IF THE DEMOCRATS WIN

If you have been paying attention during this presidential election cycle you have reason to be gravely concerned over the future of America. I know most politicians lie, obfuscate and exaggerate to rile up their base. I have often said that pols only do two things well: get elected and get re-elected.

All that said, let’s review what the Dem presidential candidates have been saying they will do if elected. I will stipulate that not all of the candidates have spoken out in favor of all of the below listed items, but most of them have spoken out in favor of most of them. I am not making this up. You can find these statement easily with a little research. Just a few years ago, most of these policies would have been considered as wild ravings by the fringe far left. Now, they seem to be mainstream Dem ideology and accepted by a large portion of the voters. Think about that as you read on.

When you put the list together it can be frightening. Do they really believe in all these things? Will they really move forward on all of them? I don’t know. I hope not, but let’s take them at their word for a minute. Do you really want to live in the America they envision? Would any clear thinking person want to?

Some of these appear, at least to me, to be so radical as to be unrealistic, if not idiotic; others of them sound good, but they are not practical and would bankrupt the country; still others are a combination of the two. I will leave it to you to evaluate them for yourself.

I repeat, each of these has been espoused by some or all of the candidates, and most of them have received widespread support from much, if not most, of the mainstream media. I have written blogs on most of these proposals before, so I will just give a brief description.

1. Open/drastically relaxed borders. Supposedly, this is about helping the oppressed and persecuted, and there is some of that, but I believe it is more about economic and political power.

2. Free Medicare for all, including illegal aliens. Sounds magnanimous. Why not help those who most need it? However, common sense tells you it would bankrupt the country, particularly in conjunction with open borders. The proponents of this plan are being deliberately vague on details. For instance, no one knows how much it would cost, although the Urban Institute and Commonwealth Fund estimates approximately 32 trillion (that’s with a “T” folks) over ten years. Also, this plan would force you to switch from your current healthcare plan (Remember former President Obama’s disingenuous boast that “if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it?). Moreover, keep in mind many doctors refuse to treat Medicare patients, so what would the impact on the medical profession be?

3. Tax increases/wealth tax. This would be needed to pay for all the social programs. Unfortunately, there are not enough rich people to pay for these programs, so this would affect the middle class as well (although most of the candidates have been dancing around this). Wealth tax has been tried in other countries and abandoned, for various reasons.

4. Reparations. How would it be determined who pays whom? For example, would someone whose ancestors did not arrive until the 20th century have to pay? Would an AA whose ancestors immigrated after slavery ended be entitled to any reparations? Not practical.

5. Forgiving student loans. This would be easily abused by both students and colleges. Need to establish limits and criteria or else those who did not attend college or did attend a sensibly-priced college would be paying for the long-term student who attended a high-priced college, studied impractical courses and/or failed to earn a degree.

6. Prisoners/teenagers voting. Ridiculous on its face. Convicted criminals should continue to forfeit their right to vote. Few teenagers have the maturity and life experience to make rational voting decisions. Furthermore, most of them know little about politics and care less.

7. Guns. They want to chip away at the 2nd amendment. This is a very complicated issue that merits a separate blog to do it justice. I am in favor of some sort of universal background check, but not outright bans. I don’t believe they work anyway, as evidenced by the high crime rate in Chicago, which has among the strictest gun laws in the country. A case in point would be the State of California, which just passed nine separate gun laws designed to restrict the ownership and use of guns, even for hunting.

8. Guaranteed jobs/stipend for all. This is pure communism.

9. Green New Deal. This is supposed to combat the climate change “crisis.” Even if one believes in climate change, this is one of the most idiotic policies I have ever heard. Small wonder, since one of its primary proponents is the intellectually-challenged AOC. (With a straight face AOC characterized climate change as so serious it was “our generation’s WWII.” Really? I think she needs to be educated on WWII, among other things.)

This policy is based on a false premise, that unless we institute radical corrective action to the environment immediately the world will end in seven years, or is it ten years, or is it 15 years. I can’t keep up. Some of the things we are told must be banned include, fossil fuels, internal combustion engines (so, no flying or driving, for instance), beef (due to cow farts), oil drilling, factory farming, and coal, oil and gas heating. Welcome back to the 19th century. Also, virtually every building in the country will have to be re-conformed to comply with GND standards. The cost is estimated to be several trillion dollars per year, and would take several years to complete. No one really knows, but according to GND supporters the world will have ended by then, so I suppose it will be moot. Also, we should restrict the number of children we have or eliminate having them entirely. Sound like something you could support?

CONCLUSION

The foregoing are just some of what we can expect if the Dems win. In a nutshell, it would be the “great giveaway” with vague or no plans of who is going to pay for all this largesse and how.

I know about half of the country hates President Trump on a visceral, personal level. Fair enough. They choose to ignore, downplay or twist his accomplishments. That is their right. But, if you strip away all the partisan rhetoric and bloviations life at the moment is pretty damn good for most people. Most people are, in fact, better off than they were four years ago.

On the other hand, think of the ramifications of these policies. Obviously, they will fundamentally change America. Will it be for the better or not? I would say most assuredly not, but I leave it to you to decide. That is what really makes America great. The voters get to decide in free elections. Just remember you will have to live with the consequences of your vote. It is true that “you get the government you deserve.”

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PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION QUIZ

Some of you have requested a quiz. So, here it is. Be careful what you wish for. You know the drill. No peeking at the internet. No asking “Alexa” or “Siri.” Good luck.

1. Who was the only president who was an independent? (a) Abraham Lincoln, (b) John Adams, (c) Teddy Roosevelt, (d) George Washington

2. Who was the first Democratic president? (a) Andrew Jackson, (b) James K. Polk, (c) John Adams, (d) FDR

3. Who was the first candidate to run as a Republican? (a) Abraham Lincoln, (b) Franklyn Pierce, (c) James Madison, (d) John C. Fremont

4. Each of these incumbent presidents who ran for re-election were denied their party’s nomination EXCEPT: (a) John Tyler, (b) Rutherford B. Hayes, (c) Andrew Johnson, (d) Chester A. Arthur (Hint: each had been elected VP and had ascended to the presidency upon the death of the president.)

5. Five presidents have won despite having lost the popular vote, including each of the following, EXCEPT: (a) Rutherford B. Hayes – 1876, (b) Benjamin Harrison – 1888, (c) John Quincy Adams – 1824, (d) James Madison – 1808.

6. Which election was infamously known for the “hanging chads?” (a) 1892, (b) 1996, (c) 2000, (d) 2004?

7. There have been 19 Republican presidents. Who was the first? (a) James Monroe, (b) James Madison, (c) Abraham Lincoln, (d) Teddy Roosevelt

8. Four presidents have won election despite having lost their “home” state, including each of the following EXCEPT (a) James K. Polk, (b) Woodrow Wilson, (c) George H. W. Bush, (d) Richard Nixon

9. Which was the first election to be decided by a vote in the House of Representatives? (a) 1820, b. (1824), (c) 1912; (d) 2000

10. FDR was elected four times, defeating four different opponents, including each of the following EXCEPT: (a) Alfred E. Smith, (b) Alf Landon, (c) Wendell Willkie, (d) Thomas E. Dewey.

11. A third party candidate has never won or even come close. The last election in which a third party candidate won any electors (except for “faithless electors”) was (a) 1912, (b) 1916, (c) 1960, (d) 1968.

The following questions relate to famous campaign slogans. Match the slogan with the correct year in which it was FIRST used.

12. “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” (a) 1920, (b) 1928, (c) 1932, (d) 1948.

13. “Don’t change horses in midstream.” (a) 1864, (b) 1956, (c) 1936, (d) 1944.

14. “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.” (a) 1836, (b) 1840), (c) 1852, (d) 1856.

15. “America First.” (a) 2016, (b) 1948, (c) 1916, (d) 1920.

16. “54-40 or fight.” (a) 1844, (b) 1848, (c) 1876, (d) 1884.

17. “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” (a) 1932, (b) 1948, (c) 1980, (d) 2016

18. “Happy days are here again.” (a) 1932, (b) 1936, (c) 1948, (d) 1952

19. “A square deal for all.” (a) 1904, (b) 1932, (c) 2004, (d) 1908

20. “Where’s the beef?” (a) 1968, (b) 1972, (c) 1976, (d) 1984

ANSWERS

1. (d); 2.(a); 3.(d); 4.(b); 5.(d)(The others were Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016) 6. (c); 7.(c); 8. (c) (The other was Trump in 2016.); 9. (b) (Jackson had won a plurality among four candidates, but the House chose John Quincy Adams.); 10. (a) The other was Herbert Hoover whom he defeated in 1928.); 11. (d) (George Wallace); 12. (b) (Hoover); 13. (a) (Lincoln); 14. (b) William Henry Harrison; 15. (d) (Warren Harding); 16. (a) (Polk); 17. (c) (Reagan); 18. (a) (FDR); 19. (d) (Taft); 20.(d) (Mondale).

Well, how did you do?

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – OCTOBER

October has had more than its share of significant historical events. Please see below:

10/1/1908 – The first Model T cars, designed by Henry Ford, went on sale.
10/1/1938 – German troops occupied the Sudetenland section of Czechoslovakia.
10/1/1949 – The Peoples’ Republic of China was founded with Mao Zedong as its leader.
10/1/1979 – The US formally turned the Canal Zone over to Panama.
10/2/1967 – Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first African American associate justice of the Supreme Court.
10/3/1863 – President Abraham Lincoln promulgated a proclamation designating the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving (later changed to the fourth Thursday).
10/3/1929 – The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was officially renamed Yugoslavia.
10/3/1932 – Iraq gained its independence from Great Britain.
10/3/1974 – Hall of Famer Frank Robinson became the first African American to manage a major league baseball club (the Cleveland Indians). Later, he also became the first AA manager to be fired.
10/3/1990 – East and West Germany were united as the Federal Republic of Germany ending 45 years of separation.
10/4/1830 – Belgium gained its independence from the Netherlands.
10/4/1957 – Russia ushered in the Space Age as it launched the first satellite, named Sputnik.
10/5/1908 – Bulgaria proclaimed its independence from the Ottoman Empire.
10/6/1927 – “The Jazz Singer,” the first “talkie,” opened in NYC.
10/6/1928 – Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek became the president of the Republic of China.
10/6/1973 – The “Yom Kippur War” commenced as Egypt and Syria launched surprise attacks against Israel, which was busy celebrating the most sacred of Jewish holidays.
10/6/1981 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated.
10/7/1985 – Palestinian terrorists seized the cruise ship, “Achille Lauro,” and threatened to blow it up if their demands were not met. They infamously murdered an elderly wheelchair-bound passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, by pushing his wheelchair off the deck into the sea.
10/8/1871 – The Great Fire of Chicago destroyed much of the city. Legend has it that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started it by kicking over a lantern in her barn.
10/8/1918 – Sergeant Alvin York, arguably the US’s greatest war hero, single-handedly took out a German machine-gun battalion, killing and capturing nearly 150 enemy soldiers. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the French equivalent, the Croix de Guerre.
10/8/1998 – The House of Representatives voted to launch a formal impeachment inquiry of President Bill Clinton.
10/9/1962 – Uganda gained its independence from Great Britain.
10/10/1973 – Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned amid allegations of income tax evasion stemming from his tenure as Governor of Maryland.
10/11/1939 – Scientist Albert Einstein issued a warning to President FDR that Germany was seeking to develop an atomic weapon. His warning led the US to marshal its resources to develop its own atomic weapon (the Manhattan Project).
10/12/1492 – Christopher Columbus landed in present-day El Salvador, erroneously thinking he had found the elusive northwest passage to India.
10/12/1811 – Paraguay declared its independence from Spain.
10/12/1822 – Brazil declared its independence from Portugal.
10/13/1792 – George Washington laid the cornerstone of the White House.
10/13/1884 – Greenwich, England was established as the basic time zone from which all time is calculated.
10/14/1066 – The Normans defeat the English at the decisive Battle of Hastings, which resulted in the Norman’s conquest of England.
10/14/1912 – Former president Theodore Roosevelt was shot while campaigning for re-election, but he survived.
10/14/1947 – Test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first to break the sound barrier.
10/14/1964 – Martin Luther King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
10/15/1991 – Following several days of contentious hearings regarding allegations of sexual harassment against a former aide, Anita Hill, the Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
10/16/1701 – Yale University was founded in Killingworth, CT as the Collegiate School of Connecticut.
10/16/1793 – French Queen Marie Antoinette, known for her extravagance and contempt for her subjects (“Let them eat cake.”), was beheaded.
10/16/1853 – The Crimean War (Russia, England and France vs. the Ottoman Empire and parts of present-day Italy) began.
10/16/1995 – Louis Farrakhan led the Million Man March on Washington.
10/17/1777 – The Colonial Army defeated the British at Saratoga in what many historians believe was the turning point of the Revolutionary War.
10/17-25/1944 – The US succeeded in decimating the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which was the largest naval battle in history.
10/18/1945 – The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial commenced with indictments against 24 former Nazi leaders.
10/19/1781 – English General Cornwallis surrendered to the Colonial Army at Yorktown, VA. marking the end of the Revolutionary War.
10/19/1987 – This day was dubbed “Black Monday” on Wall Street as stocks plunged 508 points or 22.6%, the largest one-day decline ever.
10/20/1818 – The US and Great Britain agreed to establish the US-Canadian border at the 49th parallel. The 5,525 mile border is the longest in the world between any two countries.
10/20/1944 – General Douglas MacArthur, who upon fleeing the Philippines in 1942 to escape the Japanese Army boldly asserted “I shall return,” returned as promised.
10/20/1968 – Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of President John Kennedy, married Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
10/21/1805 – The British Navy defeated the combined naval forces of France and Spain at the Battle of Trafalgar, obviating the threat of their invasion of England.
10/21/1879 – Thomas Edison successfully tested an incandescent lamp.
10/21/1915 – AT&T transmitted the first successful transatlantic radio voice message (Virginia to Paris).
10/22/1962 – President Kennedy warned Americans of the existence of Russian missiles on Cuba. The so-called “Cuban Missile Crisis” was probably the biggest threat of nuclear war during the Cold War.
10/23/1942 – The British Army led by General Bernard Montgomery launched a major offensive against the German Afrika Corps, led by General Erwin Rommel, at El Alamein, Egypt. Montgomery’s victory marked a major turning point in WWII.
10/24/1931 – Notorious Chicago gangster, Al Capone, was sentenced 11 years in prison for income tax evasion.
10/24/1945 – The UN was founded.
10/25/1854 – 673 British cavalrymen took on a Russian force in the Battle of Balaclava. This famous Crimean War battle was immortalized in a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson entitled “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”
10/26/1881 – In the infamous shoot-out at the OK Corral the Earp brothers and “Doc” Holliday defeated the Clanton Gang.
10/26/1825 – The Erie Canal, the first man-made waterway in America, opened for business.
10/27/1904 – The NYC subway system opened with a run from City Hall to West 145th Street as the first underground and underwater system in the world.
10/27/1978 – Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
10/28/1636 – Harvard University, the oldest university in America, was founded in Cambridge, MA, funded by donations provided by John Harvard.
10/28/1846 – The ill-fated Donner Party departed Illinois for California.
10/28/1918 – The Republic of Czechoslovakia was founded by combining three provinces that were formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – Moravia, Slovakia, and Bohemia.
10/28/1919 – Prohibition commenced as Congress enacted the Volstead Act.
10/28/1962 – Russia agreed to halt the construction of offensive missile bases in Cuba and dismantle existing bases, thus ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.
10/29/1929 – The stock market “crashed” ushering in the Great Depression.
10/30/1938 – A radio broadcast of H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” without commercial interruption caused widespread panic, as many people thought that Martians had actually invaded Earth.
10/31/1941 – The Mt. Rushmore monument was completed after 14 years.

BIRTHDAYS – Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi – 10/2/1869; Rutherford B. Hayes (19th President) – 10/4/1822; Frederic Remington (artist)- 10/4/1861; Chester A. Arthur (21st President) – 10/5/1830; Robert Goddard (“Father of the Space Age”) – 10/5/1882; George Westinghouse (engineer and inventor) – 10/6/1846; John Lennon – 10/9/1940; Eleanor Roosevelt – 10/11/1884; Mary Ludwig (aka Molly Pitcher (Revolutionary War heroine of the Battle of Monmouth, NJ) – 10/13/1754; William Penn (founded Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which is named for him) – 10/14/1644; Dwight (Ike) Eisenhower (WWII war hero and 34th President) – 10/14/1890; Lido Anthony (Lee) Iacocca (auto industry executive) – 10/15/1924; Noah Webster ( teacher and journalist who compiled first dictionaries) – 10/16/1758; Oscar Wilde (Irish playwright and poet) – 10/16/1854; David Ben Gurion (“Father of Israel) – 10/16/1888; Eugene O’Neill (playwright – “The Iceman Cometh”) – 10/16/1888; William O. Douglas (associate justice of the Supreme Court) – 10/16/1898; John Birks (Dizzy) Gillespie (jazz musician) – 10/21/1917; Pablo Picasso (artist) – 10/25/1881; Hillary Rodham Clinton – 10/26/1947; James Cook (English explorer) – 10/27/1728; Theodore Roosevelt (26th President) – 10/27/1858; Dr. Jonas Salk (polio vaccine) – 10/28/1914; Bill Gates (Microsoft) – 10/28/1955; John Adams (2nd President) – 10/30/1735; Emily Post (arbiter of etiquette) – 10/30/1872; Admiral Will (“Bull”) Halsey (WWII fleet commander) – 10/30/1882.

SHE’S BAAAACK

Guess who has injected herself into the 2020 presidential election mix, albeit on the periphery? Hint, her initials are HRC. She has been appearing on various talk shows, ostensibly to plug her new book, but her words and actions indicate she still has illusions of power and reclaiming what she believes is rightfully hers – the presidency.

She is continuing to assert that she did not lose the 2016 presidential election “fair and square.” She is claiming she was “robbed” of the presidency by Mr. Trump’s collusion with Russia, and she was victimized by the racism and sexism exhibited by a certain portion of the electorate. Furthermore, she has been stepping up her criticism of Mr. Trump. Her current mantra is that he is an “illegitimate president” who should be impeached. The two have been engaging in an amusing twitter war of words reminiscent of high school. Essentially, he challenged her to run, and she replied “Don’t tempt me. Do your job.”

In my opinion, the subtext of all of the foregoing is that if the Dem Party were to fail to agree on a candidate she would be available to step in. I don’t place a lot of credence in her recent denial to CNN. Pols who want to be drafted always deny that they’re interested.

If you view that as a farfetched scenario consider the following:

1. Many voters, especially independents and moderate Dems, are not exactly enamored with any of the candidates for various reasons.
2. These candidates have dragged the Party far to the left, considerably further than the electorate.
3. Recently, each of the top three candidates has encountered problems, which could weaken, if not derail, their respective campaigns.

Biden has been ensnared in his son, Hunter’s, highly questionable business practices in Ukraine and China. Joe has been caught on tape bragging about how he pressured the former president of Ukraine to fire the special prosecutor who was investigating his son.

Sanders was recently hospitalized with a heart attack, which caused him to suspend campaign activities temporarily. Given his age, this has made many voters uneasy about his health.

Warren has been caught in yet another lie, this time regarding her first teaching position. Briefly, she has claimed in several campaign speeches, that she was fired from that teaching position because she was pregnant. Her words were “my principal ‘wished me luck,’ and [then] hired someone else.” In reality, according to a 2007 video, at the time she had been teaching on an “emergency certification,” because she had not completed enough education classes. Furthermore, the CA Board of Education actually accepted her resignation “with regret” and offered to extend her contract. Since this was not the first time she had been caught in a lie, one has to wonder about her character and credibility. HRC is cognizant of all this, hence, her not so subtle campaigning.

CONCLUSION

In my view, Dem insiders realize Mr. Trump may be vulnerable, despite the fact that, historically, few sitting presidents who are presiding over a good economy and peaceful conditions have been defeated for re-election. He is very unpopular, personally, and despite a very good economy, the defeat of the ISIS Califate and many other accomplishments, he can possibly be beaten with the right candidate. They also know that the current crop is weak and likely not up to the task. I think that is why Pelosi has been fast-tracking the impeachment process, and why HRC has raised her profile. As I said, the clear subtext is “remember me? I am available if needed.”

All that said, we are still four months away from the first primary in Iowa. A lot can and will happen before then. All the major polls show Mr. Trump losing head-to-head to the Big 3.

However, one caveat about early polls. As Reuters pointed in a recent article, historically, their reliability has proven to be questionable. Many respondents state their preference chiefly based on name recognition. In addition, voters often change their minds as the campaign progresses. Also, there is not necessarily a correlation between those who respond to polls and those who actually vote. Finally, there is evidence that many Trump supporters are reluctant to admit it, even to a pollster.

Regarding early polls, in August 2007 HRC led Obama by 20% and ended up losing. In 2016 Trump was trailing Clinton right up until the votes were cast. And, in the most famous case of all, in 1948 Truman was so far behind Dewey in the polls that the Chicago Tribune actually printed an early post Election Day edition with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” So, don’t bet the house on these current polls.

Perhaps, one candidate will distance himself, or herself, from the field and sew up the nomination before the convention. Maybe, a new candidate will emerge. But, if the Dems end up with a wide open convention, don’t discount HRC.

Ugh!

THE RISE AND FALL OF KAMALA HARRIS

The rise and fall of Kamala Harris has been dramatic. Her campaign got off to a very good start. Local police estimated that some 20,000 supporters attended her official launch back in January. Over the next 24 hours she followed up by tying the record for the most campaign contributions (set by Bernie Sanders). She seemed like a strong, aggressive candidate, who had a really good chance to win the nomination and who could possibly stand up to Donald Trump in the general. Moreover, in a year in which the Dems were emphasizing diversity she was a black female senator from the most populous state in the Union.

Her candidacy remained strong throughout the summer. During the first debate in June she impressed by directly confronting and out-debating Joe Biden on various issues, such as his role in bussing in the 1970s and shortcomings of Obamacare. To many observers, including this one, she made him look old, weak, tentative, unprepared, and out-of-touch. She appeared to be the big winner of the debate, not only of her one-on-one with Biden, but also, overall. This assessment was confirmed by her 6-9% rise in the polls immediately afterward. She appeared to be in the upper echelon of contenders, along with Biden, Sanders and Warren. It appeared she would remain in serious contention all the way to the end with a decent chance to win the nomination.

Now, just a few months later, her campaign is in serious trouble. Recently, a piece from Reuters described her as a “once rising star” who has become an “afterthought.” According to a recently-released Berkeley IGS poll her support among likely Dem voters has dropped to 8%, compared to 21% as recently as June. By comparison, the Big 3 – Warren, Biden, and Sanders – came in at 29%, 20% and 19%, respectively. Even worse, Harris is polling a distant fourth in her home state of CA, again, behind the Big 3, despite the fact that Warren and Biden have not even opened campaign offices in the state yet.

In Iowa she has slipped to fifth after being a solid second as recently as July. According to a poll by the Des Moines Register her support among likely Dem voters has slipped to a paltry 6%, behind not only the Big 3 but also Pete Buttigieg. Not good, particularly since Harris’ campaign had stated its goal was to finish third in the state.

It should be noted that despite its small size Iowa is a significant state, simply because it is the first to vote. To a large extent, it sets the tone for the rest of the campaign. For example, some of you may recall that Barack Obama’s campaign received a substantial boost after he put on a late surge to finish third there in 2008. In fact, since 1972 no candidate has won his party’s nomination without having finished in the top 3 in the Iowa caucuses.

Harris is cognizant of the significance of the state and her need to step it up. Jeff Link, Democratic strategist and co-founder of the progressive group “Focus on Rural America,” has iterated her need to increase her emphasis on rural voters, not only to win the nomination but the general as well. In response, Harris announced plans to beef up her staff in the state, add ten campaign offices, and commence bus tours to reach rural voters.

Perhaps more significantly, she has also been slipping in the area of fundraising, which, as we know, is the lifeblood of any campaign. For example, her campaign only raised $11.6 million in the third quarter, less than half of Sanders’ total, and even less than Buttigieg’s. These are all ominous signs.

CONCLUSION

So, what happened. Why is Harris’ campaign fizzling. In my view, there are many reasons, such as:

1. Tepid performances in the second and third debates. Of course, the format of the debates and the large number of participants makes it very hard for any one participant to stand out. Harris found a way to do so in the first debate, but she lost a lot of momentum following the next two. In particular, she struggled to defend certain of her actions as CA state prosecutor and “sell” her healthcare policy.

2. She has had a light campaign schedule, preferring to focus on fundraising, which, as I mentioned above, has not been successful anyway. As a result, she has not campaigned sufficiently in Iowa, NH and SC, which with its substantial AA population, is crucial to her candidacy. She is not likely to do well in Iowa and NH, but she must do well in SC to have any chance.

3. Her name recognition is well below the Big 3. They have been in the national limelight for many years. On the other hand, Harris, though known in CA, has only been in the Senate for three years.

4. Perhaps most troubling for her, is that many voters, such as Texas’ Austin Healy, have told pollsters that they are not sure “what she stands for.”

5. I view the last two as very problematic as they are not easily correctible, particularly with the crowded field and the impeachment investigation, which, for better or for worse, will likely suck up much of the media’s and voters’ attention throughout the campaign.

We have all known the current field of 20 or so is way too crowded, and it would eventually be winnowed to a few survivors, perhaps three or four. Although it is still early, no votes have actually been cast yet, and she still has a chance to resurrect her campaign, it appears that Harris will not be one of those survivors.

Impeach Trump!

As former president Ronald Reagan might say, “There they go again!” The Dems and most of the mainstream media just cannot help themselves. They hate Mr. Trump so much and want to get rid of him so badly that they continually “jump the gun” and end up embarrassing themselves when the actual facts are determined. This has been going on since even before Mr. Trump was sworn in as president.

Below please find a list of some of the highlights, or, rather, lowlights:

1. Collusion with Russia to “steal” the 2016 election.
2. Obstruction of the Mueller investigation.
3. The Mueller report was supposed to provide definitive proof of the above.
4. Testimony of James Comey, Corey Lewandowski and others before Congress that were sure to implicate Mr. Trump in various crimes, but did not do so.
5. For good measure we were subjected to the misreporting of the Covington kids affair and the relentless smearing of Justice Kavanaugh during his hearing.
6. Now, Mr. Trump was supposed to have threatened Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

What is the common thread of all of the above? A rush to judgment before the facts are in, and the subsequent embarrassment when it was determined there was “no there there.” Writing in the WSJ Kim Strassel pointed this out opining that the Dems had opened the impeachment investigation “based on a whistleblower complaint they had not seen [and a second-hand one at that] and a transcript they had not read.” It turns out that this whistleblower is a disgruntled CIA employee working in the White House who may, in fact, have his own agenda.

All in all, the Dems (not all of them, but a significant number of them) and their allies in the media have wasted three years during which time they have single-mindedly focused on how to “get” Mr. Trump rather than focusing on the real problems that need fixing, for example, healthcare, income inequality, student debt, and infrastructure, to name a few. They were elected to deal with these and other issues, not to waste their time trying to build a case for impeachment. I cannot recall any significant legislation emanating from the Congress in the last three years. Can you? The current Congress has distinguished itself as the quintessential “do nothing” Congress. Some of you may recall that Harry Truman won election in 1948 largely by using that as an issue. How are the 30 or so moderate Dems who were elected in 2018 from districts that Mr. Trump carried in 2016 supposed to hold their seats in 2020 with this record? They can’t be pleased that Pelosi has abandoned them in favor of the radical impeachment wing.

Once again, in the Ukraine case they have acted prematurely, before all the facts are in, before even seeing the transcript, before even interviewing the whistleblower to assess the veracity of his claim. This time, there may have been actual wrongdoing. As I write this, we simply don’t know enough facts to make a reasonable judgment. And that is my point.

The Trump haters want it so badly that they have lost their judgment. Even Nancy Pelosi, who heretofore had shown great restraint on the impeachment issue, has fallen victim to TDS (“Trump derangement syndrome”). I know she has characterized it as an “investigation” of the feasibility of impeachment, but to me and many others that is a distinction without a difference.

As most of us now know, Mr. Trump has released the transcript of his telephone call with Mr. Zelensky. Without getting lost in the weeds I think it is fair to say that it is not a “smoking gun” as has been claimed (hoped?) by some. At most, it is benign and inconclusive. There is nothing demonstrating that Mr. Trump threatened Zelensky with any quid pro quo nor that he pressured him to reopen an investigation of Hunter Biden. He asked Zelensky to “look into” the case that had been mysteriously dropped after former VP, Joe Biden, had threatened to withhold a loan guarantee if it were not. There is no doubt that Joe did this. He bragged about on tape.

The context of the conversation is significant. It is well known that for years Ukraine has been plagued by corruption. Zelensky has made it a priority to root it out wherever it may be. He has given his newly-appointed prosecutor a mandate and full autonomy do this. Therefore, would it not be normal for Mr. Trump, as part of a broader conversation, to ask him to look into the Biden case?

Nevertheless, some have chosen to interpret the transcript to fit their narrative. For example, Adam Schiff, who has not exactly been a paragon of objectivity or accuracy for the past three years, characterized it as a “shakedown” worthy of a “mafia don.” Others don’t agree. They point out that in a recent press conference Zelensky stated emphatically that no one “pushed” him to do anything. So, if you want to be objective, do you believe a whistle blower that admits he does not have a firsthand account or what you hear on tape from the principal directly involved. This reminds me of that old Groucho Marx joke, and I paraphrase: “do you believe what I tell you or what you see with your own eyes?”

By the way, the aforementioned Hunter Biden case presents a far more compelling instance of corruption and influence-peddling. Briefly, a Ukrainian oligarch hired Hunter to serve on the board of his energy company and paid him some $50,000 a month. For what? Certainly, not for his expertise in the field. Coincidentally, at the time Biden Senior was VP of the US. Wow! My nine year-old granddaughter could connect those dots.

Biden Junior walked away with millions of dollars. Supposedly, he had a similar deal with China. I am not accusing the Bidens of any criminal wrongdoing, but I think an investigation is certainly merited. This has been severely underreported, if not ignored.

I will concede that Mr. Trump is not popular on a personal level. For example, a recent NBC/WSJ poll reported that 69% of voters do not “like [him] personally,” although his approval rating has stood at about 45% consistently. The actual grounds for impeachment as stated in that pesky document we call the Constitution are somewhat vague, but as former President, Gerald Ford, famously intoned: “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” Got it? I doubt that the intent of the framers of the Constitution was to authorize impeaching a duly-elected official simply because we don’t like him, personally. If that were the standard I could think of a dozen or more Dems I would like impeached.

Incidentally, polls often reach contrary conclusions and should be read with a grain of salt. For example, reporter Carrie Dunn disclosed that the same poll found a “the electorate at large expresses doubts” with respect to some of the progressive policies being espoused by many of the Dem candidates, including the three leaders – Warren, Biden and Sanders. One might conclude that, at the moment, the voters are not really endorsing any person or any policies, or maybe the results have been influenced by the manner in which the questions were asked.

While we’re discussing polls I would like to point out that a recent Quinnipiac poll disclosed that 57% do not want to see the president impeached. This was despite his personal unpopularity and the massive negative reporting to date on this issue. Once again, the average American voter has demonstrated he has more sense than the politicians. If the Dems proceed with impeachment I expect this number to increase, perhaps, sharply. Some of you will recall that President Clinton’s popularity soared as he was being impeached.

CONCLUSION

So, let’s review. Do Mr. Trump’s actions rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors?” Do they justify impeachment? Or, do we have another instance of Trump-haters jumping the gun and seeing a crime that isn’t there? I will leave it to you, the reader, to decide. But, at least, decide based on the facts, not your personal dislike of Mr. Trump.

In my opinion, this is just another case of some people trying to negate the results of the 2016 election. I find the timing rather curious, however, since by the time any impeachment proceeding and subsequent trial in the Senate will have runs its course it would almost be Election Day anyway. Could it be that Pelosi realizes the Dems are about to lose big in 2020? Hmm.

My advice to the Trump-haters is give it up, already. You would be advised to look at life through the windshield, not the rear view window. In other words, focus on the 2020 election rather than continually trying to undue the 2016 election. Even if you were to succeed, what would you gain? Hillary would not ascend to the Presidency. Pence would, and he would be eligible to run two more times. Uh oh! The best way to oust Mr. Trump is to WIN THE 2020 ELECTION.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – SEPTEMBER

The following historically-significant events have occurred during the month of September:

9/1/1939 – The Germans invaded Poland marking the beginning of WWII.
9/1/1983 – A Russian fighter jet shot down a Korean civilian airliner that had supposedly strayed off course during a scheduled flight from NY to Seoul.
9/2/1666 – The Great Fire of London began. It destroyed over 13,000 houses, although it is believed that only six lives were lost.
9/2/1789 – Congress established the Department of the Treasury as the third cabinet department.
9/2/1864 – General Sherman captured Atlanta.
9/2/1945 – President Truman declared VJ Day.
9/2/1963 – Alabama Governor George Wallace dispatched state troopers to prevent the integration of Tuskegee High School.
9/3/1783 – Representatives of England and the American colonies signed the Treaty of Paris bringing a formal ending to the Revolutionary War.
9/3/1833 – The “New York Sun” debuted, as the first newspaper to be “hawked” by boys on the sidewalk.
9/4/1609 – Henry Hudson discovered the island of Manhattan. (Do you know the derivation of the name, “Manhattan”)? See below.
9/4/1781 – Felipe de Neve founded El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles (in English, The Town of the Queen of the Angels), or as it is more commonly known, the City of Los Angeles.
9/4/1886 – Geronimo, the last and, perhaps, the most famous, Indian chief, was captured.
9/5/1774 – The First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia.
9/5-6/1972 – Terrorists belonging to the Black September faction of the PLA murdered eleven members of the Israeli Olympic Team in Munich.
9/5/1997 – “Mother Teresa” died at age 87.
9/8/1565 – Spain founded the first settlement in America in St. Augustine, FL.
9/9/1776 – The Continental Congress officially changed the name of the “United Colonies” to the “United States.”
9/9/1976 – Chairman Mao Zedong, Communist China’s longtime leader, died.
9/11/2001 – The worst terrorist attack in US history ushered in the War on Terror, which is ongoing. Terrorists hijacked four jumbo jets. Two were flown into the WTC, causing both towers to collapse; one crashed into the Pentagon; and the 4th missed its target (the White House or the Capitol) due to the heroism of some of the passengers on board. Nearly 2,800, mostly civilians, were killed and thousands of first responders have since died or suffered health problems directly related to the attack.
9/12/1953 – Future US President John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, RI.
9/13/1788 – The US Congress chose NY as the capital.
9/13/1814 – Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while observing the Battle of Fort McHenry from a British prisoner ship in Baltimore harbor.
9/14/1901 – President William McKinley died from gunshot wounds suffered during an assassination attempt eight days previously.
9/15/1935 – The Nazi Germany government enacted the Nuremburg Laws, which deprived German Jews of their citizenship.
9/16/1620 – The “Mayflower,” with only 102 passengers and a few crew members, departed England for its famous voyage to the New World.
9/16/1908 – William Durant founded General Motors in Flint, MI.
9/17/1789 – The Constitutional Convention approved the US constitution.
9/17/1862 – The Union Army defeated the Confederate Army at Antietam in the bloodiest battle in US military history as approximately 26,000 soldiers died on both sides.
9/18/1947 – The air force was established as a separate branch of the military.
9/19/1893 – New Zealand became the first country to approve women’s suffrage.
9/20/1873 – The NYSE closed for the first time due to the Panic of 1873.
9/20/1973 -Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the much-ballyhooed “Battle of the Sexes.”
9/22/1776 – The British executed Nathan Hale as a spy for the colonials who famously intoned “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”
9/22/1862 – President Abraham Lincoln issued the famous Emancipation Proclamation.
9/23/1952 – Vice Presidential candidate Richard Nixon delivered the famous “Checkers” Speech before a national tv and radio audience.
9/24/1957 – President Eisenhower deployed the National Guard to enforce racial integration in Little Rock, AK.
9/25/1513 – Spanish explorer Vasco de Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean.
9/25/1789 – Congress proposed 12 amendments to the US constitution of which ten were eventually ratified as the Bill of Rights.
9/26/1960 – Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon participated in the first televised presidential election debate.
9/27/1964 – The Warren commission issued its report that concluded a lone gunman had assassinated President Kennedy.
9/28/1542 – Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo discovered California.
9/28/1995 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chief Yasser Arafat signed an agreement granting Palestinian self-rule of the West Bank.
9/29/1789 – Congress created the US Army, which consisted of 1,000 soldiers.
9/29/1829 – Britain’s Parliament authorized London’s Metropolitan Police Force. They were nicknamed “Bobbies” after Home Secretary Robert Peel, who was the driving force behind the idea.
9/29-30/1941 – Nazi soldiers perpetrated the Babi Yar massacre at which in excess of 33,000 Jews were murdered.
9/30/1938 – British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned to England brandishing an agreement with Nazi Germany that he asserted guaranteed “peace in our time.”
9/30/1949 – The Berlin airlift concluded after it had successfully thwarted Soviet attempts to blockade West Berlin.

BIRTHDAYS – Rocky Marciano, undefeated heavyweight boxing champion, 9/1/1923; Christa McAuliffe (the first “ordinary” citizen in space), 9/2/1948; Jesse James, celebrated outlaw, 9/5/1847; Darryl Zanuck, movie mogul, 9/5/1902; Marquis de Lafayette, Revolutionary War hero, 9/6/1757; Queen Elizabeth I, 9/7/1533; Ferdinand Marcos, 9/11/1917; James Cleveland (“Jesse”) Owens, winner of four gold medals in 1936 Olympics, 9/12/1913; Walter Reed, 9/13/1851; General John J. Pershing, WWI commanding general, 9/13/1860; James Fenimore Cooper, authored “Last of the Mohicans,” 9/15/1789; William Howard Taft (27th US President), 9/15/1857; Agatha Christie, renowned mystery writer, 9/15/1890; John Marshall, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, 9/24/1755; F. Scott Fitzgerald, author, 9/24/1896; George Gershwin, composer, 9/26/1898; Samuel Adams, Revolutionary War leader, 9/27/1722; Enrico Fermi, nuclear physicist, 9/29/1901; Truman Capote, authored “In Cold Blood,” 9/30/1924.

Quiz answer – It is derived from the Indian name, “Mannahatta,” which translates to “the hilly island.”

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES’ EXTREME POLICIES

Many voters do not like President Trump, personally. For example, they disapprove of several of his personality traits as well as his penchant for tweeting whenever and whatever he feels like. They may approve of most of his policies, such as his handling of the economy, defeat of ISIS, and “America First” philosophy, but those positives are outweighed by their personal animosity towards him. They are primed to vote for an alternative if only there were a reasonable and viable one. The Dems have a rare chance to unseat a sitting president who is presiding over a very favorable economy and who is not burdened by an unpopular war (such as LBJ was with Vietnam). This has hardly ever happened in our modern history, but it could in 2020.

So, what are the Dems doing with this rare opportunity? They are blowing it, that’s what. How? Read on.

As I write this, there are some 20 candidates still in the race for the Dem nomination. All of them, except for maybe a couple of the fringe ones, have been advocating extreme left policies, which polls, such NPR/Marist, show are too extreme even for a majority of Dem voters. More on that below. This has been pretty evident if one watches the debates, their campaign speeches and the recent CNN-sponsored Town Hall. It is almost comical as they persist in playing a game of “can you top this” as they try to “out-progressive” each other.

Some examples of these extreme and unpopular policies, many of which may sound good but would not work and would bankrupt the country, are the following:

1. Healthcare – Free healthcare for illegal immigrants. Don’t they realize how unpopular this is among voters, most of whom are struggling with inadequate, overly expensive or no healthcare, themselves? This is a non-starter with voters, yet they keep advocating it.

2. Open/relaxed borders – This issue has been very over-politicized. Most Americans realize that there is a vast middle ground available, if only the pols on both sides would compromise their hardline positions. This position, combined with free healthcare is simply idiotic. Anyone with a brain and a modicum of common sense (which, as we all know, is NOT common) can see it. Dems want to let anyone enter the US who wants to do so, and then offer them free healthcare? The combination of these two, by themselves, would bankrupt the country.

3. Illegal immigrants – Most voters are keenly cognizant of and don’t appreciate that the Dem candidates seem to favor illegal immigrants over American citizens. For instance, they favor decriminalizing illegal entry, shorter prison sentences, and thwarting ICE from doing its job. And, then there are the sanctuary, cities, counties and states, which they endorse and encourage. Do you think most Americans like that a several-times deported illegal killed Kate Steinle and then got off on a technicality? How about the mayor of Oakland giving advance warning to illegals of an impending ICE raid, or Montgomery County, MD, a sanctuary county, where, just in the last few months, alone, there have been several instances of illegals raping teenage girls.

4. Taxpayer abortion up to and after birth – According to a recent NPR/Marist poll only 18% of Dems supported this. A woman’s right to choose is a reasonable position, but this goes too far. In my opinion once a fetus is viable outside the womb, abortion is murder. There are even reports that Harris has supported Planned Parenthood in CA in selling body parts of aborted fetuses.

5. Racism/Identity politics – They continually promote identity politics and see racism around every corner and under every bed. That same poll disclosed that most Dem voters disagree.

6. Free college tuition/forgiveness of student debt – Not practical for many reasons, which I have discussed in previous blogs.

7. Assault weapons ban/confiscation – I think everyone would be in favor of curbing shootings, especially school shootings, but I don’t think this is the answer. Certainly, it is not the entire answer. How about universal background checks; better reporting, police who are not afraid to do their jobs, addressing mental health issues, etc.? Incidentally, can anybody tell me what the actual definition of an “assault weapon” is. Probably not, but don’t worry, neither can the geniuses in Congress who are attempting to write the law to ban them. Wikipedia acknowledges that the definition “varies among various regulatory jurisdictions, but usually includes semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine, a pistol grip and sometimes other features, such as a vertical forward grip, flash suppressor or barrel shroud.” Got it? You can, however, bet on two things: (1) The proposed ban, by itself, will do little to curb the frequency of shootings; and (2) the elites and their bodyguards will somehow be exempt from any ban. Some of the candidates, not content with a ban, have been advocating seizure. How do you think that will play out?

7. Other bans – Are you ready? The following are some of the bans that have been proposed to “save the environment” and thwart climate change. Some of these are part of the inane Green New Deal:

red meat
plastic straws
fracking (Sanders called it “a danger to our water supply and the air we breathe.”) How about the 80,000 or so people whose livelihood depends, directly or indirectly, on fracking?
incandescent light bulbs
air travel
combustion engines (What would happen to the auto industry, and how are suburban and rural folks supposed to travel?)
too many babies (Isn’t that racist?)
carbon emissions
nuclear power
coal and coal mining (Uh oh, there goes PA and WV.)
factory farming
toys in McDonalds happy meals
surgery drinks, such as sodas.

Of course, most of these are absurd, but I believe they demonstrate the inane thinking of these candidates. I have not seen any poll in which a majority of Americans supports any of these bans. I submit, they are not about climate change or saving the environment. They are about controlling your lives.

CONCLUSION

Back to my original point. The Dems would have a reasonable chance to defeat Mr. Trump if only they would offer a qualified moderate candidate. (Biden was supposed to be that candidate, but he has shown he is neither qualified nor moderate.) Until this election cycle Dems always stood for the middle class, the working class, the disadvantaged. I have not seen any of the candidates do that. The one exception is Tulsi Gabbard, and her reward was to be belittled and shunted aside by the powers-that-be.

Now, the Dems are all about identity politics, political correctness and white guilt socialism. They are taking their cues, not from their traditional and broad constituency but from the twitter crowd and the likes of the “Four Horsewomen.” Good luck with that.

9/11 REMEMBRANCE – HAS IT REALLY BEEN 18 YEARS?

Wednesday is September 11, a date that will always have special meaning for all Americans, indeed for all decent people worldwide. Like December 7 and November 22, September 11 is a date that will, in the words of former President FDR, “live in infamy.”

Wednesday, as on every 9/11, the names of every 9/11 victim, including those killed at the WTC (in both 1993 and 2001), the Pentagon and on flight 93 will be read out loud on tv. This is a particularly poignant scene as the readers are typically the spouses, children and/or grandchildren of the victims. In addition to citing the name of the victim some of the readers add personal messages of remembrance. In my opinion, these readings of the names of the victims is a fantastic idea as it helps us to remember the horrific and cowardly terrorists attacks and continue to pay tribute to the victims.

On September 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m. ET, Americans’ safe and secure lives changed forever. Like the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and the JFK assassination, undoubtedly, most everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard of the attack. At that moment, the first hijackers’ plane crashed into the north tower of the WTC. This was followed quickly by a second plane crashing into the south tower, and, later, a third one crashing into the Pentagon. Incredibly and inexplicably, by 10:28 both towers had collapsed. Later in the day, a fourth plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA. It is believed that this fourth plane was bound for a target in Washington, D.C., perhaps, the White House or the Capitol, and it would have succeeded but for the heroism of some of the passengers on board.

This year will mark the 18th anniversary of those horrific attacks. They resulted in just under 3,000 deaths. Most of those were workers who were trapped in their offices and consumed by fire or smoke/chemical inhalation. They could not escape because most of the stairwells were blocked. Many victims have only been identified due to their DNA, in some cases many years later.

Compounding the tragedy was the fact that NYC’s 911 operators were not as well informed as they should have been. Thus, they were advising callers from inside the towers not to descend the stairs on their own. Some of them proceeded to the roof hoping to be rescued by helicopter. Unfortunately, helicopters could not land on the roofs due to the heat and thick smoke. Many of us who were watching on tv witnessed the awful sight of people jumping to their deaths (in some cases, actually holding hands with others for support) rather than awaiting their fates from the fire.

The horror of the attacks, themselves, was amplified by the fact that the victims were not soldiers but innocent civilians who were merely working at their jobs. Moreover, many Good Samaritans who volunteered at the site are still dying from cancer or respiratory diseases. This was the deadliest attack on US soil ever. By comparison, the shocking Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which, as I said, President FDR characterized as “a date that will live in infamy” resulted in “only” 2,400 deaths, and they were mostly military personnel.

In addition to the deaths there was significant damage to the economy of NYC and the US as a whole. The entire Wall Street area, including the financial markets, was closed until September 17. Air travel was disrupted. Americans’ psyche was severely damaged. The cleanup of the WTC area was not completed until May 2002. All in all, it took 3.1 million man-hours to clean up 1.8 million tons of debris at a cost of $750 million. Internationally, countries were generally horrified and supportive, although some of the people in some Muslim countries, such as Iraq, were seen to be celebrating.

Fifteen of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, with the others having originated from Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE. The terrorist group, Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, quickly claimed responsibility. Bin Laden had declared a holy war on the US and had issued a fatwa calling for the killing of Americans. Following 9/11, bin Laden became public enemy number 1. Eventually, the US exacted revenge, hunting him down and killing him.

In addition, to the thousands of civilians, police officers, firemen and EMS workers that were killed in the attacks, themselves, thousands more volunteer workers and even people who lived or worked in the vicinity ended up contracting various illnesses from inhaling the various carcinogens in the air and dying subsequently, in some cases many years later. Even today, 18 years later, people are still contracting diseases and dying.

Horrifying as it may seem, some doctors have predicted that eventually these victims will exceed the 3,000 killed on 9/11. Many of us know or know of someone, such as, for example, Jamie, a dear friend of my family, who suffered this fate. The shame of it is they went out of their way to volunteer their services and paid for it with their lives.

The primary illnesses are cancer, respiratory disorders, asthma, COPD and gastroesophageal reflux disorder. In addition, health workers have noted a significant increase in anxiety, depression and PTSD. As I said, many of the above have manifested themselves years later. Even now, new cases are being presented. The number of documented cancer cases, alone, has tripled in the past few years. The physical, mental and emotional toll has been astounding. An estimated 18,000 people have contracted illnesses from the toxic dust. Moreover, there is speculation that 9/11 has caused health issues in babies whose mothers were pregnant at the time of the attacks, such as premature birth, respiratory problems, below average weight, and increased neo-natal requirements.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Americans wanted to know how our intelligence agencies had failed to anticipate them. Who had “dropped the ball?” Amid many investigations and finger-pointing it became obvious that the major factor was failure to communicate and share intelligence and information. For example:

l. The CIA had intelligence reports that a terrorist attack was forthcoming, but it was expecting it to be in Israel, not the US.
2. The CIA knew that two known terrorists had slipped into the US.
3. The FBI had information of certain anomalies at some US flight schools.
4. The Justice Department policies advocated very limited intelligence sharing, even with other agencies.
5. The CIA and NSA were reluctant to reveal sources of information and their methods of attaining it.
6. None of these agencies reported their information to each other or to the White House.
7. In 2004 Attorney General John Ashcroft testified to the “9/11 Commission” that the “single greatest structural cause…. was the wall that segregated or separated criminal investigators and intelligence agents.”

I hope that the coordination and information-sharing among these agencies have been enhanced since 9/11, but I have my doubts. As time has gone on, I sense that we have grown more and more complacent and the various alphabet agencies have resumed “guarding their own turf” rather than sharing intelligence and information for the greater good.

CONCLUSION

Americans’ lives have changed considerably since 9/11. Many believe that not all of these changes are good or even necessary. For instance:

1. The US created the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate and oversee intelligence activities and security. In addition, it passed the USA Patriot Act. These agencies have improved our readiness and security but at the price of certain civil liberties. There is, and should be, a balance between security and liberty, and depending on one’s political point of view the pendulum may have swung too far, or not enough, towards security.

2. Enhanced security at airports and train and bus terminals has made travel more complicated, time-consuming, and nerve-wracking. Some people have curtailed or ceased their travel entirely, particularly internationally.

3. Parents are apprehensive, if not paranoid, about letting their children go outside to play or ride their bicycles in the neighborhood. Also, they accompany their children to the school or school bus stop and pick them up at the end of the day. The various terrorist attacks in schools in recent years have done little to assuage these fears and concerns. Schools have ramped up security protocols. Some have even hired armed guards. Some people have advocated arming teachers.

4. Many Americans have become very focused on enforcing immigration laws strictly to protect our borders, which has led to conflicts with those who view such an approach as “racist” and favor looser, or even open, borders.

5. On the plus side, there has been a significant increase in patriotism and gratitude toward veterans.

In my opinion, parents should make a concerted effort to educate their children on the tragedy of 9/11, what happened, how it happened and what it means. According to Wikipedia roughly 90 million of the country’s 329 million population are under the age of 21 and, therefore, have little or no recollection or knowledge of this event. The danger is that as time passes the populace will forget, and we should never allow that to happen. Educate your kids!

Already, some people are “down-playing” the 9/11 attacks. For example, Rep Ilham Omar, one of the notorious “Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse” who has uttered many disparaging remarks about America and Americans, has summed up 9/11 as “some people did something.” Really? Is she kidding? It’s easy to write off her and others of her ilk as “kooks,” but she does have followers who place credence in what she says.

I encourage everyone to find the time to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It is on the site of the original WTC complex in lower Manhattan. It occupies approximately one-half of the acreage of the original complex. It features two huge waterfalls and a “survivor tree,” which symbolizes resilience and strength. Take the time to stroll around this beautiful area. Take one of the many tours. You will find them most informative. Yes, it is tragic to be reminded of the horror of that day, but, on the other hand, it is uplifting to be reminded of the heroism and resilience of many first responders and even ordinary citizens and to experience the healing that has occurred. Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

STUDENT LOAN CRISIS

What do you suppose is the most serious threat to the US at the present time? What problem could potentially undermine our entire society and way of life? Is it terrorism? Border security? Russia? China? Racism? Healthcare? Income inequality? Climate change? Each of these poses a serious threat, and depending on one’s political orientation and economic and social status, one could make a strong case for any of them as the primary threat. But, there is one problem missing from the above list, and I can make a case that it has the potential to pose at least as big a threat as any of the others. And, that my friends, is the proliferation of student debt (“SD”.

What, you say? SD? How can that be? Well, read on.

Student loan programs originated in 1958 when the National Defense Education Act established financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships and loans, for students majoring in certain disciplines, such as teaching and foreign languages. In 1965 the program was extended to include any students who could demonstrate a financial need. Over the years the program’s criteria and the sheer volume of debt have expanded exponentially. Even members of Congress are not immune. According to “Roll Call” 68 Congresspersons either owe SD, themselves, or have family members who do.

The two major reasons for this astounding growth are the exploding cost of college and the high interest rates on the loans, themselves. According to a report issued by the “American Center for Progress” over the past three decades the cost of a typical college has increased by some 1,000%. Depending on the type of student loan the current interest rate can be as high as 10%. By comparison, currently, typical rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage and a new car are 3 5/8% and 4 3/4%, respectively.

Moreover, according to Lenore Hawkins of Tematica Research Corp, SD loans CANNOT be forgiven, even in bankruptcy. (It would be interesting to ascertain how that came to pass. Most likely, some really heavy-duty lobbying.)

According to “Forbes Magazine” in 2018 total SD amounted to $1.5 trillion. (That’s trillion with a “T.”) To put that amount in perspective it is more than the GDP of several European countries, such as Spain and Sweden. Furthermore, it exceeds the total amount of car loans and credit card debt. The “Forbes” report added that the average college grad owes approximately $38,000; two percent owe in excess of $100,000. The average law school graduate owes some $110,000. The average doctor owes about $200,000.

Those are daunting amounts. Remember, few lawyers work on Wall Street, where one starts with a six figure salary and can become very rich. According to Wikipedia, most earn far less, and many never even practice law at all. Similarly, the average doctor, may be in his 30s before he or she begins to earn any significant money, and with the recent changes in the healthcare system their earnings prospects are generally far less than they used to be. Meanwhile, in contrast, the average tradesman may top out in the low six figures, but he will have started earning money at 18 or so and not have any SD to pay off.

The total SD outstanding in the US is second only to mortgage debt. Any way you slice it, the total SD is massive. Most likely, an entire generation will spend their entire lifetime paying off their SD (or trying to). And, those are the people who actually earn a degree. Many don’t for various reasons, and they still have SD to pay off. They end up living with their parents, broke, angry and frustrated.

A recent Gallup poll estimated that 35% of young adults do so, compared to 25% in 1990. The poll found that they want to marry and have kids, but just can’t afford to do so. This is one reason why the middle class is shrinking.

Along the same lines, in January, 2019 the Federal Reserve reported that the precipitous rise in SD has been responsible for many millennials (those born in the early 1980s to mid-1990s) delaying certain life milestones, such as marrying, purchasing homes, having children, and saving for retirement.

So, what does all this have to do with Socialism?

1. As I said, many millennials are disillusioned, frustrated, and angry. They are saddled with massive student debt that they cannot see themselves ever being able to repay. In the words of Bernie Sanders, they feel the system is “rigged” and “corrupt.”

This attitude is bolstered by reports of favoritism, particularly for children of influential politicians, who manage to gain admission to elite colleges, such as Harvard, Yale or Stanford, despite average credentials. Examples abound, such as Dante Di Blasio, Chris Cuomo, Chelsea Clinton, and the children of Chuck Schumer and Michael Bennett. Then, there is my personal favorite, Al Gore, who has sent four children to Harvard. Four! I’m no statistician, but it strikes me as a statistical impossibility that four children from the same family could meet Harvard’s exacting admissions criteria legitimately.

To be sure, this is nothing new, and we all know why colleges do it, but the brilliant student from an average family sees it as confirmation that the current system is broken, corrupt and rigged.

2. All too often, college graduates discover that their hard-earned, prohibitively expensive degree does not lead to a meaningful job and career. Often, they cannot find a job at all, or if they can it is a dead-end job, such as waiting on tables, driving a taxi or slicing meat in a deli. Moreover, they find themselves saddled with a debt load they probably will never be able to repay. They feel the current system has failed them. It can be argued that in return for the exorbitant tuition they charge colleges have at least a moral duty to prepare students for the real world, and this would include career advice. But, alas, they have no incentive to do so, and frequently don’t.

3. Most millennials do not have the foggiest idea of what Socialism is. They are not cognizant of its disadvantages and failings. All they know is it is different from the current capitalist system, which has not worked for them, and they are not adverse to trying it.

4. They are attracted by the prospect of free “stuff.” Who doesn’t like free “stuff.” They don’t realize that there is no such thing as “free.” Someone, somehow, has to pay for it. Guess who that “someone” will be.

5. In many cases, millennials, in the words of Justin Hawkins of the Hartland Institute have been indoctrinated in socialist ideas and ideals since kindergarten. He characterizes America’s schools as “socialist indoctrination factories.” That opinion may be a little extreme, but many Americans have grown to wonder just what colleges are teaching their kids. What benefits are their kids getting for the $50,000 plus a year they are paying. How come they graduate, if they do, being ill-prepared to make their way in the real world.

They are fed up with left wing dogma, which extolls the so-called “virtues” of socialism and ignores the fact that it has failed everywhere it has been tried (Russia, Cuba, Venezuela). They wonder why students need “quiet rooms.” They are opposed to over-the-top “political correctness.” Now, some schools, notably the University of Michigan, have gone further. They have promulgated “Bias Response Teams.” I could write an entire blog on this, but, in a nutshell, this policy encourages a student who hears or sees anything that he or she deems to be biased or makes them “uncomfortable” (even if they were only a bystander) to report it to the BRT. The BRT will then investigate with the assistance of the campus police. Penalties could be as severe as expulsion. Informing on others to the authorities? Does anyone else think this conjures up life in the old Soviet Union, and don’t we still have free speech in this country?

CONCLUSION

So, what is the solution? Personally, I don’t know, but I do know it is NOT to make college free for everyone. Like a lot of left wing ideas, it sounds good, but it is impractical for many reasons, such as:

1. It would be prohibitively expensive, particularly in conjunction with open/relaxed borders. The Dems will throw out many estimates, but the truth is no one has the faintest idea of how much it would cost.
2. Who would be eligible?
3. What would the limits be in terms of years and costs.
4. There would be no incentive to control costs, such as tuition, books, and staffing, which are out of control as it is.
5. Those who didn’t go to college at all or who attended a reasonably-priced college would balk at paying for others who attended expensive schools and for more than four years.
6. It would be run by the federal government, which has demonstrated repeatedly that it cannot run anything efficiently.

There is no panacea, but I would like to offer some possible suggestions.

1. Recognize that the main objective should be to prepare our kids to deal with the real world and learn a skill that translates to a job and a career.
2. Some would benefit more from a trade school or work experience.
3. Some would be better off attending a community college for two years before enrolling in a classic four-year university. That would keep costs down and ensure that the student is more mature and experienced when entering four-year school.
4. Make universities more accountable for their failure to prepare students
adequately. They have a moral duty to do so but not the incentive.
5. Find a way for the feds to exert more influence on the college community.
6. Like most college graduates, I look back very fondly on those years. For many, it was the best time of their lives, a last fling at good times before facing the real world. But, I fear those days are gone.

This is a very complex issue with no easy solution. I welcome your comments. For all of the above reasons, it has the potential to tear this country apart. An entire generation of young adults has become extremely disaffected. They are angry and frustrated. They feel the system is corrupt, rigged and not working for them. They are ready to embrace socialism, despite its warts. If nothing is done I fear socialism will gain a foothold in this country, and, over time, our whole way of life will be changed radically and irrevocably. We, as a nation, cannot let that happen. It would be the end of America as we know it.