PowerLine -> Has Anyone Ever Leaked So Much To So Little Effect? – A Lesson In Economics and Immigration
PowerLine -> Has Anyone Ever Leaked So Much To So Little Effect? – A Lesson In Economics and Immigration
- Has Anyone Ever Leaked So Much To So Little Effect?
- This Week in Trump
- 15 years: 15 thoughts [updated]
- Kushner reportedly wanted secret communications channel with Russians
- A Lesson In Economics and Immigration
|Has Anyone Ever Leaked So Much To So Little Effect?
Posted: 28 May 2017 02:52 PM PDT
The number of anonymous leaks that have assailed President Trump since his inauguration is staggering. They have come from the intelligence agencies, the FBI, and all over the executive branch, including the White House. Gateway Pundit enumerates the leaks that liberal media have reported on breathlessly during just the last two and a half weeks: 17 of them, almost exactly one a day.
Most have something to do with Russia, but God only knows what. Each of the last three administrations has sought better relations with Russia. George W. Bush looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and thought he saw his soul. (He was mistaken.) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton tried to “reset” relations with Russia, blaming the disillusioned W. for the hostility between the U.S. and Russia that then prevailed. And Donald Trump and his advisers have likewise reached out to Russia in hopes of developing a more constructive relationship.
Why? Because we share several vitally important interests with the Russians, notwithstanding our historic enmity. First, as the world’s leading nuclear powers, we have an interest in avoiding nuclear proliferation and catastrophic war. Second, Islamic terrorism poses a problem for both us and the Russians; it is actually worse for them. In principle, we should be able to work together, to some degree, on this issue. Third, China is aggressive and expansionist in the Far East. Russia shares our interest in containing Chinese ambitions.
So it is entirely appropriate that our leaders should seek common ground with the Russians, where possible, in pursuit of our national interests. George W. Bush did it, Barack Obama did it, and Donald Trump is doing it. The main difference between Obama and Trump is that Obama was a pushover for Putin, and Trump isn’t.
All of this is so obvious that I have stopped paying attention to the Left’s coverage of alleged “scandals” relating to Russia. The Democrats desperately hope that someone on Trump’s campaign team may have conspired with the Russians to phish the DNC’s email server, as well as the RNC’s. (Not sure how that works, but liberal conspiracy theories don’t have to make sense.) But we know there is no such evidence. If there were, Democrats in the intelligence agencies, who, it now appears, were violating the law to a massive extent in search of dirt on Donald Trump, would have leaked it before the election.
Absent evidence of collusion, the Left’s hysteria over Russia is going to fizzle out. In the end, it will look silly. Meanwhile, everyone knows that the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, the Associated Press, etc., are using anonymous leaks in an effort to bring down the Trump administration on behalf of their party, the Democrats. I doubt that ten percent of the population could deny that proposition, and pass a lie detector test. So if nothing else, we have achieved clarity.
Trump’s triumphant foreign trip is a reminder, as Steve notes, that the antidote to the Left’s torrent of ineffective leaks is simple: govern. Here, the biggest concern, in my opinion, is Congress, not the president. Republican representatives and senators should get out of Washington and observe how little the people who voted for them are impressed by the Left’s assault on our president. Congress needs to pass the legislation the voters want–tax reform, Obamacare repeal, and the rest. And they need to do it soon.
|This Week in Trump
Posted: 28 May 2017 09:51 AM PDT
Normally I don’t traffic in the typical media thumb-sucking about what’s immediately ahead for the President, or other unctuous, subjunctive commands about what the President “must do” if he is going to advance. But I make an exception now because I have a sense that Trump might make some big moves this week following on his highly successful and consequential first foreign trip.
How do I know it was a successful and consequential trip? Because the media was complaining about Melania’s wardrobe and Trump’s supposedly boorish behavior of pushing himself past the prime minister of Montenegro during a group photo setup. I think that was just Trump making clear that the U.S. is done leading from behind. How else do I know it was a successful trip? Because Angela Merkel has her nose bent out of joint. Frau Merkel was quoted this weekend saying, “We can’t rely on the U.S. anymore. I have experienced this in the last days. We Europeans should take destiny into our own hands.”
Merkel and other Europeans reportedly gave Trump the razzle-dazzle about staying in the Paris Climate Accord, which Trump is now rumored to be ready to dump this week. I hope so, though I don’t think it may matter very much. The Paris Accord is so weak that even chief climatista James Hansen calls it a “fraud,” and the fact that ExxonMobil and other major fossil fuel companies support remaining in the Paris Accord is additional indication that Trump might cause more difficulties for the climate racket it he stays in. The great Roger Pielke Jr writes:
Roger thinks the smart play for the euroclimatistas would be to kick the U.S. out. I doubt they have that much moxie, and in any case, Trump would love it. I can just imagine his tweetstorm now.
Meanwhile, is Trump going to shake up his staff? One analogy to the early months of Trump’s presidency is the first few months of Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1993, which also did not go well for him in terms of public approval and forward progress on his legislative agenda. It’s not exactly the same: no one in the media today is emulating Time magazine’s “The Incredible Shrinking President” cover of June 1993 that Clinton’s fecklessness provoked. The liberal-media complex fear today is just the opposite—that Trump is a fascist dictator.
It was at about this point in 1993 that Clinton shook up his staff, bringing David Gergen on board as communications director (fortunately there is no risk that Trump will inflict that special misery on us), and musing about demoting Dee Dee Myers, one of his early press spokespeople. It didn’t really help all that much. Hillary’s ridiculous and authoritarian health care plan couldn’t even get a vote in a Congress with comfortable Democratic majorities in both houses, and the crime bill that did pass in the fall of 1994, with its trendy “assault” weapons ban and midnight basketball program, backfired on Democrats.
I suppose the cautionary tale here is that today’s GOP Congress needs to pass some things, or else they will suffer (deservedly) the same fate as the Democrats did in 1994. They really need to get their act together—fast—on the replacement for Obamacare and tax reform. They GOP Congress doesn’t need specific direction from Trump to do these things. In fact, it would be a great move back to political health if Congress stepped up and showed that it can lead the nation just as well as a President, which is what the Founders intended. But that’s a subject for a longer, separate post.
My conclusion is that Trump’s foreign trip and events this week will mark a turning point for his first term.
|15 years: 15 thoughts [updated]
Posted: 28 May 2017 06:58 AM PDT
It was fifteen years ago this weekend — fifteen years ago today, I think, but maybe tomorrow — that John Hinderaker went to Blogger and set up Power Line. On Memorial Day that weekend, he gave me a call and invited me to contribute. Once one of my daughters helped me get into the publishing platform, we were off and running. Looking back and borrowing from my tenth-anniversary reflections, I thought I might take the occasion to offer a few personal and self-referential thoughts on the occasion.
1. John and I had already been writing columns and essays together for ten years. Center of the American Experiment’s Mitch Pearlstein stands in a category by himself as a supporter and promoter of our work together before we found a home on the Internet. Although we wrote for those ten years under a joint byline, John was the brains of the operation. I was the one who worked to place our pieces for publication.
The highlight of our pre-Power Line work was “George Bush’s tax return,” published by National Review in May 1994. It was an attack on the incredibly shoddy (and influential) work of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Donald Barlett and James Steele. Rich Lowry edited the piece as managing editor of NR. Rich and his crew at NR have just placed the article online to help us celebrate the occasion today. Please click on the link and check it out. It provides a case study in the mainstream media’s modus operandi.
2. It is an understatement to say that we were excited when NR accepted the article for publication. We faxed a copy of the article to President Bush. President Bush wrote us one of his handwritten notes:
John has the original handwritten note hanging in his den. Barlett and Steele never did “try to rebut that which [we had] written.”
3. Writing for the site online after our experience writing for newspapers and magazines, I was immediately struck by the freedom and immediacy of publication. The second thing that struck me was the lack of readers. Newspapers and magazines gave us a built-in readership. What do you do to earn readers on the Internet? We continue doing more or less what we had been doing in our columns and articles, with links that invited readers to look over our shoulders.
4. Within the first two or three months, we had a few hundred readers outside our immediate families. I wanted regular readers to have a reason to return every day and devoted myself to posting early every morning before I went to work. I’ve been trying to catch up on my sleep ever since.
5. I think our first significant link came from Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy, now housed at the Washington Post. I think the first serious notice anyone took of us was Hugh Hewitt, whom I heard talking about our work on the Coleman/Wellstone (and then Coleman/Mondale) Senate campaign in the fall of 2002 one night as I drove to a fundraiser at which Karen Hughes was appearing. I just about drove off the road when I heard Hugh talking about Power Line.
The encouragement of Michelle Malkin gave us a timely boost. Well before she had climbed onboard the Internet herself, we wrote and asked her to take a look at the site. She not only obliged us, she wrote back: “You guys have a great thing going.” That meant a lot to us.
It wasn’t long before Glenn Reynolds began to find items worthy of notice on the site and to send us the horde of readers who look to InstaPundit to direct traffic. We thought Glenn the best editor on the Internet.
6. By the summer of 2004, we had a few thousand regular readers a day. My recollection differs from John’s on this point, but I think our software showed us having about 3,000 unique readers and 6,000 total hits a day. We thought we had a good thing going, a sense that was confirmed by the invitation we received that summer to cover the GOP convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City from August 30-September 2. John did a fantastic job covering the convention for us. He even caught future Minnesota Senator Al Franken struggling unsuccessfully with his anger management issues up on Radio Row (photo above).
7. On the evening of September 8, 2004, CBS News/60 Minutes II broadcast the inaptly named report “For the record.” With a little help from Atlanta attorney Harry MacDougald supplemented by information from some knowledgeable readers and fellow bloggers, the CBS News report turned into Rathergate.
8. We made our contribution in part through readers who got us going with the information they emailed on the morning of September 9. It is amazing to me in retrospect that we were able to post the initial updates to “The Sixty-First Minute” based on messages from the few thousand regular readers we had at the time. Other readers came that morning from links that directed them to us. The first significant link to the post, as I recall, was Jim Geraghty’s at NRO.
As we were flooded with emails following the post, I called John mid-morning for help sorting through the email messages and assessing the information. John took a look and called me back 15 minutes later. “Dan Rather is toast,” he said. “The key to the case is kerning.”
Working for Matt Drudge, Andrew Breitbart linked to the post early that afternoon with a screaming siren on the Drudge Report. By the end of the day, some 500,000 readers had visited the post. Inside CBS News they were trying to figure out what had happened. What had happened was perhaps the greatest journalistic fraud of all time. In the event, we both contributed to Dan Rather’s early retirement from CBS News.
9. John and I joked that when they got around to making a movie about it, Robert Redford might play him and Dustin Hoffman might play me. Wrong! When they made the movie — 2014’s inaptly named Truth, based on segment producer Mary Mapes’s memoir — Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett played the perpetrators of the fraud. When it comes to rewriting history, the left never quits and its media adjunct is always there to lend a hand.
10. Andrew Heyward was president of CBS News at the time of Rathergate. He hadn’t spoken much about the scandal for public consumption, but he talked about Truth to the New York Times when the Times celebrated the film at a TimesTalks event with Redford, Blanchett, Rather and Mapes. Heyward told the Times that the film “takes people responsible for the worst embarrassment in the history of CBS News, and what was at the time a grievous blow to the credibility of a proud news organization, and turns them into martyrs and heroes. Only Hollywood could come up with that.”
One might say that truer words were never spoken.
11. I’ve written for Power Line just about every day for 15 years. I have no unexpressed thoughts left. Among my favorite posts of the thousands I have written are “Obama veers into the Daily Ditch” and “About those roses.”
Power Line has given me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge and appreciation of popular music. I’ve been listening to the folk singer Tom Rush for 50 years. It was a thrill for me when he agreed to sit for an interview on his way to town in 2011. I wrote up the interview in “The Circle Game.”
12. Dartmouth Professor of English Jeffrey Hart opened my mind to the great tradition and more during the four years I was his student. A long-time senior editor at National Review, Professor Hart contributed “The secession of the intellectuals” to NR’s 15th-anniversary issue in 1970. Thinking of our own 15th anniversary this weekend, I returned to that essay. Rich Lowry and his crew at NR have kindly placed it online to help us celebrate the occasion today.
The essay hit me with the force of revelation at the time. Some of the contemporary references date the piece. Making the necessary changes, however, it reads like it could have been written yesterday. Here is the opening:
Professor Hart later remarks: “The dominance of this kind of sensibility in the educated classes of our society is surely causing for alarm, since it cannot but follow that those who lose their grip on the reality of the world will shortly lose the world itself: the world cannot be governed by sentimental illusions. Poor fools, one cannot but sigh, poor fools, the barbarians will make short work of you.”
13. Power Line has opened so many doors for us it’s hard to count them all. We have made a lot of friends we would never have made without the site. Hugh Hewitt, David Horowitz, Peter Collier, Tom Steward, Tom Cotton, Leo Thorsness, John Bolton, Pete Hegseth, Wilfred McClay, Paul Rahe, Bruce Cole, Bill Kristol, Richard Starr, Steve Hayes, Jonathan Last, Norman Podhoretz, John Podhoretz, Rich Lowry, Jay Nordlinger, Andrew McCarthy, Mona Charen, Bill Bennett, Seth Leibsohn, Roger Simon, Roger Kimball, Rush Limbaugh, Howie Carr, Laura Ingraham, Susan Vass (Ammo Grrrll) and Fern Oppenheim are just a few who come to mind this morning.
14. I am especially grateful to John for asking me along for the ride over the last 15 years. After we had been up and running for a couple of months, John had the idea of asking his college friend and debate partner Paul Mirengoff to join us. Steve Hayward joined in 2011. Publisher Joe Malchow has helped us survive death-defying catastrophes and improved the site technically to the point where, after 15 years, the site performs better than ever.
When he invited me to start contributing to the site over the 2002 Memorial Day weekend, I told John I’d be happy if only he read what I had to say, but the thought that we would ever have readers for this thing struck me as a pathetic fantasy. John thought we would have readers. As usual, John was right, I was wrong.
15. I am most grateful to our readers — literate, knowledgeable, encouraging, large-hearted, responsive to every good cause we have supported. You have kept me going for the past 15 years.
UPDATE: Pardon my pride in this note from our favorite Senator:
JOHN adds All true, except for Scott’s characteristic modesty. It has been a great 15 years; really 25, since Scott and I started our writing partnership. And still going strong: if I am not mistaken, our traffic during the first three months of this year was the best it’s ever been.
I should note that our old friend Ed Morrissey congratulated us on Twitter:
|Kushner reportedly wanted secret communications channel with Russians
Posted: 27 May 2017 08:23 PM PDT
The Trump-related scandal of the day is news that Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities. Reportedly, this possibility — proposed by Kushner — was discussed at the very beginning of December 2016. Nothing came of it.
There is, of course, nothing unusual about wanting a back channel through which to communicate with a foreign government. As Gen. McMaster, the National Security Adviser, says, we have back channel communications with a number of countries” in order to “communicate in a discreet manner.” Thus, McMaster is “not concerned.”
What seems unique about the arrangement Kushner apparently contemplated (I’ve seen no denial of the Post’s report and McMaster’s comments seem to confirm it) is that this back channel apparently was intended to conceal communications with Russia from the U.S. government. Although I don’t think there’s anything unlawful about such a move, it does raise the question of why Kushner didn’t want the Obama administration and our intelligence agencies to know what Team Trump was communicating to the Russians.
The obvious answer is that Kushner feared the Obama administration and/or enemies of Trump in the intelligence community would use the back channel communications against Trump in some way. They might leak the communications to embarrass Trump or they might use the information obtained to thwart Trump’s policy regarding Russia.
This fear does not imply guilt. The Trump transition team might simply have wanted to begin laying the groundwork for some sort of U.S.-Russia initiative, perhaps against ISIS. It might have feared that the Obama administration or, after it ended, enemies in the intel community would undermine these efforts. Such fears would be reasonable, as the Obama administration’s behavior and the non-stop leaking of classified information in recent months have demonstrated.
I think this is the most likely reason why Kushner considered a secret channel. However, there are much less innocent explanations one can embrace if one is so inclined. Improper financial dealing and/or hiding evidence of “collusion” are among them.
At this time, though, such explanations are pure conjecture. They are grist for the conspiracy mill, but not evidence of a conspiracy or of wrongdoing.
The anti-Trump forces may have a point, though, when they accuse Kushner of gross naivety or even stupidity. Establishing a back channel at a Russian diplomatic facility would have entailed visiting the facility. A former senior intelligence official points out that the FBI would know that a Trump transition official was going in and out of the embassy, which would cause “a great deal” of concern.
The same former official asked: “How would [Kushner] trust that the Russians wouldn’t leak [communications] on their side?” He concludes that the back channel idea “seems extremely naive or absolutely crazy.” This sentiment is echoed in comments by other intelligence agency veterans, including Michael Hayden. Most, if not all of them, are hostile to President Trump, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong on this point.
Kushner’s proposal seems extremely naive, if not crazy, for another reason. By early December, “collusion” and Russian interference had become the primary excuse for Hillary Clinton’s defeat and the main club Trump’s enemies were beating him with. Kushner should have realized that the chances of his back channel coming to light were significant and that, once it did, this would feed the anti-Trump narrative.
Thus, the report of the proposed backchannel may raise legitimate concerns about Kushner’s fitness for the outsized role he’s playing in the Trump administration. It does not, however, support claims of collusion and/or financial chicanery on the part of Kushner, other members of the Trump team, or the president himself.
|A Lesson In Economics and Immigration
Posted: 27 May 2017 07:10 PM PDT
(John Hinderaker)A CBS station in Sacramento headlines: “Trump threats, minimum wage, overtime hitting California farmers hard.” Put this one in the category of “inadvertently revealing.”
President Trump’s only “crackdown” , has been on illegal immigration, which is another way of saying that he is carrying out his constitutional duty to execute the laws. So apparently the growers in question have been using illegal immigrant labor, a fact the reporters never specifically acknowledge.
So some California growers have gone to the extraordinary lengths of offering benefits, and even higher wages! The horror! Isn’t this exactly what we want? Economic growth causes employers to bid up the price of employees who help them to create value. Are liberals nostalgic for the days when poorly-paid workers were desperate for jobs and had no leverage?
This is sometimes referred to as a competitive market. Keep bidding!
President Trump opposes illegal immigration largely because it drags down the wages of American workers. (I do, too.) I doubt that these reporters understand that they have just proved Trump’s point. When “threats” lead to a decline in illegal immigration, wages go up. Who could have expected that? Anyone with a nodding acquaintance with the law of supply and demand.
Increasing the minimum wage will always hurt businesses and increase unemploymen f the increase puts the minimum wage above what businesses are actually paying for entry-level labor. Whether that is true in the case of California farm workers is unclear; some, according to this same news report, are turning down $22 an hour.
Something more fundamental seems to be going on:
In other words, it takes more than it formerly did to lure Mexicans to come to California, legally or illegally, to pick grapes. This is a good thing, not a bad thing.
Agricultural labor is, supposedly, among the jobs that Americans won’t do:
Whether Americans want the jobs depends on how much they are being paid. Americans will do anything if the pay is right. Quite a few of them will even practice law.
The ultimate solution is technology that reduces the number of workers required to produce grapes and other commodities. This is, of course, a process that has been going on for a long time. In ancient times, 90% of the world’s population had to engage in agriculture in order to raise enough food to avoid starvation. That percentage has declined drastically, enabling the development of modern civilization. The trend will continue. Innovation is often driven–happily–by rising labor costs.
That could be a good decision. A reader who is not wholly in sympathy with California’s growers writes:
If, like our correspondent, you went to Harvard Business School, that is the correct answer. But I might stake out a middle ground: much of the wine our family drinks comes from France, Italy, New Zealand and Australia. None of those countries relies on Mexican labor, yet somehow they have found a way to pick grapes. If paying the wages required to attract labor–or, alternatively, investing in technology that reduces the demand for labor–raises the price of American wine by $1 per bottle, I think we can all manage.