Author Archives: R.D. Walker

God grant me the serenity…

…to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
the wisdom to know the difference,
and the self discipline to shut up about it.

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Bernie Sanders praises Trump for TPP withdrawal

Washington Post…

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), who campaigned hard against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in last year’s Democratic presidential primaries, praised President Trump for an executive order to officially pull the United States out of the deal.

“I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone,” Sanders said. “For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals — including the North American Free Trade Agreement, permanent normal trade relations with China and others — which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom’ which has lowered wages for American workers. Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multinational corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers, then I would be delighted to work with him.”

No surprise there. If you are an exporter, TPP would have benefited you. If you are a importer, TPP would have benefited you. If you are a consumer, TPP would have benefited you. If you are a Union executive, TPP would be a problem. Sanders gets this. So does the AFL-CIO.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared, “today’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people.”

Let me translate that for you. What Trumka is really saying is that “withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that transfers many more millions of dollars from consumers and businesses to union coffers.”

But don’t worry. Any policy that receives high praise from Bernie Sanders and Richard Trumka must be a damned fine policy, huh?

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New FCC head to end Net Neutrality

The new head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is an outspoken opponent of new net neutrality rules and that is a good thing.

Chief among Pai’s targets will be the net neutrality online traffic rules the FCC adopted on a partisan 3-2 vote in 2015.

The regulations are designed to ensure the free flow of online data by barring Internet service providers from discriminating against legal content flowing through their networks. To do that, the FCC imposed utility-like oversight of broadband providers.

Former President Obama, his fellow Democrats and consumer activists pushed for the tough regulations. But the move was strongly opposed by Pai and the FCC’s other Republican, Michael O’Rielly, as well as GOP lawmakers and broadband providers.

Trump also spoke out against the rules, tweeting in November 2014, “Obama’s attack on the Internet is another top-down power grab.”

A federal appeals court upheld the rules last year after a legal challenge from AT&T Inc., other telecom companies and industry trade groups. But in a Dec. 7 speech to the Free State Foundation, a free-market think tank, Pai said he was “more confident than ever” that the “days are numbered” for the net neutrality regulations.

Carriers shouldn’t be forced to pay for the business plans of content providers. Ending Net Neutrality fixes that.

More here.

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The problem with the women’s march was it was all women…

That according to women who were born male.

Transgender activists are upset that the women’s march over the weekend was not inclusive to biological men who identify as women, as the protest presented an “oppressive message” that having a “vagina is essential to womanhood.”

Saturday’s event to oppose the inauguration of Donald Trump was largely a “white cis women march,” with too many pictures of female reproductive organs and pink hats, according to trans women and “nonbinary” individuals interviewed by Mic.com.

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Presidential Proclamation Signed Monday

Donald Trump’s inauguration day declared a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion”.

National Day of Patriotic Devotion

A Proclamation

A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart. We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose.

Freedom is the birthright of all Americans, and to preserve that freedom we must maintain faith in our sacred values and heritage.

Our Constitution is written on parchment, but it lives in the hearts of the American people. There is no freedom where the people do not believe in it; no law where the people do not follow it; and no peace where the people do not pray for it.

There are no greater people than the American citizenry, and as long as we believe in ourselves, and our country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2017, as National Day of Patriotic Devotion, in order to strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country—and to renew the duties of Government to the people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

  Filed 1-23-17; 2:00 pm

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That’s the way you boost manufacturing…

Cut regulations, cut taxes and fast-track plans: That’s the way free market capitalists boost productivity. Not with cowardly “border tax”.

In the opening hours of his first formal day in the White House on Monday, President Trump welcomed leaders from several of the country’s largest corporations and promised to wipe out at least 75 percent of government regulations that hinder their businesses, fast-track their plans to open factories and cut taxes “massively.”

And he again threatened to impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that move production out of the country.

“We’re going to be cutting regulation massively,” Trump told a large group of business chief executives over breakfast, which was briefly open to the news media. “Now, we’re going to have regulation, and it’ll be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now. The problem with the regulation that we have right now is that you can’t do anything. … I have people that tell me that they have more people working on regulations than they have doing product.”

More here.

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Changes to international trade start today…

Trump has his pen and phone in hand.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order as early as Monday stating his intention to renegotiate the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, a White House official told NBC News.

Eliminating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was crafted by former President Bill Clinton and enacted in 1994, was a frequent Trump campaign promise.

The deal was intended to eliminate most trade tariffs between the three nations, increase investment and tighten protection and enforcement of intellectual property.

“We will be starting negotiations having to do with NAFTA,” Trump said Sunday at a swearing-in ceremony for his top White House advisers. “We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border.”

U.S. manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico, the United States’ two largest export markets, increased 258 percent under the agreement, according to the website of outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and the deal helped create a trade surplus in agriculture and manufactured goods.

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Power to the People!

‘Power to the people’ is the central message of virtually every politician of all political stripes in the Western World. All political aspirants wish to be seen as the authentic voice of the people personified.

‘Power to the people’ takes on a special gravity, however, among populists. Populists absolutely insist that they are the manifestation of a unified voice of the citizenry. They insist that, as the manifestation of the will of the people, their actions constitute those of ‘the people’.

That there is a unified ‘people’ who are able to lend their collective will to a leader is almost never the case, however, and it certainly will not be the case during the Trump presidency. The people of the United States are far too divided to offer a unified voice on any issue. The divisions in America are harsh and Trump’s disapproval rating is greater than his approval.

None of this means that his policies are necessarily wrong. It is merely to point out that Trump cannot be the manifestation of the will of the people because at least as many – and probably more – of the people oppose him as support him.

So when populists talk about ‘the people’ they are always and everywhere, on the left and on the right, talking about a subset of the people. They define “the people” as the subset of people who support the populist politician.

Populists always portray the voice of the people as monolithic, moral, righteous and noble. Therefore they, as the manifestation of the will of the people, are also monolithic, moral, righteous and noble . After all, how could the unified voice of the people be wrong?

Since they are always moral, their opponents – the huge portion of the population that is not part of ‘the people’ – must be immoral and, therefore, illegitimate.

Populists insist that anyone who does not support the populist agenda is an illegitimate, elitist usurper of the power of the people who must be suppressed. Because the people – and thus the populists they support – are always righteous and morally pure, their opponents must be corrupt and immoral.

And herein lies the problem with populism. It is always, whether it is the populism of the left or the populism of the right, divisive. If the voice of the people is not uniform, ‘the people’ as defined by the populist will always be just a subset of the population. The remainder will be not of ‘the people’ and, therefore, something else. Whatever that something else is, it is opposed to ‘the people’.

If the people are always moral, righteous and noble, those who oppose them must be immoral, corrupt and ignoble. Because of this, populism is never really populist in its practical application. It is divisive, limited and fractional. The more divided the population, the more this must be true.

The answer to this problem, of course, is distributed government in the form of a pluralistic, constitutional republic that supports a diversity of people and viewpoints. That, however, is a whole different post.

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Trump signs Obamacare Executive Order

Day one action on Obamacare.

President Trump on Friday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to “ease the burden of ObamaCare.”

Trump signed the order in front of reporters at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, one of his first official acts as president.

The order did not direct any specific actions, instead giving broad authority to the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies to take actions available to them under the law to ease regulatory requirements from ObamaCare.

It pushes agencies to target provisions that impose a “fiscal burden” on a state or a “cost” or “regulatory burden” on individuals or businesses.

It is not clear what practical effects will come from the order.

Some have argued that the purpose of this order is to undercut Obamacare’s individual mandate. If so, why not repeal the law? The president, of course, cannot simply repeal laws. After all, the individual mandate is a law passed by congress, duly signed by a former president and upheld by the Supreme Court. It takes an act of Congress to repeal a law passed by congress and signed by the president.

If the executive order undercuts the individual mandate it will do so by selective enforcement. Basically, the president is ordering his people to not enforce the law by, I don’t know, handing out waivers for the asking.

This would be using the same presidential superpower that Obama used when he decided to stop deporting illegal aliens. He didn’t repeal immigration law, he just stopped enforcing it.

The Trump Administration could argue that, if even one person is fined, he upheld his oath to enforce the law… even of the other 99.9999 percent receive waivers.

This is one of the new superpowers of the POTUS. Any law passed by Congress that isn’t to his liking can be simply ignored and unenforced by the chief law enforcement officer rendering it moot.

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Climate change vanishes from White House websites

There is a new administration in town and that means a very real political climate change. 🙂

At 11:59 am eastern, the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it. At noon, at the instant Donald Trump took office, the page was gone, as well as any mention of climate change or global warming.

It’s customary for www.whitehouse.gov to flip over to the new administration exactly at noon, but the only mention of climate on President Trump’s new website is under his “America First Energy Plan” page, in which he vows to destroy President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which is a government-wide plan to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. To reiterate: It is normal that the site is completely new; it is notable that climate change is not mentioned on any one of Trump’s new pages.

More here.

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An Inauguration Day Message from 2009

This is a flashback to 2009.

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Manning’s Catch-22

Chelsea née Bradly Manning – who is still on active duty – will be getting a dishonorable discharge and a dishonorable discharge puts an end to benefits from Uncle Sugar.

The Army says former Pvt. Chelsea Manning will lose her military healthcare benefits following President Obama’s commutation of her prison sentence.

“If Pvt. Manning is discharged with a dishonorable discharge, she will lose her entitlement to benefits, including gender-transition care at medical treatment facilities,” Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith told USA Today Wednesday.

Smith said Manning’s dishonorable discharge was included in the terms of the 35-year prison sentence imposed on her in 2013.

Manning was convicted of leaking classified information about U.S. military and national security activities that were later publicly disclosed by WikiLeaks.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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I am swooning at the prospect of these cuts…

Should what is described below happen, I will be happily sing the praises of the Republican Congress and Donald Trump for doing it. (They can’t just pour the savings into favored projects, however.)

Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.

The changes they propose are dramatic.

The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.

Even this is a drop in the bucket compared to the true fiscal disaster that is Medicare and Social Security. Without reform there, this is virtually nothing.

Read it all.

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In which I support a law that is more restrictive of liberty…

In Iowa, texting while driving is illegal. It is not, however, a primary offense. That means a police officer cannot pull you over if he sees you texting. He can only pile on that charge if he stops you for a primary offense.

The Iowa legislature is considering changing that. They are considering making the use of the phone while driving for any purpose that isn’t hands-free a primary offense and increasing fines.

A few years ago I strongly opposed any legislation of this nature. I have flip-flopped, however. I have changed because I have witnessed a serious degradation in driving behavior. Everywhere I go, cars are crossing center lines and careening onto shoulders. I see it literally every day. It is as if half the population is drunk off of their asses.

Hell, I think I would prefer to be on the road with moderately drunk drivers than people texting while driving. The statistics back me up on this as well. For the first time in decades, the highway fatality rate is creeping back up. Phone use in cars is literally killing people.

This, combined with that fact that hands-free systems are becoming very common tells me that it is time to crack down. I always say that, if you aren’t picking my pocket or breaking my leg, I don’t care what you do. Well, irresponsible use of cell phones while driving is both picking our pockets and breaking our legs. It must end.

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Pence: Nobody on Obamacare will lose insurance

If you have insurance through Obamacare, you will keep your insurance.

Vice President–elect Mike Pence assured Americans currently covered by the Affordable Care Act that they “should have no anxiety about losing their insurance.”

“Any American who has insurance today, through an ‘Obamacare’ exchange or through the Obama plan itself, should have no anxiety about losing their insurance,” Pence told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz in an interview today. “We’re committed to an orderly transition, to a new and better health insurance set of reforms that are going to work for every American, just like the president-elect said.”

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Donald’s wake up call…

Maybe DJT is realizing the President’s job isn’t really that analogous to real estate investing and game show hosting.

President-elect Donald Trump said that receiving intel briefings has shown him that the U.S. faces some formidable “enemies” but that he will “solve the problems.”

“I’ve had a lot of briefings that are very … I don’t want to say ‘scary,’ because I’ll solve the problems,” Trump told Axios in an interview published Wednesday. “But we have some big enemies out there in this country, and we have some very big enemies — very big and, in some cases, strong enemies.”

He continued, “You also realize that you’ve got to get it right because a mistake would be very, very costly in so many different ways.”

I recall reading somewhere that friends of Dick Cheney said that he was a changed, more serious darker man after he started receiving intelligence briefings. I am guessing Trump is feeling a bit of what Cheney felt.

It is a scary world.

More here.

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A message from the President-Elect

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If Team Trump remembers Paula Jones…

… they will take this deadly seriously. As Bill Clinton learned, this sort of thing doesn’t go away and, sometimes, it leads to an independent prosecutor, a stained blue dress, perjury and impeachment.

A woman who previously accused Donald Trump of unwanted sexual advances has filed a defamation lawsuit against the president elect — just three days before Trump’s presidential inauguration.

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the “The Apprentice,” said in a press conference with attorney Gloria Allred in Los Angeles on Tuesday that she filed the lawsuit over allegedly false statements Trump made in response to her accusation.

The suit, filed Tuesday morning, claims Trump knew his statements about Zervos and his other accusers would subject them to “threats of violence, economic harm and reputational damage.”

More here.

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Obama’s True Legacy

If you want to understand Obama, you need to examine his total war on the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Barack Obama will forever be the president who worked diligently to put the gun of government to the heads of the Little Sisters of the Poor, demanding that they either pay to destroy children in the womb or be crushed.

You can’t candy-coat that. You can’t hide it. You can’t pretend it wasn’t what it was. For 177 years, the Little Sisters of the Poor has been a large Roman Catholic religious ministry that takes vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and hospitality. Serving the Kingdom of God on earth in over 30 countries, they have one stated mission: to care for impoverished people as they near the end of their lives. As Ashley McGuire describes it, “The only fight they go looking for is to make the last days of some very downtrodden people brighter and happier, to send as many people into the next life surrounded by love, not garbage.”

Barack Obama knew that, personally. Regardless, he instructed his administration to rewrite executive regulations nine separate times to ensure these nuns be forced to either violate their conscience by helping distribute abortifacients or be fined $70 million a year and out of existence. Their beliefs, their ministry, their cause, and even the incredible work that they do were secondary to President Barack Obama’s devotion to funding and expanding the destruction of infants with tax dollars.

Read it all.

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Becoming the Left

Class envy used to be the purview of the left. In the age of Trump, it has been adopted by the right.

Interesting to see Ann complaining about billionaires, isn’t it? Is she calling for redistribution? The release of their tax returns? What?

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Obama commutes sentence of Army intel leaker

No surprise there.

President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.

It’s hard to see why, under the circumstances, Snowden shouldn’t be allowed to come home then.

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Obama’s Scandal Free Presidency

That’s what they are saying.

Kevin Williamson tells another story.

Under the Obama administration’s watch, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies from the BATF to the NLRB were illegally used to target and harass the president’s political enemies. The IRS targeting scandal was the most high-profile of these, but others are just as worrisome. Federal investigations and congressional oversight were obstructed, and investigators were lied to outright — a serious crime. The administration protected the wrongdoers and saw to it that they retired with generous federal pensions rather than serving federal sentences for their crimes.

The Obama administration oversaw the illegal sale of arms to Mexican traffickers for purposes that to this date have not been adequately explained, and those guns have been used to murder American law-enforcement officers.

President Obama’s secretary of state was involved in a high-profile case in which she improperly set up a private e-mail system to evade ordinary governmental oversight; she and her associates routinely misled investigators, obstructed investigations, and hid or destroyed evidence. These are all serious crimes.

The Obama administration made ransom payments to the Iranian government and lied about having done so.

Under the Obama administration, the Secret Service has been a one-agency scandal factory, from drunk agents driving their cars into White House barriers to getting mixed up with hookers in Cartagena.

Under the guise of developing “green” energy projects, the Obama administration shunted money to politically connected cronys at Solyndra and elsewhere.

Obama’s men at the Veterans Administration oversaw a system in which our servicemen lost their lives to bureaucratic incompetence and medical neglect, and then falsified records to cover it up.

Under the flimsiest of national-security pretexts, the Obama administration used the Department of Justice to spy on Fox News reporter James Rosen. It also spied on the Associated Press.

The Obama administration’s attorney general, Eric Holder, left office while being held in contempt of Congress for inhibiting the investigation of other Obama administration scandals.

Read it all.

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A message from the president-elect…

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More European countries considering universal guaranteed income…

Why are they considering it?

In a word, robots. With automated systems and machines increasingly replacing human workers, France could lose 3 million jobs by 2025, says Benoit Hamon, a former education minister campaigning for the French presidency on a promise of gradually introducing no-strings-attached payments for all. As work becomes scarcer, a modest but regular guaranteed income would stop people from fearing the future and free up their time for family, the needy and themselves, he argues.

It could also encourage people to take risks, start businesses and try new activities without the risk of losing welfare benefits.

The other pro-basic income candidate for the Socialist Party presidential ticket is outsider Jean-Luc Bennahmias. Like Hamon, the former European Parliament lawmaker argues that it is pointless to expect the return of economic boom times, with jobs for all.

“Growth at two, three, four or five percent in western countries: it’s finished,” he said in a televised debate last week. “We have to speak the truth.”

Outside research backs up their arguments. An Oxford University study in 2015 estimated nearly half of the American workforce is at risk of automation.

It is an interesting question and one we have discussed before. In a world where all or most jobs are done by robots, how do humans who don’t own the robots make a living? Income without work promotes laziness, leads to vice, undermines purpose and basically destroys the soul. But what if there is no work?

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GOP disagreement over import taxes

Trump wants to radically increase taxes on imports. The GOP in Congress wants a more measured approach. American industrialists want neither.

President-elect Donald Trump criticized a cornerstone of House Republicans’ corporate-tax plan, which they had pitched as an alternative to his proposed import tariffs, creating another point of contention between the incoming president and congressional allies.

The measure, known as border adjustment, would tax imports and exempt exports as part of a broader plan to encourage companies to locate jobs and production in the U.S. But Mr. Trump, in his first comments on the subject, called it “too complicated.”

“Anytime I hear border adjustment, I don’t love it,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday. “Because usually it means we’re going to get adjusted into a bad deal. That’s what happens.”

Retailers and oil refiners have lined up against the measure, warning it would drive up their tax bills and force them to raise prices because they rely so heavily on imported goods.

Koch Industries, a conglomerate run by billionaire brothers active in Republican politics, last month said the border-adjustment measure could have “devastating” long-term consequences for the economy and the American consumer.

Every time I read about Republicans imposing barriers to trade and increasing taxes on goods I can’t help but wonder at what moment Republicans became Democrats.

More here.

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