Gianforte Attacks Reporter

I have a few long-form posts cooking. But a quick hit tonight: Montana Republican candidate Greg Gianforte reportedly attacked a reporter tonight. Grabbed him by the neck and body-slammed him after being a question about the CBOs score of the GOP healthcare plan. The local Fox News affiliate has confirmed the account and audio tape released sure sounds consistent with the reporter’s account (and not the candidate’s statement).

Gianforte is an unexpectedly close race and the Democrats are hoping to pick this up on the way to a 2018 landslide. We’ll see (their fundraising has been poor of late). Gianforte could still win since most ballots have been cast and it may take a while for this to sink in. But we can’t have politicians literally assaulting reporters for asking routine questions. If Gianforte wins and is later charged for his actions tonight, he should resign.

Update: Gianforte has been charge with misdemeanor assault.

The Case for Patience

In August of 1867, President Andrew Johnson fired Edwin Stanton in violation of the Tenure of Office Act. Johnson was a terrible President and had been in conflict with Congress for a long time. They began working on impeachment almost immediately but it dragged out until, nine months later, the Senate acquitted him.

On June 17, 1972, four men were discovered breaking into the DNC headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. It took over two years for the scandal to grind through an opposing Congress until Nixon resigned. Had he fought impeachment, it might have dragged out even longer.

From November of 1995 to March 1997, Monica Lewinsky had a series of encounters will Bill Clinton. The coverup began later that year and the scandal broke on January 17 of 1998. It took almost a year for the scandal to develop until a hostile Congress voted on impeachment that December. And this was really the culmination of years of scandal with the Clintons.

Why do I bring these up? To remind everyone that we have only turned to impeachment three times in our nation’s history. In each case, the President faced a hostile Congress. In each case, there was specific law-breaking. In each case, it was the culmination of years of conflict. And in each case it took months or years to resolve.

So why are all of the sudden in such a rush to impeach Donald Trump?

Look, Donald Trump has had a poor four months. His Muslim ban was rolled out with all the skill of the Marx brothers. His budget went nowhere. His healthcare imploded. He hired Mike Flynn — a man compromised by multiple foreign entanglements — and then fired him reluctantly. He fired the FBI director because he didn’t him poking around his Russia ties. He has serious conflict of interest and infuriating temperament problems. I’ll be second to few in my criticism of him.

But it is way too early be talking impeachment and way too early to be calling Congress — held by his party — “cowards” and “partisans” for not beginning impeachment proceedings immediately.

Let’s look at some facts here:

  • There is zero evidence, at this point, that Donald Trump directly collaborated with the Russians to win the election.
  • There is zero evidence that anyone in his campaign did. There are some indications that some of them had worked for Russia and one may have contacted the DNC hacker. But there’s no smoking gun yet. Not even on Michael Flynn.
  • Even if someone did work with the Russians, this is not “treason” in any legal sense. Treason is defined very narrowly in our laws to avoid it being used to go after political opponents. We’re not at war with Russia.
  • It is highly questionable whether Trump’s business interests violate the law. They’re slimy, sure. But corruption? No proof yet.
  • Firing the FBI director is not illegal nor is it obstruction of justice. Firing Sally Yates is not illegal nor is it obstruction of justice. Firing Preet Bharara is not illegal not is it obstruction of justice. Asking Comey to lay off Flynn is not illegal nor is it obstruction of justice. These things may be part of a pattern of behavior that could be said to constitute obstruction. You would introduce these as elements of a crime. But none of them are crimes in and of themselves.
  • (And while we’re on the subject, why the hell are the liberals making a hero of that overzealous Constitution-shredding prosecutor Bharara? He is no friend of theirs. His “resistance” to Donald Trump has consisted entirely of refusing a perfectly legal and routine request to resign because … he didn’t want to. Bharara is only in this for himself.
  • Trump’s executive orders are not illegal. In fact, the precedent for most of what he’s done was set by … Barack Obama.

Look, I’m not saying there will never be a case to impeach Donald Trump. I’m just saying that case does not exist yet and may not for years. People who are talking impeachment — or worse using the 25th Amendment — are way ahead of themselves. Hell, let’s be honest. Some of them were talking about impeachment the day he won the election.

Let’s all take a deep breath here. Donald Trump is President of the United States. I’m not fond of that fact but he is. Screaming impeachment every time he swats a fly is not going to get us anywhere. And frankly, it make the “resistance”, after all of four months, sound more insane than the worst Tea Partiers ever did. For four months, the courts, the Congress and the media have held Trump in check. Concentrate your efforts there. And when he does do something right, admit he’s done something right.

Post Scriptum

For the record, I think it’s likely that Donald Trump will not finish his first term. But I don’t think it will have anything to do with Russia and I don’t think he will be impeached. My opinion is that while Russia tried to influence the election, their contacts with the Trump campaign were limited at best. And Trump’s behavior does not cross me as someone trying to cover up a huge scandal. It crosses me as the behavior of a petty inexperienced man who is convinced the Russia thing is a bunch of garbage and wants to end it, not understanding the political ramifications. This is Trump’s inexperience showing — a smart man would let the Democrats gasbag themselves to death over it. But we’ll see what comes out of the investigation.

If Trump quits early it will be because he’s frustrated with the limit on the office and wants to do something else. I don’t think he ever really wanted to be President. And while I think he enjoys talking to crowds and sparring with the media, I don’t think he likes the slowly frustrating hamstrung grind of the office itself.

Post-post Scriptum

Note that with impeachment on the brain, a lot of Democrats are unveiling their, “actually Pence is worse” lines of BSery. The line of thought is that Pence is less personally obnoxious and could therefore get a lot more of his agenda through. Well, that and that Pence is such a religious maniac, he’s going to turn the country in the The Handmaid’s Tale.

In unveiling this argument, the Left is revealing that a huge fraction of their opposition to Trump is pure partisanship. You can’t make the argument that Trump is uniquely unsuited to the office and then claim that Pence (or Ryan) is worse. That’s just foolishness as well as an abuse of the English language.

The other argument is that they want Trump to be truly awful and, thus, destroy the Republican Party. Apart from the reality that truly awful candidates never wreck a party, this is putting politics ahead of country. Are you seriously hoping that Trump wrecks the country so that Democrats get to power? Is that really what this is all about?

Then don’t call yourself “the resistance”. You’re not resistance. You’re just wearing a different shade of uniform.

A Planet of Cops

Freddie deBoer, one of the few liberals I genuinely enjoy reading, has a great post on how our country has turned into a nation of tattle-tales. Money quote:

The woke world is a world of snitches, informants, rats. Go to any space concerned with social justice and what will you find? Endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense. Everyone’s a detective in the Division of Problematics, and they walk the beat 24/7. You search and search for someone Bad doing Bad Things, finding ways to indict writers and artists and ordinary people for something, anything. That movie that got popular? Give me a few hours and 800 words. I’ll get you your indictments. That’s what liberalism is, now — the search for baddies doing bad things, like little offense archaeologists, digging deeper and deeper to find out who’s Good and who’s Bad. I wonder why people run away from establishment progressivism in droves.

This has now reached overdrive with Trump in power. Now granted, Trump is ineffective and possibly corrupt. But the tendency over the last four months has been to go nuclear about everything. Even harmless little jokes are made into the Outrage of the Hour.

Liberals aren’t the only ones becoming Constant Guardians of Morality, of course. But the tendency in our culture to mind everyone else’s business is alarming and ultimately destructive. At some point, we have to start leaving each other the hell alone.

The Last 48 Hours Of Trump

It’s hard to keep up with everything but here’s what we know:

  • A number of media outlets are now reporting that Jim Comey took copious notes of his meetings with Donald Trump. On at least one occasion, the reports say, Trump pressured him to lay off Mike Flynn. This is a very serious allegation and both the House and Senate Oversight Committee are demanding copies of the memos and testimony from Comey by next week.
  • The DOJ has now appointed a Special Counsel — Robert Mueller — to investigate Russia’s influence over the election. This is very good news, whether there’s something to it or not. Mueller is highly respected and will be very thorough. If he finds nothing, the Democrats … well, some of them won’t accept it but some will. If he finds something … well, then it does get interesting.
  • We’ve found about that the leaked intel came from Israel. I’m a little bit of two minds about this since it seems to me that the press is now getting this information out there as much as Trump is.
  • Putin, possibly trolling Trump, offered to provide transcripts of the Russian meeting with Trump.
  • Rumors abound of chaos in the White House. Hard to know how seriously to take those, of course.

So … a mess. But this is exactly what all of us Never-Trumpers predicted would happen if we elected this buffoon. I suppose there are some people out there pleased because it’s “pissing liberals off” (this being what Limbaugh has been saying for the last few weeks). I’d just as soon we have a President who could, you know, do stuff beyond raging on Twitter.

Trump Burns Intel Sources?

I hesitate to post this because it’s early hours. But it’s a bombshell if true.

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

It’s anonymous sources. The White House has issued a denial, but it’s a carefully worded one. At this point, I am still awaiting confirmation, which may never get. But if it is true, it is a serious and egregious mistake by an increasingly bumbling and lost President. The President may have exposed a vital source of intelligence so that he could boast to a Russian foreign minister. (Note: Reuters and Buzzfeed are claiming confirmation from other sources, also anonymous).

A lot of people are rallying around the President but a lot more than usual are criticizing him. As I said — we should be cautious about spectacular anonymously sourced stories. But veterans of the blog may remember Lee’s invention of the phrase Brownie Moment. I think there a lot of Brownie Moments happening right now.

Another oldie but goody from the long list of Obama got it wrong again

I now have no doubt that Obama was the most incompetent and destructive president of my time, unseating Jimmy Carter, which in itself is some staggering achievement, and that the only way he could have been saved from that distinction was a Clinton presidency. Lucky for the country and the world, and to the chagrin of your usual leftist douchebag and the guilty pleasure of people like me, we were spared that horrible faith. The guy, along with telling lies and lording it like he was an emperor, made it a point to say stupid shit and then be proven wrong. Of course, the LSM played defense for him and would twist itself into pretzels doing so. Let’s not rehash that conversation. After all, anyone still claiming that the bulk of what those of us have been calling the Lame Stream Media for years aren’t a bunch of biased leftists shills – democrat operatives with bylines if you allow this apt label – is themselves a blind partisan hack.

I could wax philosophical about the failures of Obamacare, the lies told to pass it, and the lies now told to keep it despite the fact the thing is an epic disaster, but that’s not what this post is about. I could also go into how I believe that despite the distraction tactics from the dnc operatives with bylines about Russia stealing the election, Trump being a Putin stooge, or focus on how the people that spend decades excusing the evils of communism and the USSR and then made fun of Romney when he pointed out the Russians were a problem now are all up in arms about that red scare they so sarcastically dismissed and defended, eventually all this empty posturing and belly aching bullshit will be swept away by the revelation that it is all smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that the Obama administration used both the US intelligence community and foreign entities to spy on political enemies of the left. Keep your eye on this one, because that is the real big story out there that the left is desperate to destroy Trump over so he can’t dismantle the machine that has been helping the left cover this criminal activity up. But that is not what this post is about either. Shit I could even go into the “I told you sos” I promised the usual douchebags we have here, and there are several of those already, but that’s not what this is about either. No, this post is about a old lie/idiocy told by Obama and the left, when they were hard at work pissing away billions of tax payer dollars on green shit that only served to enrich democrat operatives, friends, and donors. Let me set this baby up.

Remember when black Jesus told the country, during the days of $4+ a gallon gas, with prices going up and no end in sight, that those of us that were saying that the US should drill for oil to lower prices were morons that lacked his nuanced understanding of economics he had? Remember people saying “Drill baby, drill” being mocked by credentialed leftist elite cunts that made fun of how idiotic one had to be to believe that more oil somehow would reduce oil prices? Yeah, these days there is a reason you only hear people that like me knew Obama and the left were full of shit and either idiots or downright contemptible crooks talk about this topic, and that is because those that managed to do the drilling despite the cock blocking actions of the Obama administration, have brought us to this:

The oil cartel roped eleven other petrostates into an agreement to curtail production in 2017 and are currently working on extending that deal, but the output cut’s ultimate goal of eating away at the oil market’s glut of crude is being undermined by the actions of suppliers outside of OPEC—U.S. shale producers chief among them. Now, OPEC is revising upwards its estimates of how quickly supplies will grow outside of its membership this year by a whopping 64 percent. Bloomberg reports:

Production from outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will increase by 950,000 barrels a day this year, OPEC said in a report, revising its forecast up by about 370,000. The projection is four times higher than in November, when the group announced a production cut to try and re-balance oversupplied world markets. Non-OPEC nations pump about 60 percent of the world’s oil. […]

“U.S. oil and gas companies have already stepped up activities in 2017 as they start to increase their spending amid a recovery in oil prices,” OPEC’s Vienna-based research department said in the report. “In addition to the growth in the U.S., higher oil production is expected in Canada and Brazil.”

Some of the most vile entities on the planet are feeling the pain of low oil prices. From Russia to Venezuela to Iran, low oil prices have prevented some of the most vile players from being able to do mischief. Of course in the case of Iran, they are these days not doing so bad after the Obama administration, which lied to the US people and the world at large about getting Iran to stop the production of a nuclear weapons, not only lifted the sanctions on them, but paid them close to a trillion dollars in a deal akin to selling one’s soul to the devil that basically left Iran free to still build a bomb unless someone else used force to stop them. And I love that the usual green peddlers are feeling it too. I am smart enough to see through the lies that government interference will make these technologies more viable. History has proven that whatever government mandates ends up reduced to near non-existent evolution and stagnated high prices. Look at healthcare, cars, and a plethora of other such examples on your own time. They are there if you are not ideologically blind. And yeah, I remember when government could make things happen. Those days are long gone now that government is populated and run by inept and idiotic credentialed elite douchebags.

Back to the main topic: low oil/gas prices. Want to know why we got that?

This supply-side surprise comes courtesy of American frackers, who have seized the opportunity afforded them by the petrostate cuts and have ramped up their own production over the past nine months. By cutting costs and boosting efficiencies, U.S. shale has made itself capable of profitably producing $50 per barrel oil.

This is the worst-case scenario for OPEC: whatever success its production limits have in inducing a price rebound, the fruits of those labors will be enjoyed first and foremost by U.S. companies who will find more of their shale operations profitable at higher prices. With projections for growth of non-OPEC supplies being ramped up so dramatically through the end of the year, it’s clear to see that that’s already happening.

Kiss your frackers when you see them. And if I might be allowed one more comment about the nefarious relationship with Russians, I point you not to the delusional democrat’s usual target – Trump – but to the people that have opposed fracking in the US. Oh, I have heard the counterclaims made by the same dnc operatives with bylines today perpetuating the lies about a Trump-Putin connection and still harping on about a hacked/stolen election, when there has been zero evidence of any sort of connection presented and their choice of words to mask that what happened was that someone did the US voters a favor and exposed the corruption and criminality of the dnc (and nobody even knows if that was the Russians, but they keep pretending it was) so spare me the douchebaggery.

Comey Fired

Trump has apparently fired James Comey, the head of the FBI. Comey has been a lightning rod lately with allegations that he “threw” the election to Clinton, a (possibly false) claim that Huma Abedin forward classified e-mails to her husband and an ongoing investigation into Russia. But it is apparently his failure to file charges in the e-mail scandal that precipitated this.

Updates to follow.

The Media Myth Cycle

For eight years, we heard a lot about how the anti-Obamaites were crazy. They believed crazy things, they said crazy things, they posted crazy things on social media. The fact-checkers were working overtime to stem the tide of BS.

Well, they had a point. There was a lot of garbage out there. But there was also a lot of legitimate concern about what Obama was doing and a lot of legitimate opposition to his polices.

Trump is in power now. And we’re seeing the same thing: legitimate concerns but a whole lot of BSery too. Only this time, the BS isn’t being called out. The latest was in the wake of the AHCA’s passage. Many many media outlets and liberals claimed that Republicans had made rape a pre-existing condition for denial of health insurance or claims. Elizabeth Nolan Brown — no Trump supporter she — actually looked into this.

Yeah, it’s garbage:

None of this is true. Like, not even a little bit. And the fact it’s not just being shared by shady social-media activists and their unwitting dupes but by ostensibly-legitimate media outlets is another sad indictment of press standards these days.

Nothing in the new Republican health care bill specifically addresses sexual assault or domestic violence whatsoever. What it does say is that states can apply for waivers that will allow insurance companies, under certain limited circumstances, to charge higher premiums to people based on their personal medical histories—that’s it. (States that are granted the waivers must also set up special high-risk insurance pools to try and help defray costs for these people.) Under Obamacare, no such price variances based on preexisting conditions are permitted.

So far, the only examples offered as evidence that such discrimination is common have fallen far short. In CNN’s story, a woman’s insurance application was rejected for unspecified reasons that she believes were related to her history of domestic abuse, though the insurance company didn’t actually provide any reason. She was able to get health coverage from another insurer not long after.

In the story getting much more attention, a woman who had been sexually assaulted was prescribed anti-HIV medication as a precaution. When she tried to apply for new insurance coverage not long after, her application was denied because of a company policy against insuring anyone who had been on the HIV medication recently. The insurers did not initially deny her claim because she was a rape victim—they weren’t even aware of that information at first, though she says she did later inform them. If anything, the company is guilty of not treating this woman differently based on her history of sexual assault.

Be sure to read the whole thing. Many people immediately denounced Brown as, in her words, a “lying libertarian harpy”. But all the major news outlets are now admitting — haha! — she’s right. Some have only backed down to saying, “well, the PTSD or anti-retrovirals used as treatment for rape could be a pre-existing condition”. That’s true, but that’s not specific to rape. PTSD or anti-HIV meds from any cause could be classified as a pre-existing condition, depending on what exactly the states do with pre-existing conditions.

In all honesty, the Democrats are doing a huge disservice to this country by focusing on pre-existing conditions. I don’t mean to downplay the pre-existing condition issue, but this is a small part of the problem of people being uninsured. Almost everyone with an employer plan or a government is not affected by this and that constitutes 90% of the insured. At its peak, Obama’s program for people with pre-existing conditions enrolled a little over 100,000 people. Most people who are uninsured are uninsured because they can’t afford it or because they choose to spend their money elsewhere, problems Obamacare addressed but not well.

Pre-existing conditions are important on an actuarial basis for insurance companies because some of these people can be among the most expensive to insure. My wife and I sometimes joke that we are mostly paid in anti-MS meds. This is one of the reasons the Republicans want to split the pre-existing into high-risk pools (albeit underfunded ones) because that’s a big driver of soaring health insurance premiums. But the Democrats are focusing on the wrong thing here. Of the millions the CBO thinks will lose coverage under AHCA, the vast majority will lose it because they will lose subsidies or Medicaid, not because of pre-existing conditions.

Look, I’m willing to debate healthcare all day. There are real debates to be had about whether people have a “right” to health insurance or whether we should have universal coverage or single payer or whatever. We could look at Singapore’s system, which relies heavily on private insurance. Or Australia’s system, which has a single-payer floor but where the government covers a similar percentage of healthcare cost as ours does. Or no system. Fine.

But that debate needs to on honest terms. And claiming that women will be denied insurance because of rape is not having the debate on honest terms. It’s trying to frighten millions of voters. Which, I guess, is why the Democrats love it so much. Because it covers up their lack of ideas.