Friday, March 24, 2017

HILLTOP BOOGEYMAN


By Scot Faulkner


There are many scary issues surrounding the long running battle over the future of the Hilltop House property.  The collapsing Hilltop House structure is a favorite spooky site on Youtube.  Neighbors worry about the 81 police incidents that have made the Hilltop House the center for drugs, vandalism, and worse.

The latest scare is “by right”.  Spokespeople for SWaN Investors, the Hilltop owners, have used their ominous voice to threaten that terrible things will happen if they do not get their way.  Their current boogeyman of choice is that SWaN will build a new hotel on a 1.25 acre commercial site “by right”.

“By right” sounds scary, but it is just the legal term for “grandfathered”, a right granted to any property owner.  “Grandfathered” does not sound as scary, which is why SWaN avoids it.  The better to spook Harpers Ferry’s elected officials and townspeople.

In 2015, a major fire destroyed three commercial buildings in the lower town of Harpers Ferry.  These buildings are slowly being rebuilt “by right”.  It is totally legal to build “like for like” when something needs replacing. 

Harpers Ferry is a National Historic District, administered by the Department of Interior and the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.  In order to comply with these national organizations, the town has very strict and detailed ordinances governing what can be built or rebuilt.  Architectural style and building materials must be approved to preserve the integrity of the Historic District.  The three buildings destroyed by fire are being rebuilt within these guidelines, even though they are “grandfathered” in terms of commercial use and their overall dimensions.

The Hilltop House owners can proceed, right now, with a “by right” or “grandfathered” hotel on their one and a quarter commercially zoned acres.  SWaN tries to make this sound terrible.  They are proposing an alternative that will develop an area nearly seven times larger, turning private residential lots into commercial space, and taking over three public streets.

SWaN’s “overlay district” is the real boogeyman.  Their “overlay” creates an area devoid of all ordinances and restrictions, which govern the town’s Historic District. 

Once approved by the Harpers Ferry Town Council, this seven times larger “overlay district” will become the new “by right” area where SWaN can tear down historic structures, clear cut trees, blast, jack hammer, take over public land, alter streets, and bulldoze with impunity. 

SWaN’s “overlay district” will allow them to build whatever they want in any style, shape, and size they want.  SWaN and its Town Council allies are already pushing for expedited permit approvals, some of which would be issued administratively without public notice or comment.

It is very scary in Harpers Ferry.  People shouldn’t worry about the ghosts of old, but fear the demons being created.


[Scot Faulkner has been an active member of the Harpers Ferry community since 1987]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017



Also published on Newsmax.    #TRUMPING

President Trump’s budgetary assault on the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is long overdue.  He is forcing a rethinking that will benefit America and the world.

The State Department is one of the most bloated of federal bureaucracies.  Front line consular officers, many just starting their careers at State, actually help Americans abroad. However, there are also countless “Hallway Ambassadors” who aimlessly roam from irrelevant meeting to obscure policy forum killing time and our tax dollars.

Legions of these taxpayer funded drones fill the State Department.  Some are reemployed retirees who travel to overseas missions conducting “inspections” to justify their additional salaries. 

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) is to the State Department what the Teacher Unions are to public education.  It exists to protect tenure and to prevent any accountability or reduction among the State Department drones.

The Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC) is a uniquely harmful part of State.  This Bureau’s main mission has been to create photo ops of treaty signings.  The arms control treaties have usually been unenforceable with sworn enemies of America.  The Bureau’s agreements with the Soviet Union undermined U.S. security.  The Bureau’s bureaucrats developed elaborate procedures for justifying the minimizing or overlooking of blatant treaty violations.  They are using this same play book for the Iranian Nuclear deal.

Headquarters waste and dysfunction are just the beginning of State Department ineffectiveness.  In the mid-1980’s, I viewed State Department field operations personally while serving as Director of the U.S. Peace Corps in Malawi.

The most egregious problem was the un-American culture that permeates career Foreign Service Officers.  Except for toasting America at the July 4th Embassy party each year, being pro-American is viewed as unprofessional. Long serving Americans would advise me that rising above nationalism and acting “world wise” was the mark of a seasoned diplomat. 

Not only did these U.S. foreign bureaucrats avoid Americanism, they avoided the host country.  The Embassy team members spent their business and recreational time with diplomats from the other Embassies and with European expatriates living in Lilongwe, the capital city.  Their only sojourns outside the capital were to Salima, the lakeside resort, or to the Ambassador’s vacation home on the Zomba Plateau.

As Country Director, I eliminated the chauffeur-driven luxury car used by my predecessor and reallocated the chauffeur to other duties.  At the wheel of a Nissan Patrol, I spent the majority of my time in the field with my seventy-five volunteers.  This meant absorbing in depth knowledge of Malawi and its people.

State Department versus reality was proven many times over.  The most blatant was the 1985 fuel shortage.  Malawi was land-locked.  The Mozambique Civil War closed off its closest ports.  A problematic network of rail lines brought goods, including gasoline, to Malawi via South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.  My volunteers told me a Zimbabwean labor dispute was going to cause a five week disruption of fuel to Malawi.  I dutifully reported this to the Embassy Team.  They scoffed, assuring me that their British friend running Mobil-Malawi was telling them no disruption would occur.  I directed my staff to begin stockpiling gasoline.

The disruption occurred.  The Embassy team kept dismissing my reports and telling themselves the disruption would be short-lived.  By week four, the Embassy motor pool was without fuel.  Staff was delivering messages via bicycle.  By week five, the Ambassador asked to purchase fuel from the Peace Corps, which had remained fully operational.

The Embassy was blind-sided on an even more important issue.  Air Malawi announced it was going to purchase a new fleet of passenger jets along with a comprehensive parts and maintenance agreement.  At this point the State Department replaced the Embassy’s Commercial Attaché with a Hispanic who could barely speak English.  Instead of sending this person to Spanish-speaking Equatorial Guinea, they posted him to the most Anglophile country in Africa.  He was miserable and totally ineffective.

Alternatively, the German Ambassador moved about Malawi’s 28 regions, equaling my zeal for the field.  When Boeing’s sales team arrived they were given a proper, but cool reception.  The Fokker team arrived to a hero’s welcome and the multi-million dollar deal was signed shortly thereafter.  American business lost a huge contract.

USAID has spent over $1 trillion on overseas projects since its founding in 1961.  Empty buildings and rusting tractors are silent testaments to its failures.  What funds were not diverted to corrupt government officials went for unsustainable efforts, driven more by academic theories than practicality.


State Department and USAID need a fundamental review and a day of reckoning. This is fertile territory for President Trump and Secretary Tillerson to implant business principles and common sense.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017




Also published on Newsmax.    #TRUMPING

President Trump is aligning immigration policy to our national wellbeing.  His approach is comprehensive and consistent.  It is a welcome change and not a moment too soon.

Immigration is a privilege not a right. 

A nation has every right and reason to make sure those who enter are who they say they are and those who want to stay are beneficial not burdensome.  It is amazing that these fundamental sovereignty issues are debated.

A border wall with Mexico is a necessary requirement for protecting national sovereignty and blocking future illegal immigration along America’ southern border.  Hopefully, Israel will be consulted on design as their walls are the most successful of the modern era.  National Park lands along the border could effectively use razor sharp sisal and other natural barriers to mitigate visual impacts.  Instilling a culture of proactive excellence among border and customs enforcement professionals is another critical element to assure our safety.

Eliminating sanctuary cities and reinstituting the rule of law is necessary for public safety.  Punishing companies who hire illegals must show that laws matter.  President Trump’s strong stand on enforcing immigration laws has already had an effect.  Intercepts of illegal immigrants along the Mexican border plummeted 40.5% from January to February.

Trump’s temporary ban on issuing visas to people from failed states is prudent and legal.  The six targeted countries continue to be chaotic war zones where viable public records are nonexistent.  Bribes and terrorist agendas creating fake identities are a border control nightmare.  Better to pause and plan, with appropriate documented waivers, until integrity is established

Trump aligning U.S. policy with established and proven policies in effect in other countries is a strategic step in the right direction.  Many nations use economic benefit as the guiding principle of their immigration policy.  Australia and New Zealand have always filtered for needed skills and education.  Australia issues visas to skilled workers based upon a points-based system, with points allocated for certain levels of education.  Visas are often sponsored by individual Australian States, according to their specific skill needs. Australian businesses also sponsor visas for highly sought after skilled workers.  Australia and New Zealand have never been assailed for racism or nativism.

In the 19th Century, America needed people to populate its ever expanding territories.  The federal government gave transcontinental railways vast land grants to incentivize laying rails to link the continent.  The Northern Pacific and Great Northern railroads launched major advertising campaign throughout Scandinavia to attract settlers to turn their land grants into vibrant farming communities that, in turn, used the railroad to ship goods.

In 1882, U.S. policy turned away from economic development and went down the slippery slope of nationality based immigration.  Initially, California workers wanted to block Chinese immigrants to stabilize wages.  Other laws followed, which established national quotas instead of skill-based immigration.  This shift came to grief in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.  Liberals, led by Senators Ted Kennedy and Phil Hart, filled the legislation with diversity goals and codifying the concept of “anchor babies”, where a child of illegal immigrants born on U.S. soil establishes entitlement for family members to move to America. 

President Bush supported the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT90), which established flexible immigration caps and made permanent the admission of "diversity immigrants" from "underrepresented" countries. The cumulative result opened the floodgates to burdensome instead of beneficial immigrants.  Immigration policy completely changed from economic wellbeing and security to a liberal social engineering effort.

The 1965 and 1990 laws completely wrecked U.S. immigration policy.  I encountered this bizarre new regulatory world, twice.  In the 1980s, I had to personally appeal to Attorney General Ed Meese to allow the former CEO of KLM and his wife to retire in Florida.  It was amazing that U.S. immigration officials had rejected a wealthy corporate executive because there were too many Dutch immigrants.  In 2006, I had to appeal to the Bush White House to allow a Swiss Doctor, and his Nurse Practitioner wife, to join their parents in America and work for a Washington area hospital.  These happened at the same time poverty stricken immigrants from Third World countries were being welcomed on a daily basis.

Liberals, and even some Republicans, have spent decades creating damaging and surreal U.S. immigration policies.  These policies threaten national security, burden government services, and deprive America of people who can substantively contribute to the national economy. 


Thankfully, during his February 28, 2017 speech to Congress President Trump embraced a “merit based” immigration policy to benefit America’s economic revitalization.  Trump’s subsequent Executive Orders and initiatives are putting our national interest in the right place, in the right ways.

Friday, March 3, 2017

TRUMPING THE BUDGET 2017



President Trump’s inspiring and visionary speech to the Joint Session of Congress harkened back to the best of Ronald Reagan.    Just like Reagan, Trump has an historic opportunity to change the future of American government.  In his case, he can reframe the Federal Budget in business terms.  This means having the Executive Branch live within its means, demanding real value for money spent, and full accountability. Trump’s business-based approach will fundamentally challenge decades of out of control spending and waste.  This is the true test for his “draining the swamp”.

Members of Congress, from both parties, must be viable partners in bringing reality to government spending. This will be a challenge for those who usually protect Americans’ tax dollars with all the restraint of unsupervised Kindergartners with a bowl of M&Ms.

Much has already been made of Trump increasing Defense spending by $54 billion while seeking corresponding cuts in civilian discretionary spending.  Trump and his team need to understand that the Defense Department wastes funds just like civilian agencies.  Secretary Mattis could aggressively pursue military waste and confront questionable expenditures.  Good management can reallocate many additional billions to rebuild America’s capabilities.

Special interests across the political spectrum are already howling about cutting $54 billion from the FY2018 budget. The usual Washington Establishment commentators are rendering their garments predicting chaos, lay-offs, and other mayhem. This pre-emptive assault covers-up the vast sums of federal money lying around doing nothing.

There is $914.8 billion in unexpended, unobligated, funds piled up across the federal government within 1941 Accounts. Obama never conducted the “budget sweeps” done by all his predecessors. Trump, and his OMB Director, can recover these funds with the push of a button.

Another $1.028 trillion remains unexpended among general accounts and $461 billion remains unspent in trust funds.  While these funds are technically obligated, the fact that they have languished for years raises questions about their use and their management.  OMB should conduct an immediate review to sort out the worthy from the waste.

One of Trump’s first acts was to initiate an Executive Branch hiring freeze outside of Defense and Security functions.  A full freeze would have cut $350 billion annually in personnel costs, because 60,000+ employees a year leave government through retirements and voluntary departures. Not every vacancy should be filled.

Trump could save over $400 billion annually by delayering the entire Executive Branch.  Those on the front line of service are the ones who actually interact and provide tangible service to the public.  These positions, not the hierarchy, are what really matter. 

The private sector has found that 3-5 layers are more than adequate to assure the success of the front line.  Corporate performance “dashboards”, knowledge management, and empowering/enabling the front line have tossed away the old span of controls and pecking orders.  It is time for the Federal Government to join the 21st Century and eliminate from 9-23 layers of obsolete command & control supervisors and countless numbers of extraneous planners and monitors. 

It is also time to finally end hundreds of billions spent on federal programs based upon outdated ideological agendas and pork barrel politics.  Why does the Federal Government spend billions running regional electric companies?  Isn’t it time to finally end FDR’s 1930s power grab before its centennial?  The Executive Branch is haunted by the costly ghosts of power grabs and boondoggles from Presidents Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama. 

It is time to take full advantage of a dynamic President and Republican Congress to exorcise these costly phantoms once and for all.

Americans demanded a completely different way of doing business in Washington, DC.  Trump and the Republican Congress can prove they are serious about making this change with the 2018 Budget.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

‘Let’s be truthful’ on Hilltop House


BACKGROUND:
Steven Ramberg has been Harpers Ferry’s most vocal advocate for giving SWaN Investors everything they desire for developing the Hilltop House properties.  As Chair of the Planning Commission, Ramberg was relentless in making sure SWaN’s Overlay District became a reality. 

Ramberg’s wife, Betsy Bainbridge, is the most vocal SWaN partisan on the Harpers Ferry Town Council.  She has been the driving force behind the new ordinances, and the Overlay District.

Together, Ramberg and Bainbridge have used strong-arm tactics and intimidation to make sure SWaN’s project moves forward, no matter how many oppose it within the Harpers Ferry community.

It was no surprise that on February 15, 2017, Ramberg wrote a blistering Letter-to-the Editor of the Spirit of Jefferson assailing the National Park Service for raising federal concerns by letter and in remarks before the Town Council.

The following response was published in the Spirit of Jefferson on February 22, 2017.

It is unfortunate that the nine-year struggle over the Hilltop House project has been plagued by lack of valid information and an abundance of disinformation.  The recent letter sent by National Park Service to the Town of Harpers Ferry was an attempt to sort reality from rhetoric.

The National Park Service has a legal responsibility to protect the historic integrity of Harpers Ferry.  Without the Park Service, Harpers Ferry would be under 200 feet of water from a proposed Potomac River Dam in the 1940s. Without the Park Service, the C&O Canal would be a four-lane highway proposed in the 1960s.  Harpers Ferry is now facing another fundamental threat from an oversized project that would loom over the town and the Park.  The National Park Service is obligated to step forward to raise concerns and probe for answers.

The Park Service letter contains a well-established check list of issues arising from the National Environmental Protection Act, Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act, and laws governing National Historic Districts.  These federal issues can be raised at any time, and must be fully resolved. There are additional regulatory issues affecting CSX, Amtrak, MARC, Maryland Transit Administration, and the Chesapeake Bay that must also be addressed.

The Park Service has a substantial investment in Harpers Ferry and has a legal responsibility to assess the impact of SWaN Investors’ Project on these federally funded operations.  This includes the Park’s annual funding for Harpers Ferry’s Police. Town documents pledge police to support SWaN’s construction.  The Park Service is the largest ratepayer to Harpers Ferry Water Works.  From 1988-1990, the Park directly funded and project managed the rebuilding of the Water Works’ intakes, pumps, mainline pipes, and water tanks.  Town documents pledge to meet all of SWaN’s water requests.

The federally funded Potomac Street rehabilitation project, managed by the Town, has also impacted the Park.  Federal funds were diverted from the original approved grant to enlarge the storm water system to handle the anticipated runoff from SWaN’s properties.  One result has been storm water now bubbling up onto Park property.

Mr. Ramberg’s Letter-to-the-Editor asserts, “no one has proposed any blasting to my knowledge”.  This is interesting, because in a December 7, 2015 letter, Mr. Ramberg wrote to Gordon Associates, a SWaN contractor: “I am wondering about an issue that keeps arising.  Did SWaN ever contemplate blasting for the garage or elsewhere on the site in the original concept proposal?”  Gordon Associates responds to Ramberg, “Blasting was expected for the construction of utilities, garage, and hotel.” 

On March 28, 2008, Gordon Associates sent Mr. Ramberg their “Surface Exploration and Geotechnical Evaluation for the Project”.  It clearly identifies multiple locations for blasting of the bed rock and outlines warnings for proceeding.

Harpers Ferry sits primarily on shale.  Most of Harpers Ferry’s structures are all or part masonry.  Any reverberations from blasting will affect the structural integrity of basements, foundations, and walls in buildings dating to 1748.  Harpers Ferry National Historical Park has more historic structures than any other Park unit in America.  The August 2011 Virginia earthquake caused over $1 million in structural damage throughout the Park.  It is therefore prudent for the Park to be concerned about blasting.  A reasonable approach would be for the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a blasting impact analysis before the Harpers Ferry Town Council approves their Ordinance.


In his letter, Mr. Ramberg questions the integrity and motivations of Park officials, while dismissing valid concerns as hysteria. He insists that the Town’s Ordinance must be enacted so we will know what needs to be changed.   This is why the SWaN project destroyed public trust and divided Harpers Ferry long before the Park’s letter.

Monday, February 20, 2017

TRUMPING THE WORLD



The newly installed Trump Administration continues to catch New Zealand officialdom by surprise. So MSC Newswire asked Washington insider Scot Faulkner what Wellington’s response should in fact be? Mr. Faulkner was elected the first Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. His reforms became a model for the operation of national parliaments around the world.
The New Zealand Foreign Ministry has set up a special focus group solely for the purpose of identifying early warning of new policies promulgated by President Trump, the ones which will have an impact on this country. Can you short circuit this by helpfully forecasting any of these pending surprise policies?
The New Zealand Foreign Ministry’s Trump Task Force will only be of value if it discards long held assumptions and embrace a totally new way of thinking and acting. Trying to predict Trump through traditional means, such as monitoring after-the-fact media, is like using Ouija boards, tarot cards, and horoscopes.
The Ministry’s primary objective should be to move at “Trump speed” and navigate in Trump’s world. Non traditional sources, non traditional methods will be keys to success. Thinking like a visionary risk-taking entrepreneur instead of a politician is the first step into this new reality.
Trump is unique. No one like him has ever been the President of the United States. While a few Presidents had business experience, their main credentials were either the military or government. America usually faced political or military crises. The 2007-2008 economic collapse convinced most Americans that something radical was necessary. So they rallied around a businessman who was known to most as a reality television star. As Trump stated, “everyone else has failed you – what do you have to lose? Try me.”
Trump’s unique background means unique thought patterns and processes. President Trump gets his ideas, news, and validation from places never before involved in governing. He is fearless, non linear. He embraces chaos, acts on intuition, moves quickly, and uses surprise as a strategic weapon. Sometimes only he knows the ultimate objective. He is a student of military history, especially Sun Tzu. That is what gave him the winning edge in business, the Republican primaries, and the 2016 general election.
Trump’s new Administration is already being tested by China, Russia, and a variety of other nations. President Trump’s responses will indicate many things: how fast he responds, how he responds, how he views the challenge and the challenger, how he frames the challenge within his existing world view, how willing is he to vary from stated positions to address a unique situation, how willing is he to escalate, whose advice does he value, who he collaborates with, and who, how, and what does he communicate regarding the challenge to Congress, the American public, and other nations.
New Zealand needs to understand that the next four to eight years has a very different global player. Trump’s approach will be very personal, intimate, intuitive, immediate, chaotic, and against all conventional wisdom, very successful.
All the indications are that the New Zealand diplomatic apparatus in New York and Washington was wrong footed by the Trump ascendancy. This led to falling in line with the Obama era last moment positioning of New Zealand as co-endorser of the UN anti-Israel resolution. Does New Zealand need to backtrack here?
New Zealand should always be wary of being pulled into American politics. Obama’s last minute swipe at Israel during his waning days as President should have been avoided at all costs. Obama’s behind the scenes orchestration of the resolution, which was being delayed until the new Administration, was ill-advised and dilatory. It undermined decades of America being a positive force in the region.
President Trump is a great friend of Israel. He and his team believe that, historically, enemies of America have funded the radical elements of the Palestinian cause.
Trump is committed, heart & soul, to destroying radical Islam and reining-in Iran. His priority is working with those nations that share his view. He sees Israel, and the moderate Arab governments, like Egypt and Jordan, as allies in eradicating ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their regional and tribal affiliates throughout the Arab world, Asia, and Africa.
Trump and his foreign policy team fundamentally differ from the Neo-conservatives who surrounded President George W. Bush. They adhere more to the Reagan-Thatcher/John-Paul II approach of destroying tyranny, but not trying to second guess centuries of local custom through nation building. America’s role is to inspire, not intervene, in a nation’s journey toward a freer society.
Israeli settlements are far more complex than the media portrays. Palestinian contractors and workers build Israeli settlements. West Bank unemployment soars whenever Israel slows or suspends new settlements. The chasm between peaceful, free, and democratic Israel and violent, oppressive, Islamic failed states in the region is stark. Land for Peace has been a chimera for Israel. De-radicalizing Palestinian leaders and their movement would go further in creating lasting peace than continuing to place the onus on Israel.
The Anti-Israel Resolution validated Trump’s view that the United Nations is currently there to promote radical anti-Western policies while wasting vast sums of money. It further proves his wisdom of pursuing America’s interests through bilateral, not multilateral, arrangements.
New Zealand has supported in spirit the US-EU trade embargo against Russia called up by President Obama. Is there a defined timetable to conclude this embargo?
There is no defined timetable for ending or modifying the trade embargo against Russia.
President Trump and his inner circle have a non-ideological practical “America first” world view. It harkens back to the 17th/18th Centuries. During that era, Western nations united to stop the expansion of the Ottoman Empire then competed, sometimes violently, to dominate world trade.
President Trump wants to build relationships with Russia and China for ridding the world of rogue players – radical Islam, Iran, and North Korea. This is why he picked Rex Tillerson, who has strong relationships with Russia as his Secretary of State, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is friends with President Xi Jinping, as Ambassador to China. This is also why Trump picked a skilled fighter, James Mattis, as his Secretary of Defense.
Trump’s trade and business team is equally ready to help America win in world commerce. Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuckin, and Robert Lighthizer will aggressively negotiate favorable trade agreements and rebuild U.S. competitiveness.
Russia remains problematic as its adventurism in Ukraine and intimidation of the Baltic States complicates Trump’s desire to be “frenemies”. Tillerson will be challenged to craft the right mix of incentives and punishments to refocus Russo-American relations. The current US-EU trade embargo will be assessed within this context.
The Transpacific Partnership Agreement signed in Auckland last year was No 1 on President Trump’s hit list. Looking at the longer term where do you see the advantages/disadvantages in this?
President Trump is all about building one-on-one personal relationships with world leaders. Bi-lateral relationships were his strong suit in business and will serve him well as President. They allow him more flexibility and agility. He has little interest in multi-lateral agreements or entities.
This is why TPP was in his cross hairs as a candidate and now as President. New Zealand and other TPP nations need to offer their best “value proposition” for trade relationships that will benefit the U.S. as much as themselves. These are the kinds of agreements that will get Trump’s attention and become his priority.
Trump prides himself on the foreign investments in America he has facilitated or promoted. He wants American companies to “come home” to America, and foreign companies to settle in America. Trump’s goal is to bring the best of the world to America to rebuild infrastructure and generate lasting employment opportunities. There is a new world of opportunity for New Zealand investment and partnering in America.
Given the available evidence it is hard not to conclude that officials here have only a threadbare understanding of what is going on in the relevant circles of United States policymaking. Where should they be looking? Who should they be talking to now?
Trump’s tweets remain the best original source. Trump won the nomination and the general election by going directly to the public. Over 50 million Americans follow Trump on Twitter and Facebook. The Washington-New York media have become completely irrelevant to the Trump Administration and to Trump’s America.
President Trump has revolutionized the way policy is created, promoted, and implemented. The establishments within the Federal Government, Congress, media, academia, and policy forums, still do not have a clue about what is happening before their eyes.
America’s post-Cold War drift through four failed Presidents has come to an end.
Reagan won the Cold War by using skills he developed in movies and television to command the world stage. Those skills destroyed the Soviet Empire, relaunched the U.S. economy, and redefined the role of government. Trump is using his business and reality television skills to command the world stage for himself and the United States. Like Reagan, Trump is seeking to defeat tyranny, in this case radical Islam, relaunch the U.S. economy, and not just redefine, but completely reinvent government. The establishment dismissed Reagan until he succeeded. The establishment is dismissing Trump, and will be just as embarrassed should he succeed.
Conservative talk radio speaks for Trump and puts his actions and tweets into context. They aggressively expose the liberal media and the Democrats when they promote fake news and conspiracies about Trump. Trump watches Fox news, listens & calls into conservative talk radio, and avidly follows their social media posts. Each validates the other. The most articulate and insightful conservative commentators are Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, and Chris Plante. Washington-based WMAL radio hosts all three.


Friday, January 13, 2017

TRUMPING THE MEDIA


#TRUMPING


Trump’s first news conference since the November election vividly displayed how he has turned the media world upside down.  His unprecedented campaign and transition points to an Administration committed to solidifying a media revolution that began decades ago.

The media, especially the 95 percent liberals within the media, are in free fall in audience and credibility.  A recent Associated Press survey reported that 96 percent of Americans no longer trust the “mainstream media”.  The media elite are still in denial that their world of unaccountable privilege and bias has vanished. 

How the media elite respond will determine whether anyone listens to them ever again.  The latest Buzzfeed/CNN promotion of false Trump trash is further evidence that the elite are on a different planet from the real world.

American media was “middle of the road” and patriotic until the mid-1960s.  At that time the older generation of media moguls retired or died, ushering in activist liberals.  Media liberalism became radical with the Vietnam War and Watergate.

Accuracy in Media (AIM) was founded in 1969 by Reed Irvine to expose this new liberal media bias.  AIM’s documentation remained within conservative circles until Vice President Spiro Agnew used their research in boldly partisan speeches during the 1970 elections.

Americans were held captive by three broadcast networks and Public Broadcasting until CSPAN cable television entered the scene in 1979.  Conservative Members in the House of Representatives used CSPAN to conduct guerrilla theater.  Using large photos, graphs, and models of Soviet Airplanes, House conservatives began to directly educate the public about big government and the Soviet threat.  It was the first breech of the liberal media filters.

In April 1980, two senior news editors, Arnaud De Borchgrave and Robert Moss, published “The Spike” a novel exposing communist influence within the American media.  As importantly, they exposed how the liberal media perverts reality as much by what they don’t cover as what they do - “spiking” stories.

The media revolution really began in 1987 when the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) eliminated the “Fairness Doctrine”.  For the first time since 1949 radio stations could feature editorial content in their normal programming.  On August 1, 1988, Rush Limbaugh launched his radio show.  Now all Americans had access to non-liberal perspectives. 

The liberal media fought back.  Talk radio hosts and news reporters were denied press credentials to cover Congress until the Republicans took over the House in January 1995.  Even credentialed, talk radio was shunned.  The liberal media elite branded it unprofessional and trafficking in conspiracy theories.

Starting in May 1995 (Netscape), the Internet devastated the liberal media citadels.  Website news began to supplant broadcast and print media.  Social media, along with internet access on mobile devices in 2004, ignited an historic information revolution. 

Conservative voices were unleashed by these upheavals.  Liberal media elites could no longer “spike” stories or present their bias unchallenged.  Even their own audience favored getting their news from social media and shows on Comedy Central.  The media establishment sped its own demise by succumbing to fake news from its reporters like Jayson Blair, and trafficking in false news like “hands-up don’t shoot’ and “a video caused the Benghazi attack”.

All the elements of a liberal media cataclysm were in place.  Trump’s blunt talk and his supporters’ contempt for the media brought the status quo crashing down.

Trump understands, more than any other politician today, that he can render the media irrelevant.    Pew Research and other studies show that 62% of Americans get all or part of their news from social media.  Facebook posts 510,000 comments and 136,000 photos per minute. 2.4 million emails are sent every second.  Fifty percent of Millennials check out Facebook when they first wake-up.

Trump does not need to have his message filtered and interpreted by Democrat operatives posing as journalists.  Chris Matthews and George Stephanopoulos were Democrat flacks long before they took on the trapping of journalists.  Dozens of reporters and “on air talent” are married to Obama Administration officials.  Trump’s response is to go over and around them.

Trump currently has over 50 million Facebook and Twitter followers.  Millions of Trump supporters repost or retweet his quotes on countless social media pages.  128 million Americans posted or liked Trump content on Facebook during the campaign.  No one has ever been so pervasive in communicating and mobilizing.

Trump is the master of this new media reality.  He understands that 140 characters on Twitter or a pithy comment or compelling image on Facebook shapes the media cycle.  This is all before he becomes President, with all its additional resources and reach.

Liberal media in the Trump era is fast becoming as credible and relevant as horoscopes.