Patterico's Pontifications


Spending a Trillion Dollars for “Infrastructure”: A Top Trump Priority

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:37 pm

The new President comes into office after having been voted in by an enthusiastic group of supporters that critics call a “cult of personality.” His empty and vague promises of hope and change seem vapid to many, but his voters swoon over them. The previous president from the opposing party spent like a drunken sailor over the course of eight years, and doubled the national debt to a figure so staggering, encompassing so many trillion dollars, that fiscally responsible people cannot imagine running any more deficits.

And yet, the new president says, we must spend a trillion dollars on a stimulus program that will give money for shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Democrats in Congress say the new president is really on to something.

Barack Obama? Or Donald Trump?

Can anyone here tell me the difference?

In a triumphant victory speech early Wednesday, President-elect Donald J. Trump cited the issue as a top priority for his administration.

“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none.”

. . . .

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump pledged to spend nearly $1 trillion on infrastructure, seeking to outshine Hillary Clinton on an issue that is a growing concern for many Americans.

Nancy Pelosi says it sounds great to her:

Pelosi, who was speaker of the House during Obama’s first two years in office and helped drive the passage of Obamacare, suggested there may even be a few points of agreement on legislative priorities.

“As President-elect Trump indicated last night, investing in infrastructure is an important priority of his,” she said. “We can work together to quickly pass a robust infrastructure jobs bill.”

Whenever you repeat an idea of Barack Obama’s, which helped him double the national debt, and Nancy Pelosi gives you the thumbs up . . . well, I think you have a real winner there.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

The Strength of Our Values Lies Not In Their Being Popular, But Being RIGHT

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:50 pm

Perhaps the most inspiring thing I read today was this passage from my friend Ken White at Popehat:

Our values do not die just because you might interpret an election as rejecting them (more on that later). You don’t hold on to your values because they’re popular, you hold onto them because they’re right and just and they make you who you are. America’s history is full of popular fidelity to our stated values ebbing and flowing, and of Americans stubbornly holding on to those ideas in the dark times.

The values of which Ken speaks are not identical to my values in every respect; he is less of a fan of law enforcement than I, for example. But we share several core beliefs, among them being “[t]he rule of law, the equality of all people (feeble or powerful) before that law, freedom of thought and speech and worship, [and] strict limits on the power of the state over the individual.”

Talking heads have already started lecturing us about the death of conservatism. Populism wins the day, we are told again and again. Fans of limited government, the free market, liberty, the rule of law, and the Constitution might as well hang it up and go home, because this is Donald Trump’s world now. I don’t think so. This feels like a low point for classical liberal principles, to be sure . . . but we should let that inspire us further, not beat us down. Defeatism is for losers. These principles are true American principles, and they always have been; they are the principles that truly could make America great again.

I won’t give up on them. The members of my group The Constitutional Vanguard won’t give up either. If you support liberty, the free market, and the Constitution, join us.

There is another thing I want to discuss: how should the losers in this election be treated — especially those worried about the bigotry of the worst of the Trumpers? Yuval Levin has some thoughts on that:

In a similar spirit, and even more important, we should also recognize that for many Americans, regardless of their politics, this turn of events cannot help but be somewhat frightening. They have been witness in recent months not only to talk of Donald Trump’s obvious proclivities to viciousness but also to evidence of the depravity of some—a few, to be sure, but some—among his supporters. I have myself experienced a torrent of anti-Semitism that I had pleasantly imagined might not exist in America, and others have experienced and witnessed far worse.

To acknowledge that some among our fellow citizens have this concern is not to say that Trump’s support is rooted in racism, which it is not. It is not to say that his concerns about immigration are fundamentally xenophobic, which they are not. It is only to say that as good neighbors and good citizens we ought to be sensitive to the fears and concerns of those with whom we share this wonderful country. We must see that their worries, even if ultimately not well founded in the reality of the election, are nonetheless rooted in some realities of American life that have been both made clearer and exacerbated by this election season. And it is incumbent upon us on the Right, perhaps especially among those who championed Trump but also among those who didn’t, to offer some respectful, even loving, reassurance. It is above all incumbent upon Trump himself to offer reassurance that such worries, experienced by some as genuinely existential worries, are unfounded with regard to him, and to be clear that whatever his past he will not govern as a bully. His remarks last night certainly gestured toward such reassurance, which was very good to see.

And Ken White has further thoughts about how this might be scary for some people:

This result is genuinely horrifying to many people, and reasonably so. We can hope that Trump does not pursue policies overtly hostile to minorities of all sorts, and we can fight like hell if he tries. But whether you think Trump is racist or not, whether you think the result was an endorsement of racism or not, Trump’s campaign was accompanied by a groundswell of explicitly bigoted sentiment, one that I maintain he courted and did not effectively reject. Across the country, ethnic and religious and sexual minorities are afraid of what will happen to them. My daughter, like many, has heard talk about which classmates would no longer be allowed to stay in America. I know people who are genuinely afraid, and I don’t blame them — I think Trump’s rhetoric invited the fear, some segments of his supporters made it a realistic fear, and that there will likely be an upsurge in bigotry and violence. As a well-off white guy in the suburbs I’m lucky — my kids, not white, are somewhat less lucky. My friends and neighbors, of various ethnicities and religious and identities, are even less.

Now. I laugh at the clowns at Vox who claim: “Trump’s win is a reminder of the incredible, unbeatable power of racism.” They should be mocked for that. But part of our spirit of graciousness should be reserved for understanding the feelings of people who see some of the ugly bigoted sentiments of the worst of Trump’s supporters, and worry that this attitude will become more prevalent. Many people have witnessed Trump’s vindictive and cruel streak, and worry that he will use the levers of government to satisfy that thirst for vengeance. Showing triumphalism towards such people is not only wrong, it also ignores the fact that this was hardly a trouncing. Hillary may yet prove to have won the popular vote, so it was close. And the day will come when Democrats are back on top.

Laughing at the actual jerks who scream racisms!! at every turn is both justified and therapeutic. But assuming that anyone distressed about this result is being melodramatic ignores the evidence of Donald Trump’s entire life and the way he ran his campaign. I said this morning that I want to concentrate on the positive, and I do — at least today. But I won’t pretend he is someone he is not, and when people see the reality of who he is, and say he frightens them, I will not mock them.

Finally, as I said this morning: to the extent that Donald Trump wants to promote liberty, the free market, and the Constitution, I stand with him. But to the extent that he tries to ignore the separation of powers, impose ruinous tariffs or regulations, pass giant “jobs” bills or “infrastructure” bills that we can’t afford, raise the minimum wage, increase the government’s role in health care, and the like . . . well, as to that stuff: I hope he fails.

There, I said it.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Hillary Could Win Popular Vote, Reviving Dangerous Arguments About Abolishing Electoral College

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 am

Amid all the triumphalism about how the polls were wrong, it’s worth pointing out that Hillary Clinton looks to be headed towards winning the popular vote:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton finds herself on the wrong end of an electoral split, moving ahead in the popular vote but losing to President-elect Donald Trump in the Electoral College, according to the latest numbers emerging Wednesday.

As of 9:39 a.m. ET, Clinton had amassed 59,238,524 votes nationally, to Trump’s 59,088,024 — a margin of 150,500 that puts Clinton on track to become the fifth U.S. presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election.

This will inevitably lead Big Media and lefties (but I repeat myself) to renew the calls they made in 2000 about abolishing the Electoral College. This is dangerous and must be resisted.

Explaining why requires us to revisit where the Electoral College came from. I know everybody reading this already knows this, but I’m writing it down anyway, so you can show it to the next millenial who starts yammering about doing away with the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is a reflection of the very compromise that formed the Constitution. The large-state delegates proposed the Virginia Plan, which would apportion Congressional representation by population. The small-state delegates proposed the New Jersey plan, which would give each state an equal vote. The ultimate compromise was, as we all know, to have one part of the legislature (the Senate) in which each state had an equal say, and another (the House) in which representation was apportioned by population.

The Electoral College reflects this compromise. The 100 votes of the Senate, the 435 of the House, and three extra votes for the District of Columbia make up the 538 electoral votes.

It’s a central part of the compromise that made this country possible.

They used to teach this stuff in the schools. In case they don’t, pass this along to anyone who complains about the Electoral College today.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Congratulations to Donald Trump. Now, Let’s REIN Him In.

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:00 am

Congratulations to Donald Trump. I think he’s a terrible human being, but I’ll choose to be optimistic about what this means for the country. I was resigned to the idea that conservatives had lost the Court. Now we haven’t. Somewhere, Antonin Scalia is looking down on these results and smiling. I hope this means we can finally take measures to secure our border. I don’t think anyone believes Donald Trump will build a wall and make Mexico pay for it — but hopefully he will do more than Hillary Clinton would have.

When Trump seeks to do things that promote classical liberal principles — of liberty, the free market, and the Constitution — I’ll be with him. When he seeks to damage those principles, I’ll oppose him. I won’t let partisan bias stand in the way of offering you honest commentary. Hopefully readers have learned that.

Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy watching the lefties show a Strange New Respect for the separation of powers and the need to resist executive overreach. I’m with them on that. Let’s pass some now. They’ll support them for partisan reasons, and I’ll support them for principled reasons, but no matter. Let’s restore Congress’s proper place in government and start chipping away at the imperial presidency. You don’t even have to wait until Donald Trump takes the oath of office to do it. In fact, you probably shouldn’t wait.

Here’s how we can start. Mitch McConnell, pass the REINS Act today. It subjects major bureaucratic regulations to Congressional approval. This means Congress would retake some of the power it has ceded to the executive.

Pass it, GOP. Obama has threatened to veto it in the past — but remember what I said about the Strange New Respect for Congressional power? Either Obama can make it part of his legacy to undo some of his own power grabs . . . or he can explain to lefties why he wants to make Trump an imperial president.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Mike Lee for Supreme Court

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:29 am

I know you didn’t actually mean it, Trump.

I don’t care. You put his name on the list. Nominate him. Or someone equally qualified.

At some point you’re going to learn that you don’t tell the voters what to do. The voters tell you what to do.

Oh, I know. I didn’t vote for you, so I can’t tell you what to do, right? Fine. But you made promises, and some people believed them and expect you to carry them out.

So do it.

Repeal ObamaCare

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:17 am

You heard me. Repeal ObamaCare.

And replace it with a genuinely free market.

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