Friday, September 28, 2018

The Role of Neighbors

As you're aware, we have just recently returned from a nine-day evacuation and returned to our home and our neighbors.  We fled the wrath of Hurricane Florence, which turned out to be a wise journey given the extended power outage, flooded roads and winds that stripped siding, fascia boards and soffits from houses in our community and on our street.

Our "street" is actually a semicircle that has about 18 houses on it, none more than a couple years old, some very new and more being built as we speak.  Given our location on the Carolinas coast, they are built to withstand Category 3 hurricane-force winds.

As new neighbors join the community as their houses are completed, those already here aggressively welcome them into the community that our street has become.  We need each other, I think we all agree, and so we make sure that we talk a lot and interact a lot.  The first Thursday of each month is "drinks in the driveway", where we get together in a common area at 6pm with drinks in hand and lawn chairs, to catch up.

We still don't really "know" each other as well as we ultimately will.  Certain couples -- most on the street are in our 60s -- have tended to pair up with another couple or three, as they discover particularly compatible personalities.

So it was not a surprise that one resident of the street, who lives two doors down, returned after only 3-4 days; we knew him to be one who would prefer to be addressing issues sooner and directly, even in the absence of electricity and a boil-your-water order that still has not been lifted.

After the storm left, but before anyone else had returned, our neighbor had walked around to take note of the damage to other houses -- some siding, some other minor damages.  We, for example, had a soffit piece come apart near the peak of our roof, and some separation in some wood joints, but that was it.

Our neighbor contacted a contractor right away.  Knowing that contractor vehicles would be banned from our community for a while for new construction but not for repairs, he arranged for a contractor to assign one of his crews to start fixing houses on our street as soon as the residents started coming back.

We returned last Thursday night, were given the contact information for the contractor's repair team, and by noon on Saturday our repairs were all done.  Completed, and for a very low price.

What is a neighbor?  I mean, the word just springs from some ancient English words for "inhabit" and "near", but on this street it means a little more.  Because of our neighbor, over half of the houses on the street, all of which sustained at least some damage, had their repairs completed before the weekend was out, with good work at a very good price.

I know I won't forget what our neighbor arranged, because the alternative would have been a mad scramble a week later to get someone to help.

Back in the winter of 1999, we had just moved into our neighborhood where we would be for 17 more years.  When the first snowstorm came, dropping a foot of snow on the neighborhood, I took out my snowblower and started clearing everyone's driveways, most of whom we had not met yet.

As I told my best girl at the time, if you want good neighbors, be a good neighbor first.  Not one neighbor I plowed out ever thanked me, but that's mostly because none of them knew who had done it.  But for as long as we were there, there were no issues with interactions with the community.

I think we're in one of those places 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

Thursday, September 27, 2018

You've Let Me Sing, Mr. Angelos, Please Let Me Watch!

This message is actually directed at John P. Angelos, the Executive VP of the Baltimore Orioles.  I suppose that his dad, Peter, who bought the team 25 years ago but is much less hands-on as he approaches 90, may read it as well, and that would be fine too.  So here goes.

"Dear Mr. Angelos,

I know it has been a hard year and all as far as the Orioles have been concerned, losing all those games and it being unclear as to how and when things may get better.  But people still actually want to watch the team, and that is especially true for those no longer living in the area.

My family and I went to many, many games, both at old Memorial Stadium and the beautiful Camden Yards, while living up there for 36 years and while the kids grew up, but I've been "reassigned" and now work and reside in the coastal area of the Carolinas.  I truly miss your ballpark, though, for several reasons.

One is that you invited me on numerous occasions to sing the National Anthem there.  

Of course, there was the one episode in Memorial Stadium where I was lip-syncing and you played the tape of a barbershop quartet while it was just me out on the field, but your predecessor owners apologized, and after you bought the team you brought me back often to sing live.  I really enjoyed the experience, and hope I did the Orioles and our country proud.

I was also privileged to have presented Cal Ripken with the Lou Gehrig Award of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity there at Camden Yards, another great Orioles moment I was proud to have played a part in.

And for many years I watched a lot of Orioles games on TV, including on MASN, the sports network you own, for many, many years.  We had MASN in our home then, through our TV service, being in the metropolitan area and all.

Unfortunately, though, that has ended, and I hope you can fix it.

Baseball, as you know so well, has an arcane TV blackout system where every zip code in the USA is assigned to one or more teams.  Fans are automatically blacked out of broadcasts of games from those teams in our zip code, unless you watch them on the regional carrier for that team, such as MASN -- assuming your TV service even carries it.

So even though we live 465 miles south of Baltimore, we are somehow assigned to the Orioles as our "local" team for TV purposes.  That means that we get to see no Orioles games at all, ever.

Why is that?  Because we are so far from Baltimore that neither of the two available cable services here carries MASN.  Our cable service is actually locally-based.  We selected them so that our service calls would be answered by Americans, 15 miles away, not in Mumbai, where they don't understand blackout rules quite as well.

Being a small service, they only have about 150 of their total customers who subscribe to the Extra Innings package to see all the unblacked-out games.  We know -- we are one of them.  In fact, we called the cable company to ask them to add MASN to their lineup.  Since they are a local company with good service, they actually talked with me about it and their experience with you.

Want to know what they said?

We'd love to add MASN, they said.  There are a lot of people who live here who are from the area up there who have asked.  But when they contacted MASN, you quoted them a non-negotiable price that was so high that no one would pay for it, and they certainly couldn't afford to add it to their basic package cost without losing half their subscribers.

So I am blacked out of your games.  I don't get to see your team.  And I now understand that the reason I can't see your team is because you can't, or won't, charge an affordable price to our tiny rural cable company.  And we can't use a satellite service, because this area is severely windy and dishes routinely move and blow away to where they can't provide the associated Internet service reliably enough to make work possible.

You let me sing at your games, Mr. Angelos, but now you won't let me see them.  But you could.  

How about contacting me, and I'll provide you the contact information for our cable company.  As a favor, you could negotiate a truly affordable rate for MASN instead of the non-starter that MASN's previous quotes have been.  My contact information is below.

In fact, while you're at it, perhaps you can also persuade your colleagues among the owners to revisit the blackout rules to reflect the reality of today's cable and satellite world, and not the world of 1953 that they are still based on.  

I will be more than happy to participate as a member of the committee, or to testify on your behalf for reasonable changes to the rules.  I can handle the English language pretty well.

I'd like to see the Orioles, really soon."

Kindest regards,

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, September 26, 2018

It's Not Kavanaugh -- It's the Next Nominee

As we watch the political desecration of the "advise and consent" role of the United States Senate, it is not a secret why it is happening -- but it also is one, at least to some extent.

The left had talked and tweeted itself into some kind of fury, at the notion that the approval of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court would lead to the immediate overturning of Roe v. Wade and the illegalization of aborting the unborn across the USA.  Since apparently aborting babies is the most important legal issue we face, even though the judge has testified that he regards it as "settled law", the left feels the need to destroy the man before he can be allowed to take his seat.

We get that.  The left is an amoral bunch, akin to 1930s brown-shirts in pre-WWII Germany.  They will do whatever they want in the defense of their right to kill unborn babies, and that includes hounding Ted Cruz out of a restaurant in DC.

Unfortunately, it also includes concocting hazy (at best) or fictional (at worst) tales of Judge Kavanaugh's associations with women from high school.  It includes, as Dianne Feinstein did, holding back the existence of the tale from the Senate Judiciary Committee for two months, and from the accused, Judge Kavanaugh, even though she met with him to assess his qualifications.

But again, that's what they do, and why.

However, there is a far more insidious outcome that no one is mentioning, and it is incumbent on us to address before it is too late.

Recent elections for president and other high offices, and hearings for appointments to Cabinet positions have been utterly brutal -- and personal.  One thing we constantly hear is that "No one will want to run for, or apply for, senior public service jobs if they have to have their entire life, even the least relevant years, dragged through the mud."

They're right, of course.  I've never really contemplated running for public office, but in idle thoughts where I imagine myself doing so, the one thing that immediately switches my thinking to something like sports is the notion that my life would be an open book.

Now, I've never been charged with a felony, never been in jail, never appeared in my defense in court.  I managed to get through high school without a day's detention, and through college without whatever MIT's student government would have been empowered to charge me with had I actually done anything.

And yet the last week's events have made me think back to my relationships with women in college and before I got married (I didn't actually have any relationships to speak of in high school).  We don't actually know what Judge Kavanaugh supposedly did to or with the now-college professor, lawyered up with a virulent anti-Trumper.  We don't know, because no one will say, lest there be something tangible to deny or even to prove fictitious.

But even the things that have leaked out, true or not, seem to be things that young men often do at that age -- because young men do them.  If the young lady chooses, she can go along, and if not, the young man should be decent and find a way to lessen the stress of the interaction.  But the point is that if it were a requirement that no male candidate for office have ever made a pass at a woman in his life, well, that might have changed the course of history a bit.

Yet that is what the left has done here.

They are taking a brilliant and accomplished jurist with literally hundreds of published opinions and a thirty-year legal and judicial career, with a squeaky-clean reputation and the unanimous approval of the Bar organizations that vet such candidates, and trying to destroy him based on an as-yet-unpublished and completely unverified accusation of something in his teens that 99% of non-nerdulent boys have done.

So let's say that a few Republican senators decide to bend to absurd pressure and declare they will not vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, and the Democrat senators in Trump states facing reelection then don't have to vote to confirm because there's now not a majority.  Say that the judge withdraws his name, even though he is arguably the most qualified American to hold that post and has a 30-year record of excellence.

Who is next?

That's the part that is indeed a secret, because we're not thinking that far ahead.  If Brett Kavanaugh can possibly be rejected by the Senate, on the flimsiest of accusations from his teens -- literally -- then who is going to allow themselves to be subject to that kind of abuse voluntarily?  Would you?  I know that I wouldn't, and I've already mercifully forgotten most of my teenage years.

Are we not better off having the most qualified jurist on the Court?  Are we not afraid that the abuse heaped on this man is going to scare off the most qualified judges going forward, as long as they are appointed by a Republican (the Republicans in the Senate don't practice that kind of character assassination)?

Yesterday I asked what Democrat in the Senate would be willing to speak out against what is happening to the judge.  So far none has, of course.  But I will ask again, because the real danger to our democracy is hardly what happens if Judge Kavanaugh is approved by the Senate -- it is what happens if he is denied.

This needs to end.  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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Who Will Be the First Responsible Democrat?

As I write this, another flimsy, barely-remembered account of what might have happened in a prep school 30 years ago at a drunken party and might have been Judge Brett Kavanaugh but might not, has surfaced.

And the stink test is clearly failing the Democrats.

I will admit this.  Mitch McConnell's lack of action on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in the waning months of the Obama Administration was unwise and inappropriate.  That was a political absurdity, when the more logical action would have been to slow-roll the nomination to a vote right after the election and simply reject the nominee on the same partisan vote that the Democrats started with Robert Bork -- as the Republicans' majority would have allowed.

I don't believe that nominees should be judged on anything but their qualifications and certainly not their politics, but "they did it first", and now we have "to Bork" as a verb.  Of course, with the exception of l'affaire Garland, only Democrats have practiced Borking; Republicans have overwhelmingly voted to approve the SCOTUS nominations by Democrat presidents.

But even the Democrats have, until now, only opposed Republican nominees based on politics and not invented personal smears, even for Justice Neil Gorsuch.  Or maybe they couldn't dig up anything on Gorsuch - or, apparently, make it up.

Well, those days are over.

We are now confronting the dredging up of hazily-recalled events that may or may not have happened.  Dr. Ford, the accuser of the boy Brett Kavanaugh once was, wrote a letter describing something (no one apparently gets to see it, an obvious denial of due process to the judge) that happened in high school in the 1980s.  It was not reported then, nor does anyone purported to be there have any recollection of such an event or of Kavanaugh even being there -- which he himself denies.

In the subsequently-reported incident, the claimant concedes to having been so drunk that she can't even recall if it was actually the young Kavanaugh in the first place.

Not a prosecutor in the nation would try to file such a case in the absence of a corroborating witness and with zero physical evidence.  Moreover, given the ample opportunity for either complaint to have been filed previously, either with the police at the time or at any of Judge Kavanaugh's subsequent confirmation hearings for his judicial appointments, imagine that, no one thought it helpful to make those incidents public at the time.

Dr. Ford apparently did not want to testify, until she did, and wanted Judge Kavanaugh to testify, absurdly, before she even testified herself before the Senate committee!  Her lawyer (a virulent anti-Trumper) actually wants the person accused to testify in response to something he knows nothing about before he's supposed to know what he is accused of.  This, madam counsel, is not China.

And yet, the Democrats in the Senate are lined up behind these unfounded accusations, demanding that the accusers be believed even as they deny more adult allegations against, say Bill Clinton.  And they are willing to delay the appointment of a Supreme Court justice based on 30-year-old allegations made, in both cases, by people who were supposedly drunk at the time.

We are supposed to be judging the judge based on his record, his judicial temperament and his character.  All those, for at least the last thirty years, have been impeccable and public.  As I wrote some time ago, the childhood imperfections that threaten a career are no more important than the passing good deeds that purport to sanitize the criminal.  Yes, please read that piece.

Is there not a single Democrat in the Senate willing to stand up and condemn this ridiculous tolerance of a political act that will not work, first, and is based on exactly zero that would produce a court case?  And, we should add, even if it happened, which it very likely did not, given the political nature of the timing, the thirty years of the man's life and career are what would inform him as a justice and inform the Senate as to his qualification to serve.

Not one Democrat willing to be their party's single voice of sanity in all this?  Nope, not a single one.

Doesn't that say all we need to know about the left that thinks it should rule us.

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, September 24, 2018

Don't Fire Rod ... Yet

President Trump was surely a bit surprised to hear a piece in the New York Times this past week suggesting that the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller investigation into something or other, had made an odd statement last year.

Apparently, Rosenstein was reported as having suggested that he wear a wire (this was apparently not long after inauguration) in conversation with the president and try to catch something that could lead to the Cabinet declaring him to be unfit for office under the 25th Amendment.  This was a big deal to the Times as some type of palace intrigue.

Of course, as you apply the sanity test to all this, and start to hear from people close enough to Rosenstein to understand how he talks, the actual nature of the incident, if it indeed happened, comes out a lot different.

Rosenstein is known, or reputed, to be a fairly sarcastic person when he hears a suggestion he finds to be stupid.  Given that among the people in the room at the time was reported to be Andrew McCabe, the Trump-hating senior executive in the FBI, a totally different spin seems to be playing out.

If Rosenstein actually did utter those words, with McCabe in the room, a more reliable accounting of the incident would have been that McCabe himself, whose wife had just lost an election as a Democrat and Trump opponent, had made some suggestion about getting dirt on the president.  Rosenstein would have then replied with something like, "Sure, Andy, how about I just wear a wire and bug the President of the United States and then give it to Jeff Sessions to start a 25th Amendment case?  That what you want, moron?"   And then forgotten he ever said it.

Since the whole incident is only coming out now, a year and a half later, it obviously didn't lead to anything because, if it was said at all, it was a sarcastic rejection of something McCabe said.  That it is coming out now makes sense when you step back.

The left wants Trump out.  Any way, any means.  He threatens their Deep State power, the choke-hold they have on Washington.  What way would be better than to bait the president into taking an action that looks like the "obstruction of justice" that they see as an avenue to impeachment, since the russiarussiarussia probe seems to have reached a dead end a year ago?

So it is incumbent on President Trump simply to let this incident go.  Word is that he actually has a very cordial relationship with Rosenstein.  That being so, it is incumbent on Rosenstein to go see the president immediately and clarify what that was all about, even to the extent of throwing the already treadmarked McCabe under the bus.

And it is incumbent on the president simply to let it go, and not do anything with or to Rosenstein.  He is being baited by the left, and he's certainly smart enough -- as are his closest advisors -- to see this release of a non-story for what it is.  It is no more than an attempt by President Trump's political opponents to get something that sounds like an impeachable offense in the event of the (unlikely) assumption of a majority in the House.

This, of course, is precisely why Americans need to go out to the polls on Election Day and keep the Democrats as far from the power that they abuse immorally, as possible.

Do nothing, Mr. President.  Grit your teeth and let it go.

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, September 21, 2018

Lying Before You Get to the Story

The actor Burt Reynolds, who coincidentally was a fraternity brother of mine, passed away not long ago at 82.  We know, of course, that he was married a time or two, including to the actress Loni Anderson, with whom he adopted a son named Quinton, who is now 30.

Reynolds voted for Donald Trump, although he didn't claim to be particularly passionate about it in an interview, possibly to minimize the damage that Hollywood might inflict given their gasping-for-breath shock that anyone would actually have cast that vote.

However, that has to be what accounts for a bizarre headline on Yahoo's "News" feed that is up there as I write this.  The article was by someone named Taryn Ryder, although who wrote the headline is lost to the imagination.

Now the headline itself is not actually bizarre, in and of itself; had it been factual it would have seemed perfectly reasonable.  The headline read:

"Burt Reynolds cut 30-year-old son out of his will: Here's why" 

Lots of people cut their kids out of their will.  Sometimes it's not out of retribution but for perfectly good reasons, such as leaving their estate to a different child who cared for the parent during their latter years.  Perfectly reasonable.  And, of course, often it is actual retribution, which is what we immediately assume when we see the term "cut out of the will."  Cutting out of a will implies retribution.

So if you read only headlines, you would make the logical assumption that Reynolds and his son were at odds, enough to drop Quinton from his will and not provide for him.

And you would be wrong.  So, so wrong.

In fact, as the article actually notes in detail, Reynolds did not bequeath anything to Quinton because he had earlier created a trust through which to pass the bulk of his estate to Quinton, avoiding probate and high inheritance taxes.  He specifically points out in the text of the will that he created the trust for that purpose, and that Quinton had been provided for "during his lifetime", i.e., by Reynolds passing his estate to his son through the trust.

So what was the purpose of the deceptive headline?  In earlier years, that would simply have been click-bait, meant to get people to read the article and see the ads positioned beside it.  But the character assassination that goes along with blasting the fake news that a Hollywood actor had disinherited his only son, carries malice that can't be dismissed as click-bait.

Yahoo owes the Reynolds family and the memory of the late actor a serious apology for that headline, an apology that will never happen.  The malice in the headline is clearly triggered by Reynolds' politics, though Yahoo will never tell you that.  That flat-out fake-news headline would never, ever be used in a similar situation for a liberal icon actor (say, Alan Alda) who had protected his children from huge death taxes by setting up a trust, even as they insist that the rest of us pay more taxes.  And don't kid yourself, they do it as well on the left (the word is spelled "hypocrite", by the way).

Fake news, as President Trump often states, is the enemy of the people (no, he never says that "the press" is; they just assume that by "fake news" he means "them").  The pen, even the online version, is mightier than the sword, and those who smear the innocent (and in this case, the deceased) because they don't like their politics, using that powerful pen, should be castigated in public.

Oh, yeah -- That's what I'm doing now.  Yahoo, you should be ashamed.

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, September 20, 2018

Heading Back Home

The floodwaters are all over the place, some receding and some increasing, but this morning (Thursday) we are heading home on the long drive from evacuation exile.

We have been able to stay 400 miles away through the kindness of a friend of our son, who allowed us to stay in his house for ten days while he was away, and that is a blessing compared to those who did not have relatives or friends to host them, and had to spend large sums on hotels with inflated prices, or ended up in temporary shelters.

Count us lucky.  We know that our house is intact, as friends who could return have taken pictures and sent them.  We know that little if any actual damage was sustained, and our losses will end up being predominantly from the loss of power to freezers and refrigerators.  That can be replaced.  People cannot.

To all those who prayed for the displaced from Hurricane Florence; to all those who braved the risks to return and start moving trees from roads and protecting people and property from subsequent injury and damage; to all those already actively arranging for recovery for their neighbors -- you are good people and we are grateful, even those of us spared the brunt of the actual damage.

The Lord watched over us and we are grateful to Him above all for keeping us safe and giving us a place to be.  May He watch over our return and bring us safely back today.


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, September 19, 2018

Man, It Never Ends with AGT

Back two or three months ago, when the America's Got Talent show was getting going for its umpteenth season, I did a piece after the judges put through an embarrassingly awful performer named Courtney Hadwin, a British girl of about 14 or so who ran around the stage screaming in an imitation of Janis Joplin, who herself also ran around the stage screaming 50 years ago but at least had a story that somehow rationalized it, and was not imitating someone else.

As I mentioned, the girl was given the "golden buzzer" by one of the judges (I won't embarrass him by giving you his name, but his initials are "Howie Mandel"), which allowed her to bypass the next rounds of competition and go straight through to the live quarterfinals.  That was a few weeks ago, and she proceeded to do the same act, this time running around and screaming in imitation of someone else.

It was equally unpleasant, but the "fans" this time voted her to the semifinals and, last week, brought her again to the finals over people of immensely more talent and certainly more listenable performances.  She is getting better at what she does; it's also a problem that what she does is simply unpleasant to watch or listen to.

Last night she performed on the live finals, and tonight she will be crowned the winner.  How do I know?  Because her tale on AGT is eerily similar to Grace Vanderwaal, another barely-in-her-teens competitor who won two years back despite showing no real talent as a performer whatsoever -- she strummed a ukulele and sang songs she wrote, in a whispery voice.

That tale is creepily reminiscent now, as yet another performer, like Grace given the "golden buzzer" by a judge and put through by an alleged TV audience vote despite much better competition, is there to be given scads of money.

Now, remember that I'm still in evacuation exile from my coastal Carolina home, and have to watch TV a bit behind the time, especially when there is a competing Red Sox game.  So at this moment, I have not seen the finals, not that it matters.  And tonight is the announcement of the winners.  So I do not know who will win, but I know who will win.  Been there, done that.

Back in June when I wrote the linked piece, my best girl told me (and I immediately agreed) that Courtney, this year's Grace, was going to go all the way and win.  Not, I pointed out, because she was good, but because the gap between her performance and the judges' collective slavering over her was clear evidence that the network wanted her to win for some reason and, since we never see the actual voting, they could control it.

Three months later, the announcement is tonight.  I'll watch the last-night show to see what happened on the actual performance night, and then the announcement show to confirm my assumption.  But we told you three months ago both who would win and why.  It's right in these pages before the airing of the show.

For the record, there is a fellow on there named Daniel Emmet who is also in the finals, although he was not chosen by the judges to go to the semis until he was made a judge's wild card pick.  He is a trained operatic singer who did a simply gorgeous performance of "Somewhere" last week -- effortless singing and marvelous communication with the audience (of which, I should note, Courtney has exactly none).

In the real world, although there are some other outstanding acts, including an Asian sleight-of-hand magician who is equally remarkable, Daniel would win or be in the top two.  This is network TV, though, not the real world.  The head judge, Simon Cowell, is a talent broker of some kind, and owns the show franchise, which creeps out the rest of us who believe in an honest balloting.

I sincerely hope Daniel will have a marvelous career and, more, that the world gets to hear him over and over again, but they won't let him win.  The beauty of his singing brings tears to the eyes, as it did to me watching the replay of last week's performance yesterday.  The world needs to know what beauty in music is.

But that's not what AGT is about, and tonight it will try to tell us that America, devoid of ability to recognize talent, voted for a screaming 14-year-old as the winner.  The network will tell us the voting was fair (or not even bother to) but we will know better.

You heard it here first, almost by definition.

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, September 18, 2018

I Wanna Go Home!

I have only the greatest sympathy for the victims of recent hurricanes, such as those in Texas and Puerto Rico and Florida.  People lost their homes, their possessions and, in all too many cases, their lives.  Florence, the huge hurricane that is wending its way up the Appalachians as I write this, was one of those.

I'm not sure, then, what to say.  This is Day 6 of our evacuation, and we are still 450 miles from home with no end in sight.  We are told that there is electricity in our house, which means that at least the meat in the freezer that thawed and spoiled will have refrozen when we return, so it will not be as gross to figure out what we lost.

There is water, but we won't be able to use it until we flush the lines, as there were local breaks in the main lines that put the risk of bacteria and other contamination in.  That boil-all-water order has not even been lifted yet.

Moreover, we physically cannot return, as to this point the access roads are flooded or impassable from falling trees.  There are at least four alternate routes into our area, and all are washed out.  Weirdly, that can get worse before it gets better, as the river headwaters far inland continue to carry water toward the ocean.  We don't know.  We just know that until there is an actual confirmed route, we can't leave.

Tashi hard at work.
I've been more fortunate than most; I have been able to continue to work as an independent consultant remotely, since what I do from home is just as "remote", except I have my desk there, and here in displaced evacuation mode I'm working from a chair with a big, furry Himalayan cat next to my leg (see at right).

Let's say this, though.  I don't expect to need or maybe even ask for help from FEMA or otherwise.  I am pretty sure our house survived intact (others, brave souls who never left have driven by and confirmed that it "looks OK"), even though we're about two miles from the shoreline.

I think I would be uncomfortable asking for other taxpayers to help out, if indeed there were something to help out for, other than having been displaced for what will be over a week.  It will end up costing me a few tanks of gas to get far enough away, and whatever we will give our son's friend as a gift for the generosity of offering his vacant house for us to stay in.

We will have lost maybe $500-600 worth of frozen foods that are spoiled, and possibly have some trees to replace, but otherwise we spent in exile something close to what we would have spent had we stayed.  Insurance might help or might not.  Either way, we took on that obligation when we chose to live on the coast, same as people do when they move to an earthquake zone or Tornado Alley.

I feel terrible for those with more extensive damages and losses, and pray that insurance should cover them.  We pray that they will be all right, and that damages get fixed and the insurance they bought to cover such calamities pays to repair and replace things, as it should.  I just don't think there's anything I need from FEMA -- meaning from the American taxpayer.  We're OK, thanks.

I just want to go home.  I want to size up the damages, put in a plan to get back to normal, put the furniture back where it belongs, replace the freezer and/or its contents, and move on with our lives.

It won't be today, though.

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, September 17, 2018

Death Tolls and Politics

I'm a bit overly sensitive to stories of hurricanes.  As I write this, Monday (today), we are staying in a house many hours from home, waiting for Hurricane Florence to complete her mission to the point that we can actually reach our house through unflooded roads, and that there is a house to reach when we arrive, with electricity.

Last year, of course, was a pretty difficult year for hurricanes, especially in certain areas of the mainland USA and in Puerto Rico.  We felt for the residents there and did whatever we could to support their local relief efforts.  That is never, of course, enough.

On Tuesday, as my best girl and I (with cat) were making the long drive to a less treacherous area, we started discussing not just the hurricane but the expected reaction.  I said that as soon as the relief effort started when Florence had passed, the left would be all over President Trump that it was not good enough, that FEMA was incompetent, etc.

I was wrong, of course.  Before Florence had even hit, some Democrat senator had complained that the Administration had moved $10 million in funding from FEMA to border security accounts.  Of course, as it turned out, the money -- a trifle in FEMA's budget anyway -- could not be programmed for disaster relief anyway based on Congressional direction, so the senator looked like a political fool, but that never stops Democrats.  Ask Maxine Waters.  And the people that voted for her.

At any rate, perhaps in preparation for Florence, the left is now doing their pre-hurricane complaining about President Trump's last oversight of a post-hurricane recovery, that being in Puerto Rico last year.  As you recall, the island, which had sketchy power and infrastructure to begin with due to decades of poor governance by Democrats there, was further devastated by a direct hit from a hurricane.

I wrote back then that it was not the responsibility of the taxpayers of the rest of the USA to pay to put in a brand-new infrastructure to make up for the mismanagement by people their voters had elected, even though the island was suffering the effects of damage that would have been far less under better management.

People did die there, of course.  But apparently, with Florence heading our way, it appears to be time to exaggerate the death toll dramatically, in the interest of making it sound far worse, and then to blame the president for that -- somehow.  Now, I don't exactly know how many did die as a direct result of the hurricane, but it sure wasn't 3,000, as the new study suggested, even if it was more than the 60 or so that had been the original count.

The study that everyone is quoting now did not try to count actual victims, but rather assessed the population of the island, applied normal birth rates and death rates -- statistical stuff that has no business in a sensitive cause-and-effect count.

But if there is a disaster, even a natural one, during the administration of Donald Trump, you can be sure that anything that can be twisted to embarrass this president will be done that way.

Naturally, President Trump did not take that massive hike in the suggested death toll that was politically motivated, without commentary.  As he tweeted,

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000 ... This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising billions of dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!"

When I read these stories, I seem to recall a similar situation.  There was a severe heat wave some years ago -- I want to say maybe 2003 or 2004 -- that was particularly rough in Chicago, where it was very hot for a week or so.

Naturally, the global warming warriors were out there tying to point out that this must have been due to man-made impacts on the climate, even though they are conspicuously absent during deep freezes like the one that killed tropical vegetation on the Carolinas coastal areas last winter.

So death totals started to come out from the left in Chicago, ascribing a large increase in deaths to the heat, and that old people were dying and the like, and it was George Bush's fault -- either George Bush, it didn't matter.  Lots of people were dying.  Pick a Bush.

Of course, before long it came out that the lefties were counting pretty much any death as being heat-related, including deaths in hospices and the like.  You died?  Well, it had to be the heat.  Didn't take long for that to come out.

I suspect a ton of that is going on now in Puerto Rico, which is unfortunate.  First, it means that the actual death toll will never be known, since it is now completely politicized.  Second, since at least some deaths that are indeed attributable to the hurricane would not have occurred had there been a decent infrastructure -- thanks again, Democrats -- we will see even the best counts corrupted by the situation as well as by politics.

If you have been watching the death toll from Florence -- and I can assure you, we are -- we already know that there are heart attack victims in the numbers.  Trust me, I went to medical school.  If you have a heart attack on the day of a hurricane, you were about to have one, one way or the other, momentarily, even if it were sunny.

President Trump and FEMA will do everything they can, because they are good people.  What they can do is, of course, affected by resources and by the fact that this is a natural disaster that is going to destroy homes and kill people despite our best efforts.  We will, by definition, fail, because nature is that awesome when circumstances line up that way.

What a shame that we have to politicize a hurricane recovery.

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, September 11, 2018

A Florentine Pause

Please forgive me, but I think we will take a break from this column for a few days.  Florence is zeroing in on our home, and I believe we will be either defending our home or getting far away for several days.

In either case, please be in prayer for all those threatened by this storm.  See you soon.

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, September 10, 2018

What "Division and Resentment"?

Barack Obama had been mercifully traveling around with his mouth shut for most of the past two years, while his successor, President Trump, had been fixing the economy that Obama had nearly ruined, even as the Obama leftovers in the Justice Department were trying to cover up their own collusion with Russia in 2016 by accusing Trump of what they had done.

Still, Obama was out there last week making a speech at some place or other that was giving him an award for something he probably deserved as much as his Nobel Peace Prize (that he still hasn't given back).  In the speech, he accused President Trump and Republicans of offering "a home to the politics of division and resentment."

OK, well, I'm calling him out.

What the heck are you even talking about, you contemptible liar?

The "politics of division and resentment", indeed.  Let us set aside the fact that "politics" are by definition associated with division, since in a free country we elect people at the ballot box.  We're not voting for a choice of people who agree with one another, but who disagree on how to lead.  There is going to be division if there is politics.  That is no different in the current campaign from what it was in any election campaign that Obama lied his way through, whether with "You can keep your doctor" or "There is no scandal at the IRS" or ... well, you heard them all.

Is it not "division", when you ram through a hugely unpopular health-insurance law without even consulting with Republicans and using a parliamentary trick to pass when the 60th Senate vote was lost because a replacement Senate race was won by a candidate pledging not to vote for Obamacare?  What exactly was the olive branch you offered to those you divided yourself from after that?

"Resentment"?  Do you even have an example of what is different in this administration from yours?  Aren't you the one who sent your Attorney General to Ferguson, Missouri, to take the side of a convenience-store robber who tried to steal a police officer's weapon and got killed doing it?  And vilified the officer so badly that he had to quit the force?  And precipitated riots in the streets there?

Aren't you the guy who took the side, knee-jerk, of a professor in New England who was uncooperative with police?   You engendered resentment on the part of law enforcement officers across the country, but I guess its OK to be resented by people you think are "pigs" anyway.  And you know you do.

But actually, my problem with the speech is that "division and resentment" don't really apply to this president, let alone to where he would be the one accused of practicing them.  Donald Trump's approach to the economy -- which has worked, by the way -- is as ecumenical as could be, certainly by virtue of the fact that his tax policy and stripping of burdensome regulations have resulted in historic lows in the unemployment rate of black and Hispanic workers.  Imagine that.  A rising tide, after all, lifts all ships.

But it is not in the interest of Barack Obama and his ilk to see success on the part of minorities in the USA.  Rather, they need economic failure in minority communities so that they seek the solution of big, dominant, welfare-state government to take care of them, preferably on a generational basis, to produce the votes needed to keep them in power.

The nation saw through that, but it took two terms of Obama to realize that was what was going on.  Fortunately for the USA, with power comes entitlement, and the entitled Hillary Clinton bullied her way to a nomination for an office she couldn't possibly serve well in.  Someone who did her own "dividing", by insisting that her qualification for office rested upon her possession of a uterus.

Barack Obama could sure read a speech well (his extemporaneous stuff, well, that's a parade of stammering as his mind sifts through his platitude Rolodex).  But unfortunately now we actually can stop and listen to the words he reads, and we understand that it's all lecturing; all passion and no substance.  His failures in office will eventually be what unites us, ironically, behind an economically successful America that he had no hand in creating.  All he did was screw up so badly that we were willing to vote for Donald Trump to get us out of it.

Which he is doing.  If there is any "division", it is your legacy, not Trump's.  And I don't "resent" 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

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Pied Piper of Socialist Nonsense

We've all heard of the ancient tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the German story of the fellow who played a pipe to lure the rats out of the German village of the story's title.  As the tale goes, the mayor declined to pay the piper the agreed-upon sum for ridding the town of vermin, whereupon he returned later and played his pipe, luring all the children of the village away in revenge.
There are several variations of the actual story, but in each case it includes the notion of the children being entranced by the piper ("pied", of course, refers to his multicolored clothing) and going off to whatever fate awaited them.
We have our own pipers around, and have for centuries.  Whether for revenge or just power, or whatever, they have the mystical ability to get the young to follow them, regardless of the expected fate from doing so.  Advertisers, of course.  The people who got whole generations to think that only acts with a guitar and drums constitute "music."
And, apparently, our latest pied piper, the candidate herself, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Miss Ocasio, of course, is the candidate for the House of Representatives from some district in New York City, who remarkably won a primary victory against a long-time Democrat incumbent, possibly by persuading a whole district not to vote at all -- the voting percentage among the electorate there in the primary was barely perceptible (only 27,000 votes were cast, although some 700,000 people live there in a nearly-half Asian district).
She is an avowed socialist who ran with that label, possibly part of the reason that her incumbent opponent didn't even show up himself for one of the debates, figuring she was not worth it.
As we know now, though, although she has a degree in Economics and International Relations from Boston University, she fumbled through a series of interviews after her nomination on issues in the Middle East, clearly devaluing the institution from which she graduated and the department which actually found her degree-worthy.
But she does indeed have the script down, even though she appears not to have enough original thoughts to be able to answer simple questions for which "the script" doesn't have a section.  Ben Shapiro, the brilliant young conservative speaker, offered to give $10,000 to a charity of her choice for a debate, and she called him "sexist" and declined.  Go figure.
Having her script down, she is in a perfect position to lead children to the slaughter.  That was on view in a video where she is addressing a group of children outdoors and introduces herself:
I’m the Democratic nominee out here for Congress so I’m going to go to D.C., and we’re going to be fighting Trump. This is what we need to do: when you go back home, you talk to your mom, your dad, your aunt, grandma, sisters, anybody over the age of 18 that can vote — first you need to ask your parents to vote because if they don’t vote, then we can’t kick out Trump."
This is socialism in 2018.  This pied piper is out there trying to influence kids to get their parents to vote for her.  So she can help those children?  Um, no.  So she can promote policies on the economy, or foreign affairs, or the military, or immigration?  Um, no.  So she can "resist."
Socialists have no ideas left that work, so all they can do is chart a course straight for power, and in this case it means simply resisting the opposition, in this case as exemplified by President Trump.  Would it have killed her to take the opportunity in front of those eager young minds to explain what she is, you know, actually for?  I still don't know, because she is squarely in the bucket of identity politics and seems not to say anything other than the usual scripted nonsense.
Assuming she gets elected -- it's a safe Democrat district -- then Nancy Pelosi, as minority leader (we assume the Democrats don't have the stones to replace her) will have to assign her to committees.  Can you imagine the committee chairs all lined up in Pelosi's office begging that she not put Ocasio on their committees?  I can.  Who needs someone with no skills other than the ability to recite a script supposedly defending their positions?
The kids that Ocasio was telling to help her "get rid of Trump" will likely forget who she was in a few days; they're kids after all.  But eventually, her piping will start getting through, given that no one else is there to explain to them that there's no such thing as a free lunch, and "free college tuition" is not actually free, and that $15 minimum wage laws cost far more jobs than they help.
I can't recall what actually happened to the children of Hamelin.  But I can tell you what will happen to these children, eventually.  They will be encrusted into a welfare state in New York, as governed by leftists like Gov. Cuomo and communists like the mayor, Bill Di Blasio, and stuck there for life.
Ironically, the rats will also be there.

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, September 6, 2018

Really, Is THIS How Democrats Want to Be Known?

I have had the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on for a couple days, the hearings for the conformation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  I hope you have been watching, too, or maybe not.

If you have been on an island, or remove all exposure to the news, Judge Kavanaugh was nominated by President Trump to fill the spot of the now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.  This is a "big deal", of course, because Kennedy was what they liked to call a "swing vote" -- not reliably conservative or liberal, even though he was an appointee of a Republican president.

That is a crock, of course.  Every vote on the Court is a swing vote, and Kavanaugh should actually say that any time there is a reference to Justice Kennedy.  That is not a "role" on the Court; it is the outcome of the consequences of presidential elections.

Kavanaugh is a conservative judge, and would make a conservative justice.  That is, of course, a good thing, in that it would entail a solid conservative majority on the Court and a defense of the Constitution from, well, the other four of them, who vote in lockstep leftist mode, although no one seems willing to point that out.

The Democrats opposing Kavanaugh will lose that battle, of course.  The Republicans have a majority of the Senate, and beyond that there are at least a half-dozen Democrat senators up for reelection in two months, who are in states won in 2016 by President Trump.  If they don't vote to confirm Kavanaugh, it is extremely likely it could kill some of their chances at reelection, swinging the Senate even more Republican.

But apparently it is not enough for the Democrats to lose the confirmation battle.  They seem to want to look as bad as they possibly can in the process.  Why else would they have paid protestors to come inside the committee chambers and scream slogans and epithets at the top of their lungs until the officers in charge -- and they need a few dozen more of them -- drag the morons out of the chambers and haul them off to jail, we hope.  They get texts -- we can see it -- saying "OK, you're next to stand up and make a jerk of yourself."  Or something like that.

I do not understand the thinking.  They seem to feel that creating chaos in a civilized environment is how they are supposed to win the argument about Judge Kavanaugh's qualifications to be a SCOTUS justice.  They think that people out in the voting world will see them in a more favorable light by screaming and chanting and trying to disrupt the proceedings.

I realize that this is a major battle for the Democrats, because of the power -- and the lifetime tenure -- of the Court and its justices.  But elections, as good old Barack Obama said, do have consequences.  One of the things that candidate Trump said, often, is that an issue of the election was going to be who appointed justices -- maybe as many as 3-4 over his tenure -- and did we really want Hillary Clinton doing that?

It is not said enough, but when the last couple justices were nominated by that same Obama (prior to the ill-fated Merrick Garland), there was never an issue in the voting.  Plenty of Republicans accepted the fact that a president had a right to nominate qualified candidates of his own political leanings and judicial philosophy, and they voted for leftists like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who actually got away with her stupid "wise Latina" comment (I truly wish that Kavanaugh would have included, in his opening remarks, an opinion that a "wise Irishman" would make a great Justice).

Republicans are not the type to act like spoiled children in venues like Supreme Court hearings at a Senate committee.  It surely is not becoming for Democrats to do that, and it starkly points out their lack of regard for the process.

Brett Kavanaugh will become Justice Kavanaugh within a few weeks, but that won't be all we remember.

We will remember that the Democrats, void of ideas and now void of civility, not only tolerated grotesque incivility, but actually paid people to exhibit it.  No more stark example of their dearth of ideas can there be.  No more stark example of their disqualification to lead the nation is there, than the fact that not one Committee Democrat stood up to condemn the behavior of the protestors.

Not one of them gets it.  Red wave is a-comin'.

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