Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Jonathan Waters proclaimed he had “The Best Damn Job in the World” as Director of The Best Damn Band in the Land (TBDBITL). That is, until last Thursday when the President of The Ohio State University fired John Waters as Director of the Ohio State University Marching Band. Ohio State joins the recent Hall of Shame of college bands. Marching bands are engraved into the tradition of college football. They range from the traditional bands of the Big Ten to the rhythmic excellence of Florida A&M. Then there’s the Stanford Marching Band in a class of its own. It has variously been banned from the Rose Bowl, Notre Dame and Disneyland. The Stanford Indians/Tree/Cardinal hold nothing sacred. The University of California Davis Aggies, and the University of Wisconsin Badgers timed a simultaneous outrage in 2008. The Aggies Marching Band is a student organization – not a part of a school of music. It also has a history of public urination, dropping trou, alcohol, harassment, and hazing. The band’s director went on stress leave and filed a sexual harassment claim against the band in October 2008 for creating a “hostile work environment.” His timing was poor. His 15 minutes of fame was eclipsed two weeks later when the Director of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band suspended the band for the upcoming Ohio State football game. The Marching Badgers had a history of alcohol, harassment, and inappropriate sexual behavior. The Wisconsin suspension was initiated upon the complaints of parents of two band members who objected to the alcohol thrust upon their freshmen children in the band. Florida A & M University, FAMU, experienced a tragedy in 2011. Robert Champion, a drum major, collapsed and died on a bus during hazing. 15 band members were charged with manslaughter. The band was suspended for 22 months. TBDMITL has a tradition spanning decades, probably over 50 years, of boorish behavior that may have been the norm into the 1960’s. “Boys will be boys.” The band admitted women in 1973, but the behavior continued. Women constitute 21% of the band membership, but the culture continues. Congress enacted Title 9, The Equal opportunity in Education Act of 1972, but the band’s behavior continued. The nation’s mores changed, but the band’s behavior continued. Sexual harassment is no longer tolerated, but the band’s behavior continued. Helicopter parents and videos are a constant today, but the band did not change. Boys can no longer be boys in the old sense. Jonathan Waters played sousaphone in the band from 1995-1999. He graduated in 2000 and served as a graduate assistant to the band from 2000-2002. He was named Assistant Director of Marching and Athletic bands in 2002 and promoted to Director in 2012 upon the resignation of his predecessor who led the band for 25 years. Jonathan initiated changes to the band. He started to rein in the band’s anti-social behavior. His big changes were in the programing. He initiated creative routines, which upheld the title of The Best Damn Band in the Land. Their Michael Jackson Moonwalk got national attention, followed by an incredible tribute to the Gettysburg Address. A parent complained about the sexualized culture of the band. The university’s Office of Compliance and Integrity conducted a two month investigation. It issued a 23 page report condemning the “sexualized” culture of the band, providing several examples. One was the “Flying 69 on tour busses” in which two band members hang from luggage racks posing in a 69 position. New members of the band received nicknames, often sexually explicit nicknames. A long standing tradition was the annual Midnight Ramp. Band members would parade down the ramp into Buckeye Stadium at midnight, wearing their pajamas, or more, or less. Participation was voluntary. Band members often had to change on the bus in the presence of the opposite sex. The marching band had an unofficial song book, consisting of misogynistic and sexual lyrics to other college fight songs. They then sang these songs on bus trips. I remember from my three years teaching in Ada, Ohio several Ohio State alums singing their obscene version of Michigan’s fight song, The Victors. The band had a culture of intimidation coupled, as might be expected by college students, with alcohol. The report found several problems with the leadership of Jonathan waters. He pled ignorance on occasion. He didn’t think some band activities were “that bad.” He had also started to clean up some of their antics. He also exercised bad judgment in some instances. For example, a female bank member claimed a male band member sexually assaulted her. Jonathan’s response, which was overturned by the University, was to suspend both for a week. The denials are not a viable defense for someone who’s been with the band for 18 years. Ohio State’s new president, Dr. Michael drake, had an easy decision. He was Chancellor of the University of California at Irvine, which is not known as an athletic powerhouse. He came as an outsider who could bring a fresh perspective to the campus. The school was still reeling from the Jim Tressel – Tyrone Pryor debacle and had recently fired President Gordon Gee, who suffered from acute diarrhea of the mouth. President Drake could therefore establish first that he was the President of the Ohio State University. He calls the shots. Second, Ohio State is going to change its culture, even if it has to be dragged kicking and scheming into the 21st Century. Jonathan Waters was therefore thrown under the band bus. A non-scientific look at the letters to the editor responses indicates Ohio fans favor Mr. Waters rather than President Drake.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Eric Garner officially died Thursday in a hospital, but his death occurred on the streets of Staten Island. He was the victim of a police arrest, which was literally a takedown. A cell phone video filmed the incident. Two police officers approached him about selling “loosies,” single cigarettes. He denied it: “I’m minding my business. Why don’t you leave me alone?” Eric was a big man, 6’3”, 350 pounds at 43 years of age. He started walking away. He did not fight the officers or pull out a weapon. He walked away. The police probably knew who Eric was. He had been arrested 31 times previously, sometimes for selling “loosies.” He did not pose a threat to the officers. Officer Daniel Pantaleo, a 8 year veteran, jumped Eric from behind, throwing his arm around Eric’s neck in what is commonly referred to as a chokehold, which results in compression of the carotid arteries and jugular veins on both sides of the neck. It can be deadly. Four more officers jumped on Eric’s back as he was smacked down to the ground. He tried crawling away, repeatedly yelling “I can’t breathe.” They did not let up until he laid still. Four EMS’s stood by the prostrate Eric without offering CPR. It’s all on tape, which has gone viral. The internal NYPD police report omitted mention of the chokehold, but it’s on video for all to see. The African American community has erupted, seeing it as one more example of NYPD racism against Blacks. I give officers the benefit of the doubt. They have to make split second, life or death decisions. The wrong decision can result in the death of an officer or an innocent party. If for example they see the shadow of a gun pointing at them, they don’t necessarily know if it a villain about to shoot them, or a child with a toy gun. These situations often lack a Hollywood ending. Police officers are allowed to use reasonable force in executing an arrest, but reasonable force in the arrest for a misdemeanor does not include deadly force. A chokehold may constitute deadly force. Even if it doesn’t, it was banned by the NYPD in 1993. A chokehold thereby constitutes excessive force in New York City. It may be banned in New York, but officers still use it. The Civilian Complaint Review Board received about 1,022 complaints since 2009 of chokeholds by police officers. It only found evidence in 9 cases of chokeholds being applied, but many of the investigations failed because of the complainant did not pursue the complaint. The initial autopsy Saturday was inconclusive. More studies are needed. We know though that Eric Garner had severe asthma. That may well have played a role in his death. He also suffered from diabetes and sleep apnea. Eric’s death is the first tragedy, a needless tragedy. The second tragedy is what he died for: peddling bootleg cigarettes on the street for $.50/cigarette. He was killed for selling cigarettes, not dope, oxy or hard drugs. They said he had sold single cigarettes to children, which made his “crime” a “quality of life” issue. New York Mayor Bloomberg pushed through an ordinance last year mandating that the minimum price of a pack of 20 cigarettes would be $10.50. New York State imposes an excise tax of $4.35/pack to which New York City adds another $1.50. A simple calculation of the higher priced Marlboros will show the Marlboros selling for $140 per 10 pack carton. The result is a mainline bootleg from North Carolina, which only imposes 1 $.45 excise tax on packs, to New York City. An estimated 60.9% of all cigarettes sold in the City are bootlegged. The obvious solution would be to lower the cigarette taxes and the minimum price/pack. The City’s solution is to sic the police on street sellers of cigarettes. Political leaders sometimes lack common sense. Whatever Eric Garner’s life was worth, and it will have a high value in the wrongful death lawsuit, it was certainly worth more that fifty cents a cigarette. Officer Pantaleo probably knows his career is over. He and his partner have been assigned desk duty. Officer Pantaleo also had to surrender his badge and gun. He may well face a criminal indictment, if not from the City than the United States Justice Department. The Civil Rights unit of DOJ will have a field day with this example of apparent police brutality. The four EMT’s are under limited suspensions. They are barred from going out on calls pending the outcome of the investigation. They also don’t look good on the video. Neither does the NYPD or the City of New York.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Israel is in a war for survival, just as in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1978, 1982, 1987, 1987-1991, 1988, 2000-2005, 2006, 2008, 2012. Israel desires peace, but not the peace of the dead. The anti-Semites are rising around the world. The outcry is against the death of innocent civilians and Israeli aggression. Yet the anti-Semites ignore the savagery being waged by ISIS/ISIL against non-Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. They ignore the eviction of the last Christians from Mosul and the torching of a historic church. They ignore Boko Haram, the kidnapping of young women, and mass acts of terrorism. Their outrage is highly selective. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are fit to be tied. They don’t like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and they favor the Palestinians over the Israelis. Yet, they have to support Israel, at least publicly, for political reasons. Thus the President cries out for a ceasefire, decrying the loss of innocent lives. Not a word about the fate of Christians throughout the Mideast. Hamas is a Sunni dictatorship over Gaza. The Palestinians had the chance to build Gaza after the Israelis pulled out in 2005. Instead they fortified Gaza’s 139 square miles and inculcated hatred into the children of the 1.8 million residents. So much for trading land for peace! The President blusters with words, but his oratorical flourish means nothing in the Mideast. Hezbollah is a Shia militant group that effectively controls much of Lebanon. Hamas and Hezbollah have two things in common in spite of their religious difference. First, they are both sworn to the demise of Israel. Second, they were both funded and sponsored by Iran. If either Hamas or Hezbollah prevailed in defeating Israel, the resulting genocide against the 6 million Jews in Israel could exceed that of the Nazis in the Holocaust. Israel built shelters to protect its residents, Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Hamas built rockets to attack Israel. Israel is invading Gaza both to silence the rockets and to destroy the tunnel network, which extends under Israel. Hezbollah with an estimated 110,000 rockets is sitting on the sideline. Israel could win a two-front war against the terrorist organizations, but it would be costly and difficult. Hezbollah proved in the 2006 Lebanon War that it could stand and fight Israel to almost a draw. Israel’s invasion of Lebanon to silence Hezbollah was poorly planned, poorly executed, and less than a victory. The returning soldiers complained about their lack of provisions and munitions. A Hezbollah rocket assault on Israel would be deadly. Yet, Hezbollah stands down. It is studying the tactics used by Hamas and the Israeli Defense Force in preparing for its next battle with Israel. Hezbollah is in the Syrian War with its skilled soldiers fighting for Assad and against the more militant Muslims of ISIS/ISIL. Most Islamic countries have been silent on the conflict. They have not, unlike previous wars, supported Hamas and condemned Israel. Their nations lack the mass anti-Israel demonstrations of past conflicts. No country would tolerate the thousands of rockets unleashed against its people, but Israel is criticized by the anti-Semites for protecting itself. Israel has proven against the Intifada that a fence can work. Israel has shown with the Iron Dome that an anti-missile defense can be effective. President Obama opposes both for the United States. He is facilitating Iran getting the Bomb.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Forbes Magazine bills itself as “The Capitalist Tool” Capitalism is unforgiving to businesses that cannot compete, that cannot change with the times. Forbes Magazine is 97 years old. The privately owned American publication is being sold to a Hong Kong based investment group. Forbes is best known for its 400 Richest Americans and World’s Billionaires annual issues, but it built its reputation and circulation on incisive, hardhitting reports. No company or financier was immune from a Forbes investigation. The magazine fell victim to the general decline in traditional media publications. Forbes’ circulation has held up, unlike many periodicals, but advertising revenue is plummeting, down 11% in 2013. The magazine fell victim to the third generation. Third generation management is often fatal to family owned businesses: “From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” is often heard. A less common saying is “”The first generation starts a business. The second generation runs it. And the third generation ruins it.” That’s the obit for the Forbes family. B.C. Forbes started the magazine in 1917. His two sons, Bruce Charles Forbes and Malcolm Forbes, successively expanded the magazine. Steve Forbes, Malcolm’s son, succeeded Malcolm in 1990 upon Malcolm’s death. Steve Forbes represents the third generation of the Forbes Magazine. One third generation problem is that many of the grandchildren lack loyalty to the family business, but love cash flow from it, such as in dividends. They can spend, but not create. Malcolm Forbes was a builder and collector. He collected Faberge, amassing the largest private collection of nine Faberge Eggs. Steve Forbes sold them to a Russian oligarch in 2004 for over $100 million. The Forbes family was not satisfied. 45% of the company was sold in 2006 for $264 million to Elevation Partners LLC, one of whose investors is Bono. Forbes sold its Manhattan headquarters in January 2010 to NYU with plans to move to Jersey City in 2016. The Forbes cashflow was shrinking with the changing dynamic in advertising. The EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) dropped to $15 million in 2013. The family put Forbes Media LLC, the business, up for sale in November 2013. Several interested parties dropped out of the bidding after comparing the financials to Forbes asking price. Forbes announced two days ago that a majority interest (believed to be 80%) in the company is being sold to Integrated Whale Investments, a Hong Kong based investment company. The price is undisclosed, but believed to be over $300 million. Since Elevation Partners is being bought out at a profit, not much will go to the Forbes family. Steve Forbes says he’ll remain as Chairman and Editor-in-Chief and Mike Perlis as Chief Operating Officer. We’ll see. Steve Forbes broadened the company over two decades, but lacked the imagination to respond to the changing media paradigm. He also engaged in quixotic runs for the Republican nomination for President in 1996 and 2000. R.I.P Forbes. Join the Chandlers, Bancrofts, Grahams, Binghams, De Youngs, Ziffs, Hoiles, and Pulitzers.
Friday, July 18, 2014
How’s That Global Tranquility Thing, Mr. President? Josh Earnest, President Obama’s Press Secretary, answered a question last Monday about the ineffectiveness of President Obama’s foreign policy. He answered, that is spun, as best he could: “I think there has been a number of situations in which you’ve seen the Administration intervene in a meaningful way, that has substantially Improved the, uh, you know, the tranquility of the global community.” Where, Mr. President is that global tranquility? Gaza, Mamas, and Israel? The Asian Spring – Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia? Iraq? ISIS/ISIL? Somalia Sudan Yeman Afghanistan? Pakistan? Kenya? Nigeria? Chad? The Central African Republic? Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador? Our Southern Border? Was there tranquility in the MRE’s offered the Ukrainians? Only if they were made out of pot. China-Vietnam? Chechnya? Uighurs? Is Marine Sergeant Robert Tahmooressi feeling global tranquility in a Mexican jail? How’s that Russia reset going? How’s the Apology Tour? Where’s the hope and change? We’re seeing the change, but where is the hope? Where is the global tranquility? Clearly on the 176 rounds of golf Clearly in 393 fundraisers with friendly audiences Clearly in high powered lunches and dinners with global mucky mucks Clearly vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii The Sea of Tranquility is on the moon. Air Force One as it circles the globe
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Goldwater in ‘64 A revolution occurred in American politics fifty years ago this week in San Francisco. The Republican National Convention nominated Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona as its nominee for President of the United States. The Eastern Establishment had controlled the GOP until the 1964 primaries. Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York was the assumed nominee, but he failed. The spotlight then shone on Governor William Scranton of Pennsylvania, the last call of the eastern Republicans, all to no avail. Senator Goldwater was the sweetheart of conservatives after he published his 1960 book, The Conscience of a Conservative. The conservatives of the South and West charted a new course for the Party. Senator Goldwater and his running mate, Congressman William Miller of Buffalo, went down in a landslide to Landslide Lyndon. The Senator received only 38.4% of the popular vote compared to 61% for President Johnson. The Democrats gained a supermajority in both houses of Congress. Incumbent Republicans and office seekers at the state and local level were swept away in the Democratic tsunami. Pundits wrote the obituaries of the Republican Party. The liberal Republicans during the primary campaign, and then President Johnson’s forces in the general campaign painted the Senator as a right wing extremist. He had recommended that social security become voluntary and argued that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) be sold off. He suggested in May 1963 solving the Vietnam War in six months by defoliating the country with low level nuclear weapons. He stated during a December 1961 news conference: “I think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea.” His acceptance speech further alarmed America. It contained this immortal, horrifying line: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Senator Goldwater had no illusions about the outcome in November 1964. He knew he would lose to President Johnson, who he viewed as a purveyor of dirty tricks (Let the record show though that a nickname of Richard Nixon was “Tricky Dickie.”) A campaign of vilification ensued. The Johnson campaign painted the Senator as a dangerous, extremist warmonger who would take us into war. The Daisy Ad, which only ran once during the campaign, cemented the negativities of Senator Goldwater. We later found out that President Johnson misrepresented two incidents to get Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the authorization for the escalation of the Vietnam War. We also learnt that the President was secretly planning to escalate the war – that which the President accessed the Senator of doing. The Senator was also pictured as a racist because he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He felt it was unconstitutional. He had previously integrated his family’s Phoenix department store, Goldwaters, the Arizona Air National Guard, and the Phoenix school system. Senator Goldwater ran an ad: “In your heart, you know he’s right.” The Democratic response was “In your heart, you know he’s nuts.” Senator Goldwater was a rarity in politics. He was a politician not only of conviction, but also of principle. He stated what he believed. He was a prophet of the modern Republican Party, but like Moses could not reach the Promised Land himself. He was before his time. He believed in limited government, a balanced budget, the freedom of the individual, and personal responsibility. He believed that increased dependency on the government would harm the American character. He was a fiscal conservative and social libertarian. He only carried six states: Arizona and five states of the Deep South – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. He pointed the path to future Republicans, such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Both of those future Presidents were active in the Goldwater Campaign. Former Vice President Nixon campaigned in 37 states for the Senator, building up goodwill for his successful candidacy in 1968. Ronald Reagan, still an actor, delivered a nationally televised speech, A Time for Choosing, during the last week of the campaign. Republican leaders in California decided the actor would be a great governor candidate, unleashing his political career. As a man of principle, and one who never trusted President Nixon, Senator Goldwater led the Republican contingent on August 7, 1974 that told President Nixon he had to resign or he would most certainly be voted out of office by the Senate. American history would have been very different had Senator Goldwater won the 1964 election. He would not have gotten America into a land war in Vietnam. Nor would he have enacted the Great Society. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ My 50 year retrospective has a personal memory. The 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco’s Cow Palace is the only political convention I ever attended. I was a college student working part time at an insurance brokerage. One of the co-workers was the cousin (or was it nephew) of Republican Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania. I asked if he could get me tickets to the Convention. The answer was no, but if I showed up in front of the Scranton Office on Market Street at a given time I could board a bus to the Cow Palace to be part of the “spontaneous” Scranton demonstration on the floor of the Convention. We were given fake tickets (the ink wasn’t even fully dry) to enter the Cow Palace. We were also told this was a Republican tradition going back to Abraham Lincoln’s successful campaign in 1860 at the Republican Convention. We were on the floor for over 20 minutes, futilely exhorting the delegates to vote for Scranton. We heard, as we left the floor to wander around the Convention, that the Goldwater people realized the Scranton forces had flooded the Convention with faked tickets. My friends and I quickly discarded all of our Scranton paraphernalia and picked up Goldwater signs and buttons. We enjoyed the rest of the evening at the Convention. Alas, almost all the souvenirs disappeared over the decades. Thus, I was both a Scranton and Goldwater supporter at the 1964 Republican National Convention. Let us also note that Hillary Rodham was a Goldwater supporter in 1964.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
What to do with Detroit – once one of America’s largest and greatest cities? What to do with the Central American children and adults flooding into Texas? Let's rebuild Detroit with the migrants! Solve two seemingly intractable problems at once at minimal cost. Detroit had 200,000 residents at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Then lightning struck in a bottle in terms of the auto industry. Detroit became the Silicon Valley of the first half of the Twentieth Century. The city peaked at 1,850,000 residents while the suburbs of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Grosse Pointe became the Atherton, Beverly Hills, and Scarsdale of the Midwest. The surrounding counties of Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, St. Clair, Genesee, Livingston, and even Washtenaw, got the overflow from Detroit in auto plants and population. The surrounding counties have survived the collapse of Detroit, the city and the industry. The city proper is down to 721,459 residents Detroit’s downtown shows signs of life with Dan Snyder bringing jobs back into downtown and buying up properties. However, much of the rest of the 139 square miles that comprise Detroit are a wasteland of 79,000 abandoned and blighted homes, and vacant lots. Police patrols in the outlying areas are scarce. Traffic lights are out. Water is being cut off to homes. Crime rates are among the nation’s highest, and gangs run rampant. Survivors often reside in homes with leaky roofs, broken windows, peeling paint, and no utilities. About 12,000 arson fires are set a year, of which 60% are abandoned and blighted houses. That’s Detroit today. An estimated 52,000 minors from Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have crossed the border this year with another 240,000 adults. An estimated 90,000 minors will cross into the Rio Grand Valley this year and surrender to the Border Patrol. The word is out; they will not be deported. They understand that the Obama Administration will not send them back. We know they are here to stay, at least for the next 2½ years, and probably forever. Thus, they come to America, just as the Irish, Italians, Jews, Armenians, Greeks. Scandinavians, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Persians, Arabs, Russian, Slavs, Mexicans, Cubans and Dominicans before them. They come to look for the streets paved with gold. They come to America with hope. They come to America for a new beginning. They come to America following family members. They come to America because they have no alternative. They are fleeing high crime, gangs, leaky roofs, broken windows, peeling paint, and no utilities. They will feel at home in Detroit. Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan wants to spend $8,500/house to tear down the abandoned homes. President Obama is seeking $3.7 billion to accommodate the migrants who have recently arrived. He claims humanitarian reasons, but does not seek an end to the inflow. One estimate is that President Obama’s request comes to $80,000 per migrant. The border patrol and military are running out of facilities to temporarily house the migrants. They are often caged in facilities. They’re not going to Murietta, but Bell, the embattled Bell, is seeking a fresh start. It wants 120. The government is chartering planes and busses to move them to Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, California and points unknown. America has a viable alternative. Treat the migrants as modern urban pioneers to settle the 90,000 vacant lots and rehabilitate the blighted buildings. The rehab costs should cost less than $80,000 per house, but more than $8,500. The modern urban homesteaders will help in the rebuilding, just as the early pioneers. They can share the efforts, just as the early pioneers. They have land, over 100 square miles to farm. Their energy, their drive, their inspirational could be instrumental in the rebirth of Detroit. Hard work conquered the Great Plains and vast prairies of the Midwest. It can do it again. First Detroit, and then perhaps Flint and the South Bronx. Detroit offers hope and opportunity to these new Americans.
The idea of impeaching President Obama is a grotesque bad idea Governor Sarah Palin is fueling the flames of impeaching President Obama. An internet impeachment petition seeks signatures. Impeachment is not going anywhere even if the Republicans regain control of the Senate in November. House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican establishment oppose impeachment for good reasons. Even talk of impeachment is a distraction. Let’s look at the arguments for impeachment of the President: The President lies. President Clinton lied under oath. We call that perjury. He survived impeachment. President Obama only lies to the public. That’s not indictable or impeachable. The IRS targeted conservatives. One of the articles in the proposed impeachment of President Nixon was that he attempted to use the IRS against his enemies. The Commissioner of the IRS refused to cooperate. President Nixon resigned before the Articles were filed. President Obama’s IRS deliberately targeted conservatives, but no link to the President has yet been discovered. He is divisive. Chicago Rules are not unconstitutional. Fast and Furious is a movie as far as the public cares. Arrogance, narcissism, petulance, diffidence? The media ignores them. Benghazi – the video did it. Excessive golfing, fundraising and traveling? His executive orders and administrative agencies change, modify, violate, and conflict with the Constitution and statutes enacted by Congress. The Supreme Court has consistently held actions by the President and his Executive Agencies to be unconstitutional The President is fulfilling his goal of fundamentally transforming America. He won twice. His goal was never a secret. The Constitution provides impeachment in cases of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The President to the best of our knowledge has not committed treason or bribery. “High crimes and misdemeanors” are not defined by the Constitution, but they probably do not include incompetence, gross incompetence or falling polls. Then House Minority Leader Gerald Ford once said “high crimes and misdemeanors” are whatever Congress says they are. That’s too dangerous a definition. Impeachment is a bad idea for several reasons. First, the word itself is misunderstood. Impeachment does not remove the President from office. Presidents Andrew Johnson and William Clinton were impeached by the House, but remained in office. President Nixon resigned before impeachment. Impeachment is in essence an indictment voted by the House of Representatives by a simple majority. Conviction, and hence removal from office, shall be by a 2/3 vote of the Senate. The Senate, the current Senate and next year’s Senate, even if a Republican Senate, will not vote to convict President Obama. Any House impeachment would be a futile act that voices contempt for the President, but the time and effort involved would detract from finding meaningful ways for Congress to reassert its Constitutional authority, such as through the power of the purse and Congressional hearings. Even an attempt in the House, whether successful or not, would reignite class divisiveness in America, perhaps even a repeat of the riots of the 1960”s. The media will be even more opposed to an impeachment of President Obama as it was of President Clinton. The public will not support impeachment of President Obama on what is presently known. They may vote again a Republican landslide in November, but that’s different from impeachment. Impeaching a President over political differences is a dangerous precedence for our democracy. The solution for political differences is the ballot box. Elections have consequences. President Obama is the first Democratic President since President Johnson to win either election or reelection by a majority vote. If President Obama were removed from office, then Vice President Biden would immediately become President. President Biden – what reaction comes from hearing those two words? President Gaffe a minute? President Nixon viewed his Vice President Spiro Agnew as impeachment insurance. He did not expect the Vice President to be removed first from office. No grounds exist for the impeachment of Vice President Biden. President Biden is as good an argument as any against impeachment.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Congressman Bruce Braley, Iowa Democrat of the First Congressional District, is seeking the open Senate seat. The Congressman won an open House seat eight years ago and was the early favorite to retain the democratic seat, but he is suffering from diarrhea of the mouth. He is from a farm family, but he left the farm to be a trial lawyer. He spoke in Texas before his fellow trial lawyers last January. Politicians should be wary of what they say, even in closed appearances, especially after the 2012 Presidential election. He warned the trial lawyers that if the Republicans retake the Senate, then Iowa Republican Charles Grassley would become Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He called Senator Grassley ‘a farmer who never went to law school.” Iowa is a farm state. His statement dissed farming and the highly popular Senator Grassley. Congressman Braley’s poll numbers dropped. I remember a “lawyer joke” from my three years teaching law at Ohio Northern University in the farm town of Ada, Ohio. Ada is situated in rural northwest Ohio. The joke is about the relationship between farmers and lawyers. “Farmers farm the land, and lawyers farm the farmers.” He stepped in it further last Friday, the 4th of July. He was walking along a 4th of July Parade in Iowa City, Iowa, when a woman yelled out “We’re farmers.” He responded “So am I.” She then said “So is Grassley,” to which he again replied “So am I.” The audio is very clear. He may have farming roots, but he is a trial lawyer who owns no farmland and has no farm income. He’ll fit right in the Senate with Senators Blumenthal D. Conn.) and Mark Kirk (R. Ill.) who misrepresented their military background when there was no need to do so. We also have Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. Mass.) who clearly claimed to be American Indian, to take advantage of affirmative action, when she has no Native American ancestry. The 4th of July remark was caught on tape by America Rising, a conservative organization following his campaign in hopes of getting that one “gotcha moment.” They succeeded. Congressman Braley has other issues. He is one of several Democratic members of Congress who sign a letter on March 26, 2012 to IRS Commissioner Douglas Schulman to investigate the conservative political groups. He has received $7,000 in campaign contributions since 2007 from The National Treasury Workers Union PAC. He voted for the Keystone Pipeline in 2012, but now opposes it. The $100,000 million Tom Steyer of California is offering Democratic candidates to oppose Keystone has apparently affected his judgment. Steyer is the main backer of the Senate Majority PAC, which has contributed $550,00 to his Senate campaign. Congressman Braley accepts Steyer funds, but has won scores of messages against the Koch Brothers. The Congressman has been in Washington for 8 years and fits in. His Republican opponent is state senator Joni Ernst, a true salt of the earth farmer and Lt. Colonel in the Iowa National Guard. She ran an ad talking about her past castrating pigs, which prepared her for cutting pork. D.C. and Iowa need Joni Ernst in the United States Senate.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
The latest Quinnipiac Poll had the American people rating the Obama Administration as the worst since World War II. It would appear that we are looking at a failed Presidency. So why does President Obama seem unconcerned? Is this the second coming of President Lincoln or of Emperor Nero? He hailed the Arab Spring and pulled out of Iraq. An Islamist fanatic is seizing control of much of Syria and Iraq, and declaring a new Caliphate. An early act of President Obama was scrapping the missile defense program with Poland and the Czech Republic as an act of good faith to Vladimir Putin. He received nothing in return. Russia has now seized the Crimea, and President Obama offered MRE’s to the Ukrainians. The President wants immigration reform, but his open borders policy is flooding Texas with 52,000 children this year – to date. He rammed ObamaCare through Congress, but the implementation needs the crash cart. Job growth is anemic by historic standards, and the economy slipped last quarter. Four Americans died in Benghazi on 9/11 to a terrorist attack, but he blamed a video. He knows nothing about Fast and Furious, the NSA, and especially the IRS, which was a blatant exercise of Chicago Rules. The Bergdahl trade blew up in his face. So why is he unfazed? President Obama is succeeding in his goal of “fundamentally transforming America.” He drank deeply of liberation theology and the cant of the left. His vision of America was one of a racist, white, Christian, oppressive society. America was a militaristic society built on slavery and exploitation of minorities. America was built on exploiting the resources of the World. America’s military is used as the instrument of American imperialism. His vision of America was one in which “You didn’t build it.” His goal of fundamentally transforming America can only be achieved by smashing the existing America and then rebuilding it as a progressive utopia. Rebirth, like birth, can be painful. A failure? He beat the Republicans on the shutdown and used the Sequester to gut the military. He’s still cutting, or if you will, defanging or disarming America’s military. He has stacked the previously professional National Security Council with political hacks. Our military policy since World War II was to be prepared to fight a two ocean war. It’s down to 1½ and soon will have difficulty with one major war. He’s letting our nuclear weapons degrade, and now wants to retreat on land mines. His foreign policy was clear early in his Administration. He shattered our special relationship with England by returning the Churchill Bust. He stiffed and insulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and looked the other way as Iran’s mullahs crushed the students protesting the stolen election. His actions show that he clearly intends Iran to get the bomb. A failure? He's effectively closing Gitmo, step by step. A failure? Government healthcare is here to stay. The traditional private practice of medicine is a dinosaur. A failure? Gay marriage is here to stay. A failure? He impliedly vowed to destroy the coal industry. His EPA is doing so, and will continue to act against other fossil fuels. A failure? He’s forcing America to turn to green energy. A failure? He not only repealed the “Bush tax cuts on the rich,” but added more – on almost everyone. A failure? He used The Stimulus Act to save the jobs of public employees. A failure? He saved the UAW and their health plans and stiffed the private creditors in the process. A failure? His base of support is an army of the nation’s young Americans, especially young women, and people of color, while his older white opponents are declining and dying off. He believes that his core, Julia, is America’s future. A failure? He substantially increased Americans dependence on the government: food stamps, disability, ObamaCare, student loans. A failure? He believes the government is the source of jobs and wealth. A failure? Dodd-Frank is strangling the banks. A failure? He’s demonizing capitalism. A failure? Not as long as he has the Bully Pulpit. A failure? He's expanding the powers of the President, and shrinking those of Congress and the states. A failure? Not until the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times declare him a failure. A failure? President Obama may be failing our America, but he is succeeding in his mind with his America. With 2½ years to go, President Obama is becoming the American Nero.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Berzerkly Wants Pot for All Pot for all in Berkeley. If you can’t afford it, then the dispensaries must provide it to you for free. The Free Speech Movement is now the Free Pot Movement. Come to Berkeley for free pot. The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday that marijuana dispensaries double their mandatory marijuana contributions to the homeless and low income from the current 1% to at least 2% of the weight of all marijuana dispensed. The dope also can’t be any “cheap shit.” The weed must be of the same quality dispensed to the paying customers. There will be no inequality of marijuana in Berkeley. All sales will be recorded; that way, a team of Berkeley auditors, the pot police, can ensure compliance with the law. An open question is if this ordinance will be enforced against the illegal dispensaries, street sellers, and pot clubs? Berkeley at present only has three authorized pot dispensaries, but will soon license a fourth. California allows marijuana to be dispensed to those with a prescription for medical marijuana. It takes about 5-10 minutes to obtain such a prescription in many parts of California, a lot quicker than seeing a regular doctor under ObamaCare. Berkeley City Council member Daryl Moore explained: “We think that this is the responsible thing to do for those less fortunate in our community.” He added: “Basically the City Council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine.” So now we know what Berzerkley stands for. You may have no housing, no food, no clothes, no car, no gas, but you can chill out with free pot on telegraph Ave. next to the campus. If pot is that necessary for the homeless, then why not require landlords provide 2% of their units to the homeless for free. The hungry homeless should also be able to receive free food from supermarkets and free meals from restaurant. Wouldn’t you love to see a stoned, homeless person toking and dining at Chez Panisse? Target should be required to donate 2% of gross Berkeley revenues to Berkeley’s low income and homeless (No Walmart exists in Berkeley, but that’s shouldn’t be a surprise). If medical pot is that critical, then why shouldn’t CVS, Rite Aid, and Thrifty have to donate 2% of their prescriptions based on dollar volume to the economically disadvantaged? Why not require all physicians in Berkeley to treat the low income for free, or hospitals to provide free care to them? (We know some of this occurs in reality, but it is not expressly mandated). The poor have legal needs, often to secure rights such as free marijuana. Require lawyers to donate at least 2% of their billable hours not on pro bono work, but on the homeless, low income, or indigent? Why not require Weatherford Motors to donate 2% of its new and used Beemers to Berkeley’s poor, and then have Chevron fill the tanks? No need though to require AT&T and Verizon to provide free phones to the poor – they already get their “Obama phones,” courtesy of the taxpayers. Another open question: Do the 36,000 students, often poor students, at the University of California Berkeley qualify for free pot? Berkeley is known as the People’s Republic of Berkeley. Berkeley is practicing the Free Lunch Theory of government coupled with the income redistributionist approach. The government provided the free lunch in the past, but it’s running out of money. So now it forces private companies to provide the free lunch by redistributing goods and service to the disadvantaged, or to everyone. For example, ObamaCare mandates the employer or insurer provide free contraception to women. Berkeley’s approach is undoubtedly a violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments, constituting a taking of private property. If Berkeley had done it as a tax, then Chief Justice Roberts would approve, as he did with the coercive ObamaCare. For example, 2% of a dispensary’s inventory would be turned over to the city for redistribution to the poor. The ordinance provides for the income levels to be treated as low income. They are under $34,000 for a single person up to $46,000 for a family of four. Most students would qualify. The income levels can be satisfied by providing the federal income tax form or “other reliable” method approved by the City Manager. That should be no problem with the homeless sacked out on the streets.
Friday, July 4, 2014
General Motors is offering American drivers a liberating Fourth of July: 0 down, 0% interest for 72 months. That’s right: No money down; no interest on a six-year loan. Local dealers are also advertising: “No payments for three months.” Here’s the deal: 0 Down; 0% interest on a six-year loan; No payments for three months. Here’s the real deal: “0 Down, 0% interest on a six-year loan; No payments for three months; UNLIMITED RECALLS and a LIFETIME SUPPLY OF IGNITION SWITCHES” Ken Feinberg, the master large claims settler, announced Monday on behalf of General Motors a compensation plan for the victims of ignition switch mishaps. His announcement received little attention, except by trial lawyers. GM announced on Monday it’s 54th recall of the year, this time 8.4 million GM cars and trucks. GM has now recalled 28.9 million vehicles worldwide this year. 25.7 million of the recalled vehicles are in the United States. Buy a GM car and the odds are 1,000% you are buying a recall. GM’s 25.7 million recalled vehicles in the United States is approximately the total number of cars and trucks it has sold in the United States over the past decade. GM gave us the “GM Mark of Excellence” 45 years ago. GM’s new motto is “Another day, another recall.” It could also be “We recall ‘em quicker than we build ‘em.” Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, SAAB, Saturn – GM can recall any car it ever made. Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn, SAAB. GM stopped making them years ago, but is still liable for them. Today, July 4, 2014 is Independence Day for GM. Mary Barra, GM’s new CEO, is cleaning house. GM is going to refocus on safety. The old GM did not die in bankruptcy. GM apparently, when part of “Government Motors, did not reveal the safety issues to the Government. Bankruptcy is the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean, the time to reveal all. GM missed that one. A new GM emerged out of the old GM in bankruptcy, but the new GM is just more of the old GM. The corporate structure changed, but not the corporate ethos. Cars, pickups, SUV’s, GM did not discriminate. They all get recalled. Top sellers, as well as slow selling models, get recalled. Mary Barra, as the new CEO, has the opportunity to create the new GM. She has no choice. GM still sells cars, but its market share has dropped from about 60% 5-6 decades ago to less than 20% today. GM, as well as Chrysler and Ford, built high priced, low quality cars. The Japanese and Germans, and now the Koreans, are outcompeting the Big Three in cost and quality. No auto company is perfect. Ford recalled 21 million cars and trucks in 1981. 1970-1979 cars and trucks could shift out of reverse. Toyota recalled 6.4 million vehicles in May, but it is overshadowed by GM. General Motors is undertaking the most comprehensive safety review in its history. The recall costs and settlements will cost GM, but thanks to bankruptcy the company has $30 billion in cash. This recall will cost GM $1.2 billion. GM must change. down, 0% no interest loans for 72 months. Jump on it if you think GM will finally get it right.0%
It's not Independence Day in Murrieta, California. The hitherto unknown Murrieta, California made the national news Monday. It accomplished a feat that no one else has – Not President Obama, who says he wants to, not Congress, not governors, not talk radio. The citizens of Murrieta turned back a convoy of three busses carrying 140 undocumented children and family members. These immigrants display the spirit of our ancestors. They’ve trekked a thousand miles, often walking, through mountains and deserts, surviving disease and criminal attacks, to seek a new life in America. They are following the path of predecessors, crossing the Rio Grande River into Texas. As Neal Diamond would say “They’re coming to America.” They’re flooding the Texan border from Central America. 52,000 this year alone, mainly unescorted minors. President Carter had the Mariel Boatlift from April 15 to October 31, 1980; 125,00 – mainly criminals. It reinforced the belief in his incompetence. President Obama has the Children’s Crusade. President Obama wants immigration reform on his terms - amnesty for those currently here, and no border security. If the Republicans in Congress won’t give it to him, then he will maintain open borders. The word went out to Latin America that the children could come and stay. They will not be deported. They are coming to America. Their mothers and fathers want them out of the squalor and poverty, gang violence, drug trafficking, and lack of hope in Central America. They want a better life for their sons and daughters, as have five centuries of parents before them. They are coming to America, just like Neal Diamond’s wonderful grandmother a century earlier. They are coming to America as pawns in President Obama’s political battle with the Republicans. Murrieta is a fast growing city in Southwest Riverside Country. The 2000 Census showed 44,282 residents, but it more than doubled to 103,466 in the 2010 Census. Murrieta is ranked the safest city in Riverside County. Freeways make it possible for the hardworking citizens of Murrieta to commute to San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino. This part of California is conservative and solidly Republican. The Border Patrol cannot handle the onslaught of the children. We first heard about it a month ago when Arizona complained about the children being dropped off at the Phoenix bus depot. We viewed it as just another example of Chicago Rules, punishing Arizona for SB 1070, the 2010 anti-illegal immigration bill. Phoenix was but the first. The Border Patrol in Texas is so overwhelmed by the children that it has to send them to Border Patrol offices elsewhere to be processed, including medical screening. They can’t or won’t send them back. That can’t handle them all, so they do a quick health check, ask a few questions, and then put them on charter flights elsewhere in the country: Arizona, New York, and now California. Rumors spread of disease and criminals among the immigrants. The President asks for $2 billion from Congress to send them back, but the Republicans don’t trust him. The primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, attributed to anti-immigrant bias, stiffens their spine, or at least, desire for reelection. Dozens, if not hundreds, of flag waving citizens blocked the entrance into the Border Patrol processing facility in Murrieta. The busses turned back, for now. Another flight into San Diego is expected today. A thousand showed up at the City Council meeting Wednesday night. Mayor Alan Long said he would keep a tight accounting of the city’s expenditures and then send it to President Obama, to a round of applause. He also said, to another round of applause, that he does not expect the federal government to pay it. Mayor Long said: “Murrieta expects our government to enforce our laws, including the deporting of illegal immigrants caught crossing our border, not disperse them into our community.” Once the Border Patrol releases the immigrants, with promises to report to an ICE Office within 15 days, the federal government no longer pays their room, board, and medical expenses (In theory, they are not entitled to ObamaCare). The states, local communities, NGOs and private citizens will have to bear the burden. Future flights are expected to bring the immigrants to Boulevard, Cameo, El Centro, El Cajon, Chula Vista, and San Clemente. Anti-immigrant furor peaked in 1994 with a 59%-41% passage of Proposition 187, an anti-illegal immigrant measure. It was quickly held unconstitutional. The closing of the border at San Diego slowed the influx into Southern California. President Obama’s Children Crusade may rekindle memories. President Obama is scheduled to be in Texas next month for fundraising. He is not scheduled to go to border – no fundraising there. Plus the photo op would probably be bad. You know President Obama is serious about a problem when he drops a fundraiser, cancels a golf match, or postpones a vacation. He’s not serious.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Justice Alito penned two eagerly awaited and significant decisions on Monday. They were both 5:4 decisions with the normal conservative-liberal split. The Hobby Lobby case received the weight of media attention. It is portrayed as a test between religion rights and a woman’s right to contraception with religion winning. That is certainly an underlying theme in the case. However, that is not the technical issue in the decision. The question presented was whether an agency regulation, DHS’ mandatory contraception rule, can trump an act of Congress, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1973. The answer is a clear No! The effect of Hobby Lobby will be large, but contraception with the basic “pill” is inexpensive at stores like Walmart. Harris v Quinn, the second opinion has a much more immediate and large scale impact. Healthcare is one of America’s few, large scale growing industries. The public employee unions want their share of it. SEIU was especially avaricious. The forced unionization of caring family members seems repugnant. Family members often care for relatives who need 24 hour care, but don’t need to be hospitalized. Home healthcare is a substantial money saver for Medicaid, which otherwise would cost the government $ billions more for hospitalized care. Thus, Medicaid pays a stipend for home healthcare providers, even if they are family members. SEIU approached pliable Democratic governors, such as Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, and the corrupt Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, and convinced them to classify the homecare workers as government employees. They would then have to join SEIU under the states’ union shop rules or pay an agency fee. The states treated the homecare workers as state employees for the limited purpose of receiving Medicaid funds, but not for others. Fathers and mothers were forced to become union members to tend to their children, or pay a large “agency fee.” From 2006 into 2013 the SEIU in Michigan reaped almost $43 million dollars from the compulsory unionization. Family members are the majority of the home healthcare providers. 63% of Michigan’s homecare workers are family members or friends of the patients. Pamela Harris, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court decision, tends to her son who suffers from a rare genetic disorder. The caregivers were shocked to find that they were involuntarily unionized. They were shocked that their First Amendment rights were violated – their dues would be used to support political candidates and causes they opposed. The compulsory unionization of home healthcare workers to spread to California, Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The Supreme Court in a 5:4 opinion written by Justice Alito struck down the arrangement. The Court characterized these workers as part-time, as compared to full- fledged public employees. The homecare workers lack most of the benefits and protections of the full pledged employees. Indeed, Governor Granholm’s administration held these workers were state employees only for the purpose of unionization. The majority held it was an infringement on freedom of speech. The alternative “would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.” Labor dodged a bullet in Harris. The Supreme Court in the 1977 opinion of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education held that public employees can be forced to join a union. The majority in Harris did not overturn Abood, but Justice Alito referred to it as “something of an anomaly” based on a ”questionable foundation.” Elections have consequences. The Republicans swept Michigan in the 2010 Midterm elections. They repealed the unionization requirement in 2012, effective 2013. The consequences are dramatic. SEIU Healthcare Michigan boasted it was the fastest growing union in Michigan. Then the law changed. The SEIU membership dropped from 55,265 members to 10,918, a tsunami of 44,347 members. The unions placed Proposition 4 on the November 2012 general ballot. Prop 4 was a constitutional amendment which would have guaranteed the right to collective bargaining of home healthcare workers. President Obama carried Michigan in the 2012 election, but the labor sponsored Prop 4 was defeated 56-44. The Michigan legislature responded by enacting legislation that turned Michigan into a right to work state. The impact of the decision is immediate. An unknown number, but most likely over 100,000, homecare workers will probably drop their union membership, and substantially increase their take home pay if Michigan is a precedent. Yet, the public sector unions dodged a bullet. Abood was not formally overruled. If the public employee sector becomes “right to work,” then the ranks of the public employee unions will drop dramatically. Their political power is also at risk.