Author: adamelijah (page 1 of 3)

On George Floyd

Thoughts on how George Floyd’s murder is the culmination of several disturbing stories involve Black Americans, the need for reconciliation and coming together, and the danger of those who will try to impose an agenda on the situation. Also thoughts on COVID-19 and the protests.

Church Reopenings During COVID-19

In this episode, Adam cuts though the partisan talking points and examining what President Trump’s declaration on church reopenings actually means.

Introduction to the Refuge for the Politically Homeless

I talk about my new podcast Refuge for the Politically Homeless.

Chuck Schumer Reminds Us That Neither Party Deserves Our Vote

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) appeared at a rally before a Supreme Court case on abortion rights and made the following statement in the course of his remarks: ” I want to tell you Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch: You have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price. ”

The Senate Minority Leader, the second most powerful Democrat in America right now, threatened two Supreme Court Justices if they didn’t rule the way they wanted. Schumer is not going to do anything to Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, but might some unstable abortion rights zealots take this as an invitation to harass these men and their families or even do harm to them? Certainly.

That’s why Chief Justice John Roberts called Schumer on his words. Schumer responded by falsely accusing the Chief Justice of turning a blind eye to President Trump’s abuse of the judiciary. While Roberts has ignored President Trump’s suggestion that Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor recuse themselves from Trump-related cases, that’s not on the same level as telling an angry mob that Supreme Court Justices are going to pay a price. In addition, Roberts called out Trump’s abuse of judges and his attempt to define them as “Obama Judges” in denigrating their decisions. Roberts has called both sides in protecting the Independence of the Judiciary.

One day after his statements, the Senate Minority Leader did a slight walkback. He didn’t apologize to the Chief Justice whose integrity he impugned, nor to the two Justices whose safety he put at risk. He did say he shouldn’t have said that but added, ” I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language.”

I wonder how much of President Trump’s statements Democrats overlook because, after all, he’s from Queens. Schumer’s statements are unacceptable. Yet, there are many #NeverTrumpers who are stuck on the political binary who insist we need to give the Democrats control of the Senate and make this man the next Majority leader because of the importance of democratic norms.

To be clear, the Republican Impeachment Trial was a disgrace, from their coordination with the White House to their refusal to hear the witnesses. Yet, we’re kidding ourselves if we believe the Democrats are the principled defenders of democratic norms and therefore deserve our votes. The Democrats are about what’s in their political interest.

If we want to vote for a party that believes in our constitution and defends constitutional norms faithfully, we’re going to have to build it ourselves. Voting for either a Republican or a Democratic challenger is replacing unfaithful politicians with unfaithful politicians.

No, We’re Not All Democrats

In reaction to the Senate’s decision to not call witnesses in President Trump’s Impeachment trial, Bill Kristol made the following declaration on Twitter:

 

To start with, 51 of the 53 Senate Republicans voted not to call witnesses or subpoena other evidence despite polls showing strong support. One showed 75 percent support and polling on the issue ranged from mid-60s to the high-70s.

Its rare for politicians to defy that large a percentage of the American electorate. However, a clue as to why the GOP did surrounds John Bolton, President Trump’s National Security Adviser. Mr. Bolton refused to testify without a subpeona during the House Impeachment process, but volunteered to appear before the Senate if called.

Leaks of Mr. Bolton’s forthcoming book indicated the President pressured Bolton to join in his effort to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice-President Joe Biden’s son Beau and was further concerned about the President doing favors for autocratic regimes. As reported, Bolton’s testimony would have led lots of people to ask lots of questions for the entire Trump Administration, including one of Trump’s lawyers, who was alleged to be present during a meeting on Ukraine with Bolton.

The Senate short circuited all those uncomfortable questions by barring witnesses. As President Trump’s former Chief of Staff John Kelly said, without witnesses, the trial was a job “only half done.” The Senate took a “see no evil” approach, saying the whole matter should be up to voters, despite the pesky Constitution giving them the power to try an Impeachment.

The White House is making spurious claims the book contains classified information. Even if that charge proves to be inaccurate, it will probably take until after the election to litigate. Thus the Senate has succeeded in assuring the truth of what Bolton and other witnesses know will not become known to the American people. The Senate chose to cover up what they should be investigating.

So does that mean we all need to be “Democrats” and support the Democratic Party this Fall? I think not.

Let’s leave aside all the issues which conservatives disagree with the Democrats on, the Democrats’ lack of effort to win our votes and the fact that the Democratic Party helped build this culture of corruption in Washington. The Democrats’ handling of Impeachment has been far from exemplary, though the President did deserve the impeachment.

The House Democrats were determined to vote on Impeachment by Christmas. As such, they didn’t go to court to fight for these documents or for the testimony of Mr. Bolton and other witnesses who had refused to cooperate without a subpoena.

It would have taken months to go through this process through the courts and it would’ve made it more difficult for the Trump-district Congressmen to vote for impeachment as the election drew closer.

However, they should have done it anyway. If you’re going to prosecute an impeachment trial, particularly before a Senate controlled by the other party, you want every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. You want to know what John Bolton and other witnesses are going to say. You want to know what the documents the White House is withholding say.

Instead, they made the politically easiest decision for their members and left it to the Senate to find out a lot of key information and the Senate refused. Turning away from strong indications of presidential malfeasance is wrong, but so is rushing the Impeachment case to satisfy your base even if it you didn’t investigate the case properly.

Both parties played politics rather than do their job. Neither are worth our support. What America really needs is to replace both of its major parties with new ones that will do the right thing.

The Home Alone 2 Controversy: An Epitome of our Ridiculous Politics

In 1992, Donald Trump appeared in the beloved Holiday film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York for all of seven seconds. The punchline of the future president’s cameo was, “Look, it’s Donald Trump.”

Some eagle-eyed Trump supporters noted with much anger that this scene was cut from the CBC’s annual airing of the film. The anger filtered over to Fox and Friends and over to the White House. The President accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of doing it as payback for Trump forcing Canada’s hand on trade and NATO.

The reality was Trudeau had nothing to do with the decision, nor was the decision made in regards to Trump’s presidency. According to the CBC, the scene was cut along with a lot of other short scenes back in 2014 to make the film fit into its allotted TV time slot, and CNN found complaints about the cut put online going back to 2015. In other words, the CBC is doing what TV stations due when wanting to air movies.

This is emblematic of the way and Trump and his followers approach politics, with fights over any perceived slight to the President. Many of the President’s supporters say this presidency is about the forgotten man. That’s only true if Donald Trump is the forgotten man.

Meanwhile, we’re running a Trillion Dollar deficit in good economic times, and the national debt has gone over $23 trillion.  The reality of Social Security and Medicare’s insolvency will lead to either a massive tax increase for workers or a cut to benefits to seniors within the next fifteen to twenty years. North Korea is threatening offensive measures as Trump’s embarrassing kissing up to North Korea has failed.

 And, thanks to Trump supporters, we’re talking about a seven-second cameo? We need serious leadership. What the Republicans have provided instead is a bread and circuses cult of personality. The Democrats have been no better with their pettiness and efforts to pander to every progressive fringe group. America desperately needs new political leadership that will deal with the nation’s serious issues.

Memebusters: Is President Trump Entitled to run for a Third Term if Acquitted by the Senate

This meme’s been popping up a lot on Facebook recently:

This meme is easily refuted by the text of the 22nd Amendment which limits the President to two terms. The relevant portion:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. 

Amendment 22, Section 1

Note there is no mention of impeachment making any difference. The rest of the amendment is concerned with when the amendment goes into effect and exempting President Truman, who was in office at the time this amendment was passed.

The meme may have been inspired by an idea by constitutional scholar William Mattox that an impeached but not convicted President should get a third term. This is not the same thing as stating a president does.

Professor Glenn Reynolds pointed out that this could create perverse incentives. He cites a House controlled by the President’s party to push through phony articles (maybe impeaching him for being a nice guy) to give him a third term.

I see another perverse incentive in that both modern Presidents to be impeached brought it on themselves. Most people will agree what Bill Clinton and Donald Trump did was wrong, but many will insist that impeachment was too severe a response. Under the system proposed by Mattox, a President who behaves ethically can run for two terms. A President who misbehaves and gets impeached can run for three if his party saves him from being actually removed.

At any rate, Mattox’s proposed idea isn’t currently the law and this meme is disrespectful nonsense.

Remember, don’t believe every meme you see. Research them before you share, and think for yourself.

Memo To Conservative Pundits: The U.K. is not the U.S.

There’s been a lot of ink spilled by conservative pundits about the meaning of the U.K. elections. Many conservative pundits have massively overstated their case and treated Conservative Party Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s victory as a precursor to what will happen with President Trump’s re-election campaign.

First, there is no established link between the two major parties in the U.S. and the two major parties in Great Britain. Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 election was providentially followed by Ronald Reagan’s 1980 win as two twin lions of anti-Communist resolve came to power and formed a close partnership. However, more often, the countries have each gone their own way. In 1992, John Major led the Conservatives to their fourth straight election victory while George H.W. Bush lost that year. In 1997, Tony Blair and his Labour Party came to power in the U.K. and Labour continued to control Great Britain while George W. Bush won two terms in the U.S. In 2010, David Cameron came to power for the Conservatives in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but that had no impact on President Obama’s re-election two years later.

Second, the U.K. has a very different political system. The U.K. is a parliamentary democracy, it’s made up of four nations (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales), and has spawned multiple regional/nationalist parties. The structure of the parties is different. Prior to the election, Johnson kicked twenty-one uncooperative MPs out of the party and forbid them from running for Parliament on the Conservative line. That’s power the President or U.S. Congressional leaders could only dream about.

Finally, the most important thing that makes the U.K. election unique is Brexit. In 2016, voters went to the polls in a national referendum and opted to leave the European Union. After the election, the pro-Remain members of parliament have undermined the Brexit efforts at every turn, either through outright opposition or through being passive-aggressive and preventing Brexit from actually occurring. Johnson ran on finishing the job and was rewarded with a huge majority.

There’s no issue in the U.S. that’s anything like Brexit. Impeachment or “the wall” doesn’t compare to defying the will of voters regarding their country’s independence in a national referendum. The odious efforts to force a second referendum reeked of politicians who were determined to keep holding new elections until they got the outcome they wanted.

There are lessons to be learned from the U.K. election, and I’ll discuss them in a future post, but the election results has been twisted by many into some prophetic bellwether for 2020 when it’s simply not.

Memebusters: 4.1% GDP Growth

We’re beginning a new series called Memebusters.

The social media meme is the modern propaganda tool for lazy activists. Lazy activists is an oxymoron but sadly applicable. You can change the world (and not for the better) by sharing memes that confirm your own prejudices and being too intellectually lazy to think about whether it makes sense and too lazy to take two minutes to research something before proclaiming it to all your friends.

According to a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, many of these memes, on both the left and the right, are crafted by the Russian Internet Research Agency. Everyone making, posting, and sharing malicious memes is inadvertently doing Russia’s job for them.

The goal of the memebuster series is:

  1. Expose the lies and misrepresentations of a given meme.
  2. Encourage independent thinking and research.
  3. Discourage sharing false, misleading, illogical, and hateful memes whether they come from the far left or the far right.

We’ll begin the series with a relatively simple meme:

Whoever made this meme should have said GDP growth rather than GDP. Beyond that, there are three important things that must be said:

  1. This Meme is Out of Date

I found this meme being passed around on social media in November 2019. The story on GDP growth was based on initial estimates for 2nd Quarter 2018 and made the news in late July 2018. Sixteen months later, it’s still being touted on the Internet as if it was just released. The latest quarter’s initial numbers put GDP growth at 1.9%. Though those are initial numbers accurate as of this writing but could easily change.

2. Quotes are Taken Out of Context or Just Wrong

The meme itself discloses one statement that was taken out of context. Obama did say something involving Trump and a magic wand, but it wasn’t about a GDP growth number, it was about Trump’s promise to bring back manufacturing jobs. While bringing back manufacturing jobs might help GDP growth, they aren’t the same thing. Even there, Obama’s point wasn’t that growth in the manufacturing sector or bringing back manufacturing job was impossible, but rather that Trump was being vague on how he was going to achieve results.

The quotes about 1% economic growth being the new normal and 2.5% Growth being unattainable are invented. The second is silly as Obama had two years exceeding 2.5% GDP growth. Obama’s Administration did state that economic growth would be “permanently slower than it was in earlier eras.” That’s reflected in the fact Obama’s administration didn’t have a single year with growth over 3%, and neither has President Trump.

3. Confusing the Issue

While Trump had a quarter with 4.1% growth, that was an initial report of a quarterly number, not an annual number. Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times provided some important context:

…on the campaign trail, Trump promised growth of 3.5% a year, and sometimes even 4%. That’s sustained, annual growth, not annualized growth for a single quarter. He still hasn’t delivered on that promise…

In any case, a 4.1% annualized growth rate isn’t only not “amazing,” it’s not even particularly remarkable. The Obama administration reached it in four quarters, including one with an annualized rate of 5.1%. 

LA Times

It’s worth noting Trump’s Contract with the American People promised 4% growth per year. By focusing on numbers from a single quarter, Trump makes it look like he achieved a goal when he’s still falling short of what was promised with 2.86% in GDP Growth in 2018 and lower growth is expected this year based on the numbers so far.

Overall Thoughts:

The question of GDP growth is a complex one. Economists not only debate what level is attainable, but growth numbers for given years and quarters are revised up and down for months, multiple times based on new data.

As such, Facebook memes are not a serious way to discuss this issue. It doesn’t help that this particular meme is unclear as to what it’s talking about, is out of date, makes up quotes or rips them out of context, and distracts from President Trump’s campaign promise, which remains unfulfilled as of this writing.

How to Talk to Your Family About the Need for a New Political Party this Thanksgiving

Just Don’t

Many left wingers are eager to use Thanksgiving to give their Trump-supporting/right-leaning relatives a smackdown lesson in politics as they see it. One Thanksgiving host I know of has set the wifi password to IMPEACH45 as to require their Trump-supporting relatives to type the words if they want on wifi. I would argue that this and other holiday political hi-jinks is a bad idea and ultimately counterproductive.

There are three big reasons why arguing politics at Thanksgiving is generally not a good idea. I say generally because there I have heard of families full of people who love nothing more than to have a good-natured argument, and are able to do so with good humor and without rancor. If you’re from a family such as this, than feel free to ignore this.

First of all, from a purely personal perspective, the Holidays are a special time when you actually get to spend time with people, many of whom have limited life time remaing and enjoy a feast together.If this Thanksgiving turns out to be the last time you see a grandfather or a beloved aunt, would you really want to remember that you browbeat them about their political preferences?

Secondly, our inability to have a peaceful Holiday meal without getting into an argument about politics is a part of a much larger problem. Politics has become too big and too important. Spaces and days free of political angst are shrinking. It’s poisonous to our national life and when you start an argument about politics at Thanksgiving, you’re becoming part of the problem.

Third, it’s really a question of “time and a place.” I have yet to hear of any minds being changed by a belligerent Thanksgiving argument. You’re far more likely to annoy rather than persuade as the fact you’re starting an argument and “ruining” the family time together we’ll obliterate the value of your message.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in the midst of arguments we didn’t start. Arguments are started by others and we have to choose how to respond. In doing so, remember to be respectful and to work maintain the relationship. Carly Fiorina had some interesting thoughts on handling political disagreements in her latest podcast, encouraging the use of “open-ended genuinely curious and caring questions” which is probably more effective than most other approaches to political disagreements.

We face many serious problems. However, the best thing we can do for our country’s future tomorrow is to come together to celebrate Thanksgiving in a spirit of goodwill and do our best to be agents of peace and unity.]

Happy Thanksgiving.

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