There’s been so much other news that was “sexier” to cover this week that this story didn’t get the media attention it deserves, but it will mean a heck of a lot more in the long run to millions of Americans than, say, James Comey’s tweets or which city embarrassed itself by honoring a porn star. The real news of the weeks is that the House joined the Senate in rolling back the heavy-handed Dodd-Frank regulations on community and regional banks with less than $250 billion in assets.
Dodd-Frank was passed in 2010 in response to the financial meltdown, when stricter oversight made sense in light of the reckless practices of the arrogant, “too big to fail” Wall Street banks. But it backfired because, while the giant banks that caused that mess could afford the staff and lawyers to cope with all the new mandates and paperwork, small town and regional banks couldn’t. These banks had to close, or ironically, get gobbled up by the “too big to fail” banks. The result was that the big banks got even bigger while individuals and small businesses that had always relied on their local banks for loans were left high and dry. As I’ve traveled America over the past few years, speaking and campaigning, I’ve heard countless horror stories about the consequences of the government’s “good intentions,” from private citizens and small business owners and from local bankers struggling to stay afloat in a tangle of red tape.
President Trump ran on a promise to roll back Dodd-Frank, and the bill is one of those rare issues that drew bipartisan support in both Houses. Opponents complain that it will leave only 10 giant banks subject to the full Dodd-Frank regulations. That’s like complaining that giving probation to a swindler is unfair because it would leave so many non-swindlers unpunished. But I’ll make them this deal: if your local bank or credit union causes the next worldwide financial meltdown by recklessly giving you a loan to buy a starter home or open a bait shop, I promise to admit I was wrong.
This week, in a long overdue decision, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league would fine any team or employee (i.e., player) who fails “to stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem” during NFL games.
As I argued when this trend of refusing to stand during the National Anthem first started, it is not an infringement on First Amendment rights to demand respectful behavior of employees when they are at work. The government isn’t telling them they can’t speak out; their employer is ordering them to observe a basic rule of conduct that’s part of their job. If they don’t like it, they’re free to give up their multi-million dollar contracts and go rail against America in the park all they like. But when they are representing the NFL in uniform during a game, they have no more right to make divisive political speeches that alienate the audience than a McDonald’s clerk would have the right to harangue a customer with his or her personal political opinions.
But of course, this is 2018, the era of Trump Derangement Syndrome, so the NFL couldn’t just say they expect the players to show respect for the flag and Anthem when they’re on the clock because it’s the right thing to do and it’s contractually required of them. No, they had to find a way to make one of the most basic standards of the job and of good citizenship sound outrageous and unfair and blame it on Trump.
And so we have stories like the one at the link, in which anonymous sources blame the new policy (actually, just a firm restatement of the longstanding policy) on the league being “terrified” of Trump. Even a team owner who is reportedly a Trump friend is quoted as slamming Trump, claiming that his criticism of the players is “divisive and it’s horrible” and “not in the best interests of America.” Hey, wait a minute: so the players’ criticism of America is protected free speech, but Trump’s criticism of them is divisive, horrible and anti-American?
What they’re really terrified of is the sharp drop-off in viewership since the NFL “got woke,” turned left, and let some players politicize what was once a nonpartisan common area of enjoyment for all Americans, and their ratings naturally followed ESPN and the Oscars down the drain. According to Nielsen, NFL TV ratings fell by an average of 9.7% in one year, and average viewership per game dropped by 1.6 million people.
They blame this on Trump badmouthing the players, but that’s yet another insult to their own fans. News flash to the NFL: the millions of patriotic football fans who were offended by the shows of disrespect for the flag and the National Anthem did not tune out because Trump criticized the people doing it. We didn’t need him to tell us to be offended. He wasn’t telling us what to think, he was just saying what we were already saying.
And incidentally, I can attest that this is one of those incredibly rare occasions when Donald Trump expressed himself in terms that were positively genteel compared to what I’ve privately heard from a lot of other NFL fans.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that gas prices have been on the rise lately, and they’re expected to go higher throughout the summer -- which is like saying we expect the weather to get warmer throughout the summer. Gas prices always rise during the summer for two basic reasons: millions of people are traveling on vacation, and the government imposes a baffling array of different fuel mixtures that are an expensive pain for refineries to comply with. Plus, they’re specific to different parts of the country so shortages can’t be fixed simply by bringing gas in from somewhere else.
Ironically, Democrats who are watching their hoped-for “blue wave” recede like blue-tinted Ty-D-Bowl water swirling down the toilet plan to use higher gas prices as an election year weapon by blaming them on Trump. Alex Griswold at the Washington Free Beacon traces the history of this tactic, which has been used by whichever party is out of power for decades, despite the limited power that Presidents have over trends in the international energy industry. Democrats argue that since Trump blamed Obama for high gas prices, it’s fair for them to blame Trump (and please forget that when Obama was blamed, they argued that Presidents have no control over gas prices.)
I would respectfully disagree with his contention that Presidents have no control over gas prices. While it might be difficult for Presidents to bring them down, they can help drive them up. Obama’s Administration was unprecedented in that it was the first time we had a President who openly declared war on the fossil fuel industry and did everything in his power to restrict drilling and shut down mines, refineries and power plants while showering tax money on well-connected “green energy” companies, like the now-defunct Solyndra. There’s not a lot Trump can do to bring down prices during the summer, but at least he’s reversed previous policies that seemed deliberately crafted to drive them up (remember, when Obama first ran, there were people around him who openly declared that it would be great for the environment if gas cost $10 a gallon and they wanted to do everything possible to make that happen.)
But to add an extra layer of irony to the Democrats’ plan to blame higher gas prices on Trump: the highest gas prices in America are in blue states and can clearly be attributed to Democratic policies. For instance, in California, a whopping 92 cents of the cost of every gallon of gas is taxes. Just last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed another 12-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike that was supposed to pay for fixing the state’s roads; but so far, nearly 28 projects (many of them liberal pet projects such as electric buses and light rail) have been granted money from the tax receipts, and none have anything to do with fixing the roads. It would have been cheaper for California's taxpayers just to go out into the streets and fill all the potholes with their money.
At the link is a list of various government policies, from bans on building new refineries to zoning laws that block new gas stations, that keep fuel prices sky high in blue states like California. See if you can spot any of them that Trump or any other Republicans support.
You might have heard that a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional for President Trump to block trolls from his Twitter account. It might seem like judicial activist overreach on first glance, but the judge had a solid legal reason for the ruling.
The Twitter account had been Trump’s personal account before he ran, but after he became President, some of the functions of it were taken over by White House staff, which would arguably make it a “public forum” under which the First Amendment right to free speech applies. In other words, all readers would have the right to post there. Trump could mute them so he wouldn’t have to read what they post, but he couldn’t block them so others couldn’t see it (even though, trust me, he must get some stuff nobody in his right mind or with a sense of decency would want to see.)
Trump’s attorneys are considering an appeal, but it’s not likely to succeed. Part of being on social media is accepting that trolls will be trolls and ignoring them. If his attorneys really want to keep busy, though, might I humbly suggest that they take up the left’s crusade that Trump’s page is a public forum where differing political views can’t be censored and extend that idea to all social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, which have become notorious for censoring conservative political views.
As far as I’m concerned, let the left, the right and everyone in between post their thoughts freely on the Internet, debate issues without some algorithm monitoring and censoring certain views, and see whose ideas prove most persuasive. I even have a suggested name for this new social media open forum: “The Free Marketplace of Ideas.” I know it’s not as catchy as “Snapchat,” but I like it.
If Democrats are still casting around for a winning platform this November, why not take this idea from former New York City Mayor and liberal billionaire, Mike Bloomberg: “Tax the poor!”
Click to see Bloomberg explain that it’s good to tax the poor because taxes are especially punishing to them, and that’s how the benevolent government can force them to do things for their own good, like stop drinking sodas or being employed in coal mines. Thanks, Mike!
We might need to modify one of the “three biggest lies of all time” to read, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you…or else, peasant!”
It’s official: Kim Jong-Un has managed to play himself out of a summit that could have pulled North Korea out of the Stone Age and ended its worldwide pariah status. This morning, President Trump sent Kim a cordial, “more in sorrow than in anger” sort of letter, canceling the scheduled June summit, but leaving open the possibility of talks at a later date, if Kim decides he can be civilized. And if he pulls anything foolish or reckless, the US military is “ready, if necessary,” to respond.
Acting like a grown-up isn’t a trait that Kim has been demonstrating recently. He followed his stunning overtures to South Korea and willingness to dismantle his nuclear program with a 180-degree turn, badmouthing Vice President Pence and ranting about US-South Korean military maneuvers and US policy in Libya.
There are those who believe this isn’t actually Kim’s doing, but China pulling his strings; that China decided it would rather have an unstable, totalitarian basket case threatening the world than have North Koreans join the 21st century, discover that capitalism actually provides people with food and start becoming friendly toward America.
Trump is, of course, being blasted for his alleged incompetence and naivety by the same liberals whose brilliant diplomacy resulted in Kim having nukes and missiles in the first place. I assume they think Trump should have begged Kim to hold talks and given him whatever he wanted (maybe even sent him a planeload of cash) just so he could come out and declare that he’d signed a deal, any deal, and there would be “peace in our time” (look it up.)
Some of Trump’s opponents seem more pleased to have an issue to bash him with than they are disappointed that the talks to end the nuclear threat are off. They don't seem to know how to process a US negotiator who refuses to signal that he can be rolled. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez scoffed, "The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal.”
Actually, if he’d ever read “The Art of the Deal,” he’d know that one of the most important factors is being willing to walk away, even at the last minute, if the other side pulls something you don’t like. If you hold the stronger hand, they’ll realize they blew it and come crawling back in a weaker position; and if they don’t come back, then they couldn’t be trusted anyway. If the people who’ve been practicing “the art of diplomacy” over the past couple of decades understood such basic rules of negotiation, Trump wouldn't have to be dealing with a nuclear North Korea now.