Days of Change

Executive Review

April 30, 2017
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Just linking to a Time article can open a can of worms, but this article about President Trump’s actions that have no impact on the government pretty much sums up what I’ve been seeing. For example, the Travel Ban 2.0 is limited in scope to the point where it only impacts the issuance of new Visas. First, the White House runs the State Department. Trump can simply tell the embassies in those six countries that they may not issue new Visas. At the same time, federal judges have no reason to issue an injunction since the order has the same effect as existing executive authority. It isn’t that Donald Trump is putting on a show. Everyone is.

The confirmation of Judge Gorsuch is a big win… for the Senate. The Senate took the political hit for not having confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland. The Senate expanded the filibuster rules to include Supreme Court justices. If Trump had decided to nominate some socialist, a few Republicans would have broken off and denied him the confirmation, assuming Democrats maintained their anti-Trump stand.

Trump’s Executive Orders have generally called for reviews or directives that were well within the powers of cabinet departments already. One of the latest EOs stated that the government was going to enforce immigration law. This is already the law, and yet a federal judge restrained that order as well. Fighting a media war is something Trump excels at, but the government should do something.

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100 Days of Trump

April 29, 2017
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100 days is a mostly meaningless standard. The concept goes back to FDR, for whom government was the parent telling every free citizen what to do. Having majorities in Congress gave him a rubber stamp to write any crazy law and pass it. In fact, it took more than 100 days for the Supreme Court to water down some of that socialism even under the threat of packing it with new members.

At best, it’s only possible to give a pass or fail grade on a presidency that is about 7% complete. On that note, I give President Trump a passing grade.

My problems with Trump had less to do with him not supporting basic Republican concepts than with him squandering the possibilities with having a Republican in the White House. I was also pretty confident he would lose, but the Electoral College can be a mercurial thing sometimes. However, Trump nominated a Supreme Court Justice who was confirmed by the Senate. Trump also signed a number of Executive Orders designed to reverse the last months of late decisions by Obama to tie up the country in regulations.

However, a 60 member majority in the Senate gave Obama a great deal of power for a while. Basically, anything could pass as long as the entire Democratic Party caucus could stay together. For the most part, that meant Obamacare.

The main difference with Trump over other Republicans is that he has fully embraced the concept of rapid response and encourages it among his supporters. Bill Clinton had a team dedicated to it. Obama relied on the media for it. George W. Bush had nothing of the sort and his approval rating sank during the last third of his presidency. I find it unfortunate that it needs to be done and I worry about a country where perception is reality. On the other hand, if this is how it works, you might as well have the best guy doing it.


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Flash Thordon

April 14, 2017
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The Marvel Studios movies coming out since 2008’s Iron Man changed the way studios and comic publishers approach their material. Stan Lee has been pitching Marvel characters for decades and many ill-considered TV and movie one-offs have been the result. DC owned the 70’s and 80’s with Superman and Batman. Other studios had good success with X-Men and Spider-Man and less with the Fantastic Four.

Eventually, Marvel decided to produce their own material. However, only lesser characters like Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers were left. Marvel managed to gain fans not due to the fame of their characters, but their understanding of what comic fans, and other movie goers, want.

Of course, I saw both Thor and Thor 2 in theaters. The first was good, the second, not so much. I’m not sure about the third one. I know one thing. The trailer is cool. Led Zepplin is in the background, the graphics and adventure remind me of Flash Gordon from 1980 and the visuals are pretty awesome.


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Fox Blues

April 12, 2017
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A year ago, Fox News had a full boat.

Bill O’Reilly started off prime time, followed by newly promoted Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity bumped to 10pm. Greta was pushed back to 7pm and Shep only had 1 hour of himself. Over the next months, Kelly became a sore point with the Trump campaign. She eventually left for a bigger contract. Roger Ailes, who made FNC what it is, was fired for increasing claims of sexual harassment. Greta used an option in her contract that allowed her to leave if Ailes left Fox. She ended up on MSNBC. O’Reilly went on vacation yesterday amid his own sexual harassment scandal and may never be back. Now the top-rated Fox show is Tucker Carlson Tonight, a show that grabs headlines with tough interviews of soft liberals.

Also, Red Eye was canceled last week. One has to wonder if the Murdochs are cleaning house.

As bad as last year was, this may be the biggest shake up in Fox News history. O’Reilly is responsible for 20 hours a week of programming and he’s consistently gotten high ratings for 20 years. Tucker is doing well now, but Glenn Beck was a brief ratings powerhouse. In fact, Tucker led a show on CNN and one on MSNBC. Both eventually failed. Cramming pro-Trump programming into the schedule will work for now, but some of his supporters are already tiring of this White House and Fox’s First 100 Days program is almost past its time limit.

Originally, Rupert Murdoch wanted a Fox New channel and hired Roger Ailes because he knew how to program it. Ailes knew that there was an underserved market of conservatives who wanted news to at least be even-handed. Now that Ailes’ leadership has fallen apart, Murdoch’s sons are in charge. By all accounts, they are not conservative and the vision of Fox News may only last as long as liberal alternatives fail on the channel. Someday, there may be nothing else.


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Disrupters

April 7, 2017
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It took about 12 hours after the Syria bombing by the Trump White House to separate Trump supporters into two groups. The ones who turned on him had an idea of Trump in their minds that did not match his actions last night. Many of those still supporting Trump, even praising his actions, are disrupters.

One of the Trump Train slogans is that they take Donald Trump seriously, but not literally. If you take this statement literally, it is quite worrisome. It means that Trump says things as a manipulation technique to elicit a response. Essentially, truth and lies don’t exist. By the time a lie is fully exposed, it doesn’t matter because you’ve wasted time exposing something trivial, which is what Trump supposedly wanted.

Trump has said that he doesn’t want to get into a war in Syria, but he also loves to talk about “bombing the shit” out of hostile regimes. Some major Trumpers (like Ann Coulter) have soured on Trump over this bombing because no illegals were killed. Of course, Coulter was also a fan of Chris Christie back in 2012 until he hugged Obama.

More interesting are creepers like Mike Cernovich who have found Trump lacking. Back in 2015, I wrote about how Trump combined fringe conservative slogans with the alpha-male personality of a pick up artist. Cernovich has talked about how to control women in relationships but was ironically the one manipulated by an alpha male into voting against his beliefs.

With Trump in the 30% approval range, most of his core support are disrupters. They wanted to blow up the system because they got tired of spending election after election with winners who didn’t change anything. I already dealt with that during the Bush administration. I voted for him, supported him over the Iraq War, got tired of his economy, got annoyed by John Kerry, voted for him anyway and was ultimately satisfied with the job he did.

At some point, the disrupters have to either decide they are happy with Trump only stirring the pot or they will go full Joker and only be satisfied with watching the world burn. I’m still indifferent. Trump is certainly capable of doing things rights, but his most ardent supporters admit you can’t believe what he says. If he does for the GOP what Obama did for the Democrats, it will confirm my choice of Gary Johnson last year.


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The Show That Persisted

April 4, 2017
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The news came out yesterday that Fox News’ late night panel show Red Eye has been cancelled and the last episode will be this week. Red Eye started unpolished, with guests who were personal acquaintances of Greg Gutfeld from publishing or musicians he liked, along with any Fox News talent he could cajole. Over the last decade, the show has become more professional, with an an actor / comedian (and now author) as host and a more consistent stable of guests.

This effectively ends my daily viewership of Fox News. I don’t have much time for the news shows and I don’t care for the evening shows. My various computer hard drive will be relieved as I have been saving clips since 2007 and recording with my VCR even earlier when I couldn’t stay up at 2am, the original time slot.

Farewell. Please let Greg’s guests out of the activity pit in his basement now.


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Best Interests

April 3, 2017
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In the last 100 years, Over 40 people have been appointed to the Supreme Court. Some who were nominated have withdrawn. Only 4 were rejected outright by the Senate. Every single rejection was by a Democrat Senate to a Republican nominee.

Public relations battles have brought some success to Democrats. They were able to point to Robert Bork as an extremist, making future nominees choose their words carefully. Harriet Miers (nominated by a Republican) was criticized for not being a judge, even though Elena Kagan eventually became a Justice (nominated by a Democrat).

The success of the Democrats with SCOTUS may explain why they never allowed the “nuclear option” of a simple majority for the Court. They always win. Even with a Republican president and Congress, they are trying to stop the next nominee by filibuster.

One of three things could happen. The Democrats decide to let the nomination go through and Gorsuch is confirmed with 52 votes. The Democrats could filibuster and the Republicans could back down. The likely option is that Democrats make a big show out of filibustering to raise some donations, the Republicans change the Senate rules and Gorsuch is confirmed with 52 votes.

For Democrats, this is a lose-lose. Republicans can appoint anyone they want, Democrats will be seen as stupid and Gorsuch will be on the Supreme Court. They can’t even work in their best interests anymore.


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