Part 1 of “An Un-Civil War” focused on the MSM’s sins of commission. The Left-leaning MSM (but I repeat myself) has been obsessed with destroying Trump by any means possible. The MSM is quite happy with any tactic at all, whether it’s wiretapping, leaking, indicting, slander, it doesn’t matter what. They would be happy to use his comments on race to impeach him, or maybe the Mueller investigation will pan out, or, if these don’t work we can try sexual harassment charges or some old business deals— it doesn’t matter as long as we get him.
Now I turn to the other side of the story, the MSM’s sins of omission — the Anti-Trump bias represented by what the MSM avoids reporting. For the September-November 2017 period, 91% of the Trump coverage was overtly negative, unchanged from the previous quarter. With the overwhelmingly negative coverage of Trump in the national press one must ask, “What would an authentic report on Trump’s presidency after year one look like”? Nobody knows.
One way to assess the Trump presidency thus far is to look back at his campaign promises and see how he’s doing. Although Obamacare is still stands and the Great Wall does not, Trump has engineered a number of important shifts in policy. A short list includes Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court (an unvarnished success), as well as several things high on the establishment GOP wish list: rolling back Obama-era regulation (e.g., Scott Pruitt’s work at the EPA), Mick Mulvaney’s appointment to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the passage of the tax reform bill.
Other campaign promises that Trump has begun to successfully tackle include lifting restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, lifting the Obama roadblocks to allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward, and cancelling billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs to use the money to upgrade America’s infrastructure. Trump also promised his supporters that he would “restore security and the constitutional rule of law by cancelling every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama” and suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur.
But exhibit A in Trump’s successes in his first year is “it’s the economy, stupid.”
The US Economy under Trump
At the one-year anniversary of the election of Donald Trump, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by an astounding 30 percent, hitting 87 new highs for since the president was elected. That’s the best post-election, one-year performance for a first-term president since Franklin Roosevelt’s in 1932. The Trump stock market easily beats the first years of his recent predecessors. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was followed by rise of less than 2 percent.
As the stock market races to new all-time highs, there was another blockbuster jobs report, another fall in the unemployment rate; and housing sales soared to their highest level in a decade. GDP growth is on track to top 3 percent for three quarters running, and the unemployment rate of 4.1% is the lowest since 2000. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recently told a roundtable attended by The Daily Caller that he expects nearly 2 million new jobs to have been created under Trump. Private businesses are optimistic and poised to invest in 2018 with passage of the tax cuts. They have broken free from the Obama-era pessimism about free markets and capitalism.
In a vote of confidence over the tax bill, the Federal Reserve announced that it sees tax cuts as contributing to economic growth without driving inflation higher than its target. The Fed upgraded their forecast for economic growth in 2018 and lowered their projections for unemployment while leaving their expectations of interest rates and inflation unchanged. Fed chief Janet Yellen said these improved projections reflect the expectations of tax cuts, which she said is viewed by many Fed officials as stimulating increased economic growth and improved economic productivity.
Just prior to Trump’s election NYT columnist Paul Krugman predicted that the U.S. economy would never recover from a Donald Trump presidency. “If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never,” adding “under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news.”
The robust economic growth completely defies the predictions of a host of other Trump haters (mostly MSM journalists) who accused Trump of “lying” when he said that pro-growth policies would speed up economic growth to 3 to 4%. Jason Furman, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama, told reporters earlier this year that the chances of reaching 3% growth over a decade were about 1 in 25 — which is what many political experts said was Trump’s chance of winning the election. Larry Summers, a top economic advisor to Obama, questioned the “standards of integrity” of the Trump economic team’s forecast for 3% (or more) growth. “I do not see how any examination of U.S. history could possibly support the Trump forecast as a reasonable expectation.” Democrats in congress weighed in, too. “This budget relies on absurd economic projections and pretend revenues that no credible economist would validate,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., announced at a House budget hearing.
It is deliciously ironic that these same Obama-era economists who trashed Trump’s precisely accurate forecast of 3% growth are the ones who predicted 4% growth from the Obama budgets. Obama never came anywhere near 4% growth, and at the end of his second term, the economy grew at a pitiful 1.6%. What Obama delivered was the weakest recovery from a recession since World War II. Under Obama, business investment fell dramatically because of higher taxes on investment. Now, partly in anticipation of tax cuts, business spending is rising again — and with it, jobs for the American people.
Steve Bannon hopes the Republican tax plan will act as an
accelerant for President Trump’s policies that are already working. … To all the ‘deplorables,’ as you go into work today, just remember one thing: Look at this economy. … This is pure Trump economics. President Trump thought this through. He knew what he was doing. He says, ‘Hey, I want to get tough on trade. I want to get tough on illegal immigration. I want to show the nations of the world that they’ve got to start investing in the United States. They’ve got to start building plant and equipment here. We’ve got to start making stuff here. And then I’m going to have a massive tax cut to make sure that corporations are competitive globally.’
You see what’s happening. If Barack Obama had done this, I mean the anemic growth he had, if he had done this, they would have given him a Nobel Prize in economics, not just in peace.
Bannon is much more of a populist than the establishment GOP, actually favoring a tax increase for the wealthy as only fair given their penchant for liberal politics:
I was in favor of a significant tax increase, up to 42 or 44 percent, for people making over five million dollars a year. My thinking being, if Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Hollywood is so gung-ho on the progressive portfolio of ideas that are pushed by the left all the time, they ought to start paying for it instead of getting a free ride.
Bannon is woke.
Defeat of ISIS
Another prime example of a campaign promise kept by Trump was winning the war against ISIS. In August 2016 hundreds of ISIS fighters had just been chased out of a northern Syrian city and were fleeing through the desert in long convoys, presenting an easy target to U.S. A-10 “warthogs.” But the orders to bomb the jihadists never came, and the terrorists crept away to fight another day. The missed opportunity came, even as presidential nominee Trump was vowing on the campaign trail to let generals in his administration crush the organization that, under President Obama, had grown from the “jayvee team” to the world’s most feared terrorist organization.
“I will … quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS,” said Trump, who would later name legendary Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as his Secretary of Defense, promised. “We will not have to listen to the politicians who are losing the war on terrorism.”
Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with surprising ease and speed. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington. Instead, Trump gave a free hand to Mattis, who in May indicated that military commanders were no longer being slowed by Washington “decision cycles,” or by the White House micromanaging that existed under President Obama. As a result of the new approach, the fall of ISIS in Iraq came even more swiftly than hardened U.S. military leaders expected.
At its peak, ISIS held major strongholds in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of West Virginia, ruled over as many as 8 million people, controlled oilfields and refineries, agriculture, smuggling routes and vast arsenals. Now Iraqi forces, assisted by the U.S.-led coalition, recaptured the last areas still under Islamic State control along the border with Syria on December 9th and secured the western desert, marking the end of the war against the militants. The next day an Iraqi military parade in Baghdad celebrated final victory over Islamic State.
Last August, Brett McGurk, the State Department’s special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition who also served under the previous administration, acknowledged that ISIS losses “accelerated dramatically” under U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump’s delegation of decision-making authority to the U.S. military has fueled the annihilation of ISIS jihadists, he conceded.
While the Trump administration’s success has been scarcely reported in the MSM, it is obvious on the ground in Iraq. After the battle to liberate ISIS capital of Mosul was completed in July, the U.S.-led coalition quickly retook Tel Afar in August, Hawija in early October and Rawa in Anbar province in November.
Marine Col. Seth Folsom, who oversaw fighting in Al Qaim near the Syrian border, said he wasn’t expecting his part of the campaign against ISIS to get going until next spring and figured even then, it would then “take six months or more.” Instead, ISIS was routed in Al Qaim in just a few days.
We really had one mandate and that was to enable the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS militarily here in Anbar. I feel that we have achieved that mission. … I never felt constrained. In a lot of ways, I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.
Folsom added “the worst thing we could do” is not finish the job. “If a country becomes a failed state, if it becomes a lawless region, you begin to set the conditions for what happened in the years before 9/11,” he said. “In those ungoverned spaces where we don’t know what is going on, that is where those seeds of extremism begin to blossom.”
Despite the decisive defeat of their physical caliphate, ISIS remains a danger. Members who once ruled cities and villages like a quasi-government now live secretly among civilian populations in the region and in Europe. These cells will present a terrorist threat for years. But the military’s job — to take back the territory ISIS claimed as its caliphate and liberate cities like Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, as well as countless smaller cities and villages, is largely done. And it has taken Trump less than a year.
If Trump exceeded the expectations of his supporters regarding the economy and the war on ISIS, his promises regarding immigration reform face stiff challenges. As with the “Repeal and Replace” promise with respect to Obamacare, Trump must rely on two leaky vessels to carry most of the load regarding immigration reform: 1) the courts, and 2) Congress.
In December the Supreme Court finally allowed the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban to take full effect for the time being, as lower courts continue to wrestle with lawsuits fighting the ban. The order permits the administration to enforce the president’s September executive order, which suspends entry of foreign nationals from seven nations, including Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. The DOJ asked the justices to lift lower court orders barring enforcement of the proclamation while legal challenges are adjudicated by the courts.
“This a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said shortly after the order was issued. “We are pleased to have defended this order and heartened that a clear majority Supreme Court has allowed the President’s lawful proclamation protecting our country’s national security to go into full effect.”
In his last full fiscal year Obama admitted 84,994 refugees. Trump’s effect on refugee admissions is dramatically portrayed by the following graph:
Refugee admissions to the United States were down 83% in the first two months of fiscal 2018 (October and November) compared to the first two months of fiscal 2017. Not only did the total number decline, but the percentage of refugees admitted from Syria, Somalia and Iraq dropped sharply. In Oct.–Nov. 2016, 2,259 Syrians (97.6 percent Muslim), 2,463 Somalis (99.9 percent Muslim) and 2,262 Iraqis (75 percent Muslim) were resettled. In Oct.–Nov. 2017 the numbers had dropped to 33 Syrians, 126 Somalis and 76 Iraqis. These figures reflect clearly the different approach on refugees that Trump brought to the table.
In another major shift in policy, the Trump administration has now decided to withdraw from the U.N.’s Global Compact on Migration after the Obama administration backed it in 2016. In December, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. “simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders. The United States supports international cooperation on migration issues, but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal.”
U.N. Ambassador Haley added that the New York declaration “contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies and the Trump administration’s immigration principles.” She said no country has done more than the U.S. in providing support for migrant and refugee populations across the globe, “and our generosity will continue, but our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country.”
Border Security and Immigration
Somewhat optimistically, Bannon argues that American sovereignty is gradually being restored through both border security and reforms to immigration policies.
“It’s about shutting down illegal crossings, shutting down illegal immigration to the country with ICE raids, with stopping catch and release, with really enforcing the border.” Bannon noted a current 17-year low in illegal entry into the U.S. across the southern border as evidence of Trump’s restoration of American sovereignty; a claim unhappily accepted by left-wing news media outlets such as PolitiFact, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
With no input from either Congress or the courts, former president Obama issued an executive order that shielded from deportation nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. President Trump reversed the order in September but gave Congress six months to find a solution. But in a house so divided any compromise agreement seems unlikely.
Democratic votes will be needed to pass any bill in the Senate where most legislation requires 60 votes and Republicans hold a narrow 52–48 majority. That margin will narrow even more when newly elected Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama takes his Senate seat sometime in January.
Top Democratic lawmakers dismissed a compromise bill offered by Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley that would give protections to younger illegal immigrants in exchange for long-term immigration reform. Almost immediately after Grassley introduced the bill, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois rejected it as an acceptable solution to the DACA problem. Durbin’s response highlighted the stark divide between Senate Democrats and most of their Republican counterparts over what constitutes an acceptable DACA fix.
In September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DACA program, created by one of Obama’s many executive orders, would be phased out by March 2018. Since September, support for DACA amnesty among swing voters has dropped from 35% to 20%. By December only 25% of all Americans surveyed said they believe the government should be shut down in order to grant citizenship for illegal aliens, so the Democrats backed off. But what chance does the will of the majority have against Obama’s will supported by the MSM? We shall see.
As we look towards a New Year, the odds are more than likely that the national divide will continue to widen, the economy will continue its historic upswing, the MSM will continue to hammer Trump on a daily basis, and Trump will continue to be, well, Trump. Even those who agree with his policies largely concede that his petty Twitter repartee and insistence on taking on each pathetic critic are time wasted and proof of his character flaws. So we hope his New Year’s resolution will be to win more and tweet less.