Deplorables: Making America Great Again

Back when Ronald Reagan was President the mainstream press hated him as much as they hate Trump now, and there was a joke that made the rounds that I think is just as applicable today. It goes like this:

If there had been a press corps a couple of thousand years ago like the one we have today, and they covered Jesus like they cover Reagan, the day after He walked on water the headline would have been: “JESUS CAN’T SWIM!!!”

To quote Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again. In fact, in the age of Trump, I think an updated version of that punch line would read: “JESUS IS AN ANTI-SWIMMER NAZI!!!”

The volume of the hysterical outrage from Dem/socialists and Never-Trumpers is a wonder to behold. Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is in full and marvelous bloom. The added irony is that as their outrage level gets cranked ever higher, Trump’s popularity simply seems to increase in direct response. It looks like we Deplorables just aren’t buying the snake oil. In fact, as of July 26 the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll had Trump’s approval rate at 46%, which is higher than Saint Obama’s numbers at the same point in his presidency.

Now, I have to admit that I had very grave doubts about Trump during the 2016 election cycle. If you’re interested you can go into the Signal archives, or my old blog entries, and read my columns from that time. I was a hardcore Ted Cruz guy. But as Election Day in November came rolling near, and it became clear the choice was a binary one between Trump and Hillary “Whiny” Clinton, I reluctantly threw my support to Trump, since I viewed Whiny as a disaster-in-waiting for the country.

Much to my delight, Trump’s turned out to govern as the single most conservative President since Reagan. Who’da thunk it?

I know, I know… I’m just a Deplorable who “cling(s) to guns or religion” per Saint Barrack; a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, gun-loving, small-government, nativist, greedy, ignorant Nazi. Bummer.

The problem for the TDS crowd is that we Deplorables just don’t care about the things that whip them into such a lather. Did Trump have girlfriends back in the day? Who cares? The guy was a rich guy in show biz. Didn’t they all? I voted for a guy to be President, not saint.

“But, but… Mueller!…” Yeah, what about Mueller? A year and a half of wasted time and taxpayer dollars on an “investigation” that’s wandered very far afield of what it was supposedly investigating; that’s lost any semblance of objectivity (Strzok, Page, McCabe); and has only managed to indict a bunch of Russian internet trolls located halfway around the globe. How utterly underwhelming.

“Treason!” That’s the latest meme from the loony left. They don’t like how he’s carrying out foreign policy, so now they’re accusing him of “treason”. Seriously! Check out the Boston Globe, Chicago Trib, Baltimore Sun, Congressman Ted Lieu, Anderson Cooper on CNN, among many others. Talk about unhinged. This is exactly why normal people can’t take TDSers seriously.

One of the most ironic “treason” accusations came from former CIA Director John Brennan. The irony stems from the fact that in 1976 Brennan voted for Gus Hall for President. Hall was the nominee of the US Communist Party. How this guy ever got a security clearance is beyond me. When I was in Army Intelligence that would have been an immediate disqualifier. Instead, he rose to become CIA Director.

Between that and the Mueller “investigation”, not to mention James Comey’s outright malfeasance with the investigation into Whiny’s home brew email rig, there’s certainly credence to Trump’s complaints about the operations and objectivity of the intelligence apparatus, at least to my mind. The Intel community sure has changed since I was a member.

Trump has a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un? “Terrible” per the TDSers, though Saint Barrack bowing and scraping to every tin pot dictator in sight was a great thing. Trump gets Kim to make concessions? “Meaningless”. What did they expect? That Kim would ask to be annexed as a state?

Trump pressures other NATO members to start hauling their own weight? “Outrageous”, per the TDSers. But guess what? That sounds like a GREAT idea to us Deplorables!

Meanwhile, the economy’s cooking, people are taking home more money, they’re paying less in federal taxes, there are more jobs than applicants, unemployment’s at record lows, the stock market’s at record highs, we’ve pulled out of the Paris Accords “climate change” scam, we’ve had a great new Supreme Court Justice seated in Neil Gorsuch with another terrific nominee in Brett Kavanaugh awaiting confirmation, and we’re really on our way to “Making America Great Again”.

It’s time for the TDSers to grow up and put their big boy pants on. The election’s over. Whiny lost and is never going to be President (thank God). Trump’s not going to be impeached and removed from office.

That’s just the way it is.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Also published today in The Signal)

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The Asylum Scam

I often find columns by our resident leftists to be entertaining, and even amusing, and Anthony Breznican’s “Debunking Baker’s Latest Column” on 10 July (Link) was no exception.

He starts out with the SOP leftist bleat about being victimized: “(Baker) also decided to make a series of personal attacks against me, but I’ll ignore those insults and distortions. They are beneath our community newspaper.”

What was that “insult”? I said he lied to his kids. But what does he call the things I wrote that he’s “debunking”? “Baker Lie”, in boldface type and all. I guess it’s not “beneath our community newspaper” if he’s doing it. Hypocrisy, anyone?

I’ve been debating leftists for literally decades, and I’m still amazed at their lack of self-awareness.

I think his first “debunking” is instructive of the quality of his material:

BAKER LIE: ‘… they wouldn’t have been separated from their kids, which is exactly the same thing that happens to ANY lawbreaker who’s arrested for any crime.’

“THE TRUTH: Crossing the border is a misdemeanor, seldom prosecuted in cases of asylum seekers. USA Today reports it usually comes with a fine of $10. This is like someone ringing your doorbell to ask for help after a car accident — and you calling the police to have them arrested for trespassing. American law has never mandated seizing the children of people charged with misdemeanors. Ask anyone who has been caught driving without a license, or shoplifting, or engaging in disorderly conduct. In America, the punishment fits the crime, and caging young children over a misdemeanor is cruel and unusual.”

Now, while the majority of what he wrote is actually true, it doesn’t directly respond to, or in any way negate, what I specifically wrote. In fact, it’s pretty much irrelevant. There are a whole lot of misdemeanors for which people are jailed. The definition of a “misdemeanor” is that it is a crime for which the maximum sentence is one year or less in jail. And just as I wrote, if someone is sent to jail – for whatever length of time – their kids don’t accompany them. What Breznican is doing here is indulging in the timeworn leftist tactic of misdirection and obfuscation. That’s pretty much his go-to SOP.

Further, those kids weren’t “caged”. They were placed in facilities which are more accurately likened to daycare facilities. But then, there’s no emotional drama in that, is there?

A bit later he writes:

BAKER LIE: He writes about the Obama administration’s policy of processing the claims of asylum seekers and then releasing them on bond with a court date. In court, their request for asylum will either be accepted or denied. ‘Those illegal aliens for the most part never showed up in court for their hearings,’ he writes.”

But that’s not what I wrote. I didn’t restrict my statement to “asylum seekers”. Yet another attempted bait-and-switch.

Which brings me to what I believe is the underlying, and far more important, reality of this issue. This was clearly illustrated by the now-infamous cover photo of the July 2 edition of Time magazine. That cover juxtaposed a picture of a crying little girl looking up at a seemingly indifferent Trump, symbolizing his – and I assume others’ who aren’t part of the illegal alien lobby – lack of empathy for those seeking “asylum” at our southern border.

But even before publication it became known that the kid’s mother wasn’t actually a legitimate “asylum” seeker, and had in fact taken the kid to be used as the “beard” for the mother’s request for asylum, which itself was phony. It turns out that Mom had taken the little girl without Dad’s knowledge (Link), and that she was never, in fact, separated from her daughter at all.

Yet even though they knew that their cover illustration was a lie, Time decided to go ahead with it anyway. False and misleading or not, it made a political point for them that they wanted to have made. So much for integrity from the left, at least on this issue (and almost any other, in my experience).

Ask yourself this question: if someone from Central America truly wants legitimate asylum, why would they go all the way to the US border when they have to pass through Mexico to get there, a country with very accommodating laws on asylum and immigration? (Mexican asylum) Why wouldn’t they just stay in Mexico?

The reality is that our border has been under invasion for decades, and I think that in many, if not most, cases this “asylum” claim is just a scam. People in Central America can read the news and access the internet just as easily as you and I can. There are hordes of lawyers who specialize in the subject, not to mention those, such as the coyotes, who profit from motivating people to make the trek.

Those people know that if they can pluck the heartstrings of America and get us weeping about little kids there’s one heckuva chance that once they show up at the border and wrap themselves in the mantle of asylum with a couple of cute kids in tow, they’ll wind up getting to stay.

Could this be why there’s been a 1700+ percent (!) increase in asylum claims at our southern border in the last ten years? (Percentage increase) I think we’re being gamed.

What do you think?

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

A Leftist Lies. Shocking, I’m Sure

 

On 20 June The Signal published a column by Anthony Breznican, entitled “Family separation is cruel — but familiar”, which I found to be very interesting and informative.

For those who don’t know who he is, Breznican is a local hard-left activist, and I think his column offered a telling insight into that mentality.

He starts out by telling a story about a conversation he had with his two little kids, aged 9 and 5, while on the way with them to a demonstration in downtown LA about the separation of kids from illegal alien border jumpers. Per Breznican, as he tells it: “I said these are people following the rules. They are asking for help, not sneaking in.”

He goes on to say: “Rather than keeping the families together while we figure out their situation, like we used to, we are separating the children from the parents, and putting them in detention camps.”

And of course, from there he goes on to rant against Trump and Steve Knight, our local congressman who’s running for re-election.

Several things jumped out at me. The first was about the parental wisdom of taking such little kids, especially a 5-year-old, to a political demonstration. I’m a parent and grandparent, and wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing, even though I’m also very politically active. I think it’s a really, really bad idea, regardless of one’s political affiliation.

But more importantly, and illustrative of the mindset of the hard left, is the disconnect from actual facts that we see in the things he told his kids.

Exactly what “rules” have the border jumpers been “following”? In what alternate universe are they “not sneaking in”? They certainly haven’t gone through any legal process to arrive here on our border. If they had, they wouldn’t have been detained in the first place, would they? And they wouldn’t have been separated from their kids… which is exactly the same thing that happens to ANY lawbreaker who’s arrested for any crime, as I wrote in my last column.

Further, this separation policy isn’t anything new at all. The policy was set in place as a result of a consent decree signed in 1997, while Clinton was President, to satisfy the judgment in a law suit filed in federal court, and these separations have been going on since then, under Clinton, Bush, and Obama. So, sorry Breznican, but “we used to” separate families for quite a while, in fact.

There have been periods when the percentage of those caught jumping the border and detained was lower, such as under the “catch and release” doctrine, particularly under Obama, and look at how well that worked. Pretty much not at all, because once released, those illegal aliens for the most part never showed up in court for their hearings, disappearing into the vast sea of the illegal alien underground. It was basically a de facto open border policy, which is exactly what the left really wants, of course.

To summarize, and put it plainly, in order to indoctrinate his young kids into his ideology, Breznican has flat-out lied to them. That’s what I found so illuminating about his column.

Now, it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, since the American left uses flagrant lies to advance their agenda as a matter of course. That’s just SOP. But it was certainly fun to see it so blatantly illustrated in that column.

Well, I guess Trump’s stolen the left’s thunder now, having changed the policy under executive order so as to not separate kids from their parents. So, instead of being transferred to some form of foster care suitable for young kids, I guess they’ll be accompanying their illegal alien parents to detention.

How ironic. Breznican should be careful what he wishes for. But I have faith in him. I’m confident that with a little… manipulation… of the truth he and his cohort of fellow American socialists will still find some way to carry on with their smear campaign against Trump and, by extension, Knight.

It’s what they do.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in The Signal)

 

More On My City Council Excellent Adventure

How interesting.

Over the last few days, since the City Council’s May 8 open meeting at which they voted to oppose “sanctuary state” status, I’ve read a couple of letters published in The Signal, as well as the staff’s own editorial, characterizing the meeting as being pretty much an out-of-control near-riot.

Having been there myself, and addressed the Council, I have to wonder if those people are talking about the same meeting I attended.

As I discussed in my last column (“Mission Accomplished”, May 10), though emotions ran high I thought Mayor Weste did a pretty good job of keeping things under control and moving forward.

I was in the back of the room and could see pretty much everything that was happening. Contrary to Roselva Ungar’s assertions that it was the “red hats” causing all the commotion (“Shocked at behavior,” May 15), both sides had their adherents periodically misbehaving by waving their signs and placards, and shouting or speaking loudly against speakers who represented the opposing view.

The Signal’s own editorial (“A dark hour for discussion,” May 15) took the position that the deputies should have ejected the boisterous, or the entire meeting should have been cancelled and adjourned. Well, all I can say is, welcome to the modern era.

Maybe ejecting some of the misbehavers would have quieted down those who remained. We’ll never know, but it also could have led to a much nastier scene. Our modern political zeitgeist would encompass either outcome. Mayor Weste clearly decided to play it safe.

But adjourning the meeting would have been the wrong move to make. It would have been a de facto capitulation to “sanctuary state” supporters if the city failed to address the issue one way or the other once it was on the agenda. This is a favored tactic of, primarily, the left, as we see on campuses regularly when they stage raucous “protests’ and effectively shut down scheduled events and prevent conservative speakers from making their speeches and presentations.

Are we to allow our own City Council meetings to be victimized the same way?

There are those who say we shouldn’t have been involved in this issue at all, but why would that be true (unless, of course, you didn’t like the outcome)? This state is a part of the Union yet felt free to declare its own immigration policy. By that same logic we’re a part of this state and are perfectly free to declare our opposition to that policy. In fact, if we had our own police force instead of contracting with the county sheriff, I think it would have been interesting to instruct our cops to disregard the state’s edict altogether.

As to any “expense” incurred, as I mentioned in my last column it will be pretty minimal, since all we’re doing is filing an amicus brief in support of the suit against the state that’s already been filed by the federal Justice Department. The staff attorneys can do that, and they’re on salary.

Ultimately, it boils down to this: Why on earth should we be laying out a “welcome mat” (per Alan Blake in “Legal immigrant’s response”, May 15) for illegal aliens? What part of “illegal” do people not understand?

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

Evil Termites

 

Because our gasoline is so very expensive (due to gross over-taxation) I usually gas up at the independent station at the intersection of Magic Mountain Parkway and Bouquet. While I was there the other day filling the tank on my happily un-PC gas-guzzling SUV, I noticed a billboard – a sign – on the south side of the intersection. It read:

“CHOOSE CHILDREN OVER GUNS

Our Congressman Steve Knight Has an A from the NRA

Call Him and Ask Why”

Below that was a line naming the sponsors of the sign, a local Dem/socialist activist group.

When I moved here in 1984, like many people one of my main motivations was to escape the leftist swamp of LA city. The Santa Clarita Valley was an oasis of conservatism. Pickup trucks abounded. My wife’s BMW was a rarity. Cows grazed on the grounds next to College of the Canyons, a common sight when one took the Valencia Boulevard off ramp from I-5. Where the mall is now was nothing but vast onion fields from which hot air balloons launched on Sunday mornings if the wind was calm.

If you’ve ever wondered where Cinema Drive got its name, there was a small multiplex theater located on the intersection with Valencia Boulevard, with a little Sutter’s Mill restaurant on the other side of the street, one of the very few eateries in the area.

We were regularly mocked and ridiculed by the nabobs in LA, particularly those in tony enclaves like the Westside and Beverly Hills. “Redneck cowboys” and “hicks” was a pretty common theme.

Meantime, we “hicks” were enjoying a “small town” quality of life that attracted other like-minded people, and so our valley grew in population, which drew further development in the form of businesses relocating to the area, and amenities – such as the mall and restaurants – opening, further enhancing the area’s desirability, and drawing evermore people eager to enjoy the area’s ambience.

Of course, some of those people happened to be some of the same folks who previously scorned and mocked us, and recently included a Westside lawyer who carpetbagged his way here just in time to qualify himself to run for Congress as our local Representative. But I’m sure that was all a big coincidence… right?

It’s always been interesting to me how leftists move to conservative areas to enjoy a better lifestyle than the place they’re leaving behind, but then try to impose the same political agenda that turned their prior home into the very swamp they’re trying to escape.

They’re like evil termites. They wreck the home they live in, then fly off to find some new home to wreck.

Anyway, I decided to check further, and confirmed that the dreaded NRA did, indeed, give Knight a 93% back in 2016, which sounds like an “A” to me. Great! Even more reason to vote for him (as if there was any doubt to begin with)!

I have no idea why our local lefties think this is somehow a negative. Do they think the NRA is some faceless, shadowy, monolithic conspiracy of evil villains scheming to somehow subvert the will of the people while sacrificing little kids to their nefarious agenda? A bunch of solitary old childless misanthropes sitting around in their bathrobes plotting to cache an armory in the dream of overthrowing the government? Illicit gunrunners and covert international weapons dealers swindling their way to vast riches?

What nonsense. Time for a reality check. It’s an organization of millions of like-minded everyday people, some of whom are probably your neighbors, who think that the Second Amendment literally means they have a right to own guns; who have families – including kids – of their own; who actually believe they have the right to have the tools necessary to protect their kids and family; and who want to share the shooting sport experience with those family members, as hard as that might be for leftists to grasp.

And as far as I know, not one single NRA member has ever been involved in any mass shootings anywhere.

The whole meme of “CHOOSE CHILDREN OVER GUNS” creates a false dichotomy that should more believably and accurately be stated as “CHOOSE CHILDREN AND GUNS”.

These election-year anti-gun jihads usually don’t work out too well for the left outside of urban metro areas. Just ask Al Gore and John Kerry. If there’s anything that can motivate those gun owners who are usually pretty lazy about voting, this is it.

As Napoleon Bonaparte reportedly said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”. I hope that sign stays right there through November.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

 

How Did We Get Here?

I found Maria Gutzeit’s 28 November column “Watching the world burn” (link) to be very interesting and well-written. But I think her wish for a society free of partisan politics, though admirable and well-meant, is at its heart naïve and unrealistic.

The problem, I believe, is that we’re currently engaged in a cultural civil war in this country that’s every bit as profound and fundamental as the one that took place in the 1860s, though so far pretty bloodless. Thank God for that, at least.

Historically, political rancor, and even violence, is nothing new in this country. Elected representatives were known to whack one another on the head with their canes right on the floors of Congress; Burr killed Hamilton in a duel over politics; and, of course, there was the afore-mentioned Civil War itself.

World War II was the event that created a rare period of national unity which lasted well into the post-war era of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, when the world was rebuilding from that war’s destruction. That was the “Leave It To Beaver” era for which so many wax nostalgic, or mock mercilessly, depending on their political inclinations.

That era came to an abrupt and dramatic end with the riots at the 1968 Democrat Party convention in Chicago, which underscored the rise of the counter-culture that rejected the ethos of the later-named “Greatest Generation” – their parents’ generation – in favor of a radicalized vision of what American culture should be.

That counter-culture, firmly rooted in the ideology of collectivist socialism, ironically found its home in the very Democrat party it had so violently rioted against, and in the subsequent almost half-century rose to positions of prominence and power within that party. As a result of their de facto takeover of that party they’ve managed to radically alter its underlying principles to the point that they now reflect much of the agenda of those original radicals who rioted in Chicago.

We see much of its strategy deriving directly from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, a primer for the counter-culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which is essentially a blueprint for political disruption and manipulation. This is evidenced by class warfare pitting the “haves” against the “have-nots”, and the demonization of the “one-percenters”, as well as the creation, proliferation, and perpetuation of “victim” groups, which then go on to even compete against each other for prioritization, leading to further fragmentation and balkanization of the society and culture.

In such a noxious and confrontational political climate, our national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” – meaning “out of many, one”, a message of unity – has been effectively reversed for all intents and purposes into its mirror-opposite, “out of one, many”.

In her column, Maria writes: “The win will come when we all sit down and acknowledge common goals and work on that without uttering the words ‘democrats’, ‘republicans’ or ‘politics’… Imagine if we focused on electing people to improve and implement good policy, rather than ‘win’ for ‘our side’.”

While I think that’s a very nice thought, I also think it’s about as realistic as a kid’s Christmas wish list as he tells it while sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall. The reality is that “politics” is how we determine public policy in this country, and there’s at least one very sizeable portion of the body politic that seems determined to completely redefine the social and cultural fabric of our society. To destroy it in order to replace it with a system that is completely alien to traditional American ideals and constitutional principles.

In consequence, we see the politicization of almost everything, even sports, which used to be one of the few remaining bastions of political neutrality. Instead, we see the NFL immersed in their “taking a knee” controversy. We see popular media – TV, movies, and even books – showcasing political correctness at the expense of entertainment value. Higher education has become, at many universities, a venue of indoctrination rather than enlightenment.

In this adversarial climate, I believe the wish for reconciliation and cooperation, though well meant, has very little chance of being realized.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in The Signal)

Both Political Parties’ Establishments Don’t Get It

Donald Trump’s election to the presidency was as clear a clarion call as there could be that “business as usual” was no longer acceptable to the voters. The GOP Establishment seems to be utterly deaf to the message.

We’ve seen this reality play out from Trump’s first announcement of his candidacy right through to the present day.

During the election primaries, none of his opponents thought he had a slightest chance of actually winning the nomination, an incredulousness shared by the party machine. They mocked and belittled him, refusing to take him seriously. They were utterly stunned when he went on to actually win that primary.

But did that win alert the GOP that something profoundly different was going on this time around? Nope.

Many of Trump’s former opponents refused to endorse his candidacy, a few even threatening to endorse his opponent, Clinton. The GOP’s candidates for other offices continued to run on the promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare” in their own campaigns, repetition of a 7-year-old party campaign theme. But clearly, most of them didn’t take Trump’s campaign seriously, either.

How do we know this? Because when the most shocking and unexpected event took place, and Trump actually won the General Election, nobody was prepared to actually move forward and fulfill the promises they’d campaigned on for many years.

Having secured both chambers of Congress and the White House, was the GOP now prepared with a “shovel ready” plan to actually live up to and fulfill that years-old campaign promise of getting rid of Obamacare?

Not even close. They had absolutely nothing, because, as a party, they’d banked on the idea that Trump had absolutely no chance of actually winning the election.

In scientific parlance, this is what’s called “stupid”.

Compounding the problem, that stupidity continues, with no sign of abating. The “Never-Trumpers” are still in full roar, glorying in their “moral superiority”, reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, utterly oblivious to the voices of that plebian mass in fly-over country that elected Trump. Elitist snobbery personified.

On the other side of the aisle, Hillary Clinton’s defeat was sending the same message to the Democrat Party, with the same result: deafness and denial.

When the campaign season opened the Establishment Democrats deemed Clinton the ordained candidate, and no other “mainstream” Democrat even threw their hat into the ring.

And then along came Bernie Sanders, the Democrat equivalent of Trump, an “outsider” who wasn’t even a member of the Democrat Party, having been elected throughout his career in the House and Senate as an “Independent” who only caucused with the Democrats.

To the consternation of the Establishment Democrats, Sanders’s candidacy put the coronation of Clinton in serious jeopardy, to the point that party officials conspired with Clinton campaign people to cheat Sanders out of any chance of winning that party’s nomination. Needless to say, the Sanders supporters were outraged by this when it became publicly known.

Once Clinton had secured the nomination, the DNC and her campaign apparatus evidently felt so confident of her chances of winning, and so scornful of Trump, that they decided to concentrate their campaign on the coastal urban centers and special-interest coalitions that in reality were already in the tank for her, utterly and completely ignoring everyone in “fly-over country”, as well as the masses of people who were ardent and now-outraged Sanders supporters, essentially wasting their time, energy, and resources.

Then the unthinkable happened. Trump actually won.

The result? A Democrat party in complete disarray and dissension, to the point of being in a shambles. A schism over what the meaning of such an unexpected and catastrophic loss means.

The Clintonistas are welded to the idea – really just an excuse – that it was “the Russians” and Comey at fault, unwilling to accept that Clinton was a terrible candidate who ran an incompetent campaign.

The Establishment, with a very few exceptions, can’t seem to decide whether their message to the electorate was too far to the left, not far enough to the left, too married to “corporate” interests, or what.

The very few who seem to get it have said that their party needs to take a serious look at the direction they’ve taken and the policies they’re promoting, and that it could be that the emphasis on social engineering – letting men use the same bathrooms as little girls, amnesty for illegal aliens, and the like – taking priority over bread-and-butter concerns about jobs and the economy may just be a very big mistake. The far-left culture-war policies that play so well in the coastal blue regions and some other major urban areas don’t go over at all well in areas outside of those enclaves.

Unfortunately for the Democrat party, if they want to be relevant on a national scale moving into the future, those voices really are being lost in the wilderness.

I think voters are clearly signaling to their respective parties that the old “Establishment” way of doing business isn’t going to cut it anymore. In the case of the GOP, that means they’ll no longer accept empty campaign promises that aren’t followed up with serious and concerted effort to actually implement the promised policies if elected. For Democrats, it means dropping the obsession with Social Justice and class warfare, and directing attention to matters that are of more concern to average everyday Americans.

Will anyone in either party “Establishment” pay any attention?

I don’t think Trump is the causative agent of any of this. The success of his primary campaign, and Clinton’s failure to beat him in the general election, are merely symptomatic of a greater dissatisfaction in the body politic, and the results of the last election – from primaries to general election – were the overt expression of that exasperation.

What’s truly interesting is how both parties are suffering at the same time from the same kind of malaise and disaffection. How this will play out at the polls is anyone’s guess.

Or in the streets.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

Our Current Civil War

On July 20th The Signal published a column by Joshua Heath entitled “A Democrat’s defense of the GOP” (Link), in which he described what he perceived as the beneficial effects of the essentially two-party system of our political structure in this country.

The problem with his thesis is that the traditional Democrat Party he described is virtually non-existent today, having been hijacked by far-left extremists who seem to be obsessed with destroying our social order and cultural norms.

He has effectively described the political order that existed when I was his age. That was a very long time ago. In my opinion this country is currently engaged in a civil war every bit as intense and fundamental as the one that took place in the 1860s, the only difference being that thankfully much less blood has been shed… so far.

The transformation of the Democrat Party into what it’s become today began with the radical left of the 1960s, with the Vietnam War and race relations being the pivotal issues of the time.

If there’s a watershed event, it’s the 1968 Democrat convention in Chicago. I encourage everyone to research that event. There had already been riots over race relations, but they’d been primarily carried out by minorities. The lesson for the radical left that the Democrat convention debacle illustrated was that mainstream Middle American whites could also riot, and that the rioting could have a profound influence on the policy decisions of that party.

LBJ withdrew from the election; the Dems nominated his VEEP Humphrey, and Nixon was elected in a solid repudiation of LBJ’s policies on the Vietnam War.

And so the fuse was lit.

Over time, the left and right drove further apart, and rioting and other forms of bad behavior became a standard tool of the left. And one has to be honest and acknowledge that you just don’t see equivalent behavior of that scale from the right.

Further, the prevailing ideology of the left also moved steadily further toward radicalism, with formerly “mainstream” liberalism being more and more marginalized. There’s a cliché that in today’s political climate, Democrat icon JFK would actually be a Republican, and frankly, it’s true. That alone symbolizes the changes that have taken place to the Dem party.

The reality is that Washington’s political landscape, particularly in the Democrat party, has been warped and distorted by the rise to prominence of the radical left in that party.

This country is incredibly polarized. In my opinion, as I said earlier, his view is reflective of a political landscape that existed decades ago, not today.

 

©Brian Baker 2017

 

(Published 21 July 2017 on my blog and in The Signal)

 

 

 

The GOP Aims At Its Own Foot — Again

On June 19th my local newspaper, The Signal, published an opinion letter by Thomas Oatway entitled “Legislators must stand up against potential tax reform threats” (Link). In that letter Thomas urged Congressman Steve Knight and other California Republicans to “fight to derail this plan”, and I want to add my voice to that chorus.

As Oatway correctly pointed out, eliminating the federal tax deduction for home mortgage interest and property taxes will have a very negative impact on home ownership, particularly for the middle class.

Why would the GOP be so stupid as to eliminate the deductions that their natural base depends on? It would be electoral suicide.

This is yet another loony proposal popping from the “mind” of Paul Ryan, a nerd without a lick of common sense.

Congressional Republicans promoting this plan claim that by increasing the personal exemption and decreasing the number of brackets, these eliminations will be essentially “harmless”, and they’ll still be there for people who elect to itemize their deductions.

But eliminating the mortgage and property tax deductions is going to immediately cause home values to drop (http://www.businessinsider.com/gop-tax-plan-could-affect-real-estate-market-2017-1). Who owns most homes numerically? The middle class, the exact same demographic from which the GOP draws most of its support.

So, as those people sit there, with their ongoing mortgages and property taxes, they’re going to see the value of their homes drop out from under their feet.

Then there’s the secondary, or ripple, effect. As home values drop, so do rental values. So, those who own investment properties are going to see their income decrease as rental incomes chase property values down. That’s a direct effect on income for those people.

As a homeowner, I’m looking at personally losing almost $50K in hard equity from my house. Why would I think that’s any kind of good idea at all? That’s exactly the same thing as taking $50,000 out of my savings account. Why would I vote for someone who wants to do that? I may as well vote for a Democrat!

Who actually benefits from this? People who can’t afford to buy homes, or others who are renters, and I’d guess the majority of them are people who support Dems.

So in reality, the GOP will manage to alienate middle class home owners and investment owners, their natural base (as I said), while providing a benefit for people who are never going to vote for them anyway.

In what alternate universe does that sound like a good idea?

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper The Signal)

“Single-Payer” Healthcare? You Mean Like the VA?

VA

On May 24th The Signal published a column by Steve Lunetta entitled “Health care free market an abject failure” (Link), and I have to take great issue with much of what Steve wrote.

He claims that “All attempts to create a ‘free market’ in health care have failed here in the United States.”

What “attempts”? How can they have “failed” when there haven’t been any to begin with? Oh, there used to be a free market in health care, but it was so long ago that at 68 years of age I can barely remember it. The only thing that’s been “attempted” in the last five decades or so has been to exert ever more government control and regulation of that market segment.

In all the anecdotal “evidence” Steve presents in the column, one glaring element simply leaps out at me: he had an HMO, which he described as a “blessing”, and HE made the decision  to switch to a PPO, from which all his described problems arise.

If his organization is like the ones I worked for, as an employee I had a choice between either a PPO or an HMO. Didn’t he? Even if he didn’t, he certainly wasn’t forced by his employer to participate in their PPO program. So it seems to me that his problems with his health insurance provider are actually due to his own lack of due diligence, and his own decision to participate in a PPO that doesn’t meet his perceived needs.

His lack of due diligence is also illustrated by his example of allowing visits by a doctor without asking first what his own charges would be for that doctor’s services. Why would anyone do that? That’s a question I ALWAYS ask when a medical service or procedure is being contemplated.

The next problem here is that the insurance companies aren’t “making a mountain of money” as he claims. In fact, under the current structure, many are facing serious financial problems, and are withdrawing from many markets. Further in many jurisdictions, this state being one of them, insurance profits are limited by law.

Then the ultimate sin: proposing “single-payer”, which means government-run health care. You want to see how well that will work out? Take a look at the VA system for your answer. Now imagine that being the national norm.

How about we actually try some REAL free-market health care for a change? For years I’ve promoted three steps to reforming the system:

1.  Eliminate the artificial Barriers to interstate competition for health care and insurance products. Let real competition begin.

2.  Streamline the FDA approval process, which will significantly lower the cost of bringing new meds and procedures to market.

3.  Reform the medical tort system, which will lessen the costs involved in, and perceived need for, practicing “defensive medicine”.

Let’s do those three things, see how well they work, and only then see what else might be done to improve things.

Lastly, we as a society have to get away from the idea that there’s some magic bullet that will indemnify us from the vicissitudes of life. Some people are healthy until the day they drop dead; some are chronically ill for decades. That’s just the way things are. It’s no different from anything else. Some people have investments that make them rich; some people go bankrupt. Life isn’t “fair”.

But no one ever said it would be.

 

©Brian Baker 2017

 

(Published 1 June at my blog and in The Signal)