Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

LinkSwarm for January 19, 2018

Friday, January 19th, 2018

This morning starts with Republican house members calling for the release of a deeply disturbing secret memo that evidently relates to the whole FISA/Clinton/Obama misuse of America’s national security assets to spy on Domestic political opponents, including Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. House members who have read the memo say the scandal unveiled is “worse than Watergate.” Those reading this blog should already be broadly familiar with the outlines of the scandal.

However, since that memo hasn’t been released as of this writing, on with a regular Friday LinkSwarm.

Oh, and Democrats are still threatening a government shutdown over illegal alien amnesty for Obama’s “Dreamers.” So you’ve got that to look forward to as well.

  • Speaking of “Dreamers” (which, by the way, is also the name of a porn store in north Austin), illegal aliens of “Dreamer” age have a crime rate double that of American citizens.
  • Including the accused cop killer who says he “wish he killed more of the motherfuckers.”
  • “Analysis: Leftism is a status machine. A very, very successful status machine. Conservatives have lost status battle after status battle, often because they fought it as a policy battle. It rarely is.”

    The media offers people clues about what things are high status within the areas they cover. People notice, and act accordingly. Yet most conservatives still don’t understand Trump’s response:

    If I lower the media’s status, I will wreck their power.

    So The Donald says that the media has “some of the most dishonest people” he has ever seen. Not an arm’s length complaint. A direct and personal status attack, rooted in truth.

    Trump also acts in ways that cause journalists to fulfill his pre-suasion labeling. He makes “outrageous” statements, which many people outside the Beltway Bubble agree with. Those statements receive over-the-top media attacks, which make his enemies look ridiculous. Then events swiftly show that Trump had a point. Trump rubs it in, using the media’s own “Fake News” term against them and pouncing on every sloppy and dishonest mistake. As a final topper, Trump makes the dishonest media a focus during every massive rally. Which strengthens his out-grouping effect among participants and viewers.

    He uses ridicule and lèse majesté, not bended knee and appeals — note that subordinating word — to logical argument.

  • Jim Goad offers a brief essay on comparative shitholes:

    In terms of life expectancy, Norway leads the pack at 81.8 years. Then comes the USA (79.3), with a sudden drop to 63.5 years for Haitians and a mere 55.0 years for Somalians.

    Norway also wins the blue ribbon when it comes to per-capita income, which is a staggering 38 times that of Haitians and 173 times that of Somalians.

    The noble Norsemen also win when it comes to their nation’s mean IQ, which is 100 compared to the USA’s 98. Somalia (68) and Haiti (67) both suffer a mean IQ that is below the commonly accepted cutoff line for “retarded.”

    The only category where the USA comes out on top is the percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities—one index claims that 100% of Americans can find a functional toilet if they try. Next comes Norway at 98.1%. Haiti (27.6%) and Somalia (23.5%) are far, far worse. According to Wikipedia, “Sewer systems and wastewater treatment are nonexistent” in Haiti, which would mean the country is a literal shithole.

  • Andrew McCarthy goes into great detail about what a nothingburger the entire Trump-Russia conspiracy fantasy is. Though larded up with the requisite National Review distaste for Trump, it does include a few valuable nuggets I hadn’t chanced across heretofore, including that the law firm of BakerHostetler was who was funneling payments from Natalia Veselnitskaya and Prevezon Holdings to Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Is Sweden contemplating sending the army to regain control over no-go zones?
  • Democratic Senator Patty Murray’s office: “We don’t care about anti-Semitism in this office,” Murray’s senior adviser said. “We care about transgenders, we care about blacks, we care about Hispanics, we care about gays, we care about lesbians, we care about the disabled.”
  • Switzerland Rejects Citizenship Bids of Residents Who Have Been on Welfare.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Speaking of which: “Swiss town denies passport to Dutch vegan because she is ‘too annoying.'”
  • Why hasn’t power been restored to Puerto Rico? Maybe because Puerto Rican authorities were hoarding bital electrical equipment?
  • Austin on finalist list for Amazon’s second headquarters.
  • Baltmore’s mayor fires the police commissioner.
  • Dear Millennials: It has been scientifically proven that your music sucks.
  • East Coast Comicon bans Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo because he’s friends with Sean Hannity.
  • Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer for The Cranberries, dead at the untimely age of 46.
  • Former Senator, Republican Majority leader, Presidential candidate and World War II veteran Bob Dole just received the Congressional Gold Medal. Best tweet from the event:

  • Gonna pass on the expedited shipping, thanks.
  • A little light today, but I want to hit publish on this before that memo drops…

    David Brooks Finds Half A Box Of Clues

    Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

    Hey, remember David Brooks, the New York Times “conservative” columnist who gushed about Obama’s creased pants leg? Conservatives pretty much stopped paying attention to him then, be he went on to be (naturally) a #NeverTrumper.

    So it’s interesting to find Brooks debunking the excesses of #NeverTrump:

    People who go into the White House to have a meeting with President Trump usually leave pleasantly surprised. They find that Trump is not the raving madman they expected from his tweetstorms or the media coverage. They generally say that he is affable, if repetitive. He runs a normal, good meeting and seems well-informed enough to get by.

    For “repetitive,” I direct people to read (yet again) Scott Adams explaining how Trump uses standard persuasion techniques, including, yes, repetition.

    The White House is getting more professional. Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet.

    Imagine if Trump didn’t keep pantsing our intellectual class by trolling them into overreacting and letting him dominate the news cycle.

    The craziness of the past weeks would be out of the way, and we’d see a White House that is briskly pursuing its goals: the shift in our Pakistan policy, the shift in our offshore drilling policy, the fruition of our ISIS policy, the nomination for judgeships and the formation of policies on infrastructure, DACA, North Korea and trade.

    It’s almost as if there are two White Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk in front of the TV, the lawyers working the Russian investigation and the press operation. Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.

    I sometimes wonder if the Invisible White House has learned to use the Potemkin White House to deke us while it changes the country.

    “Learn.” As if this wasn’t part of Trump’s strategy from the git-go.

    I mention these inconvenient observations because the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.

    You know #NeverTrumper has reached an apex of arrogance when David Brooks calls them smug. It’s like having Liberace declare that someone is “way too gay.” And believing that people whose politics differ from yours are “morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us” is pretty much the 21st Century’s Democratic Party platform.

    The anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity. Most of the people who detest Trump don’t know anybody who works with him or supports him. And if they do have friends and family members who admire Trump, they’ve learned not to talk about this subject. So they get most of their information about Trumpism from others who also detest Trumpism, which is always a recipe for epistemic closure.

    “Epistemic closure” seems to be the motto of our entire anti-Trump chattering classes these days.

    To be sure, much of the rest of the piece is the usual elite disdain for those uncouth ruffians Trump has empowered:

    There’s a hierarchy of excellence in every sphere. There’s a huge difference between William F. Buckley and Sean Hannity, between the reporters at this newspaper and a rumor-spreader. Part of this struggle is to maintain those distinctions, not to contribute to their evisceration.

    “Never forget that we cultural elites are your betters! Your betters!”

    There remains a huge difference between William F. Buckley, Jr. and David Brooks.

    Liberals And Trump’s Twitter Traps

    Monday, January 8th, 2018

    I’ve written before about how how President Donald Trump uses his Twitter account to dominate the news cycle. After more than two years of Trump using the same techniques over and over again, you’d think liberals would learn not to fall for it.

    You’d be wrong.

    Today’s case in point:

    “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.”

    That’s some God Mode-level trolling right there. Liberals keep complaining about how the media pay too much attention to Trump’s tweets…and then go on to react to Trump’s tweets, because they can’t help themselves.

    One of the animating reasons behind #TheResistance and #NeverTrump is an absolute bedrock convictions that they, being smart and sophisticated, are ever-so much smarter than that bumbling doofus Trump. By offering up “being, like, really smart,” Trump once again baits liberals into responding to him, dominating yet another news cycle. One wonders if he does this instinctively, or if he spends time editing them for maximum troll effect. Maybe he had “I’m really smart” then threw in the “like, really” for maximum troll effect.

    He’s like a bored teenager dangling a bit of yarn in front of a kitten, knowing that there’s no way it can resist the lure…

    Monkey Business

    Saturday, January 6th, 2018

    Heh:

    LinkSwarm for January 5, 2018

    Friday, January 5th, 2018

    Happy New Year!

  • How Donald Trump is restoring the S-curve.
  • What it’s like to be a New York Times reporter during the war on terror:

    Success as a reporter on the CIA beat inevitably meant finding out government secrets, and that meant plunging headlong into the classified side of Washington, which had its own strange dynamics.

    I discovered that there was, in effect, a marketplace of secrets in Washington, in which White House officials and other current and former bureaucrats, contractors, members of Congress, their staffers, and journalists all traded information. This informal black market helped keep the national security apparatus running smoothly, limiting nasty surprises for all involved. The revelation that this secretive subculture existed, and that it allowed a reporter to glimpse the government’s dark side, was jarring. It felt a bit like being in the Matrix.

    It’s a long and informative piece, even if you don’t accept all of reporter James Risen’s analysis. And it really does show how badly our national security agencies leak…

  • The recently discovered vulnerability in Intel chips is really, really bad. And fixing it requires about a 5-30% performance hit on every OS that runs atop Intel processors. (Here’s a nice layman description).
  • More on the same topic from Borepatch.
  • “Crazy” like a fox: “The tougher the sanctions and rhetoric from the United States, the more flexible North Korea is becoming.”
  • 40 companies offer Trump Tax Cut bonuses. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Germany outsources censorship. Evidently you’re not allowed to say anything critical of Muslims or “Muslim refugees,” ever. “How the Germans can’t see that such a law, in the hands of the wrong party, could be devastating is a mystery. I can only conclude such occurrences have no precedent in their country from which they could draw obvious lessons.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Scott Adams enumerates all the things President Donald Trump broke that needed breaking.
  • DACA isn’t what Democrats say it is.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinds Obama-era memorandums on state-level legalized marijuana. Popehat thinks this is, at present, mostly cosmetic due to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. I oppose federal marijuana prohibition on constitutional grounds: Regulating marijuana is not an enumerated power of the federal government, regulation is neither necessary nor proper (thus no 9th Amendment justification), and thus a matter entirely for the states absent any interstate commerce under the 10th Amendment.
  • “Mayor Sylvester Turner’s press secretary was suspended for two weeks without pay after she failed to turn over thousands of documents required to be released under Texas law. Darian Ward was asked to turn over emails relating to her work on non-city related projects, including a private side business called ‘Joy in Motion Productions.'” She must have gone to the Hillary Clinton School of Email FOIA compliance…
  • Dave Chappelle has a point. As gross, disgusting and socially unacceptable as having Louis C.K. masturbate on the phone with you is, if you let that dissuade you from pursuing a career in a field as hotly competitive as standup comedy, that’s on you. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • “Genetic Study Supports Carbohydrate-Insulin Model of Obesity.”
  • Perfect season.
  • Dibs.
  • Iran Roundup for January 2, 2018

    Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

    Widespread protests against the corrupt theocratic regime continue across Iran, so here’s a roundup of news. Here’s a liveblog on the protests, courtesy of Austin Bay at Instapundit.

  • This piece makes the case that Iran’s corrupt theocratic government has used up all its remaining legitimacy:

    As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival. That is deadly for a theocracy, by definition an ideological construct. Ideological authoritarian states need a vision of the future by which their enforcers can condone their own violence. The theocracy’s vast patronage system will not cure this crisis of legitimacy. In many ways, Mr. Rouhani was the ruling clergy’s last gasp, a beguiling mullah who could enchant Westerners while offering Iranians some hope. That hope has vanished.

  • “US gives Israel go-ahead to kill powerful Iranian general.” The would be the same Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani Obama saved three years ago in pursuit of his precious, asinine Iran deal. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • How President Donald Trump saw the Iranian protests coming. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Some pessimism about protestor’s chances:

    In Iran, the obstacles to success are daunting. Whereas most Middle Eastern countries are ruled by secular autocrats focused on repressing primarily Islamist opposition, Iran is an Islamist autocracy focused on repressing secular opposition. This dynamic—unarmed, unorganized, leaderless citizens seeking economic dignity and pluralism, versus a heavily armed, organized, rapacious ruling theocracy that espouses martyrdom—is not a recipe for success.

    And yet, against this inauspicious backdrop, Iran’s mushrooming anti-government protests—although so far much smaller in scale than the country’s 2009 uprising—have been unprecedented in their geographic scope and intensity. They began December 28 in Mashhad, a Shiite pilgrimage city often considered a regime stronghold, with protesters chanting slogans like “leave Syria alone, think about us.” They soon spread to Qom, Iran’s holiest city, where protesters expressed nostalgia for Reza Shah, the 20th-century modernizing autocrat who ruthlessly repressed the clergy. They continued in provincial towns, with thousands chanting, “we don’t want an Islamic Republic” in Najafabad, “death to the revolutionary guards” in Rasht, and “death to the dictator” in Khoramabad. They’ve since spread to Tehran, and hundreds have been arrested, the BBC reported, citing Iranian officials.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Iran Charges Russia With Selling Out its Air Defense Secrets to Israel. The Islamic Republic says Russia sold codes to Israel that neutralize its air defenses.” Attacking your primary arms supplier, and your ally Syria’s effective air force, is a pretty desperate look. If true, it also means that America (and probably Saudi Arabia) have those codes as well… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Obama toadies vs the Iranian people:

    In the US, former members of the Obama administration and the liberal media have determinedly downplayed the importance of the protests. They have insisted that President Donald Trump should stop openly supporting the protesters and so adopt former president Barack Obama’s policy of effectively siding with the Iranian regime against the Iranian people who seek its overthrow.

    These talking points have been pushed out into the media echo chamber by Obama’s former deputy national security adviser and strategic communications chief Ben Rhodes, his former national security adviser Susan Rice and former secretary of state John Kerry.

    Obama’s Middle East coordinator Philip Gordon stated them outright in an op-ed in The New York Times on Saturday. Gordon called on Trump “to keep quiet and do nothing” in response to the protests.

    In Gordon’s view, no matter how big their beef with the regime, the protesters hate the US more. And they really hate Trump.

    Gordon wrote, “Whatever Iranians think of their own government, they are unlikely to want as a voice for their grievances an American president who has relentlessly opposed economic relief for their country and banned them from traveling to the United States.”

    Just as Obama’s surrogates have repeated Gordon’s claims, so the Obama-supporting liberal media have gone out of their way to diminish the importance of the protests in their coverage of them and use Obama’s surrogates as their “expert” analysts to explain what is happening (or rather, distort what is happening) to their audiences.

    Obama administration officials have been so outspoken in their defense of the Iranian regime because they rightly view the prospect that the protesters will succeed in overthrowing the regime as a mortal threat to their legacy.

    Obama’s foreign policy rested on the assumption that the US was a colonialist, aggressive and immoral superpower. By their telling, the Iranians – like the Cubans and the Russians – were right to oppose the US due to its legacy of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. This anti-American worldview informed the Obama administration’s conviction that it was incumbent on the US to make amends for its previous decades of foreign policy.

    Hence, Obama traveled the globe in 2009 and 2010 apologizing for the policies of his predecessors. Hence, Obama believed that the US had no moral right to stand with the Iranian people against the regime in the 2009 Green Revolution. As he saw it, anyone who stood with the US was no better than an Uncle Tom. Truly authentic foreign regimes were be definition anti-American. Since the Green Revolutionaries were begging for his support, by definition, they didn’t deserve it.

    Since the current wave on anti-regime protests began last Thursday, the liberal media have parroted the Obama alumni’s talking points because they feel that their war against Trump requires them to embrace Obama’s legacy just as they embraced his talking points and policies for eight years.

    After all, if Obama is not entirely infallible, then Trump cannot be entirely fallible. And if Trump may be partially right and Obama partially wrong, then their dispute may be a substantive rather than existential one. And so, the New York Times’ coverage of the most significant story in the world has deliberately distorted and downplayed events on the ground in Iran.

  • A relevant Twitter thread:

  • Anti-Government Protests Across Iran

    Saturday, December 30th, 2017

    Widespread protests against the corrupt theocratic regime have spread across Iran. Women are removing their oppressive hijabs. Protests have even spread to the religious city of Qom, where “demonstrators shouted ‘Death to Hezbollah’ and ‘Aren’t you ashamed Khamenei? Leave the country.'”

    The people of Iran are obviously chafing under the repressive Islamist regime, and are tired of money being spent on foreign adventurism and a proxy war in Saudi Arabia rather than on domestic needs.

    Similar protests occurred during the “Green Revolution” of 2009, which Obama generally ignored and which was crushed in short order. Instead of regime change, the Iranian people saw the Obama Administration prop up Ayatollah Khamenei’s theocratic regime via the asinine Iran Deal.

    Could real change be coming with President Donald Trump in the White House?

    Stay tuned…

    Edited to add:

    Edited to add 2: Protestors chant “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!”

    Updated to add 3:

    The Middle East in 2017: Sucking Slightly Less

    Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

    For all the talk of Donald Trump being unworthy of the Presidency and inadequate for the job, there have been a number of positive developments in a surprising number of places this year, not least of which is the Middle East.

    That mostly wretched hive of scum and villainy haven’t turned into stable democratic states (nor is that likely to happen in my lifetime), but there has been modest-to-radical improvement on a number of fronts:

  • At the beginning of the year, the nightmarish Islamic State was a going concern that held vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, including the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa. As 2017 closes, both those cities have been liberated and the would-be caliphate has lost some 90% of it’s territory, the overwhelming majority of its soldiers, and has been dismembered into a few sparsely inhabited desert enclaves. This is a big win for the entire civilized world.

  • Before President Trump took office, Saudi Arabia was the same oppressive Wahhabist-backed monarchy it had always been. But in 2017, for the first time since the founding of the Kingdom in 1930, something resembling real reform finally seems to be afoot under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Remember Trump’s much-derided visit to Saudi Arabia? Trump not only repaired the rift between the United States and Saudi Arabia created by the Obama Administration’s inexplicable Iran deal, he apparently gave bin Salman the greenlight for radical change, both domestic and foreign, including stripping the religious police of their arrest powers and detaining many hardline clerics in the course of consolidating his own power.
  • Israel already found Trump a vast improvement over the Obama administration’s open hostility, but President Trump implementing the long-delayed move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem has further solidified ties and brought additional dividends, with other countries in talks to follow suite. And despite predictions to the contrary, widespread Palestinian violence in reaction to the move has not materialized.
  • Relations with Eqypt have improved since Obama’s ill-advised snit over the overthrow of the brutal Morsi Muslim Brotherhood government.
  • To be sure, myriad problems continue to plague the Middle East: The Syrian civil war, the Saudi-Iran proxy war, Turkey’s oppressive Islamist government, instability in Lebanon, and Qatar’s friction with other gulf nations (and possibly continued support for terrorism). It is, after all, still the Middle East. But there has still been remarkable (and frequently unexpected) improvement in a number of areas in the Middle East during Donald Trump’s first year as President of the United States of America.

    Winning

    Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

    If you’re still not feeling the Christmas spirit yet, the New York Times offers up this brimming chalice of Winning:

    More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.

    Yet the winning continues:

    Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.

    The departures reflect poor morale and a sense of grievance at the agency, which has been criticized by President Trump and top Republicans in Congress as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach.

    Conservatives were wary that a Trump presidency would actually implement conservative policies, but when it comes to reducing regulatory burdens and bringing rogue agencies to heel, President Trump has not only exceeded expectations, he’s easily exceeded the (admittedly low) deregulation standards of Bush41 and Bush43, and is even on track to eclipse Reagan’s record in this regard.

    So enjoy a heaping plate of Winning with your eggnog this year.

    Tax Cut Passes, Millions Not Dead

    Thursday, December 21st, 2017

    So tax cut bill finally passed the House and the Senate and is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk to sign.

    Not a single Democrat voted for the bill, House or Senate.

    It’s not a perfect bill, but there are a lot of good features:

  • “Lower Individual Tax Rates. The framework lowers rates for almost every tax bracket. The current seven brackets remain, but with new, generally higher income thresholds and lower rates.” Here’s a table from Business Insider:

  • Larger Standard Deduction. The standard deduction is almost doubled, consolidating the additional standard deduction and personal exemptions into one larger deduction. For married joint filers, the deduction will be $24,000; for single filers, it will be $12,000. The expanded deduction simplifies tax filing by cutting the percentage of tax filers who will need to itemize their deductions in half. Approximately nine of 10 taxpayers will simply claim the new standard deduction.”
  • Lowered corporate tax rate to 21% down from a highest-in-the-world 35%.
  • Short-term business expensing incentives:

    Temporary Expensing. The bill expands the current-law 50 percent bonus depreciation for new short-lived capital investments to 100 percent or “full expensing” for five years and then phases out over the subsequent five years. Expensing allows companies to deduct the cost of investments immediately and removes a current tax bias against investment.

    The bill also expands expensing for small businesses under Section 179 by raising the cap on eligible investment from $500,000 to $1 million. The phaseout increases from a $2 million cap to a $2.5 million cap on total equipment purchases. In 2022, businesses will no longer be able expense their research and development costs; this is a step in the wrong direction toward longer write-off schedules rather than toward expensing.

  • “For a vast majority of Americans, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will lower their federal tax bill in 2018. This is accomplished through lower tax rates, a larger standard deduction, and an expanded child tax credit. Most of the individual tax changes revert to current law before 2025 to meet political constraints and Senate budget rules. Although temporary tax policy is never ideal, the expirations give Congress an incentive to revisit the tax code in the coming years to provide more far-reaching and permanent reform.”
  • The hated ObamaCare mandate has been eliminated.
  • The not-great part:

    Many Special-Interest Subsidies Remain. A large subsidy for domestic manufacturing is eliminated, but most other credits and deductions marked for repeal in the original House bill remain in the conference report. Among the surviving subsidies are tax credits for electric vehicles, wind-energy production, energy-efficient buildings, historic rehabilitation, orphan drugs, new market investments, and employer-provided child care. The conference report also adds a new tax credit for employers who provide paid family and medical leave.

    The tax foundation estimates that taxes will go down for almost every household.

    The reaction from various businesses was swift: AT&T, Comcast, Wells Fargo and Boeing all announced they’ll be handing out raises and bonuses in the wake of the bill’s passage.

    Despite predictions to the contrary, America still seems to be intact and millions have not been slain in the wake of its passage.