Thursday, December 31, 2015
“Happy New year America. We still have so much to accomplish this year, my last full year as President. Don’t believe the naysayers who say I’m a lame duck. Not me. We have so much to accomplish this year as I fulfill my 2008 campaign promises. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush were dead ducks once they lost their reelection bids. Not me; I won big over the hapless Mitt Romney. Presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were lame ducks because their presidencies were exhausted. Not me. I’ve spent the past 7 years golfing and vacationing at taxpayer expense to stay refreshed rather than reading daily briefings and position papers. Martha’s Vineyard in the summer and Oahu during winter are invigorating. My golf game is better than ever. The most immediate goal is to close GITMO. I promised it, and I fulfill my campaign promises, unlike most candidates. GITMO will close, despite Congressional objections, even if I have to release some of the detainees onto the streets. I’m not worried about Congress. They will not impeach me no matter what I do this year. Our Congressional policy remains simple – Stonewall. I’m also not worried about the Supreme Court. Any decisions will be decided after my term in office is long over. Besides, we proved we could intimidate Chief Justice Roberts on the two critical ObamaCare opinions. My legacy of fundamentally transforming America rests on the election of Hillary Clinton as my successor. My Administration, my guys, will not indict her, period. Islamic terrorism, despite reports to the contrary, does not exist. I know from my wonderful, youthful years growing up in Islamic Indonesia that Muslims are peaceful. Therefore any terrorists cannot be true Muslims. If there are any new attacks on our safe homeland I will first reaffirm that we should not blame Islam and Muslims for the attacks. Second, I will use the attacks as a call for further gun control. I know that I did not expressly campaign for gun control in 2008, but you all really knew I supported gun control and gay marriage. I just wasn’t ready to come out then. I will announce executive orders next week that will bypass Congress on gun control. I will continue to unilaterally implement open borders as well as de facto amnesty for those already here. My foreign policy is premised on the United States being an imperialistic power, which must change. We have pulled out of Iraq, as promised. We have one more year to leave Afghanistan, as promised. We have stayed out of the quicksand of the Mideast and will remain out of China and Russia’s way. I recognize Iran as the true power in the Mideast, and will continue to practice appeasement with the Mullahs. I despise Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. My disdain will reach new heights in 2016. Note carefully that our NSA is still spying on them. Israel will not be allowed to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities during the upcoming year. We once threatened to shot their attack planes out of the sky if they attacked Iran. That threat remains a lynchpin of our Mideast strategy. It’s clear that the Syrian conflict is fueled by global warming, which remains the greatest threat to the security of America. We will implement, through the EPA and other agencies, the recent Paris accords on climate change with or without Congressional support. The Paris Accords are cleverly drafted to be binding under international law even without Congressional approval. You should not think of investing in coal, or other fossil fuels. The Republicans in Congress renewed the solar and wind subsidies. We will fight fracking and offshore oil. I will declare all federal lands a national monument if necessary. I have substantially reduced our military. We can transfer those funds to social problems. The Navy is done to 280 ships. The Army and Air Force have similarly shrunk. More cuts are to come. We might finally get rid of the effective ground support A 10 Warthogs. Our economic policy is based on two operating principles: redistributionism and increased government regulation since the government is the source of economic prosperity. We must continue to transfer resources to the disadvantaged communities. Michelle will continue to fight for restrictions on unhealthy foods, especially for our children. The criminal justice system is fundamentally unfair. It discriminates against minorities. I will continue to side with my black brothers against the racist police. I will speak out about police shootings while remaining silent on black on black crimes within the inner cities. Restraining the police remains one of the Department of Justice’s priorities. Look for continued criminal prosecutions of corporations on any ground. I will pardon scores of prisoners, and, if necessary, members of my administration. Happy 2016 New Year from Oahu!. I will now return to the links”
Ethan Crouch, Texas' affluenza teenager/brat fled justice in America with Tonya, his mom, or was it mommy and the brat? They fled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – not a barrio. Ethan ducked out of a routine probation meeting after a video recorded a raucous party with teenage friends, presumably affluenza soulbodies. The video does not show Ethan imbibing, which would have been a clear violation of the terms of his probation. If he wasn’t drinking, it would have been his only smart act of the past three years. In any event momma and momma’s boy fled to the consternation of Tarrant County. The District Attorney, Sheriff, and much of America were chagrined at the 10 years probation handed out by a hopelessly flawed Tarrant County judge in response to a novel, legally unrecognized claim of affluenza. Dick Miller, the defense attorney’s shrink, argued Ethan could not be responsible for killing four people and injured nine while driving drunk. One of Couch’s teenage passengers was left paralyzed for life with brain damage. Eric’s blood alcohol level tested at .24 three hours after the tragic accident. Miller testified that Ethan was so spoiled that he could not tell right from wrong. Miller now says he shouldn’t have used the word affluenza. “Spoiled brat” is a better description. Ethan Crouch was drunk; it was his choice to drink, to drive, to steal cases of beer from WalMart. The judge bought the crockpot argument hook, line and sinker. Justice should be blind – not stupid! Tarrant County wanted Eric back to face justice, real justice. Federal marshals joined the pursuit. A nationwide bolo went out for mother and son. The County has been accused by some of wasting too much money in seeking the affluenza brat. Whatever they spent was a small price for the return of the errant Eric. Mother and child had carefully prepared their escape from justice. He died his blond hair black, She cut her hair. They ditched their identifications. Who would find the gringos in Puerto Vallarta, popular with affluent Americans? The Couch’s failed to take one critical precaution. They should have bought some burner phones. Instead, the idiots used their cell phone, even being stupid enough to use it to order a pizza from Domino’s in Puerto Vallarta. Duane “Mad Dog” Chapman, the fabled bounty hunter, could have brought them back. He had tracked down in 2003 the fleeing date rape drug rapist Andrew Luster, the heir to the Max Factor fortune, in Puerto Vallarta. Chapman though is persona non-gratis in Mexico. Mexican authorities arrested mother and child for violating Mexican law. They overstayed their lawful trip to Mexico by not registering under Mexican law. Momma was deported yesterday to Los Angeles, and was escorted in handcuffs through LAX. She faces up to ten years in jail. Ethan though is still in Mexico. Attorneys obtained an injunction entitling him to a hearing on his claim that it would be unfair to deport him to the United States. He’s seeking justice and fairness in Mexico in an immigration jail in Mexico City. It may take days, weeks, or even months for a decision to be reached. There’s no requirement of a speedy resolution in Mexico. Mexico has no use for him. They’ll happily ship him back to the states, but let them take as much time as they want. Keep Ethan in a Mexican jail however long the system takes. I say, let him stay in the Mexican jail without momma. Maybe he will start to rot in the Mexican jail. Maybe he will think about his acts. Maybe he will reacquire a respect for American justice. And maybe, even under the sentencing quirks of Texas law for juveniles, justice delayed may not be justice denied for Ethan Couch.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Professor Patrick Harran is a brilliant organic chemistry professor on the rise. He graduated from Skidmore in 1990, followed by a Ph.D. in 195 at Yale. He then served as a postdoc at Stanford and moved in 1997 to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for almost 11 years. He received many awards in this time. He was extensively wooed by UCLA and joined the school in July 2008 as the first holder of the endowed Donald J. and Jane M. Cram Professor of Organic Chemistry. UCLA offered him a $3.2 million budget to build a state of the art organic chemistry laboratory as part of the deal. His current annual salary is stated to be $302,000. Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji was a brilliant student from Pakistan. She graduated from Pomona College in May 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree. Professor Harran hired her as a graduate research assistant in his new UCLA lab. She began work in October 2008. Tragedy followed. Shari was transferring t-butyl lithium from one container to another on December 29, 2008 when it escaped. T-butyl lithium is a pyrophoric chemical. It ignites spontaneously when exposed to air, as it did when it escaped from Shari’s plastic syringe. Her clothes caught on fire. She sustained second and third degree burns on 40% of her body, succumbing to the injuries 18 days later on January 16, 2009. Investigations quickly revealed lax lab safety procedures on the part of UCLA. A UCLA investigator on October 28, two months before the lab tragedy, found a number of deficiencies, including “eye protection, nitrile (synthetic rubber) gloves and lab coats were not worn by laboratory personnel.” Cal/OSHA cited UCLA 16 times in 14 the moths after the Sangji accident for safety violations. UCLA graduate students had earlier received severe, but non-fatal, burns in November 2007, and December 22, 2008 without changes in safety procedures. In neither case was the victim wearing a lab coat. Sheri Sangji’s accident was a tragedy waiting to happen. These deficiencies persisted at the time of the tragedy. Indeed, Shari was wearing neither a standard lab coat nor a fire resistant lab coat. She was wearing instead a synthetic sweatshirt, which easily caught on fire. Cal/OSHA fined UCLA $32,825 in May 2009 for 4 safety citations at the time of Shari’s accident. A separate blistering, criminal report was sent to the Los Angeles District Attorney, who proceeded in file in 2011 three criminal felony charges against UCLA and three (later raised to our) against Professor Harran for violations of California’s safety codes, including the failure to provide proper safety training. Los Angeles is one of several communities that routinely investigate workplace deaths for possible criminal violations. Professor Harran’s response to Ms. Sangji’s tragic death was that it was unfortunate, but that she was a “seasoned chemist who chose not to wear protective gear.” This line of argument was echoed by the defense attorneys and supporters of Professor Harran. The lawyers also argued that a prosecution of Professor Harran would impede the war on cancer. The facts are vastly different. Ms. Sangji had never handled this type of chemical prior to her work at UCLA. She knew a lot, but received no “generalized safety training.” Professor Harran also admitted that no fire resistant clothing was available to lab employees at the time of the accident. Ms. Sangji. Not only was she not ever properly trained, but she also was never issued a lab coat. To be fair to UCLA, lab safety was “loose” in the academic community as compared to private labs. The PI’s in charge of the university labs, such as professor Patrick Harran, were “captains” of their ships, judged by the grants they brought in. As more and more details emerged, and as the science community internationally did not rally to the defense of UCLA or Professor Harran, the case became increasingly untenable. UCLA settled on July 27, 2012. It agreed to tighten safety standards and set up a $500,000 scholarship fund in her name. UCLA has also said that it has spent at least $20 million in improving lab safety on its campus. UCLA created a Center for Laboratory Safety. UCLA performed only 365 lab inspections in 2007 but almost 2,400 in 2010. Professor Harran held out for two more years. He was concerned that if he received a felony conviction then he would effectively be cut off from future research grants. A final agreement was reached with the DA’s office on June 20, 2014. He agreed to perform 800 hours of community service at the UCLA Medical Center, teach an organic chemistry course to inner city students for 5 summers, pay $10,000 to the Grossman Burn center, and commit no more safety violations. If he upholds his end of the agreement, then all charges will be dropped in five years by the DA’s office. He said “I have always felt I failed Sheri, and I deeply mourn her loss.” The legal defense was expensive. The UCLA Board of regents retained legal counsel to represent both the University and separately Professor Harran. The defense did not come cheap. Paul Hastings represented UCLA at a cost of $3.1 million. Mannett, Phelps and Phillips, representing UCLA received $1.3 million in fees. Munger, Tolles & Olson, a third large firm, also received legal fees in the case. UCLA spent about $4.5 million in legal fees and costs in the criminal liability for over 7,700 billable hours. One lawyers charge $$792,000 in fees while 4 others received over $500,000 in fees. Five dozen attorneys, paralegals, and clerks worked on the defense. The international research community has paid great attention to the LA case, resulting in changes. Professor Harran is free to carry on his promising research. Ms. Sangji’s family protested to no avail at the settlement hearing. Professor Harran’s reputation is tarred by the tragedy. He was on the path again to professional success. Or not! It was announced in November 2015 that the Chemistry Division of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) nominated Professor Harran to be a prestigious AALS Fellow. An uproar resulted. Too many scientists did not, after all, want to be associated with Professor Harran. The AAAS announced on December 22 that the Chemistry Division withdrew its nomination of the Professor. It had become “apparent that an initial review of nomination materials had not included all relevant information. Members of the nomination reviewing committee recently became aware of a 2008 case involving the death of a technician in the laboratory of Dr. Harran.” Professor Harran needs to make amends for Sheri’s death – not just the minimal conditions imposed by the legal settlement. If not, more lumps of coal await him.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Merton Roland Nachman, Jr., a 91 year old Montgomery, Alabama attorney passed away on November 24. He led a good life as an attorney and public citizen. M. Roland Nachman was a pillar of the Alabama Bar and nationally recognized as a trial attorney. I didn’t know him. I never met him. I didn’t even know who he was until two months ago, but was amazed by what I discovered. His nickname was “Rod,” as in “fishing rod.” I’ve taught the famous defamation case of New York Times v. Sullivan for over four decades. The facts are pretty clear. Four Civil Rights leaders, including A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement decided to target Montgomery, Alabama Commissioner L.B. Sullivan as a racist and bigot, which he clearly was. They ran an $8,000 full-page ad in the New York Times on March 29, 1960. It was entitled “Heed Their Rising Voices,” Seeking to raise money for the legal defense of Reverend King in a criminal perjury case. The ad further depicted the violent history of the struggle for civil rights in Alabama. The ad did not mention Sullivan by name or position, but he argued it defamed him. The New York Times, as publisher of the ad, was legally a publisher of the allegedly defamatory remarks. Sullivan was a city commissioner in charge of the Montgomery Police, similar to the more infamous Bull Conner in Birmingham, Alabama. Montgomery was both the Birthplace of the Confederacy and the Cradle of the Civil Rights Movement, beginning most spectacularly with the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the arrival of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. A critical movement in the struggle was the violence against the Freedom Riders in Anniston, Birmingham and Montgomery. Governor John Patterson and Commissioner Sullivan promised John Seigenthaler, the Special Representative from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, that the riders would be protected when they arrived in Montgomery the next day. No police were present when the Greyhound Bus arrived on May 20, 1961. Instead, the Freedom Riders were greeted by a mob of KKK thugs, who proceeded to viciously beat the Freedom Riders, often to the point of death. One of the battered Freedom Riders was a young college student, John Lewis, who is now a Congressman from Atlanta. John Lewis subsequently had his skull cracked in the police attack on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Sullivan told the KKK representative that they had 10 minutes to do as they pleased with the bus riders. In addition, he sent all the “white” ambulances into the repair shop for the day, delaying critical medical care to a few of the victims. Commissioner Sullivan had sent the police home. Fatalities were avoided when Colonel Floyd Mann, the Alabama Commissioner of Public Safety (1959-1963), came to the rescue of the victims with the Alabama State Patrol, which was under his control. Colonel Mann was one of the unsung White heroes of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. He believed in segregation, but also believed in the rule of law, having served in law enforcement most of his adult life. He felt the police should not assist the rabid segregationists. Yes, Lester Bruce Sullivan was an unabashed bigot. For example, he had recommended closing Alabama State during student boycotts. He said the university, one of the separate but unequal universities, provided only “graduates of hate and racial bitterness.” M. Roland Nachman was the attorney for Commissioner Sullivan in his defamation suit against the New York Times. He had seen the ad in the New York Times and brought it to the attention of the three Montgomery Commissioners. He said he thought it was a perfect defamation suit. Alabama recognized truth as an absolute defense to defamation, but Alabama followed the majority rule that the truth had to match the defamatory remark. The ad was off in several minor details, including the song the students boycotting Alabama State sang, and the number of times the Reverend King was arrested. Thus the libel was actionable. The jury took 2 hours and 20 minutes in finding for Sullivan, awarding $500,000 in damages. For some reason a few months ago I researched the background of the case. Nachman was the attorney for plaintiff Sullivan. It was fascinating reading up on him. The case was part of the larger Southern fight against integration. The purpose of the lawsuit and others was to muzzle the Northern press, especially the New York Times and CBS. $300 million in claims were pending against the media. Nachman though was not a dyed in the wool Southern racist. He was moderate and a supporter of Civil Rights. He was born and raised in the caldron of Southern racism, but he attended Harvard University, graduating cum laude in 1943, and then served in Naval Intelligence. He returned to Harvard after the War and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1948. He returned to Montgomery as an Assistant Attorney General for the state. He always loved his years at Harvard, and often summered on Cape Cod. He knew a wider world than the segregationist South he grew up in. He served as President of the Alabama Bar Association from 1973-74. He also served on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, and as a director of the American Judicature Society. He was eminently respected as a trial lawyer, having been a fellow of the American College of Trial lawyers. He was a member of the American Law Institute and listed in 1997-98 in the Best Lawyers in America. M. Roland Nachman, Jr. was a very good lawyer. He won the case in the Alabama courts, but recognized before the United States Supreme Court that “Either I will win this case, or they will change the law of the land.” The Supreme Court unanimously changed the law of the land, bringing defamation under purview the Freedom of Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The Court promulgated the famous test of actual malice in cases of public officials against media defendants. Actual malice means that the paper published the statement knowing of its falsity or in reckless disregard of its falsity. The Court then decided for itself that the facts did not meet the actual malice standard eventhough plaintiff had evidence that the newspaper ignored the warnings of its local stringers that there were inaccuracies in the ad. Nachman was quoted later in life that he would have preferred to be on the winning side of the decision rather than the losing side. He lost the case, but won the legal battle for later defendants. He subsequently represented a number of media defendants in defamation cases. He used New York Times v. Sullivan, to successfully argue the actual malice test. His daughter once asked him why he became a lawyer. He chose the law “because it solves the problems of mankind and sets the standard of behavior.” Well said! Life well led!
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Merry Christmas from Congress: The Combined Omnibus Spending and Tax Bills Contain 2242 Pages of Ornaments
Congress just passed an Omnibus Spending Bill and a Tax Bill. The spending bill is 2009 pages with an additional 233 pages of tax benefits. Merry Christmas! Senator Rand Paul voted against it he said because neither he nor any other member of Congress had an opportunity to read the bill before voting on it. That hasn’t stopped Congress in the past! Conservatives are decrying the Omnibus Spending Bill for profligate spending and busting open the sequester spending caps. Liberals decry the lifting the 4 decade ban on oil exports. Spending will increase $1.14 trillion through 2016 and $680 billion in tax cuts (expenditures). The deficit will rise by $680 billion over the next decade, not including interest on the debt. It’s a perfect bipartisan Congressional Bill- increase spending, lower taxes, riders, earmarks and pork barrel – something for everyone who wanted something. Most members of Congress wanted the ornaments. There have been few opportunities in recent years to feed at the public through. Merry Christmas to All! Senator Schumer and House Minority Leader Pelosi are gloating because they stopped many of the Republican riders and gained some of their goals. Speaker Ryan is disappointed with the process, but happy with what was passed Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ted Cruz and others are haranguing it as a failure. They are wrong this time. A look at the ornaments shows many victories for the Republicans with tradeoffs with Democrats. The problem the Republican Congress faced was that the Obama Administration agencies have spewed out so many rules and regulations the GOP objects to that they could not restrain all of them. They had to pick and choose the riders to attach. Thus, the President’s War on Coal survived, as does the spending for Planned Parenthood, and the admission of Syrian refugees. One environmental rider which survived requires the national Park Service to justify park by park the bottled water ban in the parks as well as calculating the purported savings in recycling and landfill costs through a bottle ban. The current bans on abortion-related spending continues as well as on closing GITMO or transferring the GITMO prisoners to the mainland. The government is barred from listing the Sage Grouse on the Endangered Species List and also from implementing the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The tradeoff for lifting the oil export ban was extending the solar credits for five years to 2019 and a shorter extension for the wind credits. The Republicans gave the Democrats permanent extensions of the $1,000 Enhanced Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college. They increased Pell Grant spending and added $2 billion to the budget of the National Institutes of Health. Yet they made permanent 20 tax cuts and extensions that have in the past been subject to annual renewals. They postponed for two years the reviled Cadillac Tax and 2.3% Medical Devices taxes part of ObamaCare. They also eliminated a significant bailout to insurance companies losing money on the exchanges. No taxpayer money can subsidize the insurers. In addition, the 2½% excise tax on health insurers was delayed. Tax cuts and extensions are for such beneficiaries as Broadway, apple cider producers, throroughbred horse owners, teachers who provide supplies to the classes, stores that donate extra food to charities, rum makers in Puerto Rico, plug-in motorcycles, real estate investment trusts, timberland owners, workers on Indian reaservations, and NASCAR racetrack developers. In addition, multi-national banks are excused from paying United States income taxes on foreign taxes. Small businesses can deduct up to $500,000 in expenses for machinery, office equipment, and computer technology. The research and development tax credit for companies became permanent. The military budget was substantially increased, but the allocation for the infamous runaway blimp was slashed by 75%, contra to the Administration’s request to increase funding. $3.8 billion was transferred from the BNP bank settlement to restore funding to the compensation fund for 9/11 victims and responders and for those of other terrorist attacks. The USDA and FDA were blocked from issuing new food guidelines until the agencies can show they are “based on significant scientific agreement; and … limited in scope to dietary and nutritional information.” Further limits are placed on reducing sodium levels for children “until the latest scientific research establishes the reduction is beneficial to children.” Restrictions were placed on the IRS’ ability to investigate politically active non-profit organizations. The SEC was barred from forcing public companies to disclose campaign contributions. Visitors from the 39 countries who otherwise do not need visas to visit the United States will be subject to additional requirements if they visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria in the past 5 years. No funds were allocated to advocate or promote gun control. Companies are allowed to share information with each other and federal agencies on cybersecurity. Some of the provisions do not reach the stage of being eye-raising. They include a ban on the redesign of the $1 bill while permitting the Capitol Police to allow sledding on the capitol grounds. Merry Christmas to the K Street lobbyists.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
How Many Redos Does President Obama Get On ISIS Terrorism? President Obama is on a Do-Over Tour of the Pentagon and CIA this week. He’s trying to convince the American public that he has a handle on Islamic Terrorism, a subject he dares not mention in public. He said ISIS was contained the day before the Paris attacks. He gave a speech in Paris a few days after the Paris attacks in which he said nothing. He and his Cabinet officials said America was safe, followed by the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino. He followed those attacks by a speech in which he laid out his plans for fighting terrorism. It was Stay the Course because we are winning. That’s in essence what he said because he added nothing new to the dialogue. I’ve been out of the country for a week with intermittent internet access. I return and it’s still Stay the Course because ISIS is losing. He spoke at the Pentagon, a place he rarely visits, on Monday to show his leadership in the terrorism crisis. He said Stay the Course because ISIS is losing ground. He says the Air Force is dropping more bombs than ever on ISIS (I know he calls is ISIL), which is not saying much. The Air Force says it is running out of bombs. He will soon visit the CIA, another place frequented by his absence, to say Stay the Course. He announced today that he will visit the survivors in San Bernardino to empathize with them, to share n their grief, and to Stay the Course. Democratic politicians are getting scared. They are scared that they will not even be able to defeat Donald Trump next November. The President, their President, is hanging them out to dry. He hates talking about terrorism or ISIS. It shows, because there is no passion in these appearances. Passion? That’s for gun control. Passion? That’s for immigration reform. Passion? That’s for ObamaCare. No passion for the fight on Islamic Terror. That is a distraction to him. It sidetracks him from the issues he’s passionate about. It’s a nuisance because he does not, deep down, recognize Islamic Terror because Islam, at least the Islam he grew up with, is a religion of peace. Thus, these murderers are not terrorists, much less Islamic Terrorists. It does not exists. They may cry out Allahu Akbar as they blow themselves up and kill others, but they are not speaking for Islam. Or, at least, the President does not hear them. The world hears Allahu Akbar, but the President hears the sounds of silence. He is tone deaf. They are not crying out “Jesus is Great!” They are not crying out “For the Greater Glory of God.” They are crying out Allahu Akbar. But the President believes they are not true Muslims. He says ISIS is losing ground in Iraq. It continues to gain members. He says our allies are beating ISIS back. He says we are winning. He says Stay the Course. To be truthful, President Obama never said Stay the Course. He never said anything of substance. He believes the problem is one of message. Therefore, he is out campaigning for Stay the Course. He still believes in the power of his voice, The more he campaigned for ObamaCare 5 years ago, the more unpopular it became. As President Lincoln said: “He can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” The American people are smart. President Obama is barely fooling some of the American people some of the time. He should apologize in San Bernardino to the families because his Department of Homeland Security’s express policy was not to check social media for statements of visa applicants, while turning around and having him and the Administration spokespersons say the Syrian immigrants are fully vetted before being allowed to enter the United States. If the President were serious about fighting terrorism, he would can Susan Rice, a neophyte in security, as his National Security Advisor and Ben Rhodes, previously a political hack, as his Deputy National Security Advisor, as was Tom Donilon, his previous National Security Advisor. If the President were serious about fighting terrorism and ISIS, he would stop micromanaging the war and take the lawyers out of the picture. If the President were serious about the War on Islamic Terror, he would release the military on them. If the President were serious about the War On Islamic Terror, he would stop appeasing Iran. He won’t. What are the odds that while President Obama is out in California meeting with the families that he will not also be in California raising campaign contributions and playing golf? What are the odds that the Democrats will seek to duck and cover? How many do-overs does President Obama get on Islamic Terrorism? Not enough.
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Islamic Terrorism Strikes San Bernardino Multiple Choice Questions – more than one correct answer possible 1) What is the reason for yesterday’s attack in San Bernardino? A) Radical Islam B) Sudden Jihad Syndrome C) Workplace Violence C is the correct answer if you work for the Obama Administration, A & B for everyone else 2) Which of these did not kill Americans in the name of Islam A) Tsarnaev Borthers B) Major Nidal Malik Hasan C) Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad D) Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez E) Yusef Ibrahim F) The Underwear Bomber G) The Times Square Bomber F and G are the correct answers because they failed All of them in the eyes of President Obama 3) Who said in the past month that no credible threat exists against the United States? A) President Obama B) FBI Director James Comey C) Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson All of the above 4) Which Democratic Presidential candidate has not used te words radical Islam or Islamist terrorist? A) Hillary Clinton B) Bernie Sanders C) Martin O’Malley All of the above 5) Who did not say 9 hours before the Paris attacks that ISIS was contained? A) General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff B) Senator Dianne Feinstein C) Secretary Hillary Clinton D) President Obama All but President Obama have clearly denied that ISIS was contained 6) Which is the largest security threat to the United States according to President Obama? A) Climate Change B) Russia C) China D) ISIS E) Radical Islam Climate change, of course 7) How likely is it that the refugees from ISIS, such as the Syrians, will pay a steep price for the Radical Islamist attacks on Paris and San Bernardino? A) 0% B) 25% C) 50% D) 75% E) 100% Most will find themselves unwelcomed in Western countries
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Both President Hollande of France and president Obama of the United tates entered office as socialists President Hollande is an avowed socialist where President Obama was a closet socialist. He hid it from most voters, but any doubts should have been removed with the Toledo impromptu debate between Joe the Plumber and candidate Obama. The Senator’s redistributionist views were present for all to see and hear. Both entered office with left wing economics. President Hollande’s initial acts met with substantial resistance and were a failure in advancing the economy. He was smart enough to back off. President Obama gave us the non-shovel ready Stimulus Bill, the bloated budget, and government dependency across the board, especially with the failing ObamaCare. President Hollande never forgot France’s historic role. It continues to use its military, especially the French Foreign Legion, to promote stability in its former African colonies, if they seek assistance. President Obama has steadily been running away from America’s role over the past seven decades as the stabilizing force in the world. He does not believe in American Exceptionalism, but rather America as an Imperialistic force in the world. Thus, he has steadily shrunk the military and ceded Ukraine to Russia, the Mideast to Iran and Russia, and the South China Sea to China. He went out of his ay to insult England and Israel, our two most steadfast allies since 1949. He apologized to much of the rest of the world for America being America. He hailed and backed the “Arab Spring,” fro which as sprung the chaos of Libya and Syria. He pulled all forces out of Iraq, opening the door to the birth of ISIS. ISIS s the defining moment for both Presidents. President Hollande responded to the Charlie assassinations with severe force against ISIS. He responded to the recent Paris attacks by calling it an act of war by ISIS, and further unleashing his military on the Islamic terrorists. He has also fought against the burgeoning anti-Semitism in Europe. President Obama, on the other hand, has proven himself to be worse than either Neville Chamberlain of the Munich Appeasement and the failed Presidency of Jimmy Carter. Both recognized, albeit too late, that their policies failed. He said the day before the Paris bombings that ISIS was contained. Indeed, his National Security Advisor, the proven incompetent Susan Rice, is going around even today saying that ISIS is contained. We know it because its conquered territory has shrunk by 25%. Let’s think about that a moment. A doctor manages to reduce the size of a cancer tumor by 25%, but the cancer has already metastasized through the body. ISIS is in Libya and Lebanon, and its acolytes are popping up over the world. Radical Islam is a cancer upon civilization. He said ISIS was contained after ISIS had just blown the Russian airliner out of the sky and then bomber Beirut and Baghdad. He said ISIS was contained the day before the ISIS cell killed 129 in Paris. He referred to the Paris terrorist attack as a “setback.” President Hollande referred to the attacks as Act of War. The pentagon then proudly announced that it had taken out 116 ISIS fuel trucks. All is not as it sounds. The Pentagon warned the drivers to get out of the way before the A-10 Warthogs (which the Pentagon wants to scrap) and the C-47 gunships destroyed them. The French and Russian air attacks have no such qualms. A tank, fuel truck, APC, or other vehicle of ISIS should be subject to attack onsight. They are targets of opportunity for almost every other military. Russia said its pilots have freedom to hit at will in Syria The Obama White House Rules of Engagement are so strict that the military and drone attacks cannot put civilians at risk. They are micro-managing the battle against ISIS to a greater extent than the LBJ White House micro-managed the bombing campaign in Vietnam. Wars are not decided by the conquest of territory, but by the defeat of the enemy forces. President Obama resorts to ridicule and sarcasm in attacking his political enemies, but cannot use the phrase “Radical Islam.” If you do not even know who your enemies are, then you cannot defeat them. Secretary of State John Kerry said last Tuesday that the terrorists had a “rationale” in attacking Cherlie Hebdo on January 7. He walked the remarks back on Wednesday, but once again we have an insight into the real thinking of the Obama Administration. Is America at risk? Ask yourselves: Does ISIS have the desire to attack the United States? Answer: Yes Ask yourselves: Does ISIS have the will to attack the United States? Answer: Yes The attack on Times Square almost succeeded on May 1, 2010. ISIS made it clear that they intend to attack Times Square and the White House. Never underestimate the intelligence and capabilities of your enemies. Box cutters brought down the World Trade Center. Does President Obama have his head stuck in the sand like an Ostrich?
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Never underestimate the capabilities of your enemies. Box cutters brought down the World Trade Center. Never underestimate the ferocity of religious warriors. The Ottoman Empire was built on Islam Never forget who your enemy is War is war Justice is not war Cities such as Paris, London, and New York present a seemingly infinite number of soft targets. You cannot safeguard every restaurant, bar, street, or other soft target. Security checks can minimize the risk to arenas, coliseums, stadiums, and critical facilities Thus three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Stade de France, one after a security guard denied him admission Terrorism is a global threat. Radical Islam has attacked nightclubs (Bali in 2002), hotels (Bali 2005 and Jakarta 2009), schools (Beslan 2004), and subways in London (2005) and Moscow (2010), shot up trains in Mumbai (2006) and Madrid (2004), blew up ferries (Manila 2004), kidnapped women in Nigeria (2014), and mounted coordinated attacks in Mumbai (2008) and now Paris. President Obama is still clueless. Yesterday morning, after ISIS blew up a Russian airline, and suicide bombers just wrecking havoc in Beirut and Baghdad, but before the Paris terrorist attacks, he said ISIS has been contained, “which is our goal.” He earlier said our goal was to defeat ISIS. He earlier called ISIS the junior varsity. President Obama is still clueless; he just doesn’t get it We have to grieve, empathize with the victims, and express ourselves, but always remember words of outrage will not defeat ISIS The keys to defeating terrorism are to destroy it at the source, combined with great domestic and international intelligence, and sometimes luck Asymmetrical warfare cannot be defeated by the traditional rules of war Democracy will sometimes have to give up some rights of freedom to combat terrorism ISIS will again strike the West The United States is at risk There should be no doubt about what ISIS will do to Israel if it gets the chance A backlash will grow against Islam and Muslim refugees in Europe, hopefully expressed only at the ballot box
Friday, November 13, 2015
We’ve had the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, the Beat Generation, the Lost Generation, Hippies, the Now Generation, the Me Generation, and now we have the Entitlement Generation. The Entitles believe they are entitled to perfection and an escape from reality. They want trigger warnings and comfort zones. They try to muzzle, silence, and fire those who disagree with them. They believe they are the only ones entitled to Freedom of Speech. They are in the ideal place – the nation’s campuses, where they have been pampered by a liberal professoriate. Today’s colleges need a Father Hesburgh of Notre Dame and Boston University’s John Silber - leaders who recognize the university is a cathedral of learning, and not intolerance. The University of Missouri last week was partially a speakout, or scream out, against white privilege. Tensions had been building over a series of racially charged incidents over the past year. The demonstrators at Missouri knew they had two aces: President Obama and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. They knew the leaders of the University of Missouri were hapless and would not have the backing of either the state or federal government. Sadly the students built upon the tragedy of Ferguson. They repeated the wrong lessons of Ferguson, which was based on fraud. Michael Brown, the Gentle Giant, did not have his back turned with his hands raised, saying “Hands Up; Don’t Shoot.” He was a thief who reached for Officer Wilson. Even President Obama’s Justice Department found the police shooting justified. Some of the Missouri grievances are legitimate. They have received racist taunts, which are unacceptable. Racism, of all stripes, exists in society. It will manifest itself on campus. Yet the widely publicized feces Swastika on the dorm wall is the work of a deranged mind – not representative of the university. Drunken use of the N word by a teenager is also not representative of the university, but rather the immaturity of teenagers. Payton Head, the African American President of the Student Body, relayed warnings about the KKK. He posted “Working with U of Missouri police, Mo. State Highway Patrol, & National Guard after KKK members had been ‘confirmed’ to be on campus.” He advised the students to stay away from windows and take other precautions. The Missouri University alert system notified students that no threat existed. Head apologized later that the threat was false, and said the student body could impeach him if they wanted. He had earlier claimed in September that as he was walking on campus some men in a SUV yelled racist, sexist and homophobic slurs at him. His credibility is at issue. Brenda Snith-Lezama, the student body Vice President, also African American, has some interesting views on the First Amendment. She said on MSNBC Wednesday that journalists claiming First Amendment rights in reporting the Missouri protests are creating a “hostile” and “unsafe” environment. She similarly said: “I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and other students here …. I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we all can learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.” The First Amendment problem doesn’t end there at Missouri. Tim Tai, a student was photographing the demonstration for ESPN when a number of protestors confronted him. Professor Melissa Clark, with a courtesy appointment in the Journalism Department, went up to him screaming “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.” The Journalism Dean said her behavior was contra to the First Amendment. She resigned her courtesy appointment in the Journalism Department. Jonathan Butler, an African American graduate student, initiated a hunger strike demanding that the President resign among other demands. Butler claimed to be oppressed by “white male privilege.” Jonathan’s dad, Eric, earned $8.4 million last year as Executive Vice President for Sales and Marketing at the Union Pacific Railroad. One of Jonathan’s complaints was that during October’s Homecoming Parade the President’s car crashed into him. This incident became a cause celebre of the protestors. Videos show Butler rushed the car. The hypocrisy, naiveté or stupidity of the two student body leaders is notable. The population of Missouri is 83.5% white and 11.8% African American. The demographics of the student body at the University of Missouri is similar: 79% white and 8% African American. In other words, whites elected them as their officers, just as whites helped elect President Obama. The white population, the privileged whites, are the ones who created the University of Missouri. It is the privileged whites, the taxpayers, who support the University of Missouri. And it is the privileged whites who are supporting the financial aid, especially scholarships, that many of these students may be receiving. Now, we can’t be certain that this story is any truer than the false Ferguson Narrative. Yet, Head’s actions sparked the demonstrations and protests at Missouri. The students’ protests were joined last Saturday by 32 African American members of the 4-5 football team promising to cease all football activities until their demands were met, including the resignation of Missouri’s President Tim Wolfe. The President and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned. Here’s what we therefore know about the Missouri protests. Many of the grievances were legitimate, but some were fraudulent. Yale was also experiencing the Black protests in the past weeks. Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Council sent a message October 28 urging students to reconsider wearing Halloween costumes that could offend some students. The request can be viewed as a reasonable request, but it is not a mandate. Erika Chirtakis, the associate master of Yale’s Stillman residential college, sent out a response, also of a reasonable nature. She wrote: “Is there no room anymore for a child to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative, yes, offensive? That triggered a reaction and backlash. As did the alleged refusal of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), in trouble at other campuses for racist behavior, to admit Balck women and Latinas to a party, saying “White girls only.” The fraternity denies it, but the belief persists in the Yale community. Nicholas A. Christakis, Erika’s husband, and the master of Stillman College, was confronted by a student (the video is disgusting). Dara Huggins, the President of Yale’s Black Women’s Coalition wanted Nicholas to resign from his administrative position. Yale’s President apologized to several minority students for Yale’s “failure to make them feel safe on campus.” The odds are that Nicholas and Erika will not be masters next year of any of Yale’s 12 residential colleges. Students at Clemson last January demanded a suspension of the First Amendment. They demanded the University prosecute “criminally predatory behavior and defamatory speech committed by members of the Clemson University community ….” Capri’Nara Kendall, now a senior at the University of Michigan, recounts a conversation as a freshman. Another student asked the African American if she was attending the University on an athletic scholarship. She was on an academic scholarship. It is insulting to be asked if you’re at the school because you are a jock rather than for your intelligence. Others asked her the same question. However, an alternative explanation is possible. Perhaps a socially awkward teenager couldn’t think of a better way to start a conversation with the classmate. Regardless of whether the question was asked maliciously or innocently, it is demeaning. It also brings up a related problem with affirmative action. Others may think, but probably won’t ask it aloud “Are you here because of your abilities, or because of affirmative action?” The assumption is that as a member of a minority group the student received preferential, or privileged, access. Then we have the follow up at Claremont McKenna College. Tempers were rising for months due to an inadequate response to a number of incidents. Lisette Espinosa wrote an op-ed in which she expressed discomfort as a low-income Latina. Adjusting to college is often difficult for students, even when white and affluent. Mary Spellman, Dean of Students, emailed Lisette, promising to better serve students “who don’t fit our CMC mold.” That was pouring fuel on the fire when the email went viral and ballistic. I think I know what Dean Spellman was trying to say, but it clearly came across as condescending and insulting. Two students commenced a hunger strike, promising to continue until Dean Spellman resigned, which she did on Thursday. Students at Vanderbilt first demanded the firing of Professor Carol Swain and are now just demanding her suspension along with diversity training. Her supposed hatred to minorities was shown by a column she wrote in the Tennessean in response to the Charlie Herbo terrorist attacks in Paris. The conservative African American professor of Political Science and Law wrote: “If America is to be safe, it must remove the foxes from the henhouses and institute serious monitoring of Islamic organizations.” Critics labeled her remarks “Hate Speech.” She is protected by tenure, but Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos did her no favors. He said: “I have heard and appreciated the serious concerns of our many students and alumni who have signed a petition calling for the suspension of Carol Swain…. Professor Swain’s opinions are her own. They do not reflect the opinions of the University in any way. They are not my opinions, the opinions of the provost, or the opinions of university leadership.” Students at Ithaca College want President Tom Rochon fired for inadequate responses to the complaints of the minority students and the failure to increase the number of minority students. These students, collectively representing nationally the “Social Justice Movement,” are demanding free tuition, forgiveness of student loans, and a $15 minimum wage. They feel entitled. They are emboldened by Missouri and Yale. Those of us who lived through the 1960’s remember how the student demonstrations, often, but not always, anti-war and anti-draft directed, spread like a wildfire from Berkeley through America as the students realized university presidents lacked backbones. Chancellor Zeppos is apparently auditioning for the presidency of a major university. University presidents usually rise through the academic ranks, showing an ability to both solve problems and often balance competing interests. It takes a rare talent to please students, faculty, alumni, administrators and staff, and regents/trustees and, if at a public institution, legislators and the Governor. It is clear that today’s young blacks will not quietly tolerate the insults their parents and grandparents suffered through. Nor will other minorities. They take offense to insults and indignities, real or perceived. They want respect. They deserve respect. They have a right to object and protest. That though does not give them the right to act like thugs and bullies, or as I referred 1½ years ago to the faculty and students who drove off conservative commencement speakers as “Academic Neanderthals.” Insensitivity becomes a capital offense in their eyes. So too does failure to respond as they would like. Criticism of them is racism. They cow administrators and faculty. They are a minority on campus, but a loud, bullying minority. Demands for mandatory diversity training may have one benefit. It might muzzle many of the racist statements, but it will not change racist thinking. For fear of saying something that could be construed as hate speech by these agitated students, the students may instead be met by the sound of silence. There will be a backlash, especially at the ballot box. Ronald Reagan was elected Governor of California in 1966 in response to the student riots, beginning with the Free Speech Riots, at Berkeley. The formerly popular incumbent Governor Edmund G. Brown lost by almost 1 million votes.
Monday, November 9, 2015
The mid-Midyear even year elections are always very interesting, like reading tea leaves to predict the future. If Presidential lections are every four years, then the midyear elections are every two, even numbered years. The Midyear elections generally draw a much smaller, more conservative turnout. The turnout in the odd number years is even lower and more conservative. These elections only have a few Gubernatorial elections and no regular Senate or House of Representatives election. Here is a belated update on last Tuesday’s elections due to waiting for the final vote counting. Taxes are always on the ballot. Seattle voters approved by 60-40% a 10 year, subsidized experiment in public campaign funding. Every voter will receive in every election cycle 4 $25 vouchers to be used as campaign contributions for candidates in local elections. The candidates in turn will agree to lower spending and contribution levels and must agree to participate in 3 debates. It will be funded by a property tax levy amounting to about $9/year on a $450,000 property. The tax will be much higher in fact because of rapidly escalating property values in King County (Seattle). Washington State voters responded to a Washington Supreme Court decision which threw out a 2/3 requirement for voter approved tax increases since that requirement would have to be in the state constitution. The voters approved a referendum which cut the state sales tax to 5.5% from 6.5% unless the Legislature placed on the ballot a provision to amend the state constitution with the 2/3 tax approval for tax increases. The state, counties, and cities have been imposing $billions in tax increases in recent years. Paul Allen sponsored a referendum which substantially barred the trafficking in in animal products to product tigers, lions, marine turtles, elephant tusks, and rhino horns. Colorado voted to divert $66 million in pot taxes to school funding. Pueblo County voters imposed a 5% excise tax on pot, expected to yield $13.5 million by2020. The proceeds would cover the tuition of county residents attending the two colleges in the county. Ohio voters may be Buckeye nuts with a mixture of potheads, but they are not dunderheads. They voted down two marijuana legalization proposals, one of which would have given the sponsors a monopoly in Ohio. The vote was not even close – 64-36%. Neighboring Michigan voters had even less tolerance for two disgraced, former GOP representatives who sought redemption by running for the legislative seats they were forced to vacate earlier this year. The erstwhile Tea Party backed Representatives could not conceal their public lust for each other. Todd Courser came in sixth with 415 votes in his race and Cindy Gamrat came in slightly better in her race with 912 votes and a third place finish. They ran in the wrong state. Bridgeport, Connecticut returned to office former Mayor Joseph Gann who had served 7 years in prison for corruption. He was convicted in 2003 of 16 counts after serving 12 years as Mayor. Some voters expressed forgiveness. Flint, Michigan tossed out their incumbent Mayor, who presided over the contaminated water poisoning of Flint children with elevated blood-lead levels. San Franciscans voted out their embattled, non-gun bearing, spousal abusing Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi by a 62-33%. Vicki Hennessy, the victor, will be the first woman Sheriff of Los Angeles. The voters retained Ed Lee as the first Chinese Mayor of San Francisco. San Francisco voters also voted down Prop P, an anti-Airbnb ordinance that would restrict short-term rentals with civil and criminal penalties. The measure was backed by the hotel employee union, but opposed by Airbnb, which spent about $8.5 million in opposition. Republicans retained their state Senate majorities in New York and Virginia. Matt Bevin, the Tea Party underdog, was elected Governor of Kentucky as Kentucky is rebelling against President Obama’s War on Coal. The Governor-Elect had mentioned his support for Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Yet, this past weekend he said he would change the Kentucky rule that requires the Clerk’s signature on the marriage licenses. The polls had him losing the election, but he won by a wide margin as only the second Republican Governor of Kentucky in 44 years. Democrats are now down to 17 governors. As widely reported, 61% of Houston voters rejected the HERO Ordinance, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The turnout in African American and conservative white neighborhoods was large. Both groups are against gay marriage. In addition, the advertising campaign against HERO featured bathroom privacy; i.e. do women want transgender men with entering woman restrooms. Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker is gay, but that didn’t matter in this election. HERO was endorsed by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Clinton. Texas voters made the right to hunt and fish a constitutionally protected right, becoming the 19th state to protect the right to hunt and fish.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
CNN and the Politico acted yesterday as if they caught Dr. Ben Carson in a defining “Gotcha” moment. Attack his credibility and he’s toast in the Republican primaries. This from the media, which sank to all time lows during the CNBC Debate Debacle. Dr. Carson wrote in his 1996 memoir, “Gifted Hands,” that he met General Westmoreland in Detroit. The story goes that the general was so impressed by the top ranking Junior ROTC cadet that the general offered him a scholarship to West Point. For that he has been pilloried today. We know that West Point generally does not offer scholarships because tuition is free. We also know that West Point usually needs a Congressional or Presidential recommendation for admission. We are told that General Westmoreland was not in Detroit when Dr. Carson said he met him. We are told that West Point has no record of applying to the Academy. We are told no scholarships were available. Hence, Dr. Carson has misspoken, if not outright lied. Therefore, we should not believe his otherwise great personal story. Therefore Dr. Carson’s campaign is toast. Or not! Dr. Carson was a teenager coming out of Detroit. The odds are that he would not know the difference between free tuition and a scholarship. We also know that some cadets get in by essentially bypassing the normal admissions route. We also know that no evidence exists that Dr. Carson and General Westmoreland did not meet. His memory could have been off as to the timing. The media is flyspecking Dr. Carson, as hey did with Governor Palin 8 years ago when scores of reporters “parachuted” into Wasilla, Alaska looking for “dirt” on the Governor. By way of comparison we have the media’s kids glove approach to Senator Obama. Senator Obama said in his book, “Dreams of My Father,” that he was a cocaine snorting druggie in college. Apparently no one in the media checked out the veracity of his story to interview his fellow junkies. The media was not interested in his collegiate criminal activity, but obsessed over the claim that Mitt Romney may have bullied a high school classmate. The Senator wrote about his unnamed girlfriend, but actually didn’t. She was non-existent. He wrote about a composite girl friend, like his composite Julia in his 2012 campaign. His girlfriend was a work of fiction. The media applauded. The media was unconcerned about his college and law school academic records, but were focused on the supposed stupidity of Governor George W. Bush, not to mention President Reagan. Senator Obama claimed never to have heard the rabid anti-Americanism, Liberation Theology in 20 years of worshiping at the church of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who presided at his marriage. The media accepted at face value his incredulous denials. The erstwhile, all-inquiring media has not followed up on the hours-gap when President Obama seemingly dropped off the map when the Benghazi attack was underway. Then we have the Presidential lies, including “shovel ready jobs” and “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” etc. Barely a peep from the mainstream media! And that brings us to Secretary Hillary Clinton, who the great William Safire referred to on January 8, 1996 as a “congenital liar.” Her mendacious history is too extensive to detail in this blog. We need only go back to the 27 year old attorney for the 1974 House Judiciary Committee, which was investigating President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Jerry Zeifman, the Democratic Chief Counsel fired her for lying. He called her an “unethical and dishonest lawyer.” We have her Brian Williams moment when she hurriedly scrambled to escape sniper fire while landing in Bosnia, presumably to write the cover memos claiming the Benghazi attack was based on a video. Her testimony before the House last week was shown to be a lie because her emails to her daughter and the President of Egypt acknowledged the attack was a terrorist attack. Video in Bosnia showed her nonchalantly walking to the terminal. The media called her debate appearance a masterpiece and decided it clinched her nomination since the Republicans failed to land blows on her The double standard of the media was on display yet again yesterday for all to see. Conservatives are rallying to Dr. Carson’s defense. His media enemies have unknowlingly become his biggest supporters today.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Speaker of the House John Boehner promised to “Clean out the Barn” before turning the gavel over to his successor. He wanted to lift the government’s borrowing cap and pass a spending bill. The Ex-Im Bank went through separately. The Speaker succeeded. A compromise budget bill was reached last Monday with the borrowing cap extended to March 2017 with the limit and the sequestration partially lifted for the next two fiscal years. Neither requires a 144 page bill, negotiated in the proverbial “smoked filled room” by a few officials of each party, introduced Monday, passed by the House on Wednesday and agreed to by the Senate after 3:00am Friday morning. Once again, the members of Congress did not know what they were voting for. As Then Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of ObamaCare: “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” 144 pages in the darkness of night is a green light for lobbyists. Speaker Boehner once promised that House members would have 72 hours to review a bill before voting. Not this time, which tells us that there are road apples in it. 35 Republican Senators and 167 Congressmen voted against it. They didn’t know what was in it. Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell did not follow the Hastert Rule. Here’s what we know: $40 billion for defense and $40 billion for social programs, with $50 billion in Year 1 and an additional $30 billion in Year 2. An additional $32 billion goes into an Overseas Fund for the State Department and the Pentagon. The costs are “paid for” on paper through a few revenue increases and the usual accounting gimmicks in these deals. For example, one payment to the government is moved up by a month. The bill contains cuts in farmer crop insurance subsidies, but never underestimate the political power of the Farm Belt. These cuts are expected shortly to be addressed by Congress, which means they will be restored. The Bill repeals an ObamaCare provision scheduled to go into effect in 2017. Employers with over 200 employees had been required to automatically enroll all workers into health insurance plans. The repeal is estimated to save $7 billion. Projected 52% premium increases for 15 million beneficiaries in Medicare B will be reduced to only 15%, which is covered by a “loan” from general revenue and an additional $3 fee on upper income seniors. We now learn that $1.5 billion has been transferred from, that is cut, from the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, and an additional $746 million from the Justice department’s Asset Forfeiture Fund. The Social Security Disability Fund is running out of money. Benefits would have been cut by 20% next year for 10.8 million beneficiaries. Money was “borrowed” from the general fund to plug the gap. Eligibility rules were also tightened somewhat. Congress expects to raise $7 billion by selling 58 million barrels of oil from the Strategic petroleum reserve at a time when crude oil prices are plunging. Congress is pursuing the time proven maxim of “Buy high, Sell low.” It also expects to raise money by auctioning broadband spectrum. Premiums for companies participating in the Pension Benefit Guaranty Fund will see their premiums increase. $30 billion is projected in Medicare savings. Patient rates will be equalized for hospital and out-patient care. The “file and suspend” loophole in society will be prospectively plugged. A spouse can claim the spouse’s own social security benefits, or one-half of the other spouse’s benefits. Under “file and suspend” the other spouse could file at 65 and then delay, “suspend” benefits until 70, watching them grow 8% annually. The other spouse could immediately file for half the benefits of the one who suspended payments to 70. That benefit is eliminated. (It’s not as confusing as it sounds) One non-financial provision is a sop to Speaker Boehner. The rotunda outside his office will be named the “Freedom Foyer” and contain his favorite busts of Winston Churchill, Vaclav Havel, and Lajos Kossuth. The Churchill Bust is a dig at President Obama. These are the ones we know about. It still doesn’t add up to 144 pages. Where are the road apples?
Monday, October 26, 2015
Happy Birthday Hillary Hillary Clinton turned 68 today. Happy Birthday! Oh what a Happy Birthday it is. And oh, what gifts she ha sreceived! What a wonderful month leading up to the Birthday, or as it is commonly called, Hillary’s coronation as the Democratic Nominee, even before any votes have been cast. The voter’s voice will be irrelevant until November 2016. Vice President Joe Biden bowed out without ever entering. The Vice President may be a gaffe a minute, but he’s genuine. He would have made it an interesting race and made Hillary a better candidate. Former Senators Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee also bowed out of the race, but they too were never in it. That leaves Senator Bernie Sanders, who may still give Hillary a race. Governor O’Malley remains where he has been for the past year, nowhere. The second gift was Senator Sanders turning the Democratic “Debate” into a love fest in Law Vegas on October 13. The third gift was the media anointing Hillary as the winner of the Benghazi Hearings even though it was clear she lied to the American people about Benghazi for political purposes. Let us not though detract from her birthday joy by pointing out she is a mendacious prevaricator. The fourth gift came from President Obama on October 11 in a 60 Minute Interview when he commended on Hillary’s email problems: “I don’t think it is a national security problem,” adding “This is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.” He not only prejudged the FBI investigation, without the facts, but he may have obstructed justice. No that that was every any doubt, but he demonstrated his is an overtly politicized Department of Justice. The fifth present was a gold necklace Katy Perry presented to Hillary in Iowa on Sunday. It said “POTUS.” Katy represents the entertainment industry, which adored her husband. They saw Bill Clinton as one of them, a successful entertainer. The sixth gift is from a pro-Hillary Super Pac, Correct the Record, which is undertaking a $1 million campaign to make her likable to the American people. It’s called “Let’s talk Hillary.” It will take more than a million dollars, but it’s a good starter gift. The seventh present is from her husband Bill, who has managed so far to keep his libido out of the news. Happy Birthday, Hillary. We can now sing Happy Birthday to you without a copyright infringement. Two more years and you can max out your social security benefits.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
What did we Learn from Hillary’s Benghazi Testimony? That she is a consummate liar? No, we already knew that. That she is a serial liar? No, we already knew that. That she is an unapologetic liar? No, we already knew that. That “The Innocence of Muslims” was political lie? No, we already knew that, but new emails emerged. She emailed Chelsea that night: “Two officers were killed today by an Al Qaeda-like group.” She emailed the Egyptian Prime Minister: We knew that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack – not a protest.” That’s two smoking guns to everyone except the media. Yet, she, the President, and Ambassador Susan Rice kept to the narrative of the video. That she was in charge as Secretary of State? Except when she wasn’t, which was when something blew up. That she knew nothing about the hundreds of emails from Ambassador Stevens seeking increased security? We didn’t know it was hundreds. That President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were dedicated to winning reelection irrespective of the truth? We still don’t know where the President was during the missing hours of the Benghazi Attack. That the reelection narrative of Al Qaeda (Islamic Terrorism) was not to be sullied by the truth? We already knew that: Remember “GM’s Alive, and Osama’s dead.” That she held up well with poise in 11 hours? She knew the media had her back. That she did not concern herself with security matters because she deferred to the professionals? Except that the official denying the requests was a political appointee That the mainstream media doesn’t care about Hillary foibles? We already knew that the media was in the tank for Hillary and the Democrats. If this were President Nixon and Watergate, they would have flyspecked every word of her to find fault. Remember how the media obsessively hounded the Bush Administration on Valerie Plame, Katrina, and 9/11, and Gitmo. Think of the scores of reporters dispatched to Wasilla, Alaska in 2008 to find fault with Governor Sarah Palin. That the Congressional Democrats will continue to walk the plank for the President? No, they still fail to assert independence. Why did we learn? “Do you believe your eyes, or what I told you?”
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Trigger Warnings and Comfort Zones: Grow Up - A Personal Manifesto on Academic Freedom in the University
The Academy is abuzz about trigger warnings and comfort zones. Some students and faculty don’t want to be offended or “harassed” by whatever may be offensive to them or might trigger unpleasant memories. They demand at the minimum trigger warnings before the presentation, if not bans in advance, or repercussions afterwards. The demands almost always come from the left, the same left, which has barred commencement speakers such as Candoleezza Rice, Christine Lagarde, and Ayaan Hirsa Ali, who they found offensive. Conservatives are often the butt of campus hostility from fellow students and even faculty and administrators. They tend to complain only when a professor has academically penalized them for their political beliefs. However, some conservatives are increasingly taping classes in which the professor’s leftwing indoctrination passes for education. These tapes can be embarrassing to the professors. Professors at universities, such as Boston University and Michigan, have said incredibly intolerant statements about conservatives and Republicans. They find Republicans offensive. These professors claim protection, as they should, by Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech. Their universities honor their rights to say these intolerant remarks. Their intolerance is protected. Ward Churchill was terminated at the University of Colorado for vicious remarks made outside the University. The academic fraud never should have been hired, much less tenured, but was ironically terminated for academic misconduct. The Caucasian passed himself off as Native American to take advantage of Affirmative Action, certainly not the last to change identity (Check out Senator Elizabeth Warren). Steven Salaita’s problem at the University of Illinois is an anomaly because he was between contracts when his offensive remarks were publicized. Thus, the University of Illinois had the opportunity to say goodbye prior to Board of Trustees approval of his contract. Today’s University is supposed to be a Cathedral of Learning, not indoctrination. That works both ways. The Supreme Court has clearly held that constitutionally protected speech can be uninhibited, robust and wide open (New York Times v. Sullivan). Thus the highly offensive hate mongers of the Westboro Baptist Church have 1st Amendment protections of free speech. Liberals and administrators were outraged a few years ago when Young Republicans sponsored campus bake sales with the prices varying by color in an attack on Affirmative Action. That was obviously highly offensive to some. But it is also protected speech on a controversial subject, Affirmative Action. It’s called Freedom of Speech. Free speech can be vigorous. It may be repulsive to some. Students have protested the American Flag because it is a symbol of American imperialism and oppression. Mayor Bill De Blasio removed the portrait of George Washington from Gracie Mansion, the Mayor’s residence. Others, especially on issues of abortion and gay marriage, oppose religious groups. That’s both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. Administrators have tried to block distribution of copies of the Constitution. Check the words of the Constitution. It’s called “the free exercise of speech.” Education should not be about what to think, but how to think. Education should open the mind, not close the mind. The issue is not trigger warnings and comfort zones. It is about Free Speech and Academic Freedom. It is an attempt in a different guise to revise the unconstitutional Speech Codes of a decade ago. It is an attempt to impose political correctness on the campus. It is an attempt to intellectually ban if not burn books, including some of the world’s greatest books. It is purely an attempt to muzzle speech. I understand students may suffer from PTSD after a sexual assault. No woman should go through that. I feel for students with psychological problems. I also recognize that many students have been earlier taught in their education and upbringing that they are members of a discriminated against minority. I feel for them, but blame someone else for their state of mind. People obsessed with racism, sexism, homophobia, and victimhood will find sexism, racism, homophobia, and victimhood everywhere, often where it does not exist. I am not a psychotherapist. I teach law. I teach students not necessarily what to think, but how to think. I must, to some extent, get them out of a comfort zone. I will use strong language, repulsive to some, to make a point. Teaching does not always involve nuances and politically correct speech. It involves reality. I want law students outside their comfort zone. I want them to realize that life in general and the daily practice of law in particular are not going to be exercises in the “warm and fuzzy.” Life is often not fair or just. The daily practice of law “in the trenches” can be gritty, “take no prisoners” brutal combat. Litigation can be a blood sport with rules of comity and practice often ignored, shaded or violated. The practice of law is not the practice of political correctness. Life as a lawyer will often be uncomfortable. Racism and sexism raise their ugly little heads. No merit badges are awarded for losing. I object to sometimes being introduced with lawyer jokes, but I suck it up. It comes with the territory. A backlash is rising in the Academy against trigger warnings and comfort zones. Professors see censorship at work. They see their careers threatened despite academic freedom and the First Amendment. They are worried about “trigger happy” administrators and human resources personnel punishing them. They recognize that the Department of Education is pushing universities to act. By “they” I mean the liberal professoriate is reacting. A committee of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP, of which I am a member – not the Committee) has written a report against the use of trigger warnings. The committee wrote: “The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.” The question for society is one of tolerance or intolerance. Do we have a civil society in which we respect opposing views, differences in beliefs, and different practices, or do we worship at a cult of liberal correctness? My university, Chapman University, just adopted a Statement on Free Speech, modeled on one recently promulgated by the University of Chicago. It states: “Because Chapman University … is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. The University fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the University Community to engage in robust, uninhibited discussion and deliberation on any and all topics. “Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often not coincide and may quite naturally conflict. It is not the proper role of the University, however, to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable these ideas may be to some members of our community.” No trigger warnings, no comfort zones in my classes.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Veni, Vidi Vici, “I Came, I saw, I conquered,” Julius Caesar’s famous statement. The Michigan State Spartans came to Ann Arbor yesterday. They came, they saw, and they were conquered for 59 minutes and 50 seconds. They led the whole game in times of possession and yards gained, but the University of Michigan Wolverines led on the scoreboard the entire game, that’s what counts, until the last play in the last ten seconds. Michigan’s defense was a stalwart, the offense did the job, and the special teams were special, for the first season in a decade. Then the curse of Sparty struck. Every first year Michigan coach, beginning with the great Bo Schembechler, has lost his first game to Michigan State. Bo could beat an undefeated returning national champion, Ohio State, that year, but not Sparty. Are you listening Harbaugh? Gary couldn’t do it. Lloyd failed, as did Rich Rod, Brady, and now Jim. They could lose big, they could lose small, they just would lose. Yesterday was different. The Wolverine felt it. Michigan State was undefeated, but winning ugly. It was banged up, missing several stars. Its special teams were bad. The coaches did not even trust their field goal kicker (Rich Rod deja vu) The Wolverines were hot. The defense was playing great. The Michigan family was united, filling Detroit Airport. Even the students filled their section, a rarity in recent years. A sea of khaki filled the Big House. Michigan was back. Jim Harbaugh is the greatest. The talk all week was that Michigan was back. They would beat Sparty and enter the national championship picture. Even game day was in Ann Arbor for the smackdown with most expects picking Michigan. Ticket prices on StubHub were soaring. Someone forgot to tell Michigan State they were the designated losers this week. Mark Dantonio, Sparty's coach, is one of the best in America. Dantonio is the true successor, based on background and coaching style, to Bo. He steels his players in his image – scrappy. His scrappy Spartans are in the Rodney Dangerfield Zone – just can’t get no respect. Both teams played a great game in the bitterly cold weather. Both showed their team strengths and weaknesses. Neither is yet a perfect team. It was standing room only for 111,740 fans because there were 111,740 fans standing the whole game. The fans from both Michigan schools were fraternizing before the game. Of course, they live in the same state and often the same house. It is only a bitter rivalry on the field. Michigan had two obstacles in the game. It had to beat Michigan State on the field, which it was doing with a 2 point lead in the final minutes. The defense held. Michigan also had to beat the officials. I don’t know what the TV commentators were saying, but these jokers, including, and perhaps especially, the replay official in the booth, set a mark of incompetence. But you still have to win on the field. The final score goes into the books. Michigan just could not put scrappy Sparty away. Fourth down punt, 10 seconds to go, Michigan was up by 2. Michigan State could still win by a field goal, but they had no one returning the punt. All 11 were in the box to block the punt. If they failed, the ball would be so deep on their side of the field that a Hail Mary pass would have to go 75 yards against the wind. We felt it; we knew. The curse was broken. And then the totally inexplicable, unfathomable happened. I have never seen a play like this, going back five decades to high school. Blocked punts returned for touchdowns I understand. Auburn has done it twice to Alabama. Blocked punts for safetys I understand. Boggled snaps with the punter falling on the ball I understand. I even understand, back to Auburn and Alabama, that Alabama’s march towards another national title was stopped two years ago when Auburn returned a missed Alabama Field goal from end zone to end zone at the end of the game to pull the upset. I’ve seen it all. Appalachian State blocking two Michigan field goal attempts in the final two minutes eight years ago to pull one of the greatest upsets in college football history. David versus Goliath with David slaying one of the preseason top five teams. I saw it because I was at the game. I was also at the game yesterday with 111,000 of us about to explode in joy and storm the field. The curse would be broken. And then in ten seconds, all we saw was that Michigan State was running in for the winning touchdown as the game clock struck 0.00. It was lights out for Michigan. We saw the punter bobble a low, but handable, snap from center. He could have fallen on the ball, but no, he tried to be heroic. Don’t blame him for the ball flying directly into the hands of a Spartan player. It’s not Blake O’Neill’s fault. The football Gods ordained it. They would not lift the curse of Sparty _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Never forget that football and sports are just games. Life is the person who suffered a heart attack after the traumatic ending.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Any doubts about the axis of today’s Democratic party were resolved at Tuesday’s Debate. Democrats campaign against the Tea Party, the religious base of the “far right,” and the “right-wing nuts” Republican Party. Today’s Democratic Party is the polar opposite of their misguided vision of the broad based Republican Party. Today’s Democratic Party is the Party of George McGovern. His heirs are Bill Di Blasio, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie sanders. “Black Lives matter,” but four of the five Caucasian candidates dared not say “All lives matter,” much less White lives, Hispanic lives, Asian lives, Native American lives, and above all else, police lives. Theirs is an attempt to pander to the Obama Coalition without an African American candidate. He’s in the Republican primaries. The greatest threat to United States security is global warning, not in their eyes, Al Qaeda, ISIS, or Islamic terrorism in all its forms. Tom Steyer’s contributions to Democratic candidates are paying off. Theirs is a party of continuous class warfare. The key to growing inequality under the Obama Administration and decreased household incomes across the board is more taxes. Senator Sanders calls for a 90% tax rate. Income redistribution under President Obama has resulted in lower incomes across the board in the United States. Senator Sanders position is more of the same. Secretary Hillary Clinton is to the left of whatever Senator Sanders stands for. She wants whatever Bernie wants, and more. Their economic solutions are like the doctors who believed the cure for almost every disease was to bleed the patient. Black parents believe in charter schools, but the teacher unions oppose them. Thus, so do Democratic politicians. The unions want to raise the minimum wage. The Democrats jump on board to "reduce inequality" with a "living wage," even though increases in the minimum wage increase black unemployment, especially teenage black unemployment. George McGovern promised every American citizen a $1,000 check. Senator Sanders simply says “Free, free. free.” Secretary Clinton says: “Me too, more free.” Jim Webb was the only adult among the five Democratic candidates. Yet, the former Senator, Secretary of the Navy, military veteran, and Republican, is a fish out of water. Of course, Hillary Clinton was once a Goldwater Republican, but she is whatever she has to be today. She has just flip-flopped on free trade as well as almost everything else. Democrats consistently believed in free trade coming out of the Great Depression and World War II. Today’s Democrats are isolationists and believe in protectionism. Today’s “progressive” Democrats have thereby adopted the planks of the pre-World War II Republican Party. That’s hardly progressive. Candidate Obama promised to be a unifier of Blue and Red America, concealing his radical agenda. Today’s Democrats are not even pretending to unite Americans. Theirs is a campaign of class warfare. Gun control is their panacea to violence. That hasn’t worked well in Chicago, President Obama’s home, with some of the strongest gun laws in America, but never let the facts get in the way of a (good?) soundbite. Planned Parenthood is to remain fully funded because it is the voice of women's rights. Tuesday’s debaters, with the possible exception of Jim Webb, were pandering to the far left base of the Democratic Party. They made no effort to reach out to America.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Pope Francis, a Jesuit priest, canonized Father Junipero Serra, (1713-1784), a Franciscan priest, on September 23, 2015 in Washington, D.C. during the Papal visit to the United States. The demonization of Father Serra began before the announcement and continues afterwards. Critics deem him unworthy for allegedly enslaving the Native Americans and committing genocide against them while supporters view him as the founder of California. Farther Junipero Serra founded the Spanish Mission system in California. The Franciscan Priest from Majorca, Spain gave up a prestigious teaching position to become the missionary. He was sent to Alta California. He founded the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala on July 16, 1769, the first of the nine missions he established including Mission Delores in San Francisco in 1776. The 21 Spanish Missions were the birthplace of many great California cities. Spain dispatched the Conquistadors to explore, conquer, and occupy the Americas. Names like Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto, Balboa, Cabrillo, Coronado, Ponce de Leon, Portola ring throughout the history of California and the New World. The Padres accompanied the soldiers to convert the heathen to Catholicism and save their immortal souls. The soldiers and the priests worked together, but also separately. Father Serra often had to protect his converts from the soldiers. Conquering armies are not generally known for extending mercy to the conquered. A clash of civilizations resulted with the Spanish conquests in the Americas. European diseases from which the Americans had no immunity ravaged the native population. There is no evidence that the priests deliberately engaged in germ warfare against the native population unlike Lord Jeffrey Amherst who authorized the distribution of smallpox contaminated blankets to the Delaware Indians with tragic results to the Delawares and Shawnees. The deaths of the natives would have been even greater without the ameliorative protections of the priests. The converts were kept on the missions both to produce crops and to keep them from relapsing to their heathen way. Those who fled and were recaptured were severely flogged. Life on the missions was not paradise, but neither was life in the 1700’s. Mortality was high. Cries of slavery have been raised against Father Serra and the missionaries because of the forced labor. It is unquestioned that the converts were forcefully kept in the mission grounds. However, they were not bought and sold. The overwhelming Catholicism in Latin America is proof that the Missionaries succeeded in their mission. Let us not get too sanctimonious and forgetful in extolling the ancient cultures. The Aztecs and Mayan Empires engaged in widespread slavery while the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans practiced human sacrifices. Some modern critics of Father Serra tag him the word “genocide” because many of their ancestors perished with the Spanish conquests. Genocide denotes a conscious intent to exterminate a race, religion, or ethnic group, such as the Turks with the Armenians, the Nazis with the Jews, and the Serbs at Srebrenica with the Muslims. That was never the intent or goal of the Spanish or missionaries. Extreme brutality was exhibited by King Leopold in the Congo. Father Serra and his fellow missionaries sought to save the people. Their acts were more paternalistic than genocidal. A statue of Father Serra resides in the Capitol’s Statutory Hall, where each state places two of its heroes. A couple of California state legislators are seeking to replace Father Serra with the astronaut Sally Ride. They agreed to postpone the legislation until after the Pope’s return to Rome. Vandals struck on Saturday night the Carmel Mission where the Father is interred. They toppled a 6’ statue of him, damaged other statues, and painted graffiti on many places. The escapade could have come right out of Hollywood – the private security guard heard and saw nothing and the surveillance camera was inoperable. Instead of building upon and learning the lessons of the past, today’s institutions, especially education, are now teaching our youth divisiveness, envy, and hate. Many are incited to destroy both the past and present. Those who spend their life wallowing in the past cannot enjoy the present and are blind to the future. There are also those today who blame the past of hundreds of years and millennia for their present misfortunes.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Today witnessed another horrific campus shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Right on clue, President Obama held an impromptu press appearance. He was passionate in demanding more gun control. He has consistently been passionate about gun control: Sandy Hook, Tucson, Charleston. He is passionate on white cops shooting black teenagers. But when is he passionate on blacks (and others) killing white (and other) cops? Where is he passionate about blacks killing blacks in Chicago, Baltimore, and other urban areas? Where is his outrage on his Mideast Policy in flames? Where is his outrage about Iraq, Iran, and Russia combining? Where is his outrage about Russian troops in Syria? Where is his outrage about Iranian troops in Syria? Where is his outrage about Russian jets bombing secular U.S. rebels in Syria? Where is his outrage about Turkish jets bombing PKK forces in Syria? Where is his outrage about Russia telling the U.S. Military to stay out of the way in Syria? Where is his outrage about Russia invading Ukraine? Where is his outrage about China and Russia hacking into the U.S. Government? Where is his outrage about his Secret Service illegally invading the privacy of Congressman Jason Chaffetz? Where is his outrage about ISIS beheading Christians? Where is his passion about the terrorist attacks on Israel? The list goes on.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
The Speaker of the House, be it in Congress or the State House, is one of the most powerful individuals in government. Congress’ Speaker of the House is third in line for the Presidency. And yet Speaker Boehner is resigning to great consternation and bewilderment amongst the pundits. John Boehner is resigning from office. So did Newt Gingrich and Jim Wright while Tom Foley was defeated for reelection. Jim Wright had an ethics problem. Newt Gingrich like John Boehner was facing a revolt from his caucus. Dennis Hastert and Nancy Pelosi ceded their speakerships because their parties lost a majority in the House. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Tip O’Neill in 1987 was the last Speaker to leave on his terms. The situation is no different at the state level. Four state speakers lost their jobs in 2014 and 2015 because of criminal indictments or guilty pleas to criminal prosecutions. They are Mike Hubbard of Alabama (indicted October 2014), Sheldon Silver of New York (arrested in January 2015), Gordon Fox of Rode Island (pled guilty), and Bobby Harrell of South Carolina (indicted September 2014) In addition John Diehl of Missouri resigned in May 2015 because he was caught exchanging “sexually suggestive texts” with a 19 year old legislative intern. Let us not forget that three successive Massachusetts of the House were indicted for corruption (Charles Flaherty, Tom Finneran, and Salvatore Di Masi) over a 5 year period while two former Pennsylvania speakers received early release from prison in fraud cases in early 2014. It was a bipartisan showing by the Republican John Perzel and the Democrat Bill DeWeese. Speaker Boehner lost the confidence of his caucus and the Republican base. Americans, especially Republicans, are angry with Washington. That includes the Congressional leadership, which seems impotent to stop President Obama in his Crusade to transform America. They do not understand why Congress will not use the power of the purse. Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have done a risk benefit calculus. They know that the media will blame the Republicans for a government “shutdown,” while they will gain little from it. Yet, they even convey defeat in their appearance. They had the solution in their hands. They could have passed individual spending bills, saving the most contentious items, such as Planned Parenthood, for a few bills at the end, daring President Obama to veto otherwise popular bills. They could have used budget reconciliation to force the President to veto bills, but they caved. And because they failed, three outsiders, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Dr. Ben Carson, are currently leading in the polls with Senator Ted Cruz, an out-of-control firebrand, is right behind. None could govern if they won, shades of Arnold Schwarzenegger. John Boehner resigned because he failed to learn from Eric Cantor’s reelection defeat in 2014. He resigned because he failed. So did all the others.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Open memo to Pope Francis, President Obama, and Senator Sanders: Capitalism Does Not Cause Poverty or Inequality
Socialism and its bastard cousin, communism, brings equality to the masses, the equality of mediocrity. Everyone is equal, except as in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the privileged few. Chairman Mao and Lenin-Stalin killed about 100 million in the pursuit of equality. They are equal in death. Socialism seduces with its appeal to equality, but deadens the human soul and impoverishes the people. Chairman Mao turned China Communist and Nehru India socialist. The result was economic stagnation and mass poverty. Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping unleashed capitalism in China in 1978. India followed in 1991. The result is an economic renaissance in those countries with India raising hundreds of millions out of Poverty. Prime Minister Erdogan did the same on a lesser scale in Turkey a decade ago, but President Erdogan is resorting to statism with a resulting decline in the economy. Communism failed in Vietnam and the Soviet Union. Russia sadly is reverting to a statist dictatorship with a decline in living standards. Quasi-socialism in the form of the post-World War II social democracy movements of Western Europe has resulted in economic stagnation in Western Europe. The Pope grew up in the world of Liberation Theology, a natural reaction to the economic bankruptcy of Latin American statism, dictatorships, and corruption. The Latin American countries profess to be capitalistic, but it is faux capitalism. It’s easy to be radicalized in that milieu, especially if one is a liberal Jesuit.. What Pope Francis witnessed was at best a bastardized capitalism, more akin to the national socialism of the Nazis, only with less oppression. He experienced and lived in a universe of state sponsored mediocrity and inequality. He said: “Inequality is the root of social ills …As long as the problem of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of the markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.” He, as many before him, misdiagnosed the problem. Inequality is not the root of social ills, but the result. President Obama listened to Reverend Jeremiah Wright preach Liberation Theology for two decades and sucked it up. Senator Bernie Sanders is an unabashed socialist. Capitalism is the means by which people offer goods and services to others, who are willing to pay for them at a profit to the supplier. Capitalism allows the individual to seize an opportunity to escape poverty. Pope Francis criticized capitalism in his November 24, 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, “Evangeli Gaudium”, “The Joy of the Gospel.” He wrote: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories, which assure their economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts ….” He cautioned that “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market.” Pope Francis complained “The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.” Sounds like capitalistic, bourgeois decadence. If though Pope Francis wishes to view the miracles of capitalism in action, he should visit the Apple Store at Grand Central Station tomorrow when the new IPhone goes on sale. Elsewhere he quoted a 4th Century Bishop to the effect that the unfettered pursuit of money is “the dung of the devil.” Pope John Paul II (1978-2005), the Polish Pope, was a supporter of capitalism. He lived, experienced, and preached through the depravity and corruption of communism. He knew capitalism had its limits, but that it was the hope for humanity.