16 Sep 2020

After a year and a half of silence, the PolicySmith welcomes you. If you’ve visited previously, welcome back. If this is your first time, thanks for your interest. In previous posts we’ve examined issues ranging from government overreach, to the role of energy in our society and even the joys of ice cream and the exuberance of Chuck Berry’s music.

After six months of unprecedented COVID-19 turmoil we find ourselves beaten down by an endless parade of hustlers shilling for this, that and the other thing.

It’s what we’ve come to, a devolution, dumbing down of ideas from the fastest talkers, the biggest grifters, the grandest panderers and hucksters of the most outlandish policies ever conceived.

The political hustle has been around for ages, it surged in the 2016 election run-up when the old hustle was buried under the crushing country club hustle of Donald Trump. You know the type, the big talker, the guy who shades his golf handicap — on the high side to get more strokes or the low side to brag about his game. This monstrosity of a hustle is the new normal. Clinton backers hustled the Sanders acolytes out of the nomination and then were buried under the Trump onslaught.

Donald Trump defines the big hustle. The New York promoter and developer played the big hustle for decades. He hustled both political parties, promoted himself onto network TV and got luminaries of all stripes to kowtow in his board room. A portion of the public loved his take-no-prisoners style and his in your face confrontations. He told everyone and anyone where to get off — he didn’t call a spade a spade, he called it a f***ing shovel.

A sizable sector of the electorate was sick of the Obama/Biden/Clinton/Pelosi hustle — enough that the middle of the country’s electoral college majority went for the big talker. Coastal elites and urban voters went big time for Hillary. The Donald likely surprised himself by winning, but once in the bully pulpit, he took to the world’s biggest stage.

In the years following his election, the talk and railing about the swamp and MAGA found its way into public policy — the economy recovered, employment accelerated while job growth for minorities rose even faster than ever. This was the country club hustler writ large. He hustled his way onto the big stage, sold his bill of goods and found just enough buyers to put him over…an outrage to the established order.

Naysayers and never-Trumpers attacked relentlessly — Russia collusion, tax returns, giveaways to favored industries, racism, self-dealing, impeachment, ineffective reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and so on — even down to — the US Postal Service, REALLY!

His opposition hasn’t been idle — they’ve learned the big hustle and have ramped up their games. Not an all-inclusive list to be sure —

The Democrat Hustle — “Joe Biden is competent to be President” — perhaps the crowning achievement in Democrats self-deception. With Kamala Harris as the “moderate” choice (recall the Kavanaugh hearings?) for VP, The New York Times declares together they will serve the country well. Biden has been a Washington insider for decades and has no signature accomplishment other than he didn’t upstage Barack Obama. Obama accomplishments are at best a mixed bag, Obama-Care, Fast and Furious, tax increases, the slowest economic recovery in history, ineptitude in the handling of SARS and H1N1, weakening the US by leading from behind — oh yes, on the plus side he ordered the execution of Osama bin-laden. Joe Biden opposed that. Notably absent from that list are any meaningful advancements for people of color. Biden advanced no such policy, while claiming all voters of color for himself and expressing admiration for Barack Obama the candidate, whom he characterized thusly, “I mean you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

The Green Hustle — Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, the recently victorious Ed Markey (whose one gift to the US is the end of Camelot by defeating a Kennedy in a primary for his Senate seat) and legions of Green warriors would terminate a cornerstone industry of the US economy, oil and gas production as they have nearly accomplished with coal. In its place would be the unreliable wind and solar — killers of endangered bird species, gobblers of public lands with their vast farms and terminators of multiple use on lands they occupy. An added “benefit” of their policies, no nuclear power, though it has zero emissions and is safely utilized worldwide. The US has multiple mini-nuclear power plants operating 24/7/365 around the globe with a near-spotless environmental record — the military’s nuclear submarine fleet. By the way, the Green New Deal would cost additional trillions of dollars on top the national debt that now stands equal to the US gross domestic product.

The Race Hustle — now linked with urban violence, this one has been around for a long time — Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, “Calypso Louie” Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam — Wow! That’s a great calling card! These and others have been milking the system, playing on white liberal guilt, calling for slavery reparations with the perpetually outraged Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee and Barbara Lee carrying their water in Congress. Putting the lie to this movement are esteemed scholars Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, physician Ben Carson, the late Martin Luther King, Senator Tim Scott and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley. Violence in city streets across the US, leads to the next hustle‚Ķ

Democrat city/state government hustle — from New York –city and state — to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Omaha, Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and down to smaller fry — Rochester, Kenosha, Ferguson, Missouri. All are, and have been, under leadership of Democrats for decades — Democrats who negotiated union contracts with police, who hired police chiefs, who ignored unwarranted traffic stops of drivers of color and who now blame President Trump for the harvest they are reaping. Non-enforcement of homeless panhandling, camping on and defacing public property, looting, firebombs, attacks on their own police are beneath contempt. A late post script — Los Angeles Black Lives Matter demonstrators chanting “We hope they die” outside a hospital where two LA police were being treated after an ambush.

One aside here on police — I was raised in suburban Chicago. Everyone knew what you were in for if you were stopped. When I was very young the Summerdale police scandal was on the front pages of every Chicago newspaper. Police were breaking and entering appliance stores with the aid of a known criminal acting as lookout, stealing televisions and other goods to sell to a police fencing operation. They were caught and prosecuted but it had been going on for years. When I was stopped, I was in the Army, home on leave. I hadn’t been speeding but the police got me in the back seat, checked my military ID and since I was only a private, I had almost no money. The driver said to me, ” I get it, kid. But you have to leave us something.” I had $5, I left them two singles. It was and apparently still is, the Chicago way.

Perhaps the Foreign Policy Hustle is the most cynical — The President has done the bull in the china shop routine too many times to count. He has a penchant for supporting those he thinks like him and/or treat him fairly — whatever that is. He’s expressed admiration for the dead-eyed thug Putin, says he has (or had) a great relationship with China’s current emperor for life, Xi, while watching Hong Kong get subsumed, played nice with tantrum-prone Un from North Korea, angered NATO, the UN and most of our allies at one time or other.

On the flip side, some Middle East countries are growing out of their Israel antipathy, a new trade agreement with the British is on the horizon, tariffs and trade fairness are on the table and funding for the military is on the upswing. As for the Democrats, Joe Biden’s son used daddy’s influence to cut sweetheart deals in Ukraine and China while Barack Obama was ceding world leadership to others. Most of the past three-plus years have been wasted in investigations of the Trump-Russia collusion fiasco, the Steele Dossier and preening by Adam Schiff, Jerold Nadler and other majority members of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees. All of it orchestrated by the 80-year-old Speaker/ingenue-wannabe. There is little to recommend more feckless foreign policy and investigations from the Ds.

Tom Wolfe wrote The Bonfire of the Vanities. It describes vanities from millionaires down to the dregs of society working to one-up their peers. Sherman McCoy, Reverend Bacon, Maria Ruskin and the other characters in Bonfire have nothing on today’s political players — they’ve plumbed new depths — outlandish accusations, deceptions, taunts — sucking every shred of reason and decency into the vortex. Are these two candidates the best we can do — seriously? Talk about lowest common denominators! We’re in for more four years of fakes and hoaxes, or four years of “C’mon man!!” 2020’s election is a Hustle Holocaust.

3 Responses to A Pandemic of Hustlers…
  1. Comment *Sir Jack the lion hearted. This is one of the best and most important thought threads, I have read in my adult life!

    As I have always told you, I admire your passion and your intellect. And going to school with Hillary adds to the legend.. named Ekstrom.

  2. Comment *. I guess you are right in your essay on hustles and hustlers, though it makes tough reading. Another view might be that politics is not all hustle, but has to involve some hustle or nothing happens.

    I voted for Trump and have no regrets………however, his post election claims about the election itself are absurd and a terrible commentary on him.

    • It was a tough composition. However, after years of dealing with the players up close and personal, the hustle is in plain view. Sad to say there are among our electeds, too few who cannot be swayed, who are righteous to the marrow of their bones. The alternative to Trump was the crew who cooked up the witch’s brew of deceit, the Steele dossier government classified docs on a home computer server, theft from the White House and an endless parade of additional horrors. Trump’s post election behavior and claims are a stain on the nation’s highest office.


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