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.

President Trump Signs Bipartisan Modern Fish Act Into Law

This legislation was over two years in the making. This will simplify federal law with respect to recreational fishing.

The Modern Fish Act was signed into law on December 31st, 2018, by President Donald Trump.

Over 11 million Americans partake in recreational saltwater fishing—with the activity being heavily concentrated in the southeastern U.S.

In what is being celebrated as a victory for recreational fishing and boating, this law will be bring much-needed clarification and reforms to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. While the bill is not entirely perfect, various stakeholders agree this new law will clarify any confusion previously inset in the law and bring recreational fishing management into the 21st century.

The Modern Fish Act was passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate on December 17th, and by overwhelming approval in the House (350-11) on December 19th, 2018.

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Gabriella Hoffman

@Gabby_Hoffman

The is now law thanks to @POTUS @realDonaldTrump’s signage. An incredible victory for recreational fishing in America before the new Congressional session begins. Press release c/o @sportfishpolicy

See Gabriella Hoffman’s other Tweets

In a press release issued by the Center for Sportfishing Policy and various stakeholders, they heralded the new law as a fix to the problem of regulating recreational fishing like commercial fishing. Anglers, boaters, and others vested in these industries long argued for distinctions to be made between between recreational and commercial fishing, especially in how they are regulated.

The law adds “more appropriate management tools for policymakers to use in managing federal recreational fisheries.”

“Millions of American families take part in saltwater recreational fishing and boating activities and support multi-billion dollar industries that generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in our country,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Today, we are thankful for this important milestone for federal fisheries management and marine conservation, and we look forward to continuing to improve public access to our nation’s healthy fisheries.”

“This is historic for the recreational boating and fishing community, capping years of hard work to responsibly modernize recreational saltwater fisheries management,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The Modern Fish Act is a critical first-step solution towards establishing a framework for expanding access to recreational saltwater fishing, while ensuring conservation and sustainability remain top priorities in fisheries management. We thank President Trump and Congress for making the Modern Fish Act the law of the land and look forward to working with them in the coming years to advance policies that protect and promote recreational saltwater fishing.”

“The recreational fishing industry is grateful to see this legislation enacted,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “We look forward to continuing to work with Congress, as well as NOAA Fisheries and the regional fishery management councils, to improve the management and conservation of our marine fisheries.”

“The Modern Fish Act signed by the President provides an opportunity for significant, positive change on behalf of millions of recreational anglers who enjoy fishing in federal waters,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “We look forward to working with NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils and the states to fully implement the provisions of the bill and improve federal fisheries management for America’s saltwater anglers.”

“CCA is proud to be a part of this important coalition, and we are grateful to our champions in Congress who stood by us during the intense, sometimes contentious negotiations on this legislation,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “There is still work to be done, but this is a valuable first step. We are hopeful this opens the door to an ongoing discussion of tools and processes that can be developed to better manage recreational fisheries in federal waters in all regions of the United States.”

What is the Modern Fish Act?

Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018, or Modern Fish Act, is a bill that would accomplish the following if passed. Now that it’s law, it’ll set out to accomplish the following per Center for Sportfishing Policy’s press release:

  • Providing authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);
  • Improving recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps);
  • Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and
  • Requiring the National Academies of Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within two years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Councils.

Prior to the Modern Fish Act being passed, data collection methods of saltwater fishing catches were Byzantine at best. For example, those who partook in the data collection process in sync with federal managers had to rely on landline phone surveys. Moreover, Draconian standards that harmed recreational fishing interests like cancelled seasons, reduced bag limits, and unnecessary restrictions were commonplace. This led to economic upheaval, job uncertainty, and endless headaches.

Anglers and boaters are optimistic the new law will prevent this from happening again.

Why was this needed?

This law was needed for several reasons.

The first being the need to recognize the impact recreational fishing has on our country economically and with respect to conservation efforts.

Much like hunting, fishing bolsters conservation efforts. Why not have laws that better reflect this too? Anglers, hunters, and shooting sports enthusiasts helped fund a minimum of 60 percent of conservation funding through excise taxes under the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937. Excise taxes are taxes paid when purchases are made on a specific good in the form of licenses, firearms, and tackle to be collected by the Interior Department to be distributed to state wildlife agencies for habitat and wildlife conservation efforts. Better management and science-based policies encouraged by the Modern Fish Act will bolster resources and fish species, not see an end to them.

The second reason for the Modern Fish Act was to bring recreational fishing management to the present day. ​The 1976 Magnuson-Stevens law set out to chart out the course of commercial fishing but never tackled recreational fishing adequately, and arguably, to its detriment.

Recognizing serious deficits in federal recreational fisheries management, a group of stakeholders came together in 2014 in the form of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, or the Morris-Deal Commission. The co-chairs of this commission were Johnny Morris (founder of Bass Pro Shops) and Scott Deal (president of Maverick Boat Group). They drafted a report titled “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries” that laid the groundwork for many of the provisions and recommendations found in the Modern Fish Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noted in a December 2018 report — the 11th Fisheries Economics of the United Statesreport — that in 2016, both commercial and recreational fishing generated over $212 billion in sales and contributed $100 billion to the country’s gross domestic product. It also noted that these two industries supported 1.7 million jobs across the country.

Here’s a breakdown of both industries’ economic impact by the numbers from the same report:

9.8 million saltwater anglers took recreational fishing trips in 2016 — a 9 percent increase in anglers from 2015. Saltwater recreational fishing supported 472,000 jobs, generated $68 billion in sales impacts across the economy, and contributed $39 billion to the GDP, all metrics that increased 7 percent from 2015 measurements.

The commercial fishing and seafood industry — harvesters, processors, dealers, wholesalers, and retailers — supported 1.2 million jobs in 2016, generating $144 billion in sales impacts and adding $61 billion to the GDP. The domestic harvest produced $53 billion in sales, up 2 percent from 2015, and supported 711,000 jobs across the entire American economy. Sea scallops had the largest revenue increase in 2016, bringing in $46 million in landings revenue.

​Recreational anglers, much like commercial anglers, play a central role in our economy. It was time the law recognized their contributions and importance too.

How does it help recreational anglers?

While groups like Audobon Society accused this law of going “against all common sense and ignores science by weakening the requirement on how many fish are caught each year” and forecasted overfishing if it were to pass, recreational anglers and boaters don’t see it that way. It’ll empower them to further practice science-based, sustainable fishing practices ever further.

Recreational anglers are conservationists who abide by catch limits, seasons, and practice sustainable fishing methods. To suggest otherwise, like Audobon, radical environmentalists, and some in commercial interests have put it, is simply false. There are bad actors who disrespect fishing rules across the country, but they are in the minority and shouldn’t be lumped in with responsible recreational anglers. The majority of anglers —myself included—are law-abiding and don’t want to see our fisheries decimated. If fish were to be harvested unsustainably and with little regard to conservation methods, all of us — fish and humans — would suffer. No angler wants to see this happen, let alone any recreational angler.

Preservation and overfishing are extremes that should never become the norm in this country. Many anglers believe in catch-and-release and partake in reasonable put-and-take practices that don’t undermine fishing populations. Their contributions, like those in commercial fishing, are important to sustain this country and conservation efforts.

Anglers felt extremely marginalized under the Obama administration as the former president routinely sided with radical environmentalists keen on seeing the end of the fishing industry. One ESPN columnist noted in 2010 that Obama’s ocean policies could kill sport fishing altogether.

During the Obama administration, fisheries management councils heavily placed limits on what recreational saltwater anglers could harvest in the Gulf of Mexico—particularly on red snapper (where seasons went from three days to 46 days under the Trump administration).

In a March 2018 article in USA Today, the author noted how President Trump and his secretaries in Commerce and Interior sought to restore recreational fishing privileges in previously off-limit territories once available to sport fishing. Here are some of the measures passed after the new administration came to power:

  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross personally approved a plan in June extending the recreational fishing season for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico from three to 42 days even though his own agency warned it would lead to significant overfishing.
  • In July, Ross again intervened. This time, he sided with New Jersey to loosen restrictions on the harvest of summer flounder, known as fluke,over the objections of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Commission Chair Douglas Grout said he was “very much concerned about the short and long‐term implications of the Secretary’s decision on interstate fisheries management.”
  • In the fall, the South Atlantic  Fishery Management Council, working closely with the Trump administration, allowed recreational snapper fishing from Jupiter Inlet Florida to the North Carolina-Virginia border for the first time since 2014. Kellie Ralston, Florida Fishery Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association, called it “a victory” for anglers while environmentalists called it a “risky move” given that red snapper in the South Atlantic is still recovering.

As a result of the Modern Fish Act’s passage into law, recreational fishing will get a boost, see increasing participation numbers, and continue to bolster our GDP. It’s encouraging to see Congress and the Trump administration pass landmark legislation that adds to and not subtracts from recreational fishing.

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.”

Dreamers For a Wall

The President, if he wants his wall, is going to have to trade something to the Democrats for it. The Democrats think they can win on the wall shutdown because (1) they have polling showing most Americans are opposed to it and (2) they have the media to spin for them.

But the President has a loyal base who want the wall, and he is okay with a shutdown too because his base will be okay with not paying federal bureaucrats over Christmas among other things. A shutdown seems likely.

However, the President and his supporters want a wall, and I am not convinced the Democrats want citizenship for dreamers. They seem to want the issue more than they want the issue resolved. Just last year the President and Democrats nearly agreed on the wall for dreamer citizenship. I think the President needs to consider a variant on this now.

Offer dreamers the right to stay in the country without threat of deportation in exchange for the wall. Don’t offer up citizenship. They get the right to stay, and they no longer have to live in the shadows. They get residency without citizenship. The President doesn’t even have to offer up a path to citizenship. He needs to remove the threat of deportation.

Then toss it to the Democrats. They can either reject it and let dreamers live with the fear of deportation. Or they can take it and fund the wall as well. Make it their choice.

This is the President’s last best chance to get the wall going. He needs to offer something, and I think this is the way to move it forward.

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?

Reporters Are Addicts. Trump Is Their Drug.

Reporters are the addicts stealing money from their mom’s purse for a hit of their drug. It is an exotic one called Trump. Yesterday, as the nation came together to honor President Bush, reporters were fixated on President Trump. They were fixated on his reactions during the funeral, the responses of others to him, and even how he took a limo to Blair House, oblivious to the fact Barack Obama had once done the same thing.

With reporters desperate for a fix of Trump, history is all new. Things long done are treated as new events. They obsess over Trump. Stories not about Trump are turned into Trump. The Trump angle must be explored and exploited.

There are tons of stories out there that are not about Trump that must be turned into stories about Trump. There are stories where Trump is only tangentially related that suddenly revolve around Trump. He lives rent free in the heads of the national press corps.

Yes, he is President of the United States. But not everything is about Trump. He only has to overshadow everything if the press makes him. They do just that. They do it for clicks. They do it for ratings. They do it because they exist in a sick co-dependent symbiotic relationship with the President and in the sick BDSM arrangement, Trump is the master. They are the slaves.

They need a twelve step program, but I fear the fix is too strong. And like meth addicts, even their faces are changing as they pick at their skin and more permanently scowl. This is unhealthy.