Send in the clowns

… Where are the clowns. Send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.” – Stephen Sondheim, 1973

By Steve Woodward

It is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to avoid opinion columnists who are so wrong on so many topics. Their renderings ramble on and on, littered with unsubstantiated statistics and unsourced assertions. I’m encountering these diatribes despite never, ever reading op-ed pages in The New York Times or The Washington Post.

Who needs those formerly credible publications when one can find the same extremes of anti-Republican, anti-Trump, pro-left vitriol in The Pilot? The April 28 edition showcased Robert Levy observing that illegal immigrants pouring across the southern border are the reason for the nation’s robust economy; William Shaw praising North Carolina teachers, who are not union members, for planning a union-style, May 1 March on Raleigh that will force school closures; and Don Tortorice lamenting Donald Trump’s strategy to rein in China’s intellectual property theft by imposing tariffs on its U.S. exports to trigger, for once, negotiations.

Levy’s tirade veered way off the rails in several passages, but this is the laugh-out-loud portion that is pure fantasy: “(Illegal immigrants in the workplace keep) employment numbers artificially high and unemployment, especially for blacks and Hispanics, artificially low.” Using this premise, we are supposed to believe that Democrats, who deliberately do nothing to stop illegal immigration, are nonetheless willing to let Trump get all of the credit for historically low unemployment and wage growth. Who does Levy think he is the kidding? Democrats would rather their voters (citizens, ex-cons and aliens) receive an entitlement than a job, every time.

Shaw cheers teachers who will abandon their responsibilities to swarm downtown Raleigh on May 1 during a demonstration coordinated by the National Education Association’s state affiliate (the NEA doggedly maintains presence in states without teachers’ unions). Teacher pay in North Carolina has risen steadily five consecutive years but “while progress is being made, teachers should not expect greater largesse from the General Assembly if they silence their voices.” What about the voices of parents who wonder why teacher pay always must go up regardless of student performance in the classroom? What about kids who can’t read in middle school?

In an April 29 column for RealClearEducation.com, Terry Stoops of the The John Locke Foundation observes that despite endless calls for higher teacher pay “results from state achievement tests administered last year show that only 56 percent of elementary and middle school students were proficient in math, and just 57 percent were proficient in reading.”

Why do teachers refuse to demonstrate to students that pay rises on the tide of merit, not entitlement? The students should be the ones in the streets.

Tortorice’s column is written like a textbook lecture, perhaps to be expected of a former professor at the Law School of the College of William and Mary. It is full of eye-glazing statistics and purports that tariffs are never paid by the country on which they are imposed. But Tortorice misses the essential point of the Trump-era tariffs on China. This so-called trade war is moving the two countries toward a long-term trade agreement with a goal of eliminating tariffs in both directions over time. Talks, potentially the final round, are ongoing as we speak. The imbalanced global trade system has been entrenched for too long and would never be challenged without a period of economic pain.

The columnist insists American taxpayers are paying for tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, yet the U.S. economy is growing every quarter (per a 3.2% GDP uptick in Q1), consumer confidence moved higher in a recent survey and inflation fears are off the table. Americans with a long view would rather reach an agreement that deters China from stealing intellectual property and gradually reduces tariffs.

This trio of diversions from reality pale in comparison to the unhinged column by ex-Reagan speechwriter and decades long pundit Peggy Noonan in the April 27-28 weekend editions of The Wall Street Journal.

Despite the innumerable ways in which the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have rewarded American citizens for their votes in 2016, Noonan is incensed that Trump has failed because he did not seek to pacify members of the Washington establishment (she calls them “the old ambassadors) who were willing to give him a chance. If, that is, he came around. Which Trump did not, thankfully.

“One by one,” she writes, “the ambassadors shut down and turned away. … They feared Madness of King George-ism. They’d come to think the president was, irredeemably, a screwball.”

The Swamp guards the status quo at any cost, but Trump is the one who is dangerous? The ambassadors, when they were younger, were equally skeptical of the fitness for the presidency of Noonan’s old boss, Ronald Reagan. Even when Americans cheered a booming 1980s economy long overdue, the ambassadors scowled and ordered another martini.

Now, here we are 30 years later. Noonan wrote beautiful words which once complimented the warm delivery of President Reagan. But her recent column was delivered like a manifesto written from a cabin in the woods after the meds ran out.

“There is an unarticulated wish out there to return to some past in which things were deeply imperfect and certainly divided but on some level tranquil, and not half mad,” wrote Noonan, who we assume uses “out there” and the Upper East Side of New York interchangeably, and chose not to name the deeply imperfect Barack Obama.

She reveals herself as just another horrified, well-heeled bystander peering over her bifocals, who longs for the return of a ruling elite in Washington and is incapable of understanding that this is just the opposite of what ordinary Americans between the coasts desire and will vote again to avoid in 2020 and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

A soft coup d’etat ensues

By Steve Woodward

The walls are closing in on Donald Trump, pundits and politicians now agree. Michael Cohen has turned on him. What else does he know? There is no proof of Russian collusion, but campaign finance violations will do the job. Robert Mueller is taking no prisoners. James Comey brags that he “got away” with FBI agents grilling General Michael Flynn without counsel present, thrilled to ruin a patriot who joined Trump’s orbit. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer wag their disapproving fingers at Trump with cameras rolling in the Oval Office because, well, he’s an unworthy President.

And, yet …

WASHINGTON (Reuters): The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits tumbled to near a 49-year low (in early December), which could ease concerns about a slowdown in the labor market and economy.

Democrats/Media: Trump and the Republicans must be stopped.

Infrastructure boomThe Wall Street Journal: State and local government investment in roads, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure hasn’t returned to its previous peak, but it is now showing signs—late in the expansion—of a real recovery. Bigger state and local tax collections, propelled in part by an acceleration in sales-tax receipts from consumer spending, is boosting capital projects and driving a municipal borrowing boom.

Democrats/Media: Trump and the Republicans must be stopped.

Breitbart: In October, imports used in computer manufacturing amounted to over $40 billion. That represents a savings of about $640 million over what they would have paid for those products a year earlier – more than half of the additional tariff payments. A big part of the tariffs are actually being paid by foreign manufacturers who now receive fewer dollars for their goods. People who think they have a better understanding of trade than the president like to mock Trump for saying that China and others pay tariffs but evidence suggests Trump has it right.

Democrats/Media: Trump and the Republicans must be stopped.

The Daily Caller: U.S. oil production hit 11.7 million barrels a day during the week ending Nov. 16. That’s unchanged from the previous week, but up significantly from the week ending Nov. 9. Oil companies are pulling more than 2 million barrels more out of the ground now than during the same time period in 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported. That’s a 21-percent increase in oil production in the past year.

Democrats/Media: Trump and the Republicans must be stopped.

Rush Limbaugh: “I feel duty-bound to warn you and to give you a heads-up about what we’re gonna face. Donald Trump’s gonna have perhaps the most embattled presidency in — well, certainly in our lifetimes, and I dare say maybe in modern American history. They’re not going to quit and they are a new kind of stupid. They are not logical. They make no sense whatsoever. But they are going to have the media on their side, and that’s the danger.”

Rush uttered these words Nov. 22, 2016. Sadly, he was deadly accurate. But there is solace to be found in knowing that Donald Trump never quits.

 

 

 

The Awakening

By Jim Lexo

I am a lifelong Republican, starting with helping my parents campaign for Dwight Eisenhower. I was very young. Throughout the years I embraced the Republican principles of balanced budgets, strong national defense, individual rights and the other common sense principles that make for a strong, viable Republic.

When Donald Trump came on the scene I thought there was no way this guy could win, and no way will he be capable of representing Republicans. One of the Republican Governors or Senators will surely win the nomination went the conventional wisdom. Having worked in the “traditional” wing of the party I was not tuned into the growing conservative bloc of voters who felt there was little difference between the parties. No matter who gets elected, they concluded, we keep drifting to the left.

Surf to Victory capSo Trump is elected and does and says things that initially appear to be outrageous. He tells our NATO allies they need to start carrying their weight on the cost of defending Europe. He starts what looks to be trade wars with China, Mexico, Canada and Europe (free trade Republicans go crazy).  He calls the leader of a rogue nation (North Korea) that has nuclear capabilities “Little Rocket Man”.  He kills the Iran nuclear “deal”. He tells the U.N. we are not going to give foreign aid to nations that do not support our goals. On and on. You get the idea. Finally, a President who says things we all think about but are too afraid to say out loud.

Despite the second guessing, negative reports and high drama, it turns out Trump has been right on all the issues.  We are getting better trade deals; rogue nations are falling in line; allies are not taking advantage of us like they used to; mortal enemies are afraid to make a move because they don’t know how Trump might respond, and so on.

My point is that Trump has awakened me to the fact that “business as usual” had us on the path to socialism and basic ruination. Would a Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Scott Walker been able to achieve all of the accomplishments Trump’s administration has in less than two years? I doubt it. Trump’s bold moves have resulted in positive outcomes that may very well allow America to remain the greatest nation for another century.

What it took was someone who knew what he wanted to accomplish and how to make it happen. This bold, new Republican era must be sustained by a red wave of voter turnout, both during early voting and at the polls, through November 6. Trump’s achievements can not be repeated too often as we work in our communities to get out the vote.

Trump train rolls on

Washington and the corrupt mainstream media are abuzz about who to believe amid an embarrassing confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Accusers of Kavanaugh claiming he was some teen-aged sexual predator and raging drunk are losing credibility — if ever they had any — with each passing day.

While Democrat Senators are obsessed with Kavanaugh’s high school days and his yearbook, not his career, and while the media hangs on every word, what can not be challenged is the runaway success story of Donald’s Trump’s presidency. The well orchestrated smear campaign against Judge Kavanaugh might ultimately drive more Republicans than usual to the November mid-term polls to avenge Democrat tactics. But if voters somehow have managed to shut out the confirmation fiasco, what ought to be driving them to the polls to vote for Republicans and secure the GOP’s continued majorities in the U.S. House and Senate is an avalanche of good news drowned out by a scandal-a-day, deranged press corps.

The Trump Administration reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico on the largest trade deal in history, governing $1.2 trillion in trade.

The results of a newly released Gallup poll indicates that the Republican Party is at a seven-year high in favorability among American voters.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Oct. 2 at a record high (26,773.94), its 14th record close of 2018.

Consumer confidence rose in September to its highest level in about 18 years. The index rose nearly FOUR points since the August poll.

Across America, African American and Hispanic unemployment is at record lows due to Trump-led tax cuts and sweeping de-regulation that stifled business growth during the Obama years. Jobs and opportunities are flowing into communities.

Employment in North Carolina reflects trends nationwide. In our state, August employment reached an all-time high of more than 4.8 million jobs.

The Gross Domestic Product – which signals the health of our economy — grew at a rate of 4.2% last quarter. Average growth was just above 1% quarterly during the Obama era.

The United States is balancing trade deficits with key partners such as China, ending terrible deals with adversarial nations such as Iraq, and promoting peace in the Korean peninsula by promoting open dialog between President Trump and North Korea’s dictatorial regime.

Spread the word.

Why Trump prevails

While the corrupt corporate media work overtime to convince average Americans that President Donald Trump is fanning the flames of trade wars destined to cripple the economy, Trump merely sticks to his guns, doing what he said he would do as a candidate.

He also said he would consider meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The media, Democrats (and many Republicans) dismissed that as pure folly. North Korea, with shadow support from China, was hell bent on becoming a nuclear threat and would never consent to talks, the experts said. Trump knows nothing about conducting delicate foreign policy, especially with North Korea, they said.

Coming out of the recent G-7 summit, the media had company issuing dire forecasts in the form of shell-shocked political leaders, most notably the petulant Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau, who expressly disparaged Trump’s stances as “insulting”. Trudeau apparently thought he was attending nothing more than a photo-op while Trump arrived for a showdown.

In a matter of days, the Trump administration has reshaped history. It is dismantling obsolete, unfair trade that heretofore U.S. Presidents and politicians have ignored, even to the detriment of the country, because they feared retaliatory tariffs. Trump does not understand why the United States should approach trade from a position of fear or weakness.

In Singapore, Trump made clear he does not understand why the United States would stand by and allow North Korea to pursue nuclear ambitions that threaten citizens of many countries, including our own. Again, he rejected fear and weakness; fear that North Korea would use a high profile summit to legitimize Kim; weakness in failing previously to have directly threatened North Korea with devastating military strikes.

These developments, already widely derided by the U.S. media and the Left, underscore what some observers always expected out of a Trump presidency. We recently re-visited a salient piece of writing by conservative author and political comedian Evan Sayet, who nearly a year ago in July 2017 expressed why Trump’s unconventional, some would say unrefined and undignified, approach to being president would succeed.

“While (Republicans) were playing by the rules of dignity (George W. Bush), collegiality (John McCain) and propriety (Mitt Romney), the Left has been, for the past 60 years, engaged in a knife fight where the only rules are those of (Socialist godfather) Saul Alinsky and the Chicago mob (that gave us Barack Obama).”

As Democrats in Washington, in state houses and in the courts, have moved further left, Republicans rarely groomed candidates to take them on. There are exceptions such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, but they did not become President. Trump did, warts, Twitter rants, ego, and all.

Sayet in his explanation of the Trump phenomenon, and why he emerged at precisely the right moment in history, recalls the dilemma facing President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War when his lead warrior was the notoriously hard drinking, rough-around-the-edges General Ulysses Grant. Lincoln concluded, despite Grant’s critics, that, “I can not spare this man. He fights.”

Some rightly note our nation has entered a civil cold war pitting a bicoastal Left that wants to remake America by dismantling the Constitution against a Right-leaning populace still convinced of America’s exceptionalism. If we’re not on the brink of civil war, we are nonetheless in the midst of a culture war. Concludes Sayet (writing months before tax reform, trade showdowns and engagement with North Korea):

“Do I wish we lived in a time when our president could be ‘collegial’ and ‘dignified’ and ‘proper’? Of course I do. These aren’t those times. This is war. And it’s a war the Left has been fighting without opposition for the past 50 years.

“So say anything you want about (Trump) — I get it, he can be vulgar, he can be crude, he can be undignified at times. I don’t care. I can’t spare this man. He fights.”

 

Maybe GOP is too ‘hinged’

Until Saturday evening, members of the media and Democrats (and some establishment Republican elites) held up President Donald Trump as the living embodiment of a person who has become unhinged. That was before an obscure, marginally talented and vile so-called comedian named Michelle Wolf was invited by the White House Correspondents Association to spew one-liners during its annual gala. Wolf took “unhinged” to new extremes, and, in doing so, exposed how unhinged, dare we say deranged, our left wing mainstream media remains since the unthinkable happened last November 2016. Wolf exposed them because she had them laughing uproariously at her mean spirited monologue.

Trump arguably is more unfiltered or uncensored (by Washington standards) than unhinged, but he continues to irritate even some members of the media who retain a few threads of credibility. Columnist Peggy Noonan, to name one. In her weekly Wall Street Journal column April 27, Noonan railed against Trump’s “latest unhingement” during last week’s call-in to the Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” morning show. She took issue with Trump ranting about James Comey, the FBI, the vicious take down of his nominee to head the Veterans’ Administration, the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal”, and fake news.

Presidents traditionally have not spouted off. Everything was scripted and focus group tested before it was uttered. But consider the contrast between a wide ranging Trump rant, such as the one Noonan scolded about, and a well-crafted Barack Obama, fully hinged speech.

Trump: James Comey is “liar and a leaker”. Unhinged again. And true by all accounts.

Obama: “If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.” Not unhinged. Completely untrue.

There are numerous additional examples. The point is that when Trump goes off script he nearly always does so to further expose hypocrisy, media deceit and corrupt Washington insiders. And now there is new polling strongly suggesting that tightly hinged Republican lawmakers will be the reason Democrats could win back Congressional seats in the 2018 mid-terms. Writing for Townhall.com, Timothy Daughtry reports:

“A new poll of 1,000 likely voters by McLaughlin and Associates … (indicates) that the ‘Blue Wave’ so hoped for by the liberal media is not at all inevitable and that there is still a possible path to Republican victory in November. (The bad news in the polling results is) Republican voters are wanting results, and many in the GOP base see Republican leadership as supporting the swamp they were sent to Washington to drain.

There are but a few nuggets of encouraging data in the McLaughlin poll for DC Republicans, one being that “the generic ballot for Congress in the November election is essentially tied at 44% for Democrats and 43% for Republicans.”

Other poll results:

  • Among Democrats, 65% trust their party to do what it says it will do. By contrast, only 15% of Republicans trust their own party to carry out its promises, and that dismal percentage drops to 9% among the conservative base.
  • Overall, 46% of voters polled say the Republican leadership is “supporting the swamp that President Trump promised to drain.”
  • Trump’s job approval rating of 45% (in this poll) is higher than the job approval of the GOP Congress. Overall, 84% of Republicans and 73% of conservatives approve of Trump’s performance.

Different polls reveal different trends. The McLaughlin poll “dispels the … narrative that President Trump is a drain on the ticket.” But another poll released April 30, by Reuters/Ipsos, finds that a generally negative view of Trump among millennials does not predispose them to lean heavily in favor of Democrat lawmakers.

“The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy.”

The report did not find a surge of millennials who’ve shifted to “overt support of Republicans (at 28% it’s about the same as a similar poll two years ago). Yet, heading into the 2018 mid-terms, these millennials also say “they were undecided, would support a third-party candidate or not vote at all.”

Polls ebb and flow, but almost all point to hapless Washington lawmakers in both parties who fail again and again to get out of their own ways, and thereby continue to sacrifice trust and voter approval. Meanwhile, Trump soldiers on despite the black cloud of the Mueller investigation and daily media attempts to diminish his administration.

But nothing can diminish the successful nomination of Supreme Court Judge Neil Gorsuch, the defanging of the Obamacare mandate, restored relations with Israel, historic tax cuts and reforms that are changing American citizen’s lives and lifting their optimism, the hope of fairer trade with China, and, suddenly, the prospect of a denuked North Korea and a unified Korean Peninsula.

That strikes many as more unparalleled than unhinged.

 

 

Tariffs 101

By Harold Mendelson

It seems a lot of so called knowledgeable people are upset with President Donald Trump’s imported steel and aluminum tariffs. The general viewpoint is the tariffs will start a trade war and the U.S. economy will collapse.

Is it true the tariffs will destroy our economy? Well it is true that businesses generally hate tariffs, because they drive up the cost of imported materials used to make their products. If that is so, why would President Trump want to upset the economy?

If you look at the tariffs he has imposed, you will see there’s is a vagueness to his tariffs. Mexico and Canada are exempt for the time being. Why? President Trump wants to renegotiate NAFTA. NAFTA was the brainchild of then-President Clinton. It was designed to build up free trade between the U.S. and its North American neighbors. In the past 20 years, what has it accomplished? It certainly expanded trade between the nations of North America. It also allowed American companies to move manufacturing jobs off shore, where lower labor costs reduced manufacturing costs and raised net profits. The areas around Detroit and the rest of the rust belt states were turned into ghost towns. Auto plants and steel mills shut down. Supporting industries such as logistic companies shut down as well. You can’t make steel with the coke made from coal. NAFTA was a treaty that was much more beneficial to countries outside the U.S. So what can be done to fix the the disadvantages of NAFTA so the American economy isn’t hurt by the treaty? One way is to renegotiate NAFTA. Up to this point Mexico and Canada have been slow to agree to reopen the talks. After all, both nations realize any changes made to NAFTA will hurt their their economies. So President Trump is using the tariff as a bargaining chip. The same holds true for the rest of our international trading partners, including China. Most of the treaties the U.S. has entered into since NAFTA have put the U.S. at a disadvantage. President Trump has said these treaties were bad for the U.S. and pledges to renegotiate those treaties.

As for China, it has done it’s best to promote its economy at the expense of other nations’ economies. It manipulated its currency; it has been dumping steel and aluminum on the world markets for years. Ratan Tata, an Indian billionaire who made his money in the steel and aluminum industries as well as the auto industry, a number years ago reopened steel plants in the UK. Late last year he announced he was shutting down his UK operations because of the artificially low prices of steel exported from China. President Trump instituted these tariffs to equalize the prices of steel and aluminum coming from China and others nations that have been dumping their exports on the world market. He has publicly announced the tariffs will be ended when these imbalances are eliminated, and when product dumping ends and NAFTA is renegotiated.

Why impose tariffs and risk upsetting the world recovery? Because it puts the U.S. in a position of strength and influence. At long last.