Tag: politics

The Train Wreck Around the Bend

The Train Wreck Around the Bend

On July 31, 1909, the Milwaukee Road’s westbound Overland Limited went off the tracks and wrecked at Cambridge, Iowa. I’m inclined to see this as an allegory for what lies around the bend for the Democratic Party if things continue to shape up as they are.

It’s not just me saying this. The predictions are coming from both sides of the political aisle, with observers ranging from long-time Dem strategist James Carville to a ménage of commentators on the liberal cable networks, to none other than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh on the right, echoing similar views.

I’m scared to death,” Carville ranted on MSNBC following the Iowa Democratic caucuses, something of a train wreck of their own. In a subsequent interview, Carville went on to say, “I don’t know. We just had an election in 2018. We did great. We talked about everything we needed to talk about, and we won. And now it’s like we’re losing our damn minds. Someone’s got to step their game up here.”

What has Carville and others so petrified is the rise of Socialist Bernie Sanders as a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November, and the overall lurch of the party – and seemingly all couple dozen of its presidential wannabes – toward the far left.

We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party.”

Right. Think about it. Plan to do it. Just don’t talk about it. You’d be excused for thinking that’s how politicians usually run their games. But that’s not the only cow, maybe not even the biggest one, lying across the tracks. It’s the ascendancy of the far left of the party, represented by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her left-wing corterie, known as The Squad, in Congress. And it’s the failure of the Democratic establishment’s self-styled savior, former Vice President Joe Biden, to light anything other than a small and flickering flame among Dem voters. More than the chickens coming home to roost, it’s the cows that are coming home to ruminate, right across the tracks.

Old Bernie, backed with a good chunk of the younger vote and others with a weak grasp on the meaning of Socialism or Bernie’s questionable past, eked out a 26.2% of delegate equivalents versus Pete Buttigieg’s 26.13% in the Iowa caucuses (if you can believe the results). And in New Hampshire he came out with 25.8% of the vote versus Mayor Pete’s 24.5%. Not exactly a rousing victory, especially since in 2016 he came away with 60.4% versus Hillary Clinton’s 38% (admittedly in a less crowded primary field). Meanwhile Trump, in the little-heralded Republican primary in New Hampshire, came away with more votes, by far, than any candidate of either party in the history of the state, even doubling the number generated by former President Ronald Reagan when New Hampshire was a far more conservative state than it is today.

The real story of both Iowa and New Hampshire has less to do with Bernie’s numbers as with the crashing and burning of two other candidates, previously considered “front runners” in the contest. In Iowa, both Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden sank respectively to third and fourth place, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar hot on their heels. And then in New Hampshire Klobuchar jumped to third place, with 19.9% of the vote, exceeding the combined totals of Warren (from the neighboring state of Massachusetts, from which many New Hampshire residents have relocated) and Biden. Biden didn’t even wait around for the results before bailing on the Granite State and his supporters there and heading off to the Palmetto State, South Carolina, which he has called his “fire wall.” Underscoring Biden’s fall from grace, Sanders’ New Hampshire showing was enough to push him within just a day to the top of the polls nationwide, displacing Biden, the previous choice of the Dem establishment.

Are you beginning to see why this situation could be shaping up as a train wreck for the Democratic Party?

Shades of 1968

Police in Lincoln Park, Chicago
Sihouetted view of a group of police officers as they advance through clouds of tear gas in Lincoln Park in an effort to remove protestors during the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, late August 1968. (Photo by Art Shay/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images); used under Fair Use.

To be clear, let me say that, for a number of reasons, I don’t see what happens in June at the Democratic convention in Milwaukee likely to be equivalent to what happened in August 1968 at the Democratic convention in Chicago. Well, probably not quite. The country isn’t as worked into as much of a frenzy over the political divide as it was over the Vietnam War going full bore at that time. And probably more people, especially young people, have other things to concern themselves with today than they did in 1968. But it doesn’t mean that something along those lines might not lie ahead for the party.

Looking at the lay of the land going into the Nevada caususes, the South Carolina primary, and then Super Tuesday on March 3, when 16 states and terrirories hold their primaries, caucuses, and conventions, we have Bernie on the left and set to pick up most of the support on that side of the political spectrum. That’s even more likely given the lack of a viable way forward for Warren. Among the more ” centrist” (though not really) candidates, we have Buttigieg, the mayor of a small city in Indiana and a gay man also seen as beholden to Wall Street; Klobuchar, a lesser known senator from Minnesota with a history of abusing her staff; and Biden, an aging former Vice President who has a hard time putting two sentences together, who thinks it’s okay to refer to voters in terms of a 1952 movie on the Canadian Mounties, and whose credibility and integrity has been cast into serious doubt as a result of the Dems’ ill-fated impeachment fiasco targeting Donald Trump. Oh, and then we have another billionaire besides the President, former New York City Mayor (and ex-Republican) Mike “Stop and Frisk” Bloomberg, who thinks he can buy his way into the nomination by pumping hundreds of millions of his own funds into the race. Speak of a field of poor choices. Now are you starting to see more of the problem?

Through the use of super delegates, the Dem establishment stole the nomination away from Sanders in 2016. Will they do it again this year? If you think the party poobahs in Washington and on Wall Street and out in the bastions of Dem power across the land (such as they are) aren’t thinking about it, I have a railroad to sell you. They have seen the writing on the wall about the virtually inevitable demise of Joe Biden. And so, seeking another alternative, they’ve already bent the rules to let Bloomberg onto the debate stage, even though he doesn’t have one actual donor other than himself, donor numbers being one of the previous standards for deciding who gets on the stage and who doesn’t. But any port in a storm, and somehow these people (who have had nothing good to say about the 2010 Citizens United decision) apparently think pitting one billionaire against another is a good idea and good for America. Or maybe it’s just good for them? Am I being too cynical here?

Let’s say the Dem establishment manages to once more steal the nomination away from Bernie. What then? Undoubtedly a significant number of his supporters will either stay home on Nov, 3, or they’ll vote for Trump, just as they did in 2016. But some of his supporters are talking about a third option.

As stated by Kyle Jurek, Sanders Field Organizer in Iowa, “If Bernie doesn’t get the nomination or it goes to a second round at the DNC Convention. Fucking Milwaukee will burn. The billionaire class. The fucking media, pundits. Walk into that MSNBC studios, drag those motherfuckers out by their hair and light them on fire in the streets.”

This inflammatory rhetoric, videotaped and presented online by Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, must have touched a nerve somewhere out amid Sanders’ supporters. The Washington Post incorrectly reported that Jurek was a mere volunteer, not a paid staffer, and when O’Keede challenged that report as false Twitter blocked his account. Lest you think Jurek is an outlyer, remember that it was largely Sanders supporters who, in true Brown Shirt form, turned out en masse on the streets of Chicago on March 11, 2016, to force Trump to cancel a rally he had planned there that night. Do you remember that scene of political obsctruction by mob? I do.

I also remember, if vaguely, the events of August 1968. If you don’t remember them or were too young to have lived through them, you really should update yourself. If nothing else, you’ll learn there are precedents for today’s political divide, and the divide within the Democratic Party, and you might learn something about the power of the disenfranchised (self-styled or real) to disrupt and make their presence known. [Disclaimer: Following a little 1972 imbroglio with the Rutgers University Campus Police on the Rutgers-Newark campus, I was successfully represented by one Stu Ball, who had been part of the Chicago Seven defense team. Life’s little claims to fame.] One way or another, the chances for a schism within the party is almost fore-ordained. Whether it will lead to the kinds of dramatic events that gripped Chicago in 1968 remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, amid the current churn on the Democratic side, the President is at the highest levels of his popularity since taking office and has every reason to be optimistic about his reelection chances, regardless who the Dems wind up putting up against him.

Who put this cow on the tracks?

While it might take a village to raise a child, it took Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her band of unruly House Dems to help set up the crisis of identity facing the Democratic Party and the chess board likely to lead to the reelection of the President. As I’ve called it in a previous posting, the Dems’ unremitting rage against Trump and their repeated unsuccessful attempts to unseat him and undo the results of the 2016 election is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Cow on the tracks
Cow on the tracks, The Jack Finn Collection; used under Fair Use.

What the ill-fated impeachment did, besides bolstering Trump’s support, was put a spotlight on the possible corruption of Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Hunter’s business affairs in Ukraine and China. In the process, Pelosi managed to take the shine off her party establishment’s front runner and throw the whole process into even more disarray than it already was. All of Pelosi’s antics, like tearing up the President’s State of the Union address – seen by many as tasteless and lacking in decorum – can’t stop the impending train wreck she may have engineered.

After what will seem like an eternity of sound-alike debates, charges and counter-charges, and jockeying (or pony soldiering, if you’re Joe Biden) for position among the candidates, June is likely to roll around in, say, a mere four months, and then we’ll all get to see if the Dem train stays on the rails or runs off into a ravine. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch.

Featured image: Cambridge, Iowa, train wreck, unknown, presumed public domain.

 

Waltzing Merrily Over a Cliff

Waltzing Merrily Over a Cliff

“I  don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change direction.”

Barack Obama

That might be a warning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be advised to heed as the Democrats in Congress push relentlessly ahead in their quest to undo the election of President Donald Trump. On the flimsiest of charges, they appear intent to proceed with impeaching the President, a move born of their hatred for Trump and doomed to fail. As they waltz merrily over the cliff, they are bolstering Trump’s approval ratings and almost certainly aiding his reelection chances.

Depending on what media you pay attention to, you might either, a) think the case against Trump is ironclad and he is nothing short of a tyrant and reprobate, or b) that he’s been railroaded by political animus and blind prejudice. There is plenty of agida stirred up on both sides, largely fostered by selective picking and choosing of what to focus on by various media sources, not to mention plenty of outright lying (I say that having heard it with my own ears) and obfuscation by more than a few supposed journalists.

For instance, as just one example, if your source for news (I use the term advisedly) is CNN, you never would have heard the opening statement of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, at the committee’s Dec. 11 session with Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, nor would you have heard Horowitz’s mention of the 17 clear errors and omissions committed by the FBI in seeking the FISA court order that began the whole Russia affair that was scurrilously pinned on Trump. All you would have heard were statements by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein eliciting responses from Horowitz that seemed to indicate all was done properly, which – if you somehow heard the rest of what Horowitz had to say — it decidedly wasn’t. You also would have gotten the full opening statement of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat and one of the leaders of the anti-Trump mob, in the impeachment hearings his committee was conducting.

I’ll be doing a separate analysis of Horowitz’s findings and report in a future posting. For now, let’s just quote what Horowitz had to say about the claim by former FBI Director James Comey – who now has passed from unbridled arrogance to perhaps certifiable narcissism – that the IG’s report vindicates him in his role in initiating the investigations of Trump.

The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” Horowitz said.

Another Big Swing, A Bigger Miss

At the risk of sounding redundant, the current episode is just the latest in the Dems’ ineffectual attempts to take out Trump. I laid out the basic game plan in my three-part series, “Another Swing, Another Miss.” In Part I I detailed how the Dems’ repeated efforts to unseat Trump amounted to one strike after another. In Part II I detailed how there is indeed a Ukraine scandal, being used as the pretext for the impeachment effort, but the scandal lies not with Trump but with former VP Joe Biden and his son Hunter. And in Part III I described the much bigger, but little reported on, scandal involving the Bidens and China. Now we’re going to see how three strikes aren’t enough for the Dems’ to give it up and how they are following their anti-Trump obsession right over the political cliff.

The process took a step closer to the cliff’s edge earlier on the day I am drafting this as the committee headed by Nadler, the Wiffer-in-Chief, voted entirely along party lines to move two articles of impeachment to the full House for a final vote, ostensibly in the coming week. This followed a contentious 14-hour committee debate that ended suddenly at Nadler’s order at 11 p.m. last night, prompting Republican members to call the process a “kangaroo court” and Nadler’s order “Stalinesque.”

After ridiculous Democrat charges of “bribery” and even “treason” as hearings were under way in the House Intelligence Committee, headed by the shifty Rep. Adam Shiff, the final two articles are nothing less than anti-climatic. The best they could come up with is “abuse of power” – based on the allegations that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to seek an investigation of his presumed political rival, Joe Biden – and “obstruction of Congress” – based on the President’s refusal to cooperate with the House investigations, which he has termed a “witch hunt.” While the Constitution says a President can be removed for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” there is no federal or state statute against either charge.

Given further that the White House released the full transcript of the July 25 telephone conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in which there was no indication of the quid pro quo Dems’ have insisted was present, and the right of a President to demand an investigation of suspected corruption in conduct of foreign affairs, the first article appears DOA. As for the second article, disputes between an Administration and Congress over executive privilege are legion throughout the life of the republic. This Administration’s refusal to turn over documents or permit members of the Administration to testify would not be the first stand-off between the two co-equal branches of government. Ultimately, the courts could rule on the matter, though the Supreme Court, the third co-equal branch, has been reluctant to wade into such matters.

Let’s not forget that former Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt of Congress, too, and the total penalty for him, under the Obama Administration, was a big zero.

Speaker Pelosi, not known for coherent statements, was even more incoherent than usual in trying to defend the articles the committee came up with.

I myself am not a lawyer,” babbled Pelosi. “Sometimes I act like one. Not as often as I act as a doctor. I practice medicine on the side without benefit of diploma, too.” Huh? But wait, she wasn’t done. “This is a decision that was recommended by our working together with our committee chairs, our attorneys and the rest.” Not done yet. “And they (the articles) are … uh … a continuation of a pattern of misbehavior on the part of the President. People are realizing, when they see what that was, they think, the public thinks, that they should be determining who the President of the United States is, not some foreign power.” Well, yeah, and that “public” is who elected Trump as President, isn’t it? The same “public” whose vote you’re trying to undo because you don’t like how it turned out? And finally, “It’s no use having the discussion here. This is a discussion we will take to the floor of the Senate.”

Going Over the Cliff

And that’s where the whole process goes over the cliff. Given that it takes 67 senators to vote in favor of removing the President from office, that there are 53 Republican, 45 Democratic, and 2 independent members of the Senate, and a vote will be almost entirely along party lines, there is no chance the President will be removed from office.

There has been some backing and forthing between Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over whether it will be a long trial with lots of the witnesses, like Hunter Biden and Adam Schiff, that Trump has said he’d like to call, or a quick process, that McConnell seemed to favor. In reality, it is Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who would actually preside over the trial and will have a lot to say about its conduct. Regardless, the end result is fait accompli. As McConnell has said, “The case is so darn weak, coming over from the House, we all know how it’s going to end. There is no chance the President is gonna be removed from office.”

Meanwhile, polls have been showing that a majority, albeit a slight majority, of Americans now are opposed to impeachment, and even more opposed to removing him from office, and Trump’s favorability ratings have been rising through all this. At least one major poll, Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll, as of Dec. 13 puts Trump’s approval at 49% (it recently was up to 51%), three points above where President Obama was at the same point in his first term.

None of this can inspire confidence among Dems given that the outlook for 2020 becomes ever more problematic for them. Some major polls are now showing Trump beating all or most of the Democrat presidential front runners in key battle ground states. Throw in the massive Conservative victory in the UK on Dec. 12, and there is plenty of grounds for Pelosi and the left-leaning Dems, to whom she seems to have capitulated, to take heed of Obama’s warning on what to do when they’re headed for a cliff.

Photo Credits: Nancy Pelosi: Unknown; Donald Trump: Reuters. Both used under Fair Use.

The Hunger Games on Our Southern Border

The Hunger Games on Our Southern Border

If you haven’t read the novel The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, or the other books in the trilogy – Catching Fire and Mockingjay – you should. Alternatively, you can watch the films by the same names (there are four, Mockingjay being broken up into two separate films), or do both. I say this not to promote sales of the books or the films (not that I would object to that since they’re all worth reading and viewing) but rather because you’re likely to gain greater understanding of what has been going on for months on our Southern Border, furthered by the anti-Trump-at-all-costs agenda of Democrats in Congress.

To encapsulate the story line for readers of this piece not familiar with it, the books are set in a notional post-Apocolytic country of the future, Panem, that occupies North America. It is ruled by a wealthy political class in the Capitol (sic), the capital city located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The technologically advanced Capitol rules over twelve impoverished districts (formerly thirteen until one was obliterated) with an iron fist. As punishment for a past failed uprising against the Capitol, every year each district must pick, by lottery, two of its residents, a boy and a girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, and send them to a pageant at the Capitol. The key element of this pageant, the Hunger Games, features a fight to the death between the youthful participants, called tributes, televised to all the residents of Panem. In the end, there can be only one tribute who emerges victorious, the other 23 left dead in the treacherous arena in which the games are played. The protagonist and narrator in the series is the girl tribute of District 12, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (played in the films by actress Jennifer Lawrence).

Without giving away more plot points, the analogy I am painting is this: In this country, as in Panem, we have a privileged political class with the power to rule benevolently or malevolently, to pass laws, to fund programs, to create and change processes, and to create, or not, an environment of civility of benefit, or not, to its residents. And this political class, like the residents of the Capitol, is content to watch the suffering and death going on at our Southern Border, to use this suffering and death for its own political purposes, to point fingers and engage in grandstanding of the most shameless variety, to dither and lie and shirk its duties, all magnified by the megaphone provided by the sycophantic mainstream media, rather than do anything concrete to resolve the drama playing out daily along the border with Mexico.

To be clear, and as I’ve said before: Both major political parties are complicit in this travesty. While I believe the Democratic Party is far more responsible for the current Hunger Games than their Republican counterparts – and I’ll explain why I believe that in a moment — both parties have had chances over recent decades to solve the problems of our decrepit and ineffectual immigration system, and neither has seen fit to do so. At various times one party or the other, when it controlled both houses of Congress as well as the White House, could have done the necessary to keep from happening what now is happening. Instead of a relic of the distant past, we could have a modern and effective immigration system, comparable to other countries, like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and even the UK. But as I’ve said repeatedly over the years, the Democrats don’t want to fix things because they want cheap votes, and the Republicans (though, to their credit, some have changed their positions in more recent years) don’t want to fix things because they want cheap labor. And both have the suffering and deaths, whether of the immigrants at the border or of American citizens and legal residents bearing the brunt of the effects of our broken immigration system, on their heads and the blood on their hands.

Now to lay out why the Democrats are mainly responsible for the current border Hunger Games and how they have used them for their political purposes, at the high human cost of those participating in them. What we have seen is not just a significant increase in illegal crossings of the Southern Border, but a major increase in unaccompanied minors and family units, including minors, crossing the border illegally or seeking asylum at border crossings. While overall numbers are beginning to rival the peaks of apprehensions seen in 2000 and 1986, the change in the makeup of border crossers is putting a major strain on the resources and capabilities of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to care for the children and teenagers increasingly in its custody. And instead of rising to the occasion of discouraging this flow on unaccompanied minors and families, or at minimum providing the resources needed to cope with it, the Democrats have preferred to disingenuously declare there was no crisis at the border and to accuse the President and the federal agencies charged with dealing with the flood of humanity coming at them of fabricating a crisis.

To quote but a few, in January House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis.” This was added to by Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, who said, “President Trump just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis.” Piling on, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren respectively called the border situation a “manufactured crisis” and “fake.” And House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, more focued on relitigating the two-year old Mueller investigation than doing anything to actually protect the country, said, “There is no crisis on the border . . . We certainly oppose any attempt by the president to make himself a king and a tyrant to appropriate money without Congress.”

And then, despite the best effort of the Dems to play down and deny that there was a crisis on the Southern Border, along came former Obama Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson who, in May, unequivocally stated that there was, indeed, a crisis on the Southern Border.

“We had 100,000 apprehensions in the month of March and another 100,000 in the month of April. That’s the highest it’s been in 12 years,” Johnson told Fox News host Neil Cavuto.

Oops. Wasn’t Johnson given the Democratic play book? Or was he just willing to be honest and say what was going on? After all, border control was under his purview when he was HS Secretary, so one could assume he knew of what he spoke.

And then, in a mind-boggling turn-around, reminiscent of the Doublespeak referenced in George Orwell’s dystopic novel 1984, Pelosi followed Johnson’s assertion by saying, “Well, let me just say this. We have never not said that there was a crisis. There is a humanitarian crisis at the border, and some of it provoked by the actions taken by the administration.”

During all this time, the Dems refused to back any additional funding either for border control or to support the increasingly humanitarian duties being foisted onto CBP. As wave after wave of immigrant caravans and random migrants came up through Mexico from its southern border with Guatemala, the Dems steadfastly refused to deal with the issue. It was clear that these caravans, originating in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, were organized by whomever stood to gain from this onslaught of immigrants, and in the process they provided enormous profit and cover to human smugglers and drug cartels. None of this was sufficient to move Pelosi or the Democratic-controlled House to take any action to deal with this mess along our Southern Border. As the President tried one tactic after another to carry out his duties to protect the country from rising illegal entries, all the Dems could do was say, “no.”

According to news sources along the border, there also has been a notable increase in citizens of Cuba and Venezuela seeking to declare political asylum along the Southern Border. Their presence has not been widely reported in the national media, but is indicative of the multi-country nature of the onslaught.

As the accompanying CBP charts dramatically demonstrate, apprehensions of inadmissible migrants – an indication of overall flows, even if far from all illegal border crossers are apprehended – have skyrocketed on the Southern Border (what CBP calls the Southwest Border), even as Pelosi and Schumer and the rest have denied any crisis. In the month of May alone, 144,278 people were either apprehended (132,887) illegally crossing the border, or were found to be inadmissible (11,391) at formal border crossings. In just over the first six months of fiscal year 2019, there had been more apprehensions along the border than in the entire previous fiscal year, with the numbers continuing to mount significantly. As noted, at the current rate, they will equal or surpass the peak illegal border-crossing years of 2000 and 1986.

The biggest growth in numbers, as the charts reveal, are in the categories of unaccompanied minors and family units. These are categories that, historically, have not formed a major component of illegal border crossings, and which have added significantly to the burden put upon CBP. This is further complicated by the so-called Flores decision of 1997, in which a settlement reached in the matter of Reno v. Flores determined that federal authorities could only detain unaccompanied minor migrants 20 days before they had to be released to their parents, adult relatives, or sanctioned programs. In 2015, Obama-appointed judge Dolly Gee extended this limit to minors apprehended with their parents, making it virtually impossible to deport families with children seeking asylum.

There is no question that the images coming from the border are disturbing to most people. Regardless how one feels about the immigration issue, the sight of people in turmoil, crowded into often makeshift facilities, the small children, bewildered and at the will of their elders and officials, and the images of those who have died in the process, should be troubling. Which makes the Hunger Games nature of what is happening all the more poignant. While the political class, led by Pelosi and Schumer and their ilk, dither, the suffering and death go on, all depicted graphically by the media who are all too quick to criticize but offer no more solutions than the politicians. If you go back and look, you’ll see that this has become an annual event, with the same kind of political cover being given the Dems last year at this time. The only difference is that this time, the crisis has become even bigger and the lack of Congressional action to address is even more apparent and harder to cover up.

Perhaps it is the latter reason, which I believe strikes at the conscience of most Americans, that finally prompted the Senate to pass its bipartisan $4.6 billion appropriations bill providing humanitarian aid to the border, by an overwhelming vote of 84-8, and for the House to accept the same bill, without changes, by a vote of 305-102. Even given the current crisis, the House had passed a bill that would have put constraints on the President’s actions, and which he said he would not sign. While Pelosi accepted the Senate version, still only 129 Democrats in the House voted for it, and 95 voted against it, including many members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Meanwhile, 176 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, only seven voting against it. The President has said he’ll sign the Senate version of the bill.

In urging her caucus to vote for the Senate version of the bill, Pelosi wrote, “The children come first. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available . . . In order to get resources to the children fastest, we will reluctantly pass the Senate bill.”

Too bad Pelosi didn’t think much about the children six months ago, or a year ago.

Meanwhile, there are those who apparently still prefer the Hunger Games version of events, like freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who idiotically and insultingly compared the CBP holding facilities along the border to Nazi concentration camps, using the phrase “never again” to draw a reference to the Holocaust. And earlier today, touring a Homestead, Fla., facility holding migrant children, Democratic Presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – who has done a good job of turning around the progress that city had made in recent decades before his administration – criticized Ocasio-Cortez’s “concentration camp” reference, but instead said the facility was “like a prison.” He criticized it because the children were being “marched around,” which made him conclude, “That’s a prison camp.” We don’t know how many elementary schools de Blasio has visited, but in my experience being “marched around” is a pretty common phenomenon in them, and no one says they’re prisons. Reportedly de Blasio went on to make the inane statement that the children were being held there against their will. Isn’t that the definition of detention or holding, but is it even necessary to respond to such stupidity?

The moronic levels to which this entire matter has risen were highlighted on Wednesday when employees of Wayfair walked off the job to protest their employer’s sale of beds to go to detention centers holding migrant children. Using Ocasio-Cortez’s “concentration camp” comparison, the employees, we suppose, would rather the children sleep on concrete floors than on beds, the lack of which in some cases has been one of the criticisms leveled against CBP. Instead of “let them eat cake,” perhaps the employees’ slogan might be, “let them eat cement dust.”

And while the debate and the dithering and the finger-pointing and the politicking go on, so do the Hunger Games on the Southern Border. Whose child will be next to fall?

Photo credits: Featured Hunger Games image: Pixabay; Girl in line: Edgard Garrido / Reuters; Migrant children: Edgard Garrido Reuters; Children on ground: Click2Houston.Com; Held boy: Spencer Platt / Getty Images; all images used with permission or under Fair Use doctrine

The State of the Union: Why I’m Not Optimistic

The State of the Union: Why I’m Not Optimistic

“And after a while you’ll hear a deep voice saying, ‘Neighbor, how stands the Union?’ Then you better answer the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed . . . “ — Stephen Vincent Benét in The Devil and Daniel Webster

This isn’t going to be a blow-by-blow account of President Trump’s State of the Union address last week. If you didn’t see the speech, you should, so go find it somewhere and watch and listen to it. Allow plenty of time — it went on for more than an hour and 20 minutes, one of the longest ever.

To offer my own view of it, having weathered many SOTUs from a number of presidents, I thought it one of the most positive and flawless, both in terms of substance and delivery. I’m not alone in that. The CBS poll conducted after the address found 76% of viewers had a positive view of it and the CNN poll found 59% saw the speech as “very positive” and another 17% rated it somewhat positive. Only about 23% of CNN’s viewers, which normally one would judge to be mostly opposed to the President, had a negative view of the address. Still, there is a distinctly partisan subtext to these poll results. The CBS poll found that while 97% of Republican viewers and 80% of independents had a positive view of the speech, only 30% of Democratic viewers saw it as positive. Still, in the days after the SOTU, Trump’s approval rose to 50% in the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, and overall his ratings stand as the highest of any President at this point in his presidency since Ronald Reagan.

All that said, if Daniel Webster confronted me at this moment and asked the question Benét attributes to him, I’m afraid that I’d fail his test. After listening to Trump and observing the reaction by the Democrats in attendance to most of what he had to say and looking toward the future, I’m not very optimistic about the actual state of the Union, and whither it is headed. This isn’t a new development for me, but, if anything, the SOTU address just deepened my less-than-optimistic view of things.

Without getting lost in the weeds of what numbers were completely correct and which ones were fudged a bit – there is evidence the President did fudge some of his figures, though my recollection is that this isn’t the first president to do so, and in terms of painting the big picture they more or less accurately did – there was plenty of positive news reported in the speech. And much of that news would, one would think, please all Americans, regardless of party leaning or affiliation. This fit with the predictions made in advance of the address, that the President would attempt to bridge partisan gaps and reach out to the nation.

Of course, judging by the reaction on the Dem side of the aisle, the partisan gap not only wasn’t bridged, few were willing to even give him credit for any of the progress the nation has made in the past two years. Last year I wrote about Democratic reaction during the SOTU in my piece Haters Are Gonna Hate. The title of that piece sums up pretty well the attitude on that side of the aisle, an assessment that hasn’t been moderated by words and actions by the Dems in the intervening year. And it wasn’t much better during this year’s SOTU.

Of course, in the November mid-terms the Dems picked up enough seats in the House to gain control of that chamber. And many of the newly elected Dems are women. They made their presence known by all wearing white to the SOTU. Joining them was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — who, if you weren’t marooned on an ice flow in the Bering Sea last month, you know caused a postponement in the SOTU during the government shutdown — sitting to the rear of the President.

I confess that when Pelosi came into the chamber, my reaction was, “She’s wearing white after Labor Day?” Something one is not supposed to do. But then as all the other Democratic women filtered in also dressed in white, I realized this was done to make a statement. Apparently it was meant to honor the suffragist women who worked to secure the right of women to vote in the early part of the last century, who also wore white, but at the same time it created a very strong visual effect as television cameras scanned the audience. It could have been a positive effect, but I think much of that potential was squandered as the speech went on.

Early in his address Trump discussed how the economy had improved since he was elected, underscored by historically low unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanics, the handicapped, and women. More Americans are employed today than ever before in our history, he said, and even manufacturing jobs – written off by the previous administration – were coming back in significant numbers. One would think any American, even Democrats, could applaud all this. But no, the Dems sat on their hands, all the more visible amid that sea of white. This would appear mystifying, unless you recognize that this is a party that depends on a permanent underclass for its very existence. The numbers contradict Democratic claims that President Trump doesn’t care about blacks, Hispanics, women, or just about anyone else, just as they represent huge positive improvements over the numbers of the previous Obama administration. But the Dems wouldn’t give Trump credit for any of that.

Trump, following the lead of preceding presidents, had a cohort of honored guests present in the gallery, and he and his staff did a masterful job of selecting them: Veterans who had helped bring about the Allied victory in World War II; a Holocaust survivor who, as a child, was en route to extermination at Dachau when American troops liberated the death train he and his family were on; the father of a sailor killed in the terrorist attack on the USS Cole; a police officer seriously wounded during a gunman’s attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue in October; a 10-year-old girl who raised funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and then won her own battle against a brain tumor; three generations of a family who lost parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to a criminal illegal alien; an ICE agent who investigated and charged cases of sex trafficking and abuse among illegal aliens crossing the southern border. Even Buzz Aldrin, second man to set foot on the moon (and with whom I had opportunity to pal around with briefly back when I covered the space program), was in attendance.

It would have been pretty scandalous if the Democrats didn’t stand to applaud these guests. But there were times those in that sea of white appeared to not know how to react. They’d look at each other trying to see what others were doing. Should they stand? Should they sit? Should they applaud, or maintain silence? There sure weren’t many signs of individual initiative. And at times Speaker Pelosi gave hand signals to them, mostly indicating that they should cool their more negative responses.

At one point, later in the speech, Trump said, “No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year.” Now this was about the strong economy and how it has benefited women, but the women-in-white took it as a queue to congratulate themselves. They jumped up and started cheering and high-fiving one another, as if the President was talking about them. Clearly taken by surprise, Trump, smiling, ad-libbed, “You weren’t supposed to do that.”

As Trump went on, noting that all Americans could be proud that we have more women in the work force than ever before, the Dem women continued to congratulate themselves as if they had anything to do with it. Trump again paused, and then added, “Don’t sit yet, you’re going to like this.” He then went on to his biggest applause line of the night: “And exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before.” That line even brought Speaker Pelosi to her feet, and the chamber, beginning with the women-in-white, burst into a chant of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” It was the second one of the night, the first one breaking out earlier on the GOP side, and the President clearly wasn’t expecting it. He looked around, and then said, “That’s great. Congratulations.”

But the show of enthusiasm was brief. Just as things calmed down, Trump went on to decry the late-term abortion bills recently passed in New York and considered in Virginia, and described how these would permit what amounts to infanticide. And not one of the women-in-white was willing to show any emotion about this. What struck me was how anyone, especially a woman, would not be troubled by killing babies, as Trump put it. But the only thing the women-in-white seemed troubled by was that it was even mentioned.

As the cameras panned around the room, the looks on some Democratic faces showed nothing other than cynicism. Throughout the speech, whenever the camera focused on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, slumped down in his seat and smirking smugly, the only word that came to mind was “smarmy.” I had a similar response when the cameras panned to California Senator Kamala Harris, or Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono. One exception was West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who seemed about the only Democrat willing to applaud for many of the positive things the President reported. It seemed to me that Manchin is in the wrong party, which probably also has occurred to the majority of West Virginia voters who re-elected him.

Which brings me to the crux of my concern for the state of the actual Union. In general, I can’t get too worked up over any particular politician. In theory, that’s what elections are for, and voters can vote out, or not vote in, bad apples. But it is exactly that, or they, the voters, that gets me worked up and very, very worried. Who are these voters that put people like Schumer, Harris, Hirono, and Pelosi into office? What would besiege someone to vote for the likes of an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or a Maxine Waters or a Richard Blumenthal?

What the Democratic Party and many of its so-called rising stars have learned is that the promise of free stuff wins votes. Free healthcare for all. Free education for all. Free income for all. Free, free, free. As a marketing professional, I know that the word “free” is one of the most powerful motivating words. It sells products. It generates responses. And it wins votes. The only problem is, when it comes to things government does, nothing is free. Sooner or later it all has to be paid for by someone, that someone being those who pay taxes. Which, on some level or other, is most of us. But then, there comes the call, by pols like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to soak the rich (or, as Warren would do it, confiscate their wealth, the Constitution be damned). Not that even such schemes would be able to fund all the “free” stuff being promised. Not even close.

The lack of economic sense boggles the mind. And there is nothing more boggling than the “Green New Deal” resolution rolled out by the Dems a couple days after the SOTU. This piece of vote-bait was notably touted by Ocasio-Cortez, who has the economic sense of an otter (with no insult intended to otters, which are one of my favorite animals, and even otters have the sense not to get involved with things about which they don’t have a clue). This thing is so ludicrous that the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel, who tweeted that she laughed so hard she nearly cried, said that “if a bunch of GOPers plotted to forge a fake Democratic bill showing how bonkers the party is, they could not have done a better job.”

That’s all well and good, and those among us who can see reality through the fog of fantasy, if not fraud, are likely to reject these political hucksters. But let’s not forget for even an instant that the majority of voters, as slim as that majority was, would have put Hillary Clinton in office in 2016, and it was only the Constitutional dictates of the Electoral College that prevented that. As we look around the country, we see how the tide is slowly turning. States that used to be solidly red are turning purple, even blue. And many of those Democrats elected are on the far left of the party, with enticements of free stuff flying. Despite the President’s promise in the SOTU that America would never become a socialist country, that’s a promise many on the Dem side are willing to challenge. Even in my own state, Florida, key gubernatorial and senatorial races very narrowly went to Republicans, despite a strong economy. The self-avowedly socialist Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum, now facing state ethics charges, was defeated by just 32,463 votes out of more than 8.2 million cast, a mere .4% of the vote. And very small numbers of primary voters were able to get Ocasio-Cortez elected in New York, voting out a well established, but less radical, Democratic incumbent.

Meanwhile, the media, which should be a mainstay of an informed electorate but isn’t, maintains a steady anti-Trump drumbeat, with 92% of the coverage of his presidency being negative, according to an extensive study by the Media Research Institute. And they almost completely ignore – like the Dems at the SOTU – his major accomplishment, the soaring economy. After all, if you want to make people feel like victims, and you want to make them believe that you have the solutions, no matter that those solutions make no sense on the reality plane, and you have the media on your side, you have a pretty good chance of winning over voters. Just as in ancient Rome, bread and circuses play well with the populace.

That’s the formula I see the Dems applying. And, neighbor, put it all together, and that’s why I’m not very optimistic for the state of the Union.

 

Illiberal Liberals

Illiberal Liberals

I’m increasingly reminded how very illiberal many liberals are. This used to be a relatively rare occurrence, but in the age of Trump, and with the liberal affliction of Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS, reaching epidemic proportions, it’s happening pretty much all the time now.

There are unmistakable signs of this illiberal bent in all sorts of places, but every so often it takes on a personal dimension. Yesterday was one of those occasions. As many of you know, I regularly post my pieces on Medium, a site that supposedly promotes propagation and discussion of all different viewpoints. I say “supposedly,” because like most of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, if your views are liberal they get pushed, and if they’re not, they get buried, banned, shadow banned, or just ignored. I’ve read utter drivel on a variety of subjects, but with a liberal perspective, on Medium that get lauded (approvals are registered by “claps” by readers) with thousands and thousands of claps. Other posters and pieces – and I know this sounds like sour milk, but I do my best to base my postings on actual facts and not just figments of my paranoia or imagination – such as myself and my postings, not of a liberal tilt, are lucky to even get any readers. In general, if Medium promotes a piece, it gets exposure. If it doesn’t get promoted, one might as well throw a piece down a well, and it doesn’t matter how much sense it makes or how well informed it is.

Which takes me back to my story about the personal dimension of liberal illiberality I encountered yesterday. One of Medium’s promo emails, which list several postings site editors view as especially worthy of promotion, included a link that tied back to some piece of (I use the term loosely) poetry that, in less than subtle terms, accused the President of treason for some connection with Putin, which it seems the poster took as fact. It was, I don’t know, about five lines long, and wasn’t even good poetry. Never mind that it contained no evidence or even theory for what would normally qualify as a slanderous allegation, it was enough that this “poet” believed it. And, of course, in true Medium form, he had all sorts of sycophantic clappers. Yea! Great work! Right. Well, not being terribly judicious, I had to say something, so I posted a very simple response, which I think was in keeping with the style and depth of the original posting. What I said was, “Seriously? I mean, seriously???”

Well, next thing I know the poster did what liberals often do when confronted with something they don’t like. He blocked me. He didn’t argue against me. He didn’t ask my reason for posting what I did. He didn’t call me a nasty name, which at least would have been an honest thing to do. He just did the cowardly thing and blocked me, like I was some sort of stalker (believe me, I’m not) or threat to his life or safety (as many so called “liberals” actually are with those with whom they disagree). I’ve been online since the early days of the Internet, and even being the direct and sometimes controversial person I tend to be, I make a point of being reasoned and not engage in ad hominum attacks, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been blocked. And even most of those few times have been by disgruntled former girlfriends. But there you have it – this über-liberal and would-be poet couldn’t handle just four words of dissent with his ill-founded views.

I mean, me, I welcome disagreement. Of course, I love it when someone agrees with me, but I’d rather have someone disagree and say why then just ignore what I say, or do something gutless like blocking me. I’m not afraid of argument or dissent, and I have the facts to back up my positions. I’m even willing to admit when I’m wrong, which happens on rare occasions. Which I guess is part of liberals’ cowardice, because they often don’t base their positions on fact and simply can’t admit when they are wrong.

What happened yesterday isn’t an aberration, either. I have found almost universally it is so-called liberals who are quick to cut off contact when one utters something that diverges from their orthodoxy. This all began for me a few years ago when my oldest friend in the world, a besty since high school in the 1960s, decided I wasn’t liberal enough for him and he cut off contact after more than a half-century of friendship, 50-plus years of putting up with each other’s idiosyncrasies. In doing so, he accused me of having “changed“ in my views over the years. Funny that, which doesn’t seem like a crime to me, but funnier because it was said to someone who doesn’t really believe most people can or do change, not much. But not being afraid of dialogue, I wrote back and recounted all the key beliefs I held in high school – how I valued the individual and individual freedom, being paramount among them – and how I still was true to them. I also pointed out to him, inter alia, how he supported bombing the North Vietnamese back to the Stone Age, a not terribly liberal view, in those days. That aside, the point I was trying to make was, while we might disagree in our views, our values, I thought, were pretty similar.

Notice the distinction that I made between “views” and “values.” Views come and go. Values endure. That’s how I see it, anyway. Well, there were two values I guess we didn’t share – engaging in reasoned argument, and the value of friendship – because he never responded. Not then. Not since. After all, he’s a liberal, right, and I’m some sort of lesser person because I’m not. Speak of a holier-than-thou attitude, the hallmark of a hypocrite.

If truth be told, even during the many years when I was sympathetic to supposedly liberal causes and beliefs, I’ve always detested the word liberal. The reason was that it seemed to be a cop out, and people who claimed to be liberals were usually half-assed and didn’t really live by liberal values. I’d rather an honest radical – in some respects, I’m closer to that, radical, than liberal – than a wishy-washy liberal.

So now we’re seeing these self-styled liberals showing their true colors. If the facts don’t comport with their world view, they just change them, or make them up. If they don’t like someone, it’s easier to call them a name than look at their own hatreds and prejudices. The inconsistencies and downright fraud perpetrated on them by their appointed heroes doesn’t seem to phase them, but if someone they don’t like, or are told not to like, is the least bit inconsistent or less than honest, they’re all over him or her like a rash.

This tendency, of course, is most evident when it comes to the President and TDS. These so-called liberals, led by the liberal stoolies in the mass media, are like a pack of rabid jackals. It’s gotten to the point where school kids are bullied for just having the name Trump, so much that they’re driven to want to change their name. And what do they get back? A bunch of ineffectual (though undoubtedly liberal) coping techniques from someone who, if thinly disguised, clearly shares the same view of the President that has led to this hapless kid being bullied (I’m somewhat qualified to comment on what does or doesn’t work with bullies, by the way, having been bullied relentlessly in grade school and even after).

I actually heard someone in the media today say that not only is Trump bad, but anyone who voted for him is equally bad. This is the kind of intolerance, not to mention ignorance, that is gaining traction in so-called liberal quarters.

I’m not so doctrinaire or limited in my view to accuse all liberals of this illiberal behavior, and I do recognize there still are some reasonable liberals with whom one can have a civil disagreement or discussion. That said, in my experience and observation, they are increasingly in the minority. They certainly are not the ones who are in a position to control either social or mass media. And they are not at all on the ascendancy.

If this were an earlier century, I have no doubt that many of these illiberal liberals would be happy to put anyone who disagreed with them into the village stocks and have the general populous hurl rotten vegetables at them. Or worse. Much worse. Now, we get ridiculed or bullied or blocked, as I was by that would-be poet on Medium, or by my erstwhile friend. But as is said, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I do wonder what these illiberal liberals would do if they were to get absolute power. Given all the signs, it’s not encouraging.