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Journal Archives

Understanding Why President Trump Has Not Received Legislative Action FromCongress

There are many new commentators at CTH, and even more new people taking notice of politics for perhaps the first time in their lives. There is also some confusion noticed between two distinct groups who appear to be talking above and around each other. Two groups trying to communicate from two entirely divergent sets of understanding.

Perhaps it is valuable to reset the larger frames of reference and provide clarity.

Many, heck, most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past.

There is not a single congress person who writes legislation or laws.

In 2017 not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen.

Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Here’s how it works.

Outside groups often called “special interest groups” are entities that represent their interests in legislative constructs. These groups are often corporations, banks, financial groups or businesses; or smaller groups of people with a similar business connection who come together and form a larger group under an umbrella of interest specific to their like-minded affiliation.

Sometimes the groups are social interest groups; activists like climate groups, environmental interests etc. The social interest groups are usually non-profit constructs who depend on the expenditures of government to sustain their cause or need.

The for-profit groups (mostly business) have a purpose in Washington DC to shape policy, legislation and laws favorable to their interests. They have fully staffed offices just like any business would – only their business is getting legislation for their unique interests.

These groups are filled with highly-paid lawyers who represent the interests of the entity and actually write laws and legislation briefs. In the modern era this is actually the origination of the laws that we eventually see passed by congress. Within the walls of these buildings within Washington DC is where the ‘sausage’ is actually made.

Again, no elected official is usually part of this law origination process.

Once the corporation or representative organizational entity has written the law they want to see passed they hand it off to the lobbyists. The lobbyists are people who have deep contacts within the political bodies of the legislative branch, usually former House/Senate staff or former House/Senate politicians themselves.

The lobbyist takes the written brief, the legislative construct, and it’s their job to go to congress and sell it.

“Selling it” means finding politicians who will accept the brief, sponsor their bill and eventually get it to a vote and passage. The lobbyist does this by visiting the politician in their office, or, most currently familiar, by inviting the politician to an event they are hosting. The event is called a junket when it involves travel.

Often the lobbying “event” might be a weekend trip to a ski resort, or a “conference” that takes place at a resort. The actual sales pitch for the bill is usually not too long and the majority of the time is just like a mini vacation etc.

The size of the indulgences within the event, the amount of money the lobbyist is spending, is customarily related to the scale of the bill the sponsoring business entity needs to get support for. If the sponsoring business or interest group can gain a lot of financial benefit for the legislation they spend a lot on the indulgences.

Recap: Corporations (special interest group) writes the law. Lobbyists take the law and go find politician(s) to support it. Politicians get support from their peers using tenure and status etc. Eventually, if things go according to norm, the legislation gets a vote.

Within every step of the process there are expense account lunches, dinners, trips, venue tickets and a host of other customary way-points to generate/leverage a successful outcome.

But the important part to remember is that the origination of the entire system is EXTERNAL to congress.

Congress does not write laws or legislation, special interest groups do. Lobbyists are paid, some very well paid, to get politicians to go along with the need of the legislative group.

When you are voting for a Congressional Rep or a U.S. Senator you are not voting for a person who will write laws. Your rep only votes on legislation to approve or disapprove of constructs that are written by outside groups and sold to them through lobbyists who work for those outside groups.

While all of this is happening the same outside groups who write the laws are providing money for the campaigns of the politicians they need to pass them. This construct sets up the quid-pro-quo of influence, although much of it is fraught with plausible deniability.

This is the way legislation is created.

If your frame of reference is not established in this basic understanding you can often fall into the trap of viewing a politician, or political vote, through a false prism. The modern origin of all legislative constructs is not within congress.

“we’ll have to pass the bill to, well, find out what is in the bill” etc. ~ Nancy Pelosi 2009

“We rely upon the stupidity of the American voter” ~ Johnathan Gruber 2011, 2012

Now, think about this reality against the backdrop of the 2016 Presidential Election. The entire system within DC was not structurally set-up to receive a Donald Trump presidency.

If Hillary Clinton had won the election, her Oval Office desk would be filled with legislation passed by congress which she would be signing. Heck, she’d have writer’s cramp from all of the special interest legislation that would be flowing to her desk.

Why? Simply because the authors of the legislation, the special interest and lobbying groups, were spending millions to fund her campaign. President Hillary Clinton would be signing K-Street constructed special interest legislation to repay all of those donors/investors. Congress would be fast-tracking the passage because the same interest groups also fund the members of congress.

President Donald Trump winning the election threw a monkey wrench into the entire DC system…. The modern legislative machine is frozen in place.

The “America First” policies represented by candidate Donald Trump are not within the legislative constructs coming from the authors of the legislation. Congress has no bills to advance because all of the myriad of bills and briefs written are not in line with President Trump policy.

That’s why congress has not passed any legislation for President Trump to sign.

There’s no entity within DC writing legislation that is in-line with President Trump’s economic and foreign policy agenda. Exactly the opposite is true. All of the DC legislative briefs and constructs are antithetical to Trump policy.

There are hundreds of file boxes filled with thousands of legislative constructs that became worthless when Donald Trump won the election.

Those legislative constructs (briefs) representing tens of millions of dollars worth of time and influence and are now just sitting there piled up in boxes under desks and in closets amid K-Street and the congressional offices.

Any current legislation must be in-line with an entire new political perspective, and there’s no-one, no special interest or lobbying group, currently occupying DC office space with any interest in synergy with Trump policy.

Think about the larger ramifications within that truism.

That is also why there’s so much opposition.

No legislation by outside interests means no work for lobbyists who sell it. No work means no money. No money means no expense accounts. No expenses means politicians paying for their own indulgences etc.

However, no K-Street expenditures -because of the futility of it- also means more money available for opposition and activist activity.

Lastly, when you understand this reality you begin to see the difference between legislation with a traditional purpose and faux-legislation with a political agenda.

23 Ways Big Government Is Hurting the Poor

Advocates for big government often equate expanding government with concern for the poor. But reality speaks to the contrary: Expanding government often has very harmful effects on the poor.

This reality is precisely what is addressed in a forthcoming special report from The Heritage Foundation, “Big Government Policies That Hurt the Poor and How to Address Them.”

Rather than looking at welfare policy—a usual focus of analysts when discussing policies that impact the poor—the report focuses on economic policy, including regulation.

The authors identify 23 policies and provide concrete solutions that would allow those struggling financially to have more opportunities and a higher standard of living. As indicated in the report, these policies are just the tip of the iceberg.

The authors found three recurring themes that marked the policies they identified:

Here is the report’s full list of 23 big government policies currently harming poor Americans:

Climate Change Regulations
Energy Efficiency Regulations for Appliances
Fuel Efficiency Mandates and Tier 3 Gas Regulations
Renewable Fuel Standard
Tennessee Valley Authority
Federal Sugar Program
Fruit and Vegetable Marketing Orders
S. Department of Agriculture’s Catfish Inspection Program
Soda Taxes
International Monetary Fund Bailouts
Import Restraints on Food and Clothing
Jones Act
High Minimum Wages
Occupational Licensure
Economic Development Takings
Home-Sharing Regulations
Rent Control
Smart Growth
Payday Lender Rules From the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Daycare Regulations
Ride-Sharing Regulations
State-Sanctioned Lottery Monopolies

Why Black Families are Rejecting Public Schools

Because of their long-fought battle for equal access to education, it is generally assumed that black families are big fans of public schooling.

That assumption, however, is beginning to show its datedness, as evidenced by the research of University of Georgia College of Education professor Cheryl Fields-Smith. In a recent interview with The 74, Dr. Fields-Smith suggested that black families are abandoning public schools because said schools exhibit:

1. A hyper-focus on race
According to Dr. Fields-Smith, pioneering black homeschoolers were not always interested in having their children integrate the public schools. Today’s black homeschoolers see a different problem. They are choosing to bring their children home because schools have resegregated, and they don’t want them to have such a black-centric view of the world.

2. Safety issues
As with many other homeschoolers, one of the big motivations for black families to homeschool revolves around instances of violence in school. But black parents are also concerned that classroom stereotyping will negatively affect their children......


Mother and Son Transition to Father and Daughter After Realizing They Are Transgender

Eric Maison and his daughter, Corey, realized at the same time that they are transgender. The father and daughter - who were formerly mother and son - were watching a documentary about a transgender girl when they had their light bulb moment.

“That’s when we both learned what it meant to be transgender, and realized that that explained both of us exactly,” Eric, 39, tells PEOPLE.

For years, both of them were uncomfortable in their bodies, but they didn’t know how to describe the feeling.

“I was always sad and angry all the time, and I didn’t know what to do about it,” Corey, 15, says.

“I knew that something was off, but I didn’t know what that was. I knew that I hated my body, I was very ashamed of it, but I didn’t know, cognitively, why,” Eric adds. “Honestly, I just thought it was me. I thought there was something wrong with my brain.”

Report: NSC has computer logs of Susan Rice accessing intelligence on Trump associates

The National Security Council has uncovered computer logs that detail the instances former national security adviser Susan Rice requested and viewed records that included President Trump and his campaign staffers' names in intelligence reports from July through January, according to a report published Monday.

Earlier Monday, the Obama-era national security adviser was reported to have asked for the identities of Trump campaign officials to be "unmasked." Those conversations contained "valuable political information on the Trump transition."

Rice's requests into Trump-related conversations increased following his winning the presidential election last November, according to Circa.

Intelligence agencies track foreign calls with U.S. sources, but "mask" the names of American citizens who were incidentally included.

Looks like there is real evidence of criminal activity.

Truth and Myth on the Gender Pay Gap

The ongoing battle over gender equality has turned the question of the relative pay of women and men into quite the political football. Over the last few years, defenders of markets, including me, have been on the offensive, arguing that the gender pay gap is in some sense a “myth.” More recently, critics have replied that it’s not a myth and that those who think it is a myth are peddling nonsense.

It turns out that both sides have a point. Whether the gender pay gap is a myth depends upon exactly what claim either side is making. Below, I hope to sort out these various claims and make clear what we can and cannot say is true and false about the gender pay gap.

Fowl Play: Saying Goodbye to 'Duck Dynasty,' TV's Worst Show

Libs have found something to celebrate in 2017. Plus at least this author thinks the Christian right have sold themselves out helping to elect Trump. One day they will figure it. Maybe after President Pence finishs his second term.

These days it's tough to find reasons to be cheerful about the state of the nation – but an America without Duck Dynasty is a good place to start. No show in television history has ever sucked quite like this one. And if the TV gods are willing, no show ever will. ................

It's poetic justice that 2017 is the year the Robertson family is finally heading off to the duck pond in the sky. The show represented the pre-Trump Christian right's fantasy of itself – a family of hairy but God-fearing bootstrappers bowing their heads in prayer over the dinner table. Just a year ago, this was the most feared demographic in American politics – the bloc that couldn't be bought or sold. But when the Christian right fell in line behind the most flamboyantly secular presidential candidate of the past century – a pussy-grabbing New Yorker who didn't pretend to owe Jesus a damn thing – they sold themselves out, ensuring it'll be a cold day in heck before they get another chance to vote for one of their own. The right is a whole new bird hunt now, as the godless white nationalists take over from the church ladies. And that makes Duck Dynasty look pitifully dated, in addition to everything else that blows about it.

Blue State Blues: The White House Loves the Russia Scandal

The Trump White House seems quietly to be enjoying the Russia hacking “scandal.”
Certainly it has its day-to-day frustrations, especially for Sean Spicer, who has to face the press corps and its obsession with meaningless minutiae.

But the joke is on the journalists. They are spending so much time on the non-story that they are missing what President Donald Trump is actually doing. He complains on Twitter about the coverage, but the truth is that the distraction is very useful.

The “scandal” is no longer about Russia. Now it is about how House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) found information backing up Trump’s claims that his team was under surveillance by the Obama administration.

Was Nunes approached by whistleblowers who came to his congressional office? Or were the whistleblowers sent by the White House to Nunes? It makes no difference at all, but the media think they are onto something very important.

CNN called it a “cover-up,” without specifying what, exactly, Nunes was supposed to be “covering up.” And the answer is: nothing.

Even if — for argument’s sake — the White House had approached Nunes rather than the other way around, the worst that could be said about it is that Nunes behaved like a partisan Republican. If so, he is no more partisan than ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is abusing his position to launch conspiracy theories against the GOP.

The core of Schiff’s case, as presented at the House Intelligence Committee last Monday, is a lie — namely, the false claim that the Republican Party altered its platform at the behest of Trump aides in order to appease the Russians. As Byron York of the Washington Examiner has demonstrated, the Republican platform was “was actually strengthened, not weakened” against Russia.

Schiff is still pretending that some other evidence will emerge on Trump-Russia ties. But the idea Russia colluded with the Trump campaign is ludicrous, for three reasons.

The first is there is no evidence whatsoever to support that claim. Obama’s own James Clapper and Mike Morell even said so — though it took Trump’s tweets about “wiretapping” to flush them out of hiding.

Second, the Russians could not have known that Trump would win, and would not have targeted Clinton alone when it seemed that she could exact punishment once she took office.

The third reason is that Hillary Rodham Clinton was arguably the most pro-Russian official since Alger Hiss. From the Russian “reset,” to giving up missile defense, to the one-sided New START treaty, to the uranium giveaway, to the loss of the Middle East, and to the loss of the Crimea (which happened on her successor’s watch, while she remained silent), Clinton ran the State Department almost like a post-Soviet satellite.

Indeed, if Donald Trump really wanted to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin, it would be hard to find anything left with which to appease him. The Russians saw Trump’s criticism of NATO as useful, and applauded him. But they likely preferred Clinton.

Already, Trump has been much tougher on Russia than Obama ever was. From blasting Russia at the UN Security Council over the eastern Ukraine, to threatening to tear up the New START treaty, Trump has opposed Putin — and it shows. Trump foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka, formerly of Breitbart News, is also a vociferous critic of Russia.

So the Russia “scandal” is much ado about nothing. But it keeps the media distracted from what Trump is really doing — such as taking a chainsaw to Obama’s regulations — and it keeps the Democrats from developing an actual message.

The beauty of it all? Aside from Trump’s tweets, the media and the Democrats are creating this distraction themselves.
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