Trump v. the Administrative State

If one is to think about it, and one should, what is the biggest impediment to starting or growing a business today in the United States? The answer is subtly different in the UK, but not much, I think. The answer is that we all do far too much paperwork for the government, and essentially it is on our own time, cause we don’t get paid to do that and there’s no profit in it anywhere.

In PowerLine yesterday, Steven Hayward, talked about this as well.

Last month I noted here and in the Los Angeles Times that the Trump Administration is conducting the most serious effort at de-regulation and true regulatory reform (as opposed to mere temporary relief) since the Reagan Administration, and in some ways superior to the Reagan efforts. (Though to be fair, many of the worst excesses of executive branch regulation have grown up since the Reagan years.)

Yesterday my regulatory rabbi Chris DeMuth took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal with a long feature explaining in his usual lucid way exactly what is going on. This is one of those times when you really ought to buy a copy at the newsstand because of the subscription paywall if you’re not a subscriber.

Which is fine and I would if there was anyplace out here that carried it, but the subscription is a bit high, even though I grew up reading it, so I’ll just have to suffer along with you. Chris says,

Consider three leading indicators. First, Mr. Trump has appointed regulatory chiefs who are exceptionally well-qualified and are determined reformers. . .  Second, the Trump administration is turning back from unilateral lawmaking. Mr. Obama made several aggressive excursions into this dangerous territory. . .  Each was justified by legal arguments that administration officials conceded to be novel and that many impartial experts (including those who favored the policies on the merits) regarded as risible. Each ran into strong resistance from the courts.

A third indicator is the introduction of regulatory budgeting, which sounds tedious but is potentially revolutionary. . .

Many readers may be puzzled that our tempestuous president should preside over the principled, calibrated regulatory reform described here. I have a hypothesis. Perhaps our first businessman-president, whatever his troubles in dealing with Congress, foreign leaders and other outside forces, is comfortable and proficient in managing his own enterprise, which is now the executive branch. He devoted unusual personal attention to his regulatory appointments, including those whose programs did not figure in his campaign strategy. He gives his subordinates wide running room, checks in with questions and pep talks, and likes management systems and metrics. He may even understand that modern presidents have become too powerful for their own good and can benefit from sharing responsibility with Congress.

Makes sense to me, whatever Trumps various difficulties, and I see them as surprisingly minor, he does know how to select executives (mostly) give them a mission and watch them run. I’ve been impressed.

From Steve again

Footnote: In my Los Angeles Times piece earlier this month, I wrote that “It is inconceivable that any of the other leading Republican candidates from the 2016 cycle would have governed as boldly as Trump has.” I had in mind things such as repudiating the Paris Climate Accord, and the EPA’s move to end the corrupt “sue-and-settle” lawsuit racket, which should have been done in the last Republican administration led by someone named Bush.

And you know, that is so much of the business cycle, how you feel about it when you get up to go to work, sometimes you can’t wait, and sometimes you’d rather not bother, and it really doesn’t depend on externalities like the weather. It depends on whether you think you’ll accomplish something, as much as anything. If you think all you’ll accomplish is another pile of government paperwork, it is easy to say “the hell with it” and over the last eight years many of us did.

That’s a lot of the traditional disdain for overreaching government instilled very deep in many Americans, we see it (truly, I think) as still another artificial constraint placed on us.

But because Trump is lifting the miasma from the swamp, at least some, we are seeing growth numbers that were inconceivable under Obama, because we believe things will get better, instead of the last eight years, when we always assumed worse.

And, as always, as the numbers go up, another one goes down, unemployment, however you measure it, yes, some are more honest than others. But we’re growing now at a rate now that would please China, let alone the UK.

Draining the swamp is a large part of making America great again.


Week in Pictures: Moar Cowbell

Let’s start with something that is becoming more obvious every day.

Had enough of the sex scandals, real and imagined? Yeah, me too. We’ve decided reached moar cowbell, both here and in Britain, but I fear it’s going to be running for some time, and has just gotten to DC. Swamps are like that. I’m also afraid that we are going to hear some awful stories involving pedophilia. That’s where most of the week went.

Right over left, or left over right

WASHINGTON—In response to radio personality Leeann Tweeden’s allegations of being inappropriately groped by Al Franken during a 2006 U.S.O. tour, Democratic Party leaders issued calls Thursday for a convincing amount of condemnation for the Minnesota senator. “I urge my fellow Democrats to renounce Senator Franken’s unacceptable behavior in the absolute most plausible way,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, adding that he hadn’t ruled out taking steps to eventually look into the matter. “It’s imperative that we unequivocally go through the motions of rejecting any and all forms of sexual misconduct, and I’m confident that all Democrats will join me in denouncing the senator’s actions in the strongest believable terms.” Schumer also said that party leaders would remain steadfast in their lip service even if additional Democrats were accused of sexual assault.

Broken Cat

Thanksgiving is Thursday – best start thawing that Turkey

Of course

As usual, most from PowerLine and Bookworm.


Camille Paglia: Bring on the Revolution, One Year Later

Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia

I ran across this yesterday while looking for something. It’s pretty amazing how accurate she is here, first published on October 28th, 2016. Hint: it may be the most accurate prediction of the last year made. Neo.

Emily Hill had a chance to interview Camille Paglia for the Spectator recently in London. As usual, many oxen were gored, and I found it quite refreshing. I often disagree with Professor Paglia, but I always enjoy a clear position, argued vigorously. Some bits…

[…] It’s only on turning to Hillary Clinton that she perpetrates an actual murder: of Clinton II’s most cherished claim, that her becoming 45th president of the United States would represent a feminist triumph.

‘In order to run for president of the United States, you have to spend two or three years of your life out on the road constantly asking for money and most women find that life too harsh, too draining,’ Paglia argues. ‘That is why we haven’t had a woman president in the United States — not because we haven’t been ready for one, for heaven’s sakes, for a very long time…’

Hillary hasn’t suffered — Paglia continues — because she is a woman. She has shamelessly exploited the fact: ‘It’s an outrage how she’s played the gender card. She is a woman without accomplishment. “I sponsored or co-sponsored 400 bills.” Oh really? These were bills to rename bridges and so forth. And the things she has accomplished have been like the destabilisation of North Africa, causing refugees to flood into Italy… The woman is a disaster!’

She sounds here, more conservative than me, but in a lot of things we do agree, we’re both pro-freedom to do pretty much what you want, her standard of ‘scaring the horses’ may be somewhat higher than mine, however. In any case, on Hillary Clinton I surely agree, her career is more like something out of Mad Men than anything to do with feminism, however defined. And yes, I too rather liked Bill Clinton, until the whole Lewinski thing showed that he too lied about everything.

She continues:

Paglia’s feminism has always been concerned with issues far beyond her own navel and the Hillary verdict is typical of her attitude — which is more in touch with women in the real world than most feminists’ (a majority of Americans, for example, have an ‘unfavourable view of Hillary Clinton’ according to recent polling).

‘My philosophy of feminism,’ the New York-born 69-year-old explains, ‘I call street-smart Amazon feminism. I’m from an immigrant family. The way I was brought up was: the world is a dangerous place; you must learn to defend yourself. You can’t be a fool. You have to stay alert.’ Today, she suggests, middle-class girls are being reared in a precisely contrary fashion: cosseted, indulged and protected from every evil, they become helpless victims when confronted by adversity. ‘We are rocketing backwards here to the Victorian period with this belief that women are not capable of making decisions on their own. This is not feminism — which is to achieve independent thought and action. There will never be equality of the sexes if we think that women are so handicapped they can’t look after themselves.’

Exactly what I believe.

Paglia says she has absolutely no idea how the election will go: ‘But people want change and they’re sick of the establishment — so you get this great popular surge, like you had one as well… This idea that Trump represents such a threat to western civilisation — it’s often predicted about presidents and nothing ever happens — yet if Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party, the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media. It would be an incredible release of energy… at a moment of international tension and crisis.’

All of a sudden, the professor seems excited. Perhaps, like all radicals in pursuit of the truth, Paglia is still hoping the revolution will come.

I think Ms. Hill may have a point, Paglia, like a lot of us, may well think it time for The Revolution 2.0, or as a good Lutheran would put it, a Reformation. Besides, I have to respect a person who shares my hero worship of Katharine Hepburn and Amelia Earhart, even if I’m not as taken with Germain Greer.

via ‘The woman is a disaster!’: Camille Paglia on Hillary Clinton. Do read the whole thing.

Lillie Langtry and American Judges

I haven’t said anything much about Judge Roy Moore, or in fact, most of the others, who it seems are being hounded out of public life, both here and in the United Kingdom. Nor do I intend to. Jay D. Homnick writing in The Spectator tells you why.

Judge Roy Moore has always come across as an anachronism, a frontier character letting chips fall as they may and consequences be damned. It is hard to think of him without harking back to Judge Roy Bean, the quirky Justice of the Peace who ruled with an iron and ironic hand, dispensing a brand of justice from his saloon in Southwest Texas during the waning days of the 19th century. Unlike other jurisdictions which sentenced horse thieves to death, Bean would impose the commonsense sanction of making the man return the horse.

Bean was the father of four children, but he was so infatuated with the image of English actress Lilly Langtry that he left her a lasting monument in naming the town of Langtry, Texas. Eventually Miss Langtry paid a visit to her namesake municipality, ten months after old Roy had passed on to his reward.

Our Roy has appeared to be cut from the same cloth, at least in his ability to stand up to the critics and the naysayers. He has stood up for what is right countless times, often paying high prices. […]

So now we are confronted by accusers who ascribe to him inexcusable sexual behavior from four decades ago, before his marriage. And suddenly everyone is angrily encamping on opposing battle lines to believe the victims or discredit their accounts.

My answer is simple: none of the above. I refuse to include this into the duties of the voter. With thirty days to go before an election, we must suddenly invest our attention in an extra-judicial process to listen carefully to a prosecution and a defense delivered in press conferences, then take on the role of judge and jury.

I refuse to play. I enjoy the Eyes for Lies blog as much as the next guy, but trying to be a human lie detector is not a job for the masses, and certainly not one to be assigned to the voting public. No one has the right to demand that I sit and listen to the audio of a he-said-she-said dispute and to vote on the basis of whose voice had a more genuine quaver.

Precisely, as a Christian, I prescribe to the same code, learned at my parent’s knee long ago, our countries will be fine if run on the basis of the ten commandments.

The behavior which many of the men are accused is morally, ethically, and legally wrong. The place for this is the Grand Jury room, in these cases almost uniformly a score of years ago. If you didn’t report it then, you’re after something other than justice now, and that makes your complaint irrelevant. If they actually acted this way, and you had done the right thing and reported it, even signed a police complaint, maybe just maybe you could have saved some other woman the same distress, humiliation, even victimhood. But you didn’t care about anybody but yourself then, especially not another woman, and so you put yourself outside of my circle of responsibility. You made this mess, you can clean it up, or you can live in it. Not my problem. Yep, I’d vote for Judge Roy Moore, not only because I agree with a fair amount of what he says, but because the cretins in (and leading) Congress don’t. Time to put a spoke in their wheel.

Now, about Lilly Langtry, Old Judge Roy Bean may or may not have been the best justice of the peace in Texas, but he was certainly a competent judge of the physical beauty of women, even those he had not met. 🙂

Lady Astor and D-Day Dodgers

When he reblogged my Veteran’s Day the other day, Dan Miller reminded me of something. I don’t know about you but I’m always grateful for a break from the nonsense of the political world, so let’s take another day, and enjoy it.

In it, he alluded to a song, written by Scottish Highlander Captain Hamish Henderson in Italy during World War II. This one, the tune is, of course, Lili Marlene. Most famously sung by both Brits and Germans in their turn in the canteens of Tobruk.

The term comes from an unconsidered remark of Lady Astor, regarding the British and Commonwealth troops who were so heavily engaged in Italy while Overlord was going in. It was strongly resented, as it should have been.

Strangely, I have written about those guys, at least once. Back when the world was young Jess told me a bit about her ex’s family when his grandfather died. Jess loved Old Tom, and called him The Last Crusader. There is a link in that article to her moving tribute to him. It still makes my monitor dusty. I don’t think I mentioned it in that article but Tom’s military tradition goes back to the Revolution and perhaps Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham.

In any case, Tom was a member of the 7th Armoured, (the Green Rats, The Jungle Rats), He served in the western desert until El Alamein, then in Burma, then back to Iran, and finally attached to the Canadians in Italy. These were the men Lady Astor referred to as dodging D-Day.

Well, Nancy, Lady Astor, was not quite like anybody else. Her dad was a distinguished Confederate officer, who came out of the Civil War broke, and made back a fair chunk of money, her big sister marry Charles Dana Gibson (the illustrator) and became the prototype of “The Gibson Girl”, what we Anglo-Americans consider feminine beauty, Nancy’s first marriage failed and she found herself in England.

Her sharp wit has led to many (false) tales of her crossing swords with Winston Churchill, they maintain currency because we can easily see these two going after each other, but one of the few documented times they were together was at the funeral of T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and they were seen holding hands with tears streaming down their cheeks.

But Nancy married Waldorf Astor, a man with a claim to be the richest man in the world, and an estate, Cliveden, that makes Downton Abbey look like a cottage. But here’s the thing, when he was made Lord Astor (thus Lady Astor) in 1918, she decided that his seat in the House of Commons should be hers.

She was a deft campaigner, from RealClearPolitics

“I think that women had better put a woman in the House of Commons,” she told female audiences. “Much as I love you, Gentlemen, you have made a terrible muddle of the world without us.”

She responded to hecklers with a deftness that surprised no one who’d dined with her at Cliveden. When one man jeered during a speech that she had no idea what it was like to live on two pounds a week, she smiled at him and replied, “Would I like to live on two pounds a week? No, but would you work as hard as me if you had what I had?”

And so, she, an American, became the first woman member of the British Parliament, and remained so until 1944. She is the one who made the comment during the Blitz, that the American Revolution had been fought against a German king to maintain the rights of Englishmen. It is perhaps an oversimplification there, but there is also truth in it.

But as time went on, she rather lost the thread in affairs, leading to things like the unfortunate comment on D-Day dodgers.

But still a most remarkable woman, and another example, like Jennie Jerome, of how Britain and America cross-pollinate each other, making both better. Nor should we forget that the Astors, themselves, are an American family, going back to John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant to New York, and his American Fur Company, a major competitor for the British Hudson’s Bay Company and Northwest Company, for the very lucrative trade in North American furs in the early 19th Century.

Red October

So a hundred years ago, today, the Bolsheviks occupied the government buildings in Petrograd. It was the highlight and climax of the October Revolution, which toppled Kerensky’s government and set the regime of V.I. Lenin on its horrifically bloody course. According to calculations by Professor R.J. Rummel, in the last 100 years totalitarian regimes, pretty much all of which derive from the Bolsheviks have murdered at least 169 million people, that’s more than four times the 38 million (including civilians) killed in all the wars of the Twentieth century. Quite the legacy.

I note with great pleasure that a motion was introduced in the House of Commons this morning. It reads:

“That this House notes, with great regret, that 7 November 2017 marks 100 years since Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution which subsequently demonstrated, time and again, that Communism is a murderous political ideology, incompatible with liberty, self-government and the dignity of human beings, and injurious to the national, ethnic and religious traditions of the world’s peoples; further notes that Communism subjected millions to theft, surveillance, terror and ultimate destruction; acknowledges that the cultural, political and economic legacy of Soviet Communism still negatively affects vast numbers of people today; and accordingly believes that the crimes of Communism, together with those of its mirror image, National Socialism, must forever serve as a warning to humanity of the terrible consequences of totalitarianism in all its forms.”

I also note with great sadness that it is doubtful, that the Labour Party or its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will support said resolution. Which tells you all you need to know.

Still they try, again, and again, and again. Stella Morabito started a series yesterday at The Federalist about the six phases from freedom to communism. It’s quite interesting, so we’ll excerpt a bit from her introduction.

In a nutshell, communism enforces a privileged elite’s centralization of power. This means it always puts too much power into the hands of too few people. They tend to weasel their way into power as their ventriloquized agitators use talking points like “justice” and “equality” while promoting a false illusion of public support.

So, how would it ever be possible for a free society like America to succumb to such tyrannical forces? I think we’ve spent precious little time trying to dissect and understand this process. So, in this three-part series, I hope to map out six stages that lead us into this dangerous direction. Within each phase, several trends take hold. […]

As Rummel states: “Power kills. Absolute power kills absolutely.” The common thread that runs through communist and fascist ideologies is their totalitarian nature, which means they control people by breeding scarcity, ignorance, human misery, social distrust, the constant threat of social isolation, and death to dissenters. All in the name of justice and equality.

They cannot abide any checks or balances, particularly checks on government power as reflected in the U.S. Bill of Rights. They fight de-centralization of power, which allows localities and states true self-governance. Such restraints on the centralized power of the state stand in the way of achieving the goal of communism: absolute state power over every single human being. […]

To achieve absolute power, Lenin focused on fomenting a class war, while Hitler set his sights on a race war. Either way, the divide-and-conquer modus operandi of fascist and communist demagogues is pretty much the same, no matter what each side might claim about the other. Their propaganda content may differ, but not so much their divide-and-conquer methods. Attitudes of supremacy come in a virtual rainbow of flavors and colors.

As Saul Alinsky taught and the agitprop of groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center illustrates so perfectly, the goal of all such radicals is to seize power by fueling resentment and hatred among people through various forms of “consciousness”—particularly class and race consciousness. That’s what identity politics is all about. That division is a key tool for totalitarians in their conquest of the people. Once their organizations breed enough ill will, the “masses”—made up of mostly alienated individuals—can be baited and mobilized to do the bidding of power elites, with a rhetorical veneer claiming justice and equality.

Most of today’s enlisted rioters—groups that call themselves things like “Indivisible,” “Anti-Fascist,” “Stop Patriarchy,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Refuse Fascism,” or—are pretty much unabashedly communist (or just plain fascist) in their goals and aims and tactics. The chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA, for example, founded Refuse Fascism. It’s a pro-violence group that planned street theater on November 4, with the stated goal of overturning the 2016 election and taking out the Trump administration.

She goes on to give a quick overview of the phases. And as she rightly notes, America is still a free nation, not least because of the exemplary work of our founders, who bequeathed us a system flexible enough to adjust to most any conditions, but still strong enough to allow is to resist such ideologies. It’s an advantage America has over every single country in the world, and it is why we are closer to our founding than anyone else. That does not mean it is guaranteed. As Ronald Reagan reminded us, Freedom is always only a generation from being lost.

That should scare the crap out of you these days. We are doing reasonably well, but we are watching as the rights that we and the British had restored are being stripped once again from the people of Europe, and in some cases, even in Britain, where these rights were first recognized.

A lot of the difference is perception. We (and the Brits, including the Commonwealth) are aware that these rights are given by our Creator (or are Natural Rights) and that we instituted government amongst ourselves to safeguard them. Most of the rest believe they come from the government. Well, we all know what the government give, the government can take away.

Stella reminds us of Kathryn Lee Bates wonderful hymn to America, America, the Beautiful, specifically this line, “America, America, God mend thine every flaw. Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.”

She’s right, one of the keys to the success of America has always been our stability, our ability to control ourselves, and to keep the fads of history in check, and combining that with respect for law, especially objective black letter law, has quite simply changed the world, and given an alternative to the dark age that the revolution we note today has attempted to fasten onto the world.

God Bless America!

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