Saturday, June 29, 2019

Oh how do I hate thee, Donald Trump? Let me count the ways

Donald Trump is a different thing to different people. And exactly what he is depends entirely upon one’s general liking or disliking of him.

Since he had the gall to win the nomination over several mainstream Republican candidates, and then dared to defeat “she who must be elected” – it was her turn, you know – he has been persona non grata to everyone on the left, many in the center, and more than a few on the right.

He believes in saying what he thinks, and those comments usually aren’t polite. Of course, saying inflammatory things is a Trump trademark, and anyone who criticizes him must be prepared for a counter-attack, which is inevitably harsher than the original barb. Even a mild criticism brings a strong retort.

This penchant for strong responses contributed to the high level of dislike that even some of those who share political and ideological positions with him felt, and still feel.

Of the several things about him that people dislike, his caustic manner may top the list. As a result of this trait, much of the negative reactions are of a personal nature, rather than a substantive nature. Like-minded Republicans also dislike Trump for his manner.

They agree with him, for example, on lowering taxes so that Americans keep more of their earnings; doing away with economy-slowing regulations to promote job creation; wanting stronger border security to lessen the many negatives that accompany the way-too-high number of illegal aliens in the country; expecting our allies to assume more of the cost of their own national security, and other very sensible things. But they still don’t like him.

All of these individual dislikes add up to one major issue: Donald Trump is cut from a different mold; he is not like those of the Washington establishment. He doesn’t think like they do, talk like they do, or behave like they do. And that, it turns out, is his greatest sin: “He’s not one of us.”

When someone does things differently, others object. They don’t want to have to adapt to something different. That’s hard work. They like things as they are.

Imagine baseball as a game that consists, at all levels, only of right-handed players. Then along comes a left-handed pitcher. All the hitters have to adapt, and even the guy’s own catcher has to adapt. The motion on the mound is different. Curve balls curve a different way.

Chaos! Who wants to have to adapt to that? 

Outside observers say, “So what’s the big deal?” But to the insiders, the establishment, it doesn’t matter how good the guy is; how many strikeouts he collects; how few runs the opponents score. The players are focused only on the fact that he doesn’t fit into their way of doing things. 

Trump is that southpaw. He an outsider, an invader, and he has caused chaos. Therefore, he must be opposed. He cannot be allowed to succeed. Even the good that he does must be opposed, lest there be others like him that will follow him and destroy their happy home.

And the establishment of elected and hired hands – the swamp – has decided that he must be impeached, or otherwise removed from the office to which the American people elected him. “Nothing will stand in our way. Trump must be removed, at all costs!” is the new dictum.

The swamp, the “Get Trump” faction, includes elements of the American news media, including beat reporters, editors, news directors, producers, publishers and owners. 

Stories he just doesn’t like, or which actually fail the accuracy test, as many do, are labeled “fake news.” News outlets indulging in the aforementioned are criticized, such as “the failing New York Times.” He also refers to some outlets and personnel as “the enemy of the people.”

His frequent criticisms produced reactions from the media, such as that he is challenging the freedom of the press. That, of course, is a fundamental element of our nation guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And the charge is often accepted as truth without question, or even fact checking.

Media personalities are quick to raise this as an important and dangerous act previously unheard of in all of our history. They have, however, so far neglected much actual history that runs contrary to their narrative. This may be because they, themselves, do not know the truth of that allegation, or it may be because it is an inconvenient truth.

But best selling author Mark Levin, in chapter four of his fantastic new book “Unfreedom of the Press,” details actions by five former presidents that actually did attack press freedoms.

These attacks started way back with John Adams, and include presidents Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and, yes, Barack Obama.

There is not room here to detail those activities, but Levin shows quite clearly that nothing Trump has done even approaches the attacks on press freedom imposed by those five. In fact, Trump’s criticisms are child’s play in comparison. 

The information is there for all to see, if any are interested in the truth. But many, perhaps most, won’t go to the trouble.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Vote buying is alive and well in Democrat campaign positions

If a campaign worker slips you a ten or a fifty as you head into a polling place, or promises you a week at the beach, that is a crime; election fraud.

Another way, a legal way, of encouraging folks to vote the right way is through campaign promises to deliver free stuff to people through government programs, if that candidate wins the election.

As it turns out, such techniques fit neatly into the goals of far-left Democrats who openly advocate socialist ideals. 

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to cancel the student debt of most of those who still owe money. She proposes cancelling up to $50,000 each for some 42 million former students. And then, make two- and four-year college tuition free.

Along with a cadre of other Democrat hopefuls, Warren supports Medicare for All. This would cancel out private health insurance and provide free healthcare to all U.S. residents, courtesy of the federal government, which would control prices, and everything else related to healthcare.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont wants to provide a living wage to everyone, regardless of whether they have any skills, or whether they have ever had a paying job before, by mandating that employers must pay all workers $15 an hour, or $31,200 in gross pay for a year of 40-hour workweeks. 

Free health care for all is, he believes, necessary, as is a tuition-free college education. And for those who have student debt, ol’ Bernie would cut their debt in half and slash interest rates on refinanced loans on what’s left to pay.

Other candidates – Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York – have co-sponsored the Debt-Free College Act. 

And Harris has an even better idea:just give away cash. She proposes that families making less than $100,000 a year receive up to $6,000 a year ($500 a month), or individuals making less than $50,000 a year could get up to $3,000 a year ($250 a month).

Warren also wants to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves. Slavery has not existed in the U.S. since 1865, roughly five generations ago.

With a bevy of candidates who want to give out lots of free stuff, even cash, some also want to give away things to immigrants, legal and illegal alike, all paid for by higher taxes.


Democrats are notorious for their dangerous degree of compassion for immigrants in general. And the more free stuff we offer, the more appealing is the idea of coming to America, legally or not.

While the actual number of illegals in the country is debated, a conservative estimate is between 10 and 12 million, and by far the largest group comes from Mexico, about 55 percent of the illegal population.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimated the cost of illegal immigration on the country in 2017 was $116 billion. That figure is likely higher this year than in 2017.

FAIR estimates that $59.8 billion goes to educate children of illegal immigrants, the vast majority of which is paid for from property taxes at the local and state level.

Another $18.5 billion goes to healthcare, according to Chris Conover of the American Enterprise Institute. It includes: “about $4.6 billion in health services paid for by federal taxes, $2.8 billion in health services financed by state and local taxpayers, and another $3 billion bankrolled through ‘cost-shifting,’ i.e. higher payments by insured patients to cover hospital uncompensated care losses, and roughly $1.5 billion in physician charity care.”

Some cities and states even allow illegals to vote in elections, which devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens. So far, illegals are forbidden from voting in federal elections.

Under the best of circumstances, which is that these candidates actually believe these ideas will work as advertised, history and present-day reality show us that socialism and socialist ideas like these most often fail miserably. And the evidence is there for all who care to see it.

The increasingly socialistic left points with pride to various countries that have instituted government control over systems that are privately controlled in the U.S. The healthcare system in countries like Canada, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries is often held up as an example.

These are not true socialist countries, of course. They just dabble in select aspects of socialism and charge the necessary sky-high taxes to fund them. For all the supposed wonders of government healthcare, however, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, three of the most frequently cited countries, are moving toward private health insurance. 

America was designed to allow great freedom for its citizens with a small and restricted government that would guarantee individual freedom, not interfere with it. After all, the truth is that the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. 

Our federal government has grown to dangerous proportions, and the idea of imposing socialist methods on the people will further destroy what was and is the most unique and successful government system ever conceived.

We should not forget Margaret Thatcher’s brilliant point: “The great problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

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 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.