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.