Tuesday, August 29, 2017

“Poor Donald, he can’t help it. He was born to do things wrong!”

A president’s true effect on his country can’t be fully and accurately assessed until some time after his or her term ends. But looking at Donald Trump’s record so far indicates his effect will be almost 100 percent negative, as is plainly demonstrated by media coverage and the estimates of his Democrat and liberal enemies.

Sure, he’s been in office only seven months, but all that really means is that his negative record is ultimately going to be absolutely YUGE and unparalleled!

How could so many American voters have been so wrong last November?

Trump is a man who has become famous only because his father gave him money, right? Daddy, we are told, provided gifts of $1 million or maybe $100 million. Detractors say that is why he is now worth $3.5 billion, according to Forbes, only 35 times the highest reported level of help of $100 million. What’s special about that? Surely any or all of the rest of us could have done that well?

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., saw this coming and wisely wanted to save the country all this pain by impeaching him before he ever got sworn in as president. Perhaps she was in such a hurry because she wanted get it done before her trial for ethics violations begins. And some of her patriotic Democrat comrades are still working toward that end. Bless their hearts!

And CNN’s “reporter,” Jim Acosta – who has benefitted from his own journalistic failures since Trump made him famous by noticing and publicizing them – acted on an assumption. Immediately upon hearing the dire predictions of catastrophe of Hurricane Harvey advancing on the Texas coast, Acosta apparently assumed Trump was watching baseball rather than acting in advance of the storm to deal with the developing crisis. He texted Trump with the question “what is your administration doing about the hurricane to keep Texans safe?” By then, Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had already talked by phone and the federal government was already acting, and Abbott has praised the federal response. Oops!

No doubt Al Gore will soon publish another book or make another movie with withering criticism of Donald’s failure to remain in the Paris Climate Accord, that “doctrine with no teeth,” which he’ll swear could have turned the storm to the south, sparing America altogether.

Sure, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a hero to many Arizonans for his unwavering enforcement of federal immigration laws the federal government refused to enforce. The feds’ abdication meant great harm and discomfort to the people of Sen. John McCain’s home state.

But how could Donald dare to pardon the man before he was even sentenced for the misdemeanor charges he was found guilty of – by a judge, not a jury – and robbing that judge of the pleasure of punishing a man she convicted of upholding federal law?

Shouldn’t a president’s powers of pardon and commutation be reserved for people convicted of serious federal crimes, as Bill Clinton did on his last day in office for 140 such criminals, some of whom were his relatives and friends? Or, for releasing 1,500 federal prisoners and Gitmo detainees, as Barack Obama did over eight years?

Even some so-called Republicans, like the aforementioned John McCain, are critical of Trump. McCain said the timing was bad and especially so because “Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for” doing the job the federal government refused to do to protect Sen. McCain’s Arizona constituents.

With these acts Trump has joined the ranks of previous presidents, doing things their enemies dislike. Remember Barack Obama’s “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” bragging on the Affordable Care Act, or “The police acted stupidly” trying to protect personal property, or when he curtsied to Muslim leaders upon meeting them?

Many people do not like Donald Trump, a condition he readily contributes to by some actions, but also because he doesn’t do things the way they expect a president to do them. However, being different isn’t necessarily being wrong. Remember, in 1532 it was a certainty that the Earth was the center of all things. But Nicholaus Copernicus revived an ancient theory saying the Sun was actually the center and Earth revolved around it. According to the existing beliefs, he was wrong. But he wasn’t.

Many in the media and the public take Trump’s words literally without thinking about what he was trying to communicate. Yes, that may be hard work, but reporting accurately is also hard work, and the media needs to step up its game.

Of course, Trump should do a better job of making sure his words convey their intended meaning; but the media must remember that their job is to convey the true message, the intended message, and leave their petty, adolescent feelings aside.

Reporters and media outlets are charged with accurately, objectively and fairly informing the public. Report what happens, good, bad and ugly, and let the people decide how to respond. Americans don’t need you to tell them what to think.

America’s future is far more important than the hurt feelings and emotional upheavals of Trump’s enemies.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

America’s summer of discontent proceeds, and violence increases

Back in 1961 when Willie Nelson composed and released a soon-to-be famous ballad, its title described a situation our country would see a few years later. The title of that song is perfectly applicable today: “Crazy.”

There are always at least a few crazy things going on in America. Today, the list is long, and growing. For example, there’s the manic movement to remove statues of some of the South’s and the Civil War’s better-known personalities, or rename things honoring them that adorn the American south.

Elected officials, who ought to know better, are surrendering to the small, but very loud, group that shrieks to remove them for no better reason than that they do not like them. They say that these memorials conjure up visions – not memories – of slavery, which was wiped from our land 150 years ago.

Cities and colleges are caving in with increasing frequency to the shrieking, and the movement’s criminal element is taking matters into its own hands by destroying these pieces of our history, sometimes in the dark of night, with no regard for anything beyond their own limited impulses.

Interestingly, as recently as this time last year, no one was complaining about these memorials. What has happened since to excuse these often illegal acts and exercises in bad judgment?

A somewhat older crazy thing is the protest against the “Star Spangled Banner,” most notably by athletes who remain sitting, or take a knee when the national anthem is performed prior to an athletic contest. This is a long-standing tradition only recently seen as problematic.

It is interesting how many Americans whose talents earned them fame and fortune somehow believe the country that provided the opportunity for success is now their enemy. They now protest against the country that has rewarded them. Biting the hand that feeds you is generally not a good plan.

A group organizing a “Unite the Right” rally at the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va. was treated fairly in its permit request, although city officials did later try to interfere with the plan. After a judge upheld the original permit, the group, described as “white nationalists” and “KKK,” went forward with its rally supporting protection of the Lee statue.

Another group appeared at the rally site, one that apparently did not have a permit. This Leftist group was there to protest against the pro-Lee rally. Sometimes referred to as “Antifa,” for “anti-fascist,” the group is known for its fascist methods in fighting what it calls fascism. Crazy?

Violence ensued. Who started it is unknown. Both sides were violent and had implements/weapons to assist them. The police did almost nothing to stop the violence, and one police officer, whose name was not given, said Charlottesville police received a “stand down” order.

Rumor has it that the Antifas have set their sights on likenesses of Col. Harlan Sanders. Good fascists must not allow a statue that represents southern fried chicken to remain a fixture in the white supremacist south.

In line with their fever over the existence of statues of Thomas Jefferson and Stonewall Jackson, Democrats have already altered their Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, renaming it the Unity Dinner. Will they now demand renaming the copious things honoring the late W. Va. Democrat Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who once was a member in good standing of the KKK?

Last weekend in Boston a group organized a rally in support of free speech, which, of course, was opposed by the same group that opposed defending Gen. Lee’s statue. Even the idea of free speech has opponents on the political Left. Crazy?

These organized political protests have reached the level of pure obsession, demanding the removal of long-standing monuments and memorials of America’s past that do actual harm to no one. Overcome by raw emotion, these opponents gather at locations of the subjects of their discontent, and often abandon the perfectly legitimate American act of peaceful protest in favor of illegal violence.

America is now more politically divided than it has been for decades. Some say as divided as it was in 1861, when disagreement drove southern states to secede from the Union, beginning the Civil War.

Are we headed for another civil war? The first one saw the states that seceded from the Union receive a brutal defeat. The disaffected are following the same path of those whose statues and monuments they now condemn. They have a poor grasp of history, and seem determined to repeat it.

The first civil war arose from serious and honest policy disagreement. What we see today is primarily emotional discontent, compounded by forces bent on fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

These protests are not spontaneous. America is under attack from within, but much influence, including funding, comes from outside. Paid protesters arrive from across the country to protest and conduct violence and destruction. People with the Workers World Party Durham, a hard-Left organization, were involved in bringing down a statue in Durham, NC, according to the Durham newspaper, the Herald-Sun.

We had better be prepared for more violence and destruction, unless authorities wise up and stop these violent protests.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The people’s will is at risk from election fraud and carelessness

When the topic of election fraud comes up, a lot of people say there is not much of that, except for the Russians.

The problem is that there is a good bit of evidence for domestic election irregularities, and little or none for the Russians having had a real effect in 2016.

Two recent inconvenient items remind us just how real election fraud really is.

The first is especially inconvenient for Democrats, as a college student working as a staffer for Harrisonburg Votes, described as being affiliated with the Democrat Party in Harrisonburg, Va., gets jail time. 

James Madison University student Andrew J. Spieles will spend 100 days in jail for knowingly turning in false Virginia voter registration forms during the 2016 election containing the names of dead people and other faulty information.

And, a woman in the country legally, but a non-citizen, has been sentenced to eight years in prison and fined $5,000 for voting illegally five times over a period of years. Rosa Maria Ortega of Grand Prairie, Texas, was sentenced earlier this year for the 2nd-degree felony.

Ortega had applied to vote in Tarrant County, but acknowledged she was not a citizen, and was turned down because she was not a citizen. Despite being told she was not eligible to vote in the United States, five months later, she applied again, claiming to be a citizen.

She did not vote in Tarrant County, but did vote in Dallas County, authorities say.

Four employees of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) were arrested earlier this month in a scheme to produce false identification documents enabling illegal immigrants to vote in Boston. In addition to the employees of the RMV, people selling illegal documents were also arrested for selling Puerto Rico licenses and official state ID cards to illegal aliens.

According to the Department of Justice website in Massachusetts, the document dealer sold Puerto Rican birth certificates and U.S. Social Security cards to the document vendor for $900 who then sold the stolen identities for over $2,000 to clients seeking false identities in Massachusetts.

This fraud was only discovered when Massachusetts State Police received an anonymous letter telling them what was going on in the RMV.

In October of last year The Washington Times published a list of states where regularities have been found:
** Colorado discovered that dead people voted in elections in several different years.
** Illegals were found voting in Virginia, but were only discovered after they self-reported.
** In Pennsylvania 700 voters might have voted twice in recent elections, and 43,000 others potentially had duplicate registrations in Pennsylvania or in Pennsylvania and another state.
** The secretary of state’s office in Pennsylvania mailed about 2.5 million voter registration postcards to people who are not registered voters, but are licensed drivers.
** At least 86 non-citizens have been registered voters in Philadelphia since 2013.
** Allegations of voter fraud in Tarrant County, Texas, prompted a state investigation. Of concern are mail-in ballots, which allow for people to vote from their homes without any ID or verification of identity. And then they found so-called “vote-harvesting” where political operatives fill out and return other people’s ballots, without their consent.
** An Indiana voter fraud investigation grows to 56 counties where police believe there could be hundreds of fraudulent voter registration records with different combinations of made up names and addresses with people’s real information.
** Three people are under investigation in Oklahoma for voting twice in the presidential primary. All three submitted absentee ballots before showing up to their polling place on March 1 and voted again in person.
** Underage voters were found voting in Wisconsin’s presidential primary. This involves six under-age students that voted, and the election workers didn’t even check their birthdays on their IDs.

All of these examples are evidence of both dishonesty and incompetence, or at least carelessness.

So, there is no question that there is election fraud in the United States, but how serious a problem is it?

In a free country founded on following the will of the people, voting is of paramount importance. Without a clean and honest election system, the will of the people may be subverted.

It’s time we get serious about protecting elections from illegal voters and others who work to weaken its security, or who fail to do their jobs competently.

We are reminded frequently that voting is a right and it should be easy to vote. But voting is a solemn duty that must be properly supervised and operated.

One of the best ways to discourage voter fraud is requiring a photo ID obtained by proving eligibility to vote. A long list of everyday activities requires a photo ID, like buying liquor and cigarettes, but not voting. Many people oppose this helpful, common sense mechanism for one of the most important things people do.

They complain that somehow helping to assure only eligible voters can vote disenfranchises some people. But there are steps that correct that problem, and they are already in effect in many states.

Requiring a photo ID to vote is a necessary change, along with steps to help eligible voters register.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Mueller’s charge: A search for justice, or a fishing excursion?

Back in May, the Department of Justice announced that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had appointed a special counsel “to oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.”

Rosenstein said he had “determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” adding that his decision “is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. ... What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

Rosenstein chose former Department of Justice official and former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, a man roundly praised by Democrats and Republicans alike. Supportive comments included that he has impeccable credentials, and the knowledge and ability to do the right thing.

However, over recent months some inconvenient truths have arisen.

A special counsel’s or special prosecutor’s job is to investigate known crimes. As Rosenstein said, no actual crime has been identified. Therefore, the Russian involvement in the election that has commanded the attention of the media and Democrats for more than a year is not a criminal case. It is a counter-intelligence case, which does not require a special counsel.

As Mueller began recruiting his team of lawyers to assist in the investigation, it was noted that some of the early ones were donors to Democrat candidates. And to date, as reported by The Washington Post, of the 14 names confirmed by the special counsel’s office, seven of them have “donated a total of $60,787.77 to [Hillary] Clinton and other party candidates.”

William Barr, Attorney General in the George H.W. Bush administration, told the Post, "In my view, prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party." Can this investigation be objective?

The order creating the special counsel ostensibly is for investigating Russian election involvement. However, it effectively has no limits. Having found nothing pursuable in the Russian intrigue, which was the reason for appointing a special counsel, Mueller has moved on to other topics. He is now looking into matters involving Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. If/when that one runs its course, another empty space awaits, like President Donald Trump’s business dealings years ago.

It is not unlike bringing a construction company executive to an empty field without a plan to follow, and saying, “build something.” There is no definite end to this process, unless someone somewhere can be indicted, or be persuaded to confess to something.

Critics say that Mueller’s job, and that of prosecutors generally, is to find a crime, and then to find a perpetrator, and it apparently is of little importance what the crime is, or who is responsible for it. Remember the investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater matter? It ended up being the Monica Lewinski matter. The two were barely related, if at all.

Prosecutors are known for “flipping” witnesses, pressuring them with prosecution for something – anything – to persuade them to tattle on someone – anyone – in order to avoid prosecution. A prosecutor’s job is, after all, to prosecute. No indictment in this matter indicates a failed investigation. Who wants that on their record?

Recently, Mueller impaneled a grand jury, and some think see that as an indication that Mueller is hot on the trail of criminal activity. And that is certainly a distinct possibility. However, another argument says grand juries are routine tools in such investigations, and assist in subpoenaing witnesses and aiding the investigation. Time will tell.

Be that as it may, conservative talk show host Mark Levin, who is a lawyer and president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, has a more threatening scenario. Calling it a “coup,” he said “Let me tell you what's going on here: they want to drag Donald Jr. in front of a grand jury and everybody else who was in that meeting – all eight of them – and see if they can find any contradictions in their testimony." Since there was no crime involved, Levin said the purpose is to “see if they can get somebody on a 'lie.' Perjury."

And now some suggest that Mueller is in breach of the rules and should resign.

The Daily Caller reported that Rep. Trent Franks, R-AZ, said, “Robert Mueller is in ‘clear violation’ of federal law prohibiting a special counsel from having a conflict of interest and therefore must immediately resign as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation.”

Franks, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Mueller’s reported friendship with former FBI director James Comey, who first worked under Mueller, leaked information to the press to encourage the appointment of a special counsel. That presents a clear conflict of interest, defined by federal law as: “a personal relationship with any person substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution.”

At best we have a bunch of Republicans being investigated by a bunch of Democrats. What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Wouldn’t it be great if we would buy “Made in America” again?”

Part of President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mission is to reinvigorate U.S. manufacturing, and like nearly everything Trump says or does, that idea produced much criticism. A lot of that is the automatic Trump-hater response, but some resulted from reasoned thought and philosophical differences.

National Review roving correspondent Kevin D. Williamson discussed this in an essay titled “Made in America: Not Important in the 21st Century,” where he offers examples of products assembled in America that actually contain some or perhaps most parts made in other countries. The question is: do these products really deserve the “Made in America” label?

Calling Trump’s encouragement for us to buy products “Made in America” to support our manufacturers “a good slogan … [but] bad and incoherent policy,”’s Nick Gillespie went on to note that using more expensive American labor would increase the price of our products, and protectionist measures to exclude foreign-made materials from our markets runs counter both to the personal freedom the USA provides us, as well as the concept of free trade.

America is a “post-industrial nation,” Gillespie noted, and “the fact is that manufacturing jobs as a percentage of the work force peaked in 1943 and has declined ever since.”

He then urged pursuing policies that create new jobs, new opportunities and new wealth through “lower government spending, flatter and less distorting taxes, and less regulation.”

Opposition to Trump’s idea also includes the Chamber of Commerce and major players in the energy sector. As the Commerce Department worked to meet a late July deadline to present a plan to the president requiring oil and gas pipelines to be made with American-made steel, Trump’s allies in the energy sector warned that this might play havoc with his goal of energy dominance.

Gillespie is correct about the low percentage of manufacturing jobs. This decline occurred over many years, largely through natural progression, but as Gillespie hinted, external factors have also contributed. They had a significant negative effect that increased the decline, and removing those influences can provide some relief to manufacturing job losses.

Whereas technological advancement reduces the need for human work, natural progress in foreign countries is also a factor. In poor nations, people gladly work for pennies or quarters a day. While it may seem cruel to some of us to pay people so little for their efforts, those pennies or quarters are what enable them to achieve a better life in the less developed economy of their country.

If those workers can produce things that cost a fraction of what they cost if made by American workers, even after shipping them across the waters, businesses will go for the less expensive product in order to both enhance their economic situation, and to keep the price of their products lower.

But we often do things that increase our costs compared with other countries. High taxes and over-regulation on businesses, both of which put pressure on American companies to reduce costs to remain competitive, help push manufacturing jobs overseas.

The coal-mining sector is a good example of the effect of external factors. While natural gas usage was increasing and coal use was naturally trending down, Obama’s war on coal sped up that process through anti-coal regulations. That forced a dramatic decrease in coal use, wreaking havoc and harm much greater than if natural economic processes had been allowed to work.

Like coal mining, other manufacturing jobs are affected by the negative factors of over-regulation and high taxes. As Gillespie suggested, flatter and less distorting taxes, and less regulation would help make American steel and other products more competitive.

Other factors will also help to make American products more competitive, and provide a boost to U.S. manufacturing, such as a border-adjustment tax. The purpose of this tax is not to generate tax revenue to offset tax cuts, but to create jobs by evening out the playing field.

The U.S. is one of the few countries that does not tax imported goods and reward those exported to other countries, explains Newt Gingrich in his new book “Understanding Trump.” Taxing goods coming into the country, as other countries do to American goods, makes domestic goods more competitive, and helps create jobs and higher wages.

Gingrich also said that this “incentivizes businesses that want to sell in the United States as well as in other countries to move here, because it allows them to avoid the import tax.”

And lower the 35 percent corporate tax rate to something near that of nations to which American businesses have moved jobs. This will encourage those companies to bring back some, perhaps a lot, of the $2.5 trillion that they hold offshore to avoid the high U.S. corporate tax.

American manufacturing cannot return to 1943 levels, of course, but we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot with anti-business policies. We need to reduce corporate tax rates, impose a border-adjustment tax, and roll back harmful regulations to free up American manufacturers.

This will enable the creation of thousands of new jobs, increase productivity levels and bring in new tax revenue. It will make it easier and smarter to buy products “Made in America.”