The Rod Martin Report
Winning Till We’re Sick of Winning
Meltdown and Delusion: Stein, Pelosi and Ellison
Why Carrier (and Taiwan) Really Matter
OECD: U.S. & British Economic Growth to Double
Britain and Italy and France, Oh My!
Trump’s Cabinet Picks: Personnel Is Policy
Castro in Hell
Remember when Donald Trump said we’re going to win so much we’ll get tired of winning?
It’s only been a month since the election, and it’s starting to feel that way.
I still have my doubts. I’m still casting a critical eye, as you’ve come to count on me to do. But I’d have doubts about Ronald Reagan. No one is perfect, and they’ll all let you down. Heck, you let you down.
But it’s been a heck of a month, hasn’t it?
We’ll come back to some of this in detail. But this is a month in which Fidel Castro transferred his domicile to Hell; his most prominent fan Colin Kaepernick went 1-10 (while “America’s Team” has inverted that, at 11-1); the Cubs won the Series; the Democrats melted down, and then doubled down by re-electing Nancy Pelosi; Trump got Carrier to keep 1,100 jobs in the United States, has consistently appointed great people and even shown his independence from Beijing by speaking to the President of Taiwan; the stock market is at record highs and the dollar is shooting the moon….
No, I’m not sick of it yet. Not one bit.
The most obvious part of the meltdown (now that the rioting has subsided and the cry-ins are petering out) is the recount. The Jill Stein – Hillary Clinton Show has so far produced a massive shift in the Wisconsin outcome: a net 39 new votes. For Donald Trump.
This is not the result they were looking for.
Meanwhile, Saturday night, Stein announced she was dropping her Pennsylvania recount, without which the Wisconsin and Michigan efforts are moot because it would require flipping all three to Clinton to change the outcome. The stated reason? Stein could not afford the $1 million bond required to proceed.
This provoked a bit of a firestorm, since Stein’s effort has so far collected roughly $9 million, mostly from small donors. So Sunday morning, she hastily announced that the recount would be going forward, just with a different (as yet unstated) strategy.
The problem is, everyone’s on to her “strategy”, which is to raise more moneyand collect more email addresses than she managed during the entire 2016 election. And when I say “everyone” I mean the left: both of those links are from the Enemedia, as is this story from WaPo and this one from Slate. Even the Green Party is abandoning her.
Lots of Republicans were concerned that Democrats would use the recounts to “count until they won.” But at this point, it’s safe to say that Hillary is a three-time loser. It’s over.
Meltdown Part Two: Republican Electors are getting death threats, yet for some reason, the Obama Justice Department refuses to investigate. Much like Obama himself (and Hillary also) refused to speak against the rioters. It kind of reminds me of that time, oh about a month ago, when senior Democrat operatives were caught on tape admitting they’d payed people to incite violence.
The Obama “Justice” Department isn’t investigating that either. Which is something you should remember the next time someone tells you how “dangerous” Donald Trump is. Or if you wonder whether America could afford another four years of the left in power.
Less meltdown, more delusion: Nancy Pelosi told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that “I don’t think that people want a new direction.”
Ellison is a Democrat’s Democrat, a Sanders Democrat, a man who once said “The bottom line is we’re not broke, there’s plenty of money. It’s just the government doesn’t have it.”
Ellison, a black nationalist, once famously proposed herding black people into their own separate country (a policy which in South Africa was called “apartheid“). He’s so anti-Semitic that even the leftwing ADL says he’s “disqualified” from leading the DNC.
So riddle me this: what does the 2020 electoral map look like if Democrats lose working class whites and Jews?
It’s certainly a lot worse than this:
As long as we’re indulging a certain amount of — no, a whole heck of a lot of well-earned — schadenfreude, honestly: I just can’t get enough of this video.
It’s hard to top that bit at the end where Obama makes a fool of himself with the mic drop.
Oh, and just to be clear: “delusion” is absolutely the right word. As Democrat strategist Chris Kofinis put it, “We lost the governorship of freaking Vermont. We didn’t just lose an election. This was a national rebuke. This was biblical.”
Fortunately for all of us, Kofinis is not in the running for DNC Chairman.
As Donald Trump launched his “Victory Tour” this past week, the shape of his coming Presidency started becoming a lot clearer.
Trump doubled down on his campaign promises, from building the wall to appointing Scalia-like Supreme Court justices to his tax plan to pretty much you name it. And that’s encouraging, especially to those of us who’d wondered how long some of those things would stick.
But talk is cheap. It’s actions that count. And Trump’s given us several big ones.
First, the Carrier deal. And yes, it’s yuuuge. Big league, even.
Now some of you are going to disagree with me on that. I know. You’re going to agree with Sarah Palin that it’s an affront to capitalism (which speech mostly indicates that Sarah Palin is out of the running for a cabinet post, but I digress).
And on a purely academic level, you may be right. So let’s address that, and then look at why Carrier really matters.
First, let’s just state the obvious. Today, there are 1,100 families who aren’t facing impending unemployment. That’s a lot of people, representing a whole lot of $26/hr. jobs that were about to go to Mexico for $3/hr, and a whole lot of terrible ripple effects that would have cascaded through the Indianapolis community.
Second, the cost. In exchange for about $700,000 per year for 10 years, the State of Indiana — not the United States government — saved $50 or $60 million per year in payroll, including all the taxes they’ll collect on same.
Assorted people on our side have joined Bernie Sanders in decrying this as “crony capitalism”. But the $7 million — again, spread out over 10 years — consists of $5 million in Indiana’s existing EDGE tax credits, which it routinely uses to attract new companies to the state, plus $1 million in state training dollars and the potential for $1 million more.
Again, spread out over 10 years. Against tax receipts on $60 million or so in payroll. Versus about $636 per job per year being saved. From incentive programs that already exist and are used every single day without a complaint from Sarah Palin.
Does this sound like a bad deal to you?
So the academic argument comes down to whether states should have any incentives at all; and also whether the President of the United States should involve himself in such things in the same way that every Governor does daily.
Now some of you are going to call that populism, and maybe it is. And a few of you are going to call me a bad conservative, and maybe I am.
But unless you were planning to get rid of these incentive programs last week, how does it hurt for Donald Trump to do for Carrier what Mike Pence would have done for them as Governor anyway? And what Jeb Bush and Rick Perry and Scott Walker and all those other “more conservative” Republican Governors have been doing as aggressively as possible for decades?
Was Perry in particular a bad Republican, when he said “job creation, not higher taxation, is the best form of revenue generation“, and used every tool at his disposal to bring 1.4 million jobs to Texas while the rest of the country lost 400,000?
I don’t remember anyone outside California thinking this was “a threat to democracy.”
Maybe we should get rid of these programs. That’s certainly a more libertarian approach. Maybe we could, too, if America didn’t have virtually the most anti-competitive tax regime in the entire industrialized world.
But wait: now we’re talking about Trump’s tax plan. And it solves exactly that problem.
Looking at these numbers, one has to ask: how did $7 million over ten years convince Carrier to stay in Indiana? Because that simply does not add up.
And therein lies why President-Elect Trump could do what Governor Mike Pence could not.
Ignore the coming massive regulatory rollback. Ignore the dramatic tax simplification and rate reductions. Ignore the $30,000 standard deduction (more than double the current $12,600). Donald Trump intends to cut the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35% — the highest in the industrialized world — to 15%. And he intends to extend that to pass-through entities like LLCs: the small businesses that provide half of all employment and 64% of all new job creation.
You can’t figure out why the stock market is at record highs? Why the dollar is surging? Why a company like Carrier is staying?
That’s why. Carrier is not a one-off, nor is it about “crony capitalism”. It’s the tip of the very iceberg conservatives want and Donald Trump promised.
But that’s why the Carrier deal happened. It’s not why the Carrier deal matters.
Carrier, like Ford before it, is about setting the table for the entire Trump Presidency. It shows a savvy Trump’s detractors believe he lacks and can’t process when he demonstrates it. Their cognitive dissonance is his greatest strength (see our discussion of Pelosi and Ellison above).
Carrier and Ford happened fast: indeed, they happened before Donald Trump has even appointed a cabinet or…wait for it…become President. They show he’s decisive. They show he’s in charge. They show he makes things happen. They are exactly what you’d expect from the new CEO, not the new politician.
Carrier shows Trump is willing to get his hands dirty for the people who trusted him. He promised he’d bring back jobs, and he didn’t wait for Congress to “let” him or a commission to study it: he met with people and saved 1,100 jobs. He’s a doer. And he’s the successful negotiator he promised he’d be.
A corollary: Carrier doesn’t just earn Trump trust with the working class voters who bet on him. Carrier shows Washington Trump will be 100% engaged.Mess with him at your peril.
Carrier also shows that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party are ineffective losers who don’t care what happens to you. Don’t believe me? Watch this:
Yes, that’s Barack Obama, in June of this year, telling a Carrier worker that his job is toast, there’s nothing anyone can do about it, and Donald Trump is a crackpot who can’t deliver.
That’s looking a little like Obama’s mic drop.
Presidents, like CEOs, are judged by their earliest days in office. How Congress, lobbyists, foreign leaders, everyone deals with them flows from this. Blow it, and like a substitute teacher that tries to be her class’s “friend”, there’s no going back. Just ask Jimmy Carter.
Trump is setting the table. Brilliantly.
Which brings us to the Taiwan call.
Do we even have to defend this? Does no one see the irony in a Washington establishment that lauded Barack Obama for going to Havana but has a collective nervous breakdown because a still-private citizen receives a congratulatory call from the President of our de facto ally, the Republic of China on Taiwan? Is this not exactly the sort of one-sided leftist and RINO hypocrisy that produced 2016 in the first place?
Of course it is.
But that’s not why Trump took the call. Nor did he take it because “he’s reckless” or “he doesn’t know any better.”
Trump took Tsai Ing-wen’s call precisely because it annoys Beijing. The ChiComs have been dictating far too much of what America does and does not do for far too long. Donald Trump just said there’s a new sheriff in town, and everything is on the table, no matter how “established” it may be. Yes, even the “One China Policy”. So don’t get cute.
If there’s ever been a better, lower-cost opening move in what is sure to prove a very complicated series of negotiations, I’d love to hear of it.
Oh, and by the way: anyone (and that would be most of the ninnies in official Washington) who thinks this phone call will start a war is smoking crack. Beijing’s response told the story: their Foreign Minister labelled the incident “a shenanigan by the Taiwan side.”
Translation: we get it, we’re all grown-ups here.
As Scott Adams put it, “mutual respect is a very safe place to be.”
So I told you the macroeconomic reasons underpinning the Carrier deal. Like the markets generally, the world is suddenly filled with optimism based on the surprise realization that America will not continue its staggering economic decline.
You may not feel staggered, but millions of Rust Belt voters do, and with very good reason. Under Barack Obama, U.S. economic growth has been about half its average from 1945 to 2008. Over time, that adds up to a catastrophic loss of opportunity, lost years of life that can never be regained by its victims.
Obama hiked taxes, made health care, er, unaffordable, doubled the national debt, and put every interest in the world ahead of the American economy. Under Obama, Washington declared war on U.S. business. Hillary was set to double down.
In that context, it should not surprise you — but it will — that last week, the OECD announced that it expects U.S. economic growth to double in Trump’s first two years, as a direct result of his announced policies.
That’s a very far cry from New York Times columnist (and like Obama, failed Nobel Prize winner) Paul Krugman’s statement immediately after the election that a Trump win would mean markets would collapse and “never recover”.
Oh, and in that same report? The OECD revised Britain’s 2017 growth outlook upward. By double.
Brexit was really terrible, huh?
Speaking of Brexit, last night, having lost the referendum he chose to make a vote of confidence in his premiership, leftist Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced his resignation.
What follows is not clear. But many think that the same forces that led to this defeat will propel a chain of events that could culminate in Italy voting to leave the EU. And indeed, that’s now a real possibility.
Meanwhile in France, ghastly Socialist President Francois Hollande — he of the 75% tax rate — announced LBJ-like he would not seek another term. He is the first French President since the founding of the Fifth Republic not to do so.
By far, his most likely replacement is Francois Fillon, a Thatcherite conservative.
One begins to suspect a trend.
So let’s talk personnel, as in Trump’s nominees so far. Because as I’ve told you again and again, personnel is policy.
A vignette is in order.
Many of us have worried a lot about whether Donald Trump is serious about governing as a conservative. Mark Levin correctly points out that at least 80% of Trump’s policy positions are the most conservative of any Presidential nominee since Reagan. Tony Perkins correctly states that Trump actively worked to pass the most conservative party platform…ever.
But personnel is policy. That’s where the rubber meets the road.
There is a small group of which Sherri and I are longtime members, that meets privately on a regular basis. If you’re a high level conservative donor, group head, or politician, there’s a pretty good chance you’re part of it.
And by that, I don’t mean RINOs, or “senior Republicans”. I mean real conservatives: Reagan cabinet members, the people who helped them, and the people who wish they’d been old enough. People who in many cases were frozen out by the Bushes, McCain and Romney, who’ve been fighting for a better GOP all these years. Names you know and names you’ll never know: the makers of our movement.
The speaker at a particular dinner we had not long after the election was supposed to be Jeff Sessions. But he got a little busy with the details of having just been appointed Attorney General.
So at the last minute, our Executive Director called up four members of the Executive Committee of Trump’s Transition Team to do a panel.
Not “called on the phone”. Called out of the group.
They were only a few of the senior Transition Team members present.
The reason I’m telling you this is that so far at least, Donald Trump is naming the best of our best, not just to the positions you’re hearing about, but to the positions that pick those positions. Maybe that’ll change tomorrow. But it is absolutely extraordinary, not least in how different it is from any Republican nominee since Reagan.
You know Trump is knocking it out of the park when even the #NeverTrump Wall Street Journal calls his picks “the A-Team“.
Space does not permit a blow-by-blow of all of Trump’s appointees. But let’s hit a few highlights.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is Democrats’ worst nightmare. There are lots of reasons for that, but one is very simple: though you may not know it, and it’s pretty obvious Barack Obama and George W. Bush didn’t know it, harboring or “shielding” an illegal alien is a federal felony punishable by 10 years in prison.
If Sessions goes after Sanctuary Cities — as both he and Trump have promised — half the remaining Democrat officeholders in America could find themselves guests of Club Fed.
Retired Marine Gen. Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis is just about the best imaginable pick for Secretary of Defense, as described in this piece from #NeverTrump National Review, “Why Our Allies Love James Mattis and Our Adversaries Fear Him“.
Oh, and Donald Trump actually called him “Mad Dog” in his announcement. That was almost as much fun as the Taiwan call.
(By the way, the announcement of K.T. McFarland as Deputy National Security Advisor is every bit as encouraging as Mattis.)
This morning, Trump announced Ben Carson for HUD. Carson’s one of the smartest people on the planet (even if his speaking style sometimes obscures that), and he knows a thing or two about growing up in the sort of terrible neighborhoods HUD fosters. If anyone can execute on Trump’s plans for the inner city, it’s Carson.
Tom Price at HHS is just fantastic. As #NeverTrumper Charles Krauthammer, writes in #NeverTrump National Review, “Trump picking Tom Price shows he means to get stuff done…Price is the perfect man if you want to dismantle Obamacare.” Ditto Seema Verma for CMS.
Wilber Ross at Commerce has made a career investing in distressed industries. If you want to build up America’s industrial might — profitably, not through subsidies and tariffs — he’s your guy.
At Treasury Ross will have help from Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s finance chairman. Some conservatives reflexively criticized Mnuchin because, like Heidi Cruz, he once worked at Goldman Sachs. But to quote Larry Kudlow, “He’s first rate, first rate, absolutely, supply sider, pro-growth.” And like his boss, he’s already accomplishing in minutes what Obama couldn’t manage in 8 years.
While she has detractors among my Eagle Forum friends — and likely would not have been appointed if Phyllis Schlafly were still alive — everyone I know who has personally spent time with Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Education Secretary, seems to think she’s a fantastic school choice advocate who will do her best to dismantle Common Core, and to the degree possible, the Department of Education. And more to the point, if the Eagle Forum ladies are right, Donald Trump doesn’t know it.
I’ll give the Journal the last word on this: “By now, it should be obvious that the Trump operation exists in two parts. One half is the operation’s face, Donald Trump. The other half is the operation behind the face. Mr. Trump’s persona has often made it difficult to take the entire Trump phenomenon seriously. That, we’ve learned, is a mistake.”
Indeed. Indeed it is.
A couple quick thoughts on the very public Secretary of State kerfuffle.
1. Remember how intensely the Enemedia focused fire on Steve Bannon when he was the only guy out there? Trump keeping them distracted by endless speculation about the top Cabinet pick has greatly diffused that sort of Alinskyism. (Oh, and by the way: read this piece on Bannon and you may just love him.)
2. Others would also be good, but the best pick by far for Secretary of State is Dana Rorabacher. If you don’t know why, you need to.
3. Whatever you think of Mitt Romney — and he’d probably be a fine-enough Secretary — his uniquely obnoxious, personal attacks on Donald Trump this year necessarily earn him a special place in Trump Hell. This tells us that, as we’ve seen in many other cases, Trump really is the bigger man, a leader who can forgive personal slights, doesn’t hold grudges, and is all about getting the job done.
Or maybe, it tells us this:
Either way works.
Finally, almost the singular reason many conservatives supported Donald Trump was the Supreme Court, and with very good reason. Trump says he’s narrowed his list down to three or four. Ted Cruz might be on it, which would give us the best Supreme Court justice, well, ever, for possibly 40 long glorious years. We’ll see.
But the bigger point is that while that still remains THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, FULL-STOP, in fact, from a personnel perspective the Trump Administration is shaping up to be at least as good as Ted Cruz might have produced, and in many ways better than Reagan’s: the team true Reaganauts wish Reagan had had.
It really is a Cubs-win-the-Series kind of year. I half-wonder if I’m dreaming.
I would of course be remiss not to note the descent into Hell of Fidel Castro. This picture from Miami speaks to it eloquently:
To his great credit, and very much unlike Barack Obama, so did Donald Trump:
“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
Indeed. And it’s good to have an American President again.
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