Schiff: Intel Committee to probe Hatboro bakers.

BREAKING NEWS: House Intel Committee Chair, Adam Schiff, announced an investigation into possible Russian agents, allegedly posing as confectioneers at Lechol’s Bakery in HATBORO, PA, for attempting to influence the American Election. The plot, uncovered by the American Bakers Association, allegedly involved the baking of 2020 Presidential Election cookies under the names BIDEN and TRUMP.

Schiff claimed that “anonymous baker people” told him that Eric Trump attempted to meet secretly with the Russian bakers this week. When Trump’s visit to Lechol’s Bakery was uncovered, witnesses allege Eric Trump acted as though he had simply stumbled upon the bakery and then threw rock-hard cookies at passers-by to distract attention.

Four people were injured in Eric Trump’s attack. Three had their feelings hurt, and one was struck in the eye by a ricocheting jimmie. Others on the scene accused Trump of abusing the working class by providing incredibly delicious cookies without a proper milky beverage.

First responders claimed it was the worst bakery attack they ever saw.

Schiff also claimed to have called Lechol’s Bakery during the baking process and heard Al Stewart’s “Road to Moscow” playing in the background. AOC called cooking baking “a selfish act of privilege contributing to the death of the planet”.

Nancy Pelosi called for impeachment proceedings to be authorized.

The electoral cookie count was allegedly manipulated by adding beet juice, borscht, and pumpkin spice to the Biden cookie mix. An attempt by this reporter to confront the Russian co-conspirators was ended by a well-aimed vatrushka.

No explanation was provided as to why anyone would have wanted a Biden cookie in the first place.

Eric Trump seconds before his heinous cookie attack.

Understanding Democrats on Taxes in an Election Year

Tax issues and positions are always used as rallying calls by both Liberals and Conservatives in the propaganda wars leading up to important elections. Taxes, the programs they would support, and who will make tax policy are usually central themes of both Democrat and Republican voter outreach.

I am no tax expert, not a financial analyst or consultant. But I know how much in taxes I pay … to Uncle Sam, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Horsham Township, and the City of Philadelphia (for the “pleasure” of using roughly a mile-and-a-half of city roads twice-a-day in The Good Old Days, when we could actually go into work).

To help those who may have difficulty grasping the reality of election year tax claims of Democrats, this post will discuss my personal viewpoints on …

  1. Raising taxes “only on the Wealthy“.
  2. President Trump‘s tax record

Raising Taxes “only on the Wealthy”

Democrats, led by presidential candidate Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, love to tell us how The Rich are not paying their fair share in taxes. They have no qualms claiming that taxing The Rich – and The Rich ONLY – will pay for their heavily-loaded Santa’s sleigh of social and environmental programs.

Here are the most expensive programs Democrats will tell you “taxing The Rich” would pay for:

  • Medicare For All
  • Free college education and the absolution of current college debt
  • Green New Deal

Now let’s look at the estimated costs for just those programs:

  • Medicare For All – $3.2 trillion per year (High estimate taken from the Bernie Sanders model)
  • Free college education – $75 billion per year add in one-time bill for $1.5 billion student-debt forgiveness
  • Green New Deal – $500 billion per year (A very conservative estimate, on which I place a very low level of confidence, used here just for argument simplicity.)

For those not keeping score, that’s a whopping $3.8 TRILLION dollars a year! Don’t forget that $1.5 billion in student loan forgiveness!

That’s a hefty tax bill. But The Rich will pay for it all, right?

Let’s see …

The Biden Plan calls for taxing The Rich only (i.e. those individuals and Corporations with revenues over $400,000 per year). The estimated additional revenue for such a change would be $3.67 billion per year.

That’s Billion with a B, not Trillion with a T! And I will add, the linked article supports the Biden-Harris claim that no one under the $400,000 annual salary/revenue will see increased taxes!

How is such a thing possible?

It’s not … quite obviously. Well, maybe if they are using Common Core mathematics.

Even if Democrats were to drastically cut the Department of Defense budget ($800 billion a year) and abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE … $7.6 billion per year), potential financing via US Budget cuts would NEVER get close to the annual $3.8 trillion Liberal Wish List Price Tag!

It doesn’t take a member of MENSA to figure out where the responsibility of the rest of the price tag falls. That is, YOU and ME!

The kicker? The inevitable increase in Taxes is only part of the nightmare!

Consider these points:

  • Corporations are responsible to Share Holders, and Share Holders like Profits! Where do you think Corporations are going to look to pay for their dramatically increasing tax burdens? Answer: Higher prices to Consumers (That is, YOU and ME!)
  • Remember that Democrats are huge proponents of raising the Minimum Wage across the Nation! Who gets to pay the costs of those increases to wages? Answer: Higher prices to Consumers (That is … Well, hopefully you get the message by now)
  • Democrats have also been strongly opposed to the Trump Tax Cuts, which widely fueled the pre-COVID economic resurgence. Certainly, add the loss of those tax cuts to your family’s budget.
  • Don’t think your State and Local taxes will be affected? If goods and services become more expensive to Mr. & Mrs. Consumer, they were certainly be more costly to our Governments! Who pays that? You know the answer!

Now my arguments may not be perfect. I may have missed a few items that might close the Cost-Revenue gap a bit; and I welcome any viewpoints that might provide a more accurate picture. I would be shocked if anyone can convince me that Democrats can sufficiently close that gap to the point where they can prove that the majority of The Non-Rich will not pay a lot in higher taxes if Democrats control all the levels of Government!

Prove me wrong!

President Trump does not pay his Taxes

No one likes paying more in taxes. Liberals will say they have no problem with paying higher taxes, but I would call bull shyte on such a claim. It goes against Human Nature!

Taxes are a part of Life. They pay for a lot of necessary and critical services. We all get that. But there is a fine line between reasonable tax burdens and economy-strangling tax debt. Just look at how the Trump Tax Reductions lit a fire under the pre-COVID U.S. Economy!

I doubt anyone looks at their annual tax returns and wonders, “Gee, how could I pay MORE to help the (federal, state, local) Government?” Yes, it goes against Human Nature!

I always look to lower my tax burden any way I can within The Rules provided.

In fact, I plan to submit a hefty Tax Rebate request to the good City of Philadelphia to reclaim the wage taxes I paid there while not actually working within the City (COVID-19 wise). The City in past years allowed such claims when Wage Tax Payers spend working hours outside the city (i.e. when traveling for work, normal pre-COVID work-from-home, conferences/training outside Philly, etc.

So, when Donald Trump looks to reduce his immense tax burdens, which he – and his corporations – will have already paid on levels and in amounts Working People could hardly imagine, is he really doing anything wrong?

Note that not a single report suggests The President broke any tax laws, which certainly would have been revealed well before he ran for president the first time. (BTW … This massive IRS breach of private, personal information will be found illegal, and should rightfully concern every U.S. Tax Payer!) Even the lengthy, pre-informed, pre-planned New York Times article specifically states no tax laws were broken.

So what’s all the hubbub about, bud?

OMG! A billionaire looked to avoid paying taxes?!? What is the World coming to?!? Get out the rail, tar, and feathers!!

Please …

This is all about the attempt by Democrats to force a wedge between a very smart business man/President and Working Families, who also do everything they can – year-after-year – to reduce their Tax bite …

Don’t be fooled.

Consider the following:

  • In 2005 alone Donald Trump paid $38 million in taxes. That’s just one year in the life of a man largely responsible for hundreds of millions in real estate and casino developments, as well as his activity in television!
  • In 1995, Trump declared a loss of almost $916 million, largely the result of disastrous business losses in the early ’90s.

Some will look at that report and claim it proves Trump was no business genius. But there is always immense risk involved when conducting businesses all over the world in the financial stratosphere in which DJT operated. Huge losses and bankruptcies are part of the landscape where not all factors are under the control of any business.

So where does this leave us? If you have a problem with Citizen Trump paying only $750 in income taxes, blame the Tax Code, created with the help of many a rich Democrat.

To what extent should any U.S Tax Payer willfully pay more in Taxes than legally required? Trick question, I hope!

When Democrats tell you “only the Wealthy will pay more in taxes”, are they being honest? When “the rich and corporations” pass along the costs of additional tax burdens to their customers, are you OK with paying what is essentially an indirect tax?

The math doesn’t lie when it comes The Cost of Liberal Wishes and Dreams. So who is really trying to fool whom?

The Shame in Where We’re Headed

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Shelby Foote

Today I finished the three volume Shelby Foote classic “The Civil War: A Narrative“, a years in the making goal developed from my mid-life interest in the American nation’s biggest challenge to defining its character and identity.  If one period can be recognized as the foundation for all the United States accomplished in the decades to follow, through two World Wars; a global depression; its period of international leadership following WWII; and the social upheavals still occurring to this day, it would be the sense of Nation that resulted through the challenges of The Civil War.

The reasons why the Civil War was necessary are readily apparent.  The men, who created the country from a collection of separate colonies and wrote our Constitution, were inherently human.  Which is to say, they were imperfect and eminently fallible.  Yes, they made mistakes … huge mistakes.  They made a terrible compromise in the name of creating a constitutional republic.

They allowed the possession of other human beings as property to hold the Southern states of the post-Revolution, pre-Constitution confederation.  And that was just their biggest mistake.  Early American politics were complicated, tenuous, and riddled with figurative minefields.  When examined through the lenses of history, humanity, and modern social consciousness, a lot of modern, current day Americans fail to grasp what the expression “grand experiment” means.

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It’s important to appreciate the extent to which these early American leaders knew they were imperfect and eminently fallible.  For that reason, they recognized that The People needed to be protected from the vagaries of Government, which in all practical matters is motivated and directed by imperfect and eminently fallible men.  The U.S. Constitution protected the States from the power and the potential for abuse from the National Government.

The Grand Experiment – as described by non-slave holder Alexander Hamilton (pre-Broadway version) – was hardly intended to be THE perfect solution to the many problems and challenges those early American leaders faced in creating a new nation.  The necessity of amending The Constitution almost immediately (i.e. two years after USC ratification) in 10 ways – The Bill of Rights – was proof that blind spots had existed when the US Constitution was written.  The Rights of the Individual – only the white male ones at the time – had to be protected as well from infringements by all levels of Government.

The Civil War was the inevitable solution for the most egregious shortcoming of those Founding Fathers.  Though not all were slaveholders, and an argument could be made that many who did opposed it as an acceptable practice, they were an insufficient number inadequately strong – in influence and political power – to exclude it.

All out war in the end was the only remedy.  And yet, slavery was not the ONLY reason the Civil War was fought.  It was however the BIGGEST reason and the impenetrable barrier to a peaceful solution to several issues!

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Foote’s “The Civil War: Epilogue” totaled the casualties of setting right the biggest mistake of The Founders:  640,000 Union, 450,000 Confederate casualties.  200,000 total killed in battle; 365,000 total dead for the Union; 256,000 dead Confederates when you include those who died from disease, unrelated crimes, drowning, suicide, etc.  That’s 620,000 military dead from all causes.  Add in another 470,000 wounded (total both sides) to almost reach 1.1 million total war-related casualties.  And that does not include civilian losses.

I would normally write a good bit more about the book in a blog, but my reading of the third and last volume coincided with the egregious death of George Floyd and the latest rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) to such events.  The Floyd death and calls for justice were traumatic enough and certainly understandable.

But then the movement morphed.

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It morphed first into violence and vandalism.  Then avowed anarchist usurped a theretofore justifiable outrage.  It became more about hatred for and retaliation against law enforcement officers; disdain for modern social constructs and government; and a desire to gut American society in favor of certain not-so-grand experiments that have NEVER proved successful in past attempts (e.g. socialism, anarchy, elimination of law enforcement, the overthrow of systems of justice).

As one who admires our history with all its faults, mistakes, and injustices, it’s maddening to see the destruction of monuments to it.  Yes, you can understand the desire of many who want to tear down statues to slave holders; their sympathizers; and their military protectors … as much as I might disagree.  Such reactions are an insult to the our history, warts and all.

If humans cannot achieve perfection, what they create can never be perfect.  Change will ultimately be necessary; and some of that change will be bloody, violent, destructive. How does one learn from history, and prevent the reoccurrence of destructive change, by removing all monuments and remembrances?  How does that help to prevent history’s repetitive inclinations?

Foote’s epilogue contains a quote that appears surprisingly pertinent to recent events. Anaximander, an ancient Greek philosopher, once stated:

“It is necessary that things should pass away into that from which they are born.  For things must pay one another the penalty and compensation for the injustice according to the ordinance of time.”

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U.S. Grant helped end the Confederacy threat

No stretch of consciousness should dismiss such a concept.  At some point all our acts will be subject to human judgment through the prism of time and the evolution of Man’s thinking as expressed through social mores and their behavioral expression.  Certainly slavery would fit that suggestion.  Judgment of it as one of the bleakest points in the American Experiment is undisputed.  Those that fought to preserve it as tradition, economic essential, or evolutionary dictate paid the physical price 160 years ago.  But we cannot ignore that the emotional scars and even some social behaviors (i.e. racism) remain to this day.

So I can see why removing Confederate statuary would be a comfort to some … or even a political/social imperative.  But there should be a process resulting from consensus and protected by local government for their removal, relocation, or destruction, providing no lesson for history continues to exist.

“… Providing no lesson for history continues to exist” is the crucial thought.  Can we honestly say American society is beyond its racist past?  Are there not still lessons to be learned about what transpired 160 years ago?  How would current and future generations learn from invisible legacy, if all reminders are swept from view?

There’s a difference in suggesting the statue of Bedford Forest, who was a prominent member of the Ku Klux Klan, should be removed for its obvious racist symbolism; but quite another to suggest the statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, or James Longstreet offer nothing of value in the way of historical or military lessons.  What do we learn from the past, if we erase all physical evidence of its existence?

In this the anarchist, anti-American factions betrayed themselves.  They went far beyond righting the wrongs of racial suppression.  When you cannot tell the difference – or more accurately don’t care – between Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant or Abraham Lincoln, you allow us to glimpse the true purpose of your “protest”.

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Freedman’s Memorial:  On Lincoln’s first visit to Richmond after its fall in the Civil War, he told former slaves, who bent knees to pay homage to him, to stand up; to kneel before no man; and to kneel only before God.  It was paid for entirely by former slaves!

It’s easier to understand the visceral reaction of the black community to the death of Floyd.  But in essence that movement was usurped by those with broader motivations as we have seen before.  There is no interest there in making America a better example to the world at large.  They simply want America to die with no regard for all the good the country has accomplished since 1776.

This happens not because they cannot grasp the inherent fallibility of 18th century man or credit the foresight they displayed by even attempting such a Grand Experiment!  They simply hate the fact that the system created 230 years ago requires they appeal to The People to make a difference.  Not just some people, but all The People.  They hate that they have to work hard to convince us that their insight is superior, let alone whether such insight offers a better world.

They don’t want to work for it.  They want to convince you to destroy it.  They want to be able to convince you without offering even the remotest idea of what those changes would look like.

For those reasons alone, you know their ideas are bankrupt!

 

 

 

 

My Corona … Day 55: Enough already!

Question:  If we – The American Public – reach consensus in acknowledging that Corporate America is a). “In this together …” with us; b). Are doing everything they can to recognize our “Heroes on the Home Front“; and c) Are willing to do “whatever is necessary” to serve our needs during the COVID-19 crisis, can we dispense with the endless commercials “celebrating” our “shared experiences” in being incredibly annoyed and monumentally bored?!? 

Please!?!

At this point, what Corona America needs right now is relief from the endless Corporate Corona Imaging efforts!

Coronavirus_illustration

On-line image searches suggest the COVID-19 virus comes in an assortment of color patterns. Personally, I like this one best!

So how do I really feel about the COVID-19 crisis?

Like a lot of us, I am pretty fed up with the restrictions, the draconian measures and – as you can tell from the above – flat out getting annoyed with the perpetual message that “Golly gee … Ain’t this a wonderful Community-building opportunity?!?”

As for the crisis itself, I do not presume to know more than scientists and medical experts.  However, based on 64 years experience on this planet, I can offer several rational checks on the emotional responses and the measures taken to protect us Everyone.

My biggest issue here is the premise that ALL people need protecting.  That could be either a pragmatic, experience-based point-of-view or a cynical, sick-of-this-crap response. You decide.

The following might help …

  • Never in my life has anything even remotely similar occurred, where everyday normal life functions have been curtailed by quarantining the entire populace.
  • Swine flu, avian flu, H1N1, Asian flu (Was not considered “racist” at the time.), Hong Kong flu (ditto) never resulted in responses this restrictive and severe.
  • Is it really statistically possible that there has not been a similarly threatening flu or virus flying around the globe since the 1918 Spanish flu. (Something I really have a very difficult time accepting!)
  • People die of flu-type and viral illnesses every year.
  • In general, it’s the same people, who are most likely to die, regardless of the viral type or its virility.  The elderly, the very young, those with preexisting illnesses are always the most susceptible.
  • There are no proven effective measures at stopping a potent flu or virus from spreading, not locally, nationally, or globally.

Now here’s where my particular brand of cynical pragmatism might get me in trouble with some people.

My salute to dairy farmers on the front line.

Exactly what has been gained by shutting down society; crippling economies; and threatening the very subsistence (e.g. meat packaging) of our healthy population? We still have thousands of the elderly dying from COVID-19, despite the measures taken to protect them. In some cases, the very decisions made by government authorities under the powers bestowed upon them under COVID-19 protocols killed more of the institution-bound elderly!

From the perspective of societal evolution, it’s is always the old, the infirm, the weak, and the very young who are most likely to succumb to such health threats. Does that change in any way by forcing everyone into isolation?

And what of the biology of the healthy? We know that the human immune system works to evolve by creating antibodies when new biological threats present themselves. How is this being affected through attempts to keep everyone from being exposed? How does such an approach help should – as some predict – this virus recycles itself as it circles the globe?

Sweden has taken a very different approach to the corona virus, where the social, economic, and vulnerability issues appear more balanced, based on risk assessments and folkvett, a cultural concept that roughly translates to “good manners”, that – colloquially – can be expressed as “act like an ******* adult”. And although some express caution or even open derision at Sweden’s strategy, their objections are largely based on the lack of sufficient statistical data to support the strategy and emotional responses to the threat to vulnerable populations.

Meanwhile, in Sweden …

In my humble opinion, if you take Emotion out of the risk assessment equation, the Swedish example sounds like a much more pragmatic approach. And let’s recall how often Sweden is elevated as a shining example of sound socialist healthcare management! If such is the case, why do efforts to behave closer to the Swedish model meet so much resistance, particularly in our more liberal states?

Risk, fear and emotion will be the biggest obstacles as we emerge from quarantine. My biggest fear – given how risk-adverse politicians are – is the potential for monumentally slow and tentative decisions on how best to get back to normal (whatever “normal” will look like). Many politicians – in their interests to remain employed as public servants benefactors – may very well approach every COVID-19 decision as a three-sided puzzle (please everyone, risk nothing, minimize emotional responses).

 

img_0320Under such circumstances, a productive and fair balancing act is not impossible. Attempting to avoid any and all losses, which are inevitable, will retard the recovery and accomplish nothing more than prolonging the pain for those for whom normal life means survival (hands-on, in-person workers; small businesses; retail, bar and food employees; personal service providers; etc.)

An interesting example of sensationalizing COVID-19 statistics popped up this morning on Lehigh Valley Live.  The article highlighting a new model forecasting “PA coronavirus deaths to TRIPLE …“!

What the authors neglected to leave out is Perspective, in favor of attempts at triggering Emotion and Fear.  As in … If – as this model suggests – Pennsylvania deaths were to increase to 8600, the overall death-per-capita in Pennsylvania (pop. 12.7 million) would be 0.068%.

Those whose health is compromised or threatened we must continue to protect, but frankly, that should have been the primary focus all along, not necessarily a total societal shutdown. It’s always the duty of the healthy to be mindful of the vulnerable with whom they will have contact (family members, friends, coworkers, etc.). COVID-19 did not change what is – should be – a modicum of human decency.

Put another way, we should prudently reopen the country, especially in less dense population areas (e.g. suburban communities) and demand that people act like adults! Now THAT would be an effective use endless Corporate Corona messaging!

And if this proves too difficult a concept for some to grasp, then maybe Society will benefit from their absence on the evolutionary ladder!

Why is recognizing and fixing Voter Fraud considered a political issue at all?

Report from Chicago

We are trapped in a “Twilight Zone” of deliberate ineptitude when we are prevented from resolving very fixable problems for reasons having nothing to do with protecting the sanctity and our confidence in reliable institutions such as voting!

‘Facts matter’: FEC chairwoman challenges Trump’s voter fraud claims
— Read on www.politico.com/amp/story/2019/08/19/fec-chairwoman-challenges-trump-voter-fraud-claims-1467224

Voter fraud does not need to be “rampant” to be a problem requiring correction. We don’t allow occasional financial fraud or identity theft to go unpunished or uncorrected, especially if there are systemic flaws. What’s the difference here?

Does anyone truly believe an example such as the proven and recent occurrence of Dead People voting in Philadelphia cannot or should not be addressed in a systemic way that would make such instances much less – even if not entirely – likely to happen in the future?

Prove to me that such reluctance is not simply an overreaction to Political Objectives callously anchored in false racial sensibilities!

Campaign 2020 Prep

In a moment of rare disappointment, I just tossed a work of fiction in the trash as I found myself rolling my eyes at the hero’s exploits way too often. And no, the book is not worth sharing …

Instead, I will take this time to begin prepping for the upcoming 2020 Democrat Primary campaign season with a historical look into the ancestry of one Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator …

Next in line:

Kamala Harris

… followed by Cory Booker

Free Speech, the NFL, … and what about Security Clearances

To be honest, my nose was never out-of-joint over the protests by NFL players during img_0042-1the  National Anthem.  But in the interest of honesty, I will admit I have been a fan of the NFL (Fly, Eagles fly!) since the 1960s.

It’s not that I agree or enjoy watching million-dollar athletes taking a knee or raising a fist in protest of a Country that enables their lucrative careers. There are quite simply expressions that madden me much, much more, such as the burning of U.S. flags.  However, I do reserve a special level of rage for the sickly Westboro Baptist clowns, who are fond of expressing their Rights in the most insensitive ways at the most inappropriate times.

Maybe I prefer reserving my wrath for the greatest threats to Free Speech. The rage and discomfort we endure is the price one must pay for belief in our Constitution and for faith in the world’s most successful free and open republic.

Amendment I, United States Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Free Speech requires an appreciation for Advanced Citizenship in the U.S. of A.  The more centered and focused you remain on the guiding principle of Free Speech, the more likely you will recognize that such citizenship sometimes requires herculean self-control when someone expresses thoughts and ideas in ways that infuriate.

It’s a concept a lot of people have a difficult time accepting, whether the issue involves a student opting to sit for the Pledge of Allegiance or a couple of knuckleheads burning an American flag.  And sometimes – maybe at when it’s needed most – a remarkable moment unfolds in a way that’s unexpected and ultimately memorable!

And yes, when Rick Monday swooped to the rescue of the national standard, he too was expressing his Right to Free Speech as well!  He spoke with his actions.

Advanced Citizenship – a level of patriotism fewer Americans seem to achieve of late – demands the ability to grit our teeth and chalk your outrage up to a higher national calling. Not that such a thing makes the demonstration any easier to accept. Consider these challenges a test … an opportunity to exercise your appreciation for the ability of those with whom you disagree to exercise their Free Speech, not matter how infuriating.

And no … the excuse that “They do it!” is insufficient.  Let their actions define their character and Patriotism. Don’t let your reactions negatively define yours.

Keep in mind, it’s the lesser of us who choose to shout down or violently suppress Free Speech. It’s a tactic favored by those who would rather tell us what to think or how to vote at the point of whatever weapon might be handy. White supremacists and elements of the Far Left, such as Antifa, have much in common in that regard.

In the case of the National Football League, their recent misguided attempts to rein in the pre-game protests in the face of withering public opinion (more free speech about Free Speech) actually exacerbated the problem. My opinion is that the Players would likely have allowed the protests to die had they not been confronted in such a direct and public way.

But even as I encourage a daunting level of civic sainthood, I cannot give those Westboro Baptist idiots a sliver of accommodation. They are vile, mean-spirited, and unworthy – in my estimation – of even being called Americans.

Yes, if nothing else, I am a flawed American. But I can live with that …

There are nuanced limitations to this Freedom of Speech thing.

  1. You cannot scream “Fire!” in the proverbial crowded theatre.
  2. You cannot express thoughts or opinions under the name of your employer, especially if they serve to somehow conflict with business or embarrass them among consumers of their products.
  3. You cannot defame an individual or organization with false statements. A student’s free speech rights are limited somewhat while in school.
  4. You cannot openly exhort people to violence.
  5. At events deemed to be National Special Security Events (e.g. political conventions, inaugurations, Super Bowl), your Speech can be restricted to specified protest zones.

John Brennan

former CIA Director John O. Brennan

The recent hullabaloo over the National Security clearance of John Brennan, former head of the CIA, appears to fall into several of the above exceptions. Brennan’s security clearance was revoked by the Trump Administration, likely at the direction of President Trump, for – among other things – making wild, unsupported accusations of Treason on the part of The President.

My rationale for accepting the Trump Administration’s action against Brennan comes from the following:

  1. Although precedent has set the standard that former National Security officials keep their clearances in order to assist succeeding officials in consultation during sensitive events, the same precedent forms a link (in my mind anyway) between the former officials and the current Administration. In some ways, the relationship mimics the employee-employer relationship ,,, in a quasi kind of way. If the former official becomes an embarrassment to the Government, the Government should exercise their authority to withdraw the privilege of access to sensitive information.
  2. Brennan was spouting a lot of unsubstantiated viewpoints that in essence defamed the Government and The President. It would be impossible for anyone to successfully argue that Brennan – or anyone else – deserves to retain such access as they openly and continuously cause embarrassment and suggest treason unencumbered by any attempt to factually document the accusation.
  3. Yes, rescinding such access is a bit retaliatory in that it can affect Brennan’s ability to benefit monetarily. Yet that very sentiment underscores in a way that quasi-employer-employee exception to Free Speech. Ask yourself if any Administration (the quasi-employer) should allow a pointed and factually unreliable critic the ability to earn money using the very information managed, controlled, and heavily relied upon by the current Government? Seems like a slam dunk …
  4. Removing his security clearance does nothing to restrict Brennan’s Free Speech. He can still appear in forums, on cable TV, in print media. Brennan can say anything he wants, subject to the restrictions the rest of us are expected to observe. He might not make as much money doing it as he did before (in theory), but nothing about removing his clearance affects his ability to express his views.

And there you have the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of a beautiful Freedom instilled upon a Free People to ensure their freedom prospers and perhaps spreads to freedom lovers the World over!

The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

In 1966 I was 10 years-old; and as 10 year-olds are wont to do I was infatuated with sophomoric behavior and attracted to silly comedy on TV and The Big Screen.  In May of that year a comedy hit the silver screen, starring Alan ArkinCarl Reiner, Brian Keith, and Jonathan Winters.

Editors-Pick-The-Russians-are_-Coming-The-Russians-are-Coming

The movie was called “The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” in an oblique reference to the Ride of Paul Revere when the British were on their way to Lexington and Concord.  The synopsis of the movie on IMDb reads as follows:

Without hostile intent, a Soviet sub runs aground off New England. Men are sent for a boat, but many villagers go into a tizzy, risking bloodshed.

Apparently, little has changed when it comes to the reaction of “the villagers” whenever we spot someone from Mother Russia!

OK … It’s really the Media that’s largely having apoplectic seizures over Russians, Russians, Russians.

As we slog through yet another so-called Trump “scandal”, I am having much difficulty in understanding where all the hubbub is about.  So allow me to summarize what I know with the hope that someone can make better sense of this confusion than I am able.

  1. lead_960Donald Trump, Jr. is approached by a long-time friend of his father’s, who happens to be connected to the Russian entertainment industry, requesting a meeting on behalf of a Russian lawyer with dirt to share on opposition candidate, Hillary Clinton.
  2. Said points-of-contact could very well have “connections to the Russian Government” – though that’s certainly up for interpretation – in the same way that many in the Legal and Entertainment industries in the U.S. of A would know and interact with US Government officials in the course of professional duties.
  3. A meeting is arranged, and it quickly becomes apparent that the source really has nothing of value related to Clinton and the meeting devolves into a discussion of Russian adoption programs, discontinued by the Russian government in response to sanctions imposed by the U.S Congress in the Magnitsky Act, which seized assets and denied visas to Russians suspected of corruption and human rights abuses.
  4. The meeting lasts all of 20 minutes; does not result in any valuable information on anything; and no future contact between the principles occurred afterwards.

Now that appears to me to be a rather thin basis for all the clamoring about collusion and treason.  I will attribute my inability at being shocked to my pragmatic way of looking at all things.

lead_960-1If one looks at collusion as something akin to a contract, you would need to see some form of consideration or value passing between the principles.  So what was that thing of value?  Even if one can argue that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskay had acknowledged connections to the Russian Government (She denies it.), what was the benefit to them?  Much was made today about the man who accompanied Veselnitskay to the meeting … until it was noted that he was actually an American citizen!

Or let’s look at the definition of Treason, which requires the witnessing of overt acts against the Country or in aiding and abetting the Enemy.  So what exactly was the overt act that accomplished either of those circumstances.  Some argue that Russian operatives may have been dangling the Clinton information to draw out one of the Trumps.  Maybe they did.  But simply looking at the dangle, but not taking the bait in full is nothing to get the villagers running around like beheaded chickens.

Now indulge me as I surmise what might have been the reaction in the Hillary Clinton camp had the same “dangle” been made to them for dirt on Donald Trump, Sr..

  1. Clinton Gives Speech On American Global Leadership At Washington Conference

    John Podesta with Hillary Clinton

    John Podesta is approached by a long-time friend of Bill Clinton’s, who happens to be connected to the Russian entertainment industry, requesting a meeting on behalf of a Russian lawyer with dirt to share on opposition candidate, Donald Trump.

  2.  A meeting is arranged, and it quickly becomes apparent that the source really has nothing of value related to Trump and the meeting devolves into a discussion of Russian adoption programs, discontinued by the Russian government …. etc., etc.
  3. No damaging opposition research results, yet The Clinton Foundation obtains a $2.35 million donation; the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, takes over a Canadian uranium mining firm; and Hillary’s husband, Bill is paid $500,000 to give a speech – on Russian adoptions perhaps – to the Russian investment bank with links to the Russian Government that is promoting stock in the aforementioned Canadian firm.

Now THAT would be an excellent example of Consideration passing from one party to the other!  If it ever actually happened …

But it did!  Every single overt act described above happened in a common thread … Russian interests to corner uranium mining and the Clintons’ interests in building up their political war chest!

hillary-stateHillary Clinton was Secretary of State when that happened, serving in an official capacity at the highest level of U.S. Government, supposedly representing the interests of Americans and National Security.  No way does a Canadian uranium mining firm wind its way into a Russian Government asset portfolio without the tacit approval of the U.S. Government!

You really have to admire the Clintons.  They only do they know how to collude; they have the Treason thing down cold too!

Donald Trump, Jr. and company are guilty of being naive, even stupid … but not criminal.

As political neophytes, the Trumps could learn a lot of bad habits from the Clintons.

Horsham (PA), It’s Primary Tuesday in Pennsylvania!

Tomorrow, May 16 (2017) is Primary Tuesday in Pennsylvania.

No …. The Choices are neither sexy or controversial.  There were no debates, no surrogates flooding the cable wires, and – thankfully – no commercials or robo-calls.

I doubt even the Russians are interested …

But you should be!

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Tip O’Neill

The following excerpts (with one edit) from an important township election in 2013 rings true in every election. One of my favorite quotes comes from Tip O’Neill, “All politics are local.”

Local elections have a greater direct effect on you, the Taxpayer; the community in which you live; and the schools your children attend.

No other election will affect your quality-of-life more directly than local government offices that control spending, your schools, property, income and township taxes, not to mention the potential for your township’s Economic Future.

No other elections will affect you more directly or intimately.  From the state of your schools, neighborhoods, finances, emergency services, local public works … Most things you touch on a daily basis in the course of normal life are managed by the people your friends, neighbors, and supermarket/soccer/PTA semi-strangers will elect FOR YOU, if you decide a local election is not “important enough”.

There are important School Board and Judge selections to make tomorrow.

Make the effort and cast your ballot!

The First Amendment: A Double-Edged Sword

american-flag-1It’s been awhile since last we spoke.  Personally, I have been having a hard time finding subjects on which I feel strongly enough to write.  My writer’s block has however been finally been broken by a flood of Facebook posts deriding the recent trend of National Football League (NFL) players refusing to stand; kneeling through; or raising black fists in protest of varying social conditions during The National Anthem.

The Facebook pleas encourage me to stop watching the NFL; to boycott league-sponsored merchandise and broadcast sponsors; and demand corrective action, even laws to punish the offenders.

Now most people, who know me, will expect me to come down hard and fast on the side of showing our National Emblem the deference and respect we believe it deserves without fail … ever.  And certainly I believe that …

What nags at me however is the thought that Respect for national symbolism – be it The Anthem or The Flag – trumps the Rights of the First Amendment, particularly that of Free Speech.  While I do not appreciate disrespectful displays or treatments of The Flag, what I choose to cherish most are the Freedoms that allow such behaviors as an expression of perceived failures or injustices.

Unfortunately for our various sensibilities, Respect for the First Amendment requires a higher level of tolerance for the ways in which our Freedoms are expressed.  Accommodating the freedom to express oneself requires an Advanced Degree in American Citizenship, particularly when its display encroaches on the symbols, institutions, and rituals for which we wear our Hearts on our sleeves.

This is not easy.  But then again, it was never intended to be easy.

Certainly we can express our scorn and anger at what we interpret to be unconscionable violations of national heritage and symbolism.  That freedom to express one’s disdain is covered in the same protections that allow the type of demonstrations that annoy the bejesus out of us.

We can publicly judge those who burn The Flag or choose not to stand for The National Anthem is the best – or only way – they can express their own anger and frustration.  But punishment and retribution?!?

No, those reactions are the purview of authoritarians, dictators, and oppressors who look to preserve their own peculiar claim to rule by denying Voice to the People!  This is not what Americans do.  It is not how we roll!

No matter how maddening the behavior …

Allow me please to reiterate, since I am sure some will take this message as endorsement of the practices.  I do NOT agree with flagrant displays of disrespect for my Country, its cherished symbols, or the Principles for which it stands.  What I do recognize is that there are degrees of disrespect I can live with, in the knowledge that our Founding Fathers no doubt intended for The Bill of Rights to be a challenge to both the Government and its citizens!

And I have had my moments in celebrating the actions inherent in those who Advanced Degrees in Citizenship spurred them to action!

I applauded – wildly, I might add – the Chicago Cubs’ Rick Monday, when on April 25, 1976 he ran from his outfield position to arrest the flag-burning attempts of two supposed war protesters.

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Those of us who would appreciate Mondays’ quick actions should also recognize that demonstrations of national disrespect sometimes accomplish nothing more than to illustrate a protestor’s failure of perspective, particularly when they simply draw negative attention to the person or position they claim to support by physically mistreating or burning The Flag.  In my opinion, your cause, your candidate – even the people who support them – will suffer in our view.  When they fail to recognize or value the Sacrifices made by others, whose sacrifice allows them to express themselves so freely, they cheapen whatever message they are pushing.

There’s the rub really that protesters of this sort fail to appreciate.  You might attract limited, short-lived attention for your cause or position ; but that transient recognition will fade faster than the headshakes and mental “F— you!”s tossed your way by those drawn serendipitously into your protest.  For those whom your message is intended, you run the greater risk of alienating them rather than changing minds or opening a discussion.

The story is quite different when it comes to the quiet, almost reverential protests we have witnessed recently at football games … at least in my opinion.  These passive demonstrations, inspired by a back-up quarterback no less, where sitting or taking a knee as the National Anthem is played or the slightly more active stance of raised black fists is – if nothing else – much easier to manage emotionally.

We may not like such displays.  But we should also wonder why they are considered necessary by those protesting.

I may not understand the need to turn one’s back to The Anthem or to embellish one’s seemingly reluctant participation with a raised fist.  But many people do understand the need to take such action.  If they did not, we would not be having these conversations today.

And that’s really what that pesky, sometimes irritating Freedom of Speech is intended to do … Give voice to those who feel isolated or left behind, whether or not we can appreciate their position!

So no … Do not ask me to boycott the NFL or Pepsi or Hyundai or Papa John’s pizza simply because your sensibilities were offended by a kneel or a clenched fist at an inappropriate time.  Because I have news for you …

The emotions you feel, the reactions you have to such displays are exactly what the Founding Fathers were likely hoping might occur when one group or another feels the need to draw attention to their perceived plight in any way that stirs our emotions.  The Stars and Stripes is a collection of fabric to which we attach a great deal of pride and symbolism; but it’s the Fabric of our Nation, expressed in the Freedoms passed down to us, that makes all things possible.

I leave you with this