Monday, November 20, 2017

Trump Takes Ingrate UCLA Father to Task

Donald Trump Takes Ungrateful UCLA Father to Task on Twitter



The Flakey Conscience of a Conservative?


Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was caught on a hot mike opining that if Republicans continued on a political path towards anti-Establishment Donald Trump that the GOP was toast.



This personal animus against President Trump did not go unanswered on Twitter.




Earlier in the year, Senator Flake was hawking a book "The Conscience of a Conservative" (2017) which echoed the title of  his Arizona predecessor (1960) Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ).  This sort of self promotion is often the precursor for a politician who is seeking higher office.  Yet Flake was convinced not to run again in 2018.  Since then, Flake has reveled at being a gladfly against the Trump Administration.

While it would be hard to quibble with Flake being a Republican, it is egregious to appreciate him being a quintessential conservative.  Senator Flake's hot mic moment might better be understood how Establishment Republicans see how the comfort of being go along to get along hacks who talk a good game on the hustings but become docile in the District of Calamity. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Remembering the Gettysburg Address



 On November 19th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address to dedicate the battlefield in the bloodiest skirmish during the war between the States as a resting place for the fallen.

Photo of President Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg Battlefield, November 19, 1863

   

 Lincoln was said to have written his brief remarks on the back of an envelope, yet those scribbling still resonate today.


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.



The acclaimed PBS Civil War documentarian Ken Burns has been promoting  "Learn the Address" by inviting 58 prominent Americans to recite those solemn words of President Lincoln from 150 years ago.






It is worth noting that the only person amongst the nearly three score of cynosures who failed to read the speech as delivered at the cemetery in Gettysburg was President Barack H. Obama.  The 44th President omitted the words "under God".  Perhaps there was a teleprompter glitch.  More likely, it is conscious return by Mr. Obama to conveniently edit seminal American documents to suit his tastes. Such a cavalier approach to what Ken Burns called pure Presidential poetry seems to be what honest historians want to avoid.   

In addition, President Obama chose not to travel the 75 miles to Gettysburg for the Sesquicentennial, despite having a light official schedule.  This is an odd omission as Mr. Obama declared his Presidential run at the steps of the Lincoln statehouse in Springfield, Illinois and adorned the White House with many Lincolnesque trappings. Yet  President Obama will be in the forefront in ceremonies commemorating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

Despite this historic slights, this should not stop us from actualizing Abraham Lincoln's exhortation:
[T]hat we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

When Swamp Rats Are Dirty Rats

The revelation of sexual misconduct by Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein has transitioned to the District of Calamity.  Accusations of sexual impropriety threatens to swing two Senate seats and effect the balance of power on Capitol Hill.

Much has been made about  allegations of skivvy conduct by Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore (R-AL).  These accusations stem from conduct nearly four decades ago that were unreported to authorities, but came to light in the closing days of a special election to fill the seat vacated by now Trump Administration Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The alluvia of allegations sound bad, but are past the statute of limitations, based she-said-he-said allegations with little to no corroborating evidence and relies upon the court of public opinion. 



From a political standpoint, Democrats are anxious to make Roy Moore a poster child for Republicans in 2018 and use the hermaneutic that Republicans condone sexual harassment as a cudgel to impeach President Donald Trump if Democrats regain the House of Representatives.  In the near term, the muck about Moore put the White House in a box.  On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, establishment Republicans did not like a loose cannon like Judge Moore to be in the Senate chambers, when it endangers the clubby atmosphere of the Upper Chamber and he could help shake up the leadership.  So many GOP party loyalists were quick to condemn Moore for the alleged but unproven misconduct.

There are concerns that Republicans might lose this previously considered "safe" seat, as Moore is polling with a double digit deficit after these allegations have been publicized.  Since candidate Moore refuses to step aside due to this scandal, the DC GOP suggested writing in another Republican. Apparently, this did not test well and was dropped.  After a careful reading of the Alabama state statutes, centrist Republican Hugh Hewitt claims that the problem could go away if   Senator Luke Strange (R-AL) resigned, creating a new vacancy which would cancel the shaky December 12th election, and Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) could appoint another caretaker Senator until the next general election (in November 2018).  Considering the shaky ground Jeff Sessions is in at the Department of Justice, it is possible that Sessions be appointed back to his own seat.


[L] Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) attending [R] Senator Luther Strange (R-AL) swearing in

Recently, after a pleasant Sunday brunch, we chatted about the troubling news about Roy Moore. As the topic expanded to include sexual harassment by elected officials, two ardent feminists insisted that Congress needed to do something about it and make offenders on Capitol Hill as accountable as the rest of us.  I asked who were their bosses.  The obvious answer was the people.  I maintained that voters get to fire their elected officials periodically and they should decide rather than an insider committee.  That viewpoint was not well received.

Well, it seems that when Congress pushed to make the same rules apply to them as their constituents, there were a few quirks.  Regarding charges of sexual harassment with members of staffers, there is 30 day waiting period before pressing charges.  In addition, the victim making the accusation must undergo mandatory counseling.  That sounds munificent, except the counseling comes from the employer whom someone is accusing.  It would seem that it could be made clear to accusers that going public would not be in anyone's best interests.   If I recall correctly, John Batchelor's news-maker interview indicated that this system has paid out $15 million since its advent in the 105th Congress with nary a word making the press.

Congressional Sexual Misconduct payout ledger 


What took party hacks off their sexual harassment game plan was the revelation by a Los Angeles radio personality of Al Franken's inappropriate conduct during a USO mission to the Middle East in 2006, before he was elected as Senator from Minnesota.  The woman reported that she was supposed to do a skit written by Franken that involved a kiss and wanted to rehearse-- she demurred but eventually consented.  During the practice, she alleged that Franken put his tongue halfway down her throat and grabbed her head.  She immediately insisted "Don't do that again!", and she deflected his approach during the skit.

The problem with sexual conduct and Al Franken is about the contemporaneous  photographic evidence. The woman in question wanted to grab some rack time during the 36 hour military flight.  When she was asleep, Franken was seen with a coprophagic grin cupping at her breasts.  No doubt, Franken thought this was funny at the time (and probably a great way to get back at her).  Franken has been known to take outrageous photos for laughs (but the infamous Franken diaper photo was a fake).


Citizen Al Franken takes a picture with a sleeping beauty during a 2016 USO tour.


But this Al Franken moment  was captured on camera. Oops. And the accuser is Leeane Tweeden, a KABC-AM radio personality. Tweeden initially posted #MeToo, but she decided to come forth after hearing Congresswoman Speier's (D-CA 14th)  allegations that members on both side of the aisle have thrust sexual advances while in Congress.

Now this puts a kink into progressive partisans' plans. One of their prominent members stands accused. The public has been primed to always accept the word of victims.  In addition, there is photographic proof. This takes away from the rip the GOP as blanket sexual predator smear.  Rush Limbaugh points out that in this environment, Democrats will have to proverbially throw Senator Franken (D-MN) under the bus to not to seem hypocritical and prospectively use it against their ideological opponents. 

Franken publicly apologized to his victim, claiming that he thought that it was funny.  In addition, Franken submitted himself to scrutiny from his peers.  Maybe this gets it out of the headlines and it gets buried by the press.  If push comes to shove, Minnesota has a Democrat Governor Mark Dayton (D-MN), so Franken would undoubtedly be replaced by another Democrat. 

While justice is a noble pursuit, in this charged environment, the court of public opinion may well condemn non-guilty people just based on innuendo or unproven accusations which are promptly swept under the rug out of convenience.   The reform from the 105th Congress seems to allow members to slide, in a process intended to apply the peoples' law to Congress.  Although there are Ethics Committees to punish members egregious actions, I suspect that the ballot box is still the most efficacious way to punish when swamp rats act like dirty rats. 




Patrick Leahy on Bacon and Judges

Senator Patrick Leahy on Bacon and Judges


Friday, November 10, 2017

Bob Hope on Sacrifice

Bob Hope on Sacrifice

Hollywood comedic actor Bob Hope was renowned for making 57 tours to entertain military troops for the USO  over 60 years, including 79 shows in the Southwest Pacific in 1944.  Writer John Steinbeck, who then served as a war correspondent, wrote of Hope:

When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. This man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people.




By an act of Congress, Hope was named an honorary veteran in 1997. Hope's humble response to this honor was: "I've been given many awards in my lifetime — but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most — is the greatest honor I have ever received."

Thanks for the memories and entertaining those who serve to preserve our freedom.