Ditch the Team Politics

Over the last few months the impeachment circus in Washington has cast a bright light on the polarization of our American politics. All events seem to be evaluated on the “team” aspects of what took place. Will it be good for the Democrats? Will this help or hurt the Republicans? What will be the next move for each team? The talking heads drone on and on about who is winning this news cycle and what it means for the polls. To some extent this is understandable. People are interested in upcoming elections, political wonks want to know the latest, and, as always, ratings are king for the media. I would submit, however, that today’s environment has crossed over from healthy interest to destructive obsession. Healthy debate will not be possible until the focus returns to the issues at hand.

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, although part of the President’s defense team, has given all of us (Republicans and Democrats) an excellent example of how to shred the team jersey in favor of higher principles. For a long time he has advocated the “shoe on the other foot test.” The basic idea is to flip the Republican/Democrat participants in any event 180 degrees and see if your opinion remains unchanged. If your opinion changes then your allegiance is to your “team” and not to the underlying question or principle. For example, if the principals in the impeachment drama were changed from Trump/Biden to Obama/Romney would you feel the same about the same evidence? Would the principle of executive privilege be any more or less important? If Donald Trump Jr. were substituted for Hunter Biden would your definition of corruption change? At each step of the process would you be interpreting the law and the Constitution the same way?

Mr. Dershowitz not only advocates for the test, he lives it. He voted for Barack Obama twice and Hillary Clinton in 2016 yet in this case he represents the very President he voted against. His loyalty is not to a team jersey but to the law. Importantly, he argues in this case not for this President but for the Presidency. He realizes that what can be used against a Republican to win a “team event” today can be used against a Democrat in the future once the precedent is set. He eloquently laid out the case that a victory in a “team event” that weakens the country or the Constitution is not a victory at all.

How can we follow Mr. Dershowitz’ example? We can follow by making our allegiance one tied to the law, a policy, or an underlying principle we wish to support. If that aligns with political objectives so be it. If not, be courageous enough to say so. Above all, we should be consistent with our praise or disdain for individuals or parties. If we believe “x” for a Democrat we should also believe “x” for a Republican. Ditch the jerseys. Follow your principles. Then vote your conscience. It’s the only way we are going to be able to talk to each other.

Who Voted to Send Articles of Impeachment to the Senate?

On December 18th the House of Representatives voted 230 to 197 to impeach President Trump. I got to wondering exactly who was it that voted to send those two incredibly weak and constitutionally dangerous articles of impeachment to the Senate.

I decided to check where some of those 230 votes came from. The numbers are approximate because maps and information are limited but they should be close. My method was to check just a handful of known Democrat strongholds to see how much effect they had. Out of the hat I pulled Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, and Chicago.

I found that roughly 16 of those votes came from Los Angeles County where nearly 60,000 homeless live in the streets and pass their human waste directly into the environment. In 2018 over 1000 of those homeless died, double the number from 2012. In 2018 their budget was 63.4 million in the red.

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I found another 8 or 9 votes that came from San Francisco and the Marin County area where residents have to dodge human waste and needles in the streets on top of dealing with nearly 10,000 homeless in the streets. Shoplifting and theft have been downgraded to misdemeanors as long as the total stolen is less than $950. Can you guess how that is working out? There is an interactive “poop map” for residents to check before they go out in their new shoes. You can zoom in block by block to find the latest “deposits.” (The picture below is not a link to the active map). Digressing just a bit, an interesting thing happened when I tried to put a link to the map in this article. It seems that the authors are not happy that so many are linking to it to illustrate how bad things are there. Click on it yourself and see what happens for an amusing little show: http://mochimachine.org/wasteland/

Another half dozen or so votes came from Seattle where over 11,000 homeless reside, where individual workers and entire businesses are fleeing, and even the police are leaving to find places to work where the police are at least appreciated and not called “murderers” by city council members.

I found similar numbers of representation in Chicago, where gunfire and death are daily occurrences and bankruptcy is not out of the question. And of course the largest number came from New York City where a once great city slides further down the rabbit hole every day. Among an ever growing list of “Cuckoo’s Nest” policies they now pay their homeless to move to Newark, many of whom take the money and come back after a few weeks (think about that for a minute). Bail reform (basically no more cash bail required) enacted there Jan. 1st has led to robberies being up over 30%, burglaries up 15%, and all serious felonies up 11% in 2020 according to the police commissioner.

In all, I found roughly 50 votes out of the 230 came from just the five metropolitan areas mentioned above. These are places where liberal politics have overtaken sanity and the necessary pragmatism to actually run a city. The disastrous results are undeniable. Almost a quarter of the votes to impeach the president came from just these 5 metropolitan areas. I’m sure the people who live in this areas are fine people but I wouldn’t trust their representatives to feed my cat. These are the people who want to overturn the votes of over 60 million people immediately. The Iowa caucuses begin a week from today and the President is up for re-election in 9 months.

I did not look at representatives from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Oakland, Newark, Portland, Washington DC, etc., etc. My guess is that almost half of the votes to impeach the President came from House members from failed Democratic cities more interested in playing politics than helping the people they were elected to represent. For months now they have done zero work on behalf of their districts. It’s been all impeachment all of the time. They have also wasted countless millions of dollars which could directly or indirectly help their constituents at home.

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: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446.
  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: https://spectator.org/laura-ingraham-whistleblower-role-in-hunter-biden-scandal/

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?

Experts

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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.