Category: Decline of Western Civilization

The Trump Betrayal: Bolton Edition

I’ve been writing and leaving posts for the last few weeks as Donald Trump turned on every political principle he claimed to have and stabbed his supporters in the back over and over again. Mindless steel tariffs that will decimate American industries. Idiotic tariffs on China that will certainly result in retaliation against America’s farmers. A budget busting omnibus bill that sends us on a debt path that makes Obama look like a skinflint. An exploding adultery and bribery scandal that makes Clinton look like a monk.

But it’s come to a head today. Trump has announced that John Bolton will be taking over the National Security Advisor role. Bolton is, to put it mildly, a nutcase, a man whose management style is defined by bullying everyone beneath him and sucking up to everyone above him. He is the ultimate Washington insider, having parlayed a career in being spectacularly hilariously wrong about everything into book deals, commentary gigs and more power. And he’s a warmonger. If Bolton had his way, we would currently not only be at war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan but also be in Libya, North Korea, Iran and Cuba. Yes, Cuba. Bolton tried to make the case that Cuba had WMDs to justify a war then screamed at his staff when they pointed out that there was zero evidence to support this contention. In fact, the reason he’s being appointed HSA rather than nominated for a cabinet post is because there is no way the Senate would confirm him. They rejected his previous nomination on account of his being batshit insane.

Bolton’s now advocating pulling out of the Iran agreement, an action that would result in Iran resuming their nuclear program, and a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, which would precipitate a conflict that could get hundreds of thousands of people killed. He also wants to wage cyberwar on Russia because the thing we really need now is even more tension with a nuclear power. In all three cases he displays the wooly-minded, brain-dead, dick-first thinking that went into the War in Iraq: the idea that United States can just do things at will and no consequences will result.

In Trump’s campaign, he claimed that the Iraq War was one of our biggest mistakes. He has now put one of the principle architects of that war in one of the most prominent positions of power. I have a longish post on Trump’s economic policies in preparation. But there’s not much more to say about his foreign policy: it is pure neocon.

Bill Maher Is … Absolutely Right

I’ve blasted Bill Maher on occasion here but this is one occasion where he nails it:

I’ve been extremely busy the last couple of months. I’m teaching for the first time in years, which involves an epic amount of effort. I’m also moving to a new house and trying to maintain my research responsibilities. As a result, I’ve let Twitter, the blogosphere and this blog slide because I simply don’t have time for them.

One of the advantages of that is that little vacation is that it’s given me some perspective on the outrage cycle that has come to dominate social media and, by extension, our news. I knew of it before, of course, and have commented on it. But taking a step back from the day-to-day makes it jump out even more in that, if I skip Twitter for a few days, I can completely miss something that everyone was outraged over. These things don’t even have a half-life of a few days before we’ve moved on to the next outrage because, in the end, it’s usually over something incredibly trivial.

(This isn’t limited to liberals. Conservative gadflies have their fainting spells and pearl clutching fits just as often — which is odd, given that they control the entire government right now. We have seen one-day outrages over Hamilton, Keurig, Delta, Budweiser, Hawaii, Shakespeare in the Park, Amazon, Starbucks, Macy’s, badly reported news stories corrected within hours, etc., etc. Face it, you’d have to Google at least half of those to remember what the outrage was all about.)

The thing is … it’s not like there’s a shortage of real things to be angry about. We are back over a trillion dollars in deficit thanks to Trump’s tax cuts and spending hikes. We have trillions in unfunded liabilities thanks to decades of neglect by both parties. We have three wars going on with some people itching for a fourth (or even a fifth). Congress, right now, is considering an “anti-sex-trafficking” bill called SESTA that would basically gut internet freedom and potentially put thousands of consenting adults in federal prison.

But … those stories tend to be a bit more complex. The deficit, for example, is something that can only be addressed with unpopular proposals. Ending our wars would mean abandoning the peoples of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to cruel predators. And rejecting SESTA would mean to coming to grips with our century-long national hysteria over sex work.

It’s just easier to have a shit fit because Jennifer Lawrence’s dress is skimpy or act like kneeling football players herald the end of the Republic.

Not Watching the SOTU

No, I won’t be watching Trump’s State of the Union address tonight. I will probably read the transcript so that I can properly comment on it. This had less do with Trump and more to do with my disgust with the dreary spectacle, a feeling that dates all the way back to the Clinton Administration. Kevin Williamson put it perfectly four years ago:

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

I used to fisk the SOTU but it’s gotten tiresome. Every President promises things he can’t possibly deliver, boasts about things he deserved little to no credit for and basks in the undeserved adulation of his party. Trump has only put that into slightly sharper focus. If he said he would go up there and stand silently while tweeting the whole thing, I might actually warm to the guy.

Occasionally, I have tuned it to see the response of the opposing party. But this year, the Democratic Party — have sensed the mood of the people turning against the establishment, against oligarchs, against entrenched power — have gone with … Joe Kennedy. Yeah, another damned Kennedy. In this case, a Kennedy who is vehemently anti-marijuana to boot.

So double no thank you.

The Clinton Cover-ups

I know, I know. It’s just so shocking, isn’t it?

A senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young subordinate was kept on the campaign at Mrs. Clinton’s request, according to four people familiar with what took place.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager at the time recommended that she fire the adviser, Burns Strider. But Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling, and the young woman was moved to a new job.

Mr. Strider, who was Mrs. Clinton’s faith adviser, a co-founder of the American Values Network, and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.

He was fired after several months for workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to Correct the Record’s management.

Yes, who would have thought that the woman who spent so much time managing her husband’s “bimbo eruptions”, slagged his accusers, wanted to paint Monica Lewinski as a psycho and thanked Juanita Broaddrick for keeping her rape to herself would do such a thing?

According to the NYT, Clinton’s staff wanted Strider fired but were over-ruled.


These people never cared at all. They’re just afraid now that The Reckoning is closing in. It’s too late to not be complicit. Hillary Clinton has zero credibility on the issue of sexual harassment. And the Democratic Party that pushed her on us as its candidate has basically no credibility either.

Exactly. As poor as the response of private industry has been to allegations of sexual harassment and assault, the response of the government has been even poorer. Yeah, Al Franken stepped down (at least in part because he could be replaced by another Democrat). But he was the first to ever do so based on allegations. The Democrats tolerated Ted Kennedy’s behavior for decades, they tolerated Bill Clinton’s behavior for decades, they said nothing about a Congressional slush fund used to pay off victims. Now, all of the sudden, they want us to believe they care? They sacrifice one goofball from Minnesota and that’s supposed to prove their bona fides?

(Note that this also is yet another illustration of how every single one of Hillary Clinton’s political instincts are terrible. Firing Strider would have taken guts and might have been a two-days story on the news. But it would have shown that Clinton took sexual harassment seriously. Not firing him kept his behavior quiet but is now creating a different kind of scandal.)

During the campaign, Trump was rightly called out for his treatment of women. Trump’s response was to bring Bill Clinton’s accusers to the debate. While it was derided as a stunt — and it kind was — it also worked because it reminded people that the Democrats do not care about this stuff when it’s their guys. Clinton’s behavior does not make Trump’s OK, obviously. But it serves as a crystal clear indication that the difference between the two parties, if any, is one of degree, not kind.

The Apocalypse Will Be Tweeted

OK, that headline is a bit over the top. But last night, our President — who constantly tells us he doesn’t watch TV — tweeted this out ten minutes after Fox News did a segment on North Korea’s nuclear button:

The reaction to the tweet has been, as the reaction to Trump’s tweets always is, a bit hysterical. He’s not about to plunge us into war. He doesn’t literally have a nuclear button nor is he likely to push it anytime soon. This is Trump being Trump: always having to be the center of attention, always having to tweet about something he sees on TV, always saying things partially in jest, partially in anger and partially because he can.

However, the continual childishness, pettiness and silliness of the President is something to be concerned about. It always has been. Julian Sanchez:

A lot of Trumpers are trying to make the case that the President has had a great first year because he cut taxes … eventually. And he got judges approved — although an unprecedented number have been rejected by his own Congress for being grossly unqualified. And he cut regulations — although many of those were actually cut by Obama. I can see that. But Trump hasn’t done anything really revolutionary. He’s basically adopted the Republican agenda. There are few Republicans out there who wouldn’t have signed off on a tax cut or appointed judges. And there are many who made have made the tax cut less fiscally reckless or had an actual health reform plan. But sure, fine, you got a tax cut. And the world hasn’t burned up. Yet.

But … here is my concern. I feel that over the last year, the President eroded many of the political, diplomatic and legal norms that hold our world together. There is a human tendency to take things for granted and to start nitpicking at the minor concerns of the things that keep us safe from major concerns. For example, anti-vaxxers fret about the possible side effects of the vaccines that protects us from diseases that have killed millions. Anti-NATO people worry about the cost of an alliance that has maintained the longest peace in Europe … ever. We become spoiled. We expect the world to just function without a continuous ongoing effort to maintain the status quo. We forget that the Four Horseman are always ready to ride and that barbarism is only a few weeks away at the best of times. Political, social and cultural norms can sometimes be wrong, misguided or unnecessary. But they do not spring from holes in the ground; they are the result of decades of trying to make the world work better.

At some point, Trump’s erosion of norms going to bite us in the ass very hard. At some point, we will need to alert the world to a serious geopolitical threat and they won’t listen to us. At some point, we may need to engage in military action and people will think it’s just Trump being a toddler. At some point, we will lean on those norms that hold our civilization together and, instead of propping us up, they will yield.

Just because we haven’t yet paid a price for having a President who spends half the day watching Fox News and rage-tweeting about it doesn’t mean that price won’t have to be paid.


I wrote most of this Saturday morning but have let it set for a few days so that I could cool off and read more sober opinions of the GOP “tax cut”. Reflection has not changed my opinion much so the post now goes, largely unaltered except for the paragraph slamming the Democrats.

On Friday night, the GOP engaged in act of legislative chicanery that makes Obamacare look like the Magna Carta. Early in the morning, they passed a half-baked, half-assed “tax reform” bill that literally had hand-written corrections on it. This bill had no hearings, had not been read and rewrites a massive section of the US economy.

What we do know about it makes it one of the most irresponsible pieces of legislation I can remember. It purports to be “tax reform” but it doesn’t actually reform taxes very much. It doesn’t eliminate any rules — in fact, it expands them. It has some good changes — faster expensing and depreciation, better child tax credit, putting some Obama Admin regs into writing. But mostly it simply cuts tax rates and uses various pieces of gimmickry to get the hole it blows in the budget down to $1.5 trillion. And that topline number is largely garbage. It is unlikely that future Congresses — Republican or Democrat — will allow the planned tax hikes on the middle class to occur. I would estimate the cost of this tax cut as “more many than you can shake a stick at”. And this is when we are already facing trillions of dollars in future deficits. As I have said many times, a tax cut that runs up debt is not a tax cut. It’s simply a shell game, moving the burden from current taxpayers to future ones.

That’s apart from the other things that the bill does. Reconciliation may change things but the current iteration would hit higher education with taxes, hit high-tax states and hit students loan debtors. It repeals the Obamacare mandate, which will result in millions of people losing in insurance and probably tip insurance markets into a death spiral (since community rating and pre-existing protections are still in place, people can now wait until they’re sick to buy insurance).

You can see, in the smoldering wreckage, the vision of real tax reform. One that eliminated loopholes and cut the rate down to its actual effective rate of 25%. One that had the Rubio-Lee Amendment to give more money to families with children (our fertility rate has now plunged below replacement level). But in their rush to pass anything, the GOP put together this Frankensteinian monstrosity.

The defenders of this bill are citing all kinds of debunked horse manure to try to pretend that it’s not that bad. Just to address a few of these:

  • Tax cuts do not pay for themselves. In theory, this might work when marginal rates are very high. But in practice, we are well on the downslope of the Laffer Curve. Reagan’s tax cuts did not pay for themselves, which is why he had to raise taxes multiple times. Bush’s did not, which is how we ended up with the nation’s first trillion dollar deficit.
  • A lot of people are dragging out the “starve the beast” line, that decreased revenues will force spending cuts. This idea is pure garbage. It doesn’t work in theory. It doesn’t work in practice. If anything, starve the beast encourages more spending because the public gets the idea that government spending is free.
  • The stimulating effects of this tax cut on the economy are, at best, unclear. While tax cuts can stimulate the economy, broad rate cuts are a less than ideal way to do so. And this bill does nothing to eliminate the deadweight loss of the tax system since it doesn’t actually simplify the tax system.

We are on a dangerous fiscal course right now. Trump and his policies will eventually bring Democrats back to power. Democrats, being nearly as useless as Republicans, will not only not reverse the tax cuts, they will massively increase spending. As the debt soars out of control, the economy will be hurt and we will find ourselves facing down a financial crisis the likes of which we have never seen. If the trip to bankruptcy started with Bush and continued through Obama, it has now been given a jolt of gas from the GOP. After years of holding Obama to flat spending and cutting the deficit by two-thirds, they’ve thrown everything out the window. This year’s debt alone is slated to be around $800 billion.

The thing that I realized Friday night is that the GOP I knew and was a part of for so long is dead. This is now the party of Trump. Trump is financially irresponsible, amoral, filled with imagined resentments and doesn’t give a damn about anyone other than himself. That is the GOP now. They’ve blown another hole in the debt, are about to elect a child molester in Alabama, spend their time raging against “liberal elites” and no longer care about the debt as long as they get their damn tax cut.

I’m done with them. All the real conservatives are leaving the party. I’ve long been on the other side of the road, but this is where I burn the bridge.

I won’t vote Democrat, since they are almost as bad. One need only see the response to the GOP tax cut to realize that. Cries that it is a “war on America” or that “millions” will die as a result of it are not the statements of a sane party. And their alternative to GOP fiscal recklessness is … more fiscal recklessness.

There is no longer a conservative party in the United States. There’s the dumbass liberal party and the dumbass populist party. I will not be part of either of those.

NBC Takes Out The Trash, Oh, And Our President Is Still A Dope

Wow, Matt Lauer, an NBC staple for 25 years, was unceremoniously fired yesterday over the offence de jour of late, not respecting sexual boundaries;

Matt Lauer allegedly sexually assaulted a female NBC staffer during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, sources told Page Six.

An NBC insider said Lauer’s alleged victim complained to HR on Monday: “This happened so quickly. She didn’t go to the media, she made a complaint to NBC’s human resources, and her evidence was so compelling that Matt was fired on Tuesday night. The victim says she has evidence that this has also happened to other women, but so far we don’t have evidence of that.”

Another source tells us that the decision to fire Lauer was made late Tuesday night by NBC News chairman Andy Lack.

Lauer’s firing comes amid rumors that several news outlets were working on stories about his alleged sexual misconduct.

The carnage of late is staggering; Roger Ailes, Bill Oreilly, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Louis CK, Mark Halprin, John Lassiter. They say that with great power comes great responsibility, but apparently it also comes with an over eager sex drive and a total disregard for sexual propriety. On the flip side, me thinks that there also exists a gaggle of men who equally felt discomfited at a butt cheek pinch (or bicep grab) from a female higher up, but dismissed it because either, well, that’s what men do-shake it off, or because it would seem pretty girly to complain about such a thing to HR.

But I am troubled by a few things here; the mob mentality that now seems to permeate our social discourse, and the lack of circumspection when it comes to political figures.

I have no love for Lauer, a typical progressive shill just like 99.9% of all MSM personalities, but I wonder what happened to due process here, and how quickly the mob said ,”off with his head”, and the NBC suits complied. I mention this from a position of ,”I don’t have all the facts”, and freely admit that. Maybe, after this solo revelation, several other NBC co workers came forward with equally disturbing statements, maybe after calling him in he admitted everything, maybe the local authorities are ready to drop a criminal complaint on his ass and NBC was taking preemptive measures. But the article says the victim reported it on Monday, and he was fired on Tuesday, no ,”We are suspending Lauer pending our own due diligence”, nope, it was as simple as ,”She said this, we believe her, and that is that”.

The other interesting point is that with the media, it is all about ratings, but with politics, it is all about votes. A sad state of affairs, TV personalities must have character, must exhibit qualities the average man must emulate, must be honorable, respected, and wholesome. Politicians, OTOH, its all about ,”What he can do for me?”. Conyers, Franken, Moore (and Trump for that matter) still alive and kicking. We don’t care (or don’t care enough)that they are pigs, he is our pig and will due our bidding.

Getting shamed in the court of public opinion, bad enough, but getting fired at a gig you had for 25 years (Oreilly can relate), that is really bad, and done at supersonic speed. I hope Lauer has a good lawyer. If allegations can be proven and fall within criminal boundaries, bring it, but there will be innocent fall out over this current push to clean house and get rid of the perverts (and they made fun of Pence when he said he never is alone with any female not his wife). I hope any man, Lauer included (maybe a stretch) who falls victim to the avalanche of the sexual protocol police, and is innocent, sues the holy hell out of not only his accuser, but his employer if fired. Yes, deviants, need to be identified and ostracized, but knee jerk indignation (another awful shooting, more gun control is needed, there, now I feel better) without due process is nobody’s friend.

The Weinstein Affair

So last week, the story broke that Harvey Weinstein, one of Hollywood’s biggest hitters, has been sexually harassing and abusing women for decades:

An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.

During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. Among the recipients, The Times found, were a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015 and Ms. O’Connor shortly after, according to records and those familiar with the agreements.

Since the story broke, Weinstein had made an unconvincing defense of his behavior, the Weinstein company has fired him and his lawyer has quit. Reactions are ranging from outrageous “everyone knew” to absurd “no on knew”. I can’t judge what other people knew or didn’t know. But it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that Weinstein was not only a sexual predator but allowed to get away with it for decades. This is, after all, the industry that once gave child rapist Roman Polanski a standing ovation. This is, after all, the industry, that blacklisted Rose McGowan for speaking out on sexism. This is an industry that has made a chilling phrase — the casting couch — into a joke. I guarantee you that Weinstein is not unique or even that unusual. This is just the tip of a loathsome iceberg. And the reaction we are seeing from his company his co-workers is not a response to his behavior but a response to the revelation of his behavior.

Naturally, this being 2017, everyone is trying to find a political angle. Weinstein was a big donor to Democrats, so … something. I think that’s a bit rich coming from the party that nominated and elected Donald Trump to the White House. But in any case, Weinstein’s misbehavior means nothing as far as politics goes. There are plenty of rich people who donate to political parties and there may be three or four who don’t have some pattern of abusive behavior in their past. If you want to hit the Democrats for their hypocrisy on Trump, Weinstein should not be who you talk about. You should talk about Ted Kennedy. Or Chris Dodd. Or Bill Clinton. Or John Edwards. Or Mel Reynolds. People they have elected to public office and blindly supported through multiple allegations of misconduct. You should talk about the way they disparaged victims like Juanita Broaddrick and even willing partners like Monica Lewinsky. You should talk about their ties to Jeffrey Epstein.

The horrible truth is that … in his perverse way … Donald Trump was kinda right on the Pussy Tape. He was wrong that women let you grope them if you’re rich and famous; they merely bear it in silence. No, it’s everyone else who let’s you do it. It’s fellow politicians, it’s political followers, it’s fans, it’s producers, it’s actors, it’s the press, it’s the media. Until that changes, powerful men like Weinstein and Trump and Clinton will do whatever they are allowed to do.

Las Vegas


I won’t post observations until we have more facts. But this is just awful, no matter what. 50 dead, 400 injured. Lone gunman in a hotel shooting fish in a barrel at a concert.

Update: The Daily Beast is detailing the victims. As I have said with previous incidents, I will not mention the perpetrator by name:

Arpaio Free

I guess it won’t come as any surprise to readers of this blog that I am no fan of “Sheriff Joe”. Funnily enough, my conservative temperament tends to side against people who routinely ignore violent crime to pursue illegal immigration, whose myriad abuses have resulted in multiple deaths and $140 million in settlements and compound their illegal actions by ignoring a court order. The later finally resulted in a misdemeanor conviction for contempt of court although sentence had yet to be passed. Arpaio claims this was an Obama vendetta, but the case was about as clear-cut as cases get: brought by a federal judge, referred to the DOJ and pursued by career lawyers in Public Integrity.

Arpaio has been a hero in conservative circles for a while given his aggressive pursuit of illegal immigrants and his humiliation of prisoners. He shouldn’t be. The Phoenix New Times has been covering his abuses for years. Here’s a sampling:

Click the link, then scroll down. And while I would dubious of characterizing him as “one of the most racist evil men alive”, this thread also catalogues his abuses:

Web cams in women’s bathrooms, fake assassination attempts, using his office to spy on his opponents, detaining or arresting every Hispanic in sight, arresting reporters, denying critical care to prisoners (one instance of which results in the death of a baby). Call that “tough on crime” if you want. I call it lawlessness and thuggery.

This comes up because Donald Trump just pardoned him. While I support the use of the Presidential pardon, I am very conscious of ways it can be abused (e.g., Marc Rich). This falls into that category. Of all the people Trump could have pardoned, this is the first one he picks. I suspect its partially because he likes Arpaio (and David Clarke, another “hero” whose abuse of the law is legendary). And also partially Arpaio was an early Trump supporter.

So … to sum up … Trump just pardoned one of the most unlawful “lawmen” in America because he was a supporter.

So much for draining the swamp.