Whether or not the national economy performs well this year, I believe my Washington state is in for some rough times. This is true for one big reason: Boeing’s 737 MAX problem.
The aerospace giant currently boasts of being “the largest private employer in the state” with somewhere between 70,000 and 80,0000 jobs for Evergreen State residents. And that’s not all of it. There are tens of thousands of additional jobs attached to firms that do work for Boeing. The total easily comes to 100,000 jobs in state that depend on Boeing bucks.
That’s about 2.7 percent of those people currently employed in Washington, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but it has a greater economic impact than that. Boeing and Boeing-supporting jobs in this state pay very well.
According to the recruiting site GlassDoor, Boeing’s Washington interns make $25 an hour and it scales up rapidly from there. Some examples: Boeing financial analysts make $66,000+ a year; procurement agents start at $55,000+ and shift up to $77,000+; design engineers make $90,000+; software engineers make $109,000+; engineering managers pull down $148,000+.
Everywhere except for King County, these are jobs that punch well above the local average. Losing thousands or tens of thousands of these jobs would really hurt. And we may be in for something like that soon.
The short-term problem is that Boeing is bleeding cash and has no quick way to fix the problem. Two of its new 737 MAX planes, flown by Ethiopian and Indonesian airlines, crashed within 5 months in 2018 and 2019. All 346 people onboard died. The two crashes led to the whole fleet of MAXes, which are manufactured in Renton, Washington, being grounded in March of last year.
No airline could or would accept delivery of new MAXes while the aircraft wasn’t cleared to fly. The company continued construction of new MAXes anyway. Management bet that with a significant “software fix,” the Federal Aviation Administration would clear them to take off again.
The regulatory delay cost the company over $9 billion through October. That same month, the company board appeared to slap Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg on the wrist by stripping him of his board chairman title even as he remained CEO.
New chairman David Calhoun issued a statement explaining, “The board has full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the board playing an active oversight role.” But activist Ralph Nader of all people, whose grandniece died on one of those flights, proved prescient. “It’s the first crack,” he predicted on CNBC.
December brought news that the FAA won’t clear the 737 MAXes to fly just yet. That was the final crack for Muilenburg as the company took the unexpected step of firing him and replacing him with board chairman Calhoun.
New CEO Calhoun now has a heck of a mess to clean up. His company is losing billions as the MAXes stay grounded. It is under investigation by the Department of Justice and was recently embarrassed in congressional hearings.
Worse, Boeing uses a specific kind of accounting called “program accounting.” This allows it to spread out the huge costs of development of a type of plane over the number of planes that it expects to sell. Think of it like spreading out a stick of butter (the costs) over all the slices of a loaf of bread.
Under program accounting, the cheerier the picture for a plane, the cheaper the development costs appear. But if the MAX crisis seriously cuts short the selling cycle of a plane, as seems likely, the accountants can’t keep pushing those costs forward forever.
Under Muilenburg last year, Boeing was practically on autopilot. It expected to weather the storm and be cleared for takeoff again by the FAA. It avoided layoffs, kept building, and didn’t even cancel the dividend to stock holders to keep cash in the hangar doors.
Under Calhoun, this is changing, and unfortunately much of that change will land on Washingtonians. The company has said it will halt production of 737 MAXes this month. When Boeing announced this, during the final days of the previous CEO’s tenure, it said this would not lead to layoffs immediately. Instead employees would “continue 737-related work, or be temporarily assigned to other teams.”
It was a hopeful announcement. May it be so, says this Washingtonian. Yet we ought to face facts as well. Boeing contractors are already shedding jobs like crazy. Wichita, Kansas-based contractors Shenker Inc. and Spirit Aeorsystems are laying off 255 employees and 2,800 employees, respectively.
In Auburn, Washington, the non-profit contractor Skills Inc. had to let a good number of its employees go. A majority of those employed by the company have a disability, and thus will have a hard time finding work elsewhere. One worker toldBusiness Insider, “I simply hope to hear from my Skills supervisor before my savings and food run out.”
Unless the FAA quickly changes its tune and quickly, there will be many more painful layoffs ahead.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said at the 47th annual March for Life today that Nancy Pelosi “really should come to the march next year.”
Lee was riding a Lime scooter after leaving the rally when he was approached by several reporters, one of whom was carrying a life-size cutout of Pelosi. The reporter asked Lee if he had any words for Pelosi.
Lee replied that he was going to vote “no” on the articles of impeachment and added that Pelosi should attend the annual pro-life demonstration next January.
At the rally kicking off the march, President Donald Trump commended Lee for his pro-life stances. Trump was the first sitting president to attend the March for Life, a widely attended protest against the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion across the United States.
He released a video statement before the march, saying, “Let’s march today with joy in our hearts … for lives that will be saved and lives that will be found as people embrace life.”
Today, thousands of Americans are marching across Washington, across Utah, and across the country for the most important cause there is: the right to life. I stand with you, and encourage you to keep up this good fight. #MarchForLifepic.twitter.com/iM0WPy76h8
“We have a big exclusive for you. Email exchanges we got our hands on from State Department officials that could drastically alter the course of President Trump’s impeachment.”
Laura Ingraham had a scoop for sure on Wednesday night’s The Ingraham Angle. Her revelation tied in the Obama–Biden State Department, Ukraine, Hunter Biden, Burisma — and, yes, wait for it — the whistleblower.
She followed up on Thursday with more details in Part 2 of her investigation. “Judging by the reaction,” she said on Thursday, “we have touched a nerve.” I’ll say.
What Laura had gotten her hands on were a series of State Department emails from last year that centered around a request to State from New York Times reporter Ken Vogel. It was Vogel, who, while at Politico, had his own scoop, headlined:
Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire
That was in 2016, and it pulled back the curtain on the Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 American presidential election by reporting this:
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.
Last year, on May 1, 2019, Vogel, now at the Times, was inquiring of the State Department bureaucrats about a 2016 Obama-era meeting with Ukrainian diplomats and prosecutors. The kicker: In the request, Vogel mentions the name of the alleged whistleblower. (Note: the name was redacted on Fox. It is not redacted here as identified by RealClearInvestigations reporter Paul Sperry.) Vogel says,
We are going to report that (State Department official) Elizabeth Zentos attended a meeting at the White House on 1/19/2016 with Ukrainian prosecutors and embassy officials as well as (redacted) from the NSC… the subjects discussed included efforts within the United States government to support prosecutions, in Ukraine and the United Kingdom, of Burisma holdings… and concerns that Hunter Biden’s position with the company could complicate such efforts.
The email was forwarded, Laura noted, to senior State Department colleagues, including George Kent, the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State. Kent, recall, was one of the House Democrats star witnesses in the House impeachment hearings.
Mysteriously, on May 3, the email chain ends when the department declined to comment.
On their own, The Ingraham Angle went to the archives of the Obama White House visitor logs and — lo and behold — discovered proof that in fact the person who is believed to be the alleged whistleblower checked in a group of Ukrainian officials to the Obama White House in January 2016. This being the very same day that Vogel said there was a meeting in the White House “with Ukrainian prosecutors and embassy officials” to discuss Hunter Biden and Burisma.
Also at the meeting was the “lead anti-corruption prosecutor” of Ukraine and “the head of the country’s anti-corruption bureau.” Both of whom, Laura pointed out, were there to discuss the “complications” of the Biden dealings.
Now. Full stop.
Laura asks what happened to this story. Answer: it was never published. An inquiry to reporter Vogel from The Ingraham Angle went unanswered. The Times had a PR bureaucrat respond — without answering Laura’s question.
Laura went on to point out a very obvious something. Joe Biden announced he was running for president on April 25, 2019. The now-revealed emails to the State Department from Vogel were sent the very next week.
All of this goes now directly to the impeachment campaign against President Trump.
Recall that this impeachment was launched by the whistleblower — who was saying that President Trump had leveraged his office to investigate an opponent — Joe Biden. Laura said,
“Why wasn’t the whistleblower concerned about Joe Biden overseeing Ukraine policy while his son was cashing in?”
“Why didn’t this story ever run [in the New York Times]? Did Biden’s team manage to [squash] it, fearing the blowback from his son Hunter’s dirty dealings, maybe?”
Laura ended by saying something that is glaringly obvious.
Impeachment leaders Schumer and Schiff are fighting calling Hunter and Joe Biden as witnesses because it will reveal that when all this Hunter–Joe–Burisma business was going on in the Obama administration — the Obama White House, the whistleblower included, did zip, zero, nada about it. And neither did Schumer or Schiff.
Laura said this:
We need more documentation on this. We want all the emails, all the text messages. We want to see exactly what was happening inside that State Department last year, and then in the White House in January 2016 when these meetings were taking place and when the effort to respond to this New York Times reporter was playing out.
By Thursday night, in Part 2 of her report, Laura reported the details of one of the attendees in that secret 2016 Obama White House meeting with Ukrainian prosecutors.
The topic was the Biden family and Burisma. And the article The New York Times was going to write on the subject was… huh… curiously never published.
Judging by the reaction we got we touched a nerve.
Indeed Laura Ingraham and The Ingraham Angle had touched a nerve. She went on to describe how Democrats must now “bow down to un-elected bureaucrats.” Having had my fair share of time amongst Washington bureaucrats this was exactly right.
Her point? Instead of challenging Trump on ideas, the whole point of “The Resistance” was to summarily and undemocratically remove him from office.
“That’s what it all comes down to” she said correctly, asking the obvious question of whether the American people even have a say in constructing American policy. Are American bureaucrats on the seventh floor of the State Department running American foreign policy — or are the American people?
As she pointed out? “None of them were elected. President Trump was.”
So. Where is the media on this Laura Ingraham scoop? Where is the Times itself? The Washington Post? CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC?
Answer: Nowhere. They are silent as church mice. To follow the bread crumbs in this story would blow the roof off the Trump impeachment witch hunt — and reveal — yet again — the blatant corruption of the Washington Ruling Class in the Swamp.
The ultimate irony is that in impeaching President Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, and Chuck Schumer are in the process of seriously damaging, if not outright destroying, the Biden campaign. Not to mention the historical reputation of the Obama–Biden administration.
The March for Life is a widely attended protest against the 1973 passage ofRoe v. Wade,the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the United States.
On Tuesday, Trump alsodeclaredJanuary 22, the anniversary ofRoe, National Sanctity of Human Life Day. “Our Nation proudly and strongly reaffirms our commitment to protect the precious gift of life at every stage, from conception to natural death,” Trump said.
In a likely preview of his remarks on Friday, he encouraged Americans to care for women with unexpected pregnancies, support foster care and adoption, and“listen to the sound of silence caused by a generation lost to us, and then to raise their voices for all affected by abortion, both seen and unseen.”
March for Life president Jeanne Mancini said in a statement that she is “excited for [Trump] to experience in person how passionate our marchers are about life and protecting the unborn.”
She mentioned the Trump administration’s record of supporting pro-life policies:
From the appointment of pro-life judges and federal workers, to cutting taxpayer funding for abortions here and abroad, to calling for an end to late-term abortions, President Trump and his Administration have been consistent champions for life and their support for the March for Life has been unwavering. We are grateful for all thesepro-life accomplishmentsand look forward to gaining more victories for life in the future.
Last year, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the march, and Donald Trump said in alive video addressthat he would veto any legislation that “weakens the protection of human life.” Despite a much-reportedaltercationbetween a group of high school students and a group of Native Americans, the march was peaceful and positive. Large numbers — many estimates exceeded 100,000 — of families, church groups, and others attended.
The theme this year is “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman,” connecting the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, to the pro-life cause’s advocacy for the right to life for the unborn, their mothers, and their families.
The rally begins at 12 p.m. EST at12th Streeton the National Mall, with the march down Constitution Ave. to follow around 1 p.m.
Three years into the Trump administration, we see a clear pattern forming. The Obama administration implemented labor rules that make the labor market less flexible, often at the expense of smaller businesses, but in ways that made unions happy. The Trump administration then takes these rules away. The latest example is the dismantling of the Obama Labor Department’s joint employer rule.
As the new Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and the Office of Management Director Mick Mulvaney explained recently in the Wall Street Journal, “When joint employment exists, two separate companies are responsible for ensuring that workers receive the federally mandated minimum wage and overtime pay. Two companies are responsible for ensuring the proper records are kept. And two companies can be taken to court if it’s alleged that those responsibilities have not been met.”
The question is: When is there actually joint employment? From 1958 to 2015, joint employment was said to exist when two employers are “not completely disassociated” from each other. This needlessly vague phrasing was only worsened by the Obama administration’s attempted clarification. A 2015 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, followed by a 2016 legal interpretation adopted by the Labor Department, expanded joint employment to any business with “indirect influence” over another company’s employment terms and conditions.
That was a big deal for a wide range of franchise, subcontract, and supplier business models. These diverse business forms were forced into a one-size-fits-all model of “joint employment,” thus opening them up to legal troubles caused by their contractors and franchisees. For instance, under this rule, Subway — the biggest franchise by far in the United States in terms of number of stores at 23,647 — can be sued for the lack of labor compliance at any of its independently owned stores across the country. Even if you have little sympathy for big business, think about all the self-employed contractors and subcontractors affected by the rules.
As Walter Olson of the Cato Institute wrote at the time, “What do advocates of these changes intend to accomplish by destroying the economics of business relationships under which millions of Americans are presently employed? For many, the aim is to force much more of the economy into the mold of large — payroll, unionized employers, a system for which the 1950s are often (wrongly) idealized.”
This classification is also very costly. A study by economist Ronald Bird for the Chamber of Commerce concluded that the expanded rule costs businesses between $17.2 billion and $33.3 billion a year — mostly to protect themselves against legal actions rather than on tighter labor compliance.
Bird also documented how the Obama rule forced many national brands to distance themselves from their franchisees out of fear of being sued and shifted many training and software responsibilities to the franchisees. Unfortunately, franchisees, which are smaller businesses, are often not as well equipped to handle such responsibilities or do so at costs as low as those achieved by larger companies. Thus, their total cost of doing business rises. Despite franchisee efforts to shield themselves from abusive legal actions, there has been a 93 percent increase in lawsuits against franchise businesses since the rules made such lawsuits more lucrative.
Enter the Trump administration and its new rule, which specifies that a company cannot be considered a joint employer simply because it has the contractual power to control workers employed by another party. Instead, there has to be “some actual exercise of control.” This is good news because stable and predictable rules, compared to unstable and vague ones, are clearly more conducive to all aspects of life, including the franchise business.
Not surprisingly, after spending millions of dollars fighting for the Obama-era rules, unions are upset by this recent change. The Obama rule had opened up deeper pockets for lawsuits to pick and, more importantly from a financial standpoint, opened the unions up to many more potential members.
But for now, we celebrate. As Olson recently wrote on the Trump rule, “This is an important win for economic freedom, as well as for the legal reality that a supply or contractual relationship between two firms is by no means the same thing as a merger between them.”
Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. To find out more about Veronique de Rugy and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM
We may as well take a TV news vacation until the Senate votes down the Democrats’ attempted coup, which voting down, we can pray, will happen sometime this year. I made the mistake just now of flipping on the news to see if anything had taken place in the world I should take note of. Of course what I found was wall-to-wall coverage of the mind-numbing Senate impeachment “testimony.” Can anyone actually be watching this? The entire experience for binge-watchers must be a bit like being tied to a stake at the entrance to the It’s a Small World feature at Disney World, there to be assaulted by the same childish song over and over and over again while one’s brain slowly turns to cottage cheese.
A new European Union scheme, championed by an official who sings the praises of “political Islam,” advocates expanding religious influence over all areas of European public life, to little opposition. Meanwhile, in the United States, the question of religion in the public sphere continues to be debated vigorously and opposed by secularists on both sides of the political spectrum. One case currently brought before the Supreme Court, opposed by groups such as the ACLU, is considering whether state governments might be compelled to subsidize private religious schools.
Such careful deliberation is rarely seen in Europe. Religious institutions operate under a rather different set of rules: religious bodies already exert significant political influence, receive enormous amounts of taxpayer funding, and are often deputized by governments to provide community and welfare services.
The EU hopes to build on that further. In September 2019, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, announced the launch of an initiative called “Global Exchange on Religion in Society,” which she presented as an unobjectionable extension of the European Union’s existing student exchange program but “for civil society actors who work on faith.”
But given the involvement of Islamist-linked bodies with the scheme, Global Exchange is more likely to become a means for theocrats to strengthen their influence in Europe, with the financial and political support of European officials.
According to the EU, Global Exchange “will connect civil society practitioners inside and outside Europe, allowing them to learn from each other, explore partnerships, acquire new skills, and to scale-up positive experiences of coexistence among people of different faiths in pluralistic societies.” Behind this jargon, however, critics have spotted danger.
The few organizations truly concerned by this latest EU program are mostly found in France, one of the few European countries with codified secularism. Comite Laicite Republique (CLR) has published analysis alerting Europeans to the ominous consequences of Mogherini’s initiative. While France’s laïcité stands out for its extremely strict separation of church and state, the CLR’s concerns are relevant to the rest of Europe, as well. The CLR describes “Global Exchange” as an anti-secular “time bomb,” warning that this initiative would implement a program of reintroduction of religious authority in European societies that are mostly agnostic and effectively secular.
One of the chief architects behind the scheme is the Lokahi Foundation, a British Islamist-linked organization given over 770,000 Euros ($850,000) by the EU since 2017. In 2008, British Member of Parliament Paul Goodman called on his government to stop funding the Lokahi Foundation, noting that its director, Gwen Griffith-Dickson, had complained that moderate groups were favored by government “while the ‘Islamists’ are thrown out without an inheritance.”
Commissioned by the EU to draft several reports on the proposed scheme, Lokahi was thanked in Mogherini’s speech specifically for its help in “shap[ing] this new initiative.” According to one of Lokahi’s reports, the initiative will “define a new paradigm for engagement with religion.” It notes that taking a “broader religion and society approach” would make it “easier to add a religious engagement or religious outreach component to work focused on issues that might not be explicitly religious.”
While the report employs terms such as “diversity,” “coexistence,” and “inclusion” to present this initiative as a well-meaning attempt to improve European societies, there is little doubt that the “Global Exchange” project is a realization of Mogherini’s previously expressed conviction that religion — and particularly “political Islam” — should be part of a “solution” to societal problems throughout the European Union.
In fact, from the beginning, it has been clear that Islam is a prominent part of this project: Lokahi’s second Global Exchange report is titled “Islam, Diversity & context,” and it calls on government bodies to “work towards making Europe a place Muslims can live in without excessive conflicts for their religious practice and identity.” But who would determine what poses an “excessive conflict”? The norms of “religious practice and identity” for Muslims risk being determined by theocrats who oppose the free mixing of men and women, promote head coverings, and are not necessarily representative of the general Muslim population.
In fact, Lokahi counted the notorious Islamist ideologue Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna, among its senior research fellows and even provided him with an office in central London. In France, Ramadan currently awaits trial on multiple rape charges.
One might wonder if Mogherini’s initiative would really entail collaboration with Islamists rather than moderate organizations. Is Lokahi just an outlier? The EU’s funding history indicates that those concerns are warranted. Significant amounts of EU monies have been handed to dangerous Islamist organizations before, and the Global Exchange program will most likely collaborate with such groups again.
In 2017 alone, the international Islamist charity Islamic Relief received 1.8 million euros from the EU. Islamic Relief was founded by senior members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and has supported terrorist organizations such as Hamas through its front groups in Gaza. Islamic Relief is designated as a terrorist organization in the United Arab Emirates, the German government has acknowledged that the charity has “significant ties” with the Muslim Brotherhood, and the UK Charity Commission has investigated its involvement with extremist preachers who call for the killing of adulterers and homosexuals.
The EU has also funded Muslim Aid, which is linked to the violent South Asian Islamist movement Jamaat-e-Islami and which has admitted to funding Hamas; as well as the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO), the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.
CLR warns that while the immediate effect of Mogherini’s initiative may seem benign, it might very well become binding if the Court of Justice of the European Union or the European Court of Human Rights decides to adopt the initiative’s recommendations and demand European countries enact laws more favorable (likely advised by the EU’s Islamist partners) to Islamic religious practices.
Mogherini and her belief in the virtues of political Islam are frightening. Her Global Exchange program poses a serious threat to secularists and moderate Muslims all across Europe. Offering political power to “religious actors” affords Islamists the authority to determine norms of “religious practices” for European Muslims and gives them religious oversight in spheres that have little to do with religion.
In the U.S., the current Supreme Court case over state government funding for schools reminds us that Mogherini’s perilous idealization of religious influence in public life is shared by at least a few on this side of the Atlantic, even if the law is not currently on their side. Testimony submitted to the court by the plaintiffs praises Islamic schools, such as the Muslim Academy of Greater Orlando, as “welcoming [communities]” that should be rewarded with taxpayer funds. And yet that same Orlando school recently promoted an event with the notorious hate preacher Abdul Nasir Jangda, who has endorsed sexual slavery and the killing of apostates.
The terror-connected Islamist charities Islamic Relief and Muslim Aid, meanwhile, do not just enjoy funding from the EU but also have received millions of dollars of funding from the U.S. government.
Attempts to expand religious influence into the public sphere will certainly result in increased extremist influence over society. Europe is walking purposefully down that path; America must take care not to stumble onto it.
Martha Lee is a research fellow ofIslamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.
New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore recently offered up yours truly as a prototypical Trump supporter who has ignored the “key lesson from 2016.” Quoting an excerpt from an October article in which I suggested that impeachment enhances Trump’s 2020 prospects when combined with a strong economy and a weak Democratic challenger, he suggested that “triumphalist braying from Trump, his campaign, his party, and his media allies, will persuade some of his own voters that he’s already won, so it’s safe to spend Election Day in other pursuits.” Kilgore obviously believes that such complacency in the HRC camp caused Trump’s 2016 victory.
Kilgore, like many partisan journalists and the Democrats they parrot, still hasn’t faced the blindingly obvious reason Clinton lost. While it is unquestionably true that the latter was overconfident, and this led to numerous campaign blunders, the main reason HRC was beaten is that she represented a status quo characterized by chronic corruption, anemic economic performance, and transparent contempt for the voters. Moreover, the claim that Trump’s 2020 reelection team is as overconfident as was the Clinton campaign fails the laugh test. Whereas HRC’s campaign took entire states for granted, Trump’s team is systematically reaching beyond his base:
Brad Parscale, the manager of the Trump campaign, is very data-driven and, following most rallies, he reports statistics about the attendees.… On average, 23% of rally goers identify as Democrats. For Toledo, OH, this number was 21.9%.… The really stunning stat from this rally, which Parscale has never reported on before, is that 20.9% of attendees identified as Independents.… This means that 42.8% of the 22,927 voters were either a Democrat or an Independent.
In addition, as Thomas Edsall at the New York Times recently put it, “Trump Is Winning the Online War.” Under Brad Parscale’s leadership, according to Edsall, “the Trump re-election machine has devoted millions more than any individual Democrat to increasingly sophisticated microtargeting techniques.” They have also been at it a long time. Since 2016 the Trump campaign has been working on techniques for identifying voters and developing electronic communication tools. The Trump campaign is now so far ahead of the Democrats in sophisticated microtargeting techniques that it is unlikely that any opponent will ever be able to catch up:
Even if the Democrats settle on a nominee by March 2020, he or she will have seven months to catch up with the work Trump and Parscale started four years earlier.… In high-tech political warfare, recent history shows that sitting presidents without primary challengers — Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2012 — developed voter contact weaponry that their opponents — John Kerry and Mitt Romney — had neither the time nor the money to match.
This brings us to the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi and her co-conspirators have, of course, impeached the president. Parscale and the Trump reelection campaign have used this farce as an opportunity to connect with more voters and raise additional cash. AP reports, “Since the impeachment proceedings began, the Republican National Committee has seen 600,000 new donors. The campaign and the RNC took in $10 million in small-dollar donations in just 48 hours during impeachment week.” Meanwhile, the social media strategy favored by Democratic presidential frontrunner, Joe Biden, is to threaten Facebook and its founder.
Biden’s real problem with Facebook is that he doesn’t have the money to compete with Trump on social media. His fundraising during the most recent quarter, though it produced his best haul thus far in the campaign, is half of what President Trump brought in during the same period. Moreover, it’s less than Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg brought in. Thus, this Twitter announcement is really quite pathetic: “I’m excited to share that we raised $22.7 million this last quarter — our biggest quarter so far this campaign! Thank you to everyone who chipped in what you could — your support means the world to me. You truly are the heart of our campaign.”
If this is the “heart” of his campaign, a visit to the cardiologist may be in order. Biden hasn’t a prayer of winning the Democratic nomination, much less the general election, if he can’t do any better than this. Finally, as if “the party of Jefferson and Jackson” didn’t have enough problems, Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, spent MLK’s birthday hiding from the Commonwealth’s citizens who came to Richmond about a couple of Draconian gun control laws. Gov. Northam and his legislative accomplices lied about their Second Amendment positions during the recent election, and the voters were less than pleased with “Coonman.”
All of which brings us back to Ed Kilgore’s theory about overconfidence and the “key lesson from 2016.” Perhaps the actual lesson — considering Trump’s continued successes in the face of quotidian slander by the legacy media, years of federal and congressional investigations based on implausible conspiracy theories, a hyper-partisan impeachment based on hearsay, and an upcoming Senate trial pursuant to offenses that wouldn’t justify removing him from office even if they were true — is that Democrats can no longer be trusted with power. The Democrats themselves will never absorb this lesson, however. They still don’t get how Trump won in 2016.
We now know why Nancy Pelosi delayed submitting the articles of her Stillborn Impeachment. Her delay, her obstruction of Congress, her abuse of power, had not made much sense. But then we divined that she simply was waiting for the shipment of her commemorative pens. You cannot sign off on an impeachment without the Royal Pen — and without several dozen identical ones to hand out as Christmas gifts and birthday party favors. The Doddering Dowager obviously had ordered her pens during the height of Christmas season and, like so many other mid-December orders submitted by procrastinators, hers presumably was back-ordered. They finally arrived. That allowed her to make a short doddering speech, explaining the somberness of the moment, the sorrow and the pity, and then to bring out the ice cream, the cake, the noisemakers, and the souvenir pens. Meanwhile, the Homeless who line the sidewalks of her district freeze during the very cold California nights, starve, shoot up their veins, defecate on the streets, and urinate on so many public walkways that new meaning is given to The Golden State. Hopefully her homeless hordes will not be forgotten by their House Representative so that each of them, too, will get his or her own personal pen to urinate on in San Francisco.
Talking about “all that glitters is not gold” — there seems to be some kind of hubbub across the pond, as two members of the Royal Family apparently no longer are. As an American, I have mixed feelings about the Tudors and the institution of the monarchy. Until very recently, I completely had despised the institution all my life. Put plainly as American History 101, our country came into being because we overthrew King George. For a whiff of British monarchy, just read these 700 words from our Declaration of Independence:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Bottom line: What a low life!
So I detested the monarchy. And if you ever have watched The Six Wives of Henry VIII or Wolf Hall or A Man for All Seasons — or actually read a book about any of that stuff — those kings really were crazy. And what’s even crazier is that the monarch depicted in the movie The Madness of King George was not even the craziest of the bunch. Just consider how their royal romances followed a pattern as old as time:
King meets girl.
King loves girl.
Girl loves King.
Girl does not give birth to a boy.
King has guy who introduced him to girl beheaded.
King has other guys who ever schmoozed with girl beheaded.
King has girl beheaded.
King meets new girl.
King puts guy with axe on annual retainer.
Very bad stuff. But here’s the thing: unlike the way British monarchs comported themselves centuries ago when they actually had power, nowadays they serve an alternative purpose. In return for everyone in the country paying tons of tax money to keep them on Cadillac Plan welfare, Cadillac Plan food stamps, Cadillac Plan public housing, and Cadillac Plan Medicaid, they in turn provide a kind of social stability. The king or queen is supposed to be apolitical, giving voice neither to conservatism nor to liberalism. Rather, the monarch gives voice to whatever core values can be found that unite the entire country. So the monarch is not supposed to take a position on Brexit or on anything that engages the public debate, but instead the Queen dresses fancy as though every day is Halloween or Purim, with a nice crown and with a hat that exactly matches — not only in color but in precise shade of color — her outfit, her pocketbook, her belt. She gets to be all Queenly. People speak to her only when spoken to. The national anthem is not about the country or its values or sacrifices but solely about her. And, most importantly, her presence guarantees that at least one person in the country will not be divisive.
In that sense, we Americans today can use one of those. Just one Dowager or Dowagee with a chartreuse hat, chartreuse outfit, chartreuse belt, and chartreuse pocketbook who makes a speech that goes something like this:
My fellow Americans. Good morning to you all. The weather today is lovely. The tea is warm or iced; I like both, whether with or without sugar, whether with or without cream, whether with or without tea. We are a lovely country. Everyone here is lovely. I have asked President Trump to come to my palace to kiss my royal hand. He is lovely. Tomorrow Alexandria Ocasio-Ocasio-Ocasio-Ocasio shall be here to kiss my royal wrist. She is lovely. Then Sen. Rand Paul shall be here to kiss the royal elbow. He is lovely. Then former President Obama will be here to kiss the royal thumb. He is lovely.
Thank you all, the lovely citizens of our lovely land, for hearing these powerful royal thoughts of mine this lovely morning. You all are lovely. I think I now shall take a royal nap until mid-afternoon, when I shall have another royal cup of suitable beverage. It has been a busy morning, so perhaps a Pimms Number One Cup. Oh, I am famished — I must also have a crumpet to nourish my royal sustenance. And then I shall watch with my royal pupils my handsome son, Charles, ride on a royal horse. It shall be a splendid day. And then perhaps, for a nightcap, a Number Six Cup mixed with Royal Crown Cola. Lovely.
It seems sometimes that it may just be that, at least for a few years, we Americans could use that. Just one person in the country who does not take sides and wishes all sides well because she really does not know what side to take anyway and is paid handsomely by all the hard-working stiffs who comprise the tax base not to figure it out for herself. Just to be all things to all people, and to make sure that the shades of color match precisely. In a time of national strife, there is something to that. One day magenta. The next day azure.
The downside to such a purposeless family on the public till, of course, is that they have nothing to do all day besides dressing for Purim or Halloween, smiling lots, matching hats to pocketbooks and belts, and watching the years toll by. Too much purposeless time always leads to mischief. In the end, we know how it plays out. Some guy named Andrew ends up with Jeffrey Epstein because he needed a place to sleep one night, and he happened to find Epstein on Airbnb or whatever. Years later, still with nothing to do, the same court jester gives an interview on the telly to talk all about it. Meanwhile, some guy named Charles grows up expecting that one day he, too, will be king. Now a septuagenarian, the man who would be king never was. And then, as always, there is some Harry and William in the story. One grows up next in line to be king, so the other has to figure out what to do with the rest of his life in order not to turn out like Andrew. So he marries a TV actress. “There, bro. You have your princess, and I have mine. You have your kingly suits, and I have my Suits.” And then the TV actress has a storybook wedding, just like every girl once dreamed about until Peloton started doing commercials. So the royal wedding, the royal flowers, the royal orchestra, the royal palace, the royal chuppah, and then the royal one-two-three-skiddaddle.
It amazes that an entire nation in Europe and five minutes on every hour in America is dedicated to following these two royal irrelevancies. The Duchess of Sussex? Oh, c’mon! Is that a goof to dump a tongue-twister on an unsuspecting outsider? Say it 10 times fast — impossible. Gimme a break. Do they matter more than you, your children, your friends, your neighbors do? Are they truly worth the precious time of your own life for reading about, talking about, thinking about? If they want to live in Canada but are not ice hockey professionals in the NHL, does it matter to us? Perhaps only to instruct us about the hypocrisy and phoniness of two people who are guaranteed to be wealthy and fawned over for life, who milked the royal mum’s name and reputation as much as they could until it was time to reciprocate by attending to the ho-hum daily public duties that are the quid for the quo, who established themselves for life with that “Zsa Zsa Gabor/ Kardashian/ Charles Nelson Reilly/ Paris Hilton Famous-for-Being-Famous” moniker that will guarantee them always to have an audience, a mega paycheck, and all the tony stylings of life that they claim they are abandoning so that they “can make it on our own.” Yeah, right. As if.
On second thought, then, maybe we do not need this in America after all. Besides, we already have our own uniquely American royal leeches. Chelsea Clinton hired by NBC for $600,000 a year as a “special correspondent,” then another $9 million in stock shares for sitting on the board of a company run by her parents’ friend. Hunter Biden, despite being thrown out of the armed forces for drug use and being an overall mess-up, now litigating against his once-beloved pole-dancing stripper whose child-support obligation now seeks some of that $50,000–$83,000 a month (annualized at $600,000–$1 million per year) that Hunter got for sitting on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while Veep Daddy Joe was in charge of deciding when and whether to give Ukraine $1 billion of our tax money. So that is the other side of royalty. Yes, it would be nice to have a public unifying figure in this country, but we have no Babe Ruth today. No Eleanor Roosevelt. When the great “hero” of basketball in fact is a gutless coward, the great “hero” of football cheats on pumping up the football, the great “heroes” of baseball cheat by using new technology to steal opposing teams’ signs, perhaps we need to turn elsewhere for our national heroes and unifying forces.
So take the picture of the Suchess of Dussex and of Prince William or Harry or Charles or George, and run it through the shredder. Print out a picture of Pelosi with her pen, of Chelsea and her money, of Hunter and a pole, and run it through the shredder. And then look at your husband or at your wife, at your mom or your dad — or at all of them. In the America that I love, those are our gilded unifying forces and heroes.
Forgive the rather shallow entry in this space today, as your author is coming off a nonstop weekend novel-writing binge. I’m working on the sequel to Animus, the novel I published on Amazon back in September, as it’s a goal to finish the first draft by the end of the month, and I’m finding that novel writing and political commentary are not particularly mutually-reinforcing endeavors.
Plus, there isn’t all that much going on in the world which presents as suitably urgent and compelling as the subject for a column in its own right. So instead, I offer nuggets from here and there.
1. Impeachment is a joke, and everybody knows it.
I was going to do a column about Nancy Pelosi finally sending impeachment articles to the Senate, but the whole thing just bores me to tears. We all know there won’t be 67 Senators voting to convict, so why is this even happening?
Better put, we know the American public isn’t interested in impeachment, so why are the Democrats pushing it in an election year when the GOP is going to have more money than they will for House races?
Yes, yes. We all know answers to that question. But none of them are sufficient. Internal Democrat politics being inflicted on the American people like this is abject electoral poison. It used to be that there were adults in that party who knew these things and therefore would always stop short of slashing their own throats and getting their blood all over our shoes. Not this crowd of idiots.
What wouldn’t be a bad idea is for state legislatures in red states to start passing bicameral resolutions condemning the impeachment in their legislative sessions this year. And for good measure, those resolutions can also demand a federal investigation of the Bidens’ foreign corruption in not just Ukraine but China.
2. Trump is more fun than the leftists (and purported conservatives) who hate him.
No better example of this can be found in the video of the president’s welcome of the LSU football team which won a national championship last week. As pundits from the New York Times and Vox tut-tutted about Trump’s crassness, he clearly created a warm and fuzzy feeling with the team during his welcome speech, breaking from the script to twice joke to them by saying “You guys are gonna be sooo rich” and teasing head coach Ed Orgeron about his gravelly voice. At the end Trump even managed to troll his critics by noting that good presidents and bad have occupied the White House, and “you’ve got a pretty good one now, and they’re trying to impeach the son of a bitch. Can you believe that?”
The remark brought the house down. Trump then invited the players to take pictures in the Oval Office, where they took part in a social media craze by dancing to the HPSHAWTY rap song “Get the Gat” in the Oval. A video of the players dancing, along with Gemi Bordelon, the wife of a prominent ex-player and current LSU booster named Ben Bordelon, went viral. And as official Washington clutched its pearls at the kids having fun so near to the Resolute Desk, Trump retweeted the video.
Not since Andrew Jackson opened the White House for drunken carousing by hillbillies from the early frontier has a president so thoroughly stuck a finger in the eyes of the society crowd, and the effect is simple. He’s fun, and they’re not. So what if he’s inappropriate? The “appropriate” people in American politics gave us Mitt Romney, John McCain, pointless wars, sclerotic economic growth, hopeless deficits, and Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House not once but twice.
Tell “appropriate” to Get the Gat.
3. So what about Martha McSally?
The Arizona Senator popped off to what was a perfectly normal question by Politico‘s Manu Raju about impeachment, calling him a “liberal political hack” and refusing to answer him, and the Washington Media treated it as a scandal.
It’s not a scandal.
Manu Raju, despite all the whingeing about how respected he is, is a liberal political hack. Everyone in DC knows it, they just don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a liberal political hack. Ask yourself how the Kavanaugh hearings happened if America had an unbiased and objective mainstream media. Or how the Trump-Russia thing could have gone on for more than two years. Or how George Stephanopolous could have happened. Or Ben Rhodes’ “echo chamber,” for that matter.
Did Raju do anything personally to deserve a tongue-lashing from McSally? Who cares? Rudeness to biased lefty media is only the start of what Republican politicians, particularly in a place like Washington, ought to be doing. I’ve long suggested to Republicans running for office that they independently record every interaction they have with reporters, and make those recordings available via social media every time those reporters offer their journalistic product so that the public can examine how much daylight there is between what’s reported and the context and exact wording of what’s said.
If ever that became common practice, McSally’s treatment of Raju would probably be seen as light compared to what would come.
4. No, I don’t care about Harry and Meghan. We fought a revolution so I don’t have to.
I get it that following the British royals is something of a pastime for some people, like sudoku or gardening or watching Three’s Company reruns. But the media frenzy over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle dumping out of the royal family is clownish and ridiculous.
We all know what’s going on here. She bit off more than she could chew marrying somebody from the most whitebread, conservative family on Planet Earth, thinking that becoming a member of the Royal Family would mean she’d really made it in the world — a modern-day Grace Kelly without having to actually be Grace Kelly. But when the British media, which is, let’s face it, something akin to a pack of wild dogs, decided they liked her about as much as they did Jerry Lee Lewis, she talked Harry into a Lewis-esque break with the royal family.
“Aingland can kiss mah ass!” is what we got.
Which is a nothing.
They’ve no shortage of British royals. Meghan Markle is a “B” actress who… has she been in anything other than Suits? It’s predictable that she’ll drag Harry into social justice warriorism, seeing as though she’s got all the usual Soros-y friends, and we’ll soon find these two as insufferable as Greta Thunberg, with, as Ricky Gervais might say, only a bit more schooling.
But they’re not relevant. They wouldn’t have been had they stayed in the royal family. Neither one of them does anything which is particularly deserving of fame, so here’s to the vain hope that nobody hears anything about them ever again.
5. The NFL’s great old quarterbacks are fading away.
One thing to take from San Francisco and Kansas City emerging as this year’s Super Bowl contenders is that the NFL’s gold-standard quarterbacks are beginning to recede from the spotlight.
This season was the last, in all likelihood, for Eli Manning. It was certainly the last for him in New York. His brother Peyton is already gone from the scene. Tom Brady probably hasn’t played his last in New England, but Brady was definitely not Brady this year and he was put out of the playoffs early after a late-season swoon cost his team a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Chargers’ Philip Rivers didn’t even make the playoffs and he might be done with the team.
Drew Brees may have a little more gas left in his tank than Brady, and certainly more than Eli, but he didn’t play a great game in the Saints’ overtime loss to Minnesota in the playoffs and a 13-3 season which included a 5-0 record when Brees was out with a thumb injury and Teddy Bridgewater was the team’s quarterback was wasted. Brees isn’t the Saints’ biggest problem; an inconsistent pass defense and the lack of productivity from wide receivers not named Mike Thomas rank higher. But the end is coming near for him in New Orleans and everyone knows it.
And on Sunday night there was San Francisco putting it to Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. Rodgers is still excellent, as is Brees, but Frisco’s determined pass rush got to him often and confounded the Packer offense until the game had been decided at halftime. Both Green Bay and New Orleans went 13-3 in the regular season, so it’s hard to say Brees and Rodgers are declining. But Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Jared Goff, and Jimmy Garappolo are beginning to overtake the old favorites, and the guard is changing.
Next year it will be interesting to watch Brady, Brees, and Rodgers rage against the dying of the light. That might be the story of the NFL next year.