Remember the Tea Party?

There seem to be varying views on when the American “Tea Party” first became a thing, but most seem to track it to early 2009, a month into Obama’s disastrous 8 years as president. My favorite reliable source (Wikipedia) puts it this way:

On February 18, 2009, the one-month-old Obama administration announced the Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan, an economic recovery plan to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by refinancing mortgages in the wake of the Great Recession. The next day, CNBC business news editor Rick Santelli criticized the Plan in a live broadcast from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He said that those plans were “promoting bad behavior” by “subsidizing losers’ mortgages”. He suggested holding a tea party for traders to gather and dump the derivatives in the Chicago River on July 1. “President Obama, are you listening?” he asked. A number of the floor traders around him cheered on his proposal, to the amusement of the hosts in the studio. Santelli’s “rant” became a viral video after being featured on the Drudge Report.

The basic tenet of the Tea Party was small government. Not a terribly radical proposition given the fact that our nation was founded on that very principle. However, do you remember the liberal reaction to the Tea Party? The left was convinced, with great glee I might add, that the Tea Party would bring down the American Republican Party as most of the elected members of congress from the Tea Party were also Republicans. According to left wing commentators, the Tea Party was so radical it would pull the Republican party so far right that moderates would defect to the Democrat party. Of course, none of that happened. Indeed, the views held by the Tea Party have become mainstream, dare I say even moderate, views in US today.

Why would I bring this up so many years after the Tea Party came into existence, particularly since you almost never hear anything about them (note: we don’t hear about them because their views are so mainstream now)? I bring it up because the Woke Party has done precisely to the Democrat Party what leftists hoped the Tea Party would do to the Republican Party. A recent report notes that over one million voters have switched from Democrat to Republican, mostly among the coveted suburban swing voters. This represents more than two-thirds of party switchers!

When the Democrats were so excited that the country would revolt against Republicans because the Tea Party dragged them kicking and screaming to the idea of lower taxes, imagine if some Democrat had said 10-15 years ago, “Hey, while they’re self-destructing with the Tea Party, let’s announce that parents should have no role in their child’s education. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s be clear that men can have babies and we should let criminals freely commit crimes and defund the police! Yay!” It’s hard to imagine now, but for all his abject failures, Obama now looks like a moderate in comparison to the current Democrat Party! Government controlled healthcare was a bad idea then and now and was one of the most unpopular and far-reaching pieces of legislation ever passed on party lines, but it pales in comparison to the notion that men should be allowed to pretend they’re women and compete in women’s athletics, let alone get naked in the women’s locker room!

And, yet, here we are. How is it that the Democrat Party embraced these notions, which can only be described as the loony fringe, after apparently recognizing the risk, which turned out to be no risk at all, of the Tea Party pulling the Republican Party too far to the right? Even our President has been more or less a moderate his entire career, but is now espousing some of the most fringe views on most major topics. I allow for the possibility that he doesn’t actually know what he’s espousing, but is just reading notes some 34 year old unelected bureaucrat handed him. But, if that’s true, one still has to wonder where the adults are?

I have no answer to that. Trust me, I’m not complaining. Indeed, my schadenfreude meter is on code red. I’m enjoying the show and plan to enjoy it even more in November. I’m just shocked that the party that warned us with great excitement that the Tea Party would destroy the Republican Party (spoiler alert: it didn’t) would be so quick to allow the whacko fringe to take over their party’s entire platform. Keep it going!

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I Love You, Brother

“I love you, brother.” Such simple words. I love you. We say it to our spouses/significant others and hopefully to our kids on a regular basis. But, especially you guys, when was the last time you told a friend you love them? A male friend. Honestly, until fairly recently, I’m not sure I had ever told a male friend I loved him. That is, until I met Emilio. Candidly, I hadn’t even been friends with Emilio all that long before we started saying, “I love you, brother” when one of us left the neighborhood bar. But, soon thereafter, I found myself exchanging “I love yous” with many of my male buddies. Then, suddenly, and without warning, we had to say our final goodbyes and I love yous to Emo at his memorial service. His love for his friends and family was a central tenet of the speeches we all heard. We all cried a lot. We all exchanged I love yous. At one point, I wept in the arms of my friend, Ken, and we told each other, “I love you.” I will miss Emo more than words can express and I hope to carry on his spirit. I have so much to be grateful for that he came into my life, but most of all, he taught me how to express love for my friends.

I get a daily devotional email, which I concede I delete without reading all too often in my haste to get to my daily grind. But, I opened it this morning and the opening line read, “Take a minute to pause and think about what words you’ve said (or typed) this past week. Would you say you’re known for how you love others?” Prior to meeting Emilio, I don’t think anyone outside my immediate family would have much of an answer to that. I have a long way to go, but Emo definitely put me on a better path.

Though I only met Emilio 5 or 6 years ago, I met him at a particularly turbulent time in my own life and became friends with him as I was going through my divorce – a process I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Emilio had gone through a divorce himself, so he was an important sounding board for me. Men are not good listeners. I know that’s a generalization, but we’re not. We even kid each other about our ability to exit a conversation somewhere in the middle. Not Emo. When you were talking to him, you were the only thing in the world that mattered. A Sports Illustrated swimsuit model could be standing by waiting to talk to him and his eyes would never leave yours during a conversation. He was There for you with a capital “T.” Really listening. Really caring. And, really loving you for whatever it was you were talking about. So rare in any person and, sorry to my fellow dudes, very rare in a man.

I’ve written several blogs after attending the funerals of loved ones. I often find myself writing about all the things I learned about the person from the eulogies. That makes me sad in the sense that I wish I’d known these things about the person when they were alive. I learned that one of my closest Aunts, who passed a few years ago, was far more religious than I’d known. I wish I had a chance to talk about God with her. I never did. I loved the stories told about Emo at his memorial service. I didn’t know many of the stories, but the picture they painted of my friend were exactly as I knew him. Selfless. Caring. Always positive. Loving.

My daily devotional e-mail today ended with a very short and simple writing from 1 John 4:11, which says

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

I only hope that I can carry on some of Emilio’s very special spirit, which is so perfectly captured in that line of scripture. I know I can’t do so perfectly because I’m not him. But I will try. I will try to be a better listener. I will try to lock in on people the way he did. And, I will try very hard to make sure the people I love know it. I’m tempted to name names, but I fear I would leave someone out. But, friends, please know that I love you. And, if I don’t tell you that next time we hug, please tell me you love me and I’ll remember. Life is short. Life is precious. The people you love need to hear it.

Emilio, I miss you. And, I love you, brother.

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Obama vs. Trump: A Comparative Analysis of Economic Policy

One of the ways liberals try to sugarcoat the abysmal performance of the US economy under Obama is to cite the “unemployment rate,” which indeed came down for Obama’s last 6 years in office (after skyrocketing for the first 2 years). However, the oft-quoted “unemployment rate” is a highly misleading metric as it is the ratio of the number of unemployed in the country to the total number of people working or actively looking for work. Thus, the unemployment rate can drop in two ways: (1) people find jobs (the numerator goes down) or (2) people give up looking (the numerator and denominator go down by the same amount).

Let me give you a simple example. Suppose there were 100 people in the potential work force and 10 of them were unemployed, actively looking for jobs. The unemployment rate is 10% (10/100). If 2 of the 10 find jobs, it goes down to 8% (8/10). But, if 2 of them find the employment market so terrible that they simply give up looking, then the unemployment rate drops to 8.2% (8/98). Obama made the unemployment rate drop using this second methodology. He made the labor market so unattractive that people simply got despondent and gave up looking. How do we know this? Well, thanks for asking – let’s go to the data.

My source is the United States Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. The picture below has two graphs. The top graph shows the more commonly used “unemployment rate” in America from the time Obama took office until today. Obama inherited high unemployment as we came out of the great recession. That’s usually a great opportunity to turn things around quickly. Indeed, Obama’s “recovery,” if you can call it that, was one of the worst ever coming out of a major recession and he ballooned unemployment from 7.3% on the day he was elected to 10% in his first 2 years in office. This likely explains the blood bath dems suffered in the midterm elections. But, that’s not even the point.

Let’s keep going. If you look at the top chart, you see that the “unemployment rate” dropped during Obama’s final 6 years in office from about 10% to 5%. While it took 6 long years, this is the statistic often quoted by the left to show that Obama “put people back to work.” But, that’s a lie, as the lower graph shows. As discussed above, the unemployment rate ignores people who found the job market so miserable that they gave up looking.

That’s where the bottom chart is more relevant as it shows the labor participation rate (LPR), which is a far more accurate measure of what percent of the working age population is working, regardless of whether they’re looking or not (it’s effectively the inverse of unemployment rate, only without the confusion caused by people giving up). The higher the labor participation rate, the better off people are. It’s defined as the percent of working age population that is working, independent of whether they’re actively looking or not.

As you can see, despite a generational opportunity to grow the economy and labor participation, Obama’s policies caused the LPR to drop just about every year in office and overall from 66% to 62.5%. In order to find a US labor participation rate as low as 62.5%, you have to go all the way back to 1977, the heyday of Jimmy Carter. So, let’s recap the simple math. The way Obama got the “unemployment rate” to drop was by having such a moribund economy for so long that large numbers of working age people simply gave up looking for a job and, thus, were no longer counted in the unemployment statistics. The LPR chart tells the whole story. He failed to put people to work and, worse, he chased them out of the workforce into a sort of permanent hopelessness.

Now look at Trump’s numbers. He didn’t have the benefit of a down economy. He had to grow from growth, which historically has been much tougher (recall Rahm Emmanuel’s quote “never let a good crisis go to waste”). And, Trump grew the economy, lowered the unemployment rate, AND increased the labor participation rate. Dwell on the math again for Trump. His denominator in the more commonly quoted “unemployment rate” went UP (Obama made it go down), thus meaning he had to put even more people to work in order to get that fraction to decrease. Thus, Trump got more people engaged in the workforce AND put them to work, whereas Obama made it so hopeless they simply stopped looking.

I want to say that again, lest it be missed in the potentially confusing math: Obama’s economic policies failed people miserably. Trump’s policies worked very well.

Note that my analysis stops at the beginning of the pandemic. All employment numbers are way down, largely as a result of over-reactive shutdowns advocated for by liberals. It would not be meaningful to include those data in a comparative analysis of economic policy.

Inasmuch as having a job is probably the single most important thing to any adult, this analysis shows how much better Trump’s economic policies were for all Americans. If you want to go deeper, just google “black labor participation rate” or “black teen labor participation rate.” You’ll find an even more interesting story!

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COVID19 vs. H1N1: A Detailed Analysis of an Administration’s Response to a Pandemic

There’s no question that the November election will hinge, in large part, on the voting public’s perception of the Trump administration’s response to the COVID19 pandemic. It’s only fair to do so in comparison to how prior administrations have responded to pandemics. Conveniently, the guy running against President Trump had a chance to manage a pandemic when he was in office – the H1N1 pandemic. There’s so much innumeracy in this discussion that I felt it was super important to do some meaningful analysis. Democrats have already printed up tee shirts with “175,000 Deaths” on it. Saddle up.

First, some facts:

(1) 3 million people die in the US every year of all causes. Thus far, 177,000 have died from COVID. COVID deaths are very heavily concentrated in the older population who have a statistically higher probability of dying each year with a US life expectancy of 79 years.

(2) There have been 5.7 million reported COVID cases in the US and 177,000 deaths for a death rate of about 3%.

(3) When Joe Biden managed the last pandemic (H1N1) with his boss, there were 60.8 million cases and 12,469 deaths for a death rate of about 0.02%. Their administration obviously did a much worse job of containing the virus.

(4) H1N1 deaths were very heavily concentrated in young people and children who are statistically very unlikely to die in any given year.

(5) Had the H1N1 virus had the same death rate as COVID, there would have been 2 million deaths in the US, mainly children and young people. See below for the startling detail on deaths of young people from H1N1.

(6) Since we’re judging an administration’s response to a pandemic, it’s not meaningful to give either credit or blame to either administration for the ultimate lethality of a virus. Neither would they know that until it was over, nor would they have any control over it.

(7) The obvious conclusion is that the Trump administration did a significantly better job than the Biden/Obama team did in managing a pandemic, by about 12-fold. Biden just got lucky that, in the end, the H1N1 virus turned out to be less deadly.

Now, let’s go even deeper with the numbers. Since we know the breakdown by age of the deaths of both COVID19 (here) and H1N1 (here) from the CDC, we can estimate the number of life years lost to each virus. By “life year,” I mean the number of additional years of life lost. For example, a 15 year old child has an expected 64 life years to go (79-15) while a 78 year old has an expected life of 1 year.

We can easily perform an analysis across all age cohorts for both viruses to determine the total number of life years lost to each. As mentioned above, the COVID virus has killed 14x more people than H1N1, but the number of life years lost is a much lower ratio between the two.

My analysis found that, to date, the COVID virus has cost about 1.1 million life years and the H1N1 cost about 500,000. So, the 14x ratio drops to just 2x in terms of lives lost. Even if the number of deaths from COVID doubles from here (unlikely), the ratio would be 4x and not 14x. Biden starting to look not so good after all.

Let’s get more granular with the data because it starts to get even more interesting/scary. To date, 4,356 people under the age of 40 have died of COVID. 7,996 people under the age of 40 died from H1N1. That’s nearly 2x the number of deaths in younger healthier people from H1N1 compared to COVID. I’m not minimizing the pain of losing an 85 year old parent or grandparent, but most people would say, “Hey, he/she made it to 85; that’s a fantastic life.” Nobody would say that about a 27 year old. Nobody. And, yet, H1N1 killed significantly more young people than COVID has to date. Let me put that in terms a democrat would use since they like to blame Trump: Barack Obama and Joe Biden killed 2x the number of young healthy people with their H1N1 virus than Donald Trump has killed with his COVID virus.

Let’s get even more granular. Trigger warning for democrats – this is going to get ugly. There cannot be anything in the world more painful than losing a child. I’ve watched a few friends go through it and the word devastating cannot possibly do justice. The Obama/Biden H1N1 virus killed 2,440 children under the age of 15. The Trump COVID virus has killed about 200 children under 15. That’s 12x as many dead children from the Obama/Biden pandemic than the Trump pandemic.

That fact is worth stating again, in its own paragraph. The pandemic managed last time Joe Biden was in office killed 12 times as many children as the pandemic managed by Donald Trump.

Data and analysis are very important. Democrats hate it because it takes away the emotional outbursts that drive their party on CNN every night. But, as we start to make decisions about who to put in the oval office in November, and as we consider the response to a pandemic in so doing, let’s keep in mind that the Trump administration’s response to this pandemic has been significantly better than the Obama/Biden response to H1N1.

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Liberal Hypocrisy + Liberal Selfishness

As anyone who follows my blog is aware, I’ve written extensively about the pervasive hypocrisy in liberalism. Just type those two words into the search bar on my website and you’ll find them all. The recent riots and protests appurtenant to the George Floyd situation are not only rife with hypocrisy, they go to a new level of selfish hypocrisy.

Recall that when a group of mostly white partiers got together in the Lake of the Ozarks in late May, there was a national outcry about the lack of social distancing reflected by the photos of the event. Just Google “Lake of the Ozarks Party” and you’ll see what I mean. While I tend to agree that the party goers were irresponsible and reckless, I am also forced to concede that it was a one-off event in a remote part of the country with a few hundred people. Nonetheless, I repeat, there was national outrage, particularly from the left-wing media.

Fast forward just a few weeks and you have not hundreds, but thousands or tens of thousands of protesters in very close proximity to one another. And, not in one remote outpost of the country, but in all of our most populous cities. The Ozarks party probably put a few thousand people at risk. Liberal protesters have put tens of millions at risk, when you consider the contact tracing implications. And, yet, there’s no outrage from the left-wing media.

I was doing my best to ignore this glaring double standard of liberal hypocrisy until I started to see social media posts defending these reckless actions with statements to the effect of “some things are worth dying for.”

WTF? Are you kidding me? While the murder of George Floyd was horrible and the perpetrator cop should be punished if found guilty in a court of law, study after study show there is no systemic racism in policing. Indeed, the Chief of the Minneapolis PD is black. Are we to believe he is actively supporting a “culture of racism” or even just turning his head the other way while it persists? Of course not. Like all the very rare unjustified killings of black (or white) people by cops, this was one bad apple. So, these protests are all predicated on a false narrative to begin with. But, absent a global pandemic, we have freedom of speech and assembly, so I support with all my fiber the rights of people to protest over false narratives. But, not now. Not during this pandemic.

And yet, the left tells us that these violent protesters get to decide for the rest of the country what’s worth dying for? That’s colossal bunk. Business owners across the country were told that their entire future and livelihood wasn’t worth the risk of people dying from the Wuhan Virus. Students were told their educational advancement wasn’t worth people dying (while I admire the efforts all teachers to educate online, we all know it didn’t work, other than in the elite private schools that wealthy white people send their kids to). All of us were told that our necessary medical procedures (cardiac ablations, vascular interventions, orthopedic surgeries, colonoscopies, cancer surgeries, etc.) were not worth people dying. We all gave up basically all our rights in an effort to control the pandemic. And, it has largely worked.

But, after all that, a group of fringe liberal protesters can decide for all the rest of us, everyone who has sacrificed so much to control this pandemic, that their faux outrage is worth getting people sick with a very real risk of death? Sorry, no. That’s a preposterous position to take. And it is the absolute pinnacle of liberal hypocrisy and liberal selfishness.

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These Numbers Are No Riot

Let me start this post with a very important pretext – the death of George Floyd was tragic and the police officers involved should be jailed for life or, better yet, executed. Period. Full stop. If you’re looking for more emotion in this blog, you’ve come to the wrong place. It’s not my strong suit. Sorry, but I operate on data and facts because that’s how good decisions are made, so let’s look at this entire situation through that rational lens. All of my data comes from government sources, but by necessity will come from different years as the government stopped tracking some crime stats by race, presumably to remain politically correct. Nonetheless, these numbers haven’t changed in either absolute or relative magnitude in many years.

First, let’s talk about the riots, which are just as outrageous as the Floyd situation if not more so, simply due to their magnitude. Unjustified cop killings are horrible and tragic, but also very rare. There were a total of 1,004 people killed by cops in 2019. 370 (37%) of the victims of cop shootings were white and 235 (23.4%) were black. Let’s parenthetically note that none of the 370 white people killed by cops resulted in mass riots across the country. I have no idea if any of them were unjustified, like Floyd’s, but there’s anecdotal evidence that some were and, still, no riots.

Blacks represent about 13.4% of the US population (per the 2018 census) and whites about 76.5%. Thus, some people are outraged that blacks, with only 13.4% of the population represent 23.4% of the cop killings. But, that’s not the right analysis. For the right analysis, let’s turn to the FBI crime database. There we learn that blacks commit about 27.4% of all violent crimes and 45% of all murders. Thus, blacks commit murder at about 5x the rate of whites and all violent crimes at about 3x the rate of whites. It’s a very logical conclusion that committing a murder or violent crime is far more likely to bring one in contact with police, most likely in a highly confrontational manner. Thus, a group that commits those crimes at a 3-5x higher rate would be expected to have more violent encounters with cops. In fact, these data would predict that the number of blacks killed by cops would be somewhere between 27% and 45% and the actual number is below the lower bound at only 23.4%. The conclusion is clear – blacks are killed by cops at a significantly lower rate than the crime data would predict. Indeed, the highly unexpected result here is that whites actually have more to fear from being killed by a cop than blacks as the rate of cop killings per crime committed is actually higher for whites than blacks.

This sign is posted all over cities where the protests are taking place. I agree with it 100% as black people are being killed every day and we should all be very political about it. However, they’re just not being killed by cops every day. In fact, there were 2,870 blacks murdered in 2016. 2,570 (89.6%) of them were killed by other black people and only 243 (8.5%) were killed by white people. Looking at the other side of that equation, 3,499 white people were murdered in the same year, 2,854 (81.6%) of them by other white people and 533 (15.2%) by black people. Even if we were to call every single cop killing of a black person an unjustified murder (we know that’s an absurd assumption), you still end up with 7.6% of black deaths at the hands of cops and 82.7% of them at the hands of other blacks.

I know this is a lot of data and not everybody is facile with math, so let me summarize the conclusions.

1. The number of blacks killed by cops is in line or lower than one would predict based on the frequency of encounters with cops for violent crimes.

2. The number of blacks killed is alarmingly high, but about 90% of them are killed by other black people, not cops and not white people.

We have a major national emergency here, but it just doesn’t happen to be the one anyone is rioting about. I’m up for whatever political discussion anyone wants to have about how to address the tragically high murder rate for particularly young black men at the hands of other young black men. I don’t have any brilliant ideas off the top of my head, but a good start would be for our national leaders of all colors and all political parties to focus on the real problems vs. chasing ghosts.

I’ll end where I started lest anyone forget. The George Floyd situation is beyond terrible. I’m sad and angry about it. The cops involved must be punished swiftly and severely. They are very bad people. Sadly, there are bad people in every profession, but cops have a power well beyond most professions so when they go bad they really go bad. But, there are about 1 million people in various forms of law enforcement in this country and the vast majority are good, hard working people who keep us all safe. Let’s punish the bad ones quickly and let’s focus on the real problems that are resulting in 90% of the murders of black people in this country.

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My Totally Non-Political Take on COVID19 (April 13, 2020)

Here’s my fairly detailed take on where we are with COVID19.  First, I’ve heard through my numerous sources inside the healthcare system that many hospitals are now doing fine on capacity and PPE. I’m sure there are exceptions, but my sample size of about 15 major US hospitals is large enough that I feel confident that, at least so far, we haven’t seen many hospitals totally overrun as perhaps they did in Italy.

Second, I continue to believe that when the numbers are all in, the virus will be far less lethal than originally thought – almost certainly less than 1% and probably in line with influenza.

It strikes me that you have to be in favor of one of two high-level strategies at this point: (1) Everyone stays quarantined until we are confident we have a vaccine and enough people are vaccinated that the risk is very low to everyone else or (2) We start reopen the country to build herd immunity pre-vaccine. I’m in favor of #2 as I think #1 is not viable for numerous reasons.

Thus, I believe we need to start staging the recovery. I favor a “regional release,” based on hospital supply/demand. The main rationale for the nationwide shutdown of all social and economic activity was to slow down the virus spread enough that hospitals could cope with demand and have enough PPE to safely manage it. While we’re not there in every corner of this vast country, we’re there in a lot of areas. Again, that doesn’t mean we won; it just means we’re managing it.

In those regions where we are managing the volume, we need to start opening up businesses. To be clear, we should maintain all the norms of safe social distancing and, where appropriate, use masks and gloves. To be even more clear, I’m NOT suggesting we should all run to our local bar and stand shoulder to shoulder. But, over the next 2-3 weeks, business must resume in a safe and measured manner.

We also need a plan for assessing whether we opened too soon as it will be hard to know a priori. I propose that assessment is based on regional assessments of hospital capacity. Yes, we will likely have more cases as we open up, but as long as we’re managing it, that has to be OK, unless you’re willing to keep us shutdown until the vaccine is available. I am not.

Before you jump all over me for putting older and more vulnerable people at risk, let me ask that you consider the costs of NOT starting to resume our lives. Here are just a few, as yet un-quantified costs:

– By how much will the suicide rate rise as people’s lives are ruined by loss of jobs, income, etc.?
– How else will health suffer from such massive disruption of people’s lives? The memes about all the liquor bottles in the recycling bins across America are only funny until you realize how serious it is.
– What is the health impact of loss of health insurance as people lose jobs? The person who develops a life-threatening illness a year from now and is unemployed without insurance might have been treated more easily prior to losing his/her job and insurance.
– What is the long-term health impact of patients not getting “elective procedures,” when that term now includes things like cardiac ablations, critical limb angioplasties, and injections for macular degeneration, just to name a few?

Finally, I have a prediction that also drives my thinking. I believe we are about 2-3 weeks away from what could turn into fairly massive resistance to continued shutdowns. I think there are a lot of people who’s lives have been ruined to the point that they have nothing much to lose by defying these orders. I think small business owners will start to say “eff it; I’m opening; what can you do to me that could be any worse than what’s already happened to me?” That would be really bad b/c it would be highly chaotic as opposed to a more orderly, sanctioned, and phased reopening of the country. As an aside, it’s not at all clear to me that the governments even have the authority they’re claiming they do so the legal battles could be interesting.

Just my thoughts.

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Honest Golf

For those of you lucky non-golfers, let me give you a little background on how a friendly golf match goes. It’s 2 on 2 for money. So, each guy has a partner and the low score on the hole wins the hole for that 2-person team. It’s called match play. It’s played at country clubs and public golf courses around the country every day. And, it’s usually very friendly. Don’t get me wrong, all of my golfing buddies are highly competitive guys who love to win. It doesn’t even matter how much money you win; it’s all about watching your buddy reach into his wallet and hand you cash at the end of the round (quick digression: I hate that guys are starting to pay golf bets with Venmo and PayPal; it defeats the entire purpose of gambling, which is to make some guy fork over cash).

OK, so if it’s competitive, what makes it so friendly? There’s a lot of encouragement and praise for your opponent. For example, yesterday my opponent had a 10 foot birdie putt on the 9th hole. If he makes it there’s a good chance we might lose the hole (actually, I had a 6-footer for birdie and drained it). Nonetheless, as Mike stepped up to the putt, I said, “Knock it in, dude.” Indeed, he did. As the ball dropped into the cup, I said, “Awesome putt; great birdie.” My partner, also his opponent, said the same thing.

All good so far, right? Not so fast. Question: when I said, “knock it in dude,” what was my internal talk track? As I recall, it went something like this, “Hmmmm, if he makes this, I have to make that 6-footer just to tie the damn hole. And, it’s got some right to left in it. But, it’s only 6 feet so maybe I won’t play any break. Anyway, Mike’s putt is on the same line so I’ll get a read from that. Shit, it would be so much easier if he just missed his. Then, I’ve got 6 feet for the win. Ok, Mike, miss that friggin’ putt. You know it’s got some break. You’re gonna play it too far out to the right and shove it by the hole. C’mon, man, miss it. Miss it! Shit! You drained it. Ugh, now I have to make mine just to tie.”

In other words, my entire “knock it in dude” narrative was a total lie. It goes on like this all day. When Mike’s partner, Charlie, blasted his drive down the center of the fairway on number 11, I said, “Awesome drive man. You’re really hitting the ball well” as I thought to myself, “I wish the dude would miss just one fairway. Please!”

It was against this backdrop that Charlie came up with the idea of “honest golf.” What if, he said, instead of the disingenuous platitudes we toss at each other for 18 holes, we just said what we were actually thinking. It would be very different that’s for sure. I hit my drive in the hazard and I hear two guys yell, “Yessss!” as they fist bump each other. My opponent drains that birdie putt, I say, “Crap, I was really hoping you’d miss that.” It will never happen, but it’s funny to think about. It will never happen because, even though the average male golfer has the couth of a gorilla, golf is still a gentleman’s game (apologies to my women golfer friends, but my experience is with men’s golf). And, it works. No need to change a thing. But, the one thing we have to acknowledge about golf – we lie to each other all day long.

There’s another realm that has historically been a gentleman/gentlewoman’s game and that’s politics. Until Donald Trump. Nobody would ever mistake the President for a gentleman. He’s a crass boor. He’s cringeworthy on a daily basis. But, he’s honest. Imagine what’s going through Nancy Pelosi’s head when she’s talking about him. Probably something like, “the orange man with the little hands did it again.” But, she lies. She doesn’t say what she’s actually thinking. Conversely, when President Trump hears Adam Schiff’s grating voice, he says, “Shifty Schiff is at it again.” Brain to Tweet, with no stops in between.

The irony in all this is that the left loves to call Trump a liar. Ha! There’s never been a more honest politician. You know exactly what he’s thinking about a nanosecond after he thinks it. It’s the rest of the political class that lie by telling you they’re rooting for you to make the putt while secretly hoping you ram it 8 feet by. I concede that social filters have a roll in polite society, golf, and politics. But, remember why President Trump was elected. He was elected, first and foremost, to drain the political swamp and chase away all the swamp denizens in the process. That would be hard to do using the usual polite tone employed by people like John McCain and George W. Bush. It required someone who would be completely honest and speak their mind, even if it comes across a bit crass and childish. It makes people pay attention.

I think I have much better social filters than President Trump, but I do have a reputation for blunt honest discourse. A good friend once said to me, “I think it; you say it.” Donald Trump says it. He says it honestly and in language that cannot possibly be mistaken or misunderstood. For years, the right gently complained that they weren’t getting a fair shake in the mainstream media. Nobody listened and too many people failed to understand just how serious the problem was and the implications of a dishonest media. Donald Trump accurately gives them the moniker “fake news.” It’s accurate. It sticks. And, everyone understands exactly what it means.

My guess is that we’ll return to a somewhat more civil politic someday. But, right now, we needed honesty. We needed direct talk. It was the only way to get people’s attention. And it worked. As I’ve been saying for 3 years now, ignore the boorish demeanor, and you have one of the most successful first-term presidents in American history. That’s the truth.

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Things That Go Bump in the Night

There seems to be some disagreement among the various unreliable Internet sources as to the earliest origin of the phrase I used for the title of this blog. Wiki attributes it to the penultimate line in a Scottish poem from 1895

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

The Phrase Finder website suggests that it was first found in print in the Bulletin of the School of African and Oriental Studies in 1918. But, both sources agree that the phrase refers to frightening, but imagined events.

And, that brings me to the topic of today’s blog – truly frightening politicians vs just imagined scariness. Back December 2015, I wrote a blog with the tautological title, “Donald Trump is a Bombastic Buffoon.” In that piece, I opined, correctly as it turns out, that the trope being used to parry off the Orangeman’s candidacy that he was “scary” was bunk. I further said, I’m sure correctly though thankfully we’re not running this experiment, that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a lot more scary given her long track record of failure at, well, everything she ever did in life.

As a quick recap, because I love to pat myself on the back when I’m right (and ignore completely when I’m wrong), the Trump presidency has been precisely what I said it would be – bombastic, boorish, buffoonish, and….wildly successful. The economy and employment are humming along at levels not seen in many decades, we’ve righted the ship on the horrible Iranian deal, we’ve done a legit reset on many of Obama’s other foreign policy gaffes, and we’re finally stepping up to our immigration crisis despite the efforts on the left to stymie him. And, a lot more, but that’s truly not the topic of today’s blog (pat, pat, pat).

I want to return to the topic of what should actually scare us. Not imagined things going bump in the night, but real things that could do actual harm to us. And not just political harm, but actual physical harm. And, by that I mean people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. AOC, as they now call her, is an avowed socialist. By some estimates, socialism cost 100 million people their lives. Stop, just stop, for a moment and really let this settle in. There are people in the United States of America who voted for a candidate who openly advocates for a political philosophy that failed miserably and killed as many as 100 million people. And, Donald Trump is the next Hitler. Right.

If you were inclined to dismiss AOC as something that goes bump in the night (so you can actually sleep tonight) you might note that she has come to this position with the support of 110,318 people voting in the super liberal 14th district of New York. That’s 0.03% of the US population. Sleep well, right? Not so fast. Within a week of taking office, nearly the entire democrat party establishment has embraced her as their mouthpiece with nearly every declared democrat party candidate for the 2020 presidential election signing onto AOC’s plan that would bankrupt the country and devastate our poorer population within 10 years. And end up killing how many people? Well, 100 million is a starting point.

Friends, that’s not a bump in the night. That’s something to be truly scared of.

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Liberal Hypocrisy, Virginia Style

As my loyal readers know, I have been writing a periodic series on liberal hypocrisy. Each time I write on the topic, I think the hypocrisy can’t get worse, but it always does. The liberal dumpster fire in my home, the Commonwealth of Virginia, may be poised to set the Olympic record for hypocrisy. Depending on how this plays out over the ensuing weeks, months, and years, however, the Old Dominion may also change the political dialogue forever and possibly for the better. It’s very complicated so let’s start pealing the proverbial onion.

For those of you living under a rock, here’s the state of play:

  1. The democrat Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam appeared in his medical school yearbook either wearing a KKK costume or a blackface. He apologized for doing it, then pretended it wasn’t him.
  2. The democrat Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Justin Fairfax, has now been accused by two women of rape. One claims to have documentary evidence.
  3. The democrat AG, who would become the governor if both the governor and the lieutenant governor were to be forced to resigned or were impeached, admitted to wearing a blackface to a party in college.
  4. The speaker of the house in Virginia, who would become the governor if the governor, lieutenant governor, and AG were all forced to resign or were impeached, is a republican.

When the Northam photos first surfaced, I have to credit the liberal establishment with a fairly quick call for his resignation, including most black leaders. To the causal observer like me, this seemed like a no-brainer. The left has been desperately searching for dog whistle racism from President Trump, for whom there’s no actual data to support a claim that he’s racist. Nonetheless, the left has been playing their favorite card on him for more than two years, going back to the campaign and election. OK, two points for the left.

But, wait, it got more complicated after that and the hypocrisy flags started flying. When the first woman accused Fairfax of sexual assault at the 2004 democrat convention, the initial reaction from the left was a measured one, nothing like the shrill screaming they immediately issued when Judge Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault with no evidence whatsoever. And, while both cases were ultimately he said/she said situations, objectively, Dr. Tyson was far more credible than Dr. Blasey-Ford. In the Fairfax/Tyson case, both parties agreed they’d had sex; it is just a question of whether or not it was consensual. Sorry, does the woman not get the benefit of the doubt? Well, apparently not if the man is a democrat. In the Kavanaugh/Blasey-Ford case, the accuser was ultimately not even able to prove that she has met the accused, let alone had sex with him, let alone had non-consensual sex with him.

At this point in the story, it seems to me that the level of liberal hypocrisy was only at a modest level, that which we expect from the left. It became very clear at this point in the story that the left was perfectly fine throwing Northam under the bus when they believed that the even more liberal Fairfax would become governor. But, when Fairfax came under fire, they had to be more circumspect.

That’s when it got really interesting because the democrat AG came out with his blackface confession, thus opening the possibility that a republican would become governor if all three had to go. And, at about the same time, a second accuser came out against Fairfax, saying she has evidence she could present at his impeachment hearing. Given this level of evidence, it became clear that the level of hypocrisy required to protect Fairfax was untenable so, as of this weekend, they started bailing on him. So, where’s the hypocrisy you ask? The left called for Northam’s resignation. They called for Fairfax’s resignation. Seems like they are standing by their principles, right? Not so fast.

Suddenly, we’re opening a national dialogue about race and blackface. I shit you not. Today’s above-the fold headline in the uber far left wing Washington Bezos Post is entitled, “Northam Vows a Focus on Race.” The lead op-ed piece in the same left wing rag is entitled, “Baseball, Apple Pie, and Blackface.” You simply cannot make this up. Here’s the lead paragraph in the op-ed piece.

Blackface is as American as the ruling class. Throughout the 20th century, all-male fraternal orders, schools, federal agencies and the U.S. military collectively institutionalized the practice. Watching blackface performances was a common pastime for U.S. presidents from both parties. “Blacking up” was seen as an expression of cultural heritage and patriotism throughout Jim Crow America — an era named after a famous blackface stock character — and up until the civil rights movement. Even now, one recent poll by YouGov  found, only 58 percent of Americans oppose the practice.

Stop. Just stop for a minute. Seriously, take a deep breath and just imagine for a moment that Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell had been pictured in their yearbook wearing a KKK outfit or blackface. Do you think the leftist media would position that as an opportunity to “focus on race.” Do you believe the leftists would suddenly look back in history and find that, indeed, white people donning black shoe polish and KKK hoods is as “American as the ruling class” or “an expression of cultural heritage and patriotism.” Oh my God no. How do they even keep a straight face when they say crap like that? Literally every single leftist in the country would be demanding the immediate resignation of any republican so pictured.  But, not the left. In their twisted and hypocritical world, you can declare Donald Trump a racist for “dog whistling,” but turn the blatantly racist costumes of a democrat into an opportunity to focus on race or to note that, indeed, blackfacing is a rich and important part of our national history. Seriously, give me a fucking break.

I don’t know where this goes from here. I really doubt the democrat party in Virginia will oust all three guys and turn it over to a republican. There’s a limit to their willingness to stand up for their faux principles and there’s likely no limit whatsoever to their hypocrisy. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll turn out to be wrong and all three will go, as they should.

But, I’m more interested in the question of what happens if Northam (and Herring) stays. What does that mean for the political dialogue on race for the next 50 years? It would no doubt change if forever. Would it be for the better or worse? That’s hard to know. If it means it’s now OK for white guys to wear KKK hoods (a clear message if Northam stays), then I would say (axiomatically, I believe) that it’s bad. If it means the left can no longer randomly throw the racism card at the right without cause, as they do all the time now, then perhaps something good comes out of it.  Perhaps this might also begin to address questions around whether politicians should be held accountable for stupid shit they did in high school and college. And by “stupid shit” I don’t mean rape or wearing a KKK hood. That’s not stupid. That’s unforgivable. Forever. But, the reality is that most of us did stuff when we were younger that does not even approximate who we are as adults. Perhaps we might all benefit from recognizing that reality and dealing with it on a case-by-case basis.

If we go there, I would only hope that both parties apply the same principles evenly. Given the hypocrisy on the left, I seriously doubt that.

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