Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cruising the Web

David Harsanyi discusses President Obama's latest executive action to eternally ban any offshore oil and gas drilling in a large part of the Atlantic and Arctic waters in conjunction with a similar ban by Canada. His presumed power is based on a 1953 law that allows the president to permanently ban offshore drilling in specified areas - not the whole region. Once again Obama is stretching the law and executive powers because he thinks he's in the right and has no concern about the true legalities. Harsanyi posits a similar order by President Trump so that liberals can get a clearer understanding of how pernicious effects of such bypassing of the legislative process. Obama's excuse that he can exercise executive overreach simply because Congress hasn't acted to pass laws that he wishes they would. That's not how anyone understood our system to work until Obama decided that he can exercise the fed-up-with-Congress executive power.
On the bright side, though, now that a progressive president is leaving office, the media will almost certainly frame abuses of power as something out of the ordinary.

Imagine the scene: For the good of the nation and the future of energy independence, a lame-duck Donald Trump dusts off an obscure law to open Arctic drilling indefinitely. And to further impede the agenda of the incoming government, Trump signs an agreement with Russia—without any debate in the Senate—to insure it’s even more difficult to reverse.

Visualize, if you can, the scandalized media coverage and gale-force indignation from liberals over King Donald’s assault on democracy. Imagine the “This. Is. Not. Normal!” headlines and editorials conjuring up scenes of fascist takeovers....

Whether it’s worth accessing this energy or not will be a worthwhile debate one day. More broadly, though, Obama’s move—and the hypocritical reaction to it—reaffirm that most Democrats aren’t concerned about norms or “democracy,” they’re concerned about furthering liberal agenda items.

Your moral certitude on environmental issues (or immigration or gun laws) does not excuse abuse any more than Trump’s beliefs excuses his attacks on “norms.” Everyone has moral certitude about the issues that matter to them. And if the unifying governing principle of an entire party is achieving policy goals, then stop pretending you care about the erosion of democratic norms. To be taken seriously as a defender of constitutional governance, you might have stand up for the process when it’s inconvenient from time to time. That might mean defending Electoral College or pointing out that legalizing millions of illegal immigrants without Congress is an abuse of power.

Democrats have failed on this front. So their overwrought grievances about Trump’s disposition smacks of hypocrisy. In fact, as one disastrous presidency ends, it’s more obvious than ever that Trump has every reason to be emboldened by Obama’s actions, and the rampant partisan hypocrisy that infects America.
We'll see if conservatives live up to their principles if they're willing to criticize Trump if he acts similarly.

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Ah, just what Washington needs - a Corey Lewandowski consulting firm.Jim Geraghty comments,
I’m so old, I remember when Lewandowski was denouncing the “Washington consultant class” and declaring, “The problem with the professional political class is they make money regardless of who wins.”

I even remember him denouncing “these consultants who talk about the glory old days of races they were involved with that weren’t successful.” Lewandowski will no doubt argue his campaign was successful . . . of course, Trump fired him in June.

Lewandowski’s firm will grab its share of clients . . . probably by the arm.

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Charles Lane writes in the Washington Post about the strange story of how events in Europe are affecting cheese production here.
In August 2014, he [Putin] banned European Union agricultural imports as payback for E.U. sanctions punishing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin struck just as the European Union was ending dairy production limits, so the loss of the Russian market was doubly painful to E.U. producers — and rendered them desperate for markets elsewhere. Throw in a stronger dollar due to Federal Reserve policy (thanks, Janet Yellen) — et voila! — U.S. cheese imports are rising.

They are doing so even as the Agriculture Department forecasts record U.S. production of 212.4 billion pounds of milk in 2016, and U.S exports are hampered by the aforementioned strong dollar.

So much for the widely held belief that foreign crises in places like Ukraine don’t affect Americans’ daily lives.
But don't worry. The federal government is on the case to help dairy farmers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this year bought $20 million worth of cheddar cheese – or 12.5 million pounds — to reduce a cheese surplus and help out American dairy farmers.

Put another way, the USDA bought enough cheese to make 66.7 million grilled cheese sandwiches, assuming three one-ounce slices per sandwich with cheddar at $1.60 a pound. Members of Congress and dairy groups encouraged the USDA to make the massive cheese purchase.

Some Democratic opponents to Keith Ellison's efforts to be the next DNC chairman are pointing to past stories of tax problems and campaign finance violations. None of the stories are new and they predate his election to the House. It sounds like a desperate effort to find some reason to oppose Ellison without talking about his radical history of support for Louis Farakhan and his 9/11 trutherism and defense of anti-Semites.

Ben Shapiro laments how both Trump and the Democrats lied to the public as they make impossible promises on what they can do about the economy.
Trump also saw great success in the Rust Belt states, where he preached the false gospel of protectionism. “We’re being killed on trade — absolutely destroyed,” Trump repeatedly stated during the campaign. He explained, “Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization, moving our jobs, our wealth, and our factories to Mexico and overseas.”

He hasn’t changed his tune after his election. In the aftermath of this victory, Trump blamed supposedly nasty companies for shipping jobs overseas; he called Rexnord of Indiana “vicious” for outsourcing. He pledged, “We’re gonna have a lot of phone calls made to companies when they say they’re thinking about leaving this country, because they’re not leaving this country. . . . They’re not gonna leave this country, and the workers are gonna keep their jobs.”

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to promote the idea that they’ll bring jobs back to hard-hit industries by raising taxes and redistributing income. Bernie Sanders won millions of acolytes while lying about basic economics, suggesting that greedy billionaires were bilking the working classes: “You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities as Americans.”

So here’s the question: Is it possible to have political success in America without blatantly lying to voters?

Because make no mistake: Both Trump and Sanders succeeded by lying about economics. Manufacturing employment hasn’t dipped in the United States because of trade — it’s dipped because of technology, and the jobs that Trump and Sanders promised to bring back won’t be coming back through government interventionism. Since 1994, manufacturing output has skyrocketed, but manufacturing jobs have leveled off — thanks to technology. Between 2006 and 2013, American manufacturing production jumped 17.6 percent. China, the nation supposedly crippling our manufacturing sector by stealing our jobs, has actually lost jobs in its manufacturing sector owing to technology in recent years. And most of the automotive jobs being created in Mexico aren’t coming from the United States — they’re coming from foreign automakers who would rather invest in Mexican workers than American ones, thanks to America’s trade policies.

America’s not losing manufacturing jobs owing to trade deficits, either. Trade deficits actually have no correlation with economic success in a global marketplace: If a country like China takes in more U.S. currency as a result of manufacturing investment, for example, it can’t exactly spend U.S. dollars at home, so it has to reinvest in more productive American sectors. This is called a capital-account surplus.
Shapiro wonders if any politician can win while telling the truth about economics. Obama certainly lied about Obamacare and about the possibilities of healing the economy through a phony stimulus plan that was mostly a way of funneling money to favored liberal beneficiaries.

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The Washington Post explores the tradition of potato latkes during Hannukah. Who knew that it was related to the story of Judity beheading Holofernes.
Regardless of that rather bloody connection, I sure love latkes and am glad to learn a bit more about their history.