Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I Miss the Old Liberals

Call me a sentimental old fool but I miss the days when liberals were liberal. When I was a kid growing up in the 1980's the liberals believed in freedom of speech. They really did. In the 1980’s artist Robert Mapplethorpe dipped a crucifix in a vat of urine, snapped a picture, and called it art. And he convinced the Federal government to pay for it, an accomplishment that must have pleased the ghost of P.T.Barnum.

The liberals rushed to his defense claiming that all speech, and of course art is speech, is valuable, absolute, and beyond criticism. Indeed just denouncing Mapplethorpe, or turning your back when he was giving a commencement address, was considered by liberals to be intolerant and rude. Ok, I'm being a little bit facetious, I doubt Robert Mapplethorpe was ever asked to give a commencement address, but the point is that the liberal back then would have argued that if someone is speaking tolerance requires you to sit and listen. Especially if what he says is controversial.

The liberals back then believed in Voltaire's maxim “I may violently disagree with everything you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Liberals didn't just defend Mapplethorpe's right to display it, they advocated that taxpayers pay him for the work and pay to put it on display. This is where I parted company. I supported Mapplethorpe's artistic freedom, but I did not believe taxpayers, through the National Endowment for the Arts, should pay for it.

Things changed however in the 1990's and 2000's as Liberals decided to become “progressives.” In their search for "progress" they decided to abandon the tolerance that liberalism requires and adopted the Leninist concept of “hate speech.” A term that liberals Orwell and Voltaire would never have used, indeed they would have been offended by such a term. The term is a cudgel to be used against anyone advocating anything counter to what the progressives believe.

So a few years ago, when Pam Geller decided, perhaps in the sacrilegious spirit of Mapplethorpe, to host a Mohamad cartoon contest, that is where people get together and draw what they think the prophet Mohamad looked like, she was denounced by the left. Muslims were perhaps rightly offended so the left declared Geller's speech hateful. Needless to say no taxpayer funds were made available for her art generating contest. But to the left free speech is no longer absolute. There is only politically correct speech and there is hate speech.

We see on campuses across America conservatives being driven into silence. Accused of racisms, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia..etc. At commencement speeches across the country conservatives are either disinvited or protested. The left also silences debate by using terms like "settled science". A common example of that - the left can't prove the theory of anthropogenic global warming so they unilaterally declare it "settled". Speakers who challenge the theory are compared to the people who denied the holocaust.

In response to the Pence Notre Dame speech commencement boycott a leftist I know, claimed that the students were justified to walk out on Pence because they knew he would say "disgusting" things. A true liberal would never claim ideas are "disgusting." They would never say that it is ok to turn your back on different ideas, or close your ears or walk out. Liberals believed all ideas are welcome. A walkout is offensive.

Today's left is not populated by the heirs of Orwell and Voltaire, rather they are the disciples of Robespierre and Lenin. Today's left is anti-intellectual and intolerant.

When Mike Pence started to speak the snowflakes at Notre Dame turned their backs and walked out of the arena the great liberals Orwell and Voltaire rolled over in the graves.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Scandal to Nowhere

In public relations you learn to judge a crisis or scandal by whether it has "legs" or not. Meaning will the drip by drip facts lead to a major scandal. Now we live in an era of fake news and fake scandals. The latest fake scandal that CNN and the other media outlets are pushing is this notion that there was "collaboration" or "collusion" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Does the scandal have legs? No, in fact there is not a shred of evidence of any collaboration. I can't understand why a candidate for President of the Untied States would think a leader of a foreign county could help his campaign. It doesn't make any sense.

But for 10 months CNN has found a way to speculate. And Democrats want an independent prosecutor to look into the matter. Perhaps an investigation can yield some evidence. Now normally you acquire evidence first and then open the investigation, but the hope of the left is based on the belief that an investigation might find some evidence.

The charge centers on the claim that Putin ordered the hacking of Hillary's email and released its contents to hurt her campaign and bolster the Trump campaign. But it is clear that the hacking occurred before Donald Trump was the GOP's nominee. Putin hacked Hillary's email without Trump's knowledge or request.

Democrats have made it clear that they hope this fake scandal will lead to the impeachment of President Trump. But the Constitution requires that a President can only be impeached if he commits high crimes and misdemeanors while in office.

On the campaign trail Trump did suggest that Putin should release all the Hillary emails he had, but that is hardly a high crime or misdemeanor. For most Americans such a release would be closer to transparency than a crime. Remember Hillary deleted some 30.000 emails which she didn't want the American people to see. Putin seemed to think the American people should have the chance to read all her emails.

Now since we have no evidence of "collaboration" I thought I would make up three examples and discuss whether any would equate to High Crimes and Misdemeanor's and lead to the goal of impeachment.

Now in any campaign there are phone banking events. That is where a group of volunteers get together and call voters and encourage them to vote for their candidate. And after the phone calls the campaign usually will provide pizza and coke for the volunteers. Now imagine if investigators found that on one such occasion Vladimir Putin paid for the Pizzas. Lets say in Scranton Pennsylvania investigators discover that the Dominoes pizza bill was paid for with Putin's credit card.

This would be evidence of collaboration, but could Trump be impeached for it? Would it rise to the level of a high crime and Misdemeanor? I doubt it. Putin and the Trump campaign may have violated FEC regulations, but it would not be enough to overturn an election.

Second scenario. Let's say Putin called Trump and suggested that Trump spend the last 3 days of the campaign in Ohio. And records showed that Trump did. Investigators find the Super 8 hotel bill for the days in question. Perhaps that would in imply collaboration between the two. Would it rise to the level of a high crime and Misdemeanor? No, if he wanted to take campaign advice from anyone including Putin he could.

Third scenario. Trump suggests publicly that there are a lot of Russian Americans in the panhandle of Florida. Hearing that Putin decides to help. Investigators discover that in the final 3 weeks of the campaign Putin spent a total of twenty hours making calls into Florida encouraging voters to pull the lever for Trump.

Would it rise to the level of a high crime and Misdemeanor on Trump's part. Probably not. If on his own volition Putin decided to make campaign calls to Florida he could. The discovery of such calls could be a political issue for Trump but not a criminal matter.

The left may think they have something. They really have nothing.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

CNN Continues its War on Journalism

I said many months ago, before President Trump made the charge, that CNN was fake news. The latest example. CNN, led by reporters, or should I say employees or fellow travelers, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez and Simon Prokepecz claim that the FBI is investigating “collusion” between the Putin Government and the Trump campaign.

The narrative that CNN is trying to establish is that the FBI has enough or at least some evidence to warrant an investigation into a Putin-Trump campaign effort. CNN still can't believe Hillary lost fair and square.

CNN cites “Anonymous sources within the agency.” Perhaps the guy in the mail room gave them the scoop. However, despite the crawl saying “Breaking News” there is no news, and in fact it is nothing more than yellow journalism.

I suspect this is another dirty trick from CNN. Use anonymous sources to advance a story. However, even if you believe that CNN has legitimate sources the report makes it clear that they have no evidence of any collusion.

From the report:

“The FBI is now reviewing information, which includes human intelligence, travel and phone records and in person meetings according to US Officials. The information is raising suspicions of FBI counter intelligence investigators that coordination may have taken place, though the officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive…”

I have put italics on all the qualifiers. Imagine if at work you walked by the water cooler, and you heard two co-workers speculating that another co worker was having an affair.

And in two sentences you heard the words, "suspicions", "may", and "not conclusive". You would immediately conclude that the workers were engaging in idle gossip, wasting time and smearing a fellow employee.

Well, what you might call idle gossip, wasting time and smearing CNN calls "Breaking news."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Statement by Speaker William J. Howell

The following is a release from Speaker Bill Howell's office:

"Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) announced Monday that he will not seek re-election. Howell's full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below. 

Since the House has returned to the Morning Hour, I ask the members to indulge me a moment while I take this opportunity to share some news.
Serving in this esteemed body which is the Virginia House of Delegates for the last 30 years has been a distinct privilege.  Likewise, serving as the Speaker of the House for 15 years now truly has been the greatest professional honor of my life.
While I obviously will miss all of you and while I will always look back with only fondness at every day I served here, I have decided that I will not be seeking re-election to the House. 
Cessie and I are so grateful for the opportunity that we have had to serve.  There truly are no words to fully describe the joy and fulfillment we have received from this incredible opportunity for public service.  But, we also know there is much more joy and fulfillment to come, albeit differently and beyond Capitol Square and this body.  We are blessed to have two good sons and seven energetic grandkids.  We have our youth!  And, we cannot wait to take some time together to travel, spend more time with our family and, frankly, just to relax together.
The House of Delegates truly is an historic institution.  I love it dearly.  I believe it represents the hope, enduring strength and resiliency of our exciting and ongoing experiment in representative self-government.
If America is a shining city on a hill, then our Virginia House of Delegates is the brightest light atop the highest tower.
As a Delegate and as Speaker, I always have tried to serve in a manner worthy of that stature.
I believe the Office of Speaker rises above partisan politics.  This is an institutional role, with constitutional and other attendant obligations that transcend the fractured moments that often drive our politics.
I also always have tried to be open, accessible and, most of all, fair.
When I became Speaker in 2003, I pledged to lead this historic chamber with the honor and integrity it deserves and to faithfully uphold the dignity of this constitutional office. 
Throughout my tenure, when faced with difficult decisions that go along with this Office, I have strived to reflect those enduring values.  And, in practice, I always sought to put what’s good for the whole institution, and all that it represents, ahead of any other interest.
I pray you will judge my time as Speaker on that more than anything.
 When I accepted the Speaker’s gavel, I reminded myself and others that what kind of people we are, and how we treat one another, is as important as the bills we pass and the laws we make.  May we never lose sight of this worthy aspiration.
Like you, I understand that our mission is so much larger than ourselves.  Ultimately, our purpose is continuing to fulfill the four-century-old mission of Virginia – preserving human freedom and advancing opportunities for all.
So today, I hope you join me in taking pride in everything that this body – Republicans and Democrats working together more often than not – has accomplished over the last 15 years.  The House of Delegates has been a stable and consistent factor in reforming and improving state government for the past decade.  Our shared enterprises, through difficult and good times alike, has made our Commonwealth stronger and more prosperous.  And together, I believe we have enhanced the lives and livelihoods of our fellow citizens we are so privileged to represent and serve.
 Now and always, I am optimistic that this House – the oldest continuous representative law-making body in the New World – will continue to inspire and fulfill the enormous potential of Virginia’s bright future.
So, I will close by saying from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
I am so grateful for the trust and faith you placed in me 15 years ago.  And, I appreciate that you have continued to maintain that trust in me.  The many friendships that have made here over almost 30 years are worth more than any bill I have ever championed or passed.  I am proud to know you all and honored to serve with each of you.
All of you are very talented individuals and highly capable leaders.  You are valuable parts of something much bigger than any one of us.  So, it is easier for me to make this announcement now and to leave next year knowing that this institution will continue to thrive.
Thank you.  May God Bless you.  May God Bless our great country and wonderful Commonwealth.  And, may God continue to Bless this historic House of Delegates."