Day: January 23, 2018

Flip the Byrd Rule


The world’s greatest deliberative body has become the world’s greatest constipated body, chained to a rule that no longer makes any sense: the Byrd Rule, which requires 60 Senate votes to end a filibuster on budgetary legislation when that legislation would significantly increase the deficit beyond a ten-year horizon.  (Otherwise, the reconciliation process allows for a mere majority for passage.)

The so-called “Schumer shutdown” and an endless series of continuing resolutions cry out for ending the legislative filibuster in general on budget matters, where the risk of government shutdown is now ever present.  The Democrats claim that the Republicans are to blame because they control the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, but in this case, they don’t control the Senate.  You need 60 votes to do that.

These are no longer the days when Bill Clinton could work things out with Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan could work things out with Tip O’Neill.  These are the days when losers hold the winners hostage and where the majority no longer rules.

House Republicans think it’s time to nuke the filibuster:

House Republicans say Senate Democrats are holding government funding “hostage” to their demands on immigration.  And they’ve got an idea for ending the crisis: [t]hrow away the filibuster.


The legislative tool of the minority is one of the few remaining things that distinguish the Senate from the House.  The Senate GOP is coming under pressure from House Republicans and President Donald Trump to pursue the so-called nuclear option – change chamber rules and end the legislative filibuster, at least on spending bills.


“If a majority is good enough in the House and a majority would have kept government from shutting down, I think that’s a whole case the American public would say, ‘That’s a responsible way to govern,'” House [m]ajority [l]eader Kevin McCarthy told Roll Call on Saturday[.] …


Senate Democrats would certainly oppose such a change.


“That would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created, going back to our Founding Fathers,” Senate [m]inority [w]hip Richard J. Durbin said on ABC’s [This Week] on Sunday.  “We have to acknowledge our respect for the minority, and that is what the Senate tries to do in its composition and in its procedure.”

What we have, Sen. Durbin, is not respect for the minority, but tyranny of the minority.

President Trump, in a tweet, agrees that the filibuster has allowed losers of elections to hold winners hostage, thwarting the will and the government of the people:

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that Senate Republicans invoke what’s known as the “nuclear option” to lower the threshold needed to approve funding for the government.


The government entered into a partial shutdown on midnight Saturday, after the Senate voted against a key procedural step to pass a short-term funding bill on Friday night. 


As the shutdown entered its second day, Trump tweeted on Sunday, “Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no [continuing resolutions]!”

Reconciliation is the process by which the Senate’s filibuster process can be avoided and a simple majority of 51 votes used to appropriate money.  The Byrd Rule limits its application, giving someone (nowadays the Senate parliamentarian) the power to nix legislation’s eligibility for reconciliation based on certain criteria.

One might get the impression that the Byrd rule has been around since the dawn of the republic.  It is in fact a post-Watergate relic that needs to go.  Removing it would not make the minority in the Senate irrelevant.  It would merely restore the Senate to majority rule when it comes to passing a budget.  The republic survived for almost two centuries without the Byrd rule, during which the U.S. rose to superpower status, becoming the world’s oldest democracy.

Defenders ignore the legislative history of the rule, which shows that it was put forth initially as a one-time limited measure.  According to James Wallner of the Heritage Foundation: 

Congress created the reconciliation process in 1974 to make it easier to change current law to reconcile, or align, existing revenue and spending levels with those specified in the congressional budget resolution, but the new process was also used frequently in the period immediately after its creation to pass policies unrelated to the federal budget.  In response, the Senate adopted the so-called Byrd Rule in the mid-1980s to stop reconciliation from being used to circumvent the filibuster.  Under the rule, provisions that are deemed extraneous (essentially those that are unrelated to the federal budget) to the reconciliation instructions contained in the applicable budget resolution are not eligible for inclusion in a reconciliation bill.

Flipping the Byrd Rule would be a step toward ridding the Senate of the filibuster on other important matters – such as, most importantly, judicial appointments.  We can thank the Democrats for ending the filibuster for judicial appointments below the Supreme Court, resulting in President Trump’s historic blizzard of new federal judges committed to the Constitution as written.

In No. 76 of The Federalist Papers, a collection often cited by the Supreme Court as a reliable roadmap to the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton says plainly that the “advice and consent” responsibility is to be exercised by an “entire branch of the legislature” and not by a single committee or 41 senators denying cloture.

To express consent, or to deny it, requires an up-or-down vote.  A filibuster prevents advice and consent, hence it should be unconstitutional.  When it comes to judicial appointments, the Appointments Clause requires a simple majority of 51 senators for confirmation.  Elsewhere in the Constitution, when the Framers intended more than simple majorities, they explicitly said so, as they did in requiring a two-thirds majority to convict in an impeachment trial, expel a member, override a presidential veto, approve a treaty, or propose a constitutional amendment.  

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell dispensed with the filibuster to get Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.  Why are some bitterly clinging to a rule that has accomplished nothing except repetitive gridlock?

We need to return to the days of majority rule, where winning elections meant something.  The Republicans don’t control the Senate, and nobody will until this filibuster situation gets sorted out.  Repealing the Byrd Rule will get us on that path.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

The world’s greatest deliberative body has become the world’s greatest constipated body, chained to a rule that no longer makes any sense: the Byrd Rule, which requires 60 Senate votes to end a filibuster on budgetary legislation when that legislation would significantly increase the deficit beyond a ten-year horizon.  (Otherwise, the reconciliation process allows for a mere majority for passage.)

The so-called “Schumer shutdown” and an endless series of continuing resolutions cry out for ending the legislative filibuster in general on budget matters, where the risk of government shutdown is now ever present.  The Democrats claim that the Republicans are to blame because they control the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, but in this case, they don’t control the Senate.  You need 60 votes to do that.

These are no longer the days when Bill Clinton could work things out with Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan could work things out with Tip O’Neill.  These are the days when losers hold the winners hostage and where the majority no longer rules.

House Republicans think it’s time to nuke the filibuster:

House Republicans say Senate Democrats are holding government funding “hostage” to their demands on immigration.  And they’ve got an idea for ending the crisis: [t]hrow away the filibuster.


The legislative tool of the minority is one of the few remaining things that distinguish the Senate from the House.  The Senate GOP is coming under pressure from House Republicans and President Donald Trump to pursue the so-called nuclear option – change chamber rules and end the legislative filibuster, at least on spending bills.


“If a majority is good enough in the House and a majority would have kept government from shutting down, I think that’s a whole case the American public would say, ‘That’s a responsible way to govern,'” House [m]ajority [l]eader Kevin McCarthy told Roll Call on Saturday[.] …


Senate Democrats would certainly oppose such a change.


“That would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created, going back to our Founding Fathers,” Senate [m]inority [w]hip Richard J. Durbin said on ABC’s [This Week] on Sunday.  “We have to acknowledge our respect for the minority, and that is what the Senate tries to do in its composition and in its procedure.”

What we have, Sen. Durbin, is not respect for the minority, but tyranny of the minority.

President Trump, in a tweet, agrees that the filibuster has allowed losers of elections to hold winners hostage, thwarting the will and the government of the people:

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that Senate Republicans invoke what’s known as the “nuclear option” to lower the threshold needed to approve funding for the government.


The government entered into a partial shutdown on midnight Saturday, after the Senate voted against a key procedural step to pass a short-term funding bill on Friday night. 


As the shutdown entered its second day, Trump tweeted on Sunday, “Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no [continuing resolutions]!”

Reconciliation is the process by which the Senate’s filibuster process can be avoided and a simple majority of 51 votes used to appropriate money.  The Byrd Rule limits its application, giving someone (nowadays the Senate parliamentarian) the power to nix legislation’s eligibility for reconciliation based on certain criteria.

One might get the impression that the Byrd rule has been around since the dawn of the republic.  It is in fact a post-Watergate relic that needs to go.  Removing it would not make the minority in the Senate irrelevant.  It would merely restore the Senate to majority rule when it comes to passing a budget.  The republic survived for almost two centuries without the Byrd rule, during which the U.S. rose to superpower status, becoming the world’s oldest democracy.

Defenders ignore the legislative history of the rule, which shows that it was put forth initially as a one-time limited measure.  According to James Wallner of the Heritage Foundation: 

Congress created the reconciliation process in 1974 to make it easier to change current law to reconcile, or align, existing revenue and spending levels with those specified in the congressional budget resolution, but the new process was also used frequently in the period immediately after its creation to pass policies unrelated to the federal budget.  In response, the Senate adopted the so-called Byrd Rule in the mid-1980s to stop reconciliation from being used to circumvent the filibuster.  Under the rule, provisions that are deemed extraneous (essentially those that are unrelated to the federal budget) to the reconciliation instructions contained in the applicable budget resolution are not eligible for inclusion in a reconciliation bill.

Flipping the Byrd Rule would be a step toward ridding the Senate of the filibuster on other important matters – such as, most importantly, judicial appointments.  We can thank the Democrats for ending the filibuster for judicial appointments below the Supreme Court, resulting in President Trump’s historic blizzard of new federal judges committed to the Constitution as written.

In No. 76 of The Federalist Papers, a collection often cited by the Supreme Court as a reliable roadmap to the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton says plainly that the “advice and consent” responsibility is to be exercised by an “entire branch of the legislature” and not by a single committee or 41 senators denying cloture.

To express consent, or to deny it, requires an up-or-down vote.  A filibuster prevents advice and consent, hence it should be unconstitutional.  When it comes to judicial appointments, the Appointments Clause requires a simple majority of 51 senators for confirmation.  Elsewhere in the Constitution, when the Framers intended more than simple majorities, they explicitly said so, as they did in requiring a two-thirds majority to convict in an impeachment trial, expel a member, override a presidential veto, approve a treaty, or propose a constitutional amendment.  

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell dispensed with the filibuster to get Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.  Why are some bitterly clinging to a rule that has accomplished nothing except repetitive gridlock?

We need to return to the days of majority rule, where winning elections meant something.  The Republicans don’t control the Senate, and nobody will until this filibuster situation gets sorted out.  Repealing the Byrd Rule will get us on that path.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.



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Illegals in California with Driver's Licenses Eligible to Vote After April 1


Starting on April 1, 2018, illegal aliens in California who have recently obtained state driver’s licenses legally, or obtained them previously by lying about their immigration status, will automatically be registered to vote.  Since January 2015, according to the California DMV, A.B. 60, a law passed by the California Assembly, “allows illegal immigrants to the United States to apply for a California driver’s license with the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)” [emphasis original].  As of December 2016, more than 800,000 California driver’s licenses were issued to illegal aliens under the A.B. 60 law. Additional thousands of illegals may have been granted licenses prior to 2015 because they lied on their driver’s license application forms and claimed they were in the country legally.  (No proof of legal residence has been required by the California DMV in recent years.)

An editorial in the Victorville Daily Press on January 22 summarized the situation:

According to the [s]ecretary of [s]tate’s website, in order to vote in California one must be at least 18 years old, a United States citizen[,] and a resident of California.


But a court settlement Jan. 10 in response to a suit filed by the League of Women Voters [and several other groups including The National Council of La Raza] may have pushed open the door to rampant voter fraud in this state.  That’s because under the settlement, starting in April the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically register to vote all those who renew their driver’s licenses unless they opt out.


Illegals jumping a border fence into the U.S.

California Political Review and Courthouse News first broke the story of illegals being allowed to vote starting this spring on January 18 in an article titled “Alert: Starting April 1 California DMV Will AUTOMATICALLY Register Illegal Aliens to Vote – by COURT ORDER:”

The program is part of [A.B.] 1461, dubbed the California New Motor Voter Act.  Signed into law in October 2015, the new statute requires the DMV to forward records for all eligible applicants to the Secretary of State’s Office for registration unless those applicants elect not to register to vote.

As of this writing, WND, claiming an “exclusive,” is the only major publication to have highlighted this development in a brief story on January 21, “California to register illegal aliens to vote – automatically.”

On October 11, 2015, the day after California governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 1461 into law, the Washington Times, in an article titled “California motor-voter law will flood rolls with noncitizens, critics predict,” indeed predicted what is now coming to pass two and a half years later:

A bill signed Saturday by California [g]ov. Jerry Brown aimed at improving voter turnout has critics predicting that it will ramp up voter fraud by making it easier for noncitizens to cast ballots.


The New Motor Voter Act automatically registers to vote all eligible voters when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses at the Department of Motor Vehicles instead of requiring them to fill out a form.  Those eligible may opt out of voter registration.


The goal is to ease barriers to voting, but election-integrity advocates warn that the measure could inadvertently add millions of illegal voters to the rolls given that California allows undocumented [i.e., illegal] aliens to obtain driver’s licenses.

The move to legalize non-citizen – including “undocumented” residents’ – voting is slowly spreading nationwide.  In 2016, immigrant activists in New York City endorsed a legislative proposal to allow immigrants residing in the city – legal or not – the right to vote in local elections.  In reporting the story, the New York Post estimated that 500,000 illegal aliens reside in New York City.  This change has not yet been formally approved, however.  Meanwhile, according to Newsweek (September 13, 2017), “Immigrants Are Getting the Right to Vote in Cities Across America.”  The occasion for Newsweek’s article was the decision last year by the Washington, D.C. suburb of College Park, Maryland to allow non-citizens, including illegals, to vote.

Several other cities in Maryland already allow noncitizens to vote locally.  Chicago and San Francisco also offer limited noncitizen voting.  The trend runs counter to the anti-immigration sentiment in many areas of the country, but supporters say residents of cities and towns should have a say in how their government operates, whether they are citizens or not.

The success of left-wing groups supporting the expansion of illegal alien “rights” to include voting has also been reflected in the government shutdown of recent days.  According to an analysis of “this stunning display of political leverage” by illegal alien “DREAMers” by the Washington Times on January 21:

Democrats called it the Trump shutdown.  Republicans labeled it the Schumer shutdown.  But in reality, it was the [DREAM]er shutdown.


The recipe for the current congressional gridlock is complex, but at the top of the list of ingredients are the illegal [alien] [DREAM]ers who pushed Democrats to launch the filibuster that sent the government careening into a partial shutdown.

The political muscle demonstrated by illegals reflected in the national political debate is being increasingly taken note of.  The complementary impact of millions of them potentially voting legally in U.S. elections in the near term is less apparent, but it deserves our serious attention for what it portends.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.

Starting on April 1, 2018, illegal aliens in California who have recently obtained state driver’s licenses legally, or obtained them previously by lying about their immigration status, will automatically be registered to vote.  Since January 2015, according to the California DMV, A.B. 60, a law passed by the California Assembly, “allows illegal immigrants to the United States to apply for a California driver’s license with the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)” [emphasis original].  As of December 2016, more than 800,000 California driver’s licenses were issued to illegal aliens under the A.B. 60 law. Additional thousands of illegals may have been granted licenses prior to 2015 because they lied on their driver’s license application forms and claimed they were in the country legally.  (No proof of legal residence has been required by the California DMV in recent years.)

An editorial in the Victorville Daily Press on January 22 summarized the situation:

According to the [s]ecretary of [s]tate’s website, in order to vote in California one must be at least 18 years old, a United States citizen[,] and a resident of California.


But a court settlement Jan. 10 in response to a suit filed by the League of Women Voters [and several other groups including The National Council of La Raza] may have pushed open the door to rampant voter fraud in this state.  That’s because under the settlement, starting in April the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically register to vote all those who renew their driver’s licenses unless they opt out.


Illegals jumping a border fence into the U.S.

California Political Review and Courthouse News first broke the story of illegals being allowed to vote starting this spring on January 18 in an article titled “Alert: Starting April 1 California DMV Will AUTOMATICALLY Register Illegal Aliens to Vote – by COURT ORDER:”

The program is part of [A.B.] 1461, dubbed the California New Motor Voter Act.  Signed into law in October 2015, the new statute requires the DMV to forward records for all eligible applicants to the Secretary of State’s Office for registration unless those applicants elect not to register to vote.

As of this writing, WND, claiming an “exclusive,” is the only major publication to have highlighted this development in a brief story on January 21, “California to register illegal aliens to vote – automatically.”

On October 11, 2015, the day after California governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 1461 into law, the Washington Times, in an article titled “California motor-voter law will flood rolls with noncitizens, critics predict,” indeed predicted what is now coming to pass two and a half years later:

A bill signed Saturday by California [g]ov. Jerry Brown aimed at improving voter turnout has critics predicting that it will ramp up voter fraud by making it easier for noncitizens to cast ballots.


The New Motor Voter Act automatically registers to vote all eligible voters when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses at the Department of Motor Vehicles instead of requiring them to fill out a form.  Those eligible may opt out of voter registration.


The goal is to ease barriers to voting, but election-integrity advocates warn that the measure could inadvertently add millions of illegal voters to the rolls given that California allows undocumented [i.e., illegal] aliens to obtain driver’s licenses.

The move to legalize non-citizen – including “undocumented” residents’ – voting is slowly spreading nationwide.  In 2016, immigrant activists in New York City endorsed a legislative proposal to allow immigrants residing in the city – legal or not – the right to vote in local elections.  In reporting the story, the New York Post estimated that 500,000 illegal aliens reside in New York City.  This change has not yet been formally approved, however.  Meanwhile, according to Newsweek (September 13, 2017), “Immigrants Are Getting the Right to Vote in Cities Across America.”  The occasion for Newsweek’s article was the decision last year by the Washington, D.C. suburb of College Park, Maryland to allow non-citizens, including illegals, to vote.

Several other cities in Maryland already allow noncitizens to vote locally.  Chicago and San Francisco also offer limited noncitizen voting.  The trend runs counter to the anti-immigration sentiment in many areas of the country, but supporters say residents of cities and towns should have a say in how their government operates, whether they are citizens or not.

The success of left-wing groups supporting the expansion of illegal alien “rights” to include voting has also been reflected in the government shutdown of recent days.  According to an analysis of “this stunning display of political leverage” by illegal alien “DREAMers” by the Washington Times on January 21:

Democrats called it the Trump shutdown.  Republicans labeled it the Schumer shutdown.  But in reality, it was the [DREAM]er shutdown.


The recipe for the current congressional gridlock is complex, but at the top of the list of ingredients are the illegal [alien] [DREAM]ers who pushed Democrats to launch the filibuster that sent the government careening into a partial shutdown.

The political muscle demonstrated by illegals reflected in the national political debate is being increasingly taken note of.  The complementary impact of millions of them potentially voting legally in U.S. elections in the near term is less apparent, but it deserves our serious attention for what it portends.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.



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#SchumerShutdown: Is This Trump’s Decisive Battle?


In the very German study of war and strategery, there is the concept of the “decisive battle.”  It means, more or less, the confrontation after which the losing side just loses the will to continue.

Maybe the #SchumerShutdown is Trump’s decisive battle, and maybe it isn’t.  At any rate, as President Lincoln said about Gen. Grant, “I can’t spare this man: he fights.”  That is why we normals voted for Donald Trump.  We wanted a president who could go up against the liberals without fear and fight them.

As we all know, the problem with conservatism over the past fifty years is that when it came to the crunch, the conservative leaders would always cringe.  And some of the most notable cringes have been “government shutdowns,” in which the Democrats and their bribed apologists in the mainstream media managed to blame the Republicans.

Obviously, we are not going to have our wicked way, policy-wise, unless we can win one of these shutdowns.  It is not enough to have the best ideas; we normals and conservatives have to be able to win the street battles in the public square.  Otherwise, we may as well go home and let the SJWs harass us with their Codes of Conduct and let Democrats continue to cow Americans with the vile accusation of racism.

Actually, you can’t blame the Democrats for trying the shutdown option in order to push their immigration agenda.  The American people don’t like unlimited immigration.  They don’t like illegal aliens; they don’t like Muslim extremism.  They don’t like the stagnant wages of the last forty years.  And they don’t like the rusting of the Rust Belt.  So the Democrats are not going to win on immigration in a fair fight, with an honest discussion of the issues and a proper analysis of policy recommendations.  They have to cheat, and hey, why not go to another “government shutdown” and tell President Trump to prove he is not a racist by agreeing to their DACA bill?

As I said, we elected Trump to put a stop to this kind of shenanigans, and you may have noticed that the result ain’t pretty.  A lot of people on the right think the male Culture of Insult Trump epitomizes is so recherché, darling.  No, wait!  The right word is de trop, darling.  Well, whatever the word is on the Upper East Side, we know what they think on the Upper West Side: raaacist!  Sexist!  Homophobe!  Xenophobe!  It’s amazing what a bit of education will do for you.

And now we have Peggy Noonan writing that “America Needs More Gentlemen.”  No doubt, but first we have to win, and not just win the decisive battle of the shutdown, or the midterms, or the 2020 election.  We have to demolish liberals every day before breakfast like Jordan B. Peterson demolished Surrey Girl Cathy Newman last week in a decisive battle on BBC Channel 4.

But how?  Perhaps the answer is a critical theory that critiques the left’s Critical Theory.  That’s what Uri Harris proposed in his piece on the Cathy Newman demolition job.

[The left’s] Critical Theory draws heavily on Karl Marx’s notion of ideology.  Because the bourgeoisie controlled the means of production, Marx suggested, they controlled the culture.

Therefore, the bourgeoisie controlled everything else.  Critical Theory was necessary to show the self-serving assumptions behind the bourgeoisie’s bland assertions of “universal truths and values.”  Well, the bourgeois culture may have been self-serving, but it also increased per capita income by 3,000 percent in 200 years.  It also celebrated the code of the gentleman.

What we have to critique is the educated ruling class and its willing accomplices like Cathy Newman, that today acts as if equality and liberation are “universal truths and values” and brook no dissent.

And so the question becomes: are the values and beliefs of critical theory itself universal, or are they also partial to particular interests?

Well, I don’t know if the left’s agenda of equality and liberation is “unquestionable and universal.”  But I do know this: the left’s culture of equality and liberation has failed every time it was tried.  Hello, Soviet Union; hello, Venezuela.  Hello, Veterans Administration; hello, the Peoples Cultural Revolution.  Think about it.  The left’s Critical Theory was criticizing a system of truths and values that raised humans from indigence to fabulous wealth in 200 years.  No wonder the left wants to “no-platform” and silence all voices raised against it.

I say let’s up and at ’em.  Let’s critique the left and everything it stands for back to the bare walls.  And then, just for fun, let’s give another try to the awful patriarchal culture of the Code of the Gentleman, as long as it doesn’t turn into The Code of the Woosters.

Christopher Chantrill (@chrischantrill) runs the go-to site on U.S. government finances, usgovernmentspending.com.  Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.

In the very German study of war and strategery, there is the concept of the “decisive battle.”  It means, more or less, the confrontation after which the losing side just loses the will to continue.

Maybe the #SchumerShutdown is Trump’s decisive battle, and maybe it isn’t.  At any rate, as President Lincoln said about Gen. Grant, “I can’t spare this man: he fights.”  That is why we normals voted for Donald Trump.  We wanted a president who could go up against the liberals without fear and fight them.

As we all know, the problem with conservatism over the past fifty years is that when it came to the crunch, the conservative leaders would always cringe.  And some of the most notable cringes have been “government shutdowns,” in which the Democrats and their bribed apologists in the mainstream media managed to blame the Republicans.

Obviously, we are not going to have our wicked way, policy-wise, unless we can win one of these shutdowns.  It is not enough to have the best ideas; we normals and conservatives have to be able to win the street battles in the public square.  Otherwise, we may as well go home and let the SJWs harass us with their Codes of Conduct and let Democrats continue to cow Americans with the vile accusation of racism.

Actually, you can’t blame the Democrats for trying the shutdown option in order to push their immigration agenda.  The American people don’t like unlimited immigration.  They don’t like illegal aliens; they don’t like Muslim extremism.  They don’t like the stagnant wages of the last forty years.  And they don’t like the rusting of the Rust Belt.  So the Democrats are not going to win on immigration in a fair fight, with an honest discussion of the issues and a proper analysis of policy recommendations.  They have to cheat, and hey, why not go to another “government shutdown” and tell President Trump to prove he is not a racist by agreeing to their DACA bill?

As I said, we elected Trump to put a stop to this kind of shenanigans, and you may have noticed that the result ain’t pretty.  A lot of people on the right think the male Culture of Insult Trump epitomizes is so recherché, darling.  No, wait!  The right word is de trop, darling.  Well, whatever the word is on the Upper East Side, we know what they think on the Upper West Side: raaacist!  Sexist!  Homophobe!  Xenophobe!  It’s amazing what a bit of education will do for you.

And now we have Peggy Noonan writing that “America Needs More Gentlemen.”  No doubt, but first we have to win, and not just win the decisive battle of the shutdown, or the midterms, or the 2020 election.  We have to demolish liberals every day before breakfast like Jordan B. Peterson demolished Surrey Girl Cathy Newman last week in a decisive battle on BBC Channel 4.

But how?  Perhaps the answer is a critical theory that critiques the left’s Critical Theory.  That’s what Uri Harris proposed in his piece on the Cathy Newman demolition job.

[The left’s] Critical Theory draws heavily on Karl Marx’s notion of ideology.  Because the bourgeoisie controlled the means of production, Marx suggested, they controlled the culture.

Therefore, the bourgeoisie controlled everything else.  Critical Theory was necessary to show the self-serving assumptions behind the bourgeoisie’s bland assertions of “universal truths and values.”  Well, the bourgeois culture may have been self-serving, but it also increased per capita income by 3,000 percent in 200 years.  It also celebrated the code of the gentleman.

What we have to critique is the educated ruling class and its willing accomplices like Cathy Newman, that today acts as if equality and liberation are “universal truths and values” and brook no dissent.

And so the question becomes: are the values and beliefs of critical theory itself universal, or are they also partial to particular interests?

Well, I don’t know if the left’s agenda of equality and liberation is “unquestionable and universal.”  But I do know this: the left’s culture of equality and liberation has failed every time it was tried.  Hello, Soviet Union; hello, Venezuela.  Hello, Veterans Administration; hello, the Peoples Cultural Revolution.  Think about it.  The left’s Critical Theory was criticizing a system of truths and values that raised humans from indigence to fabulous wealth in 200 years.  No wonder the left wants to “no-platform” and silence all voices raised against it.

I say let’s up and at ’em.  Let’s critique the left and everything it stands for back to the bare walls.  And then, just for fun, let’s give another try to the awful patriarchal culture of the Code of the Gentleman, as long as it doesn’t turn into The Code of the Woosters.

Christopher Chantrill (@chrischantrill) runs the go-to site on U.S. government finances, usgovernmentspending.com.  Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.



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The Cultural Roots of Trumpism


President Donald Trump’s occasional unfiltered coarse cloudbursts belie a man who is enormously joyful, having an abundance of entertaining good humor easily expressed, fairly shared.  Trump is having a ball, for good reasons.

Trump’s first year as president may have been the most extraordinary since the 1840s.  While Trump has disrupted almost all presidential governance and communication norms, his tenure so far has produced capital market gains of some $7 trillion, spreading investment wealth to millions of regular Joes and Marys, while tax cuts have already distributed $3 billion in bonuses and wage hikes to over 2 million workers and counting.

The Trump-inspired American economic revival, accompanied by a cultural earthquake in newfound respect, self-esteem, and optimism for working-class citizens, rural and urban – ignored and maligned since the industrial heartland was eviscerated in the 1980s – matches the economic and territorial expansions under presidents John Tyler and James Polk.

Westward expansion, Manifest Destiny, abetted by industrial innovation from the telegraph to steam engines to sewing machines, ushered in the longest economic growth period in American history – 1841 to 1859.

The 1840s also propelled the American Renaissance in literature and art.  The fabulous Hudson River School of landscape painting, originating around 1825, spawned two major shifts in the 1840s: landscapes capturing Easterners’ imagination about the West and illustrations of people in everyday scenes with the Americana backdrops.  Perhaps the best practitioner of the new genre was George Caleb Bingham, portrait painter and politician, who lived most of his life in Missouri.

Bingham captured the heart of the American spirit – a mix of personal liberty and economic fortunes – in his iconic 1846 painting, “The Jolly Flatboatmen,” now owned by and usually on display at the National Gallery of Art.

NGA director Rusty Powell says The Jolly Flatboatmen is ” the most important genre painting in American history.”

No one knows whether Bingham’s boatmen, dancing and luxuriating on the deck of a river flatboat barge loaded with furs, bolts of cloth, and other premium cargo, are floating downstream on the upper Missouri or Mississippi.  The exact topography doesn’t matter; the image conveying understated exuberance is infectious.

The solitary fiddler, the frying pan-tambourine man, and the other boatmen could have been figures drawn by Caravaggio, inviting the viewer to join in the moment, to take a seat on the hand-hewn oar or on top of the chicken coop – no more, no less.

Bingham’s clarity of purpose matches his clarity of brushstrokes.  The viewer’s angle could be from a small river skiff, such as a Mackinaw boat.  The closest boatman bemused at our attention seems contented enough, despite his toes sticking out from the welt of his shoe.  The slightly impish man in the Quaker wide-awake hat, alongside the steering-oarsman, looks self-satisfied, confident, and prosperous enough.

Franklin Kelly, curator at the NGA, said this about “The Jolly Flatboatmen”:

It’s very democratic.  These are working people; they’re wearing their ordinary clothes – tattered – but they’re having a good time.  It’s that notion of a democratic art in a democratic society.

Donald Trump, the NYC luxury high rise-builder, should be the most unlikely populist egalitarian.  Yet Trump would be at home with the jolly flatboatmen.  These are the people who built the nation, unmolested by a suffocating federal government.  By 1846, only Missouri and Iowa among the Missouri River territories had been admitted to the Union.

People of the frontier, anyplace west of the Appalachians, in the 1840s were tamers of the wilderness.  Life could be nasty, brutish, and short, as wrote Hobbes in another century.  Yet endurance, calculated risk-taking, commercial cleverness, and even desperation produced American pragmatism, and exeptionalism.

These are Hillary Clinton’s deplorables.  These are the Walmart shoppers.  These are the truck-drivers, machine tool-operators, steamfitters, and grocery aisle shelf-stockers.  These are the diverse line-up of Trump voters in Youngstown, Ohio, who stunned CNN about a week ago with their full-throated approval of Trump’s first year.

Bingham, the painter, was no stranger to the imperfect, messy features of frontier and small-town democracy. He dabbled in politics as a Missouri state senator and Missouri treasurer, among other statewide offices.

In his “The County Election” (St. Louis Museum of Art), Bingham displays both porcelain and pockmarks on the faces of a remarkable collection of backgrounds and temperaments, where each vote is equal, the outcome accepted.

There are four sweeping themes occupying American socio-economic history: westward expansion, slavery, immigration, and industrialization.  These themes have a common narrative: labor and natural resources.  The narrative about labor invokes contradictory notions about liberty and submission.  Moreover, the history of the American people is a complex saga of bloodshed for freedom from authoritarian tyranny, repudiation of an aristocracy to assure equality of opportunity, and the yearning for self-sufficiency and dignity.

The delivery of socio-economic justice, ameliorating the worst excesses within the labor narrative, has always been through the gifts of fertile land, “the fruited plain,” an abundance of natural resources.  The “peoples’ history,” expropriated by deconstructive historians using disingenuous storylines of labor oppression and subjugation, is really about rivers, harbors, timber, cotton, corn, wheat, coal, oil, and iron ore.  Ships, sails, barges, mills, machines, furnaces, coke and coal, iron, steel, rails and roads, steam engines, trucks, tractors, and airplanes – this is the stuff of nation-building, prosperity, and empire – and ultimate redemption.

Donald Trump gets it.  There are no Democrats remaining who get it.  No one should underestimate Trump’s legion of Jolly Flatboatmen who freely voted for their self-interest and can now dance to their own tune, all because of Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump’s occasional unfiltered coarse cloudbursts belie a man who is enormously joyful, having an abundance of entertaining good humor easily expressed, fairly shared.  Trump is having a ball, for good reasons.

Trump’s first year as president may have been the most extraordinary since the 1840s.  While Trump has disrupted almost all presidential governance and communication norms, his tenure so far has produced capital market gains of some $7 trillion, spreading investment wealth to millions of regular Joes and Marys, while tax cuts have already distributed $3 billion in bonuses and wage hikes to over 2 million workers and counting.

The Trump-inspired American economic revival, accompanied by a cultural earthquake in newfound respect, self-esteem, and optimism for working-class citizens, rural and urban – ignored and maligned since the industrial heartland was eviscerated in the 1980s – matches the economic and territorial expansions under presidents John Tyler and James Polk.

Westward expansion, Manifest Destiny, abetted by industrial innovation from the telegraph to steam engines to sewing machines, ushered in the longest economic growth period in American history – 1841 to 1859.

The 1840s also propelled the American Renaissance in literature and art.  The fabulous Hudson River School of landscape painting, originating around 1825, spawned two major shifts in the 1840s: landscapes capturing Easterners’ imagination about the West and illustrations of people in everyday scenes with the Americana backdrops.  Perhaps the best practitioner of the new genre was George Caleb Bingham, portrait painter and politician, who lived most of his life in Missouri.

Bingham captured the heart of the American spirit – a mix of personal liberty and economic fortunes – in his iconic 1846 painting, “The Jolly Flatboatmen,” now owned by and usually on display at the National Gallery of Art.

NGA director Rusty Powell says The Jolly Flatboatmen is ” the most important genre painting in American history.”

No one knows whether Bingham’s boatmen, dancing and luxuriating on the deck of a river flatboat barge loaded with furs, bolts of cloth, and other premium cargo, are floating downstream on the upper Missouri or Mississippi.  The exact topography doesn’t matter; the image conveying understated exuberance is infectious.

The solitary fiddler, the frying pan-tambourine man, and the other boatmen could have been figures drawn by Caravaggio, inviting the viewer to join in the moment, to take a seat on the hand-hewn oar or on top of the chicken coop – no more, no less.

Bingham’s clarity of purpose matches his clarity of brushstrokes.  The viewer’s angle could be from a small river skiff, such as a Mackinaw boat.  The closest boatman bemused at our attention seems contented enough, despite his toes sticking out from the welt of his shoe.  The slightly impish man in the Quaker wide-awake hat, alongside the steering-oarsman, looks self-satisfied, confident, and prosperous enough.

Franklin Kelly, curator at the NGA, said this about “The Jolly Flatboatmen”:

It’s very democratic.  These are working people; they’re wearing their ordinary clothes – tattered – but they’re having a good time.  It’s that notion of a democratic art in a democratic society.

Donald Trump, the NYC luxury high rise-builder, should be the most unlikely populist egalitarian.  Yet Trump would be at home with the jolly flatboatmen.  These are the people who built the nation, unmolested by a suffocating federal government.  By 1846, only Missouri and Iowa among the Missouri River territories had been admitted to the Union.

People of the frontier, anyplace west of the Appalachians, in the 1840s were tamers of the wilderness.  Life could be nasty, brutish, and short, as wrote Hobbes in another century.  Yet endurance, calculated risk-taking, commercial cleverness, and even desperation produced American pragmatism, and exeptionalism.

These are Hillary Clinton’s deplorables.  These are the Walmart shoppers.  These are the truck-drivers, machine tool-operators, steamfitters, and grocery aisle shelf-stockers.  These are the diverse line-up of Trump voters in Youngstown, Ohio, who stunned CNN about a week ago with their full-throated approval of Trump’s first year.

Bingham, the painter, was no stranger to the imperfect, messy features of frontier and small-town democracy. He dabbled in politics as a Missouri state senator and Missouri treasurer, among other statewide offices.

In his “The County Election” (St. Louis Museum of Art), Bingham displays both porcelain and pockmarks on the faces of a remarkable collection of backgrounds and temperaments, where each vote is equal, the outcome accepted.

There are four sweeping themes occupying American socio-economic history: westward expansion, slavery, immigration, and industrialization.  These themes have a common narrative: labor and natural resources.  The narrative about labor invokes contradictory notions about liberty and submission.  Moreover, the history of the American people is a complex saga of bloodshed for freedom from authoritarian tyranny, repudiation of an aristocracy to assure equality of opportunity, and the yearning for self-sufficiency and dignity.

The delivery of socio-economic justice, ameliorating the worst excesses within the labor narrative, has always been through the gifts of fertile land, “the fruited plain,” an abundance of natural resources.  The “peoples’ history,” expropriated by deconstructive historians using disingenuous storylines of labor oppression and subjugation, is really about rivers, harbors, timber, cotton, corn, wheat, coal, oil, and iron ore.  Ships, sails, barges, mills, machines, furnaces, coke and coal, iron, steel, rails and roads, steam engines, trucks, tractors, and airplanes – this is the stuff of nation-building, prosperity, and empire – and ultimate redemption.

Donald Trump gets it.  There are no Democrats remaining who get it.  No one should underestimate Trump’s legion of Jolly Flatboatmen who freely voted for their self-interest and can now dance to their own tune, all because of Donald Trump.



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International NGOs back Haiti's Undermining of Dominican Sovereignty


There is a historic sentiment in Haiti that the island it shares with the Dominican Republic should be one and indivisible – not only geographically, but also politically, economically, and in virtually every other regard.  Such sentiment, if analyzed objectively, is to be interpreted as a Haitian drive to undermine the Dominican Republic’s sovereignty as an independent country with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereto appertaining.

Before the magnitude of such a threat, any responsible government should take the necessary steps to deter those who seek to subvert its sovereign laws from transgressing them.  Yet, when attempting to do so, the Dominican government has been highly criticized by a multitude of NGOs like the Clinton Foundation and threatened by powerful people of the likes of billionaire George Soros and New York mayor Bill de Blasio.

While elites from OECD countries argue that the Dominican Republic’s concerns over sovereignty do not hold water.  We see Haitian social activists such as Julio Rubain Bastien saying that “the only solution to solving Haitian mass migration to the Dominican territory is opening the border and allowing for the free movement of people between the two countries.”  Moreover, as he stated in an interview that made it to the cover of the Dominican Republic’s most prominent newspaper, “in Haiti there is a movement to raise awareness of the need for the island to be one.” 

Rubain, who is a self-proclaimed pastor of a local church in the Haitian community of Juana Méndez, also said his congregation is praying for “God to help bring about the unification of the two countries into one as soon as possible.”  Statements like this would not be a matter of concern for the Dominican government if Rubain and many others like him did not have the backing of well endowed international NGOs with on-site operations in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  

These NGOs and their leaders are basically blackmailing the Dominican government by threatening to impose economic sanctions on the country.  That’s right: they are threatening to penalize a democratically elected government for operating lawfully to protect and strengthen its country’s sovereignty.

Few NGOs would pose threats of that nature against the United States for taking steps to secure its border with Mexico.  As a matter of fact, any threat made on that basis against the USA would amount to a mere “all bark, no bite” publicity stunt.  Unfortunately, when it comes to small countries like the Dominican Republic, such threats carry weight and can put the neediest of the needy under a lot of financial stress. 

Hence, on the surface, it looks as though international NGOs want to help Haitians in distress.  But what they are really trying to do is compel Dominicans to solve the Haitian predicament and, in doing so, rid rich countries of the need to take on that heavy burden.

Academics like Professor Daniel Rodriguez from Mercy College of New York make the idea of unifying Haiti and the Dominican Republic seem innocuous by saying it would be “like the reunification of East Germany and West Germany.”  The comparison could not be more inappropriate.  East and West Germany at least had a common language and were unified on equal and peaceful grounds in the past.

The case with Haiti and the Dominican Republic is extremely different.  Beyond the striking level of cultural, linguistic, and religious heterogeneity between one country and the other, one must consider the conditions under which Haiti and the Dominican Republic were unified once upon a time.  So here’s a bird’s-eye view.  

Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804.  At the time, the whole island of Hispaniola was under French rule.  After removing the French from their side of the island in a bloody war, Haitians, with the aid of British forces, pressed on and drove the French out of the city of Santo Domingo.  Thus, Haiti began making inroads eastward.

The occupation of the other side of the island of Hispaniola became official in 1822, when Haiti sent members of its army to police the eastern territory, and they did so until Dominicans declared their independence in February of 1844.

During the Haitian occupation of the Dominican Republic, whites could not own land; people were forbidden from speaking Spanish, their native tongue; and Santo Domingo’s Autonomous University, the first institution of higher learning founded in the Americas, was shut down.  Moreover, the Haitian government levied heavy taxes on Dominicans, and the occupying military personnel seized food and other goods from the population as the Haitian government did not provide for their sustenance.

The grievances perpetrated in that period are water under the bridge.  But if Haitians nowadays continue to invoke, promote, and act upon the seditious ideas that emanate from that moment in history, the Dominican government must take the matter seriously – especially when Haiti’s naked ambitions to bring the Dominican Republic’s sovereignty under submission are backed by people with billions and influence that can significantly disturb the Dominicans’ economic and political existence.

D’Oleo is a management consultant, author, and speaker.  He holds a Master’s of Science in public policy from University College London and a double-major in economics and politics from Brandeis University.  Twitter: @JonathanJDOleo.

There is a historic sentiment in Haiti that the island it shares with the Dominican Republic should be one and indivisible – not only geographically, but also politically, economically, and in virtually every other regard.  Such sentiment, if analyzed objectively, is to be interpreted as a Haitian drive to undermine the Dominican Republic’s sovereignty as an independent country with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereto appertaining.

Before the magnitude of such a threat, any responsible government should take the necessary steps to deter those who seek to subvert its sovereign laws from transgressing them.  Yet, when attempting to do so, the Dominican government has been highly criticized by a multitude of NGOs like the Clinton Foundation and threatened by powerful people of the likes of billionaire George Soros and New York mayor Bill de Blasio.

While elites from OECD countries argue that the Dominican Republic’s concerns over sovereignty do not hold water.  We see Haitian social activists such as Julio Rubain Bastien saying that “the only solution to solving Haitian mass migration to the Dominican territory is opening the border and allowing for the free movement of people between the two countries.”  Moreover, as he stated in an interview that made it to the cover of the Dominican Republic’s most prominent newspaper, “in Haiti there is a movement to raise awareness of the need for the island to be one.” 

Rubain, who is a self-proclaimed pastor of a local church in the Haitian community of Juana Méndez, also said his congregation is praying for “God to help bring about the unification of the two countries into one as soon as possible.”  Statements like this would not be a matter of concern for the Dominican government if Rubain and many others like him did not have the backing of well endowed international NGOs with on-site operations in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  

These NGOs and their leaders are basically blackmailing the Dominican government by threatening to impose economic sanctions on the country.  That’s right: they are threatening to penalize a democratically elected government for operating lawfully to protect and strengthen its country’s sovereignty.

Few NGOs would pose threats of that nature against the United States for taking steps to secure its border with Mexico.  As a matter of fact, any threat made on that basis against the USA would amount to a mere “all bark, no bite” publicity stunt.  Unfortunately, when it comes to small countries like the Dominican Republic, such threats carry weight and can put the neediest of the needy under a lot of financial stress. 

Hence, on the surface, it looks as though international NGOs want to help Haitians in distress.  But what they are really trying to do is compel Dominicans to solve the Haitian predicament and, in doing so, rid rich countries of the need to take on that heavy burden.

Academics like Professor Daniel Rodriguez from Mercy College of New York make the idea of unifying Haiti and the Dominican Republic seem innocuous by saying it would be “like the reunification of East Germany and West Germany.”  The comparison could not be more inappropriate.  East and West Germany at least had a common language and were unified on equal and peaceful grounds in the past.

The case with Haiti and the Dominican Republic is extremely different.  Beyond the striking level of cultural, linguistic, and religious heterogeneity between one country and the other, one must consider the conditions under which Haiti and the Dominican Republic were unified once upon a time.  So here’s a bird’s-eye view.  

Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804.  At the time, the whole island of Hispaniola was under French rule.  After removing the French from their side of the island in a bloody war, Haitians, with the aid of British forces, pressed on and drove the French out of the city of Santo Domingo.  Thus, Haiti began making inroads eastward.

The occupation of the other side of the island of Hispaniola became official in 1822, when Haiti sent members of its army to police the eastern territory, and they did so until Dominicans declared their independence in February of 1844.

During the Haitian occupation of the Dominican Republic, whites could not own land; people were forbidden from speaking Spanish, their native tongue; and Santo Domingo’s Autonomous University, the first institution of higher learning founded in the Americas, was shut down.  Moreover, the Haitian government levied heavy taxes on Dominicans, and the occupying military personnel seized food and other goods from the population as the Haitian government did not provide for their sustenance.

The grievances perpetrated in that period are water under the bridge.  But if Haitians nowadays continue to invoke, promote, and act upon the seditious ideas that emanate from that moment in history, the Dominican government must take the matter seriously – especially when Haiti’s naked ambitions to bring the Dominican Republic’s sovereignty under submission are backed by people with billions and influence that can significantly disturb the Dominicans’ economic and political existence.

D’Oleo is a management consultant, author, and speaker.  He holds a Master’s of Science in public policy from University College London and a double-major in economics and politics from Brandeis University.  Twitter: @JonathanJDOleo.



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