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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Stacking the Court and term limits for Congress?



Columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. brought forth a truly important topic recently. “Permit me a question to every truly fair-minded person in our country,” the piece began. “Imagine that one party packs the Supreme Court with ideologues and the other party does absolutely nothing in response. Isn't this abject surrender to an unscrupulous power grab?”

He’s absolutely right: how can they, and we, just sit by and watch as this terribly un-American process goes forward? How can we allow justices to take the bench and act to impose their own political will on the country?

“This inquiry can no longer be ducked. Even those in the deepest denial can no longer ignore Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's nakedly political aim of cramming the Supreme Court with justices who will undo more than seven decades of precedent,” Dionne continued.

When interpretations of constitutional principles and laws become fluid, we find our national stability afloat in a sea of the unknown. What may be a popular view today may become the opposite in ten or so years. Constitutional interpretations that change with the tides of society are not a reliable foundation. The nation requires stability to endure.

And then Dionne wrote this: “They'll do the bidding of corporate interests, undercut voting rights and empower billionaires to buy elections.”

What he is suggesting is that Republicans want to pack the Court with conservative justices who will do Republicans’ bidding.

However, when applied to judicial matters and judges, the term “conservative” does not carry a political context. It refers to the inclination of judicial conservatives to interpret Constitutional and legal language as it was understood when created. On the other hand, “liberal,” when applied to Constitutional and judicial matters, means that judges’ interpretations of such issues matches the political left’s current preferences, rather than original intent.

Dionne accuses Republicans of doing what Democrats do: trying to stack the Court with ideologues. But the ideology of conservative judges is to stay true to original principles, not to interpret them colored by the changing standards of the times. Stacking the Court with people who hew to the original principles the Founders deemed critical to a successful nation is something to be supported, not criticized.

If the Constitution or laws really need to be changed, there is a process for that, and that process is not stacking the court with justices whose legal judgment will flap in the wind.

To improvement the method of selecting Supreme Court Justices, Dionne endorses the idea advanced by Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, and supported by other Democrat candidates.

“It would involve enlarging the court to 15 members, with five justices chosen by each party and the last five picked unanimously by those 10 from the lower courts.”

So, improve a system into which politics sometimes creeps with a system that is largely based on politics that would increase the size of the Court by 67 percent?

* * *

Criticism of Congressional “lifers” is nothing new. Even though their voters select members of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Founders did not envision those positions as life-long careers. Their idea was to seek election to the House, or – before the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was approved in 1913 – be selected by a state legislature for the Senate, spend a few years there and return to your previous vocation.

From 1789 to the mid-1870s the average length of service of members of the House was 2 to 3 years, and for the Senate it was a bit more than 4 years. Then things changed.

When “careerism” peaked in 2007, House members averaged 10 years and Senate members averaged 13 years. While the average in both houses has fallen to seven and 10 years, respectively, there are still many members of Congress who have made it a career.

Data from rollcall.com for 2015 listed 79 members of Congress who had been there for at least 20 years and 16 who had been there for at least 30 years.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., has been there since 1987, while House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Cal., has been there since 2007.

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. was first elected in 1984, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., first elected to Congress in 1981.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Republican Rep. Francis Rooney have proposed an amendment that would impose term limits on members of Congress, as reported by the Independent Journal Review.

“For too long, members of Congress have abused their power and ignored the will of the American people,” Cruz said. “Term limits on members of Congress offer a solution to the brokenness we see in Washington, D.C. It is long past time for Congress to hold itself accountable. I urge my colleagues to submit this constitutional amendment to the states for speedy ratification.”

The amendment would put a limit of two six-year terms on senators and three two-year terms on representatives. In order for the amendment to take affect it must pass both houses of Congress by a two-thirds vote, and then be ratified by 38 states.

Will our elected representatives vote to limit their terms?

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

At long last, this investigative exercise is over. Or is it?


Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation, submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr, and has spoken publicly about the report, that more-than two-year, $35 million investigation is over and done.

Personally, upon Mueller’s appointment as Special Counsel, my reaction was decidedly negative. Not because of Mueller himself, who was widely praised, but of the position of special counsel, itself. The record of special counsels, or independent counsels, or special prosecutors, etc., is spotty, at best, and has at times been a significant blot on the concept of justice for all and the rule of law.

Someone who takes on this challenge is taking a chance, and will be judged on his or her results. They cannot afford to fail. If there aren’t ten, twenty or a hundred relevant indictments or pleas, the individual’s reputation will take a big hit. This potential result must have a significant influence on how the ensuing investigation transpires.

History has shown that special counsel investigations are often a license for misfeasance, mischief, and less-than-honorable conduct of the special counsel’s staff.

On that score, my negative response was the correct one.

A special counsel is supposed to be assigned to investigate a known crime when the independence of the people who usually investigate these crimes in the Department of Justice may be in question.

But there was no known crime for Mueller to investigate; his job was to investigate to see if he could find a crime, which was generally imagined to be collusion between Donald Trump and members of his campaign and the Russian effort to affect the outcome of the 2016 election, which Trump won in the traditional manner that American elections are decided.

There was criticism of the investigative team Mueller assembled. The UK Daily Mail reported: “The 16 lawyers known to be operating the Russia probe have previously been found to have made $62,000 in contributions to Democrats but just $2,750 to Republicans, based on Federal Election Records.” The team’s objectivity was suspect.

The special counsel investigation did result in some indictments and guilty pleas. Those indicted in the Russian affair were Russian nationals who will never be put on trial. Most other indictments and pleas were for process crimes or wrongs committed years ago that were unrelated to the campaign and the election, therefore irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Now that the search for a crime is over, Attorney General Barr stands accused of behaving like “the president’s lawyer.” Consider, however, that the attorney general heads the Department of Justice, an Administrative department. As such, the attorney general works for and reports to the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

According to the Department of Justice Website, “The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested.”

Mueller has filed his final report with Attorney General Barr, as he was supposed to do, has closed his office, and held a news conference to comment on the completion of his work.

After all the hoopla of the investigation, Trump supporters hold the same opinion of the investigation as they did at the beginning, and Trump foes hold the same opinion of the Trump as they did before it. No Trump crimes were charged and little of relevance was accomplished.

Alan Dershowitz is Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Law School, self-identifies as a Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton, but is one of those who can step beyond political affiliation and look objectively at legal situations. 

In a May 29 op-ed for The Hill, Dershowitz cited former FBI Director James Comey’s improper comments about Hillary Clinton and her team’s mishandling of classified information.

“Mueller, however, did even more,” he wrote. “He went beyond the conclusion of his report and gave a political gift to Democrats in Congress who are seeking to institute impeachment proceedings against President Trump. By implying that President Trump might have committed obstruction of justice, Mueller effectively invited Democrats to institute impeachment proceedings. Obstruction of justice is a ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ which, under the Constitution, authorizes impeachment and removal of the president.”

Dershowitz continued: “Until today, I have defended Mueller against the accusations that he is a partisan. I did not believe that he personally favored either the Democrats or the Republicans, or had a point of view on whether President Trump should be impeached. But I have now changed my mind. By putting his thumb, indeed his elbow, on the scale of justice in favor of impeachment based on obstruction of justice, Mueller has revealed his partisan bias. He also has distorted the critical role of a prosecutor in our justice system.”

Perhaps this will at last bring about the end of special counsels. Lives are ruined and crimes created in the special counsel’s efforts to avoid failure. As Dershowitz said, witnesses are bullied to “sing or compose” when under oath, creating process crimes that cost thousands to defend against, and ruin the lives of persons involved.

This lies well beneath the ideal of American justice.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Colleges are taking it on the chin lately


The bad news for higher education keeps piling up. Recent scandals involving parents bribing people to help get their otherwise-unqualified kids into elite schools and the new story of sexual impropriety at Ohio State University add to the list.  

Such things as challenges to free speech on campus and the imposition of politically correct mandates that run contrary to common sense have dramatically changed things for higher education.

The traditional role of colleges to help students mature into rational and knowledgeable adults that are prepared to deal with the stresses of life is no longer a given.

Once a place for young people to prepare for a career in an idea-rich forum that challenges them to consider new and different perspectives, many campuses have developed “safe spaces” where students can seek refuge from reality, sometimes when instructors provide them with “trigger warnings” in advance of possible “troubling” topics in the classroom.

The complete shutting out of certain unpopular ways of thinking about things often occurs when the dominant left-liberal philosophy of many campuses is threatened by the presence of a conservative or religious speaker. These existential threats turn otherwise normal calm, rational people in their late teens and 20s into mobs protesting these speakers, sometimes violently, even if they are not required to go and hear what they have to say.

These highly negative attributes are not present in all institutions of higher learning, of course, and perhaps one or more of your former schools has avoided this plague. But the trend is extensive, and is growing, and threatens to debase the once-proud custom of a college education.

More and different criticisms of higher education appear in Dr. Walter Williams’ column from last week referencing a new book titled “Restoring the Promise” by Richard Vedder, Ohio University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics.

Williams, himself a professor of economics, in fact the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, cites Vedder’s view that our universities "are vastly too expensive, often costing twice as much per student compared with institutions in other industrialized democracies," and that while exceptions exist, students "on average are learning relatively little, spend little time in academic preparation and in some disciplines are indoctrinated by highly subjective ideology."

The latter point supports the idea that too often college students are taught not “how” to think, but “what” to think.

Other points Williams makes from Vedder and other sources include:
** There is a mismatch between student occupational expectations after graduation, and labor market realities. College graduates often find themselves employed as baristas, retail clerks and taxi drivers.
** Data from the New York Federal Reserve Banks and the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that each dollar of federal aid increases tuition by 60 cents.
** Very little improvement in critical reasoning skills occurs in college, and college graduates are less literate than they once were. Areas of exception to this trend are engineering, nursing, architecture and accounting.
** Vedder says that student ineptitude is not surprising since they spend little time in classrooms and studying, and cites weak preparation in high school as another reason. In 2010 and 2013 NAEP test scores, 37 percent of 12th-graders were proficient in reading, 25 percent in math, 12 percent in history, 20 percent in geography and 24 percent in civics.

It seems that the “every child should go to college” craze is blessedly over and the college bubble I have quietly predicted for a few years appears to be upon us. 

After high school, kids must focus on how they are going to make a living for themselves, and perhaps a family. The basic K-12 educational curriculum ought to provide them a good background to do that.

Many good paying jobs may require post-secondary training, but not a 4-year college degree, or more, therefore many, perhaps most, high school graduates should not seek a college degree.

Williams concludes his column with this: “Vedder ends ‘Restoring the Promise’ with a number of proposals with which I agree:"
“--College administrative staff often exceeds the teaching staff. Vedder says, ‘I doubt there is a major campus in America where you couldn't eliminate very conservatively 10 percent of the administrative payroll (in dollar terms) without materially impacting academic performance.’"

“--Reevaluate academic tenure. Tenure is an employment benefit that has costs, and faculty members should be forced to make tradeoffs between it and other forms of university compensation."
“--Colleges of education, with their overall poor academic quality, are an embarrassment on most campuses and should be eliminated."
“--End speech codes on college campuses by using the University of Chicago Principles on free speech."
“--Require a core curriculum that incorporates civic and cultural literacy."
“--The most important measure of academic reforms is to make university governing boards independent and meaningful. In my opinion, most academic governing boards are little more than yes men for the president and provost.”

At this point it is difficult to tell if this will get straightened out, and what higher education will look like if it does. Certainly, it will be a difficult period for colleges.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Constitutional crisis? Another Democrat talking point gets life


So, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Chair of the House Judiciary Committee thinks we have entered into a Constitutional crisis because Attorney General William Barr has refused to turn over a completely un-redacted copy of Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s report.

Barr has, however, provided a copy for key members of Congress that is almost un-redacted. Out of the well-over 400 pages in the report only two entire lines of text are redacted, and seven lines are partially redacted. This version of the report is far better than the heavily redacted version previously made available, but only three members of Congress have chosen to review it, and – surprise, surprise, surprise – none of the three is a Democrat.

And, the redactions that remain are still in place because of a federal circuit court ruling to the effect that grand jury materials cannot be made public. The reason is that making public grand jury testimony about people who were investigated but not indicted would potentially unfairly harm those whose names appeared, even though they were not indicted for any criminal wrongdoing.

But that’s not a good enough reason for Nadler and his Democrat comrades.

It appears, therefore, that if there is unconstitutional behavior, it is the behavior of Nadler himself, who is attempting to punish the AG for refusing to break the law just to help Nadler and the Democrats create another smoke screen. He led the Judiciary Committee in holding Barr in contempt of Congress, although the entire body of the House has not yet voted to do so.

The following explanation appeared in National Review last month. “At issue was this question: Does a federal court have the authority to order disclosure of grand-jury materials if the judge decides that the interests of justice warrant doing so; or is the judge limited to the exceptions to grand-jury secrecy that are spelled out in Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure? The D.C. Circuit’s McKeever ruling holds that the text of Rule 6(e) controls. Consequently, judges have no authority to authorize disclosure outside the rule.” And if a judge may not do so, obviously the AG may not.

Surely Nadler, who is rumored to be a lawyer and is chair of the Judiciary Committee, knows that Barr cannot release a clean report. And wouldn’t he, and several more of his Democrat fellow travelers, benefit from the lightly redacted version that Barr provided. One would certainly think so.

All of these shenanigans are a strong indication that this entire episode is just more political swampiness by a desperate Democrat faction in Congress.

After all, Barr said in testimony before the Committee that he intends to look into several of the irregularities by the FBI and DOJ, and if Nadler himself is not at risk, quite a few public servants who share the anti-Trump obsession surely are.

Law professor Jonathan Turley, described by Townhall.com as “left-leaning,” has a reputation for ignoring political considerations when addressing constitutional issues.

About the topic of Barr’s refusal to respond to the subpoena, Turley said, “The problem is that the contempt action against Barr is long on action and short on contempt. Indeed, with a superficial charge, the House could seriously undermine its credibility in the ongoing conflicts with the White House.”

He went on to say, “As someone who has represented the House of Representatives, my concern is that this one violates a legal version of the Hippocratic oath to ‘first do no harm.’ This could do great harm, not to Barr, but to the House. It is the weakest possible case to bring against the administration, and likely to be an example of a bad case making bad law for the House ... Barr promised to release as much of the report as possible, and he has delivered.”

Nadler and his fellow OCD-plagued anti-Trumpers are uninterested in what destruction they may impose on the country in their frenzied efforts to harm Donald Trump.

“The end justifies the means” is the current ruling motto of Democrats, and some misguided Republicans. “Trump must be defeated, removed from office, even prosecuted” seems to be the operative theme. It doesn’t matter whose life is unfairly ruined, or how many people they trash in the process.

Being morally upstanding and behaving with integrity are lost virtues among Congressional Democrats, as they climb lower and lower in their efforts to remove Trump from office.

While the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was going on in strict secrecy, at the end of the proceedings a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin responded immediately, "A republic, if you can keep it."

We must give Congressional Democrats their due for being transparent: They are clearly showing, for all to see, that they care little for the law or for honorable behavior. Nothing is as important than doing in Donald Trump, and it seems nothing will be allowed to stand in their way. And the republic that Franklin celebrated and warned about is under attack from within.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Activities in “The Swamp” reach disgusting and treasonous levels



“The Swamp.” That is how Donald Trump identifies the Washington bureaucratic morass. The Swamp, or however one identifies it, is the stuff of legend.

It has a life and a mind of its own, with bureaucrats who have made a career of federal employment sometimes indulging in activities other than serving the needs of the citizenry, which is their duty.

Sometimes that extraneous work involves merely not doing what should be done, and sometimes it involves doing what should not be done. Not every federal employee has the integrity, honesty and the devotion to duty that is expected of those serving the American people.

The misbehavior may be merely shirking one’s duty, such as sloppy work habits, or doing things other than what the job entails. Or it may be using the powers of the IRS improperly against certain types of organizations, as we saw with Lois Learner at the helm of the department responsible for granting non-profit status that purposefully denied approval or delayed action on legitimate applications of conservative organizations.

Or it may be a coordinated effort to affect the outcome of a presidential election, and following that failure, trying to sabotage that darned business guy outsider who beat the odds and won despite The Swamp’s substantial meddling.

That is what was long suspected, but was well covered up by Swamp-creatures, and ignored by the liberal media, but is now emerging for all to see. In contrast to the left’s preferred narrative, Donald Trump’s allegations of “spying” and “wire-tapping” have been proven correct, with the evidence of our government listening in on the calls of a Trump associate who lived in Trump Tower in 2016, and other things of a similar nature.

Let’s shift our attention to London, weeks before the election, when Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos sat with a comely young lady going by the name of Azra Turk in a bar. Using her womanly wiles to best advantage for a while, she then asked Papadopoulos if the campaign was working with Russia.

The New York Times, no supporter of Donald Trump, reported last week, “The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.”

“The decision to use Ms. Turk in the operation aimed at a presidential campaign official shows the level of alarm inside the F.B.I.,” The Times story continued, “during a frantic period when the bureau was trying to determine the scope of Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 election, but could also give ammunition to Mr. Trump and his allies for their spying claims.”

The question that jumps immediately out is, was the “level of alarm inside the F.B.I.” a legitimate criminal or counterintelligence concern, or was it just politics? Where was the concern about Russian involvement in Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

We know the Russians meddled in the election, but years and millions of dollars of investigations produced no evidence of Trump/Russian campaign involvement. Russian meddling appears to have been a convenient excuse for FBI and Department of Justice meddling in the Trump campaign.

Further evidence of government malfeasance involves the email correspondence by high officials at the FBI clearly leading to the belief that political considerations were, indeed, the motivation.

FBI Agent Peter Strozk and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, exchanged a series of emails that had nothing to do with legitimate agency business, but were focused on their dislike for Donald Trump, and efforts to stop him from winning the election. Then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and then-FBI Director James Comey are other names associated with the monkeyshines of the FBI.

The questionable Carter Steele dossier, financed indirectly by the Clinton campaign, and used to trick the FISA Court into issuing warrants to spy on various elements and persons associated with the Trump campaign, is a major element in this sordid story.

The FBI agents, who signed off on and presented the dossier to the FISA Court as a legitimate document supporting the permissions they were seeking, knew the dossier was, at best, questionable, and at worst, fraudulent. Nevertheless, it successfully won warrants that were used against American citizens.

The United States is often referred to as “a nation of laws,” and for the most part that is true. But there is another comment that is not so positive, that also applies: laws are not applied evenly; we have a two-tiered system, where people in positions of power often escape accountability that the rest of us are held to.

Donald Trump did not benefit from that second tier, but so far Hillary Clinton has.

While Congressional Democrats are busy cooking up new investigations of Trump, members of his family and his administration, looking for “anything,” Congressional Republicans are preparing to investigate the investigators.

They will work to get to the bottom of the now well-known malfeasance that took place in the upper echelons of the FBI, DOJ and in FISA Court proceedings.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Biden is correct: We are in a battle for the soul of America

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in his video declaring his candidacy for the Democrat nomination for president, actually identified a very real problem. In his breathy, half-whispering plea for support, he noted that the soul of America is up for grabs.

Uncle Joe has had a few memorable lines over the years, but none so profound and important as that concerning America’s soul. 

However, he did recently say this in answer to a reporter’s question. “America’s coming back like it used to be.” Sounds a lot like “Make America Great Again,” doesn’t it?

For us seasoned citizens who know and love America’s foundational principles, the crazy, un-American things that have become major talking points of the left has transformed the DNC into the gift that keeps on giving. 

The Democrat’s wild ideas comprise the best collection of crazy ideas yet developed by American politicos, and it is a work in progress.

*** Bernie Sanders thinks that people in prison for felonies – including murder, rape, terrorism, etc. – should not only get their rights back that they forfeited when they committed the crime, but should retain those rights, including the right to vote, even as they are still paying their voluminous debt to society in prison.

*** U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) has proposed a student loan forgiveness plan that could benefit tens of millions of Americans, and also to provide “free college” for all. She must be unaware of what the growth of student financial aid has done to help increase the cost of a college education. 

According to collegeboard.org, the price of private non-profit colleges and public two-year schools has doubled, and the cost of public four-year institutions has tripled over the last few decades. Universal “free college” would cost the nation $1.25 trillion over just the next decade.

*** Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) thinks the voting age, now 18 years-old, needs to be lowered to 16 “to capture kids when they’re in high school.” What would prompt her to want to give people, who are still in school, just old enough to drive, but not to buy alcohol or serve in their country’s military, the right to vote? Perhaps it’s because about half of the current crop of adolescents — those no-longer children but not-quite adults — say they would prefer living in a socialist country, according to a Harris Poll.

And why do they believe this? They have not learned American History or Civics while in school. But they should vote?

*** Did you know that in February all six of the then-declared candidates for the Democrat nomination for president voted against the Born Alive Protection Act that would protect the life of newborns? From National Review: “All six of the Democratic senators currently running for the 2020 presidential nomination voted against the bill: Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (CA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), and Elizabeth Warren (MA), along with Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”

*** Robert Francis O’Rourke (Texas), who answers to the name of “Beto,” claimed that if the American people are not able to view the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, it could mean the end of the country.

“This is an unprecedented attack on this country and on our democracy, and we are owed the facts. And if we do not receive them, 243 years in, there’s nothing that guarantees us a 244th.”

“For this democracy to succeed, people must put our country before their party, the next election, the approval of the president. What matters now is the future of the United States,” he said. Well, he got one thing right.

*** Illinois Rep. Dianne Pappas, a Democrat from Itasca, believes castrating men would help the problem of abortion. She made the suggestion not once, but twice, in recent meetings. If men were unable to “cause” pregnancy, there would be fewer abortions. Really?

*** Other similarly crazy ideas include, but are not limited to: a “living wage” government job for everyone; trashing the protections for small states from the tyranny of a big-state majority by eliminating the Electoral College; doing away with coal, oil and natural gas use within 10 years; open borders, sanctuary jurisdictions and federal aid for illegals.

We all know that America is not perfect, and the perpetually disaffected among us constantly remind us of what they think is wrong with it. But America has a long world-leading list of accomplishments, including being the most-free nation on Earth. Ever.

What made America great the first time largely consisted of not doing crazy things like the current bevy of Democrat “progressives” want to do.

The American Family Association recently sent out a mailing that included its president’s “6 reasons why America is worth saving.” Among Tim Wildman’s 6 reasons are that “The U.S. is the most generous and merciful nation ever;” “Peaceful change is always possible because it is build into our system;” and that “Americans are free to pursue their economic dreams.”

America’s soul is not at risk, so long as we stick to the things that made it great, and reject these crazy so-called “progressive” ideas.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Celebrate the good that’s happening and fix the country’s problems


That President Donald Trump has many critics is no surprise. That he has created much of the negative feelings people have for him is also no surprise. One interesting question is, “how much of the anti-Trump fervor is legitimate opposition to his agenda, or a true belief that he is unsuited for the job, and how much is just an emotional reaction to his personal behavior?”

His pugnacious style, attacking those who criticize him, and fighting back against those who attack him, is at the root of much of the negative sentiment towards him.

Genuine dislike for Trump, some of that from hurt feelings, seems to be what drives most – or at least much of – the bad feelings toward him. So, if Trump can be fairly accused of obsessive behavior that drives much of the negative sentiment, are his detractors not also behaving obsessively?

Some abandon their professional ethics and standards, saying, in effect, “Trump made me do it.” And that attitude has taken its toll in the field of journalism, which has been severely damaged of late, and elected representatives and senators shirk their responsibility to their constituents in order to focus on obstructing Trump.

Why not balance those negative emotions with earned appreciation for the good things that have happened and are happening during Trump’s tenure as president, the strong economy being a major factor? Are these folks so petty that they cannot admit that he is doing some good things?

For example: since Trump took office unemployment has dropped, currently at 3.8 percent; we have the lowest unemployment rate in history for women, African-Americans and Hispanics; there are more job openings than there are unemployed Americans, seven million job openings and six million unemployed; the number of those counted as outside the labor force tumbled by 487,000 in 2018, asworkers who had become discouraged and dropped out of the labor force are coming back.

He has eliminated many regulations that impeded economic progress; tax cuts have further spurred the economy and resulted in people keeping more of their earnings; wages are going up with Real Weekly Earnings up 2.6 percent; manufacturing added more jobs than government, reversing the Obama trend; some companies that left the U.S. have returned, bringing jobs back; and the GDP growth rate is up.

Why not focus on fixing problems that the nation faces?

The Left largely sympathizes with the undocumented immigrants – that’s “illegal aliens” for the non-politically correct among us – and denies that the tens of thousands sneaking across the southern border and the tens of thousands more who have over-stayed their visas comprise a crisis. Trump, on the other hand, understands that it is a crisis, agreeing with the federal immigration workers and those states that have to try to deal with this senseless situation. 

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, instead of doing its job and helping to revise outdated and flawed immigration laws and procedures to help protect the country and the constituents that elected its members, plans to investigate Trump some more.

The Left’s favorite narrative is that these people are fleeing dangerous conditions, or are just looking for a better life. Of course some, likely most, are. There are proper ways of doing this, and sneaking across the border is not one of them. But others are sex or drug traffickers, robbers, rapists and murderers. 

All of those groups – both those having the best intentions, as well as those with the worst – have one thing in common: they are in the U.S. illegally. Why is any true American willing to allow this to continue?

And while the mainstream media has successfully downplayed this situation, the problem is much worse this year than last. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) reported on its website, “According to U.S. Border Patrol (CBP), in six and a half months their agents have apprehended more than 418,000 illegal aliens, which surpasses the total for FY2018. In the last six months, CBP has encountered more than 3,000 fraudulent family units. And CBP had apprehended almost 1,000 illegal aliens, mostly family units, before 5 a.m. on April 16.”

“Anti-enforcement politicians and Democrats in Congress reflexively blame the Trump administration or Central American dictators,” the report continued. “Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee (Wash.) even blamed the crisis on climate change.”

While we know that the Russians attempted to affect the 2016 election, as they have in previous elections, there is no evidence that anything they did had a real effect on the outcome. Therefore, Trump was properly elected as president under the electoral system that our Founders designed, and that has worked for well over 200 years.

There is important work to be done that is currently being delayed largely by the obsession to obstruct Trump, and ultimately remove him from office. Those things include: reforming our immigration system, straightening out the shambles that are the healthcare system, paring down the size and cost of government, and continuing to reduce harmful regulations. And these areas affect all Americans, Republicans, Democrats and everybody else.

Finding satisfactory solutions to these problems requires everyone’s good intentions and honest efforts. Now it’s time to get to work.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

William Barr joins Robert Mueller on the Democrat’s Wall of Shame



Attorney General William Barr testified recently before the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the Department of Justice budgetary request, but he was asked question after question after question about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russian collusion investigation, and the conclusions from  that report Barr released.

For doing his job as AG, Barr suddenly became the new Democrat target, as his conclusions from the Mueller report failed to satisfy the intense hunger of Democrats for evidence of impropriety, even criminality, by then-candidate Donald Trump and his team.

The sudden, virtually automatic and universal distrust of Barr by Congressional Democrats and the MSM for doing his duty in accepting the Mueller report and releasing the conclusions is more than just curious. 

Years ago, a Democrat-controlled Senate confirmed Barr by voice vote for attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. He was highly praised, both by Republicans and Democrats, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to recommend his confirmation, and then-Senate Judiciary Chairman, former Vice President, and now potential presidential candidate Joe Biden, and Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy both enthusiastically endorsed him for the position.

But now that political considerations have replaced obligations to duty, that support has vanished in a flash of desperate partisanship.

This same response occurred when Robert Mueller was named special counsel. Praise came abundantly from both sides of the political aisle, and Democrats could hardly contain their eagerness at the expected results of the investigation by this giant of a man, imagining a handcuffed Donald Trump being perp-walked out of the White House to the hoosegow along with Don, Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and yes, Melania and Barron, too.

But that was not what happened, and suddenly Mueller’s reputation lay in shambles in the gutters of Pennsylvania Avenue. Now there are two once-widely respected people associated with the Department of Justice who, by doing their jobs, lost the confidence and respect of Congressional Democrats.

When Barr’s appearance before the Subcommittee began, New York’s Rep. Nita Lowey, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, got things off to a creaky start: “Before getting into your budget request I want to discuss a serious oversight matter, your unacceptable handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.” 

“It’s been reported that the report is 300 to 400 pages, and I use the term ‘reported’ because we have no idea how long it actually is,” she continued. “All we have is your four-page summary, which seems to cherry pick from the report to draw the most favorable conclusion possible for the president.” 

And how would she know whether he is cherry picking or not, since she complained about having no knowledge of what is in the report?

Her deep ignorance of the situation shone forth again when she said, “I must say it is extraordinary to evaluate hundreds of pages of evidence, legal documents, and findings based on a 22-month-long inquiry, and make definitive legal conclusions in less than 48 hours.” 

Again, she makes assumptions without having seen the document, which might have contained conclusions. And she also didn’t know that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, to whom Mueller reported during the investigation, helped Barr produce the document that contained the findings.

And then there was this brilliant question from Michigan Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence: “Who do you report to, the President of the United States or to the people of America?” 

After such great mischaracterizations of the Barr “summary,” the DOJ offered some perspective on it: "Given the extraordinary public interest in the matter, the Attorney General decided to release the report's bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately — without attempting to summarize the report — with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process.”

Barr also aroused the ire of Committee Democrats, and others, when he said he believed there was “spying” during the presidential campaign.  By using the term “spying,” rather than their much-preferred and less-severe term, “surveillance,” he upset a lot of people.

Spying by any other name, like “surveillance,” is still spying. Which term is the correct one for listening to (intercepting) private conversations, and other such activities: Spying, eavesdropping, or the Democrats’ preferred term, surveillance?

Do you refer to your cousin as a relative, as family, or as kinfolk? Does it really matter? Isn’t this really just playing rhetorical games?

Whatever term one carefully chooses for describing the deed, spying is spying. AG Barr said the difference between legal spying and illegal spying occurs when there is a legitimate predicate for the deed. If there is one, fine; the spying is legal. If not, the spying is a crime.

After being questioned about believing spying occurred, Barr said that he wants to know whether the spying was done appropriately, or not, and plans to look into the matter to find if a suitable predicate existed to justify it.

No doubt this has not eased the Democrats’ disgust over Barr’s findings, and likely has caused a spike on their nervous meter, as the possibility of subversive shenanigans in the Obama FBI, DOJ and elsewhere being exposed looms large.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Jobs combat poverty; over-regulation discourages businesses and jobs

Magatte Wade was born in the West African nation of Senegal, was educated in Germany and France, then came to the U.S. She is a frequent speaker at business conferences and college campuses, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth, MIT, and Wharton. She has started businesses and with her husband is working to create schools in Senegal.

Part of one of her addresses featured on YouTube dealt with how not to be poor. What she said to her audience is a good lesson for everyone.

“People are poor. Why are you poor?” She answered, “you're poor when you don't have enough money to meet your basic needs.” 

And then, the big question: “Where does a source of income come from for most of us?” The answer is, as former Vice President Joe Biden famously said: that three-letter word: ‘JOBS.’

This is not a bolt from the blue to most of us, but to her audiences in colleges and in her native Senegal, this solution may not be so obvious. In fact, some of her audiences responded that jobs actually come from government.

Yes, she responded, some jobs are provided by government. But where does government get the money to pay its employees?

“It comes from taxes. People who work, employees; people who hire them, the companies and employers, pay [taxes] so that we in turn pay these government people.”

So, “we're back to commerce … we're back to business.”

“So I say,” Wade continues, “okay, if ‘jobs’ is the solution to this massive, massive problem we have out there of poverty, then don't you think that maybe we should try to think about where jobs come from?”

If jobs are the answer, and jobs come from entrepreneurs, businesses, “then don't you think that we should really try and pay attention to what type of environment those businesses get to operate in,” Wade asked?

What a concept! Since businesses large and small provide the jobs people need to avoid poverty, and enable workers to pay taxes, and pay taxes themselves to support the government, let’s be careful about the environment that we create for businesses.

In America, it should be easy for someone with a new idea or just the drive to start a business that will provide goods or services, and hire some people to work in it, so long as it follows reasonable laws and regulations. The operative word is, “reasonable.”

Far too often, this is not easy, and sometimes impossible. 

Writing in Business Insider, Michael Snyder addresses this issue. “Small business in the United States is literally being suffocated by red tape. We like to think that we live in ‘the land of the free,’ but the truth is that our lives and our businesses are actually tightly constrained by millions of rules and regulations.” 

“Today there is a ‘license’ for just about every business activity,” Snyder adds. “In fact, in some areas of the country today you need a ‘degree’ and multiple ‘licenses’ before you can even submit an application for permission to start certain businesses.” It gets worse. “And if you want to actually hire some people for your business, the paperwork nightmare gets far worse. It is a wonder that anyone in America is still willing to start a business from scratch and hire employees.”

“The truth is that the business environment in the United States is now so incredibly toxic that millions of Americans have simply given up and don't even try to work within the system anymore.”

To put the regulatory issue into perspective, the Federal Register is where federal rules are catalogued. The number of pages in it was about 2,600 in 1936. That’s a lot of pages of rules, but it pales in comparison to the calendar year of 2016, when the number of Federal Register pages stood at 95,854.

Certain variables factor into this: Some rules take more pages than others, and page size is also important. However, most novels have 250 words per page, and a really long novel has 425 pages. At the end of 2016, the Federal Register had as many pages as 225 long novels, and 383 normal-sized ones.

President Donald Trump has implemented efforts to reduce regulations by signing an executive order on Jan. 31, 2017 for the agency requesting a new regulation to cut two older regulations.

A Daily Caller story said that the Trump administration “reported $23 billion in savings from 176 deregulatory actions in fiscal year 2018. Even more consequential, the administration has issued 65 percent fewer ‘significant’ rules — those with costs that exceed $100 million a year — than the Obama administration, and 51 percent fewer than the Bush administration, after 22 months in office.”

That’s a start, but a lot more needs to be done to give Americans the freedom and ability to start a business or get a job.

A final word from Magatte Wade: “Not living up to our potential is a failure for which the only person who can possibly be responsible is oneself.“

She’s right, of course, but things like over-regulation make that much more difficult for even those who are determined to succeed.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Border officials and facilities overwhelmed by illegal entrants


The number of illegal aliens captured at the southern border has overloaded the facilities that hold them, and thousands have been released into the country.

Illegal entry has been routinely called a non-crisis by much of the media and Congressional Democrats, and recently Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama, called it that. Appearing on CBS last month, Johnson said: "So here are the facts: the facts are that illegal migration on our southern border is a fraction of what it used to be." He added, "But a security crisis per se? No. I would not characterize it that way. I think there is some fear-mongering going on."

However, Saturday Johnson said on Fox News’ “Cavuto LIVE,” “By anyone's definition, by any measure, right now we have a crisis at our southern border.” He added, “According to the commissioner of [Customs and Border Protection], there were 4,000 apprehensions in one day alone this past week, and we're on pace for 100,000 apprehensions on our southern border this month.”

Perhaps Congress will finally get the message. Had Congress taken administration warnings seriously and acted to relieve the situation months ago, this crisis could have been resolved.

Representative Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, noted that in the heat of summer “it’s going to be very, very dangerous in this part of the country to have young kids, women and other folks to come in.”

Cuellar said, after speaking to Customs and Border Patrol agents, he had discovered a disturbing trend of adults “renting” children in Central America in order to increase their chances of being able to stay in the U.S. once they cross over.

Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch visited Guatemala earlier this year to get a first-hand look at the first of several caravans headed toward our southern border.

Contrary to reports in the media and those who support unfettered immigration that the migrants were mostly women and children, Farrell observed that while there were women and children in the caravan, he estimated that between 90 and 95 percent of them were men 15 to 45 years old. The children, he said, were “recovered from a human smuggling operation using the caravan as ‘cover.’”

He said that it’s “A highly organized, very elaborate and sophisticated orchestration,” not a sudden movement of thousands of people who just happened to all decide to travel north at the same time. It’s an “organized group of people pushing a certain political agenda by a group calledPueblos Sin Fronterasbeing aided by hundreds of that organization’s workers.”

This effort, he estimated, cost several millions of dollars for food, water, transportation, medical equipment, mobile hospitals and child services, which reminded Farrell of a complex military operation. And while they did walk portions of the tremendous distance through Mexico, they primarily traveled on chartered tour buses, dozens of them.

The media reports of the plight of the migrants say that “they are trying to escape daily violence and daily threats. People are dying left and right. The conditions are extraordinarily dangerous.”

Farrell interviewed some of the marchers. He started every interview with, “Why are you coming to America?”

“They all said that their reason for joining the ‘caravan’ was economic,” he said. “It was job driven. And then, someone would say, ‘Oh, yeah, … we’re also fleeing violence’ as an after-thought.”

And then, Farrell asked the obvious question: “Well, if things are so bad, why did you leave your family back home? Of course, they couldn’t answer that question,” he said. 

Perhaps the growing recognition of the crisis at the southern border will bring a realistic attitude about the nature of the numerous migrant caravans headed our way and get Congress to do its job, and take action to address this crisis.

President Donald Trump has threatened to completely shut down the border this week if Mexico doesn’t take steps to stop the caravans from traveling through to the border. He has already cut funding to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras because they have not taken action to halt the flow of migrants. 

Shutting down the border has some serious problems for Mexico and the U.S., so Congress must act quickly. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said yesterday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” that his state cannot deal with the number of illegals entering it, and the same situation exists for other border states.

The Los Angeles Timesaddressed the border shutdown in February: “Fortunately for Trump, the law on immigration and related matters favors the president. Legal precedents have traditionally accorded the chief executive complete and nearly unchecked power to deny foreigners permission to enter the United States.”

"The exclusion of aliens is a fundamental act of sovereignty … inherent in the executive power," the Supreme Court said in 1950. And the Timesadded, “Congress adopted a provision in 1952 saying the president ‘may by proclamation … suspend the entry of all aliens and any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants’ whenever he thinks it ‘would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.’”

That does not, however, preclude a block by an activist liberal judge.