Bookworm Beat 12/12/18 — the Trump border reality show edition

Trump turned the debate over funding a Southern border wall into a brilliant reality show, with Pelosi and Schumer as his hapless foils . . . and much more.

lawless government DACA Illegal immigrants illegal aliens illegal immigration border Funny day today, with a lot of people who are important to me needing me. That’s not to say that they are needy people. It’s just that, I found myself spending several hours on the phone with people who were looking to me for specific things, practical or emotional, that they felt only I could provide.

Overall, it was flattering, and I neither regret nor resent the time spent, but it was also a bit tiring and definitely time-consuming. I’ll try to pack as much as I can into this Bookworm Beat, but no promises.

The Trump border reality show. The consensus from conservatives and savvy Leftists seems to be that, when Trump insisted on televising his meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer regarding border wall funding, he was the winner and undisputed champion. My friend Thomas Lifson (one of the smartest people I know) started his post about Trump’s three traps thusly:

President Trump clearly shocked House speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer yesterday with his televising of the Oval Office sit-down over his demand for $5 billion in funding for border security, including funding of critical mileage for his border wall. Knowing well that Pelosi had already vowed publicly that “transparency and openness” would characterize the Democrat-run House starting next month, her plaintive request to speak in private scored points for Trump and revealed her hypocrisy before any substance at all was considered.

John Nolte was also impressed by Trump’s dominance:

The point is that the very first thing Schumer said during this meeting, the key message he wanted to send, is that Trump is weak on the border and lying about it.

Think about that

No seriously, think about that.

I’ll wait.

As the 17-minute made-for-TV spectacle progressed, Trump boldly pledged to shut down part of the government — the part we can all live without that should be closed permanently anyway — if he does not receive adequate border security funding. Meaning, he would not sign on to continue funding the government.

All of this was a calculated set up on Trump’s part, and a successful one.

Pelosi had no idea she was being set up, which is why, like a prim schoolmarm always caught off guard, she chose to lecture Trump about the legislative process.

Schumer, though, is nobody’s stupe, and knew exactly what Trump was up to.

This is what Trump knows… Between now and Election Day 2020, there will be an organized effort to separate Trump from his base, and the best way to do that is to make Trump look weak on border security, and the best way to do that is for leftists to continue to organize and fund illegal immigration, especially through these caravans.

Trump can see the future and he knows it is going to be plagued with an orchestrated and well-funded campaign to create border chaos, to make him look feckless.

But what he did yesterday was flip the script.

Katie Pavlich was another who was impressed:

After some back and forth with the Democrat leaders, Pelosi started to panic and said they should not continue in front of the press.

“I don’t think we should have a debate in front of the press on this,” Pelosi said.

“It’s called transparency Nancy,” Trump shot back.

President Trump then continued, leading Schumer to later argue the same.

“Let’s debate, let’s debate in private,” he pleaded. “We shouldn’t shut down the government over a dispute, and you want to shut it down.”

Even at the reliably Left-leaning Daily Beast, Matt Lewis explained that Trump walked away the undisputed victor:

The mainstream media will focus on the immediate seriousness of a shutdown and lament the lack of civility in politics. But I suspect many Americans will see that there was something refreshing about Trump’s public stance.

Politicians often promise to drive a tough bargain (when rallying their base before an election), only to engage in conciliatory rhetoric when face to face with an adversary. The civilized “norm,” in other words, is to be a fake. But here—face to face with his adversaries—Trump defended his decision regarding a wall.

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump declared. “Because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into this country. So I will take the mantle, I will be the one to shut it down. I won’t blame you for it.”

There was something charming about this—and it’s precisely because there was something phony about an old game where Speaker Tip O’Neill might accuse Ronald Reagan of wanting to throw elderly people off Social Security (before dining with the Gipper and telling Irish stories).


In a jaded world where secrets are increasingly hard to keep, Trump earns points for authenticity. Pelosi and Schumer repeatedly urged that their negotiating be done in private, but Trump countered with talk of “transparency.” I’m a fan of smoke-filled backrooms, but it pains me to say that Trump seized the high ground (in terms of public opinion) here.

If you are a supporter of the president’s policies, this was an especially welcome display—a rare example of a president publicly fighting for his policy goal: a border wall. The public fight is important. There is no doubt that Trump supporters are passionate about the border wall. The proof that Trump is rhetorically fighting for it is vital—especially if he never actually delivers it.

But do you want to know how I know with certainty that Trump was the victorious alpha in that room? This is how: The Left focused obsessively on the fact that Trump interrupted Pelosi. The horror!

Trump interrupted Nancy Pelosi 15 times in the Oval Office. Watch her coolly shut it down.

How Nancy Pelosi Masterfully Dismantled Trump : Do not mansplain to the former — and likely future — Speaker of the House.

Commentary: Pelosi-Trump exchange put the rudeness of ‘talking over’ on full display

Congresswoman, Interrupted : President Trump’s interruptions of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are part of a long tradition of men talking over female colleagues.

If the only thing you can say after a televised debate about a matter of enormous importance to Americans is “he was mean to the most powerful woman in America,” you’ve conceded that you’ve lost the substantive argument.

Analyzing what “racism” means. MacG sent me a link to a fascinating article about the different ways in which Leftists and Normals define the word “racism.” I don’t quite know how to summarize what BJ Campbell said, because his is a surprisingly short argument, but one filled with information, so all I can do is suggest that you read it.

The best analysis I’ve seen about France’s riots. I’m finding events in France fascinating, but I have to admit I don’t have any deep knowledge about modern France. I know that it has a huge population of Muslims (around 9% of the population), something that goes back decades when it started admitting people from the former French colony in Algiers. I know that France and Germany are the overlords of the EU. I know that Macron thought to build himself up by insulting Trump. (I know a few more things, but I won’t do the laundry list here.)

Now, having read Rex’s analysis of the Gilets Jaunes uprising, I know more — and significantly, what I now know lends meaning and context to something very consequential that is happening in real time in one of the two beating hearts of the EU:

Think you know the real France? Here are a few facts that may shock you:

  • The French state has been bankrupt since 2004. A minister finally admitted it in 2013.
  • French GDP hasn’t risen above 2% in 50 years. Yes – FIFTY. The average annual GDP growth rate between 1949-2018? 0.78%.
  • In 2018, 14% of the population in France live below the poverty line (they earn less than 60% of the median income).
  • Worse, more than 50% of French people have an annual income of less than €20,150 a year (about $1,900 US per month).
  • The ‘official’ unemployment rate is 10% – about 3.5 million citizens (in reality, it’s much higher).
  • The youth unemployment rate is 22%. Yes, you did read that right.
  • Astonishing but true: the French government employs 25% of the entire French workforce…and it’s impossible to fire them.
  • Because the citizens make such little money, they pay no tax. Less than 50% of French pay any income tax at all; only around 14% pay at the rate of 30%, and less than 1% pay at the rate of 45%.
  • The government can’t deliver services without taxes, so it borrows money. France’s debt-GDP is now 100%.

Another revealing statistic: “structural unemployment” is now at 9 -10%. That statistic measures when it is impossible to find people who have the skills and qualifications, to fill available positions. Why? French kids aren’t being educated to participate in the workforce. So even if France has a growth spurt (it won’t), they won’t have the labor to fill the new jobs.

Even more shocking than the above statistics is the fact that France is ruled entirely by an elite class that is actually smaller in number than the hereditary nobility was at the dawn of the French Revolution. These disconnected people, trained for governance, but hostile to the people they’re governing, are part of a global elite that controls the Western world (including here in America) and the people they’ve been ruling are fed up. (For a look at America’s self-styled elite, check out Kurt Schlichter’s Militant Normals: How Regular Americans Are Rebelling Against the Elite to Reclaim Our Democracy, which is all about the American elite and their unending disdain for the people over whom they’ve assumed control.)

Using the internet to “shame” people. I admit that, when people thrust themselves into the public eye, especially Leftists, I will attack — sometimes quite brutally — their words or attitudes. My post yesterday is an example of my coming down very heavily on someone for his conduct and statements. With regard to yesterday’s post, I don’t regret my attack because the Professor I lambasted oh-so-proudly puts himself out there as the ne plus ultra of a certain mindset. He finds himself laudable; I find him. . . . Well, you know.

However, I don’t think I’ve ever gone out of my way to target a private individual for shame unless they’ve loudly and proudly put themselves out there in a bid for attention. If I have, I’m sorry I did and I hope that I never slip up and do it again.

The reason for this attack of conscience is an article about the shame culture we’ve created through the internet. Helen Andrews, who wrote the article, was one of the first people to be internet shamed, although the shaming got worse and worse in subsequent years.

In addition to writing movingly about her own experience, Andrews has this warning for others:

The more online shame cycles you observe, the more obvious the pattern becomes: Everyone comes up with a principled-sounding pretext that serves as a barrier against admitting to themselves that, in fact, all they have really done is joined a mob. Once that barrier is erected, all rules of decency go out the window, but the pretext is almost always a lie.


In Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, Ryan Holiday’s memoir of his years as a PR consultant, he describes a roundtable meeting at the Huffington Post where the editors discussed how a certain big company should have handled its recent PR crisis. The editors offered the usual bromides: “Transparency is critical.” “Be proactive.” “Get out in front of it.” Holiday replied, “None of you know what you’re talking about.” The old rules don’t apply in the free-for-all world of online journalism, and they especially don’t work when the figure at the center of the controversy is one lonely individual. If a client came to him because he was being called a racist or sexist on Twitter, Holiday says (pardon the vulgarity), “I would tell him to bend over and take it. And then I’d apologize. I’d tell him the whole system is broken and evil, and I’m sorry it’s attacking him. But there’s nothing that can be done.”

Any attempt to defend yourself or clarify your original remarks is “the equivalent of a squeaky cry of, ‘Why is everyone making fun of me?!’ on the playground,” Holiday says. “Whether it happens in front of snarky blogs or a real-life bully, the result is the same: Everyone makes fun of you even more.” The idea that online shaming is a form of debate—or in any way oriented toward finding the truth—is a delusion. Dialogue is not the point. The day Brett ­Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the New Yorker—not Gawker, but the New Yorker—ran thirty-two Kavanaugh headlines in twenty-four hours, many of them on the subject of the nominee’s supposed whininess: “The Tears of Brett Kavanaugh”; “An Angry, Tearful Opening”; “Brett Kavanaugh’s ­Damaging, Revealing Partisan Bitterness”; “A Grotesque Display of Patriarchal Resentment.” The man had been accused of being a brutal rapist, and the most prestigious magazine in America ridiculed him for responding to the allegation as any innocent man would have. No, dialogue is not the point.

I strongly recommend the article.

New York AG goes full Lavrentiy Beria. Beria was a Soviet apparatchik who famously said “show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” That statement is the antithesis of American jurisprudence, in which the government must first learn of a crime, after which it tries to identify a wrongdoer. If it is able to do so, it then prosecutes the wrongdoer — and only the wrongdoer — subject to the constraints of full due process. (Individuals don’t always perform perfectly under this system, but it’s still the system.) In totalitarian countries it’s different. There, if you hold power, you find your political opponent, work up a fake criminal charge, and use those fake charges to destroy the opponent, as well as the opponent’s family, friends, and colleagues — hence, Beria’s famous quotation.

With that in mind, listen to incoming New York attorney general Letitia James:

New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James says she plans to launch sweeping investigations into President Donald Trump, his family and “anyone” in his circle who may have violated the law once she settles into her new job next month.

“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” James, a Democrat, told NBC News in her first extensive interview since she was elected last month.

James outlined some of the probes she intends to pursue with regard to the president, his businesses and his family members. They include:

  • Any potential illegalities involving Trump’s real estate holdings in New York, highlighting a New York Times investigation published in October into the president’s finances.
  • The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official.
  • Examine government subsidies Trump received, which were also the subject of Times investigative work.
  • Whether he is in violation of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution through his New York businesses.
  • Continue to probe the Trump Foundation.

“We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law,” said James, who was endorsed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

James campaigned on passing a bill to change New York’s double jeopardy laws with an eye on possible pardons coming out of the White House. James told NBC News she wants to be able to pursue state charges against anyone the president were to pardon over federal charges or convictions and whose alleged crimes took place in the state. Under current New York law, she might not be able to do that.

Beria would have been proud and thrilled to see his ideas transferred to the Soviet Union’s greatest nemesis.

Two stories showing that Leftism fails everyone. I think we can all agree that the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the Left’s strongest American bastions. That’s why I found these two stories interesting.

The first is an admission from SFGate, the free online subsidiary of the San Francisco Comical, that the City is driving away its businesses (aka employers and tax payers):

Ike’s Place, the little sandwich shop born and raised in San Francisco, has grown up and no longer feels welcome at home, its owner says.

Ike Shehadeh, the man who founded Ike’s Place in the Castro in 2007, closed his flagship store in the Castro after the lease expired two years ago. But now, he says he’s given up looking for a new location in the city and is moving on to greener pastures.

In all, Shehadeh now has a total of 50 Ike’s Place sandwich shops — including outlets in Arizona, Nevada and Texas — and says he’s opened three more in recent weeks. But in San Francisco, there’s only one remaining at Polk and O’Farrell.

So why is his sandwich shop doing so well outside of the city?

Shehadeh told SFGATE that high commercial rent combined with permitting gridlock with the city have made the cost of entry into San Francisco too expensive for small business owners. He said most small businesses can’t endure a year of paying rent while waiting for permits before actually being allowed to start making money.

Another problem for Shehadeh is that by San Francisco standards, Ike’s Place is now considered “formula retail” — a chain store with 11 or more locations. This designation triggers additional red tape such as a 30-day community comment period or outright prohibition in certain neighborhoods. He said opening his second store on Polk Street — now his only SF outlet — was a unique uphill battle.

The second story is about the Bay Area generally, not just San Francisco, which is swarming with homeless people:

The massive tent encampments and dilapidated RVs lining neighborhood streets make it clear there’s a problem, but according to a new report, the Bay Area’s homelessness crisis is even worse than previously thought.

An estimated 25,951 people were living without homes in the Bay Area last year, researchers with housing and real estate website Zillow calculated in a report released Tuesday. That’s over 6,000 more than were officially counted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As you know from other reports, these are not Depression-era homeless. If you have visions in your head of the morally strong Joad family escaping the Dust Bowl in hope of a better life, erase those visions immediately. Almost without exception, today’s urban homeless are substance abusers and/or mentally ill and/or criminally dangerous. I recognize that prison is not necessarily the best place for these people (prisons are not useful places for mentally ill or seriously addicted people, including violent ones), but turning our streets into their homes and, worse, their toilets and drug shooting galleries is most definitely not the answer.

For those Californians who find the above depressing, fear not — in their infinite wisdom, state regulators are going to make things better by imposing a surcharge on text messages:

State regulators have been ginning up a scheme to charge a fee for text messaging on mobile phones to help support programs that make phone service accessible to the poor. The wireless industry and business groups have been working to defeat the proposal, now scheduled for a vote next month by the California Public Utilities Commission.

“It’s a dumb idea,” said Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council business-sponsored advocacy group. “This is how conversations take place in this day and age, and it’s almost like saying there should be a tax on the conversations we have.”

I agree with Mr. Wunderman. Indeed, I’d go one step further: If you want to see French-style rioting in California, tax text messages. Even the most hardened Leftist — indeed, especially the most hardened Leftist millennial born with a phone in his/her/its hand — won’t put up with this.

A quiz about a crazy-brave man and an interesting article. First the quiz. Do you recognize this crazy-brave man?

J. Gordon Liddy

And now the link, which might help you identify that handsome young man:

45 years ago, in the wake of Watergate, Stewart Alsop wrote a brilliant column in which he distinguished between the crazy-brave and the phony-tough. Alsop was addressing the question of how reasonably intelligent people in Nixon’s circle could have approved, or failed to scotch, wild schemes including but not limited to the Watergate break in.

Read the rest here to find out that man’s identity and to get a really stellar analysis about Cohen and many of today’s political players.

Gary Sinese is my Man of the Year. Time Magazine (which I’m always surprised to learn still exists) labeled Khashoggi, a Muslim Brotherhood/al Qaeda supporter, as its man of the year because . . . Trump. Patricia Heaton, though, has a different suggestion:

Sinese has my vote, not just for Man of the Year, but for Mensch of the Year.

Maybe it was the JP Sears video that caused the change. Radio stations are backing down from their insanely stupid idea to ban the charming song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” I’m pretty sure that it was JP Sears’ masterful analysis that caused the change:

No confidence in Theresa May. Somewhat to my surprise, Theresa May survived the no confidence vote against her in Parliament. I can’t help wondering whether this Andy Serkis video helped or hurt her. Watching the video, I honestly can’t tell if it’s pro or anti Brexit or pro or anti May. All I know is that it’s brilliant: