Media to blame
Blogger/author Don Surber patiently explains to an enraged MSNBC anchor why Republicans will not turn against Trump, no matter how many bad things the media say about him, and why it’s their own fault. Incidentally, her frustrated outburst over how his approval rating with Republicans hasn’t been hurt by “this McCain thing” is apparently a reference to Sen. John McCain’s funeral service. MSNBC, keeping it classy.
Expanding on Don Surber’s article, here’s Roger Simon pointing out that President Trump’s sometimes less-than-mature rhetoric against his critics is hardly unique in politics these days, as the media like to pretend. Most of the time, when he takes a punch at someone, he’s just punching back after a cheap shot at him. The media believe Republicans are supposed to ignore unfair attacks or admit their guilt and grovel in apology. They’re bumfuzzled by a Republican who actually punches back twice as hard (which, I believe, was Obama’s political advice.) And as Simon points out, while some Trump tweets may be less-than-mature, when Trump’s critics resort to making political attacks during funeral eulogies, they’ve lowered political discourse to the level of juvenile, and the media are cheering them for it.
The North Carolina gerrymander story
Jazz Shaw at the Hot Air blog takes a look at how the North Carolina Congressional district map has been gerrymandered, challenged, struck down by courts, redrawn, challenged again, and how the latest version will stand for now because all the fighting over it has dragged on so long that the primaries are already over. Shaw also explains why everyone complains about gerrymandering, but nobody does anything about it. Here are a few reasons:
1. The people drawing the districts are the majority in power, and they’re not about to risk giving up that power by changing their winning districts.
2. The drawing of districts is done on the individual state level, and no red state is going to make it easier for Democrats to win when blue states aren’t making it easier for Republicans to win, and vice versa.
3. Due to laws and court orders meddling with the district lines, such as requiring “majority minority districts” (that might be better called “court-sanctioned gerrymandering”), states can’t just let a computer draw the district maps objectively by population density.
I know gerrymandering can be frustrating to the party out of power, but pardon me if I don’t shed a tear for all the enraged Democrats wailing about the unfairness of it in Republican states. Before they started losing so many state legislatures, they were the undisputed masters of gerrymandering. They manipulated district lines like Picasso did paintbrushes, and with even more baffling results.
For instance, I have a friend from Texas, where the Democrats had a lock on the Legislature for over a hundred years until the late 1990s. Back then, he lived in a solidly Republican small town, and he complained that every election, his Representative, one of the most liberal in Congress, would be down by double digits until some ballot boxes were opened in a liberal corner of the district in a big city about 50 miles away, and the Democrat would be reelected. My friend described his Democrat-drawn Congressional district map as looking like the chalk outline the police might draw around a dead centipede.
Happy Labor Day
Happy Labor Day, everyone! I hope that you’re enjoying a long weekend in whatever way you choose. There’s an old joke that Labor Day is when we celebrate workers by taking the day off. But it’s much more than that. The idea of a holiday to honor workers has been around since the late 1800s. It even predates the rise of the union movement, although the two are inextricably bound together.
I’m happy to report that this Labor Day is looking a lot better for job seekers than in previous years. It was only a couple of years ago that 17 people were fighting for one job. That was to be the Republican Presidential nominee, and I was one of them. For jobs that get more respect from the media, like fry cook, there were a hundred applicants.
Republicans are often maligned as being anti-union and not caring about workers. Speaking as one of many Republicans who knows what it’s like to grow up poor and do jobs that leave your clothes in desperate need of a wash at the end of the day, I resent that characterization. I don’t whether to laugh or get angry when I hear a third-generation Kennedy family member lecture me on what it’s like to be poor.
The deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 1911, where 146 garment workers died because the bosses had locked the doors to prevent unauthorized breaks, long ago proved the need for strong worker representation. However, I believe Americans deserve union leaders who put the needs and the beliefs of the workers first, not their own cushy lifestyles or political sweetheart deals.
Not that there aren’t some Republicans who could use a refresher course on the importance of insuring that everyone who works hard has a shot at the American Dream. When I ran for President in 2008, I got smeared by the Wall Street crowd just for pointing out that just because they had a corner office and a $20 million golden parachute, that didn’t mean the economy was going gangbusters for everyone else. It didn’t give me any gratification that they learned I was right in 2009, when their house of cards collapsed.
Thankfully, we finally have real hope and change to celebrate, and Labor Day 2018 is looking a lot brighter for American workers. The last quarter of GDP growth was well over twice what it was in late 2016. Jobs are being created (and coming back from overseas), unemployment is at record or near-record lows in just about every demographic group, and wages are finally starting to rise after years of stagnation. A new Zogby survey found that 83% of business executives say their business is doing better than it was two years ago, and nearly as many expect it to be even better next year. If they keep sharing their good fortunes with their workers, that will help them survive times good or bad. And if they don’t, it’s finally easier to find a better job.
Now, with establishment Democrats threatened with takeover by outright socialists, and establishment Republicans bewailing that Donald Trump got elected by promising to put the interests of American workers first, I wonder if either of them will ever realize that they brought their problems on themselves by failing to listen to the people they were elected to represent: the hard-working citizens of the United States of America.
Further Thoughts on Labor Day
One thing that I think a lot of politicians don’t seem to understand is that a job is more than just a way to put bread on the table. From man’s beginnings as recorded in the book of Genesis, we were hard-wired for labor. God told us to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow. It’s natural for us to want to prove our value by producing.
From the time we are children, we imitate our parents in their work. It’s part of our DNA to want to be grown up, and one sure way to feel grown up is to work. That’s why the loss of a job is far, far more than an economic setback. It’s dehumanizing to want to be productive and not be able to. There is pride and dignity in being able to eat a meal that your work provided.
Just a few short years ago, a record number of Americans were either unemployed or underemployed—meaning that the job they had was part time or it paid less than required to meet basic necessities. The CDC studied suicide rates since 1928 and found that they mirrored the economy. Suicides took a big uptick during the Great Depression. They plunged during World War II, and spiked again in the recessions of the mid-70’s and early 80’s. Suicides dropped to their lowest levels ever in the year 2000, when the tech boom dropped unemployment to just 4 percent. But after the dot-com balloon burst, America's suicide rate steadily climbed. It’s a stark reminder that employment is more than an economic issue.
Both parties claim to be about jobs. Truth is, jobs aren’t created so much when the government does something as they are when the government stops doing things that put an anchor instead of a life vest around the necks of entrepreneurs. We hear talk about values…but do we value work and the people who do it? Companies should pay employees as generously as they can, because good workers have worth.
When taxes are high, it’s a sign that the government disrespects the worker by believing that what it will do with their salary is better than what the person who earned it will do. When we see employees as having worth, we will see their work as valuable. That’s the value of work. I believe YOU are valuable and therefore what you DO has value.
You can tell a lot about how politicians really feel about workers from looking not at what they say in their speeches lauding American workers, but by what they actually do.
President Trump has prioritized helping American workers, by cutting regulations, taxes and mandates that hamstring expansion and job creation; lowering barriers to companies bringing capital and jobs back to the US from abroad; renegotiating bad trade deals; and enforcing immigration laws to stop unfair competition by illegal immigrants, something that even the famed union organizer Cesar Chavez believed undercut pay for American workers. By contrast, President Obama and the Democrats talk a lot about their concern for workers, but when they were in power, they ramped up job-killing regulations, taxes and boondoggles like Obamacare; failed to secure borders or enforce immigration laws; and concentrated their attention on crony capital money pits like Solyndra and side show issues such as free birth control, same sex marriage, and late term abortion.
As voters are deciding whether to stay the course in November or put the Democrats back in power in Congress, they should remember the wise words of Joe Biden. That’s right, I said, “Joe Biden.” Joe might not be able to count very well, but he was right about one thing when he said leaders ought to be focused on "a simple, three-letter word: Jobs.”
A great Labor Day remembrance
It’s estimated that over 16.5 million Americans will be flying over the Labor Day weekend, and there will probably be at least that many on the freeway in front of me. So to help you pass some time if you’re stuck in the airport or parked on the freeway (But only if you’re parked! Safety first!), here’s a great Labor Day remembrance by Fox News’ Anna Kooiman of some of the great patriotic Americans she’s met whose labor makes this nation work.
Of funerals and forgiveness: recall that McCain gave Trump "dossier" to the FBI
It was a weekend of funerals and Trump-bashing, simultaneously. Of course, everything now is about Trump, and hating, and hating Trump, and almost no one is acting like an adult these days. I don’t know what Aretha Franklin’s personal politics were, or even if she was very active politically at all, but she deserved better than to have her funeral hijacked by politics. Does every occasion have to be about that? Every bit of sentiment at that event should have been focused on Aretha and the glorious voice she shared with the world.
As for John McCain’s funeral, it’s true that neither Trump nor Sarah Palin got an “invite” to John McCain’s funeral. (By the way, when did people start issuing/withholding invitations to funerals? What would Miss Manner say about this? It sure isn’t a Southern thing. In the South, everybody comes, everybody goes to the house afterwards, and everybody brings food. But I digress.) On the other hand, Trump surely wouldn’t have wanted to be there, anyway. I imagine that, to Trump, a sit-down with Robert Mueller might have been preferable. So the best thing to do was to follow the advice of fictional news anchor Ron Burgundy and stay classy.
Perhaps these two men were so estranged because they were too much alike in their brashness. Neither has been known for his diplomatic reserve or lack of narcissism. Trump said an awful thing when he bluntly dismissed McCain’s heroism following his capture in Vietnam, and it might have been asking too much of McCain for him ever to forgive Trump for such a remark. On the other hand, McCain did some things that significantly affected Trump and his administration, things so damaging that it’s hard to imagine Trump ever forgiving him. (And note the interesting contrast: we’re talking about what Trump SAID vs. what McCain actually DID.) In retrospect, one of the things McCain did to Trump is particularly significant right now.
McCain passed along the unverified Steele dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey.
Now, keep in mind that the dossier was making the rounds to a number of people who might have been highly motivated to get it to the FBI, so Comey surely would have seen it regardless of McCain’s decision to give it to him. But Trump knows he did it –- McCain wrote candidly about receiving it and passing it to Comey in his recent book, THE RESTLESS WAVE, which came out in May.
John Haltiwanger at BUSINESS INSIDER offered some commentary at the time the book was released, and it’s enlightening now to take another look at that. What happened to McCain is by now a familiar scenario: as with some of Trump’s campaign associates, he was approached by a person who wanted to tell him something about what the Russians were up to.
It happened in November of 2016, shortly after Trump had won the Presidential election. McCain was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for an annual national security conference when Sir Andrew Wood, a retired British diplomat, approached him. (McCain thought he might previously have met Wood in passing but wasn’t sure, and he did not recall conversing with him before this.) McCain accompanied Wood to a room off the main conference hall, where they were joined by two other men, David Kramer, a former assistant secretary of state with Russian expertise, and Chris Brose, a staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. For the first few minutes, they talked about Russian election interference, according to McCain.
Then Wood revealed to McCain the reason he’d wanted to talk. “He told me he knew of a former MI6 agent named Christopher Steele,” McCain wrote in the book, “who had been commissioned to investigate connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents as well as potentially compromising information about the President-elect that Putin allegedly possessed.”
Let’s pause for a moment. It’s been confirmed that Christopher Steele was a passionate anti-Trumper who was “commissioned” by a political oppo research company being paid by Hillary’s campaign and the DNC to get whatever gossip and trash he could pick up. That’s the reality. Now, let’s continue with McCain’s story.
Wood said the information in the Steele dossier was unverified but that Steele “strongly believed” it “merited a thorough examination by counterintelligence experts.”
Let’s pause again. We now know that Steele himself wasn’t at all confident in the truth of the dossier. So if what McCain wrote about Wood is true, Wood was really overselling what was in it. Or perhaps Steele had oversold it to Wood.
But McCain sensed this dossier might be extremely important. “Our impromptu meeting felt charged with a strange intensity,” he wrote. “No one wise-cracked to lighten the mood. We spoke in lowered voices. The room was dimly lit, and the atmosphere was eerie.” (In another reference to fictional news anchors, this sounds like the scene in NETWORK in which Howard Beale is confronted by conglomerate chairman Arthur Jensen in the dimly lit, eerie boardroom and comes away saying, “I have seen the face of God.”) But all this drama was over a piece of oppo research garbage. McCain wrote that the scenario seemed “too strange” to be believed but that he felt “even a remote risk that the President of the United States might be vulnerable to Russian extortion had to be investigated.”
Long story short: Kramer met with Steele, reported back, told McCain he thought Steele was reputable. McCain agreed to receive copy of dossier even though he had no idea if anything in it was true. McCain locked it in his safe, called Comey, requested a meeting. On December 19, 2016, he met with Comey for about 10 minutes and gave him the dossier.
“I did what duty demanded I do,” McCain wrote in the book. He said he’d do it again. And if anyone disagreed with what he did, they could “go to hell.”
“I trust the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, an experienced, skilled prosecutor, and a man of exceptional probity and character to separate fact from fiction, and get to the bottom of the so-called dossier,” he actually wrote.
McCain’s book came out a few months ago. Though we’ve learned much since that time, we knew then of the dossier’s stunningly political origins. And though the FBI has proved itself to be quite untrustworthy on the subject of Trump, and Mueller has packed his team with Hillary donors and partisan attack dogs, it doesn’t sound as if McCain ever took one second to rethink his decision to pass along the dossier. I may really be going out on a limb here, but I suspect this might be one reason why Trump didn’t much care for John McCain. (Of course, there were other reasons, including the little matter of his vote to save Obamacare, but I digress.)
McCain wrote in his book that he suspected Wood approached him about the dossier because he had been such a staunch critic of Putin over the years that he would likely take their concerns about a Trump-Russia connection seriously. I don’t doubt he believed that, but I wonder if it’s more likely he was chosen because he was known to be so strongly anti-Trump that they were confident he’d get the dossier where they needed it to go.