Sunday Morning Brainsnacks are Back!

Brainsnacks are back at the Chronicle…. Small bite-size tidbits for the brain to have with your Sunday morning coffee. Enjoy a couple or even add one in the comment section…….

  • The shortest professional baseball home run ever hit traveled 24 inches. On a very rainy day In 1900 Andy Oyler, playing for the minor league Minnesota Millers, had the ball accidentally hit his bat and travel 2 feet before it stuck in the mud. He was able to round the bases before anyone on the opposing team could find the ball. The legend is the subject of multiple books.
  • Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, and many of your cartoon favorites was behind almost 400 separate characters. Movie critic, Leonard Maltin said, “It is astounding to realize that Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam are the same man!” (He was also Speedy Gonzales, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Pepe LePew, the Tasmanian Devil, Marvin the Martian and many many more).
  • In his youth Robin Williams performed much of his act at the Copacabana in New York while walking on the railing of the mezzanine (I saw it happen).
  • Eleven US states are larger than the United Kingdom.
  • Two are larger than France.
  • Alaska is 425 times larger than Rhode Island.
  • Los Angeles county is more populous than all but nine US states.
  • If you are old enough to be on Medicare here’s an interesting fact for you: The Vietnam War is now further in the past for today’s grade school kids than the First World War was for you in grade school.
  • We all agree that the color we call “red” is what we see on apples and that the color we call “orange” is what we see on oranges. On the other hand, if you are told from birth that “red” is red who’s to say that two different people might be seeing two different colors that they call the same thing?

Breaking News From the Swamp!

Over the last couple of days Laura Ingraham has been breaking a story which is further pulling back the curtain on the whistleblower, the Bidens, the Obama-Biden administration, the Ukraine, and Burisma. Here are the highlights:

  1. The attempt to characterize the Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton as a “conspiracy theory” are dead. NY Times reporter Ken Vogel documented them here in 2017:
  2. The Obama-Biden administration had a meeting in the White House on Jan. 19th 2016 with “Ukrainian prosecutors and Embassy officials.” The meeting was “for the purpose of discussing Hunter Biden and Burisma.”
  3. White House visitor logs show that the person often named as the whistleblower checked in the Ukrainian delegation!
  4. In early May Ken Vogel was emailing State Department officials asking about this meeting and copied George Kent who just happened to be a “star witness” at the House impeachment hearings.
  5. Joe Biden announced his candidacy on April 25th. On May 3rd the State Department stopped responding to Vogel’s emails.
  6. The NY Times spiked the story.

Here is the full story as covered by Jeffrey Lord:

Those in sympathy with the swamp will of course pooh-pooh this as another “conspiracy theory” or label it as invalid since it was uncovered by a Fox News person. There is no disputing, however, the hard copies of the emails, the White House visitors logs, or the fact that the NY Times never printed the story. It matters not who uncovered them.

This is certainly further evidence that the Obama Administration knew full well what was going with the Biden/Burisma sweetheart deal. It also shows a connection between the Obama White House, the whistleblower, and one of their “star witnesses” in the impeachment proceedings. One is led to wonder; was the “weak tea” impeachment a coordinated hit job to be sprung on Trump with the added benefit of distracting from the real corruption of the Bidens? It sure seems more and more likely the more we find out.

This will absolutely NOT be covered by any of the mainstream media. Please share and share and share some more.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Polls

Mark Twain famously said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” In today’s hyperpartisan world polling qualifies as a statistical weapon which is often twisted and formed to fit the political spin of the day. An excellent example just popped up yesterday.

A new poll came out saying that 72% of Americans think that the Senate impeachment trial should allow witnesses. This is being seized upon by the talking heads on the left to imply that the vast majority of Americans think the President’s defense team is hiding something and, by God, they want to find out what it is. If you dig into the internals of the poll, however, you will find that the percentage is so large because Americans on both the right and the left want witnesses. The left wants them because they think the witnesses they want to call will help them “get Trump.” The right wants them because they think their witnesses will totally exonerate him and expose corruption. Unsurprisingly, the poll shows that a large majority of Americans want what they think will help “their side” win.

Statistics and polls can be bent and twisted into shapes that will say almost anything you want. In closing, I’d like to leave you with a health tip for the day. Remember that 97% of people who died in car accidents last year ate some kind of potato during their last week on earth. Cut out the carbs.

I Have Questions

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Having marginally followed the impeachment circus going on in Washington these days and hearing some arguments, I wondered about several things. Here’s just a few questions I’d like answered:

Is anything going to be ruled inadmissible during this trial?

If the Democrats are now claiming certain documents and witnesses are “indispensable” and must be subpoenaed to ensure a fair trial why didn’t they issue the subpoenas during their inquiry to solidify their case?

If witnesses are the key to a fair trial why was the President denied his during the House hearings?

In a fair trial would the defendant be denied any representation during closed door depositions, as happened during the House hearings?

If this president and executive branch is “obstructing Congress” by claiming executive privilege will every future president be subject to impeachment for making the same claim?

If claiming executive privilege becomes an impeachable offense what will this do the ability of future presidential advisers to offer honest, candid advice and options?

Whether or not the President is convicted, will this chain of events affect the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches created in the Constitution?

If the entity being offered the “quid pro quo” (in this case the Ukraine) doesn’t know it’s happening at the time, takes no action, and later says there was “no pressure” what exactly happened?

Does becoming a candidate in a primary to run for office make one immune from investigation into wrongdoing?

Does foreign policy emanate from career State Department officials or from the President?

If it is a Constitution shaking event for a president to do what is alleged here why on earth would the Democrats ask us to elect a person who bragged on television about doing that very same thing?


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Back in my days on the road as a safety consultant there was an old saying. It said, “An expert was anyone with a briefcase that was more than a hundred miles from home.” These days it seems that experts are defined as anyone near a microphone or a word processor who can string together long sentences of impressive sounding, yet meaningless, verbal salad. And if the verbal salad works well with the “meal” of the media’s particular bias all the better. Here’s a few examples of totally off the mark predictions that were given credence:

Back in 2016 dozens of “experts” predicted doom for our economy should Donald Trump be elected. The most famous doomsayer was the Nobel Prize winner in economics and NY Times columnist, Paul Krugman. He said that, due to Trumps election, “We are probably looking at a global recession with no end in sight.” Result…… The strongest economy in history, a record-breaking stock market, lowest ever unemployment numbers, and (best of all) wages rising fastest for lower and middle income level workers.

In 1988 experts predicted the Maldives would be under water in 30 years due to global warming (that’s what they called it back then). They predicted the West Side Highway in New York would be under water by 2019. In 2008 Al Gore said that “experts” predicted that Arctic ice would be gone in 5 years. And the New York Times famously touted “the end of snow” in 2000. Result….The Maldives are just fine, traffic is heavy on the West Side Highway this morning, and there is more Arctic ice now than in 2008. Last year people were skiing in Colorado on the Fourth of July.

Just recently experts said the killing of Qassem Soleimani would drag us into another “endless war.” Some called it a “1914 moment” referring to the beginning of the First World War. It was “reckless,” “impulsive,” and would only lead to our own demise. It was being called “Trump’s Iraq.” Experts wondered would NATO stand with us in the conflagration? Result……a feeble attempt at a retaliation and, although Iran could still attempt a terror attack at any time, it seems pretty quiet compared to World War III.

Back in 2000 “experts” predicted a mini-Armageddon for Y2K. Supposedly the turning of the calendars from years that began in “19” to years that began in “20” was going to make computers and all the things they control go crazy. Electric grids, water systems, and banks were under threat. They said it was “possible” planes would fall from the sky on New Years Eve! I worked on a project that created an entirely separate water supply (at great cost I might add) for the dialysis unit of a major hospital out of fear that the city water would not function. Result……mostly nothing.

In 1998 Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman (see above) predicted that the internet would have little effect on the economy or commerce with “no greater impact than the fax machine.” Result….Can you say Amazon? Google? Facebook?

“Experts” have been predicting for years that polar bears and penguins were in imminent danger of extinction at the hands of evil mankind’s global warming. Result…..In 2019 polar bear populations were at the highest level on record since 1973. This number was so good that climate activists began dropping the polar bear as the go-to face of their propaganda releases. Penguins were the source of much hand wringing until a March 2018 discovery of a colony of 1.5 million of them in Antarctica. Not so amazingly, the “experts” did not even know they existed.

Just recently “experts” screamed that tariffs were going to make everything cost more. Washing machines, cars, and, and …..everything!! Farmers would be crushed and auto makers would suffer. Result…….a trade agreement was reached with Canada and Mexico as well as the first phase of a trade agreement with China. These agreements will bring tens of billions of dollars worth of business to farmers, auto manufacturers, and other American businesses. According to CNBC, only 8.3% of corporations had raised their prices to consumers as of the end of 2018 even though they experienced higher costs. It turns out that when prices were raised demand dropped enough to make them reconsider in many cases. It seems the market really does set prices.

If you have an attention span long enough to compare what happens in the real world to the predictions of “experts” you can find an almost endless number of these. Trust me. I’m an expert on this kind of thing.

Dear Mitch: It’s at Least Half Zero

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As the so called impeachment trial begins this week in the Senate, I have a suggestion for leader Mitch McConnell. Without getting into the weeds about the impeachment as a whole, the calls for and against witnesses, love or hatred for President Trump, or the famous phone call, one thing is clear. The second article of impeachment has no legal or constitutional basis. It can and should be dismissed at the outset.

The second article claims that President Trump “obstructed Congress.” This charge is beyond a stretch. It is ridiculous. The claim of executive privilege by a president is in no way outside the law or an obstruction of Congress. The House subpoenaed witnesses and executive privilege was claimed as has been done in some form or another by nearly every president since, well, Washington. If the House felt those claims were illegitimate they could have gone to court to get a court order. If the president had then defied a court order the charge of obstruction might have had some legitimacy. I suspect that they did not go to court because they did not feel they could win but that is just an opinion. This boils down to the legislative branch demanding something and the executive branch telling them they are overstepping their bounds. The Constitution is a beautiful thing…….separation of powers. President Trump had, and still has, a perfect right to claim executive privilege.

By scheduling an early vote to separately dismiss the second article leader McConnell could accomplish two things. First, he would shorten the process which is in everyone’s interest (except, maybe, the media’s). Second, as a tactical move, it would demonstrate the weakness of the impeachment as a whole and the political nature of the charges without being a total dismissal. The message to the House would be “We’ll give you your day in court but this part of your case has no place in any court.”

Remove a zero. Save time and money. Strengthen your position. Just an idea Mitch.

A World Where Every Assault Rifle Just Vanished

Enter Rod Serling….. “Submitted for your approval, a not-so-young idealist named Louise who is about to have her most heartfelt wish granted. In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida she frantically bangs at her cell phone sending messages in every way possible to demand that someone pass a law. Someone do something! She tags her messages from what she thinks is the local Starbucks but she has no idea she is about to make a detour straight into ……..the Twilight Zone.”  Cue the theme song.

“I feel your pain,” said the tall stranger.

“Leave me alone, I’m in no mood,” she growled.

“I can grant your wish” he said as he sat down.

“Who the hell are you?”

“My name is Sam Francisco but that doesn’t matter. Do you want your wish granted?”

“You mean about the guns? Hell yeah.”

“Well what exactly do you want? Be careful, I can grant your wish but you have to be precise.”

Eyes wide open, she said “I want all assault rifles gone, especially AR-15’s and I want every single weapon that could kill children registered with a background check 100% of the time.”

“Is that it?”

“Yeah, I think that covers it.”

“OK. All you have to do is drink this magic latte and when you’re done your wish will be granted.”

“That latte looks a little weird. It looks like Kool-Aid.”

“Never mind. Just drink it.”

After drinking the latte, she looks around and it seems like nothing has changed and she notices that Sam is gone. As she begins to glance back at her phone, she hears breaking news on the CNN blaring in the barista. “We are getting reports from all over the world that AR-15’s have just vanished. We are attempting to verify this story but it seems that we cannot find a single AR-15 or anything like it left on the planet. No one seems to know how or why this happened but we will keep you up to date on this amazing story.” 

Absolutely gleeful that her wish was granted she decides to head home. Upon entering her kitchen she opens the drawer to put her keys away and finds an entire pile of papers that were not there when she left, at least she doesn’t remember them. Leafing through them she finds a “permit to own kitchen knives,” a “permit to own a pressure cooker,” and dozens of other permits for fertilizer, baseball bats, her mini-van, gardening tools, and on and on and on.

“Sam,” she whispered. “He made it all happen. All of it.”

Louise returns to her daily grind which, other than the massive inconvenience of filling out background check forms for all kinds of previously innocent items, hasn’t changed much. She is, however, delighted that every single assault weapon on the planet is gone and it’s because of her. Louise Lehfti will be a name remembered in history!

Fast forward….three months later. Sitting in the very same Starbucks where she met Sam, Louise hears a breaking news report on CNN…. “There has been a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The shooter killed several students with a shotgun and a revolver which was owned by his parents. He also had several explosive devices, a pressure cooker bomb, and molotov cocktails. We will keep you updated on details as they come in.” 

In shock, Louise tries to fit it all together, “But Sam said….he….all those background checks….I, I…and the AR-15’s….but, but, this can’t be! Noooooooo!!

It’s then that she notices Sam sitting across from her with a look that just drips with “Hey, I did what you asked.”

Rod Serling appears… “Louise Lehfti. A woman who thought she had figured it out and had stepped into history with the help of a man named Sam. Little did she know she had just stepped into…….the Twilight Zone. A place where reality has a stubborn way of returning.

Cue the theme song.


Just the Facts, Ma’am

With all of the debate going on regarding guns, school safety, and doing “something” I thought it might be helpful to have some facts to work with. So, without offering any opinion, I offer these twenty as a starter for you to work with. In no particular order:

  1. The gun homicide rate in the U.S. has been steadily declining from 7.0 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 3.4 in 2014. A decrease of over 50%. (Pew Research)
  2. Also since 1993, gun ownership has steadily risen from .94 guns per person to 1.45. An increase of over 50% (Pew Research)
  3. The 25 countries with the lowest private gun ownership rates have a composite intentional homicide rate more than twice that of those 25 nations with the highest per capita gun ownership rates. (Pew Research)
  4. 56% of all Americans think gun homicide rates have gone up. (Pew Research)
  5. As opposed to the national murder rate of 3.4 per 100K population the top ten major cities have murder rates ranging from 45 (Detroit) to 21 (Kansas City). (FBI 2014)
  6. All semi-automatic weapons have basically the same rate of fire; as fast as you can pull the trigger. This includes semi-automatic handguns, semi-automatic hunting rifles, and the AR-15.
  7. All fully automatic weapons (and conversions) are already banned in the U.S. with penalties of up to 10 years in prison, $250K fine, or both per weapon.
  8. Should the AR-15 be banned, there are dozens of semi-automatic hunting rifles with the exact same capabilities. The first online store I checked had two pages of them with 68 different models.
  9. In 2012 Chicago (last available year) 80% of the gun homicides were gang-related (Chicago police chief McCarthy).
  10. In Baltimore in 2017, “The average homicide suspect, meanwhile, had 9 previous arrests on his record. About 70 percent had drug arrests, and nearly half had been arrested for a violent crime. Nearly 36 percent were on parole or probation, and 6 percent were on parole or probation for a gun crime.” (Baltimore Sun)
  11. Since 1950, 98% of all mass shootings took place in gun-free zones. Mass shootings defined as more than 4 victims, not part of another crime, and not gang-related. (Center for Crime Research, raw data available).
  12. Beginning with Columbine, school shootings have spanned 18 years and four separate Presidents.
  13. A check on our current background check system showed that, for 630 of 631 randomly sampled state point of contact records, the state had not updated the system records to allow the FBI to determine whether a purchase should be approved or denied. (September 2016 DOJ audit).
  14. The difference between one 30-round magazine and three 10-round magazines being fired by a non-professional is approximately 10 seconds of down time to reload (2, averaging 5 seconds).
  15. The average school shooting lasts 12.5 minutes. (Homeland Security)
  16. The average police response time to a school shooting is 18 minutes. (Homeland Security)
  17. Thus far in 2018 in Chicago, on average a person has been shot and killed every 17 hours, 8 minutes. (running totals at
  18. Thus far in 2018, almost four times as many people have been shot and killed in Chicago (66) than were killed at the Parkland school shooting.
  19. In Israel you must be a citizen for three years before you can own a gun.
  20. According to one source, the country with the strictest gun laws is Jamaica (basically bans gun ownership) and it has one of the highest gun homicide rates in the world. Japan (probably the runner-up for most strict) has one of the lowest gun homicide rates. In both of these countries, the homicide rates predated the gun laws and passage of the gun laws did not affect homicides one way or the other.

I did my best to get back to an original and believable source for these. If any are in error please let me know.

You Keep Bickering in Washington – We’ll Take Care of This

After seeing yesterday’s White House “listening session” and watching the constantly escalating debate on guns, violence, and school shootings go totally viral the thought occurred to me that maybe we can solve a huge portion of this problem without government. A second later, it hit me. We can.

For those of you who have seen my take on this in other places you know I am in favor of hardening schools as targets to include multiple (and anonymous) armed staff within each school and controlled access points among other things. My belief is that, besides providing a last line of defense for our kids, it becomes a huge deterrent for a bad guy to know that there are armed people within the building who will oppose and kill him. I often remember a security expert who was on TV after 9/11 saying that the strongest security is sometimes just the appearance of security. A “gun free zone” and armed security are totally different incentive sets.There was, however, an article in this morning’s American Thinker which said that the cost of providing armed security would be prohibitive. Considering the total number of schools in the U.S., to provide the all with armed security guards it said. “If you pay them around $36,000 per year in salary, that yields a new annual cost of $9 billion.” My response is “OK, let’s do it.”

Link to the full article:

It probably would be a “prohibitive cost” if we asked the federal government to provide it. It would again become a political football with the “my team – your team” battles paralyzing everything over the $9 billion cost and political positioning. It’s about time we realized that our government is not able to do much of anything except try to get reelected. I suggest cutting the government out of the picture and taking care of it ourselves. How could the private sector possibly provide $9 billion per year, you ask? That’s crazy. Is it, really?

Let’s work backwards to get to that number. Allow me to point out that several universities have endowment funds with billions in assets. The most famous is the Harvard University endowment which has assets of $37 billion. Last year Harvard earned 8% on their money from that fund. M.I.T. earned 13% on theirs. These are funds that actually have grown over the years while earning millions in interest. Sounds like a good idea to me.

I propose the creation of a permanent non-revocable trust/endowment for the purpose of funding armed security guards for local school districts as well as arming and training school staff who volunteer to serve. Simply because it comes at this time in history let’s call it the “Parkland Fund.” How much would the fund need to “throw off” $9 billion per year? The fund could earn as much as 13% as M.I.T.’s did but let’s just say we could get a 10% return. That would require $90 billion in the fund. Can that even be done?! Well…….

To begin, we would have to ask some of the ultra-rich to help us out with some large numbers. We hear all the time about how folks like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett are looking for ways to “give back.” They always tell us they are looking for “worthy causes.” Here’s a list of the 29 richest people in the U.S.: . I’m all about freedom and all of these people are totally free to do with their money as they see fit. It’s their money. But…. wouldn’t it be cool if Jeff Bezos kicked in a billion? In a practical sense he would never miss it. A billion maybe from Bill Gates? Half a billion here, half a billion there from some others? Toss in a few million from those who could part with a little less? There are loads of very wealthy folks in Hollywood and Silicon Valley who tell us every day they want to “give back.” There’s also LeBron James and the sporting world’s ultra-rich. And could there ever be a more worthy cause? Hey, we’re off to a good start.

How about the corporate side? With the recent tax cuts many corporations are absolutely flush with cash and should be making even higher profits for the next few years. What if they made some large donations to the fund? Wouldn’t it be great PR for Disney to invest in the safety of the children who make their movies so successful? What about Wal-Mart? Johnson & Johnson? General Mills? Verizon? We have seen the bandwagon effect with corporations jumping on the “green” movement. Let’s create a bandwagon for them to jump on for the “safe” movement.

Finally, there is us. Using the number of U.S. schools from the American Thinker article and ball-parking the rest of it, if less than half of the parents gave an average of $100 I come up with $700 million. There are also lots of retired folks and grandparents who might be willing to donate significantly more. I know I would. As you can see, we can seed a fund from several different sources that would be there to help provide security for our children permanently.

Well, what if we fall short? If we only make it halfway to our goal in 2018 that means that for 2019 we will only generate $4.5 billion for security in our schools. That is not a bad thing and the principal would stay intact. The fund can continue to grow over the years. And remember, what I have proposed here would pay for the entire $9 billion. Local school boards, cities, and counties, could modestly increase real estate taxes to cover parts of the cost as well. I don’t think there would be much objection to that.

We. Can. Do. This.

Things My Father Taught Me

As I age and see more and more of this world, adding to my “databank,” I think back more often than ever about the things I learned from my father. He wasn’t much of a talker. He taught by his actions, not so much with words. I learned how to respect and treat a woman by watching how he treated my mother. I learned compassion for others by watching him help others in need time and time again. I watched him give respect and demand respect. In the wake of the senseless school shooting in Florida I have repeatedly had one of his “lessons in action” come back to me over and over.

That lesson took place when I was around 8 or 9 years old. I was due back for Sunday dinner at the prescribed hour and I was not there. Not only was I not there, I put myself in danger by riding my bike way outside of my boundaries all the way down to the banks of the river where I knew I was not allowed. To make it even worse, I also put my younger brother in danger by taking him with me. When I got home is when I got the lesson. I got the one butt-whippin’ in my life I can actually remember. Looking back on it now it wasn’t really so awful (as in a “beating”). Oh, I remember the stinging of the belt a little bit but what I really remember are the tears. Not mine, his. My dad was crying because he knew what he had to do and he really, really didn’t want to do it. He had to burn it into my brain so that I would never do anything like that ever again. The lesson that keeps coming back is that he did the thing that had to be done even though it brought him to tears.

As I see and hear friends and family discussing what can be done about school shootings and how we can protect our children there are many opinions. There is a lot of discussion about passing new laws to make it harder to get a gun. Unfortunately, people who are willing to commit murder do not generally obey laws of any kind. There is talk about improving the mental health system and, while this is a worthy goal in any case, it cannot stop all disturbed people from buying guns (as happened in Parkland). The Florida shooter was in mental health treatment and voluntarily stopped going. He was not reported for a myriad of reasons. No matter what we do with our laws and our mental health system, a determined human being bent on killing is going to eventually be able to slip through. There is only one way to be absolutely sure we are providing the best possible safety for our kids. I’ll call it Engineering and Deterrence. It may not fit our visions of the perfect schools but it has now become necessary. The thing that has to be done.

The engineering part is easy. All it takes is the will and money I assume we would all be willing to spend. We can build or alter schools so that access is controlled and doors are locked. Install “panic gates.” Should an incident occur these can be dropped (or raised) instantly to section off areas denying a shooter access to entire sections of the school and more victims. As one expert put it, “Make the big school small.” We can plan for emergency exits for kids. We can install doors that, once locked, can only be opened by the police who are on the way (similar to elevators with keys for firemen). Run drills so that all these things are familiar to teachers and students. This is an almost open ended avenue to explore for ways to keep our kids more safe.

The deterrence part is the part that is going to be unpleasant to a large portion of our population. Unfortunately, if (when) a shooter makes his way into a school filled with our children there is only one thing that is going to make him stop. Armed and trained adults. This is proven to be 100% effective in Israel. I get it that our schools should be places of learning and we would like to have an idyllic setting with ivy covered walls and peaceful fountains where our children can sit and think. We just don’t want to have guns in that environment. Our emotions tell us, “No! It shouldn’t have to be that way.” It shouldn’t…. but it is. Sadly, we must now do something we really really don’t want to do. We may shed a tear as we are forced to arm our schools but it is the thing that has to be done. The lives of our children come first.