A Win for Liberty: Two National Monuments in Utah Will Shrink

You can support both public lands access and the shrinking of illegally-designated national monuments.

Today, President Donald Trump announced his administration will dramatically scale back two controversial national monuments illegally designated by former President Obama last December and former President Clinton in 1996—Bears Ears and Grand Staircase -Escalante in Utah—respectively.

Trump was surrounded by much of the Utah delegation —Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, Governor Gary Herbert, and countless constituents.

“Some people think that the natural resources should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” President Trump said. “And guess what, they’re wrong.”

Trump added, “I’ve come to Utah to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights to this land to your citizens.”

“You know how best to take care of your land,” the president told an audience at Utah’s state Capitol in Salt Lake City. “You know best how to conserve this land for generations.”

These two proclamations entail the following : the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument will be scaled back to 906,000 acres and Bears Ears will shrink to 228,800 acres—down from 1.35 million acres.

Publications like the New York Times are calling this move “unprecedented ” because Trump’s Interior Department will scale back roughly 2 million acres and establish five smaller units.

Now, this has angered some of my friends in the sporting community and I understand their frustrations. Many in environmentalist and so-called conservationist groups are suggesting these parcels of land will be sold off to the oil and gas lobby. Despite this grotesque and false description, these national monuments will still exist—just not at their bloated, grand scale. This is a decent compromise in spite of the government’s land grab of millions of acres from under Utahans’ noses over the last 20 years. Prior to his review of this law, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said many out West, particularly in Utah, were upset with those who designated these monuments without public input. The media should be telling both sides of the story—not simply malign the state of Utah, its voters, and sportsmen.

Most of the public sadly fails to understand the Antiquities Act, which is in itself a very antiquated law, goes both ways: presidents can either designate or scale back monuments to their liking. Here’s more on the Antiquities Act of 1906 :

Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fide unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which the may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe: Provided, That the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums.

To those of you angered by this move, especially those of you outside of Utah, put aside your preservationist mindsets and think about the people this affects. Most of the people upset by this scaling back don’t even live in Utah or have a stake there. The compromise reached to maintain the parcels, despite major reductions, should be celebrated. Can’t both parties on this issue be happy?

We will continue to monitor similar updates here at The Resurgent.

Mitch McConnell’s Mediocre Expectations

If the 115th Congress of these here United States had a mascot, it would have to be shrugging emoji guy.  I mean, with the GOP firmly in control of both houses and a Republican in the White House to boot, how else can you explain their curious lack of progress on anything that resembles a conservative agenda?  Besides, the consultants are probably getting tired of coming up with new excuses for the same old failures anyway.  Perhaps it’s time to give them all a rest and try some honesty for a change.

Can’t strip funding for Planned Parenthood out of the federal budget?


Obamacare repeal falls flat on its face even though you’ve been campaigning on it for seven whole years?


How about funding for the border wall?


Um…tax reform?


Okey-dokey, then.

Until such time as that happens, though, it’s a good thing we have Mitch McConnell around to keep us from getting too excited.  Just the other day, the esteemed Senate majority leader and all-around congressional cabana boy was gave a speech to some Rotarians in his home state of Kentucky during which he offered yet another reason for the GOP’s seeming electoral dysfunction:

“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before,” said McConnell according to CNN affiliate WCPO which covered the event. “I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”

McConnell made the case that the Congress is working as it should and that voters should allow the process to play itself out before passing judgment.

“Part of the reason I think people think we’re under-performing is because of too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the legislature which may have not been understood.”

Yeah, I too remember the heat of the campaign season, when Republicans everywhere were promising to take a wrecking ball to the Obama agenda.  “Just vote for us,” they pleaded, whipping those voters into a frenzy, “and we’ll get everything fixed!  Just as soon as we can get around to it.”

Inspiring, Mitch.  Really inspiring.

But is that really the message you want to send?  I know you’ve been out of the private sector for a while, but out here in the real world you get judged by your results–and so far, you really don’t have much to show.  What’s worse, you don’t seem that ruffled about it, either.  That’s what makes a lot of us feel like you’re just dragging your feet, and not really all that interested in a conservative agenda.

Because when 2018 rolls around, and you’re wondering why GOP voters aren’t showing up, we just might be tempted to respond the way you taught us.


Nobody Wants to Own It

It’s been said that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan, but in the case of Obamacare repeal it appears as if failure has more daddies than Freddy Kruger, the bastard son of a hundred maniacs.  Ramesh Ponnuru from National Review has a pretty good roundup of how a signature GOP issue somehow couldn’t make it past a GOP-controlled Congress, placing some of the blame on the Democrats’ demagoguery of the issue.  The real problem, however, was the inability of Republicans to refute their specious claims.

Ponnuru writes:

In a well-run, coordinated campaign for a health-care bill, they would have challenged each and every news story that said Republicans were taking away insurance from 14 million-plus people, or that talked about coverage-change numbers while burying the role of voluntary decisions in driving them. They would have prodded reporters to do fact-checks when Democrats said Republicans would “kick tens of millions off insurance,” instead of just relaying Democrats’ misinformation. Republican press secretaries would have called the outlets that said they were rolling back the Medicaid expansion and walked the reporters through why they were wrong.

Nothing like that happened this time. A few Republicans made the point about voluntary departures from the insurance rolls — but only sporadically, rarely with numbers, never in a sustained way.

In other words, they just allowed the Democrats to control the narrative.  Granted, it’s very difficult to Republicans to break through when the news media are pushing the exact same narrative–but with the millions of dollars the GOP spends on consultants, you’d think at least one of them would have some ideas on how to get the message through.

Then there’s the White House.  The Trump administratition obviously wanted to claim victory on a campaign promise, with the president signaling that he had pen in hand and was ready to sign pretty much any repeal-and-replace bill that Congress sent him–even the “skinny” option that would leave Obamacare largely intact.  Still, when it came down to actually doing the hard sell on repeal–doing the work of actually getting out to the public and hammering every day on why it’s necessary to get rid of this horrible law that is already collapsing private health insurance–the White House has also been strangely absent.  Sure, the president let loose with a few tweets here and there, but it’s not like he was burning up the phone lines to pressure Congress and making speeches every day on the subject.

So what gives?

It’s simple.  Nobody wants to own repeal.

Congress doesn’t want to do it.  In fact, a lot of Republicans are perfectly happy with Obamacare in place.  They just never expected Donald Trump to win the election and bring the curtain down on their theater votes, where they could make it look as if they favored repeal knowing full well that any bill would be dead as soon as it hit President Hillary’s desk.  Meanwhile, the true conservatives who do want Obamacare gone can’t see themselves voting for repeal in name only, making an already dysfunctional system even worse–and putting a GOP label on it to boot.

The White House doesn’t want to own it either.  The mere fact that Donald Trump has said he’ll sign whatever Congress sends him signals  loud and clear that he doesn’t care about the substance of the legislation–but with that attitude comes a significant risk.  What if the bill that will inevitably become known as Trumpcare sucks?  Trump values his brand a lot more than that, and I seriously doubt he wants that kind of stink to follow him around for the rest of his presidency.  Maybe he figured out that Congress, divided as it is, was never going to pass anything anyway–which was good, because then he wouldn’t be put on the spot.  That would also mean that he could pretend to be acting on his campaign promises without having to taint himself with some half-assed repeal.

It would also serve another one of Trump’s managerial methods:  keeping his people in conflict with one another.  So far, most of his fights have been against the media–but a do-nothing Congress that wants to torpedo his agenda could also serve to consolidate support amongst his base.  He avoids signing a repeal that he never really wanted in the first place, while blaming Congress for its failure.  In Trump world, that’s a win-win.

It’s just too bad that the rest of the country has to lose.

Sean Spicer Is Looking For Work

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is being scouted by top outlets for a new TV gig.

Despite a rocky and short tenure under the Trump administration, “Spicey” is a sought-after commodity by major media companies due to his long career in political communications and his high ratings draw. Before entering Trump’s orbit, Spicer served as the communications director for the Republican National Committee from 2011 to 2017.

Spicer met with all the major news networks over the last few days. He held meetings with NBC News president Noah Oppenheim and David Rhodes at CBS. He also met with executives at Fox News regarding potential work. You may have heard about Spicer becoming a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars” – this is very much a possibility. The 45-year-old spent time in Manhattan meeting with ABC executives and was offered a chance to compete on DWTS.

Spicer, who abruptly resigned as press secretary on July 21, was interviewed on Wednesday by MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin at a Manhattan restaurant. The two reportedly “go back a long way.” Spicer has also looked to Halperin, an acclaimed reporter and editor, for book-publishing and career advice.

Spicer is being pursued by top Hollywood agencies such as WME, UTA and CAA. Along with making the television news rounds, he has also met with various agents over a possible book deal and speaking appearances.

Despite being highly coveted by news outlets across the political spectrum, there is one network in particular that he has yet to meet with. Unsurprisingly, Spicer has held no talks with CNN regarding a possible job.

A source with Page Six explains, “Spicer has met with everyone except CNN — for obvious reasons. Everybody wants to get the first interview with him, he’s a huge booking right now — but Sean’s got his own agenda and he’s first looking for a big TV job.”

It’s safe to say there is still bad blood between CNN and Spicey. The Trump administration has been extremely critical of their news coverage in the past months. The contentious relationship hit a breaking point when President Trump tweeted a gif of him body slamming a man with a CNN logo superimposed over his head.

It’s Like a Bad Movie

Shacking as it may seem for a tasteful, discerning person such as yours truly, I happen to be a big fan of crap cinema.  I’m the kind of guy you used to find at the local Blockbuster, searching the 99-cent rentals for some piece of schlock that would pair perfectly with a couple of friends and a six-pack of Icehouse–an epic evening of entertainment if you happened to be dateless but cool.  That’s how I came across such modern horror classics as Jack-O (“It’s Harvest Time!”) and Intruder (it takes place in a supermarket–really), and learned to appreciate the earnestness of directors who somehow manage to get film in the can on a budget that would be the movie equivalent of store brand macaroni and cheese.  Sure, the results were  laughable–that was the point of watching them, after all–but they were almost always entertaining.  That’s because while there are lots of bad movies, rarely do you find an incompetent one–something so slapdash that you know five minutes in that nobody involved in the production knew what the hell they were doing.

Watching the antics of Anthony Scaramucci, I’m starting to feel that way about the Trump administration.

I don’t exactly know what to call it.  Moochballs might be a good title, although from the way he talks you’d think he was auditioning for the role Joe Pesci got in GoodFellas.  Any way you slice and dice it, though, it seems that the man Donald Trump picked to be his communications director has something of a problem with self expression:  he engages in far too much of it.  Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker provides an example:

On Wednesday night, I received a phone call from Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director. He wasn’t happy. Earlier in the night, I’d tweeted, citing a “senior White House official,” that Scaramucci was having dinner at the White House with President Trump, the First Lady, Sean Hannity, and the former Fox News executive Bill Shine. It was an interesting group, and raised some questions. Was Trump getting strategic advice from Hannity? Was he considering hiring Shine? But Scaramucci had his own question—for me.

“Who leaked that to you?” he asked. I said I couldn’t give him that information. He responded by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff…

“They’ll all be fired by me,” [Scaramucci] said. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a f*cking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channelled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the f*cking thing and see if I can c*ck-block these people the way I c*ck-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ”

Sounds like somebody is off his Ritalin.

But the Mooch wasn’t done.  He also made very clear his feelings about White House chief strategist Steve Bannon–you know, the Brietbart guy who was instrumental in getting Donald Trump elected president:

“I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own c*ck,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f*cking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”

Whatever you say, Mooch–but from here it sure looks like the only c*ck getting sucked belongs to the president, and it isn’t Bannon sucking it.

I wouldn’t mind the vulgarity so much if it actually served a useful purpose.  Yes, I get that Scaramucchi is trying to smoke out the White House leakers, something which really needs to be done–but wouldn’t it be far more effective if he just did that behind the scenes, maybe by planting bits of false information with suspected leakers and then seeing what gets out?  At the very least, he can deal with the problem without threatening to fire everybody, which would doubtless include loyalists that Trump will need to keep his White House working.  And if he does fire everybody, who does he think he’s going to get to replace them?  Dead-enders with no place else to go?  Because those are the only people who would be crazy enough to take a job with the Mooch as their boss.

I’ve heard that President Trump likes to foment conflict amongst his people, as he believes it increases competitiveness and makes them perform better.  To a small extent, this is true–but that kind of tactic also needs to be implemented with a certain amount of finesse.  The kind of guy who shoots his wad all over a reporter the way that Scaramucchi did is obviously not capable of that kind of subtlety.  He’ll only succeed in running anybody with any ability out of the White House comms shop, after which he’ll staff it with toadies who magnify his own incompetence.  In the meanwhile, between a hostile press and a lethargic Congress, Trump will see his agenda–which is already at a crawl–grind to a halt, and America will suffer as a result of it.

You better fix this problem, Mr. President.  And fix it fast.

Central American Migrants Increasingly Choosing To Settle In Mexico, Not The US

After hearing word that the new Trump administration is making it much more difficult to obtain asylum, migrants from Central America are making Mexico their final destination point.

Mexico – long a place where migrants from Central America made a waypoint between their homes and the United States – is now in the position of accepting thousands of refugee applications every year. People from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) are hedging their bets on Mexico as the place to take them in now that the American government is cracking down on illegal immigration and making clear that asylum is not guaranteed.

Maureen Meyer, a senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America, explained in a story from the Associated Press:

“If you look at Mexico’s definition of who can qualify for asylum, it’s much broader than the United States,” Meyer said. “If you are fleeing widespread violence in your country, you may be able to qualify for asylum in Mexico, whereas in the U.S. you have to prove that you belong to very specific groups of people.”

The numbers speak for themselves. Refugee applications in Mexico have risen substantially over the past couple of years. In 2015, it received 3,424 applications. In 2016, that number jumped to 8,794. We are barely halfway through 2017 and the number of refugee applications in Mexico already stands at 5,464 – well on track to surpass last year.

Experts say word of America’s tougher immigration policies is the main reason for the change in Central American migration patterns. People wishing to leave the Northern Triangle are acutely aware of what to expect in Mexico versus the United States. For example, the U.S. now denies around 80 percent of asylum claims by individuals from that part of the world. In comparison, Mexico granted asylum to about one of every three applicants from Central America in 2016.

They know which country will most likely let them stay.

Things didn’t always used to be this way. More than 100,000 unaccompanied minors entered the United States between October 2013 and July 2015. The Obama administration granted them (almost all exclusively from the Northern Triangle) expedited resettlement under an emergency order. As many as 2.7 million people from Central America were living in the United States in 2013.

The Trump White House, for their part, has made it clear to illegal immigrants that coming to this country is not worth the time and effort. Government officials have pressured Mexico to take in more immigrants while publicly discouraging others from attempting to reach the country illegally.

“We have asked them [Northern Triangle countries] to ask their citizens to not waste the money and head north, do not get on that terribly dangerous network,” John Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, reported to the Senate in June. “Stay where they are, because if they come here, this is no longer an illegal-alien-friendly environment.”


Tax Reform Is Coming

Speaker Paul Ryan laid out his tax reform agenda at the National Association of Manufacturer’s summit. Unlike many of his Republican colleagues who are feeling more complacent with a temporary fix, the Speaker made it clear he wants a real, permanent solution to the burdensome tax policy that plagues our country’s growth:

“These reforms — these tax cuts — they need to be permanent,” Ryan stated at the  annual policy summit on Tuesday. “Every expert agrees that temporary reforms will only have a negligible impact on wages and economic growth.”

“We think this is eminently doable, to get it done by the end of the calendar year,” he later said in a question-and-answer forum following his speech. “… So that come the first of [2018] we have a new system in place and everybody knows the rules of the road.”

Ryan wants permanent tax reform – not a temporary tax cut. The Speaker has been a proponent of this for quite some time. While chairing the House Ways and Means Committee, he lead the production of tax reform blue prints that now serve as the foundation for early GOP talks. There are still questions as to what exactly the GOP bill would entail. House members are not just divided on whether reform should be permanent, but if it should include the House border adjustment tax – legislation to allow exports to be tax free.

Republicans control Congress. What is the hold up in negotiations?

From day one, GOP leaders wanted to focus on healthcare reform before touching taxes. Now that the AHCA has moved to the Senate, Ryan wants to dive head first into tax policy. However, a growing chorus of House Republicans and White House officials are becoming skittish at expansive changes and are leaning toward simple tax cuts.

Whatever route they choose, they are hoping to tackle the issue sooner rather than later. Many congressional Republicans wish to cancel August recess in order to work longer.

Tax reform would be a big win for the GOP. This is why they must strive high and look towards expansive, long term reform.

Unlike more hot-button issues such as the American Health Care Act or massive infrastructure spending, tax reform is popular among Republican voters and the American electorate as a whole. Most agree that our tax code is too complex and burdensome on our families and businesses. Ryan touched on this in his speech when he referred to America’s 35 percent corporate tax rate – compare this to Canada’s rate of 15 percent.

Not only is tax reform popular among the Republican “establishment,” it is something that perfectly coincides with Trump’s America First agenda. A border adjustment tax would incentive companies to stay on American shores. More American-made products mean more American manufacturers.

President Trump has done well with his use of the pen and executive orders. However, the GOP controls all the levers of Washington and they need to show something for it at the legislative level. Healthcare reform is moving slowly and looking unlikely to pass the Senate. A tax bill that cuts rates and simplifies the system would undoubtedly be popular among the majority of lawmakers.

The GOP needs a win and that win should be tax reform.


Religious Conservatives Can Relax A Bit

Here at The Resurgent, we’ve been wary of news that the Trump Administration has not backed down from President Obama’s insistence that religious groups cover access to family planning that violates their religious beliefs. Leonard Leo has come out to reassure everyone on this issue. Leonard would know. He has deep ties into the administration and conservative movement and served as a behind the scenes sherpa for Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation.

From Leonard Leo to Axios:

“The administration is not stepping back. It’s doing precisely what it should be doing here… because of the way people are attacking Trump executive orders, it’s very important that this thing gets done right and be as litigation-proof as possible, knowing full well they’re going to get sued anyway.”

In fact, what I am being told is the administration is keeping the lawsuit alive to see if they can structure a settlement that would be beneficial to the groups being sued and prevent other adminstrations from trodding on their religious liberty in the future.

Good to hear.