The Shutdown is About to Get Real

Before today, it has been easy to argue over the partial federal government shutdown in emotional terms, and in visible images of certain closed facilities like the Smithsonian. But today, all that changes. Today is what should have been the first payday of 2019 for federal workers, and they are not getting a paycheck.
Rent and mortgage payments are due. Heating bills, electric bills, car payments, and tuition bills are due. Credit card bills to pay for Christmas gifts are due. And no money is coming in for hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
It’s easy for those of us who agree that America needs better border security to poo-pooh emotional reports of workers selling their stuff on Facebook and Craigslist to pay bills as media bias. But it’s not. Washington Post reporter Taylor Telford detailed some of the stories in a Friday morning story.
“Sells for $93.88 at Walmart. Asking $10,” a government worker wrote on a Craigslist ad for a Lulu Ladybug rocking chair. “We need money to pay bills.”
These problems are real, and they are pressing. The three rich spoiled brats involved in a joint tantrum over 0.14% of the federal budget don’t care about a few thousand dollars per paycheck. Trump doesn’t even keep his paycheck (a gross check, which paid bi-monthly is well over $16,000, which the rank-and-file outside of Washington would find impossibly extravagant). Pelosi and Schumer are both rich and have been financially secure for so long that they can’t remember the last time they had to worry about paying a bill–if they ever did.
Guidance from government offices have provided little comfort so far, some workers said. No one in Washington seems to know how long the partial government shutdown will go on, but there’s been little reason to believe the end is close. Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget has provided sparse advice other than encouraging workers to reach out to creditors and mortgage companies before debts become due. The Coast Guard published a tip sheet this week suggesting employees hold garage sales or sell things online, walk dogs or babysit or “become a mystery shopper” to get by.
“Bankruptcy is a last option,” the tip sheet read.
To hell with arguing about the morality of a wall. For a political fight between spoiled brats to cause other, innocent parties, to be forced into thinking about bankruptcy is immoral and unconscionable.
As much as I want a wall, I believe the reality of the shutdown, should it continue, will quickly overcome this political fight. Pelosi and Schumer have surely told Democrats to hold out, let their constituents’ suffering build up, and they’ll win. I believe Trump will dig in further, or resort to the lunacy of some kind of invented “emergency power” to get what he wants.
It’s easy for political pundits to see everything through the lens of policy or a personal love/hate for President Trump. It’s easy for Jim Acosta to fly (business or first-class, undoubtedly, or coach, in the back of Air Force One) to McAllen, Texas to demonstrate how safe the (walled) border it. Acosta is getting a paycheck.
Congress is getting a paycheck (don’t believe them when they express “solidarity” and preen about not taking their pay). Ask Democrat star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if she’ll give up her paycheck.
“I’ve gotta run!” Ocasio-Cortez told The Post when asked the question Thursday on Capitol Hill.
She then scampered down a crowded hallway to get in line for her mock swearing-in with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
There’s literally no pain for legislators and government officials who still get paid, to deprive those who have done nothing to deserve it from missing their bills, defaulting on mortgages, getting late fees and debt collector calls.
The only pain these legislators will feel is the angry phone calls. But they’re too cynical to care except to use that legitimate anger as a political weapon. Because our government is being run by a bunch of spoiled three year olds fighting over a toy. My 9- and 8-year-old boys would have solved this problem and built the wall weeks ago, because in comparison to the toddlers in stinky pull-ups we have in Washington, they are mature.
It’s about to get very real for those being used as pawns in a very stupid fight. Democrats have a reasonable offer on the table, for a near-insignificant amount of money. They want the shutdown to hurt. In fact, they’re counting on it. Trump is no better. He plays for an audience consisting of his supporters and Fox & Friends watchers (the same group).
Shame on them all.

The Government Alone, Not Private Companies, Should Regulate Free Speech

I feel that in 2019, when the Times Square ball drop was in honor of “protecting journalists,” we’re going to be hearing a lot about the deleterious effects of “fake news.” I suspect that people like California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu are going to be heard from a lot on certain news outlets.
Lieu, on CNN a few weeks ago, said “I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech.” But “the First Amendment prevents me of doing so,” he complained, before finally admitting “over the long run, it’s better that government does not regulate the content of speech.” Then he urged private companies to “regulate better themselves.”
This effectively gives carte blanche to large companies in the (social) media and communications business to stifle speech they believe is harmful in some way. Let me take the opposite position from Rep. Lieu here. I believe the government should be the regulator of free speech, and should be the only regulator thereof. In fact, I believe the government should restrain private companies from being their own arbiters of what they consider to be harmful.
Follow me here for a bit.
The government already regulates free speech. The First Amendment protects private citizens and corporate citizens from government interference with free speech. But the government does have the authority and responsibility to defend the truth and to punish liars whose lies harm others.
For example: the SEC sued Elon Musk for tweeting, with little evidence, that he intended to, and had financing for taking Tesla Motors, a publicly traded company, private. They had a strong enough position on this to force Musk from his chairman seat on the Board, to extract tens of millions in fines, and for Tesla to agree to some restructuring to prevent this from happening again.
That’s for a single tweet.
The Federal Trade Commission regularly fines companies and prosecutes individuals for making fake or unsupported claims about products and financial schemes. Prosecutors go after corporations and insurance companies for fraud.
What people and companies say in the public square does matter. People are harmed when others lie to them. The government constantly and without challenge regulates this form of free speech.
Now let’s move that model to the political realm. It’s certainly not appropriate for the government to go after then-candidate Donald Trump for suggesting that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, was physically ill. Or to punish him to (as a candidate, and later as president) for him to lead chants of “lock her up.” That’s political invective.
It’s not proper for the government to outlaw skeptics of global warming. But in 2016, California nearly authorized prosecutors to sue fossil fuel companies, among others, who they said have “deceived or misled the public on the risks of climate change.”
State attorneys general have pursued this strategy, subverting others’ rights to voice their own opinions on the degree of risk, the factual basis, and the causes of climate change.
The government has no right to punish free speech, but it does have an obligation to protect citizens from harmful lies, and to protect our right to free speech. But where do we draw the line?
First, we draw the line that the government should not outsource its responsibility to private companies, or to anyone else. Putting the onus on Facebook or Google or Disney to police “fake news” is far worse than the government overstepping its bounds.
Our republic includes safeguards against government tyranny: we elect our executives and legislators. We can impeach and sometimes recall those officials. We (the people) elect, appoint, or otherwise approve judges (depending on state or federal jurisdiction). But who gets to elect Facebook’s executives? Who gets to decide who’s on Google’s board? Who gets to determine if Disney can buy another studio?
Yes, sometimes the government gets to determine if a private or corporate merger is in the public’s interest. But that’s always in the narrow context of preventing damaging monopolies. Nowhere does the government get to decide whether two companies joining together is simply a bad idea because someone will win and someone else will lose.
This is the problem with private companies self-policing free speech. Those companies inevitably act in their own best interests, or in their executives worldview. As long as Howard Schultz ran Starbucks, he could tell investors where to stick it if they didn’t like his politics. But we had no voice in when he left. There’s little difference in that decision and how Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, or Amazon–or the Washington Post for that matter, owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns Amazon–deal with their considerable public power to suppress free speech.
Yes, they are private companies. Yes, they can do as they like. If Amazon says they’ll no longer allow anyone who has ever purchased a gun to sell on their platform, we cannot stop them through government power. If Twitter says they will ban or mute any user who won’t properly address transgender individuals by their preferred pronoun, government cannot force them to stop.
But if private companies promote lies that harm others, or systematically engage in strategies to subvert or induce government to abridge free speech, then I do thing the government has a duty to deal with them.
And if government, as Ted Lieu suggests, transfers its responsibility to those very companies, then government has rendered itself–and us–powerless to counter actual and damaging lies.
When sports organizations force young women to compete with biological men, that’s harmful. When universities force those accused without evidence of sexual crimes to prove their innocence without due process, that’s harmful. When foreign nations pump wholly fabricated news through social media, while the companies who publish it profit, that’s harmful.
Should we full-bore regulate Facebook and Twitter? I think that would be a bad idea in the long run. But should we have the government sit back and offer no punishment at all for even egregious and outrageous behavior? Should government allow Google to cherry-pick fact checkers, or to skew Internet search results based on ideology without any penalty?
I say no.
The First Amendment guarantees free speech to citizens. It also gives the government a special responsibility to preserve that right from being taken away by others. Otherwise, we might find ourselves censored day by day, by our own phones, or our government subject to tyranny by proxy.
I’d rather have the government do stupid things that can be repealed than have government do nothing while others do evil things. Ideally, I’d rather have government do nothing while we all do the right thing.
As James Madison wrote in Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
First, government must be enabled to control the governed. It must not give up that responsibility.

She’s In: Warren Goes for 2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren posted a video announcing the kickoff of her 2020 presidential campaign. Actually she only formed an exploratory committee, but aside from her ancestors’ DNA, what is there to explore? She’s in.
Warren tweeted: “Every person in America should be able to work hard, play by the same set of rules, & take care of themselves & the people they love. That’s what I’m fighting for, & that’s why I’m launching an exploratory committee for president.”
Commence now the public stoning by President Trump. He will be merciless, but Warren doesn’t care. She raised $34.7 million in her Senate run, of which she has $12.5 million on hand. This announcement has little to do with going after Trump, though surely she will. It has to do with being first in line for the endless buffet of handouts and political donations from liberal causes.
To beat Trump, Democrats are going to have to pony up at least a billion dollars, and that doesn’t include the primaries. Warren may not make it very far given her multiple self-owns dealing with her DNA and claims of Native American ancestry, which have been widely derided.
Someone had to test the waters, and either the midnight coven of Democrats threw chicken bones and decided it was her, or she on her own accord threw herself into the swirling maw a few months early. Testing how the base and donors react is a worthy endeavor.
But only by the farthest stretch of anyone’s imagination would Warren actually become the nominee, or (try not to lol) win.
While the mainstream media will be kind to her, even the Washington Post offered a bit of an eye-roll.
But recent events have illustrated some of her potential weaknesses. In a liberal state, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) got more votes than she did in November, and a recent survey in Massachusetts had her trailing former vice president Joe Biden and Sanders in a hypothetical 2020 matchup. A recent poll of likely caucusgoers in Iowa had her in fourth place at 8 percent, trailing Biden, Sanders and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.).
Of that list, only Biden has won the last election in which he ran. Trailing Sanders, after he was steamrolled by the Clinton machine, and O’Rourke, who has won precisely nothing, is a very bad omen.
If her friends are tilting their heads and smirking, a quick perusal of Twitter uncovers a pot full of mockery by conservatives.
https://twitter.com/EWErickson/status/1079745762282651648
https://twitter.com/BiasedGirl/status/1079742392788570112
https://twitter.com/RealCandaceO/status/1079760078956318720
https://twitter.com/robbystarbuck/status/1079770343487631365
And my favorite, pre-empting the God-forsaken thought that anyone should be nostalgic for Hillary:
https://twitter.com/AmandaPresto/status/1079774791039623170
Someone had to be first, and we should all thank Sen. Warren for her commitment to becoming the first to attain irrelevance in the 2020 race.

2018: Disruption and Destruction

Ten years ago, there were exactly zero jobs available with the title of “crypto-currency trader,” “ride-share driver,” “social media manager,” or “influencer.” The only drone operators existed in various militaries, a “data scientist” was likely working in the basement of a lab in a university versus in a Brooklyn-based political headquarters, and “app developer” was what hackers did in their parents’ basement.
The inflection point ten years ago was the movement of high-powered computing from the desktop and the laptop to the handheld smartphone. Just about all of the jobs (with the exception of Bitcoin mining) that make for good careers or side hustles today flowed from that waterfall of technological disruption.
In 2016, the inflection point was not technological, but social. It was not worked out by millions (billions, worldwide) of people suddenly thrust into 24/7 media overload and social connection with the whole world, but rather by the amplification of collective political will into a political upheaval resulting in the current era of politics as entertainment, and entertainment as a social moral force.
In 2016, we expected the political fire for what the old order considered the least likely presidential candidate to win, to either spectacularly explode and die, or to simply dwindle and snuff out. It did not happen.
We expected, in 2017, the stock market to respond to Trump’s win in unison and with severe disapproval. It did not. We expected either clear evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia, or of the “deep state’s” effort to unseat Trump, to emerge. Neither has happened.
In 2018, we expected that some of these story lines left hanging since 2016 would begin to resolve, and over time, we’ve seen the fruit of that disruption. In many cases, that fruit is destruction.
The trends that drove politics going in to 2016 still exist, but the disruption that brought them has morphed into an inflection point where the lines between politics, entertainment, mob action, and punditry have faded into a swampy miasma. For example, there no longer needs to be a revolving door between the media and the White House as there was in the Obama administration, because Fox & Friends has become the braintrust of the Trump White House.
Twitter has replaced the entire White House communications office, though the latter exists as a mere appendage–a vestigial organ with no useful purpose–in the daily ebb and flow of political and entertainment dialogue.
Trump’s tweets are as entertaining as they are responsive or leading in the political sense. And the media’s response to them, and to the clown show of White House press conferences, has become both hilarious and mordant at the same time. The result is a sad public show of destruction of the old ways without replacing them with trustworthy structures.
These trends have not come upon us unaware. In 2016, I cited Matthew Ingram, who wrote in 2013, [New York Times columnist Frank Bruni] “admits some may see the decline of the journalistic sector as a good thing, given the level of mistrust many have in the media — which he blames on “our cynicism, superficiality… and tendency to see all politics in terms of the contest rather than the content.”
The media has become, for one side or the other, an activist organism rather than a fact-reporting organ. That the Fourth Estate should be worried about its relevance post disruption is appropriate, but their blaming of Trump himself for their fate is misplaced and blind.
So we have the rather ridiculous pageant this New Year’s of the Time Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment naming the Committee to Protect Journalists as the honoree for the 2019 ball drop festivities.
“On New Year’s Eve we look back and reflect on the major events of the past year, we look forward with a sense of hope, and we celebrate the people and things we value most,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said in a statement. “This year, we’re celebrating the free press and journalism and those who work to protect, preserve and practice it.”
The titular reason for this move is the savage murder of Washington Post columnist James Khashoggi by the Saudi royal family inside their embassy in Istanbul. They act as if Donald Trump assented to the killing, though his reaction to it could scarcely have been poorer.
What they really don’t like is that Trump uses the media as his foil, because that’s what Trump has done as a private businessman for the last 40 years. He calls them the “enemy of the people,” and accuses them of “fake news” and they bristle at the terms as if they deserve better.
In fact, the media is not suffering as much from Trump’s tweets or words, or from some nefarious physical assault on the press (Cuba, Iran, Russia or China pose a serious threat to journalists; the United States does not), as it is from its own irrelevance to the social movements of the day.
People get their facts from the mainstream media, as well as from Facebook, from the water cooler at work, from Twitter, from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, from NPR, and some get theirs from Mother Jones, the SPLC, or Prison Planet.
The left-leaning mainstream media is far more consumed with the “danger” of right-wing activist media and organizations (with the Washington Post even accusing the NRA of “threatening journalists“), than they are with their own bias, and failure to properly and transparently police their own retractions, repeated leaks and spoon-fed blockbusters that turned out to be wholly fabricated by “unnamed sources.”
Their need for relevance is driving their reaction to Trump’s baiting and trolling. Instead of proving they are not the “enemy of the people” (which they aren’t), they get angry at not being treated with the proper respect they feel they are due.
This is the biggest destruction of the past two years. The mainstream media’s relevance as a dominant newsmaker and source of social activism has been effectively destroyed. They are like Bruce Willis’s character in “The Sixth Sense,” walking around like they are living but not yet aware of their coming awakening to reality.
I said all of that to say this. Trump has not destroyed the presidency. He has damaged it, but not more than Richard Nixon, or Bill Clinton, and certainly not beyond repair. Trump rode the wave of disruption in 2016 that was coming no matter who ended up in the White House. His win simply accelerated the pace of disruption, and the destruction in its wake.
However, my main point is in the form of a prediction. In 2007, DOS-based software developer positions still existed. Today they do not (in any reasonable sense at least). In 2016, people like Robby Mook thought they were the future of politics. In 2018, Robby Mook, now at CNN, is the equivalent of a DOS-based software developer.
In 10 years, we will have many jobs that don’t exist today (don’t ask me what they are; I don’t know). But I’m confident that the job of political campaign manager will no longer exist in the context we have today. I think we’ll see it more in the form of a celebrity business manager, or an agent, or a personal representative.
The traditional media buyers and data modelers who have preyed upon parties and candidates will be swept away and consolidated into the Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world. This data will be available to anyone and sold dispassionately by firms to whoever has green money.
Meanwhile, the media and social footprint of the real social giants like Planned Parenthood, teachers unions, and liberal billionaires funding activist organizations on the left, and the right’s own billionaires, televangelists, and corporate cronies will rule the space where campaigns once thrived.
Candidates will become figureheads of celebrity and fame, which will be the true measure of popularity. Don’t act like this never happened before, because it has. In 1960, Richard Nixon sweated on camera and appeared shadowed and disheveled versus John F. Kennedy’s suave telegenic youthfulness in the first televised presidential debate.
Don’t try to tell me that Kennedy won because of his policies. Politics has always been at least 50% show. Now it’s closer to 90% show. Disruption happens, and death of old industries and orders of part of the package. In 2018, the mainstream media had its fate sealed.
It doesn’t matter whether Trump wins or loses in 2020. The mainstream media and old political order has already been dealt its card: it reads “destruction.”

What Fool Will Work for Trump? Ayers, Mnuchin Out of Running for Chief of Staff

President Trump announced Gen. John Kelly’s departure without telling the man to his face, which seems to be the former star of The Apprentice’s preferred method of saying “you’re fired.”
Now, Kelly’s apparent replacement pulled a turnabout on the president, tweeting “I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause.”
https://twitter.com/nick_ayers/status/1071879332283453440
Ayers would have been a very good choice to serve in the White House, but he appears to have come to the same conclusion as many before him. It’s simply not worth the hassle and nightmare of working for Donald Trump.
With Rex Tillerson being called “dumb as a rock” by Trump after serving as Secretary of State, Jeff Sessions enduring eighteen months of humiliation and continual bashing before his dumping, resignations by Scott Pruitt and Tom Price at EPA and HHS respectively under a hail of embarrassing media-led scandals, the departure of Nikki Haley (perhaps the best U.N. Ambassador since Adlai Stevenson), and a regular Ferris Wheel of ups, downs, ins and outs at the White House, who would work for Trump?
It’s been widely reported that the president’s own daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, have worked to discredit Kelly, who was seen as standing between them and Trump. The NYT’s Maggie Haberman has covered this conflict all year. It seems that with Kelly gone, and a power vacuum in the West Wing, Javanka may rise again to be the power brokers in a chaotic and stress-laden administration.
Ayers, who has had the advantage of a loge-level spectator’s seat on this maelstrom, would be a fool to step into the dugout, and be the next guy at the plate to receive Trump’s bean-balls.
This leads to the inevitable conclusion: perhaps only fools, media climbers with soft cushions should they fall out of favor, sycophants, and grifters would make themselves available for such obloquy and discomfiture. Quality people have long disqualified themselves from Trump’s orbit, with more every day falling outside the circle of recruitable candidates.
When Gary Cohn left, it was because of “tariff man,” and the market has reacted accordingly. Tillerson couldn’t stomach a man who was as ignorant of details as Trump is determined to remain. Think about that. The former heads of Goldman Sachs and Exxon-Mobil, a business braintrust worthy of Camelot, could not hang on even for half of Trump’s term.
Steven Mnuchin was being considered as Kelly’s replacement, with Ayers out of the picture. But he, despite hanging on at Treasury, indicated he was quite happy to remain there, out of the West Wing and daily contact with Trump.
Who else would take on the job of containing the uncontainable Trump? Chris Christie was mentioned. Fat chance, as Kushner hates him as much as any man would hate the man who put his father behind bars. Rep. Mark Meadows, David Bossie, Mick Mulvaney and Robert Lighthizer were all run up the flagpole, according to the New York Times.
Bossie is busy after releasing his book titled “Let Trump be Trump.” It would be a helluva metamorphosis to go from that tell-all campaign book to the man who would tame the White House shrew. I cannot imagine that Budget Director Mulvaney and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer would be interested in leaving their critical positions in the midst of continuing budget fights and tricky negotiations with China.
Trump for his part, played this like he always does, tweeting like he was following a reality show script.
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1071939400517500929
The #MAGA agenda is wonderful, if it wasn’t for the guy in the White House who keeps spoiling his own work. Someone has to step up, though. If Trump were completely unleashed, I fear his worst instincts would cause further market drops, and let China and Russia eat our lunch in global influence.
At home, Trump doesn’t see the danger he faces with a Democrat-led House, Mueller showing a few strong cards up his sleeve, and the conclusions that some believe will lead to articles of impeachment. I don’t think Trump will be convicted if they do move to impeachment, but the spectacle will keep any real work from getting done.
Without a strong bench in the White House (and right now, there’s no bench at all save people in Trump’s own family), Trump’s next two years will be one cave after another to Democrats, with Nancy and Chuck running the show.
All of this was completely predictable, of course. The day Trump made his nomination acceptance speech, I knew he’d win the presidency. I also knew we’d be right here after a few years of his helmsmanship.
And here we are. Someone needs to step up and take one for America. Who will do it?

BREAKING: Mexico Gives Trump Administration Groundbreaking Deal on Asylum

Mexico’s incoming socialist government has agreed to a deal where asylum seekers at the U.S. border will wait in Mexico while their cases are considered by U.S. courts.
This deal gives the Trump administration the ammunition it needs to keep its promise: No migrants will enter the U.S. illegally. It disappoints open borders advocates who have used federal courts to thwart Trump’s policy of no admission and blanket denials of asylum.
It ends the recurring predictions of a bloodbath at the border, after the president indicated he authorized “lethal force” to prevent a mad rush of migrants to cross the border illegally.
I love it when common sense wins.
The Washington Post reported Saturday:
The agreement would break with long-standing asylum rules and place a formidable new barrier in the path of Central American migrants attempting to reach the United States and escape poverty and violence. By reaching the accord, the Trump administration has also overcome Mexico’s historic reticence to deepen cooperation with the United States on an issue widely seen here as America’s problem.
Mexico’s government has long been little more than a bystander in the decades-long migration chain from central American countries to the U.S. Trump’s rhetoric, while bombastic and frequently relying on falsehoods to support his points, has motivated Mexico to finally “do something.”
It has also publicly shown what world leaders have known for years: Mexico is incapable of policing its own borders. It could not keep the caravan from entering and crossing its own territory. It could not provide for the migrants while they transited through the country. It could do little to stop the migrants from reaching the U.S. border.
But it can agree to let those migrants remain in Mexico while the U.S. takes the appropriate legal steps to process each asylum request. In fact, this deal is a win-win for both Mexico and the U.S. because it recognizes common sense truths and plays to both countries’ strengths and their shared business interests.
Just over the border, nearly 5,000 Central Americans have arrived in Tijuana this month as part of caravan groups, and several thousand others are en route to the city, where a baseball field has been turned into a swelling tent camp. The city’s mayor declared a “humanitarian crisis” Friday and said the city’s taxpayers would not foot the bill for the migrants’ care.
A group of business leaders in the city said they have thousands of job openings at the city’s assembly plants, or maquiladoras, inviting Central American migrants to work in the factories. Though wages there are a small fraction of U.S. pay, Mexican officials said the work offer was one reason they believe the Remain in Mexico plan will succeed. Across the country, there are 100,000 jobs available to Central American asylum seekers, officials said.
“We want them to be included in society, that they integrate into society, that they accept the offer of employment that we are giving them,” Sánchez Cordero said. “That they feel taken care of by Mexico in this very vulnerable situation.”
If the deal works, it shows that the Trump administration is capable of groundbreaking deals in international cooperation, blunting attacks of “America first” being primarily a blood-and-soil movement that ignores the plight of others outside our borders. It also shows that other nations can sometimes do for themselves and not rely on Daddy America as the be-all-end-all of jobs and opportunities.
For years, asylum seekers would first enter the U.S., then hang around while their cases (which can take years in the 750,000 case backlog) are waiting to be heard. In that time, they live, work, and have families in the U.S., further adding to the crisis of illegal aliens.
As the border has allowed less (legal) asylum seekers in, Mexico has become what WaPo has called an “antechamber.” Formal acknowledgement of this condition while closing what DHS has called a “loophole” promoting spurious asylum claims along with illegal border crossing, is really a common sense deal that has been needed for years.
The deal nakedly exposes many open borders advocates as cynics who really want more migrants inflating American voting booths for liberal causes.
It also cements an already “friendly, very courteous, very cordial” relationship with incoming Mexican President López Obrador by Trump.
Beginning with the San Diego border crossing, migrants who cross the border and assert asylum will be given an assessment at a federal courthouse, then taken back to Mexico. If their claim is denied, they will be taken into U.S. custody and deported to their country of origin.
If these migrants can earn money at Mexican factories while they wait, it’s a good deal all around.
Trump and his dealmakers deserve credit for doing what others have not done. As I said, I love it when common sense wins.

To Get Rid of Cockroach Goodell, Litigation Is ‘The Way We Do Things’ In The NFL

I have never liked Roger Goodell. He has made the top brick of America’s prized sport–football–into a lawyer-infested pyramid scheme, at the expense of the game. Instead of acting in the interests of football, which, by the way, exists for the benefit and entertainment of fans, he’s become the cockroach lawyer hiding from the light at the head of an increasingly corrupt cadre of billionaires out to pad their own pockets while extracting every last dollar from emotionally-invested fans.

Goodell doesn’t deserver a nickel. In fact, Jerry Jones is absolutely correct in threatening legal action if the NFL’s compensation committee approves a $50 million deal through 2024 without sending the contract back to the entire league membership.

“Are you telling us you’re prepared to file litigation against us?” committee member John Mara of the Giants asked, according to the source. Jones, a former disciple of the late, contentious Raiders owner Al Davis, said he was, per the source.

Mara spoke. Committee member Art Rooney II of the Steelers spoke. The committee chairman, Arthur Blank of the Falcons, spoke, and said this, per another source who heard the call: “I’m shocked. I’m disappointed. We may have differences, Jerry, but this is not the way we resolve them. This is not the way we do things in the NFL.”

Oh yes, Mr. Blank, Extortionist of epic proportions, Praetor and Master of Mercedes Benz palace in the lesser Kingdom of Atlanta. That is exactly how we do things in the NFL, thanks to the cockroach Roger Goodell.

On the soapbox

Years ago, I detached, emotionally, from the league. Though I’m a member of that hated class of Americans known as Patriots fans, I decided that I would only watch selected games, and not plan my Sundays (or Monday nights, Thursday nights, etc.) around watching a sport that generally leaves me feeling like a schoolboy with a crush on the class gold-digging slut: unfulfilled, dirty, broke and heartbroken.

Now I don’t watch at all. I liked football better in the 1970s and 80s, when the Patriots sucked, to be honest. At least I could root for Jim Plunkett or Joe Montana. Now I couldn’t root for the 49ers unless I’m politically aligned with Colin Kaepernick. And that’s only part of what’s wrong with the NFL. Actually, the political drama is really the smallest part.

The league–and the game in many ways–has not become a sport for lawyers. Many of the referees are actually lawyers who ref on the weekends as a part-time gig. The NFLPA is a hive of attorneys ensuring that every player becomes a millionaire (though relatively few of them remain rich after they depart the “not for long” league). The owners are a group of fat-cat billionaires (with the exception of Green Bay–cue the angel choir) who exist for their own personal fiefdoms and corporate sponsorships.

Networks like ESPN, that used to cater to actual sports fans, have become nothing more than parodies of District 1 Hunger Games announcers, substituting football and lifestyles of the Champions for the ones who died in fiction. They might as well call the whole league Panem at this point.

End of my rant.

Jones wants a rollback

Jerry Jones came from an era when NFL owners were rich bastards. But they were rich bastards who didn’t hide behind cockroach lawyers. They wore their bastardness full on their chests.

“When I walked into my first owners meeting, I looked to my left and saw [Kansas City Chiefs owner] Lamar Hunt,” Jones said in August. “I looked to my right and saw [Cincinnati Bengals owner] Paul Brown. These were guys who bucked back. The NFL wouldn’t give Lamar a franchise, so he went out and started a whole other league [in the AFL] and forced his way in. Paul Brown basically got his [Cleveland Browns] franchise taken away from him – a franchise that was named for him – so he goes down south a few hundred miles and helps found the Cincinnati Bengals. These were people that looked at their situation and when it was called for, they made changes.”

Goodell got rid of the NFL league office’s classification as a non-profit, not because he thought it looked bad that a billionaire’s club would appear to be not about money, but so he could hide his tremendous salary that would put many sultans to shame. Instead of dealing with issues head-on, like CTE or anthem protests, he always took the damp, hole-in-the-ground route. He treated the game of football like a law client instead of a treasured sport.

Simply put, Jerry Jones wants a rollback to the time when owners were bastards and proud of it, and the league basically stayed out of the way. Reports (like the one from SB Nation) that attribute Jones’ war on Goodell to issues related to the Dallas Cowboys are misinformed, or missing the point.

Yes, Goodell has nearly-dictatorial power in player personnel matters. Yes, he has used them, even heading to court to defend his decisions. But no, that’s not the primary reason Jones wants to clip the commissioner’s wings (by toppling Goodell).

The simple explanation

It’s simple, really. Goodell has made the NFL owners into patsies and rubber-stamps; investors who collect fat checks and make player and stadium deals. Jones sees the owners as the ones who “make” the league. Goodell sees himself in that role.

Since the rubber-stamp owners voted 32-0 to give its compensation committee complete authority to negotiate and execute Goodell’s Brobdingnagian salary and bonus, it will take a lawsuit to force the issue. If Jones isn’t bluffing, then the league, and Goodell have reason to fear. Not from the possibility that Jones would win in court and force the league owners to reconsider his contract. But because the whole thing will be played out in public.
Cockroaches hate the light.

Goodell should settle up right now and flee. The game of football will thank him for it.

I Almost Fell For The Delusion That We’re Better Christians

I came within a hair’s breadth of falling for a soul-crushing delusion. I nearly decided that our nation is better off embracing a morally-flawed man who purports to side with me on cultural issues like gay marriage and the protection of Christian conscience, than opening my ears to hear.

Then I read Rod Dreher’s parade of horribles that took me from truly lost Ellen Page to morally corrupt but honest Louis C.K., to the heart-rending tales of Diana Nyad and Nancy French. They landed straight in Roy Moore’s lap. I wept. I suggest you read every word, then go back and read all the stories he linked.

The delusion

The Bible says that the human heart is “deceitful about all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). In the next verse, which is rarely quoted, the Lord answers Himself: “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Human beings are all carriers of cognitive dissonance. As Erick pointed out, the anti-Christian progressive left is just fine referring to an unborn baby as a non-person fetus until it is killed by a gunman at a church, then it’s a baby. It’s no different with Christians–why would it be?–only the issues change.

 

Jerry Falwell, Jr. is more concerned with credibility in the eyes of voters than in the eyes of God. He sees nothing wrong with this. I almost fell for that also. Then, in tears, I realized my error.

Nobody is perfect in life, and I know if I ever ran for high office, plenty of things about me would or could end up in the public eye that I’d rather not be public. (No, I haven’t molested or propositioned a 14-year-old, but who is the judge of what causes shame or discredit but my own conscience and God’s word? None of us is without sin. Not one.)

We are truly living in Biblical times, and it’s very easy to fall for the delusion that God is not here, or does not exist, or care for us. But really, His own prophets and Word predict this very time, and warns/encourages us on how we are to act. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 for a good description of the “unrighteous deception.”

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

It is just as much a delusion to believe you can be right with God and done such damage to a 14-year-old (and others) many years ago, yet walk pridefully away from the accusations as if they are beneath contempt. Every single argument proffered by Roy Moore’s defenders is exactly as predicted by other victims of abuse.

Let that sink in. Others have come forward (like Nancy French) with their own stories because they recognize themselves in Liegh Corfman, who is now being criticized for the exact reasons she recognized and therefore kept quiet for 38 years.

It’s a delusion to believe that we, as American Christians and evangelicals, are somehow better bred, spiritually-speaking, than others. We are not. As the book of Revelation chapter 2 describes the Laodicean church, we say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

Doubtless we can, at the same time, hold up a Godly standard, and violate our own conscience and throw mud on Christ’s sacrifice.

Is it righteousness?

I want to deal with one question right here–the crux of the matter. Is supporting Moore a delusion or a stand for righteousness in the face of political attack?

Let me respond to a theologian I respect, Dr. Michael Brown, who posed some perfectly valid concerns.

Think back to the Ted Cruz campaign for president, when 5 women accused him of having sexual relations with them. These were charges he flatly denied. Do we have any good reason today to believe they were true? (Note also that the National Enquirer was their main source.) Perhaps it is the same with Roy Moore. Perhaps this is nothing more than a politically motivated attack, coming just when he was poised to win the election.

Here is the difference. No women have come forward and said “that’s me” about the Ted Cruz accusations. I don’t mean women who also accuse Cruz of misdeeds. I mean women who heard the accusations against Cruz and said “yes, that’s my story.” The Bible makes it very clear who is witness to sin: a person’s own spirit and mind, and God, are always a witness.

God is the perfect witness, while we humans tend to bend our perceptions to fit our own bias. This is why the Bible calls for multiple witnesses. But the Bible also says that there is no temptation but that what is “common to mankind.” A sensational accusation, in a politically-charged environment, either rings true, or it doesn’t.

In Cruz’s case, it didn’t ring true because others didn’t see themselves in the story. In Clinton’s case–many women have come forward. In Weinstein’s case, I’d guess that most of Hollywood shares the “me too” story. In the Catholic Church, many lives were damaged because the priesthood offered a shield of power and trust over young lives (and also in schools, like Nyad’s coach, or the many instances of female teachers having relations with teenage boys).

In Moore’s case, the “me too” factor is very strong. Christians should not fall for the strong delusion of cognitive dissonance, that a Christian would not have done what Moore did–would not have succumbed to temptation. We should also not believe that Moore will do the right thing and step aside, if the accusations are true, as the White House has maintained.

Face the deception

Conscience demands that we look deeper and face our own deceived souls.

The proof of God’s existence and care for this world is not found in the righteous behavior of good and Godly men. It is found in the reality of sin and the freeing power of the truth, repentance and grace.

I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

I believe that the fruit of Roy Moore’s doings are appearing, based on the very real reactions of others who have been victims of similar actions. I almost fell for the delusion that politics is more important–that our religious freedom is hinged upon electing men like Trump and Moore.

But it’s not. The hardest atheist and most confirmed leftist can break under the tremendous force of grace. They will not break under the yoke of those who pursue delusions and power. Too many Christians have traded the moral authority given us by God for a delusion of cultural power we no longer possess.

As Nancy French concluded:

“I’m not an angel,” Corfman pointed out. Moore, on the other hand, repeatedly claimed to be God’s warrior. However, the scripture he really needed to read wasn’t one of the Ten Commandments he so desperately wanted to hang in the state courthouse. It was Luke 17:2, which warns, “it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

The great thing about 2017 is seeing these victims standing up straight, no longer stumbling. May we also see justice prevail for the predators, this side of heaven.

I nearly fell for the delusion that we can oppose our own hearts and overrule the conscience of mankind. The victims’ hearts speak louder and more clearly, if we have ears to hear.