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.

 

 

 

Pilot embraces Trump hate

By Steve Woodward

The Pilot’s editorial standards achieved a new low when editors published a letter by Clifton Frye (The Morning After, Nov. 10) in which the author drew comparisons between the President of the United States in 2018, Donald Trump, and Germany’s Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.

Mr. Frye contends President Trump is a “(Russian Premier Vladimir) Putin-lover” and unconcerned about “home grown terrorist attacks”. What delusion. Domestic terrorism is driven by the refusal of citizens to be vigilant about their neighbors’ mental health issues and by the continuous illegal entry of undocumented individuals, which Democrats openly facilitate.

Being “bankrupted and sued” – which Mr. Frye assigns as a Trump flaw — comes with the territory of running a large commercial real estate empire. Bankruptcy is aided and abetted by Democrats who delight in seeing companies reorganize, which is the essence of bankruptcy. This is far different from liberal states, where pensions are bankrupt with no solutions to restructure them, save for raising taxes – again and again.

Mr. Frye says the President “feeds on divisive rhetoric”. Why? Because he desires to Make America Great Again, a goal shared by millions, control our southern borders and denounce trade partners who have taken advantage of our country for decades?

The notion that this positions President Trump as a modern day “Hitler” revolts Jewish Harvard University law scholar and lifetime Democrat Alan Dershowitz.

“It’s a horrible analogy because it’s a form of Holocaust denial,” Dershowitz said. “When you say Trump’s like Hitler what you’re saying is that the Jews of Germany and the Jews of Poland didn’t suffer anymore than we’re suffering now, and that there were no gas chambers, that there were no death camps.”

None of this occurred to the Pilot’s editorial board?

 

The art of the possible

By Norman Zanetti

Democrats and their media cheerleaders are doubling down on stupid. They continue to marginalize everything President Donald Trump and Republicans have engineered. This should prompt another major belly-smacker in this year’s mid-term elections.

Following years of dreary regulatory and anti-business agendas, we now have a template for sustainable growth. The art of the possible has moved the needle from red to green.

Restoration comes with a price in this hyper-partisan environment. The positive intermediate and long-term effects make worthwhile tolerating some short-term pain and risk. Hosts of politically shallow intellectuals on CNN, MSNBC, and in the mainstream press, now fear the signature issues that elected Trump, and majorities in both houses, will prevail over their progressive psychosis about Trump’s fitness for office.

Particularly daunting is the growing credence of media suppressing evidence that a host of illegalities were perpetrated by members of the Obama administration to undermine then-candidate Trump. Among them were FISA warrants under false pretense for broad surveillance; leaks from then-FBI Director James Comey; his exoneration of Hillary Clinton prior to her Congressional testimony; and those contributions to the Clinton Foundation. I foresee a lot more powder keg revelations still to come.

Despite the perpetual state of indignation toward President Trump by the New York Times and Washington Post, along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s attempts to criminalize civil matters, voting by the left is unlikely to unleash a so-called “blue wave” come November. What will continue to drive motivated Republican and independent voting is boarder control reform, tax reform, regulatory reform, military upgrades, and addressing trade imbalances. And don’t forget wage growth, which will benefit a swath of Americans next tax season.

My question as to the media’s endless false narrative known as Russian collusion is: Why would Russians have wanted Trump to win? He was a political unknown. Plus, the Russians got away with so much during the Obama-Clinton years, why would they not have longed for a “third Obama term” (President Clinton)? The Russians feast on weakness. During Obama’s reign, the entire Mideast fell apart, causing mass migration and genocide. Nothing was done to address North Korea, or continued civil unrest in Africa. They had to know Trump was, at the very least, unpredictable. Why then do anything to help his chances?

Norman Zanetti is a frequent contributor and local political observer. This essay originated as a letter to New York Times op-ed columnist David Leonhardt. We salute Mr. Zanetti for having the mental fortitude to endure perusal of the Times.

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.”

 

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.