Friday, June 29, 2018

Movie of the Week

It's Friday, and we'll change it up a bit today if that's all right.  I do love to write words, but I thought you would enjoy watching a very short movie, courtesy of my brother, who thought I'd like it.  Perhaps a movie will be a break from the usual column for you, much as we preferred it when we got filmstrips instead of droning teachers, back in fifth grade.  If you don't remember filmstrips, look it up.

So just plug in, and enjoy the irony.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Why We So Love to Listen to "Celebrities' Opinions"

President Trump, a prolific tweeter, has long been accused of not thinking before he tweets.  I don't know if that's fair; for the most part it appears that he thinks about the issue before he tweets; he may just not contemplate the consequences of his tweetage, or may not use an editor, too much in advance of hitting "Send."  I do not mind; as I wrote yesterday, I think it gives the American citizen good and valuable insight into his thinking.

Now, when celebrities tweet it is a whole 'nother thing.

You see, celebrities, most of whom in Hollywood and New York being absurdly leftist, don't have to worry about the consequences of anything they tweet or say, ever.  Madonna can threaten to explode the White House and she is still walking the streets and maybe still performing (I wouldn't know, or care).  Peter Fonda can encourage the kidnapping and assault of the First Lady and a young boy, and he has a movie opening with him in it; Sony Pictures appears not to care, although the Secret Service supposedly did.  And on it goes.

Don't do that, of course, if you are a Trump supporter.  As Roseanne Barr can attest, an indiscreet tweet can get you fired promptly if you happen to support the, you know, president of the United States.

This acute double standard has manifested itself not only in tweets from leftist celebrities being more vicious than before (because of lack of consequence), but also in their lack of a need for a factual basis for pretty much anything they type.

Exhibit A today is Chrissy Teigen, who is a performer of some kind, married to John Legend, who is also a performer and well-known musician.  Both are devout leftists and haters of the president, which means that they are in the Hollywood bubble, nice and firm, and no one they know is around to tell them when they're being stupid in the eyes of the other 99.9% of the nation.

So as you know, after the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, was asked to leave a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, because she worked for President Trump, she politely got up and left, along with her six companions (family, I believe), and went to a different place to eat dinner.

That would have been about it, except that other people started notifying the press and posting online accounts of the incident.  Mrs. Sanders, who was not planning to comment immediately on the incident, decided after others had, that she needed to put out an account quickly, and did so the next morning after hearing that it had become news.

"Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left.", she tweeted.  "Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so."

Mrs. Sanders had not planned to say anything, but just let it go, until the news got out and she had to provide her summary of what happened.  I think we all can agree that it was necessary for her to have said something after it became known.  We can also agree that she acted with complete class from the time of the incident right through and including the issuance of her tweet.

Naturally, that was not good enough for Miss Teigen, who felt the need to say something, whether or not it were related to anything that she knew as factual.  So she decided to tweet out her ignorance of the news to the world:

Didn’t you morons get your panties in a wad defending the baker that didn’t want to make cakes for gay couples?", she wrote.

Now, her being a leftist and anti-Trumper and all, no one will take pains to dissect her tweet and point out what was wrong.  But I will.  I like doing that, you see.

I'll even get past the whole "morons" thing, even though we know Mrs. Sanders to be a perfectly reasonably intelligent person, serving in a position that requires quick absorption of facts and policies to be able to answer daily questions, and command of language that Miss Teigen probably wishes she had.

More than that, I'll let go the "panties in a wad" thing, because if there's anyone who clearly does not lose her cool when people behave like cretins to her, and who behaves calmly and with class, it is Sarah Sanders.  After all, she deals with a White House press corps that mostly hates her boss and asks vicious questions that somehow never seem to touch on the economy, the post-summit softening of tensions with North Korea, or the president's rising popularity as people can afford more in their lives.

But I will not let pass the notion either that "the baker didn't want to make cakes for gay couples", or that the actual case was even about that.  That is fake news of the worst kind, prejudicially fake, and used to make a point predicated on a non-fact.

Miss Teigen may actually believe that is what happened, not that she should be excused for it.  I mean, I do try to source material, when I'm not sure of the facts of an article on this site.  If I make a point based on something that turns out not to be true, I correct it and, if needed, run a retraction.

But the baker did not "refuse to make a cake for a gay couple."

Had he done so, actually refused to bake a cake for the couple, I'd have been on their side.  I mean, I owned a bridal shop, and we would have sold a wedding gown to a guy, if he wanted to buy it.  And I'm just as much of a Christian as the baker.

But he was willing to bake them a cake, and that's the fact the left doesn't want to hear, especially since they can say it incorrectly and no one corrects them.  He is a cake artist, and he has a history of not using his talent to decorate a cake with a message he does not agree with on religious grounds.  He previously, for example, had refused to put a design celebrating divorce on one of his cakes, although he was willing to bake the cake.

Did Sarah Sanders "defend the baker"?  Well, after the decision came down in the baker's favor, she pointed out that the White House was happy about it, on religious freedom grounds, so I suppose you could say she "defended" him, although the "panties" reference was not just over the top but wrongly assigned, given Mrs. Sanders's even temperament.

But if Chrissy Teigen is not informed enough even to know the facts of the case, not even to know that it was not a baker refusing to serve a couple because they were gay, well, she ought to confine herself to topics she does know, whatever those may be.

Obviously no one cares what celebrities say or think outside their artistic purview, although that does not keep them from spouting off.  Chrissy Teigen would have added herself to the list of people whose performances I will now not spend a penny on, except I don't know or care what she does, so it's no real loss for her.

I hesitate to give her the Michael Jordan lesson, but since there's absolutely no chance she reads this far, I'm probably OK doing so.  The greatest basketball player we'll ever see was asked to make an endorsement of a Democrat in a North Carolina governor's race.  He politely declined and, when challenged, pointed out that "Republicans buy sneakers, too."

Chrissy Teigen gained exactly zero by shooting off her mouth, or her Twitter finger, with an impolite remark that was based on an incorrect notion of an actual event.  She did, however, succeed in ticking off people who might have actually bought whatever it is she sells.  She added exactly nothing productive to the discourse (many, even before her, tried to relate the restaurant incident to the SCOTUS bakery decision, mostly getting the facts wrong and therefore sinking the analogy).

What it costs her, well, I don't know, but it didn't have to cost her anything at all.

Do I hope she reads this?  Sure, I do, because she might actually get the actual point, which is that if you are commenting on something you're passionate about, at least get your facts straight.  Basing a snarky tweet on incorrect information just makes you look stupid.

And she really doesn't need any more of that.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What Actual Transparency Looks Like

In a two-hour period yesterday morning, President Trump sent no fewer than seven tweets, covering trade (most of them), the South Carolina gubernatorial primary, and wrapping up the list with one declaring Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi the faces of the Democrats.  Seven tweets.

Barack Obama had a fair number of news conferences, close to two per month according to a site purporting to compare that number.  But an Obama news conference was time-constrained, with few actual questions (none challenging), because of his long, drawn-out answers, not always addressing the question asked, meant to turn the press conference into a speech, effectively controlling the time period until the bell rang.  Ever the basketball fan, Obama would try to run out the clock without taking a shot.

Donald Trump is not Barack Obama.  He is not Obama in so many ways it's really hard to count, but we're going to focus on one of them.

Obama claimed he was going to have "the most transparent administration in history."  He really, actually said that, and it's amazing that it wasn't projected onto the White House roof, he was going to be so transparent.

Then he went and lied about Obamacare, keeping your doctor, keeping your insurance company, that Benghazi was about a video, that he found out about Hillary's private email server when the rest of us did, lie, lie, lie.  And secretly sent his FBI to go spy on the Trump campaign and let his secretary of state sell our uranium to the Russians, none of which we would have known if Hillary had gotten elected.  Really transparent.  Surrrrrre.

Well, I mentioned the press conference thing because Donald Trump is really nothing like that.  First off, he talks to the press a lot.  A real lot.  Every trip he goes on, when he walks out to Marine One to helicopter over to Andrews, he stops and engages the press.  Every time he does, it is question after question, answer after answer.

Then he'll say "Just two more questions" and answer two more, and then maybe three or four after that.  This is of course, is the biggest difference.  Obama did not want to answer actual questions, he wanted to make a speech.  Donald Trump likes to engage the media.

Not only does he like to engage the media, but particularly now -- a year-plus into his presidency when he has a much better familiarity with all the issues -- he has something to say and points he wants to make.  Then after engaging with the press, he will take to Twitter and restate those points, in slightly better-thought-out words.

What is my point?  Well,  you see, that is actual "transparency."  We want to know what the president is thinking, what he wants to do, what he believes, how he reacts to things -- what he is doing.  The president sets the tone for what he wants, and hopes that Congress will then fund his initiatives and legislate his goals.  If we don't know the platform, we don't know if we agree, right?

We know whether we agree with President Trump on pretty much every issue, because we hear from President Trump on pretty much every issue.  He tweets his views, and he makes lots of speeches espousing his views.  When he doesn't like something, like high foreign tariffs, we hear about that, too.  Donald Trump is an open book, if you simply choose to open it.

For all the complaints, valid or not, there is nothing secretive here.  Cabinet and other meetings at the White House often begin with a period open to the press.  The press execute their usual boorish behavior, but they're there.

I'm going to try to remember, when ultimately there is a successor, to look for the first media member who describes the 46th president, whoever that will be, and yearns for the Trump Administration and the ability to see what was going on and what the president thinks.  Because it is doubtful we will ever have a president like this one again, one whose thinking we know because he tells us.  Successors can't possibly be more transparent.

That's not, sadly, a good thing.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Maxine Waters Inciting to Riot?

Maxine Waters (D, of course, CA) is the geriatric woman representing a congressional district in California, the land of fruits and nuts and obscene numbers of liberals.  Those who whine that Hillary Clinton got more of the popular vote in 2016 never mention that you could remove the votes from just five counties in California, both Democrat and Republican, and Donald Trump wins the popular vote in the USA as well has his already-large electoral majority.

That's how leftist California is, to give you an idea how someone like Maxine Waters can even get on the ballot, let alone elected.

Maxine has been out there chanting "Impeach 45" over and over to a handful of sycophants and toadies ever since Inauguration Day, not even waiting for President Trump actually to do something meriting impeachment.  That tells you all you need to know about Maxine Waters.

At any rate, she got in the news in the wake of the bizarre incident last week when a restaurant owner in Lexington, Virginia, which is actually in the USA, asked Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, to get up and leave, along with her party of seven, because she actually works for the White House.  Mrs. Sanders, as you'll recall, gracefully left, leaving the nation to see clips of the restaurant showing its birdcrap-laden awnings and poor paint on the outside.

The owner was not in the least apologetic, whereupon the leaders of the downtown merchant community excoriated her for making Lexington look like a laughingstock, and the owner of the national chain of the restaurant made it clear that she was speaking out of her own ignorance and did not reflect the Red Hen brand.

Maxine Waters, of course, had predictably stupid things to say, except she went a lot further.  Now, leftists have no filter, apparently.  They say and do anything they want, knowing that the lapdog press is equally leftist and will simply excuse them.  Or, as in this case, they will ignore them as much as possible.

But this is hard to ignore, either for the press or the FBI.  The press can try, but the FBI must not ignore it.

Waters was going on about President Trump and making up nonsense about the current border situation.  But she went on to encourage people to make a scene anytime they see a Cabinet member or other leading Administration employee.  She told people -- and this was in the middle of a circle of approving sycophants and toadies in Los Angeles -- to get in the faces of Administration officials and scream at them, harass them and make life miserable for them.

"They're not going to be able to eat at a restaurant ... they're not going to be able to go to a gas station, they're not going to be able to go to a department store ...", she went on, to a curiously approving circle of people from no known source.

In other words, she was telling other people to assault innocent members of our government (assault does not require contact under the law) and threaten their well-being until they ... well, she wasn't specific about when it would be OK for the target to be able to return to their homes and families in peace.

There has been no indication that the FBI or Secret Service is pursuing this, but both should be with even more vigor than was taken after Peter Fonda tweeted some particularly threatening words toward the First Family recently and got a visit from a uniform or two.

But Maxine Waters incited to riot, and that is quite illegal; and she asked in public to have others (not her, of course) assault members of the Administration.  That is a Federal crime, it seems, and is thus equally illegal.

What she failed to include was when enough was enough, and that is a problem.  It is a serious problem because the morons who would pay attention to anything Maxine Waters would say, are sufficiently intellect-challenged that they would not understand what the limits are, as defined by law.

That was an issue last summer, when a similarly amoral leftist type, inspired by leftist hate and rhetoric like this, came treacherously close to murdering a bunch of Congressmen at a softball field in Virginia.

Already, Florida's attorney general, Pam Bondi, was repeatedly accosted by screaming people at a movie theater over the weekend, with three very large men in the group getting nose to nose with her and her boyfriend, trying to start a fight with their "What are you going to do about it" false bravado that goes over well in the Bronx and other bastions of civility.  Miss Bondi is a pretty tough lady, though, and smart enough to know they were trying to get a fight going that the press would undoubtedly spin to the view of the assailants rather than the victim.

Maxine must be so proud; they did to Miss Bondi exactly what she said to do.

So is it not precisely the time when the FBI and Secret Service need to charge her with incitement to riot, threatening the President and other officials, that sort of thing?  Are they even talking to Waters?  Is not anyone from DoJ or the FBI or Secret Service looking at this from a criminal perspective?

The loud left will keep doing more and more ridiculous things and saying more and more ridiculous things until someone speaks up or acts.  Which is better -- the rhetoric stopping because the FBI charges Maxine Waters with some form of threat and incitement, or the rhetoric stopping because someone hears her and takes it too far ... as with a weapon?

It is time for law enforcement to act.  Now.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Monday, June 25, 2018

Another Story the Left Won't Tell

Michael Daniel was the cybersecurity coordinator for the Obama Administration in 2016, the year that the Obama types were voted out of office in the person of his surrogate, Hillary Clinton.  Since that time, the left has obsessed over the non-story that Russians had interfered with the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win.

When he did win, of course, the Hillary apologists, who could not imagine that she could lose, were all over the Russia non-story, claiming that the Russians were the reason she'd lost, not the fact that she was an abysmal candidate with no message and had disrespected wide swaths of the electorate with her "deplorables" comment.

We are still in the midst of a special counsel investigation that is racking up many millions of taxpayer dollars but has no evidence that Russian tampering changed a single vote, nor that it influenced a single voter, nor that the Trump team conspired with Russians to do so.  But that all goes on.

So ... we have scads of "Democrat strategists" who keep going on the news shows talking about Russia.  More to the point, every time they are confronted with difficult questions about why that investigation continues, despite zero evidence after a year-plus of trying, they come back to the tagline that President Trump "appears not to care about Russian meddling in the 2016 election."

Now, whether he cares or not, people in government are certainly investigating, starting with the Special Counsel.

But if that is what the Democrat strategists are concerned about, they must be really troubled about Michael Daniel.  Mr. Daniel -- again, the cybersecurity expert for the Obama White House -- was actually doing such an investigation in 2016 because there was concern even in the Obama years (though not in his White House, we guess) about Russian meddling in the election here.

And last Wednesday, in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Daniel testified that he was given the order to stand down from that investigation, in 2016.  That order came from none other than Susan Rice, Obama's National Security Adviser, meaning that it came from Obama himself.

In a rare show of candor from Obama officials, but under oath, Daniel stated that that order had, indeed, been made to him and his team.  In other words, the Obama White House had stopped the team from investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the exact complaint that the Democrats have of the Trump Administration's approach to Russian meddling.

"It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” a former senior Obama administration official, who was involved in White House Russia discussions, said of the administration's inaction. “I feel like we sort of choked."

And yet it was not "choking."  It was an intentional stifling of an investigation that cyber experts in the Obama Administration deemed necessary to conduct.

So why, pray tell?

Why did they stop the investigation?  Why did they not want to know about Russian meddling? 

The conventional wisdom, at least from the left, is that the Russians wanted Donald Trump to win for some reason.  Yet it was Hillary Clinton who had shown herself corruptible as Secretary of State, and who had allowed the same Russians to walk of with a quarter of USA uranium.  She was the one they wanted in the White House, not Trump, logically.

So Obama, through the known liar Susan Rice, who famously lied to the American public about Benghazi, ordered his cyber people to stop the investigation into Russian election meddling while they were in power.  We surmise that the Russians wanted Hillary Clinton to win.  So does it not make it sound like Obama was perfectly happy with the Russians helping her try to win the election, not Trump?

Obama was willing to have "his" FBI spy on the Trump campaign and try to make it look like they, not the Clinton team, was working with Russians.

So at what point, with flat-out testimony under oath that Obama stopped his own team's investigation into Russian meddling, does the press start actually airing the story?

Wait and see.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Friday, June 22, 2018

Another "Separation of Families" the Left Doesn't Mind

Eager to find anything ... anything ... that can be used to make it look like President Trump is not succeeding somewhere rather than concede his victorious presidency, the left has jumped on another tack.

Now, they are all out there crying figurative and literal tears about "children in cages", meaning that the Border Patrol and ICE were, until Wednesday's executive order, separating the children of illegals who cross the border other than at the entry points where they can try to go through the asylum process.  The children -- about 15% of those who cross; the other 85% are just sent over alone, remember, and are separated BY their own parents -- were kept in facilities, fed, clothed, housed and schooled for a couple months until the parents showed up for their court dates.

Of course, since it is "children", there is all manner of moral outrage and puffery seeking to find leverage to use against the president.  For his sake, President Trump has been repeatedly pointing out that he had to follow the law, and is imploring Congress to fix the issues with current law that oblige him to take such actions.

But let's get into this a bit, shall we?

The catchphrase in tweets and hashtags and all that kind of social media stuff, of course, has been "separating children from their parents."  And no one is particularly happy about that notion.  I'm particularly concerned when phrases like "ripped from their mothers' arms" get used, even though that doesn't actually happen and the people saying those words know quite well it is not.

And I'm going to mention, but quickly get past, the fact that the separation of children from their families happens already in the USA, every time a citizen parent commits a crime and is incarcerated.  That includes good old U. S. of A. criminals with kids.  You break the law, and the consequences are that you get hauled off to jail and are separated from their kids.  That applies to American criminals as well as Central American illegals.

But I'll get past that.

The hypocrisy of the left and particularly the "separation anxiety" criers is rather apparent in an issue that no one else seems to have brought up.

I refer, of course, to the millions of children who are separated from their parents each year, who actually are "ripped from their mothers", in every sense of the word, a million or more in the USA alone.  Children whom the left couldn't possibly care less about, because the votes aren't there for them to cry about.

I refer, of course, to the million-plus children who are literally ripped from their mothers each year in the USA in abortion clinics.

Of course, those children have not quite been born yet, so there's no guarantee that they would vote for Democrats if they were allowed to live.  That may explain the left's disinterest in them, but it doesn't mean that they are not relevant to the discussion.

And it doesn't mean that the hypocrisy of the left is any less at center stage right now, as the same people who march for the right of mothers to separate unborn children permanently from them, rail about the temporary and humane separation of children from parents who put their children at risk by violating USA immigration law through crossing the border illegally.

I would think that hypocrisy needs to be splashed all over the news media, but perhaps I'm the only one to see it.

But you do too, don't you?

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Thursday, June 21, 2018

When It Ain't Just the Gun

There was a shooting this past week in Trenton, New Jersey, the capital city of the Garden State.  It took place at the state's Arts Festival, and involved a shooter who had been released early from prison, was gang-involved, and which achieved the predictable result.

That is, the Democrat governor of the state took to Twitter to blame not the shooter, not the early prison release, but the firearm:

"We awoke to news of a mass shooting right here in Trenton.  Art All Night is a time when we all come together. We cannot let gun violence tear us apart. These are not inappropriate times to talk about gun policy. These are the most important times to talk about gun policy."

The shooter had gone to prison in 2004 and, including a later sentence, should have been incarcerated until 2028 for aggravated manslaughter and racketeering, running a gang from inside prison.  However, he was released four months ago for some reason, which made him available to the public.  Gee thanks, Governor.

New Jersey's governor, Phil Murphy, as noted though, went right to "gun violence" and that it shouldn't "tear us apart."  And none of us is a fan of gun violence, for sure.

So let's just contemplate this.

Imagine that this murderer, fairly fresh out of prison, heads to the Arts Festival the other night to kill whoever it was that he intended to kill.  Imagine that.

Now, imagine that you snap your fingers, and all firearms have magically disappeared from the world.  There is no such thing, as if they had not been invented.  But the murderer is still heading to the Arts Festival.

Now let me ask you a question.  Should the person who became the murderer's target feel a lot better because there are no longer any guns?  Think about that.

OK, you have thought.  And needless to say, the answer is "NO", maybe even "Heck, no".  That's because the problem is obviously not the firearm, but what is in the heart of the killer.  And if you pay more attention to the means and no attention to the motive, it really does not matter what you do.  You cannot change the motivation of a killer by taking away the means.  But if you change the motivation, there is no incident at all!

But it is all political, of course.  The left and the anti-gun types would be happy if there were the same number of murders as the previous year, but none was committed with a firearm.  If they wanted the murder rate to drop, they would focus on why murders happen, a lot more than they focus on the weapon of choice.

That's why I posed the thought above.  The killer headed to that arts festival to kill someone, not to fire a weapon.  I grant that those caught in the crossfire who were innocents, if any were, would have preferred that the killer used a baseball bat, but addressing the problem means addressing the problem.

Holding my breath ....

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hate and Pity and What It Says

I would have to say that if Barack Obama, during his lamentable presidency, had ever once done something, or promoted a view and a path to attaining it that I agreed with, I would have been initially suspicious.  But I would have been fine with moving forward with a process that led to a goal with which I agreed.

Now, I can't say that I can think of one.  I disagreed with him on most everything he did, because he was coming from a direction that made me very uncomfortable.  He is an unabashed globalist and was opposed to the USA having a leading role in the community of nations, given his evident view that we were not morally capable of leading.  He disliked and did not support the military, and believed that higher tax rates raised more revenues, which is simply incorrect.

But I did not "hate" him.  I thought him to be grotesquely misguided, politically and economically, professorial and pompous.  He was right, darn it, and you were wrong.  But he seemed like a good enough fellow, to where we could have had a perfectly civil conversation in certain areas.  He was a decent, if completely misguided, human being.

As for his supporters, well, I don't hate them either.  I thought that they were fawning toadies, many because they were virtue-signaling that they, too could vote for a half-black man to be president.  I thought that eventually evolved into making him an infallible saint, in their minds as well as his, that they could not possibly disagree with him.  They lost their power of critical thinking.  I pitied them, because they were incapable of thinking independently.

Let us look in the other direction, shall we?  Let us look at the opponents of President Trump, not just those in Congress but the loud voices outside.  Robert DeNiro.  Madonna.  Antifa.  Democrat leaders like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff.  These people have personalized their opposition.  They hate Donald Trump and the policies he stands for.  And they hate his supporters as well, including, well, me.  We pity them; they hate us.

Let us place all this against the background of this: Conservative policies work; liberal policies do not.  The leftist, socialist efforts of Obama and his toadies anesthetized the economy for eight years.  Less than two years of President Trump and growth has been restored to the American economy, allies again trust us but know we will no longer give away the farm on trade, adversaries once again fear us -- all different from the preceding eight years.

If you are a leftist, and you are trying to ensure leftists are in power, the one thing you cannot tolerate is proof that you are utterly wrong.  And Donald Trump is the living, breathing evidence that the left does not know how to run a country and conservative policies actually work.  The left cannot abide that, because, as was the case during the Reagan years, if they let conservatives govern, things get better for the American voter, and the left loses elections.

They hate President Trump, because while he is succeeding, they cannot successfully misrepresent his opinions because he is not a politician; he addresses the populace ten times a day on his Twitter feed and you actually know what he is thinking.  He is so much the symbol of what happens when an independent non-politician exposes the corruption of the "deep state", that a different president with the exact same views could not achieve the same results.  Follow?

They hate this president's supporters, because we voted for someone who proves them wrong.  Hating us, they feel the need to vilify us as well, demeaning us as illiterate hicks without an education (which I find personally amusing, given that, although I do live in the South, I have over 900 reasonably literate essays online, and hold a degree from MIT, and I support President Trump).  I don't quite understand how vilifying us is supposed to make us vote for their preferred candidate, but hate does blind one to reality.

It obviously says something about the values of the two sides when those whose ideas actually work take pity on their opponents, while those whose ideas fail profess hate for the leader of the faction that actually achieves productive objectives for the good of the USA -- and all of us who voted for him.  Hate would appear to have all that they've got at their disposal.

That, my friends, is precisely why I pity them.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

It's the Economy, Stupid ... Still

Way back in 1992 or so, when Bill Clinton was running for president as a fairly obscure governor of Arkansas, there is the story that someone in his entourage kept a sign prominent in campaign headquarters as a reminder to the candidate and others about how one gets elected president.

We remember that message, of course -- "It's the economy, stupid!"

By focusing on the economy, the story went, and not wandering off into arcane policy issues or responding to the allegations of rape and abuse of women, Clinton could indeed win the White House.  And, as history showed, he indeed won the White House.

Now we are engaged in what we refer to as the "midterm" campaign, in which control of the House and Senate is up for grabs.  The Republicans hold the House of Representatives and the speakership, but every single House seat is up for election.  The Republicans also hold the Senate, but only by a tiny margin, far too low to stop the filibuster, and a third of the Senate seats are up for election.

In a typical midterm, especially after an election where the president is new and of a different party from his predecessor, the party in power loses seats in the House -- lots of them.  There is less precedent in the Senate, because there are three different election cycles and they happen to have differing numbers of Democrat and Republican incumbents -- this year, many more Democrat senators are up for reelection, and many of them are in states won by Donald Trump in 2016.

The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans will keep the Senate, and even gain seats, because of the election math -- very few vulnerable seats now Republican, and lots of Democrat senators in Trump-won states.  But that "wisdom" is also that the Democrats should gain a lot of seats in the House, possibly enough to gain the majority and make Nancy Pelosi the speaker, may God forgive the words I just typed.

I reject that "wisdom", and not just because I would prefer that Republicans actually gain seats in the House and get up to 60 senators.  I reject it because that Clinton aide who put that sign up was absolutely right.  It is indeed the economy, and if a candidate ignores it, he or she is quite stupid.

By every measure, the economy that stagnated for eight years under the overtaxing, regulation-heavy Obama Administration has been freed, suddenly and dramatically, to where the 3% growth that was never achieved in the Obama era is the norm -- and the forecast for the next reported quarter could very possibly reach 4% annualized.  Unemployment is next to nothing, as labor participation rates return from Obama-era lows.  Tax cuts have led to better wages and bonuses and high retail sales.

The economy is where it is because Donald Trump is the president.  There is no real argument or debate on that.  Taxes and regulations are lessened, so businesses and manufacturers can hire and grow.  There are, literally, more job openings than there are unemployed Americans.  And there is nothing -- NOTHING -- that affects the American voters more than whether they can pay their bills and have money to spend.

That's what it meant 26 years ago when "It's the economy, stupid" was a catchphrase of the Clinton campaign.  It means the same now.  The American voter, for the most part, couldn't care less about the whole Russian collusion story and probably assumes that, if there were anything to it, we'd have known long ago.  It does not really affect the American voter if illegals cross the border away from entry points and have their children held to ensure that the parents show up for their court date.

But the economy, ah, the economy.

Unless we're talking about some California district that is so far left that it actually elects a geriatric limousine leftist like Nancy Pelosi, the voters in every district in the nation are in better shape than they were at the end of the Obama years, and they know it.  The Democrats can claim "conventional wisdom" for the midterms, but the conventional wisdom and every other factor fall away if the economy is so positively reflecting the Trump effect.

And yet ... last week, President Trump came out of the White House for a Q&A with a host from Fox News, which was followed by an open, impromptu news conference that went on for a very long time.  About an hour of questions, something that never happened under the pompous and secretive Obama.  Want to know how many questions from the leftists in the press to President Trump were about the economy?    Not a single one about the economy, stupid.  And that's what is actually cared about by the voter.  Just saying.

Democrats will need to come up with something a whole lot more compelling than their current platform, which consists of ... um ... well, not being Donald Trump, I guess.  Unfortunately, they have taken a year and a half to vilify the president as their sole reason for existence, while at the same time the subject of their vilification has been driving the denuclearization of North Korea and the destruction of ISIS, standing up to unfair foreign trade practices, and has lit the fuse on an economic boom that every voter is feeling, for the better.

They have nothing, the Democrats do, and unfortunately for them and the conventional wisdom, they are asking for people to vote against candidates supporting a president who has undeniably made their life better.

Good luck with that.  It is, after all, the economy.  Stupid.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Monday, June 18, 2018

AGT Embarrasses Itself ... Again

As if I cannot pull myself away from watching "America's Got Talent" each year, the darned show strikes again, with moments of stupidity that are simply inexplicable.

Obviously there is plenty of stupidity in the acts themselves, but that is part of the attraction of the show, when people get on stage and do stupid things, like dress up in a caterpillar suit and writhe on stage.  It ain't art, and it certainly ain't talent either.  But we sit at home and laugh at that.

Then comes the stupidity of the judges themselves, when they start fawning over acts that are 2018 versions of the "Emperor's New Clothes", calling something good that simply is not, for reasons that fail the audience that knows better.

Unfortunately that occurs very often with children's acts, including the winner of a couple years ago, a ukulele-playing 12-year-old who sang like a whispery 10-year-old and was voted the winner (if you can believe the voting, and I don't), after the judges fawned over her for her five or six performances despite no discernible talent worthy of their comments.

And so it happened this past week, with a young lady of 13 or so named Courtney Hadwin.  She bashfully addressed the judges first, mentioning her stage fright, and then proceeded to do a "song" by Janis Joplin.  I say "to do" as opposed to "to sing", because there was no actual singing involved.  I mean, here, look for yourselves.

That was nothing more than running around a stage and screaming for a minute and a half.  Right?  It can't be just me.

The judges, of course, raved about her and how wonderful she was.  Howie Mandel, who one would think should know better, hit the special buzzer that lets the girl avoid the next round of competition and eliminations and go straight to the live shows, where the national audience votes on whom to stay in the competition.

What am I missing, people?

There was no actual "talent" displayed in that performance.  Now, I confess to not being any kind of fan of Janis Joplin, but what she did was an act, and in the context of the time in which she lived, however briefly, and performed, it sort of made sense -- as an act, not as music.  At least we know she wanted a color TV and a Mercedes-Benz.

This was different.  Now, I've written about the problem with acts that are "covering" a previous act.  Whatever message the original performer was giving out, the covering performer loses because their message is "See, I can imitate Performer X", not "I feel this or that."

Accordingly, I watch an act for what it tells me ... itself.  I did not recognize the piece that this girl was doing as a Janis Joplin piece, partly because I couldn't identify anything she was screaming, partly because I don't know Janis Joplin's works enough to recognize anything much, and partly because the act itself was such a turn-off.

So I watched it for what it was worth, and what I saw was a 13-year-old girl running around a stage screaming.

Well, I don't enjoy people running around screaming, and I certainly don't think of it as any form of "art."  And I certainly don't think that it involves any kind of "talent", which is the third word in, you know, the name of the show.  So you would kind of expect that successful contestants would have some.

And I still can't figure out how we have a show called "America's Got Talent", but half the televised acts are not Americans but are from foreign performers who don't live here, and who are judged by four judges, none of whom is an American.  Go figure,

I have no earthly idea what will happen in the upcoming weeks, because I also thought the ukulele-playing 12-year-old would not survive the audience voting, and she ended up winning somehow.  So I'm not going to guess a bloody thing.

But I do have to ask myself what the judges were thinking as they watched that performance on stage, or at least what they had ingested in the hours immediately previous.

Because I sure don't think it was just I who doesn't want to see that act again.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Friday, June 15, 2018

Don't Expand, Don't Reorganize, MLB ... Please

Oh, goody.  Not satisfied with anything they should be satisfied with, Major League Baseball, the people who think that, at 500 miles distant, I live so close to the Baltimore Orioles that I should have their broadcasts blacked out, is considering expanding.

There are 30 teams as I write this, divided into two leagues with different rules on the designated hitter (though the same pool of umpires).  Each league has three divisions of five teams, so there is always the need for an interleague game, at least one, every day (do the math).

That, apparently, is not enough.

Rather than focusing on leveling the DH rule across the two leagues to avoid giving one league an advantage in interleague games, MLB is looking at adding yet more teams.

Unfortunately, they are looking at places like Mexico City, and looking at them as expansion sites rather than as relocation targets for financially struggling franchises like Oakland or Tampa Bay.  Now I don't have a problem with moving the Athletics or Rays if need be.  They are not able to compete; both have reputedly awful stadiums to play in and see a game in, can't draw flies, and accordingly cannot afford to spend even a third as much on salaries as the more successful teams can.

But Mexico City?  Really?  I will grant you that there could be a market for the game there.  Mexico City, where I have been several times in the past, is a huge metropolis with certainly enough people there to be able to fill a stadium.  There are the same amenities there as you would find in any huge city.

All that said, this is not the greatest idea Baseball has ever had, and they've had some stupid ones in the past, starting with the blackout system, or having every player wear #42 on Jackie Robinson Day, or letting the Yankees build a new stadium with dimensions in right field that are against the rules for a new ballpark in the majors.

But where do we start?  Shall we acknowledge the fact that for 81 games a year, a team there will be at home with another team there, where the local language is not English, the local food is questionable (trust me), the local laws are not American, the local enforcement is spotty and the local government corrupt.  And the earth below the city is not stable, either.  Yum.

For another 81 games, the team will be on the road.  Mexico City is not a border town.  Take a look at a map; it is literally 1,000 miles from the nearest MLB city (Houston), meaning that pretty much anywhere they would have to go to play, there is a minimum two-plus-hour flight to get there.  Ask a Seattle Mariner how much fun it is, on their life and performance, to be that isolated from the entire rest of baseball.

Baseball players are young, mostly alpha males.  Their choices are not always the best, let us say politely.  So let me describe my last trip to Mexico.  I was a product manager for a medical instrumentation company, heading to Mexico City for a medical trade show.  I was carrying with me a sample product called a "cardiac output gun", which is vaguely pistol-shaped and injects some kind of solution into a line run to the heart to measure its strength.  It clearly could not fire a projectile.

I was instructed by my company to carry $100 in cash with me through the airport.  That was not for tacos.  That was on the assumption that the Mexican customs agent would take one look at the cardiac output gun and pull me aside for a search.

I do not speak enough Spanish (did I mention the language is different there?) to be able to explain to even a medically fluent customs agent what that device was, even if he were to speak slowly.  So the $100 was in my pocket to be able to persuade a recalcitrant customs agent to let me through.  That was how it worked then, and I find it hard to believe it has changed that much.

That's where Baseball is thinking of expanding.  Let's run 750 young alpha males, with far too much money at their disposal, constantly through a city with a different language and a government not beholden to ours.  Then let's just see what happens when the first 40 or 50 of them step out of line with, I don't know, drugs, women, who knows what-all -- or, worse, get falsely accused of doing any of that -- and end up held in a Mexican prison.

You know, Baseball has a big problem.  Even with the revenue sharing and luxury taxes, the most revenue-positive teams can still spend three times what the least-profitable teams can on salaries and player contracts.  They can win, but only for a short period when multiple young players jell at the same time, before they reach free agency and go off to another team.

They need to fix that, even though the players' union (with zero interest in parity) will fight them tooth and nail.  Expansion only exacerbates the problem, and expansion to a place like Mexico City simply adds layers on top of the issues the game already has.

Which means, morons that they are who run it, we can almost surely expect the Ciudad Mexico "Hombres" in our immediate future.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Thursday, June 14, 2018

An Odd Leverage on North Korea

We will all obviously be watching from afar, as the agreement between the USA and North Korea to dismantle the latter's nuclear weapons program proceeds forward.  I don't know what will happen, and you do not either.  None of us quite understands Kim Jong-Un quite enough to predict anything.

But the hope is that he will do what he committed to do, on the timeline that he agreed to do it and with the inspection protocol that was assumedly agreed to as well.

Now, that may or may not be the extent of the disarmament of North Korea.  Certainly Kim has a fair cohort of conventional weaponry, enough to provide a threatening presence to his neighbors to the South.  But as was discussed with a friend in an email yesterday, we may have some leverage in subsequent discussions about limiting that weapons store as well.

President Trump established some form of relationship with Kim during the meetings this week.  It was at least courteous, and we have to gather from the reporting and what we saw, that they have a line of communication.

We have to suspect that, at least to some extent, Kim was bargaining to keep himself in power.  I've written to that point before; Kim is young and a different sort from his father and grandfather, the previous dictators of North Korea in the pre-Twitter world.  He can see that he is not going to be able to hold on to power if the rest of the world wants him gone.

But he may very well have indicated to President Trump, in some way, that his continuation in power was his primary motivation, and if he could be assured that the free world was not going to threaten his rule, he would be willing to make concessions -- such as denuclearization.  He knows that, with enough provocation, the USA could fairly easily topple him.

We would have reason to, of course.  Kim is a murderous dictator whose people are starved while he builds up his weaponry.  He is universally thought a bad dude who, in a world with an organized global judiciary, would have been forcibly removed long ago.

It is not impossible that that is a factor now and going forward.  Kim knows that he bears the guilt for past (an assumedly ongoing) actions that are severely punishable in the world community, one way or the other.  Along with everything else he needs, he also needs protection from prosecution for what he has done, in the form of avoiding the fate of Saddam Hussein, Khaddafi and the like.

So it makes reasonable sense that the USA, who are the ones actually doing the negotiations, are leveraging Kim's guilt and fear of retribution.  That is a powerful piece of leverage right there.  I don't care if there were American and NoKo flags neatly placed next to each other at the summit -- Kim knows we could turn him into kimchi in a New York minute if we wanted to.

And he knows that we have the right to do that, as well as the capability, given that he murdered an American citizen (Otto Warmbier) as well as his own brother, and everyone knows it.  So I'm pretty sure that Kim knows that he is not dealing from a position of strength  That can color the tenor of the talks, to where Kim would be willing to make some serious concessions if he could be assured that he would not be brought before some international tribunal for war crimes, or peace crimes, or whatever he did -- actually, since the Korean War hasn't actually ended, I suppose "war crimes" could apply to the Warmbier situation.

Donald Trump, of course, is eminently aware of any tiny bit of leverage that he has to work with.  If Kim's perception of his own culpability, and his risk of losing his grip, is that high, and Trump's promises to help him drag his country into the 21st Century that attractive, then he would be more readily willing to give up things he actually doesn't need -- like too many weapons systems.

So it may very well be that the likeliest path to a more progressive and peaceful North Korea may be through leaving a weakened, contrite Kim in power.  We know, and he knows, that he is a murderer and a brutal dictator.  But a dictator who decides to modernize his country peacefully, changing his tactics, knowing that his past puts him at risk of being removed fatally, well, that gives the USA a lot of leverage to get done what we would like to in the interest of peace.

I've written before that a lot more can come out of the summit and the subsequent relationship than just denuclearization.  I think there is a good reason for that to be a possibility, and after the summit it appears more possible.

I just think that we have a subtle lever that we need to employ.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

So Maher, Do You Want NoKo to Bomb Us Now?

Hopefully you read the piece here yesterday castigating the left in general, and Bill Maher in particular, for publicly proclaiming this -- that they would rather have an economic crash that would leave millions damaged economically than to see President Trump succeed and be reelected.

It was pretty frightening to read that quote, and actually see the clip.  It was frightening because the sentiment that Maher expressed was oh, so obviously shared across the leftists that populate New York and Southern California.  Their contempt for the preponderance of America -- the "flyover states" that they never care about -- and their (our) views is simply inexplicable.

So we are now immediately on the heels of a pretty successful summit meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the dictator of North Korea (but you knew that).  Yes, a lot needs to be proven out in the coming months, but we awoke yesterday to the news of an agreement under which North Korea would dismantle its nuclear weapons capability and allow some form of inspection to verify that it indeed was dismantled.  Peace with NoKo is at hand.

It is certainly reasonable to think that Kim is now persuaded that the USA is not the military threat to his reign that he would readily have thought before.  Between the options of an invasion that would topple him, and a cooperative agreement with the USA that helps him develop his country, feed his people and be seen as the man who turned North Korea into a productive society, he apparently chose option "B", even if it meant dismantling nuclear weapons he would then not need to have.

But apparently the left is not buying.

Today's Official Leftist Narrative is that "nothing is proven" (duh) until the weapons are actually dismantled, that the president embarrassed the USA somehow by meeting with a murderous dictator.  It couldn't possibly be that Donald Trump did what the sainted and holy Barack H. Obama Himself couldn't do.  So therefore it is, I guess, invalid.

What is particularly frustrating is that the left, as exemplified by CNN and the national network news anchors, clearly do not want the summit to have succeeded.  Even as President Trump openly took questions from the international press thereafter -- I think he took at least six questions after he said "only three more" -- some of those from the American-accented reporters there were condescending and pessimistic.

So I go back again to the "Bill Maher take" on the economy and have to ask the same question.  Would CNN prefer that the North Koreans maintain their nuclear threat, or would they rather that they remove them as part of a deal that was arranged through the leadership of Donald Trump?

I wish I didn't know the answer, but I surely do.  Like Maher, the leftist media have an agenda, and that includes opposing anything that President Trump does, even if it clearly leads to an outcome that is positive, whether it involves a massive improvement in the economic health of the country or the denuclearization of North Korea.

Donald Trump has succeeded in doing things that have led to positive outcomes, and succeeded even more so in demonstrating the hypocrisy of the left and the press (but I repeat myself) by their unwillingness to acknowledge or support any successful action on his part, even where it is a beneficial action.

We see that.  We will vote for Mr. Trump's reelection irrespective of the press's bias, simply because he has made it almost impossible to argue that his approach is not far better than that of his predecessors from both sides of the aisle.

We will never again trust the media to report the news fairly, because we see that they simply have no interest in doing so.

The media have gone all Bill Maher on us.  We will go all Donald Trump on them.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

You People Can Starve As Long As Trump Is Voted Out -- Bill Maher

Writing this as we read of the immense success of President Trump in the meetings with North Korea and wonder what the leftists can possibly say now ...

Naturally, I don't watch Bill Maher's show on ... OK, I actually don't know what network he is on or what time, except I think it is late, and I don't stay up late.  Plus I really don't like him, and disagree with him most of the time.  And he is a contemptible snot, if that matters.

That disagreement varies from "nearly-totally" to "totally-totally", depending on how insensitive Maher gets in saying whatever it is he says, which normally I don't know what it is ... since he is on late and I am, well, not.  However, apparently Maher is trying to reach those of us who don't watch him, by saying truly stupid things and hoping that the networks will pick it up.

That was the case a few days ago, when Maher was talking with a panel on his show.  Unfamiliar with how economics works, meaning that he doesn't understand that lowering tax rates increases tax revenues to the government, he made the following comments while talking about the economy.  Mind you, it is going quite well because of the removal of superfluous regulations and the lowering of the rates, so he had to acknowledge that.  Then he said this:

"I feel like the bottom has to fall out at some point. By the way, I'm hoping for it because one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy. So please, bring on the recession.  Sorry if that hurts people, but it's either root for a recession or you lose your democracy."

Let's dissect that, please.  He "feels like the bottom has to fall out."  He is hoping that it will collapse, because that's the way to "get rid of Trump."  And he believes that keeping Trump as president (and I assume he is talking about the 2020 election) means that we will "lose our democracy."

I'm not going to tell you that the 3-4% GDP growth that we're experiencing is going to last as long as Trump is president, because I'm not psychic.  But since not once did the economy respond to Barack Obama's presidency by growing at 3% -- in fact, his people told us it would never happen again -- I'm thinking that as far as the economy is concerned, Trump is far, far better for it than Obama ever would be, would have been, and could ever have been.

Obama bad for economy, Trump good for economy.  The track record certainly says that.

But what exactly does Maher want?  Does he want the economy to succeed so that people have jobs, unemployment is minimized, and the country can afford food, clothing and shelter?  Well, no, and he couldn't have been more explicit, even to the point of apologizing for his view.  He is hoping for the economy to fail.

And he is hoping for failure, for businesses to go under, for people to be out of work and all the other things that happened, well, under Obama, because he finds the presidency of Donald Trump more onerous to him than a recession.  He even uses the odd phrase that suggests that the USA will "lose its democracy" if President Trump is reelected.

So two things.  Bill Maher, you have got to explain what you mean by "losing our democracy."  What is it, exactly, that you expect the president to do that constitutes "losing our democracy"?  Is it different from what FDR did when he ran for a third (and fourth) term although no one ever had?  Is there anything you expect to happen that would change our system of free, representative elections?  And, if so, what exactly do you expect President Trump to do that would?

The other thing, though, is far worse.  A man who is worth millions from talking on a TV show, who has been renewed through 2020 and so will continue to make a ton of money, is willing to say that he believes that not keeping President Trump is preferable to an economic crash that would affect most of the country (though not Bill Maher), even though under the current administration the economy has strengthened greatly in a way that it never did under his predecessor, the unlamented Obama.

Why does Maher feel that way?  And more important is this:

We are in a roaring economic recovery that is clearly being caused by the actions of President Trump in pulling job-killing regulations and cutting tax rates.  There is no question that this is Trump's economy and Trump's doing.  

Why, Bill Maher, are you unwilling to consider that perhaps you are wrong, and that this presidency is a really good thing for the economy (and, based on this morning, the world)?  That maybe, just maybe, Donald Trump is no manner of dictator at all, and that not only is he not going to cost us our democracy (having done nothing to suggest he would), but that economically his approach is actually the correct one?

This is the part that gets me.  We have a great economic rebound, and people are working.  There is solid growth.  Why would you rather have that stop, than allow the president who led us to that success to remain in office?  Are you unable to look at this objectively and say that, you know what, maybe Donald Trump is actually doing a great job?  That maybe if the same outcome had come from anything a Democrat had done, you would be cheerleading like mad?

This is called TDS -- Trump Derangement Syndrome -- at its peak.  Maher's hatred of the president is such that not only will he concoct some baseless notion that he is a "threat to democracy", but he will ignore the fact that the cause-and-effect of economic success in the USA ought to suggest that Trump's approach is actually the right one.  And that he would rather see people in the flyover states starve than admit he was wrong.

Well, Bill, you are wrong.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Monday, June 11, 2018

Humility and Millennials -- and Importance, or Lack Thereof

At one time we went to church as kids, growing up and learning gradually about what it means to be a human being on God's green earth.  It "took" at various times in our childhood, until eventually we came to get enough understanding of the world that we accepted it -- in the case of Christians, by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior; in the case of other faiths, by a comparable acknowledgement of the tenets of their denomination.

One thing that we did learn is our place in the world.  We learned it such that our place here was a gift from God, and we were to make of it what we did.  We are all sinners, but we can obtain forgiveness, because there is a Power that can offer it to us if we accept it.

That acceptance comes with a concept that does not exist in three-year-olds, is almost ubiquitous in people over sixty, and is sorely lacking in the young millennial.

I refer, of course, to humility.

It is indeed hard to be humble when you are told you are perfect in every way.  I'm not sure that millennials generally understand the notion of humility, because they grew up at a time when children were coddled, given trophies for participation, told they were "special" and given grades they didn't deserve for work they often did not do alone.

So I decided to make it simpler for them.  Having not worked to get the grades they actually deserved, I have to dumb down the message of humility to get the point across in language that they could understand.  And to them I say this.  It is a message that, if you choose to accept it from a 67-year-old hack writer, you will immediately become a lot happier and a lot more popular among people you really need to have admire you:

You are not as important as you think you are. 

Got it, people?  The world does not revolve around you, and the people who claim to care about what you posted on Facebook, what you had for breakfast, say the same things to about 1,000 other people about what 1,000 other people said they had for breakfast.  And those people, instead of working for a living or doing something actually productive, are commenting on your choice of breakfast.

You are not as important as you think you are.

Is it that hard to internalize the notion?  It is simply a matter of deciding that humility is a good thing, and while it is good to have a sense of self, it is better also to have an understanding of where that "self" fits into the greater good.  There are seven billion or so others of us on earth, and God has a lot of work to do to love that many people at one time, although somehow He manages.

You are not as important as you think you are.

I would love to believe that even coddled 24-year-olds in their seventh year of college, who complain because their campus serves sushi that was "culturally appropriated", or who have to throw chairs through windows at Berkeley so they don't have to hear an actual conservative guest speaker, can learn.  They can learn that their views are simply one each in a larger humanity.  That they could actually be (gasp) wrong.  That there is One who put them here, not for the world to revolve around but to be a place for them to participate.

I would take each of them and sit them down.  "You are not as important as you think you are", I would say.  "That being true, what do you do next?  Take a deep breath and contemplate your place in the world.  You are not unimportant; you are simply less vital to the world than you have allowed yourself to think.  But you are great in the eyes of God who made you."

It will make no difference to them, because no one that age wants to hear anything different from what they "know" to be the case.  But it is a message that needs to be said, and to be heard.

Soon, we hope.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Friday, June 8, 2018

Ugh -- The Awful Apologies of the Left

Happy Friday.

Dear Lord, did you hear a clip of the utterly contemptible attempt at an apology by Samantha Bee on Wednesday?  It was apparently addressing her attack on Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the president, and supposedly done to apologize for using a particular word to describe her.

In her attempt to apologize, which was spoken very quickly to get it over with and get on to whatever else she was going to talk about, she said that she "used the word all the time on her show" (which no on can verify because no one actually, you know watches her show).  That made it OK, but she thought that others might be offended by this one usage and so she felt obliged to say something apologetic.

Not, mind you, because in her view she was wrong to do it.

But I think she missed the point.  I saw a clip of the original segment.  As you will recall, after using the anti-woman slur, she went on to encourage Ivanka to "wear something low-cut", if I recall the quote, and go see President Trump to encourage him to do something or other about -- I forget, maybe immigration or something.

Samantha Bee did not apologize for that or even mention it.  But I personally thought that to be more offensive than the use of a slur to describe Miss Trump.  Let us recall ... Donald Trump is Ivanka's father.  That means that the offensive nature of the "low-cut" remark was doubly bitter, characterizing the president as someone who would look at his daughter that way, and the daughter as someone who would behave that way.

That's pretty awful.  Worse, to me, than her use of a single word as a slur.  But that did not get apologized for, any more than Stephen Colbert has ever apologized for his offensive characterization of the president in relation to Vladimir Putin.  Not going to happen and, if it ever does, it will be as inadequate as Miss Bee's in regard to Ivanka Trump.

My sadness is that Samantha Bee didn't even apologize for the most offensive thing she said.

Nor will she.  Ever.  Don't bother to wait.  Have a nice weekend.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Treason of Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats

When you have nothing to run on, nothing to recommend you, and no ideas on how to govern that don't lead to anything successful, you have to do something.  For the Democrats, that has been the "resistance", a tactic of simply opposing anything that President Trump does, in the odd notion that the nation that just elected him as president might sympathize with you.

That, of course, puts the Democrats on the side of, you know, MS-13 gangs, ISIS, illegal aliens, China and a host of other things.  Were they actually able to concede that at least some of President Trump's agenda might lead to prosperity and success, and helped instead of obstructed, they could have claimed a little credit for the economic boom that ensued as soon as Barack Obama was booted out of office by the grace of the Constitution, and his successor as a candidate, Hillary Clinton, rejected by the voting public.

But they haven't.  They are simply obstructing, and now I wonder if it is in a treasonous way.

As we all know, next week President Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea, in an attempt to create a lasting, denuclearized peace (at worst) and some kind of actual, productive relationship that raises North Korea out of its starvation (at best).

We know the way that the president negotiates, at least somewhat (he did write a book about it), so we can readily assume that it is possible that he could get up, leave the table and fly home abruptly if he feels that Kim is not acting in good faith.  He has nothing to lose -- Kim certainly does -- although it is not what he would like to have happen.

But a good outcome would be the framework of a deal he can take to Congress that leads to the relatively quick denuclearization of Korea, including unchecked inspections by Americans and possibly others as well, and possibly the outline of steps that could help the North Koreans get some kind of economy going.  That would be great -- although it would obviously be the first steps in a series of subsequent meetings to determine implementation.

So ... we shall see, as the president often says.

But in the meanwhile, the Democrats are acting like a bunch of beetles who have been rolled on their backs, flailing uselessly with nothing to add and no positive end state for them.  This is particularly true of good old Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the minority leader of the Senate, who has not had a good 17 months except where he has been able to slow the hiring of needed personnel into the Trump Administration.

Schumer and another half-dozen Democrats in the Senate actually wrote a letter to President Trump on Monday, demanding -- yes, "demanding", as if they had any standing -- certain outcomes of the meeting or they would, I don't know, wave their six legs in the air while the Senate approves a treaty.

Any deal that explicitly or implicitly gives North Korea sanctions relief for anything other than the verifiable performance of its obligations to dismantle its nuclear and missile arsenal is a bad deal,” they actually wrote.  They insisted that five requirements had to be in any agreement, or they would thrash their beetle legs.  Those were (hold your chuckles):

- Dismantlement and removal of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons from North Korea.
- A “complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea,” removing all items related to nuclear-weapons production.
- North Korea must end its ballistic-missile program
- North Korea must comply with “anywhere, anytime” inspections 
- The deal must be permanent.
So in essence, the Democrats insist that they will not vote up an agreement that does not have -- you guessed it -- the very things that President Trump has already said are the non-negotiables of the negotiation in the first place.  There are seemingly five "demands" by the Democrats, but in essence there are really only two; that the NoKo nuke program be permanently ended with all existing nukes and chemical/biological weapons turned over, and that the USA be able to inspect at any time to confirm that all that continues going forward.

Now, it seems weird for the Schumer beetles to say that they will try to obstruct any agreement that isn't, you know, what Trump is insisting be there in the first place, right?  Perhaps they are finally trying to get on the right side of things, even awkwardly, so they can try to claim that they had anything at all to do with it.

But even though I agree that those things should be in there, I have a problem with a handful of Democrat senators publicly stating what should be in a treaty of some kind.  It strikes me as their interfering, in advance, with the negotiation of a President with a foreign country.

In this case, everyone agrees with what should be in there. But what if Schumer had insisted that there be some other condition in there that was less favorable to the USA?  We know that Democrats have colluded with Russians in an effort to fix the 2016 elections by destroying Donald Trump.  How do we know that they have not colluded with them again, or with another country, and could essentially be negotiating in public through those demands to get something that other nation wants?

That is treason, of course.

I can't imagine that any nation outside of maybe South Korea would have the same goals as those Democrats claim to insist on, but in a comparable situation, such as when a president is planning to negotiate a trade deal, how treasonous might it be if a foreign power were to influence a senator to make public statements leading to more favorable terms for that country, sort of like Obama apparently did with Iran.

It's a fine distinction, because we do have stupid senators, and it is credible to think that one could make such a supporting statement claiming that such a deal would be better for the USA (as well as the other nation).  But I'm uncomfortable, certainly in this case, with senators from the other party "demanding" that certain terms be in an agreement with a foreign country before the negotiations.

In this case it seems OK, but it is easy to imagine a more treacherous rationale.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

"They Weren't Ready for My Brilliance" -- Obama

There are ivory towers and there are ivory towers.  In some of them, I imagine you simply are beyond caring about either the people below, in others you don't recognize the idiocy with which you come across when you speak.  Or both.

I give you the former president, Barack H. Obama, at least as quoted by his formal special advisor, Ben Rhodes, in the latter's new book.  Since we know that liberals never lie, we can certainly assume that Obama actually said what Rhodes said he did, right?

This quote came right after the election of President Trump and the crushing defeat for both Hillary Clinton, the actual candidate, and Obama himself (or, in his view, "Himself").  Trying to comfort Rhodes, in his pompous, professorial manner reflecting his failure to grasp anything factual, Obama said this:

“Maybe we pushed too far.  Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe ... Sometimes I wonder whether I was ten or 20 years too early.”

Oh, dear.  We were simply not ready for the brilliance of Barack H. Obama, and it may be ten or twenty years before we are.

I guess we could go in one of two ways on this.  First, of course, we could look at all the things that we apparently were not "ready" for.  Those might include implementing a totally-unworkable health insurance system that no one wanted, or giving away $150 billion to the "Death-to-America" mullahs in Iran for no return.  Or lying to the nation about incidents like Benghazi and sending surrogates out to lie for him.  Or weaponizing the FBI and IRS to target Obama's political enemies.  We weren't ready for that.  Maybe in a decade or two we will have become so corrupt as a society that we will be, but I like to doubt that.

I prefer to look at the other dimension, which is either that Obama thought that he was somehow right in doing all that, or thought that he could say that to a toady like Rhodes and be believed.  But if Barack Obama thought that he was right to do that depressing list of things he did, then what was going on for eight years in that White House?

I think the Occam's Razor approach leads to the conclusion that he told Rhodes what he actually believes; that after being coddled all his life, he failed to recognize that he got where he did only because he was, as his own VP, Joe Biden said, "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy", as opposed to other black guys, we assume from Biden's context.  He didn't get there because of his brilliance or vision, but because of his father's color -- and the media's desperation to get him elected.

The media were equally desperate to elect Hillary Clinton, we can recall, but Obama had so badly peed in that well that the nation simply was -- in contrast to Obama's view -- past wanting someone like him.  "Obama with a uterus" (Hillary) was no longer acceptable, after the nation had seen what an Obama without one (we assume) could do. 

As usual, Obama was wrong.  He was not "ten or 20 years too early", but perhaps just at the right time.  The right time for the nation to see what unchecked leftism can do.  The right time to see how, when it inevitably fails, the left has to turn to corruption to try to hold on to power.  The right time to see that the nation prefers the pro-American economic rationalism of Donald Trump to the utterly corrupt and incompetent socialist dogma of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

I suppose every few decades the nation needs to elect a Democrat to remember how bad socialism is.  I hate that we had to do it twice in Obama's case, but at least we survived and got the right guy elected to succeed him.

Yep, Obama was here at the right time.  And booted out at the right time, too.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Guest Column: "Take a Seat"

Today's guest column is by Ed Fenstermacher, an MIT classmate of mine who has five previous guest columns to his credit here since 2014, and apparently is subbing for me for a few days :) and giving me a much-needed couple days off.  Ed is a regular reader of this site, and along with being a long-time leader in Scouting, he is a nuclear engineer by profession -- and a very thoughtful commentator on life and society although, as we see here, no longer from an airplane.
                                                     _ _ _

There are many reasons I have sworn off flying.  I’m on the wrong side of middle age, and have bad knees.  Taking my shoes off and putting them back on in an airport is an ordeal.  My weight and medical conditions put me at high risk for DVT.  And the last flight I took, we were supposed to land at Dulles, made two attempts to do so in a thunderstorm that threatened to rip the wings off, and then landed in Richmond.  Not only did we have to wait for the storm to clear, but also we had to refuel.  When I got off the plane at 2 a.m. the morning after the night we were supposed to have arrived, I said that was my last flight, and I’ve kept to it.

Now, as I alluded, I am not thin (like the usual author of the column), but have way more girth than I need.  This leads to another problem with airline seats.  They are too small for me.  Even when I fly business class, and have a little more width and leg room, the seats are, in a word, snug.  But even this is not the issue of today’s column.  That issue is the poor engineering design of the seats themselves.

When we were about to land, both in Richmond and at Dulles, the flight attendant came up to me and reminded me to put the seat back in the full upright position.  Now, consider where they put the control for this: on the inside of the armrest, where my right thigh is pressing against it the entire flight.  Believe me, I would love to put the seat in the full upright position, but that would require the loss of a lot more weight than can be done on a typical flight.  So I lean forward, and hope the seat moves with me, but it’s not as if it is actually giving me any support.  If anything happens during the landing, the seat will do whatever it will, beyond my control.

At the local movie theater, they recently replaced the old seats with a new, luxury version.  These are beautiful, comfortable black leatherette chairs, and as I sat down I was immediately enveloped in comfort.  Moreover, I had my feet swept up and the back recline to a perfect position for watching the film.  Not a perfect position, though, as it turned out, for getting up.  It was the latest Avengers movie, and I was the first one trapped!  It was lucky for me that the refreshment stand was closed for renovation, because if I’d had a soda, I might not have lasted until the end of the movie.

As the credits rolled, my son Tom, similarly trapped, managed to get up and give me a hand.  Straddling the footrest, I got to my feet.  It was only then, as the lights finally came up, that I saw what I had missed in the darkened theater:  two black rocker panels inset into the side of the chair, exactly where my thigh was sure to press, and nearly invisible.  At least now I know how to get out!

My well-named La-Z-Boy recliner has a separate, wired controller.  That works great, and it also has a vibrate mode, which works well for quickly removing sleeping cats from the chair.  But you don’t have to go that far.  You can put the controls on top of the armrest, or even better, on the front where your fingers can wrap around and use them, but won’t hit them accidentally.  Problem solved!
Any seat that will accommodate a large person will also accommodate a small person.  Any seat that I’m comfortable in, Linda Hunt would fit into nicely.   

But the reverse is not true.  Seats are designed so that about 95% of people can sit in them comfortably.  That, of course leaves the other 5%, including me.  Of course, in a country of 325 million people, that’s 16 million that won’t fit comfortably in an airline seat.  Now, while not a rich man, I’m sure that I am in the top 1% -- in posterior dimension, that is.   

In a modern airplane built to seat a few hundred people, you could put two wide seats instead of three narrow ones in a couple rows, and I guarantee there are enough overly-wide people who would gladly pay an extra 50%, or more, to sit in them, without any of the other extras that go into First Class.  
And the same goes for leg room.  A little good engineering would go a long way towards accommodating a wider range of people in airplanes and a host of other places.   

Don’t get me started, either, on restaurant booths where the tables poke patrons in the stomach while they eat.  They practically scream: “Hold that steak dinner, I’ll just have the side salad and a glass of water.”

I can’t leave this subject without mentioning my church, to which I am very devoted.  Certainly there is no width problem here, but the pews are so close together that when I stand up to sing a hymn, the pew I’m in presses into my calves while the one I’m behind cuts into my thighs.   

What’s more, it is a Lutheran practice to turn and follow the cross during the processional and recessional.  With the pews spaced as they are, this is a problem for even the small, bird-like women in our congregation, not to mention the larger folks like me.  I have solved this by sitting in one of the four rows behind a cut-out for a wheelchair, right on the end where I can turn.  There are four such in our nave, but a lot more people who could use them.

Even with the population growing, there is still a lot of space on planet Earth.  It’s time to start using a little more of it where it’s really needed.

Original content copyright 2018 by T. E. Fenstermacher and Robert Sutton
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Monday, June 4, 2018

Guest Column: Real Privilege

Today's guest column is by Ed Fenstermacher, an MIT classmate of mine who has four previous guest columns to his credit here since 2014.  Ed is a regular reader of this site, and along with being a long-time leader in Scouting, he is a nuclear engineer by profession -- and a very thoughtful commentator on life and society.

 _ _ _

We have heard a lot in the last few years about the notion of privilege.  We’ve heard about "white privilege", "male privilege" and "Christian privilege."
Certainly, white privilege was a part of this country when it was founded.  Even following the reconstruction amendments, segregation and Jim Crow laws persisted until Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of race in most public settings and in voting.
The 19th Amendment gave women in the US the right to vote in 1920, and Title IX gave women equal opportunity in education in 1972.  Now, more women than men are actually enrolled in higher education, and more are getting degrees.  Boy Scouts are admitting girls, and the main objections are coming from the Girl Scouts.

Christian privilege has never been enshrined in law, except perhaps in "blue laws."  Certainly, there has been private religious discrimination in areas such as club memberships, but even that seems to be dying away.  A series of court cases has removed nearly all overtly Christian practices from government at all levels -- if anything, the preferred religion of the U.S. Government is now atheism, in the form of "secular humanism."

But nature, and human culture, abhor a vacuum.  White, male and Christian privilege don’t exist anymore, to anything like the degree they did fifty years ago.  What has replaced them?  They have all been replaced by a new form of privilege, one infinitely more pernicious than the others.  That is leftist privilege.

Leftist privilege is the tacit assumption, everywhere and in all things, that the leftist viewpoint is not only self-evidently correct but also the only moral position, to where arguing against it is immoral.  That viewpoint is nearly universally held by Democratic politicians, university professors, and people who claim journalistic credentials in the major news media.  Given that viewpoint, it is logical to believe that shouting down anyone who speaks against the leftist orthodoxy is not only allowable, but also a moral imperative.  Leftism is to liberalism what the Inquisition was to Catholicism -- the imposition of absolutism without limit.  All that is missing are the tools of torture.  In this country, for now.

Examples of leftist privilege surround us, and new ones appear every day.  Within the last year, we have had armed mobs of leftists wearing black hoodies and masks trying to keep conservatives such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter from speaking.  These riots were at the University of California at Berkeley, the home of what is now laughingly called “The Free Speech Movement."  Charles Murray was shouted down and prevented from speaking at Middlebury College in 2017, and Professor Alison Stanger, who was supposed to have interviewed him, was hospitalized with a concussion and a neck injury from the “peaceful” protestors.  

Leftists, however, can say anything they want in any forum without risk of retribution.  Shortly after the recent death of Barbara Bush, Fresno State professor Randa Jarrar sent out a nasty tweet, accusing Barbara Bush (with no supporting evidence) of being a racist and the mother of a war criminal.  You can be sure no one will show up to prevent her from speaking in class, and that her tenured position is safe.

Leftist privilege is particularly evident in the way the law is being applied in this country.  When Hillary Clinton was investigated for the potential misuse of a private server for classified e-mail, the FBI investigation was led by Peter Strzok, under the direction of Andrew McCabe and with assistance from Lisa Page.  Strzok and Page were strong anti-Trump partisans, as evidenced by the later release of their e-mails. 

McCabe’s wife had received campaign cash from Governor McAuliffe of Virginia, a Clinton ally.  There was apparently no thought of recusal, which was clearly warranted.  The conclusions from the investigation were predetermined, prejudged and written before Hillary Clinton was even questioned. 

When she was interviewed, she wasn’t put under oath, which is always done in such cases.  Many members of her staff, including her lawyer, were also present and given immunity, which is normally done only if an individual agrees to furnish negative information about the principal, which they did not.  During this time, we also had the tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch, calling the objectivity of the Justice Department into question.  

After this sham of an investigation, Director Comey held a press conference in which he laid out what, in other circumstances, would have been evidence leading to a certain indictment of Hillary Clinton.  He then inexplicably stated that no U.S. Attorney would bring charges in such a circumstance, effectively closing down the investigation and taking it out of the hands of the Justice Department, which he had no authority to do.

Contrast this treatment to the treatment of President Trump and the allegations of “collusion” with Russians.  First, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself because of incidental meetings he had had with the Russian ambassador.  Then his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appoints Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor, with a set of powers that even now have not been fully disclosed. 

So far, he has not uncovered any collusion with Russians, but has caught General Michael Flynn in a perjury trap, and is going after Paul Manafort for financial dealings, preceding the Trump campaign by a decade.  What does this have to do with his charge from Rosenstein?  Clearly, it is nothing except an attempt to get Manafort to flip on President Trump.

It goes without saying that when one group is treated differently under the law than another, Justice is no longer blind.  The concept of equal justice under law supposedly traces back to Pericles, and is a foundational value of the United States.  Freedom of conscience goes back to Roger Williams and is another foundational value of our country.  If we don’t stop the march of leftist privilege and restore viewpoint balance, we will be the last generation to live with these values.

Original content copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton and T. E. Fenstermacher
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