understand evolving circumstances, tend to serve their nations well.
There are three distinctions to practical judgement. Astuteness is understanding the moving parts of a situation but does not issue action. Cleverness does issue action, as it knows how to insert oneself to get what one wants. Prudence, or good judgement, pursues action with good intent.
Arnn pointed to Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill as examples of cleverness and prudence. Both were lethal individuals who knew how to get their way, yet used their discernment and action for opposite ends. Hitler used his charisma and cleverness for evil ends, while Churchill used his for good.
Alas, astuteness does not guarantee possession of all virtues. Hitler can be considered brave, but not just. To be clever but not prudent is incredibly dangerous. While not many are as dangerous as someone like Hitler, politicians without prudence may only pursue their own gain.
Perhaps our politicians can learn something from Aristotle, and learn to pursue a good beyond themselves and for the country.
Just days after President Trump called out House Republicans for supporting legislation promoted by presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Democrat leaders are scrambling to determine whether they can ram the bill or one of similar profile through the House this week.
Warren has been promoting legislation that would grant a Massachusetts-based Indian-tribe, called the Mashpee Wampanoags, recognition of land over 40 miles away from its tribal headquarters to build a $1 billion casino.
The political show heated up on May 8, when the president tweeted, “Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!” This denouncement caused Democrats, who recognized that the bill would now never receive two-thirds majority approval as required, to scramble and pull the scheduled vote from the House floor.
Nevertheless, bad ideas never seem to die in Washington, and the special interests seldom give up. This case is no exception, and with the news of Trump’s twitter opposition fading, members of the Massachusetts delegation are now back at work pushing H.R. 312, as well as H.R. 375 – a bill that makes H.R. 312 look like the epitome of ethical D.C. governance by comparison. As such, allow me to take a step back and walk you through the current state-of-play.
Aside from the fact that the Massachusetts senator pushing this bill is the same one that once said, “gambling can be a real problem economically for a lot of people,” there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the intentions of those pushing the legislation.
The first among them is that both the Supreme Court and Department of Interior agree “the Tribe does not satisfy the ‘under Federal jurisdiction’ requirement of the…definition of ‘Indian’,” which it would need to receive any handouts of land from the federal government.
In accordance with the Indian Reservation Act, that would require the tribe to have received recognition from the federal government before 1935. Michael Graham at The Boston Herald noted that not only did they miss this deadline but, “The Mashpees weren’t federally recognized until 2007. And that only happened because of the money they poured on notoriously corrupt D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff.”
In addition to H.R. 312, which would specifically grant the well-heeled Massachusetts tribe a casino away from their reservation, another bill being pushed in the House, H.R. 375 would not only grease through the casino long sought after by Warren and the Mashpees; it would also allow for the same to occur for every tribe in the country – creating an endless cycle of lobbying victories in place of Supreme Court precedent, the rule of law, and states’ rights.
Should H.R. 375 pass, all that the roughly 600 recognized tribes in the country would have to do to strong-arm the federal government into recognizing their land is demonstrate that their tribe has received acknowledgement from the Department of Interior. And as we’ve seen from the Mashpee’s lobbying efforts, often all that will require is having enough lobbying connections and sums of cash to influence the right bureaucrats and representatives with key committee assignments.
The Native Americans that have sharply called out the Mashpee’s land claims would ostensibly agree that by advancing the interests of crony capitalists, this bill is a raw deal for the Native American people. Should the legislation go into effect, the rich and powerful will succeed at the expense of everyone else, and that’s simply not fair.
Republicans should not be fooled. Elizabeth Warren is just trying to provide crony favors for groups with strategic political value to her and Republicans should reject both bills outright.
(George Landrith is the President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom — a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government.)
The Iran nuclear deal has the same political weaknesses as the Affordable Care Act.
By Daniel Henninger • Wall Street Journal
Next Tuesday is the deadline for completing the “political” terms of an agreement with Iran. “Technical” details arrive in June. From news reporting on the negotiations, it appears the agreement is turning into a virtual Rube Goldberg machine, a patchwork of fixes that its creators will claim somehow limits Iran’s nuclear breakout period to “a year.” Which is to say, it’s going to be another ObamaCare, a poorly designed mega-project others will have to clean up later.
Just as ObamaCare was a massive entitlement program enacted with no Republican support (unlike Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid), the administration’s major arms-control agreement is bypassing a traditional vote in the Senate. Instead, it will get rubber-stamp approval by, of all things, the U.N. Security Council. Continue reading