The Government You Paid For

Number 24

Don’t you just hate it when you fire your guns prematurely and don’t have time to reload when a much larger target pops up? Today I know the feeling. Yesterday I made fun of administration officials bouncing about the airways in grand style on the taxpayers’ nickel. One of the recipients was Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. I should have waited:

Washington (CNN) — The chief of staff for Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin altered an email and made false statements to a department ethics official that led to taxpayers covering expenses for Shulkin’s wife on an official trip to Europe last summer, the agency’s inspector general found.

Vivieca Wright Simpson, Shulkin’s chief of staff, altered language in an email regarding the logistics of the trip that made it seem as though Shulkin and his wife had been invited to a “special recognition dinner” held by the Danish government. That led to the department paying for Shulkin’s wife’s more than $4,000 in airfare, according to the report which was released Wednesday.

Shulkin, who was previously the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health under the Obama administration, was nominated for the top post by President Trump. This apparently was not Shulkin’s first trip to the public trough. Apparently Shulkin used his government-paid aid, James Gough, to perform work he should have handled for himself. Gough was asked to and did perform tasks related to setting up side trip arrangements for the Secretary and his wife during the Denmark trip. CNN reports an email to Gough asking, “Is there earlier flight from Copenhagen? Wimbledon tickets? High tea?” And more.

The Wimbledon tickets may have been a bit more. Gough received free tickets to the Wimbledon tennis matches. Victoria Gosling provided the tickets because she is a friend of Merle Bari, Shulkin’s wife. Actually not. When interviewed, Gosling could not recall Bari’s name. The implication is Shulkin and spouse received the tickets because of Mr. Shulkin’s high position, something of a violation of federal law. Lying about the matter is additionally problematic.

If you ever worried about it, then you can put your mind at ease and relax. You are now getting the government you paid for.

Advertisements

Darwin Day

The following appeared in essential the same form in Sunday’s edition of the San Antonio Express-News opinion section.

Monday is the birthday of British scientist Charles Darwin. He was born on this day in 1809, the same day as Abraham Lincoln. Science fans now celebrate it as “Darwin Day,” and for a reason.

Charles Darwin is recognized as one of the pre-eminent scientists of the 19th century, and his remains rest in Westminster Abbey, near those of Isaac Newton. The thing that earned Darwin this distinction was his work earlier in the century—establishment of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Biological evolution was not a novel concept at the time. Anaximander of Miletus (610-546 B.C.) was an early thinker who proposed that one species could descend from another. Medieval Islamic science also included the concept. But by the early 19th century scientists still had no mechanism to drive the process.  Darwin’s contribution was the idea that random variation, coupled with natural selection, provides this capability. Destined as a young man for the clergy, his life was changed by a voyage around the world, a scientific expedition underwritten by his government. His observations on the trip started him to thinking about what could drive evolution, but he did not publish until 1858, when Alfred Russel Wallace hit upon the same idea. The two published concurrently, and the following year Darwin’s seminal book, “The Origin of Species,” set the world on fire.

What Darwin had done was to demolish the remaining link between religion and the natural world. Previous scientists had demonstrated our planet is not the center of the universe, and the earth is millions (later billions) of years old—in direct contradiction to the Genesis story that was the foundation for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Darwin removed any need for supernatural processes, especially anything resembling the God of Abraham, to explain human existence. To many people this undercut the very basis for human morality, and it cast their lives adrift in a purposeless world. The tension extends to this day.

Well into the 21st century rational-thinking people continue to find it necessary to defend truth and reason against attack. It is now barely seven years prior to the Scopes Trial centennial, and scientists and scholars daily endure challenges by creationists of a wide spectrum, all pushing some challenge to established science. The governor of Texas appoints a known creationist to head the State Board of Education, and three prominent creationists are observed reviewing biology text books for the Texas Education Agency. A known fan of Intelligent Design is appointed Secretary of Education. And biology is not the only science under attack.

An Oklahoma senator displays a snowball as evidence against human-caused global warming. Worse, applause comes from a like-minded base of American voters. A disgraced physician publishes a fraudulent paper linking vaccines to autism. Millions of parents withhold vaccines from their children, with tragic results.

Disregard for verifiable fact now permeates the American political landscape. An outlandish rumor takes life about the time of the presidential election and quickly engulfs a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor. Accurate reporting puts the lie to the story, but, against all reason, a person caught up in the frenzy goes so far as to barge into the restaurant, brandishing a firearm and discharging it. The story retains life to this day, due to people’s willingness to believe in the face of contrary evidence. A participant in an Arizona rally in January is heard saying this story requires further investigation.

An American presidential candidate lays a carpet of false statements, continuing into his tenure as the country’s leader. News outlets print the truth, which is then proclaimed to be fake news. Millions of voters pick up the chant.

This lack of respect for the verifiable fact is a malaise that threatens the health of a great industrial nation. The solution will not come from the top. A well-informed citizenry needs to push back against attacks on logic and reason. Clear-thinking people need to come forward when they see or hear something that is obviously not right. A lone voice of resistance should become a million. And the voice should be loud, clear, and firm. There must be no backing down in defense of what is demonstrably true.

The freethinker movement has a history in Central Texas. Immigrants from Germany settled here in the mid 19th century, and their legacy of resistance to absolutism in religion and government has seeped into our society. The Freethinkers Association of Central Texas (FACT) continues this tradition, championing open discussion and insisting on respect for rational thinking. More than an anti-religious gathering, it serves as a channel for many who hold compassion and respect for human dignity above the exigencies of political power. On Darwin Day we resolve to continue Darwin’s legacy of championing fact before fable.

The Freethinkers Association of Central Texas meets informally for lunch the first and second Tuesday each month, and for breakfast at Denny’s on Fredericksburg Road the last Saturday each month. The next meeting is Tuesday, 13 February, at Hacienda Vallarta on Bandera Road at 1:00 p.m. Public welcome.

The Government You Paid For

Number 22

If you ever wondered whether your tax money is well-spent, wonder no longer. The matter is being settled daily. Here’s the latest:

CIA director: Trump grasps intelligence at same level as 25-year veteran

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Tuesday praised President Trump’s grasp of intelligence briefings, saying he has the same depth of understanding as agency veterans.

“I have seen 25-year intelligence professional receive briefings. I would tell you that President Trump is the kind of recipient of our information at the same level that they are,” Pompeo said during an interview with the American Enterprise Institute.

That should lay to rest any concerns our President is not mentally up to the task. The concern now shifts to CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Are we getting more than we are paying for with this amazing government employee?

The Government You Paid For

Number 21

I’ve been around  a few years, and I’ve seen governments come and go. Entertainment value has varied. I absolutely do not recall Roosevelt, but I understand there were tense times. I recall Truman, reviled at the time, recognized only later. Eisenhower was deadly dull. Ozzie and Harriet Nelson provided the drama in those days. If not for McCarthy, we could have swept the ’50s under the rug. The Kennedy years were short and memorable, and then I went All the Way with LBJ. So did a lot of the world. Nixon, now those were the times. We thought something like that would never come again in our life time. Fast forward—even watching Bill Clinton, caught between a failed real-estate venture and a blue dress, failed to live up. George Bush blossomed and faded into fond memories, followed by eight years of deadly dull Obama. There is a reason he picked up the sobriquet “No Drama.”

The waiting has paid off, readers. Enter, stage right, Donald J. Trump, the gift that keeps on giving. During his first year this amazing specimen of American intellect has drained our blood lust dryer than James Buchanan was able to during his entire four years. The Lord has shined his blessing upon us.

When candidate Trump bragged about grabbing women by the pussy, we salivated, hoping for more of the same. Then, days before inauguration last year the specter of the Golden Shower hit like thunder, and our eyes came alight like the sun rising in Arizona. It has only gotten better. To help you enjoy what may be the once in your lifetime reddest of meat, here’s what I’m observing come across the wire.

Where to start? How about what is currently racing across the national fiber this week? ABC World News Tonight with David Muir is my source for these screen shots, but everybody is carrying the story. Advisio: when I say “everybody” I don’t necessarily mean everybody. I need to check with Fox News first. Start with some background.

January last year word leaked out that citizen Trump obtained top billing in a dossier prepared by a British spy:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

Whoa! That was hot shit. The man who was to become President could possibly be in the pocket of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin? What could be worse? Grabbing pussies faded to black. It turns out there was more.

While the Trump campaign was still trying to maintain momentum back in 2016, advisor George Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The problem is that soon-to-be Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied in formal filings any contacts with the Russian government during the campaign. It came out that by “Russian government” Mr. Sessions did not mean “the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.”

Fast forward, and the now Attorney General has been forced by some cruel facts to admit numerous contacts with the Russian government, said contacts previously disclaimed. He also spoke of having no knowledge of the Papadopoulos scheme, despite having sat inches away when Papadopoulos set it forth.

The drama drags on. When Congressman Jerrold Nadler read to General Sessions, “There are reports that you ‘shut George down’ when he proposed the meeting, Mr. Sessions was forced to admit his earlier recollection had been in error.

The source of our joy had more to say on the matter. When FBI Director James Comey declined to neatly wrap up the investigation into Russian meddling in the campaign, President Trump fired him last May. President Trump seemed at one time to confirm this connection of events. Explaining the firing of James Comey, he remarked, on-camera, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story…'” And Comey was out.

Now Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from the investigation, and an independent counsel Robert Mueller, has been put in charge. George Papadopoulos has admitted to lying to the FBI and is under indictment. Likewise, three others connected to the Trump administration or the campaign have been indicted, with some guilty pleas already tendered.

General Sessions, himself, has now been questioned by Counselor Mueller, and Mr. Mueller has turned his sights on the President. ABC reporter Jonathan Karl is seen unloading sources from within the White House. The opinion is there is no way the President is going to agree to a one-on-one with Mr. Mueller.

This is despite President Trump telling Jonathan Karl and others last year that he would be “100% willing to do it.”

President Trump said Friday he would be willing to testify under oath about his interactions with former FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired in May.

The president said Comey’s testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee mostly vindicated his previous claims about their interactions.

Oh, my God! What is the government coming to  when politicians go back on their word?

In the meantime, there is more drama concerning George Papadopoulos:

George Papadopoulos is the ‘John Dean’ of the Russia investigation, his fiancee says

 January 22

He has been mocked by President Trump as a “low level volunteer” and “proven to be a liar.”

But the fiancee of George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts and is cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, says he is being miscast.

“I believe history will remember him like John Dean,” said Italian-born Simona Mangiante, referring to the former White House counsel who pleaded guilty to his role in the Watergate coverup and then became a key witness against other aides to President Richard Nixon.

Dean told Nixon in 1973 that Watergate was a “cancer on the presidency,” warning him that it was an existential crisis that could imperil his term in office.

Yes, people, we are truly getting the government we paid for. Please enjoy.

There will be more to come. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your souls.

This is your President speaking.

Number 41 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!

I could not have said it better. Keep reading. The President is not finished speaking.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

A break from geometry problems on this, the first day of 2018. Here is a short geography quiz. Following is a list of American cities, in pairs. Your job is to, for each pair, pick the city with the largest population. Some of these are easy, others not so much so. After you finish picking, post your answers in the comments section and then grade yourself by going to Wikipedia. Use the population figures from the city’s Wikipedia entry. Some cities have the same name as others in other states. Assume the most prominent in case of conflict.

  1. Dallas – San Diego
  2. Austin – San Francisco
  3. Philadelphia – Chicago
  4. Houston – Boston
  5. Muleshoe – Lipan (both in Texas)
  6. Santa Fe – Denver
  7. Kansas City (Kansas and Missouri)
  8. Topeka – Memphis
  9. Minneapolis – Fort Worth
  10. Miami – Phoenix
  11. Oklahoma City – Baltimore

Update and answers:

  1. Yes, San Diego is more populous than Dallas. Just barely. That’s one I missed.
  2. In the rankings, Austin is number 11, San Francisco is number 14.
  3. Chicago 3, Philadelphia 5.
  4. Houston 4, Boston 21.
  5. This is an easy one. Muleshoe, Texas is much larger than Lipan.
  6. Denver is number 23, Santa Fe does not make the top 100.
  7. Kansas City, Missouri, ranks number 37. Kansas City, Kansas, does not make the list.
  8. Memphis is number 20, larger than Boston. Topeka does not make the list.
  9. Fort Worth, 17, is way ahead of Minneapolis
  10. Phoenix, at number 6, far out-ranks Miami.
  11. Baltimore 26, Oklahoma City 29.

The Golden Shower

Number 27

I am telling you, this bunny has a life of its own. They should start using it in ads for Energizer Batteries. The story goes back a bit. In 2015 The Washington Free Beacon hired private research concern GPS Fusion to conduct opposition research on presidential candidate Donald Trump. The Free Beacon ceased its interest in the research when Trump became the presumptive Republican candidate. At that point the Clinton campaign, no friend of Donald Trump, started picking up the tab for the research. GPS Fusion hired former MI-6 operative Christopher Steele to continue the work, but they lost interest once Trump won the election on 8 November 2016.  Glenn R. Simpson of Fusion GPS continued supporting the research, eventually handing off the results to British and American intelligence services. Sources for this are the Wikipedia entries for the Donald Trump–Russia dossier and GPS Fusion.

Parts of the Steele Dossier have been independently corroborated, but essential sections have not. One that possibly has not been verified is among the most salacious. A paragraph labeled 3 relates the following:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

Anyhow, President Trump is vigorously pushing back against the FBI investigation of possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. The implication of such collusion is that a foreign government, particularly one unfriendly to the United States, has assisted in the election of a preferred candidate. The drama has been playing out on the President’s Twitter account and also on television news. President Trump spent the Christmas holiday weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, and ABC News followed the story from there. Trump is denying any collusion with the Russian government,  and he is particularly bearing down on the Steele dossier.

This ignores, of course, that the Steele dossier is not the main concern of the FBI investigation. The feds are really going after a meeting Trump campaign operatives had with representatives of the Russian government at Trump Tower in New York City on 9 June 2016. From all appearances, Donald Trump and his supporters are attacking the Steele dossier as a distraction.

“WOW, [Fox and Friend] ‘Dossier is bogus,'” Trump tweeted. “‘Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI Tainted.'”

The president added, “And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!”

Trump appeared to reference an interview between the “Fox & Friends” panel and former Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who is now a political pundit for the channel.

Chaffetz stated: “The dossier we have long known is bogus. The question is, how was it funded?”

Fueled by his cheering section at Fox News, this is a strident refrain on Trump’s Twitter feed.

WOW, “Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.” And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!

President Trump’s war with his own intelligence services, particularly the FBI, has been unrelenting of late. Currently bearing the brunt of the President’s assault is FBI acting director Andrew McCabe, who’s wife’s political campaign last year obtained funding from Hillary Clinton associates. McCabe obtained advice from the Bureau ethics arm prior to continuing his work investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Meanwhile, President Trump announced he would return to work the day following Christmas, but 26 December found him still playing golf at one of his Florida properties. Say what you will about President Trump, but he continues to set records.

If the FBI needs to learn one thing, it is to not mess around with a guy swinging a golf club.

This is your President speaking.

Number 23 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

WOW, “Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.” And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!

Let us all rejoice that an element of class has been returned to the nation’s highest office.

This is your President speaking.

Number 22 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

It’s why he’s paid the big bucks, readers. And a Merry Christmas to you, Mr. President.

The Government You Paid For

Number 20

For decades we’ve been looking for an economic visionary who could lead us out of the doldrums. We’re still looking.

Economists on the TAX CUTS and JOBS ACT: “The enactment of a comprehensive overhaul – complete with a lower corporate tax rate – will IGNITE our ECONOMY with levels of GROWTH not SEEN IN GENERATIONS…”

Yes, that was President Trump earlier this month. His visionary tax reform program has now become an accomplished fact, but even back then it had the weight of rock-solid economics. Don’t believe me? Check the above assurance from the President of the United States.

Actually, I did. A bit of skeptical analysis is in order.

“Economists on the TAX CUTS and JOBS ACT” Economists. Yes. Economist. The tweet posted above includes a video that features the accolades from 137—count them, 137—economists. Here’s what they have to say:

 

The enactment of a comprehensive overhaul—complete with a lower corporate tax rate—will ignite our economy with levels of growth not seen in generations. A twenty percent statutory rate on a permanent basis would, per the Council of Economic Advisors, help produce a GDP boost “by between 3 and 5 percent.”

Call me a bleeding-heart liberal if you want, but that sounds impressive, the operative word being “sounds.” I picked up details from an item in Forbes that came out the day after the President’s astounding tweet, and I get this. While I was not able to peel off the names of the magnificent 137, Forbes contributor John T. Harvey did exhibit a few for examination. I followed his lead.

Gil Sylvia is supposedly at the University of Georgia. Rather than track him down, myself, I let some others do the leg work. This from The Intercept:

One of the signatories, Gil Sylvia of the University of Georgia, does not have a biography page or any online trace of employment at the university. A university representative told The Intercept that no one with the name Gil Sylvia is employed there. There is a Gil Sylvia working as a marine resource economist at Oregon State University. He did not respond to a request for comment. (If you are the Gil Sylvia who signed this letter and exist, email me.)

Seth Bied is another of the fabulous 137. Forbes made this finding:

Another signatory to the RATE letter, Seth Bied, is not an economist. He is a low-level office assistant at the New York State Tax Department, whose spokesperson said Bied does not remember signing the economists’ letter.

Oops!

James C. Miller III, according to the Forbe’s posting, “… is an official with Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-run advocacy organization hell-bent on passing tax cut legislation.” That somebody, eager to sign off on President Trumps new tax scheme, is one of those people whose quest in life seems to align with the wording of the new tax bill. Miller actually is an economist, and we can expect his Nobel Prize to be announced next October.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin is another actual economist listed. From Wikipedia:

In early 2010, Holtz-Eakin became president of American Action Forum, a conservative think tank focused on fiscal and public policy issues. Since joining American Action Forum, Holtz-Eakin has appeared on Fox News to argue against a 2010 health care bill, as well as writing a similarly worded Op-Ed for the New York Times. Holtz-Eakin has been active in supporting Senate immigration bill S.744, which would increase annual legal immigration numbers, legalize illegal immigrants in the United States and some who have already been deported, and promises future enforcement efforts to deter future illegal immigration.

John P. Eleazarian is an economist? Others have a different opinion:

John P. Eleazarian is listed as an economist with the American Economic Association. But membership to the AEA is open to anybody who coughs up dues, and membership simply grants access to AEA journals and discounts at AEA events. Eleazarian is a former attorney who lost his law license and the ability to practice law in California after he was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for forging a judicial signature and falsifying other documents. His current LinkedIn profile lists him as a paralegal at a law firm.

That item I pulled from The Intercept has more to say:

The RATE Coalition letter lists 13 economists as having emeritus status. But a closer look shows that many other individuals listed as currently employed are also retired. Professor Ashley Lyman is listed as a signatory who works at the University of Idaho, but his biography page shows that he is actually retired. The same goes for Richard Kilmer of the University of Florida, Jerold Zimmerman of the University of Rochester, Stephen Happel of Arizona State University, and William R. Allen of the University of California, Los Angeles. All are listed as current academics while they are, in fact, in retirement.

Other signatories are far from independent voices. One is an in-house economist at a financial services firm based in Illinois. Another is an in-house economist with Bank of America.

I recommend you read the linked item.

It turned out not to be necessary for me to eyeball the list from the video. The sponsor of the letter, the RATE Coalition, has posted all the names on-line:

James C. Miller III
Former OMB Director, 1985-88

Douglas Holtz-Eakin
American Action Forum

Alexander Katkov
Johnson & Wales University

Ali M. Reza
San Jose State U (Emeritus)

Ann E. Sherman
DePaul University

Anthony B. Sanders
George Mason University

Anthony Negbenebor
Gardner-Webb University

Arthur Havenner
University of California, Davis

Austin J. Jaffe
Penn State University

Barry J. Seldon
UT Dallas (retired)

Barry W. Poulson
University of Colorado

Boyd D. Collier
Tarleton State University, Texas A&M University System (Emeritus)

Brian Stuart Wesbury
Joint Economic Committee

Carlisle E. Moody
College of William and Mary

Charles W. Calomiris
Columbia University

Christine P. Ries
Georgia Institute of Technology

Christopher C. Barnekov
FCC (Retired)

Christopher Lingle
Universidad Francisco Marroquin

Clifford F. Thies
Shenandoah University

Daniel Fernandez
Universidad Francisco Marroquin

Daniel Houser
George Mason University

David H. Resler
Chief US Economist, Nomura (Retired)

David Ranson
HCWE & Co.

Dennis E. Logue
Steven Roth Professor, (Emeritus) Tuck School, Dartmouth Colleges

Derek Tittle
Georgia Institute of Technology

DeVon L. Yoho
Economist Ball State University (Retired)

Donald J. Oswald
California State University, Bakersfield (Retired)

Donald Koch
Koch Investments

Donald L. Alexander
Western Michigan University

Donald Luskin
TrendMacro

Douglas C. Frechtling
George Washington University

Douglas Kahl
The University of Akron

Douglas O. Cook
The University of Alabama

E. Kingdon Hurlock Jr.
Calvert Investment Counsel

Edward M. Scahill
University of Scranton

Eleanor Craig
University of Delaware

F. Owen Irvine
Michigan State University (Emeritus)

Farhad Rassekh
University of Hartford

Francis Ahking
University of Connecticut

Frank Falero
California State University (Emeritus)

Gary R. Skoog
Legal Econometrics, Inc.

Gary Wolfram
Hillsdale College

Gene Simpson
NPTC, Auburn University

George Langelett
South Dakota State University

Gerald P. Dwyer
Clemson University

Gordon L. Brady
Joint Economic Committee (former)

Gil Sylvia
Oregon State University

H Daniel Foster
HDFCO

Hugo J. Faria
University of Miami

Inayat Mangla
Western Michigan University

J. Edward Graham
UNC Wilmington

Jagdish Bhagwati
Columbia University

James B. Kau
University of Georgia

James C.W. Ahiakpor
California State University, East Bay

James D. Adams
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

James D. Miller
Smith College

James F. Smith
EconForecaster, LLC

James Keeler
Kenyon College

James M. Mulcahy
SUNY – Buffalo economics department

James Moncur
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Jeffrey Dorfman
University of Georgia

Jerold Zimmerman
University of Rochester

Jody Lipford
Presbyterian College

Joe Cobb
Congressional Joint Economic Committee (1985-91)

John A. Baden
Chm., Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE)

John P. Eleazarian
American Economic Association

John C. Moorhouse
Wake Forest University (Emeritus)

John D. Johnson
Utah State University

John H McDermott
University of South Carolina

John McArthur
Wofford College

John Ruggiero
University of Dayton

John Semmens
Laissez Faire Institute

Joseph A. Giacalone
St. John’s University, NY

Joseph Haslag
University of Missouri-Columbia

Joseph S. DeSalvo
University of South Florida – Tampa

Joseph Zoric
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Kathleen B. Cooper
SMU’s John Tower Center for Politico Science

Kenneth V. Greene
Binghamton University (Emeritus)

Kenneth W. Chilton
John Hammond Institute at Lindenwood University

Lawrence Benveniste
Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Lawrence R. Cima
John Carroll University

Leon Wegge
University of California, Davis

Lloyd Cohen
Scalia Law School

Lucjan Orlowski
Sacred Heart University

Lydia Ortega
San Jose State University

M. Northrup Buechner
St. John’s University, New York

Maurice MacDonald
Kansas State University

Michael A. Morrisey
Texas A&M University

Michael Connolly
University of Miami

Michael D Brendler
Louisiana State University Shreveport.

Michael L. Marlow
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Moheb A. Ghali
Western Washington University

Nancy Roberts
Arizona State University

Nasser Duella
California State University, Fullerton

Nicolas Sanchez
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA (Emeritus,)

Norman Lefton
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

Paul H. Rubin
Emory University

Pavel Yakovlev
Duquesne University

Pedro Piffaut
Columbia University

Peter E. Kretzmer
Bank of America

Peter S. Yun
UVAWISE (Emeritus)

Phillip J. Bryson
Brigham Young University (Emeritus)

R. Ashley Lyman
University of Idaho

R. L. Promboin
University of Maryland University College (former)

Richard J. Cebula
Jacksonville University

Richard Kilmer
University of Florida

Richard Timberlake
Prof. of Econ., Univ. of Ga. (Retired)

Richard Vedder
Ohio University

Robert B. Helms
American Enterprise Institute (Retired)

Robert F. Stauffer
Roanoke College , (Emeritus)

Robert Heller
Former Governor, Federal Reserve Board

Robert Sauer
Royal Holloway University

Robert Tamura
Clemson University

Roger Meiners
University of Texas-Arlington

Roger Sedjo
Resources for the Future (retired)

Sanjai Bhagat
University of Colorado Boulder

Scott Hein
Texas Tech University

Stan Liebowitz
University of Texas

Stephen Happel
Arizona State University

T. Craig Tapley
University of Florida

Thomas H. Mayor
University of Houston

Thomas J. Kniesner
Claremont Graduate University

Thomas M. Stoker
MIT (retired)

Thomas Saving
Texas A&M University

Timothy Mathews
Kennesaw State University

Tomi Ovaska
Youngstown State University

Tony Lima
California State University, East Bay

Victor a Canto
La Jolla economics

Vijay Singal
Navrang Inc

Wallace Hendricks
University of Illinois

Ward S. Curran
Trinity College Hartford Connecticut (Emeritus)

Wayne T. Brough
FreedomWorks Foundation

William Albrecht
University of Iowa

William B. Fairley
Analysis & Inference, Inc.

William Buchanan
Valdosta State University

William McKillop
Resource Economics (Emeritus)

William R. Allen
UCLA Department of Economics

William S. Peirce
Case Western Reserve University

Wim Vijverberg
CUNY Graduate Center

Xuepeng Liu
Kennesaw State University

Yuri N. Maltsev
A.W. Clausen Center for World Business, Carthage College

Even throwing out the obvious clinkers, that is an impressive list. What is more impressive is the list of those not making the cut. Here are a few:

One of those not included is Alan Blinder:

lan Stuart Blinder (born October 14, 1945) is an American economist. He serves at Princeton University as the Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs in the Economics Department, and vice chairman of The Observatory Group. He founded Princeton’s Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies in 1990. Since 1978 he has been a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.[1]He is also a co-founder and a vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network, LLC. He is among the most influential economists in the world according to IDEAS/RePEc,[2] and is “considered one of the great economic minds of his generation.”[3]

Blinder served on President Bill Clinton‘s Council of Economic Advisers (July 27, 1993 – June 26, 1994), and as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from June 27, 1994, to January 31, 1996. Blinder’s recent academic work has focused particularly on monetary policy and central banking,[4] as well as the “offshoring” of jobs, and his writing for lay audiences has been published primarily but not exclusively in New York TimesWashington Post and Wall Street Journal, where he now writes a regular monthly op-ed column. His latest book is After the Music Stopped, published by Penguin in January 2013.[5]

In a National Public Radio interview with host Michel Martin, Blinder had the following to contribute:

MARTIN: But we’ve heard that clip – we heard that clip from President Trump earlier. I mean, would it be fair to say that the economy is at 3 percent and that that was not expected either?

BLINDER: I think that’s probably fair. But you want to remember he’s talking about quarterly growth rates annualized. We have had any number of 3 percent-plus quarterly growth rates during the eight years that Obama was president, but the average was not 3 percent. So a 3 percent quarter now and again is not exactly a shocking development. Although I think it is fair to say that when President Trump got elected, most people would have predicted 3 percent for the recent quarter.

MARTIN: So before we let you go, could you just walk us through your baseline concern for people who are not familiar with what you’ve been saying? And I understand that you’re still continuing to write about this. What is your biggest concern walking through the next year and then perhaps in the out years after that?

BLINDER: Yes. First of all, it blows a hole in the budget at a time when we don’t really need this. We’re at full employment. We don’t need stimulus. It’s not 2009. Secondly, while the president has claimed this is the biggest tax cut in history, which is blatantly false, it probably is the most regressive tax cut in history.

Thirdly or fourthly or whatever I’m up to, under the guise of achieving greater simplification – remember; it was going to be on a postcard. The law opens up a number of new and pretty egregious loopholes while closing very few. So we’re going to get a more complex, more loophole-ridden tax code that’s regressive and unbalances the budget. Now you can ask me, what’s the good side?

(LAUGHTER)

[Emphasis added]

Another who failed to make the list was Nobel economist Richard Thaler:

Nobel economics winner says Trump tax plans spur inequality, tax avoidance

Reuters Staff

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – The U.S. tax overhaul supported by President Donald Trump and the Republican party will increase inequality and opportunities for tax avoidance, Nobel economics prize-winner Richard Thaler said on Thursday.

Apparently, economists who failed to make the RATE list are legion:

37 of 38 economists said the GOP tax plans would grow the debt. The 38th misread the question.

  November 22

An overwhelming majority of academic economists say in a new survey that the Republican tax proposals would cause America’s debt to grow by one critical measure.

Thirty-seven of 38 experts surveyed by the University of Chicago’s Initiative on Global Markets agreed that the GOP tax bills in Congress would cause U.S. debt to increase “substantially” faster than the economy.

Only one economist — Stanford’s Liran Einav — said that he was “uncertain” if the bills would exacerbate America’s debt-to-GDP ratio. But after the survey’s release, Einav said his response had been a mistake, and that he actually agrees with the economists who expect the debt ratio to soar. (Four other economists in the IGM panel didn’t answer the question one way or the other.)

[Emphasis added]

Aw shucks! The 37 who disagreed with the RATE letter amount to 100 fewer than those who signed. It is not readily apparent whether the two numbers would eventually line up if you subtract from the RATE list all those previously indicted for criminal acts or who are otherwise disenfranchised.

An item that came out in Mother Jones a month ago also runs counter to the RATE letter:

Nine Out of Ten Economists Agree: The Republican Tax Bill Is Ridiculous

The latest question put to the IGM Economic Experts Panel was about the Republican tax plan. Without further ado, the results:

That is far from a cry in the wilderness.

But enough of this. The lesson to be learned from this is that when you set out to produce a load of misguided legislation it is best not to pile on extra baggage. Pulling up a bogus list of “economists” in favor of the new tax bill is the equivalent of bringing your pimp boyfriend to the prom.

Regarding the government you paid for, there is a bright side. Supposedly major companies, now lightened by removal of a burdensome marginal tax rate, plan to return some of these savings to employees (not necessarily hire new employees) and also to investors. And guess what. Long since retired, I am living off my savings, said savings being invested where? You guessed it. I plan on drawing in some of those savings, giving me some extra jingle in my pocket.

But what to do with this largess? Truth be, as a retired person I spend my spare time sitting at this computer writing silly blog posts. I don’t expect my expenses to go up, so I will likely have spare change to throw around. I was thinking about writing a nice check next year to whoever runs against Senator Ted Cruz.

Thank you very much! Thank you very much! That’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me! I may sound double Dutch But my delight is such I feel as if a losing war’s been won for me And if I had a flag I’d hang me flag out To add a sort of final victory touch But since I left me flag at home I simply have to say Thank you very very very much! Thank you very very very much!

The Government You Paid For

Number 19

Yes, people, we are finally getting the government we paid for. For example:

Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program

WASHINGTON — In the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was almost impossible to find.

Which was how the Pentagon wanted it.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.

The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

[Emphasis added]

Need I remark? That is one earnest use put to our tax dollars. Harry Reid, a Democrat, retired from the Senate in January at the end of a 30-year term. Does foolishness, or corruption, ever reach so high? Oops! I’m sorry I asked that question. I momentarily forgot the other events of last January.

Apparently the rot was not skin deep. Additionally from The New York Times:

Two other former senators and top members of a defense spending subcommittee — Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Daniel K. Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat — also supported the program. Mr. Stevens died in 2010, and Mr. Inouye in 2012.

Ouch!

Anyhow, what’s $22 million here or there? I mean, what else were they planning on doing with the money? For one thing, they could have given it to me. Some friends of mine and I have chipped in and put up a $12,000 bounty for anybody who can prove, among other things, the existence of outer space aliens visiting Earth. We would take the $22 million and offer that in place of our (still uncollected) prize. We would post a notice: “$22 million for proof of aliens from outer space.” Then we would sit back while the claimants flooded in.

And flood they likely would. We might get Cody Knotts, who is producing a film about the Kecksburg Incident:

The producer is Cody Knotts, originally from Taylortown, PA., and the above link leads to a pitch for crowd-funding to get the picture off the ground. The pitch, apparently penned by Knotts, stresses these additional points:

  • The public deserves to know the truth about Kecksburg. Our government has no right to continue to hide the truth.  Even Hillary Clinton can’t get the records, but this feature film can help keep Kecksburg in the public eye.  Even more important, this film can help drive tourism to the Pittsburgh region and Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Roswell gets $95 million annually and Kecksburg nearly nothing.
  • Are you tired of your government lying to you?  Then join our fight, help us make this film.  Help us expose the truth.
  • Do you care about Pittsburgh?  Would you like to help change a region for the better?
  • Films are forever.  They last beyond our lifetimes.  This is our chance to tell a story that has fascinated the public for decades.  Bryant Gumble, Ancient AliensUnsolved Mysteries and the History Channel  have all investigated Kecksburg but no one has brought the legend to life, until now.  We need your help and we want you to be a part of the legend.

Or we might receive an application from Jenny Randles, who published the book shown above. I have this and her other book, Alien Contact & Abductions. Maybe some book reviews are in order.

So what would a claimant need to show in order to score the $22 million prize? There are a number of things a claimant would not need to bring to any demonstration. One of these would not be:

“We look down, we see a white disturbance in the water, like something’s under the surface, and the waves are breaking over, but we see next to it, and it’s flying around, and it’s this little white Tic Tac, and it’s moving around — left, right, forward, back, just random,” he said.

The object didn’t display the rotor wash typical of a helicopter or jet wash from a plane, he said.

The planes flew lower to investigate the object, which started to mirror their movements before disappearing, Fravor said. “As we start to cut across, it rapidly accelerates, climbs past our altitude and disappears,” Fravor recalled.

Yeah, I was thinking we would want something more like any one of the following:

  • Spacecraft lands, and aliens confer with government officials.
  • Spacecraft crashes into the Capitol Building, and scientist analyze the remains.
  • Aliens contact me, and I take a ride in the spacecraft.

My plan has the additional advantage that at the end of each fiscal year the money would still be in the United States Treasury. You can’t beat a deal like that. It is the government you paid for.

The Government You Paid For

Number 18

Oops! I should be more careful what I wish for. Apparently we are now getting the government we paid for, and that government would include the newly-minted FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. See the video. This is the kind of thing you would expect if you put a coin in a strange vending machine and punched one of the unfamiliar buttons on the front. Out pops the product. In this case it’s Mr. Pai explaining why ending net neutrality is such a good thing—or else maybe not so bad as your second or third impression would make it out. Just watch the video. It is required. Your tax dollars paid for it.

The Government You Paid For

Number 17

Voters (and taxpayers) are rejoicing all over this land. That which was promised had been delivered. We finally have the government we paid for. And are we ever so well rewarded. Recently-elected President of the United States Donald J. Trump promised, and he has delivered.

Extraordinary! Twelve Federal Circuit Court judges confirmed, and President Trump is still in his first year in office. This accomplishment exceeds that of any other president—more than Kennedy’s and Nixon’s 11 in their first year and far ahead of President Obama’s three. What makes President Trump’s accomplishment all the more remarkable is that he had to deal with a Republican Senate and a Republican House. Of course, the House of Representatives is not involved in confirmation of judges, but I’m just throwing that out to impress you.

Additionally remarkable is the caliber of individuals being advanced to this judicial level. An example would be Matthew Spencer Petersen, which person President Trump nominated to the Court. To be sure, before a nominee can advance to actually sitting in judgment on federal cases, that person must be confirmed by the Senate, and to assure some legitimacy of such confirmation there is a proforma hearing—merely a bureaucratic exercise the nominee is required to endure before he is hustled off to his chair behind the bench. Mr Petersen’s experience with this exercise was notable.

Here is a transcript of part of the process involving Mr. Petersen. The “Kennedy” referenced in the transcript is Judiciary Committee member John Neely Kennedy (R-La.). From The Washington Post:

KENNEDY: Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom?

(PETERSEN RAISES HIS HAND)

KENNEDY: Mr. Petersen, have you ever tried a jury trial?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Civil?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Criminal?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Bench?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: State or federal court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Have you ever taken a deposition?

PETERSEN: I was involved in taking depositions when I was an associate at Wiley Rein when I first came out of law school. But that was —

KENNEDY: How many depositions?

PETERSEN: I’d be struggling to remember.

KENNEDY: Less than 10?

PETERSEN: Yes.

KENNEDY: Less than 5?

PETERSEN: (Pauses) Probably somewhere in that range.

KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a — taken a deposition by yourself?

PETERSEN: I believe not — no.

KENNEDY: Okay. Have you ever argued a motion in state court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: (Nods repeatedly) When’s the last time you read the Rules of Civil Procedure?

PETERSEN: The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure? I — in my current position, I obviously don’t need to stay as invested in those on a day-to-day basis, but I do try to keep up to speed. We do have at the Federal Election Commission roughly 70 attorneys who work under our guidance, including a large litigation division. And as a commissioner, we oversee that litigation, we advise them on overall legal strategy, provide recommendations and edits to briefs and so forth, and meet with them about how we’re going to handle —

KENNEDY: If I could ask you — I’m sorry to interrupt you, but we’re only given five minutes for five of you. So, when’s the last time you read the Federal Rules of Evidence?

PETERSEN: The Federal Rules of Evidence, all that way through would — well, comprehensively would have been in law school. Obviously I have been involved in — when I was an associate — that was something that we had to stay closely abreast of. And there have been some issues having to do with evidentiary issues that will cause me to examine those periodically in our oversight role for litigation at the Federal Election Commission.

KENNEDY: Well, as a trial judge, you’re obviously going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is?

PETERSEN: Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with.

KENNEDY: Do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: Yes. I haven’t — I’m, again — my background is not in litigation — as when I was replying to Chairman [Charles] Grassley. I haven’t had to, again, do a deep dive. And I understand, and I appreciate this line of questioning. I understand the challenge that would be ahead of me if I were fortunate enough to become a district court judge. I understand that the path that many successful district court judges have taken has been a different one than I have taken. But as I mentioned in my earlier answer, I believe that the path that I have taken to be one who’s been in a decision-making role in somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 enforcement matters, overseen I don’t know how many cases in federal court the administration has been a party to during my time —

KENNEDY: Yes, I’ve read your résumé. Just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table.

KENNEDY: Do you know what the Younger abstention doctrine is?

PETERSEN: I’ve heard of it, but I, again —

KENNEDY: How about the Pullman abstention doctrine?

PETERSEN: I — I —

KENNEDY: Y’all see that a lot in federal court. Okay, any one of you blog?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Any of you ever blogged in support of the Ku Klux Klan?

PETERSEN: No, Senator. (Other witnesses indicate no.)

And that is so heart-warming. Isn’t this a great country? We live in a place where the President of the United States can just step outside the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania and pull somebody off the sidewalk, announcing, “How would you like to the Queen for a Day?” All right, it only a judgeship, but who’s quibbling. At long last we are getting the government we paid for.

Here’s a video:

Sweet Home Alabama

I’m trying to figure out why this keeps running through my head.

Truth be known, I was preparing to write an different story. It was going to be about the great state of Alabama’s almost redeeming itself. Good thing I didn’t spill a bunch of ink before tonight’s election results came in.

Now what appears to have happened is that Alabama rejected former Judge Roy Moore and elected a Democrat to a state-wide office for the first time since most of us were born. The problem is, I fear, they did it for all the wrong reasons.

To be sure, Roy Moore, despite all his holier than thou posturing throughout the years, has been most recently exposed as a scumbag of the first order. Many women, now middle-aged, have come forward to relate experiences they had with Roy Moore when they were a months or years short of the age of consent and he was a man of power. These revelations turned what appeared about to be a victory rout for Moore into a thin win for his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. There is just one problem with that. Moore’s past indiscretions do not make him unfit for public office. If being a scumbag were a barrier to the halls of government, then there would be a noticeable echo in those halls.

What is wrong here is there is not much evidence that Alabamans rejected Roy Moore for the correct reasons. Motivation for dumping Moore should have been his glaring unfitness for the job. To wit:

  • As a superior court judge, flouting the Constitution by promoting and having installed a religious monument on government property.
  • Refusing to abide by a higher court ruling to allow same-sex marriages, this after having been bounced from office for the above offense and then being returned to office by the good voters of Alabama.
  • Insisting that religious belief supersedes the law of the land.
  • Proclaiming that people of certain religious affiliations are ineligible to hold public office.
  • Supporting legislation to criminalize homosexual behavior.

Additionally, his 19th century views on biological evolution bring his knowledge base into question.

I am hearing from  others that some or all of the above turned off sufficient Alabama conservative voters to the extent they stayed home on election day. It could be the state of George Wallace is about to enter the 21st century. Quoting Lynard Skynard:

In Birmingham they love the governor, (boo! boo! boo!)
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth.

The Government You Paid For

Number 16

 

What’s this? Another campaign letter from Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Barbara,

Now that I have officially filed for re-election as governor, national Democrats are preparing to double down on their attempted takeover of the Lone Star State.

After flipping four U.S. House seats in Texas in 2016, they believe they can pick up three more in 2018 to help them achieve their goal of reinstalling Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

We need your help to keep valuable Texas seats from falling into the control of the Democrats!

After big wins in New Jersey and Virginia, national Democrats are scouring Texas for another Wendy Davis to run against me on a brazenly left-wing, pro-abortion, pro-amnesty, pro-big government platform they believe will raise tens of millions of dollars from out-of-state liberals.

On the face of it, this is fairly amusing. Yes, liberals figure they can pick up three additional seats to replace some of the most embarrassing congressmen representing Texas in the House of Representatives.

  • “[Joe] Barton was divorced from his first wife (Jeanette/Janet Sue Winslow) in 2003. He remarried in 2004, and divorced from his second wife (Terri) in 2015.[13][134][115] In 2017 he was again engaged.[13]His wife Terri said she filed for divorce after evidence that Barton had engaged in multiple affairs, and finding ‘a very sexually explicit video of one of his mistresses.’”
  • “As of 2015, [Lamar] Smith has received more than $600,000 from the fossil fuel industry during his career in Congress. In 2014, Smith got more money from fossil fuels than he did from any other industry. Smith publicly denies global warming. Under his leadership, the House Science committee has held hearings that feature the views of climate change deniers, subpoenaed the records and communications of scientists who published papers that Smith disapproved of, and attempted to cut NASA’s earth sciences budget. He has been criticized for conducting “witch hunts” against climate scientists. In his capacity as Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Smith issued more subpoenas in his first three years than the committee had for its entire 54-year history. In a June 2016 response letter to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Mr. Smith cited the work of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s as valid legal precedent for his investigation.

    On December 1, 2016 as Chair on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, he tweeted out on behalf of that committee a Breitbart article denying climate change.”

  • “[Ted] Poe favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Poe does not support what he calls “government-run health care”. Poe voted “Nay” on the Health Care and Insurance Law Amendments bill on November 7, 2009. In 2008 Poe voted for the Medicare Bill (HR 6331). Poe supports healthcare reform that would “Allow insurance to be purchased across state lines, provide for a safety net for catastrophic injury or illness…and allow for a health savings account”. Poe resigned from the Freedom_Caucus in March 2017, after the Caucus’s opposition to the American Health Care Act of 2017 contributed to Speaker Ryan’s decision to pull the bill. Poe supported the March 2017 version of the American Health Care Act before its collapse.

    On May 4, 2017, he voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and pass the American Health Care Act.”

All three of these Republican representatives have announced they will not run for Congress in the 2018 elections. None of them appear to be staunch supporters of their constituents’ needs. More from the Governor:

Their goal is to make more gains in the U.S. House and defeat me in hopes of locking down Texas’ 38 electoral votes in the next U.S. presidential election. Can you imagine what Texas would look like if they succeed? Can you imagine what our country would look like?

I am not 100% sure what our country will look like if liberals succeed in garnering Texas’ 38 electoral votes in 2020, but I am 100% sure what it looks like now.

  • A president who cannot go a day without uttering a blatant lie.
  • Hiring and firing unqualified administration officials at a pace that takes our breath away.
  • A president who leaves a trail of indicted and confessed criminals acting at the highest levels of the United States political system.
  • An unabashed lecher and abuser of women elected President of the United States.
  • A president leading a Republican Congress bent on dismantling the most constructive reform in this country’s health care system to come along in decades while at the same time working overtime to push through changes in tax law that will balloon the national debt to the benefit of wealthy campaign contributors.

Let us imagine that. There’s more:

With liberal BILLIONAIRE George Soros’ deep pockets at their disposal—and radical left-wing organizations like Planned Parenthood, Battleground Texas, Big Labor, and radical environmentalist groups all preparing to go on the attack—I’m afraid the Lone Star State is in for a liberal firestorm unlike anything we’ve seen in decades!

Parse those words for a moment: “radical left-wing organizations like Planned Parenthood…” Planned Parenthood:

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (PPFA), or Planned Parenthood, is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and globally. It is a tax-exempt corporation under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) and a member association of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). PPFA has its roots in Brooklyn, New York, where Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in 1916. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, which changed its name to Planned Parenthood in 1942.

Planned Parenthood consists of 159 medical and non-medical affiliates, which operate over 650 health clinics in the United States. It partners with organizations in 12 countries globally. The organization directly provides a variety of reproductive health services and sexual education, contributes to research in reproductive technology and advocates for the protection and expansion of reproductive rights.

PPFA is the largest single provider of reproductive health services, including abortion, in the U.S. In their 2014 Annual Report, PPFA reported seeing over 2.5 million patients in over 4 million clinical visits and performing a total of nearly 9.5 million discrete services including 324,000 abortions. Its combined annual revenue is US$1.3 billion, including approximately US$530 million in government funding such as Medicaid reimbursements. Throughout its history, PPFA and its member clinics have experienced support, controversy, protests, and violent attacks.

Planned Parenthood is the enemy? In truth, we have identified the enemy, and the enemy is the cadre of politicians that disparages constructive organizations such as Planned Parenthood to the furtherance of their political ambitions.

Regarding Big Labor, I assume Governor Abbott refers to labor unions, which work to benefit their members in matters regarding pay and working conditions. With respect to “radical environmental groups,” Governor Abbott is going to have to be more explicit in defining what is a radical environmental group. By this does he mean the Sierra Club?

The Sierra Club is an environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the Scottish-American preservationist John Muir, who became its first president.

Traditionally associated with the progressive movement, the club was one of the first large-scale environmental preservation organizations in the world, and currently engages in lobbying politicians to promote green policies. In recent years, the club has gravitated toward green politics and especially toward bright green environmentalism. Recent focuses of the club include promoting sustainable energy, mitigating global warming, and opposing coal. The club is known for its political endorsements, which are often sought after by candidates in local elections; it generally supports liberal and progressive candidates in elections.

Perhaps Governor Abbott includes the National Park Foundation in his list of radical environmental groups:

The National Park Foundation (NPF) is the official charity of the United States‘ National Park Service and its 417 national park sites. The NPF was chartered by Congress in 1967 to “further the conservation of natural, scenic, historic, scientific, educational, inspirational, or recreational resources for future generations of Americans.” The NPF raises private funds for the benefit of, or in connection with, the activities and services of the National Park Service.

We can only hope the Governor draws the line somewhere. I’m not counting on it.

Will Texas next year come up with a viable candidate to run against Greg Abbott? It’s hard to tell. What highly capable individual is willing to give up a position of power and authority to step into one of the weakest positions in state government? Mark Cuban maybe? Just thinking.

The Government You Paid For

Number 15

Somebody posted this on Facebook, and I thought it was kind of cute, so I stole a copy.

The subject came up yesterday after our house received a campaign email from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who plans to run for re-election next year. See the link above.

Of course you never receive a single campaign email. These are like bosons, whose quantum mechanical properties increase the likelihood of other  bosons. To demonstrate we do live in a boson world, Greg Abbott’s campaign mail continues to populate our inbox. So, here’s the latest:

Barbara,

Our Texas economy is thriving under Governor Abbott’s leadership.

According to Forbes’ list of Best States For Business 2017, Texas’ economic climate ranks #1 due to our strong employment numbers and rapid growth. Companies are continually relocating to our state, creating jobs and spurring economic expansion.

During Governor Abbott’s first term, Texas has added more than 500,000 jobs and experienced its lowest unemployment rate in the past 40 years—and he’s just getting started!

Number 1! And from Forbes no less. That is impressive, but not the complete story:

Forbes Lists

Hey! Number 1 in economic climate, number 2 in best states for business and growth prospects. Number 1, number 2. Who’s keeping score? Forbes is, and there is more:

Profile

The $1.6 trillion Texas economy is the second biggest in the U.S., behind only California. Texas ranks first for current economic climate thanks to strong employment and gross state product growth over the past five years. In addition, there are 100 of the 1,000 largest public and private companies in the U.S. based in Texas, including giants like AT&T, ExxonMobil and Dell. Startup activity is also tops in the nation among larger states per the Kauffman Foundation. One of the only things holding Texas back is the education rate among its labor supply. Only 83% of adults have a high school degree, which is second lowest among the states.

[Emphasis added]

Besides ranking number 1 in economic climate, Texas also ranks number 21 in regulatory environment and number 30 in quality of life. Those measures might need some study. Start with quality of life, for which Texas does poorly. A quick reading indicates Forbes relies on “Mercer , the global human resources consulting firm.” Here is what Forbes has to say on it:

To determine the rankings, Mercer evaluates local living conditions according to 39 factors including political and social environment (such as political stability), economic environment (currency exchange regulations and banking services), sociocultural environment (media availability and censorship), medical and health considerations, schools and education, public services and transportation, housing and consumer goods.

Additionally from Forbes:

Western European cities dominate the list, with Vienna topping it for the seventh year in a row, followed by Zürich, Auckland, Munich and Vancouver, making the last one the top-ranking North American city. Seven Western European cities filled out the top 10. Düsseldorf came in sixth, Frankfurt seventh, Geneva eighth and Copenhagen ninth.

No North American city makes the top ten. Here is how North American cities fare:

In North America, Canadian cities ranked highly, with Toronto coming in at 15, Ottawa 17, Montréal 23, and then the first United States city, San Francisco, ringing in at 28.

All right, now, we are getting close. How about cities in the U.S.A.?”

In the U.S., the City by the Bay was followed by Boston (34), Honolulu  (35), Chicago (43), New York City (44), Los Angeles at (49), and Washington DC (51).

No Texas city makes the cut in the revealed rankings. You will be heartened to know that Baghdad and Damascus round out the bottom of Mercer’s list.

But Texas is number 21 in regulatory environment. I performed a quick search to determine which numbers are best, high numbers or low numbers. Forbes seems to say that compliance with government regulations is a burden on businesses, so does that mean Texas ranks close to the middle in state-imposed regulations?

We do know this. Texas is a major center for the petrochemical industry, and the hazards related to these operations are acknowledged. Anybody who lives near an oil refinery or has driven past one on a good day will know these operations make their presence known. Government regulations dictate what must be done to minimize the risk of catastrophic events, and they also place restrictions on the amount and type of pollutants refineries can emit.

Enough said about that. Governor Abbott’s letter concludes:

Governor Abbott knows that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we must create an environment that encourages more Texas entrepreneurs to start and grow their enterprises.
Texas deserves a champion of economic liberty—that’s Governor Abbott.

We are glad to learn this comes with the added bonus of an undereducated workforce and a less than standard quality of life.

Keep reading. The Governor will have more to say.

The Government You Paid For

Number 14

Being retired, we receive an overload of email at our house. Actually, we received a bunch before we retired. But now I have some time to deal with some of it. This one came from the Governor of Texas, and it was most impossible to ignore. Most impossible because Barbara Jean kept insisting I create a blog post. Gladly done. It’s about the government you paid for.

The heading tells you right away this is a campaign plug.

Yeah, that was a dead giveaway. Like the typical campaign spiel, this one is long on platitudes and short of specifics. But it starts off nicely enough.

Barbara,

It’s no secret that liberals have been salivating over Texas for years now—not just for the power they believe controlling the Lone Star State will hand them in Washington, D.C., but also because our success highlights what a failure liberals’ policies have been all over the country.

“It’s no secret that liberals have been salivating over Texas for years now…” Rats! They are onto our scheme. We need to search for a mole in our conspiracy. But there is more, and some of it is amusing:

Instead of ditching traditional values like hard work, faith, and family, Texans proudly stand for them.

Oops! News to us. The Governor is thinking perhaps liberals don’t care for hard work, faith, and family. People like the Blanton family, who served in the armed forces, put themselves through college, worked in private sector and government jobs for decades, enjoying great family life all the while? Actually, Governor Abbott may have us on the “faith” bit. Yeah, when the guy came around with the Kool-Aid, we generally took a pass.

2018 will be a make-or-break year in the fight to defend traditional values. Help us start 2018 strong with a contribution today!

The above was supposed to be a link to a page to take your campaign contributions. Shifty that I am, I deleted the link.

Governor Abbott wants us to “defend traditional values.” He gives no indication of what these values are. I have an idea of some values that were traditional in the past, and I am hoping the Governor of Texas does not want us to return to those. Here’s more.

Instead of looking to government to solve all of our problems, we value independence and limited government. Instead of placing extra burdens on families, small businesses, and entrepreneurs in the form of high taxes and stifling regulations, we’ve let them lead the way.

That sounds about right. I have all these problems, and for years I have been relying on the government to solve them for me. For example, there was the problem of people driving on the wrong side of the road, so sometime back the government made it against the law to drive on the wrong side of the road, and they started arresting people who were doing that, and there’s not so much of that going on now. There were other problems, as well, that I shoved off onto the government, such as ensuring the bridge across the Brazos River near my childhood home was safe for large trucks, and all the while I should have been seeing to that myself. I also wanted the government to restrict the activities of others to ensure they did not pollute the air that I breathed and the same with respect to water.

Yes, I have seen these stifling regulations first hand. I talked to a man who ran a small business, and that small business was involved in trenching work, like for water lines and such. And the government required that when his crews dug a trench beyond a certain  depth in a certain type of soil, then no worker must be allowed to go down into the trench unless the sides of the trench were shored up to prevent collapse of the soil. And the man complained to me about these regulations, but he also mentioned his son went into such a trench to work, and it caved in on him, and he required medical treatment, which was covered by workers compensation insurance, which was mandated by the government of Texas. Yes, we definitely need for the government to get out of the way and let businesses make their own decisions about how to run their operations.

And instead of waiting around for Washington, D.C. to get its act together, we take it upon ourselves to protect our way of life.

Again, Governor Abbott has a point, and I have in the past brought this matter up with Senator John Cornyn of Texas. I strongly urged the senator to work with Congress and go around the gaggle of clowns currently occupying the Executive Branch. Maybe Governor Abbott would care to step over and have a chat with Senator Cornyn.

And there is a lot more stuff, but here is something interesting.

The good news is that after suing the Obama administration 31 times, I’m no stranger to high-stakes fights with the left.

I’ve won far more than my fair share—including stopping President Obama’s executive amnesty scheme at the U.S. Supreme Court, preserving the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas Capitol grounds, protecting the words “one nation, under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and ensuring that prayer during the presidential inauguration continues.

Right on, Governor. What is important to a 21st century state such as Texas is that we preserve a graven image on government property honoring the predilections of a band of desert tribesmen from 2500 years ago. Also, we should subordinate what we hope to be the greatest and proudest nation on this planet to a piece of ancient fiction. Yeah, I’m starting to feel proud already.

Governor, when you start to get serious about what really matters to the people of Texas, then I am going to start taking you seriously. Until then I have to conclude you are a manifestation of a mass of what has gone wrong in recent years. Keep talking that talk. Never let us forget.

This is your President speaking.

Number 9 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday “interrogation” with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times…and nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?

Hint: the FBI works for Donald Trump. Keep reading. There is more to come.

The Government You Paid For

Number 13

This one could be the real deal.

As we all know, Congressman Lamar Smith, representing Texas District 21, has been embarrassing people of right mind for long enough. Now he is retiring, and the field is open to fresh faces. Thursday late I drove over to The Pod restaurant on Redland Road in San Antonio to attend a political gathering/rally.

Derrick Crowe is  campaigning to fill the District 21 slot, beginning January 2019, and he met a gathering of enthusiasts, exchanged words, and presented his policies. I made a video, here posted without editing.

The Pod is the definition of laid back, and I ordered nachos and a draft and exchanges a few words with the candidate and with a few others. I also picked up some campaign literature, including a list of the candidate’s ten talking points, which I will now analyze. First the points, which I have numbered:

  1. Fight income inequality and stop Wall Street’s attack on working class Americans.
  2. Pass Medicare for All.
  3. Act on climate change and invest in the green  economy.
  4. Defend DACA and end mass deportation and incarceration.
  5. Stand with our LGBTQIA neighbors.
  6. Get money out of politics and bring back trust-busting.
  7. Defend women’s control of their own bodies.
  8. Protect American jobs and incomes from  automation.
  9. Make public colleges and universities free to attend.
  10. Pass a $15/hour minimum wage, euqal pay for women, and paid family leave.

I think the wording is verbatim from the handout, including capitalizing the word All in “Pass Medicare for All.” Now for some analysis.

These are grand and glorious goals, and like most campaign slogans they are full of promise and short on particulars. Knowing there was neither the time nor was this the place to milk this of complete detail, I specifically asked the candidate to spell out what would be done to fight income inequality. With some coaxing, what it boiled down to was that Congress could enact a national minimum wage of $15 per hour, which is already addressed in his tenth point.

But continuing with number 1, we need to clarify what is meant by “income inequality.” I am currently unemployed, but when I was working I noticed there were many making more than I was. I don’t think this is what Derrick Crowe has in mind. He needs to clarify. He also needs to spell out Wall Street’s attack on working class Americans, because I am sure those Wall Street people arrive at their offices in the morning with the intent of  making a lot of money for themselves, any attacks on working class Americans being number two or lower on their list.

Number 2 makes a lot of sense. The Affordable Care Act is really an expansion of Medicare in disguise. Actually, it is socialized medicine in disguise, but in this country antipathy toward socialized medicine is so vehement you would not be able to get it east of the Mississippi, forget about getting it to the steps of Congress. Good luck with that one.

Number 3 is another broad concept with no clear course of action. The fact is, before I got into my dialog with candidate Crowe I unloaded on all present the bad news I had been holding back. The truth is, we can stop pumping oil, and we can stop digging coal this weekend, but it’s too late. We have already screwed ourselves, and doom is coming. The atmosphere recently passed 400 parts per million carbon dioxide, and that’s enough to do in the polar ice. Before we close the coal mines and before we shut down the oil pumps, we need to begin now budgeting to protect infrastructure from rising sea levels. We can protect now, or we can rebuild later.

Number 4 sounds like a good idea. Congress can do that. This idea needs to be pushed on pragmatic terms, because compassion does not sell. The fact is nothing of any practical value is to be obtained by deporting people who have lived their adult lives in the United States, and mass incarcerations/deportations leave a bad odor.

For number 5 I had to look up the letter combination LGBTQIA. Here it is. Yes, this is a proper thing for Congress to address. Equal treatment for all citizens under the law is a must for a modern society.

Number 6 wants to get money out of politics. Good luck with that. Politics has been about money for about 220 years in this country. Trust-busting is something that became popular 110 years ago with Teddy Roosevelt, but the candidate is going to need to explain how this fits today’s discussion. He may be thinking of this.

Number 7 can be more specifically stated as ending government interference with human activities related to reproduction. People, human reproduction has gotten us where we are today. Does anybody want the government to mess with the process?

Number 8 may be a little harder to pin down. The candidate elaborated, specifically invoking the need for massive retraining of the American work force—30% will be thrown out of work by automation. As a person who spent a career eliminating manual labor by designing automated processes, I need to remark I have not observed any disaster of this magnitude. This point will require expansion in a separate post.

Number 9 is the kind of thing that killed Bernie Sanders’ campaign. It’s a grand goal without practical merit. Specifically, it needs to be nuanced, if that is a verb. Yes, there are a bunch of people who want to get a college education and can benefit from a college education, but a college education is beyond their reach due to  rocketing costs. I’m going to wait for the candidate to develop that concept more fully, but in the meantime I’m going to propose the goal should be to make a college education more affordable.

Number 10 is a mixed bag. Yes, a $15 minimum wage would provide more benefit than harm, and equal pay for women is a laudable goal. However, that should be equal pay for equal work. I am one of those who agree that it should be criminal to pay a woman less for the same work solely because she is a woman. How Congress can address this matter is yet to be seen. Regarding paid family leave, that’s where the bag becomes really mixed. Acknowledging fully that a number of countries have laws requiring paid family leave, I have this observation. If I am a person working at a job, and I see a co-worker getting six weeks extra paid vacation just because he decided to add to his family, and I also realize this benefit will never come my way, because I have no intention of having children, then I’m going to feel some injustice. Politicians should know that for every vote they get requiring paid family leave, they are going to receive push back from others affected adversely. Paid family leave is one of those items designed to make civilization more palatable, but if you can’t sell it that way, then you are going to have to lay out some obvious practical benefits.

I’m sending a copy of this post to candidate Crowe and asking him to expand and to respond. When I get something I will  pass it on to you. Keep reading.

People Unclear

This is number 27

Apparently there remain a number of people unclear. The recent allegations against Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore has raised the issue of sexual harassment perpetrated by people in power. Concern has apparently reached to the highest levels of our government. That is most strange, because I thought these concerns actually made it to the highest office in the land back in January. For now I will only consider what is going on in Congress, where the number of those unclear appears beyond scandalous.

Wednesday’s episode of ABC World News Tonight with David Muir has the story of current day treatment of congressional abuse. Unknown to me until now is that people working for Congress have largely been getting a pass on making  inappropriate passes. As disclosed in the news, congressmen and others of power are getting a discount ride. Here’s what you receive when you complain:

  • 30 days of counseling
  • Required to sign a non-disclosure agreement
  • 30 days mediation
  • 30 days cooling off period before you could take legal  action

How many ways are to spell “protect the powerful” are there left? A senator (for example) tries to hump an intern, supposedly a heterosexual hump, and she gets counseled 30 days—thirty days of somebody explaining to the person it may have been her fault? I can only imagine. Then the accuser has to agree not to take all this mess to the New York Times. Then 30 additional days dedicated to convince the accuser it may have been a harmless flirtation. Follow that by 30 days to consider the consequences of taking on a powerful member of Congress. Then you can sue. You can sue, that is, provided you have not already been beaten down by the process.

So, how is that working out? Not bad if you look at the statistics. The news report shows an average of 13 cases processed each year over the past 20 years. Seems to be working.

And cheap, too. Taxpayers have only had to shell out $16 million to shelter congressional misbehavior. My pocket is feeling lighter already.

Are some people still totally unclear? Apparently the breeze from Alabama has started to blow some of the smoke away, and clarity is coming. A proposed bill, which has to be passed by Congress and signed off by the Groper-in-Chief, would make that counseling and mediation rigmarole optional. Also the process would allow victims to complain anonymously. And wait… Here it comes. The guilty person would have to pay any awards to the victim. Is this a novel concept or what?

Can I hope some people are finally waking up? It’s time for me to see how long I can  hold my breath.