Monday, March 19, 2018

The Passing of a Personal Hero, Shirley Justice

So sorry I missed the story last week.  WTHR issued this story last week:

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A mother and ex-wife shot multiple times outside her child's daycare four years ago has passed away. 
Despite multiple surgeries, doctors had to leave several of the bullets inside her body. Shirley Justice suffered massive internal injuries to several major organs. 
Shirley Justice talked exclusively with Andrea Morehead during her uphill battle to recover after being shot 14 times. 
It would mean several surgeries and a lot of determination.
On February 18, 2014, Justice dropped off her daughter at Kinder Kare Daycare on West 38th Street in Eagle Creek. That's when her estranged husband Christopher Justice surprised her with a gun outside. Shirley was shot more than a dozen times and clung to life. 
Christopher Justice is serving a 24-year sentence for attempted murder after being convicted last year. His trial had several delays because Shirley needed more time to recover so she could testify about the shooting. 
"She would sometimes call me and say another bullet fell out," said Det. [Marcus] Kennedy. "She was a super strong lady, it broke my heart, too, to hear she passed away." 
Kennedy is one of IMPD's veteran homicide detectives assigned to the case. He had to write the final probable cause against Justice with help from Shirley about the gunfire. Kennedy eventually got to talk to her at her hospital bedside and during her years of rehab. 
Eyewitness News has learned despite Shirley Justice not surviving the massive injuries, prosecutors have decided Indiana's jeopardy law doesn't allow them to upgrade his charges to murder.
I never got to personally meet Shirley Justice. But I knew of her courage.  I spoke by phone to Shirley about problems she had when she tried to "lazy judge" a Marion County Superior Court judge who had failed to make a timely ruling in a custody dispute.  The judge had apparently issued a ruling after the lazy judge filing (which judges are not allowed to do), finding against Shirley and for Christopher. (I researched the court file and confirmed what Shirley was claiming.) After the shooting, the case was taken away from the judge by the Indiana Supreme Court. 

Shirley had wanted to get her story out and knew I was not only an attorney but a blogger.  It was shortly after our conversation that she was shot fourteen times by her husband, Christopher Justice outside the day care center.  I went ahead and wrote the story only to find shortly thereafter a grievance filed against me by the Disciplinary Commission contending that I had violated attorney-client privilege, revealing confidential details against Shirley's wishes.  

I think the Commission simply assumed Shirley was going to die soon and would not be around to contradict the allegation the Commission was essentially making on her behalf.  But Shirley did not die.  As she clung to her life, she talked to a Disciplinary Commission investigator (which conversation she recorded) and let him know in no uncertain terms that I did not violate her confidentiality and she had wanted me to write about her case on my blog.  She said she wanted the grievance against me dropped.  The Commission did exactly that, no doubt reluctantly since the Commission had been on a warpath against me following critical blog articles I had written about the Commission and its Executive Secretary G. Michael Witte.

In the years that followed, I lost touch with Shirley.  I did not know that she continued to suffer physical problems from the shooting that would eventually take her life.  I so regret not knowing that and not learning of her passing until this week.  I would have welcomed the opportunity to attend her funeral to tell her family what a wonderful and courageous woman she was.  Shirley Justice is nothing less than a hero to me, someone who did the right thing even when it was not easy to do so.  This world could use a lot more people like Shirley Justice.

Note:  Shirley's family has established a Go Fund Me page to help defray the considerable expenses associated with her passing.  Please consider contributing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pennsylvania Special Election Provides Yet More Evidence Mid-Terms Will Feature Democratic Tidal Wave

Yesterday, Democrat Conor Lamb defeated his Republican opponent Rick Saccone in a Pennsylvania special election to fill the vacancy left when Republican congressman Tim Murphy resigned.  Candidate Donald Trump had won the district, Pennsylvania Congressional District 18, by 20 points in 2016.  The district is so reliably Republican that the Democrats did not even bother to field a candidate against Murphy in 2014 and 2016.   Conor won the razor thin victory by running as a defiantly moderate Democrat, someone whose views were not at all in line with his party's liberalism, but whose views better match the conservative leaning voters of District 18.  Although President Donald Trump came to the district the weekend before the election to fire up the Republican base, his efforts, as they did in
Conor Lamb
Alabama, failed to inspire the GOP faithful.  They weren't buying what Trump was selling.

I can hear the excuses now.  Lamb ran as a Republican-lite.  Saccone was a horrible candidate.  Yeah, so what?  The fact is District 18 is a heavy, heavy Republican district.  When the numbers are that stacked in the GOP's favor, the Democrats cannot win a district simply by running a candidate who talks like a Republican even if the GOP fields a candidate who can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

Make no mistake about it...what gave Conor Lamb a shot at victory is the unpopularity of Donald Trump.   Trump's presidency has been an unmitigated failure.  For 14 months, the Trump administration has teetered from one crisis to another, with the President taking pains to alienate every demographic group with the exception of under-educated white men.  While Republicans still back Trump by 80% plus, the fact is independents, those people who voted for Trump because they couldn't stand Hillary, have long ago left and they show no sign of coming back.  Trumpers don't get that.  They think Donald Trump won some sweeping victory on November 8, 2016, when in fact Trump only won a narrow victory in the Electoral College because he faced the most spectacularly unpopular candidate the Democrats could find.

For Trumpers, the approaching blue wave due to hit the shores on November 6th (which even they must by now admit is coming) surely must be someone else's fault.  How about George Soros?  Nancy Pelosi?  Chuck Schumer?  Bob Mueller?  Paul Ryan?  Mitch McConnell?  Lord knows the Kool-Aid drinking Trumpers will never actually hold the President responsible for anything.  The ethos of "personal responsibility" does not apply when the leader of your cult is named Donald J. Trump.

But it should.  Trump and his embarrassingly incompetent and scandal-riddled tenure is destroying the party I have believed in and supported since my 18th birthday.  It will take a generation to rebuild the Republican party post-Trump.  The sooner that process begins the better.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

White House Firing Stuns Washington

No, I'm not talking about the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this morning.  That was not unexpected.

Instead, CNBC reports on the unexpected personnel development:
President Donald Trump's personal assistant, John McEntee, was fired Monday for unspecified security reasons and was removed from the White House, according to a Tuesday report from The Wall Street Journal. 
He has now joined Trump's re-election campaign as a senior advisor. Trump 2016 campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson is also joining the 2020 re-election campaign as a senior advisor. 
"Katrina and John will play pivotal roles on our campaign once again as we develop a winning strategy through 2020 to Keep America Great," said Michael Glassner, the campaign's chief operating officer. "They will also contribute tremendously to our national engagement in the mid-term elections this year. We're delighted to have them back on the team." 
McEntee, who served on Trump's winning presidential campaign beginning in 2015, joined the Trump administration after the election. He was escorted off the White House grounds on Monday over an "unspecified security issue," the Journal reported, citing sources. 
A CNN reporter later tweeted, citing a source familiar with the matter, that McEntee was terminated because the Department of Homeland Security is investigating him for "serious financial crimes" that are not related to Trump.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Race for 2020 GOP Presidential Nomination Heats Up

Thus far, most of the focus on Election 2020 has been on the Democratic side as scores of possible candidates appear on the verge of tossing their respective hats into the ring.  What though has gotten loss coverage is the fact that things are heating up on the Republican side as well.  Arizona Senator Jeff Flake is attending a "Politics and Eggs" event in New Hampshire on March 16th where he will give a speech titled "Country Over Party."

The Washington Times reports on Flake's response to speculation he may run for President:
“I don’t rule anything out, but it’s not in my plans,” Flake told ABC News in December. But the Arizona senator said he believes a Trump re-election bid will “leave a huge swatch of voters looking for something else.” 
Meanwhile, Ohio Governor John Kasich, a GOP primary finalist in 2016, appears to be prepping for  a 2020 run.   Politico reports:
John Kasich’s inner circle is gearing up for a possible presidential run in 2020 — actively weighing the prospect of a Republican primary challenge to President Donald Trump against the feasibility of a long-shot general election campaign as an independent.
And there’s one consideration driving their thinking perhaps more than any other: what some of his advisers consider the very real, maybe even likely, possibility that Trump doesn’t run again — by choice or not — or that the president becomes so politically hobbled by late next year that the political landscape fundamentally shifts in Kasich’s favor. That’s one reason Kasich has yet to decide whether to pursue an independent bid or a primary challenge.
Nine Republicans in or close with Kasich’s political operation told POLITICO that the departing Ohio governor has been working with a tight clutch of advisers and informally surveying donors and fellow pols about the shape of his next steps. So far, he has solidified his role as a go-to commentator for national news shows while stacking his schedule with trips including an April return to New Hampshire.
Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)
Donald Trump right now has a cult-like grip over 80% of the shrinking GOP electorate.  Falke and Kasich would not have a chance to win if they ran today.  Undoubtedly Flake and Kasich know that and they are betting that Trump won't be as popular with Republican voters on the first day of 2018 as he will be come the Summer of 2019, when the Presidential race heats up in earnest.  That's not a long-shot gamble.  The Mueller investigation appears to be getting closer and closer to President Trump.  That the independent counsel will end up concluding that Trump or, at least, people very close to him, engaged in a  conspiracy with Russians to win the 2016 election, accepted bribes to influence policy, money laundering, obstruction of justice and other criminal activity appear much more likely than they did even a month ago.  

In the end, I think it only 50-50 Donald Trump even completes his term, much less runs for re-election.  Even if Mueller did not spoil the Trump GOP Kool-Aid party, there appears to be a looming disasterous midterm election for Republicans which would flip control of the U.S. House to the Democrats and make 2019 a year of impeachment and other investigations of the Trump Presidency.  I could definitely see Trump choosing to leave in 2019 rather than deal with that.  Better to go out an electoral winner than face that and the distinct possibility of losing in 2020 when the Democrats undoubtedly field a much stronger candidate in a more favorable political climate.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Democrats Flip Two More Republican State Legislative Seats, This Time in New Hampshire, Connecticut

The Hill reports on Tuesday's elections:
Democratic candidates on Tuesday won two special elections for state legislative seats in the Northeast, another indication for the party that a blue wave is forming ahead of November's midterm elections.

In New Hampshire, Laconia voters elected substance abuse counselor Philip Spagnuolo
(D) over Republican Les Cartier, a former state employee, in a district President Trump carried by a 13-point margin in 2016.
In Connecticut, Democrat Philip Young defeated Republican Bill Cabral to win a Stratford-based district that has been in Republican hands for decades, even though Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried a narrow plurality there in 2016.
The wins Tuesday night extend the Democratic advantage in special elections held since Trump was inaugurated last year. In 2018 alone, Democrats have won Republican-held state legislative seats in Wisconsin, Florida, Kentucky and Missouri.

The New Hampshire seat is the fifth Democrats have taken from Republicans since Trump's inauguration. 
Tuesday's elections now makes 39 state legislative seats that have flipped from Republican to Democrat since Trump's election.  While the Republicans did hold a Lexington, Kentucky area state house seat on Tuesday by some 34 points, it is a district that Trump won iby 62 points, thus the election represented a 28 point swing in the Democrats' direction.  That is consistent with the average 27 point swing to the Democrats in state legislative races since Trump's election.

It should be noted that in most congressional, state legislative and state-wide races, Donald Trump ran behind other Republicans on the 2016 ticket.  Indiana was one of the few exceptions as Trump proved to be more popular than most GOP candidates in the Hoosier state.

Monday, February 26, 2018

CPAC Pushes Aside Conservative Intellectualism to Embrace Hate and Hypocrisy

Last week, the American Conservative Union hosted the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.  Started by ACU and the Youn Americans for Freedom in 1973, CPAC was an annual event that was about discussing conservative ideas and promoting those ideas, particularly among young people who regularly dominate the conference attendance.  I use past tense "was" instead of the present tense "is" because the event held this weekend was certainly nothing about conservative ideas.  Rather it was about Trumpism,i.e. the blind and unquestioned worship of Donald Trump, a lifelong liberal only recent turned pretend Republican, the ultimate RINO who barely stumbled into the Presidency in 2016 only because the Democrats managed to nominate the worst candidate the party could find.

Mona Charen
I have never been fond the of the description "tribalism" to define Trumpism, but it is growing on me.  Basically the term, especially when used in this context, refers to Trumpers who see anything done by "The Donald" and his supporters as right because, well, Trump is the leader of their team.  Meanwhile, anything done by those outside the Trump orbit is by definition wrong, because they are on the other team.  It does not matter if both sides are guilty of the EXACT same thing.  It is Right when Trump and his allies do it, and it is Wrong when those who oppose Trump do it.  There is nothing more anti-intellectual than that "logic," a hypocrisy that was on full display at this year's CPAC.

During President Trump's speech to the conference, a chant broke out to "lock her up," a reference to the investigation into Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, exposing to hacking classified information because she chose to use a private server to receive that information.  I, for one, think, especially in light of General Petraeus' prosecution for mishandling classified information, that Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted.  But given the revelations of scores of officials without proper security clearances handling classified information in the Trump White House, is this really an issue that the President and Trumpers in the CPAC audience should want to bring this up?  A true intellectual would note the hypocrisy and steer clear of the issue.  But when it comes to tribalism, intellectual honesty matters not one whit.  What matters is what side you are on.

There are so many things that happened at this year's CPAC that speaks to the intellectual rot of those who are trying, wrongly I might add, to claim the mantel of modern-day conservativism.  I could talk about the attack on former GOP chairman Michael Steele by a CPAC spokesman, who it is said only received his position because he is black.  Or I could talk about the President reading a poem that suggested all immigrants, not just the illegal kind, are prone to criminal behavior because they are, well, immigrants.  Or the shear absurdity of giving House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes the "Defender of Freedom" award,  Nunes has done more to undermine the rule of law and obstruct a legitimate investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election than anyone.

But nothing at CPAC demonstrates the rife anti-intellectualism among its participants how they treated conservative icon and syndicated columnist Mona Charen.  USA Today describes what happened:

In the final hours of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, conservative columnist Mona Charen was escorted out Saturday after remarks she made about conservatives supporting politicians despite sexual misconduct allegations against then.
Charen, who was speaking on an all-women panel titled "#UsToo: Left Out by the Left," rebuked conservatives for excusing the behavior of both President Trump and Alabama Republican Roy Moore.
"I'm disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites on sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women," she said. "And because he happens to have an 'R' after his name, we look the other way, we don't complain."
She also criticized Republicans who endorsed Moore, who was accused of pursuing and assaulting teenagers while he was in his 30s.
"You cannot claim that you stand for women and put up with that," she said.
Shouts of "not true" came from the audience afterward.
Charen later penned a column in the New York Times about what happened.  If readers can get past the pay wall, its worth reading in its entirety.

I’ve been a conservative my entire life. I fell hard for William F. Buckley as a teenager and my first job was as editorial assistant at Buckley’s National Review, followed by stints writing speeches for first lady Nancy Reagan and then working for the Gipper himself. Looking toward the 1988 race, Vice President George H.W. Bush wasn’t conservative enough for me. I went to work as a speechwriter for Representative Jack Kemp in 1986.
So you’d think that the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, would be a natural fit. It once was. But on Saturday, after speaking to this year’s gathering, I had to be escorted from the premises by several guards who seemed genuinely concerned for my safety.
What happened to me at CPAC is the perfect illustration of the collective experience of a whole swath of conservatives since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. We built and organized this party — but now we’re made to feel like interlopers.
While there were reasonable, mainstream Republican speakers at CPAC, the lineup also featured demagogues like Sheriff David Clarke Jr. While he oversaw the Milwaukee County jail, one pregnant prisoner was repeatedly raped, and several prisoners died in the space of just six months. One was a mentally ill man who was denied water for seven days. No matter. The sheriff was cheered by the CPAC crowd.
My panel was about the #MeToo movement, which was a natural for me since my new book coming out in June, “Sex Matters,” grapples with the movement and other aspects of our fraught sexual ecosystem.
After every woman on the panel had a chance to speak and with 10 minutes remaining on the clock, the moderator threw a slow pitch right over the plate. She asked us about feminist hypocrisy. Ask me that at a cocktail party and I will talk your ear off about how the very people who had lectured us about the utter venality of workplace sexual harassment throughout the 1980s became suddenly quiescent when the malefactor was Bill Clinton.

But this time, and particularly in front of this crowd, it felt far more urgent to point out the hypocrisy of our side. How can conservative women hope to have any credibility on the subject of sexual harassment or relations between the sexes when they excuse the behavior of President Trump? And how can we participate in any conversation about sexual ethics when the Republican president and the Republican Party backed a man credibly accused of child molestation for the United States Senate?
I watched my fellow panelists’ eyes widen. And then the booing began.
I’d been dreading it for days, but when it came, I almost welcomed it. There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth. And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism, by those of us who refuse to overlook the fools, frauds and fascists attempting to glide along in his slipstream into respectability.
I spoke to a hostile audience for the sake of every person who has watched this spectacle of mendacity in disbelief and misery for the past two years. Just hearing the words you know are true can serve as ballast, steadying your mind when so much seems unreal.

For traditional conservatives, the past two years have felt like a Twilight Zone episode. Politicians, activists and intellectuals have succumbed with numbing regularity, betraying every principle they once claimed to uphold. But there remains a vigorous remnant of dissenters. I hear from them. There were even some at CPAC.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Democrats Appear Certain to Pick Up Several Indiana Legislative Seats in Mid-Term Elections

Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Democrats have been scoring electoral successes throughout the country, including in state legislative districts in which the GOP formerly dominated.  This trend has accelerated as we entered 2018.  Earlier this week, a Kentucky Democrat won a state senate race in a district that Trump won by 49 points.  That marks the 37th state legislative district that has flipped from Republican to Democratic control in the Trump era.  Meanwhile, the Republican state legislative gains can be counted on one hand.

Democrats appear to be doing dramatically better not only in suburban areas, but also in rural GOP

But a good political analyst doesn't focus so much on wins and losses, but margin.  Size does matter in politics, at least in predicting future elections  While it is hard to get the data, a recent report indicates
that, since Trump's election, state legislative seats are, on average, swinging 27 points in favor of Democrats.  That means GOP candidates are doing on average 13.5% worse, while Democrats are doing 13.5% better.

If those trends continue, how could they affect the Indiana General Assembly?  Right now the Republicans dominate both chambers, 70-30 in the House and 40-10 in the Senate. Indiana is about a 57-43 GOP state, so those numbers far exceed what one might expect if the maps were not so gerrymandering.  But even gerrymandering has its limits, particularly when faced with what appears to be a wave election coming in 2018.

In my analysis, I looked at the last election results and adjusted them for varying electoral swings.  In the Indiana House, of course, all 100 seats are up for election.  If there is a 20 point swing (which means Democratic candidate gains 10% while the Republican loses 10%), then the House goes from 70-30 to 60-40.  With a 22 point swing, the Indiana House is 57-43 Republican; a 24 point swing makes it 55-43.  It would take a 30 point swing for the House to become a 50-50 body.

My analysis might understate things as I only looked at those districts in which the incumbent had a major party challenger the last race.  What we've found in the recent anti-Trump/anti-GOP trend is that Democrats are running candidates and winning in districts so heavily Republican that the Democratic Party did not even bother to field a candidate in the last election.  So there could be more districts out there that the Democrats could win...assuming the party can find strong candidates.

But what about the 40-10 Senate?  Twenty-five seats are up in 2018, and by my count 22 of those are held by Republicans.  Again, looking at the GOP incumbents who faced challengers last time, there are a lot of opportunities for Democratic gains.  Scores of Senate Republicans up in 2018 are in relatively tight districts.  With just over a 21 point swing, Democrats win 7 seats.  In a 28 swing environment,  Democrats win 10 seats held by Republicans.

While there are numerous Republican seats up this time that Democrats could win, to get to even the Democrats would have to run candidates and win several previously uncontested state senate districts.  Given the numbers and that only half the Senate is up every two years, it would be virtually impossible for the Democrats to win Senate control in one election.

During President Obama's eight years in office, Republicans won control of 1,000 state legislative seats formerly held by Democrats.  That trend appears to be dramatically reversing.  Trump may easily eclipse Obama's dubious record, assuming Trump could actually get re-elected in 2020.

On Election Night 2016, I said that a President Donald Trump will prove to be the greatest thing that ever happened to the Democratic Party.  With virtually every election since, my prediction is getting closer to becoming reality.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Indianapolis Terminates Ballard-Era Electric/Hybrid Car Contract; Will Blue Indy Be Next?

A few years ago, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard entered into a contract to rent scores of electric and alternative fuel cars for city workers  It was sold to the public as a cost savings for taxpayers. That was net even remotely true as my analysis at the time as well as other analyses showed.  The cars also proved to be insufficient for the needs of municipal workers. Thankfully, the administration of Mayor Hogsett is now ending that contract.  The Indianapolis Business Journal reports:

The city of Indianapolis is ending a contract for an electric municipal vehicle fleet—a program that at first was hailed by some as a breakthrough for the green economy and then ran into political trouble. 
The administration of Mayor Joe Hogsett has signed an agreement to wind down the deal with California-based Vision Fleet, Fox59 reported Thursday. The 2014 deal was signed by Hogsett's predecessor, Mayor Greg Ballard, who envisioned a 425-vehicle municipal fleet running on electricity or a hybrid-gasoline option. 

Under the deal originally inked in February 2014, the city agreed to pay $32 million over seven years to lease 425 electric-powered cars to replace some of the city's gas-powered vehicles. The cars, including such models as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, would be used for a variety of city services, but not for police-pursuit purposes. 
Now, the city will return 200 cars this year, keep 12 vehicles and pay $500,000 for 43 charging stations that were built on city-owned property, Fox59 reported. It was not immediately clear on Friday how many of the 425 cars that the city hoped to lease actually were in use by the city.  
The agreement to end the contract that the city signed this week with Indy-Vision Funding I LLC indicates that the cars don't meet Indianapolis' needs.
One can hope that this is a prelude to the City of Indianapolis also ending the Blue Indy electric car contract that is even more a debacle than the Indy-Vision Funding contract.  The Blue Indy cars take up valuable parking spaces, that inconvenience the public and cause local businesses to lose customers.  The late great Gary Welsh wrote a great deal about that Ballard fiasco.  Links to those articles can be found here.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Nunes Memo Attacking the "Deep State Conspiracy" at the FBI Proves to be a Nothing Burger

Hyped for more than a week as the smoking gun which would reveal a "deep state" liberal FBI conspiracy against Donald Trump, the Nunes memo has spectacularly failed to live up to its promotion.    One wonders whether the author, Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Ca), who admits to not reading the intelligence supposedly undergirding the memo written by his staff,  even bothered to read the 3 1/2 page memo which bears his name.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)

Released Friday afternoon, I had a chance to begin reading the document shortly after it was published. About 5 minutes later I concluded that perusal  My reaction was utter astonishment.  Not at what information the memo contained, but astonishment that anyone who read the memo could have thought it exposed some scandal at the FBI or in any way undercuts the Russia probe.  Even assuming all the facts contained therein are true, it doesn't advance the "deep state" conspiracy theory one inch.

The memo focuses on FBI wiretaps obtained through several FISA judges of Carter Page, who was identified at one time as a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.  The argument is that the "unverified and salacious" Christopher Steele dossier, was used to obtain the Page wiretaps in order to conduct surveillance the Trump campaign.  A major part of the memo is the suggestion that the FBI failed to disclose that the dossier was funded by Trump's political opponents when it sought the Page wiretap.  It should be noted that today, three days after the memo's release, Nunes admits that claim is false and that the FBI did disclose to the FISA court the political support behind the dossier.

There are numerous problems with these conclusions reached in the memo. First, Page was not working on the Trump campaign when the surveillance of him was sought.  He had left the campaign a month earlier. Second, the references to Page make up only a small portion of the lengthy dossier.  There is no indication that the facts alleged against Page in the dossier were not verified before the document was presented to the FISA court.  (Indeed, many of the claims in the dossier have long again been verified independently.) Third, contrary to the memo's claim, the FISA court was told that the dossier was funded by Trump opponents was made known to the FISA court, a fact that Nunes today (three days after the memo was released), sheepishly admits.   Fourth, there was plenty of other evidence to support surveillance of Carter Page, who since 2013 had been suspected of working as an agent of the Russian government.

Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted this weekend that the memo "vindicates" him against the accusation that his campaign worked with the Russians to win the 2016 election.  Utter absurdity.  Carter Page is only a bit player in the Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Even if all the conclusory, unsupported allegations in the Nunes memo are taken as true, it does not come close to clearing the Trump campaign of what has come to mistakenly be called "collusion."  Not even close.  That the President would make such a claim reveals that instead of spending five minutes to actually read the memo, he preferred to be briefed on its contents by Sean Hannity.  Or, President Trump is simply lying...which he does a lot of.

But what about the fact that people like Christopher Steele were outed in the memo as not wanting Donald Trump to be elected?  Again, a big nothing burger  Steele was a long-time respected British intelligence officer.  His investigation had led him to conclude that Trump had troubling ties with Russian officials, had been compromised and was subject to blackmail.  So, Steele and other intelligence officers who saw the same troubling Trump-Russian connections are not supposed to have opinions?  Any anti-Trump bias was undoubtedly because of what they saw in their intelligence The notion that Steele and the professional intelligence officials at the FBI started with an anti-Trump bias which caused them to shed their professionalism to "get" the President is based on zero facts.

As far as the notion that there is a deep state FBI bias which was working against Trump's election is contrary to the facts we know to be true. There were FBI investigations of both the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's campaigns before the election.  But the FBI only disclosed one of those investigations, the one involving Hillary Clinton.  The Comey letter reopening the Clinton investigation came only 10 days before the election and caused her to sink in the polls.  Given that the election turned on just 78,000 votes in three states, it is not a stretch to guess that the actions of FBI Director James Comey, fired by President Trump, are the reason Trump won the historically close, 2016 election instead of Hillary Clinton.   Oh, and who was the FBI agent urging Comey to re-open the Hillary Clinton investigation based on the newly discovered trove of emails found on Clinton confident Huma Abedin's computer, the same agent who drafted the Comey letter?  None other than Peter Strzok, the same agent caught sending to his lover text messages critical of Donald Trump.  I know it is something not understood in Trump's world, but there are actually professionals out there who do their job, not based on politics, but on what is right or wrong.

Not only does the Nunes memo not support the "deep state" conspiracy narrative, a piece of it completely destroys the conspiracy theory pushed by certain House Republicans that the Trump investigation was launched based on the "unverified" Steele dossier.  The memo, in fact, confirms the New York Times story that the investigation into the Trump campaign was started by the FBI following a tip by an Australian diplomat who had been informed, in a bar by Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopolous during the Summer of 2016 that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton.  

So two foreign nationals, the Australian diplomat and British intelligence officer Steele, reported to the FBI concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 election, while everyone on the Trump campaign team remained silent about the Russian contacts with the Trump campaign.  This includes Donald, Jr. who, after his infamous "adoption" Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials, was briefed by the FBI that the Russians officials might try to contact his campaign as part of an effort to interfere in the 2016 election.  Donald, Jr. said nothing.

Rep. Devin Nunes has gone well beyond just carrying water for Donald Trump in an obvious effort by the President to undermine and even obstruct the Russian investigation.  Nunes, who now indicates he is targeting other departments with more memos to follow, is fulfilling the goals of Vladimar Putin in undermining American democracy.  Nunes certainly has no business being chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.  Speaker Paul Ryan should remove from that role immediately.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Trump Administration Refuses to Enforce Russian Sanctions Overwhelmingly Passed by Congress

The President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed..."
Article I, Section 3 of the United States Constitution
Well, maybe not so much...  Fox News reports:
The Trump administration has decided not to punish anybody for now under new sanctions retaliating for Russia's election-meddling, the State Department said Monday, in a surprising move that fueled further questions about whether President Donald Trump is too soft on Moscow. 
The government had until Monday to take two steps under a law passed by Congress last year in the wake of the 2016 presidential campaign. The first required the U.S. to slap sanctions on anyone doing "significant" business with people linked to Russia's defense and intelligence agencies, using a blacklist the U.S. released in October. The second required the administration to publish a list of Russian "political figures and oligarchs" who have grown rich under President Vladimir Putin. 
On the first item, the administration decided it didn't need to penalize anyone, even though several countries have had multibillion-dollar arms deals with Russia in the works. State Department officials said the threat of sanctions had been deterrent enough, and that "sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed." 
"We estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. She did not provide evidence or cite any examples.
Politico clarifies that, under the law, sanctions were to go into place "unless Congress is notified that prospective targets are 'substantially reducing' that business."  Yet, the Trump administration offers no evidence or examples of prospective targets reducing business...just a blank, vague assertion instead  And yet Congress is going to let the Trump administration is going to let the Trump administration off the hook for implementing a law which passed Congress almost unanimously?  
These sanctions were passed by Congress to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.  President Trump at the time complained loudly about the law but signed the bill anyway because he knew his veto would be overridden.  Undoubtedly the calculation was made that the best option was for the President to simply ignore constitutional duty to make sure the law is "faithfully executed."  
I thought we just got rid of an Imperial President who believed he could make policy without interference from the legislative branch.  Unfortunately, we ended up with worse. President Trump, far more than President Obama, believes he is a man above the law.  Unfortunately, several Republican members of the House of Representatives are working overtime desperately trying  to subvert justice so there are no consequences for the President Trump or his buddy, Vladimir Putin, for what happened during the 2016 presidential election.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

My Extremely Poor Experience Attempting to Adopt a Rescue Dog From Indianapolis Animal Care and Control

My family had dogs and cats growing up in Southern Indiana.   Thus, my four brothers and I (no sisters) grew up liking pets and have enjoyed dogs and/or cats in adulthood. When one  of my brothers recently moved from Indianapolis to a small farmhouse outside of Madison, Indiana, I knew the place would be perfect for a dog to run and play and otherwise enjoy life.  As I every few weeks go down there to visit him and his house is currently sans pets, I gave thought to surprising him with a dog on my next visit.  When I heard that Indianapolis Animal Care and Control (sometimes known as the City Pound) was running a $14 special on adopting pets until February 14th, Valentine's Day, I excitedly drove to the Southside facility to check out the dogs available for adoption.

I arrived at about 4:45 (the place closes at 6:00).  I was greeted almost immediately and checked in. The lady at the desk asked for my photo ID.  I showed her my driver's license and she took down my name.  She told me to have a seat as an "adoption counselor" would be with me shortly.

As I sat a few feet from the desk, a few people came in to check on lost dogs and those which had been impounded.  About 5:00, three men came in to adopt a dog.   After checking in, they were immediately led into the back to check out the available dogs.  I was a bit offended by their being allowed to cut ahead of me, but I thought it was an aberration and decided not to make a fuss.

I continued to sit and wait.  The clock showed 5:05...5:10...5:15...5:20.  A man came in for a lost basset hound  He was immediately helped and soon was in the process of reuniting with his dog.  Meanwhile another man had been standing waiting feet from the desk as long as I had.  He simply wanted to go to the back to see whether they'd picked up his dog.

5:25...5:30.  The patience of the man who was there to check if the facility had his dog was running out.  He was desperate to check on his dog as he had to get home and was overdue for insulin shot.

About this time I overheard that adoptions would not be processed as the clock had now turned to 5:30.   The "adoption counselor" who had finally emerged from the back (to help someone else of course) nodded that it was too late to adopt.

I left at 5:33, absolutely disgusted by my experience attempting to adopt a pet from Indianapolis Animal Care and Control.

The entire time I was at the facility, I sat within 10 feet of the front desk, in clear view of the people working the counter.  Outside of my checking in, no one attempted to help me or even acknowledged that I was sitting there waiting and waiting and waiting.  The promised "adoption counselor" certainly never came out to talk to me.  And, of course, I never got to actually see a dog.

The Indianapolis Animal Care and Control facility seems to have no procedures whatsoever for how it goes about serving people who come to the shelter.  There seems to be no effort to track names or to take people in the order that they come in for assistance.

When I researched adoptions online, I read numerous complaints that Indianapolis Animal Care and Control does not bother to answer its phone.  I had called earlier and too found it difficult to get someone to talk with.  Another issue is that the phone menu is extremely long and you cannot bypass it by hitting "0" as you can with most voice menus.   In fact, hitting "0"  takes you back to the very beginning of the lengthy voice menu.

After all the controversy with Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, I had expected that it is now better run.  Perhaps.  But when it comes to the experience of adopting animals, my experience is that Indianapolis Animal Care and Control is failing the public big time.  I don't care to ever go back.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Real Problem with the "Shithole" Controversy

Watching the continued news coverage about the President Trump calling Haiti, El Salvador and African countries "shitholes" I find that a lot of commentators are, sometimes conveniently, missing the point of what is so disturbing about the President's vulgar reference.  His labeling of certain countries as "shitholes," by itself, would only be a diplomatic gaffe.  There are certain things a President shouldn't say out loud such as comments denigrating countries with which the United States has to deal.  A President employing common sense, which this President apparently does not have, would not have chosen such a vulgar label in describing those countries.

The real problem though was that his "shithole" comment wasn't really about the countries so labeled, but rather about the people who live in those countries.  President Trump was saying that the value of people is defined by the country from which they originate.  If people are from a "shithole", then they are less worthy of becoming American.

Such an ignorant comment by the President ignores the American history of immigration and the American experience.  Pretty much everyone who lives in this country had ancestors who came from "shitholes."  That fact did not define who our ancestors were.  Rather, it is because of the hunger for a better life that immigrants fled their "shithole" lives in their shithole countries to come to America.  Armed with ambition and the dream of a better life, most became great citizens who contributed so much to this country.    Trump's comment is a yet another assault on American values, in particular, the ideal emblazoned on the Statute of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
And, no, I don't for a second believe the President's late assertion that he never made the "shithole" statement.  First, given the President's penchant for constantly lying, he starts with zero credibility when compared to that of Senator Durbin and Graham.  Then you have the fact is the White House went 12 hours before there was a denial that the statement was made.  During that 12 hour stretch, President Trump gleefully was contacting conservative friends thinking the statement would play really well with the base.  

It was only when there was major criticism from pretty much everyone that the President reversed course and denied making  the statement.  That's when Senators Cotton and Perdue chimed in with their "can't recall" statements.  When the blowback didn't dissipate and, in fact, intensified, Senators Cotton and Perdue's memory suddenly evolved, so that they were now able to recall that the President didn't say "shithole."  Several others in the room, including Republicans, did not back up the President's denial, except for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nelson who during a congressional hearing yesterday claimed she only heard the President use "tough language."  Please.  Cotton, Perdue and Nelson should be ashamed of themselves.  It is so disgusting how so many in my party are willing to throw away their reputations and integrity to lie for a President who has no loyalty but to himself.

This country deserves better.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Conservative Radio Hosts Demonstrate What Is Wrong With My Republican Party

Friday morning I was driving around town and had the opportunity to listen to a few minutes of the "Chicks on the Right" program on WIBC.   For those of you unfamiliar with the program, I would describe it as two Valley Girls (Millennials, consult your online dictionary) suddenly stumbling upon conservative politics in their middle age and being granted a radio program to express their views.  That's what you're missing.  No, definitely not a fan.  However, to the credit of"Mock" and "Daisy," the radio hosts did express grave reservations about Donald Trump during the primaries and were some of the last conservatives to board the Trump train.

On this particular program, the topic of Michael Wolff's new book "Fire and Fury" came up.  The hosts proceeded to tell listeners that the allegations in Wolff's book ring true and reflect the concerns they had expressed about him when he was pursing the nomination.  Then they proceeded to say that the book made them even more supportive of the President.

Let's recap.  Mock and Daisy hold the position the mere fact that a book is written making claims they long believe are true - that the Donald Trump is unfit to be President, namely that he is ignorant, won't read even one page summaries of issues, has the temperament of a 6 year old child, constantly lies, doesn't have the attention span to sit through many meetings, and may have declining mental faculties - makes them more supportive of the President.  Seriously?

Sadly, many Trumpers hold the same position as Mock and Daisy. They know Donald Trump is not fit for office, yet they support the President enthusiastically because no one makes liberals madder than Donald Trump.  The welfare of the country, our safety and security, as well as survival of American democratic institutions, take a backseat to party tribalism.

Donald Trump isn't the problem with my party, but rather a symptom of the problem.  The problem is those in the GOP who put their blind angry and hatred of the other side ahead of doing what is in the best interests of the United States of America.  My Republican Party needs to be better than that.

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Scientific Study Indicates Oceans Have Only Warmed 0.1 Degrees Celsius in Past 50 Years

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography published a new study in the January 4, 2018 issue of Nature which casts doubts on the anthropogenic global warming doomsday scenario that sharply rising ocean temperatures doom the planet.  In a summary, the Institution summarizes its the new technique for measuring ocean temperature and the findings in the study:
There is a new way to measure the average temperature of the ocean thanks to researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. In an article published in the Jan. 4, 2018, issue of the journal Nature, geoscientist Jeff Severinghaus and colleagues at Scripps Oceanography and institutions in Switzerland and Japan detailed their ground-breaking approach. 
Determining changes in the average temperature of the entire world’s ocean has proven
NASA has been a leader in sounding the alarm about rising sea levels
to be a nearly impossible task due to the distribution of different water masses. Each layer of water can have drastically different temperatures, so determining the average over the entirety of the ocean’s surface and depths presents a challenge. 
Severinghaus and colleagues were able to bypass these obstacles by determining the value indirectly. Instead of measuring water temperature, they determined the ratio of noble gases in the atmosphere, which are in direct relation to the ocean’s temperature. 
“This method is a radically new way to measure change in total ocean heat,” said Severinghaus. “It takes advantage of the fact that the atmosphere is well-mixed, so a single measurement anywhere in the world can give you the answer.”   
In the study, the scientists measured values of the noble gases argon, krypton, and xenon in air bubbles captured inside ice in Antarctica. As the oceans warm, krypton and xenon are released into the atmosphere in known quantities. The ratio of these gases in the atmosphere therefore allows for the calculation of average global ocean temperature. 
Measurements were taken from ice samples collected during the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide coring project, of which Severinghaus is a leader. Over the course of six field seasons in Antarctica, a drill removed ice in cylindrical samples 2.7 meters (just under 9 feet) in length. The final sample was taken at a depth of 3,405 meters (over 11,000 feet) in 2011. This record spans nearly 100,000 years and the age of the layers can be determined to within 50 years. Earth’s atmosphere mixes on a scale of weeks to months, so a measurement of these air bubbles gives what is essentially a global average. For this study, scientists focused on samples 8,000 to 22,000 years old, and collected data in increments averaging 250 years in resolution. 
New insights into the glaciation cycles that occurred on Earth long before humans began affecting the temperature of the atmosphere and oceans are now possible using the technique of measuring noble gas quantities. The study determined that the average global ocean temperature at the peak of the most recent ice age was 0.9 ºC (33.6 ºF). The modern ocean’s average temperature is 3.5 ºC (38.3 ºF). The incremental measurements between these data points provide an understanding of the global climate never before possible. 
“The reason this study is so exciting is that previous methods of reconstructing ocean heat content have very large age uncertainties, [which] smooths out the more subtle features of the record,” said co-author Sarah Shackleton, a graduate student in the Severinghaus lab at Scripps. “Because WAIS Divide is so well dated, this is the first time that we've been able to see these subtle features in the record of the deglaciation. This helps us better understand the processes that control changes in ocean heat content.” 
This paper is the result of fifteen years of work for Severinghaus, along with graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in his lab. Discussions with another professor at Scripps, atmospheric scientist Ralph Keeling, brought about the idea. Keeling studies the argon levels in the atmosphere to get a similar record of ocean heat going back a few decades. However, air bubbles trapped in ice don’t preserve argon levels accurately. Severinghaus discovered that xenon and krypton are well preserved in ice cores, which provides the temperature information that can then be used by scientists studying many other aspects of the earth’s oceans and atmosphere over hundreds of thousands of years.
“Our precision is about 0.2 ºC (0.4 ºF) now, and the warming of the past 50 years is only about 0.1 ºC,” [Severinghaus] said, adding that advanced equipment can provide more precise measurements, allowing scientists to use this technique to track the current warming trend in the world’s oceans.
Alarmists have claimed that the ocean's temperature is rising .12º Celsius for each of the past five decades, or .6ºC total.  TThe fact that it has risen only 1º  over 50 years (and even that number is well within the margin of error so the oceans may have actually cooled) should cause the alarmists to rethink their "consensus."  Of course it won't because anthropogenic global warming climate change has always about the corruption of the scientific process to pursue a liberal environmental agenda.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Eight Predictions for 2018

A few days late, but here are my predictions for 2018:

1.  Stock Market:  The stock market will end 2018 lower than it began in 2017.  Even though the drop is actually the result of a long overdue market correction, Democrats will seize on the declineas proof the GOP tax cut in December of 2017 failed.

2.  Unemployment and Economic Growth:  Having reached "full employment" in 2017, the unemployment rate will begin to rise again in 2018.  Meanwhile, the increase in GDP will stall before the end of the year, opening the possibility of the country going into recession in 2019.   While both economic factors will be more the result of the natural cycles of the economy rather than the result of economic policy, Democrats will use the souring economy as political fodder in the 2018 election.

3.  National Politics:  Democrats will win the U.S. House picking up 40+ seats, while reaching a 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate.  The number one issue in the 2018 elections will not be healthcare or taxes.  It will be impeachment.

4.  Indiana Politics:  Sen. Joe Donnelly will easily win re-election. Indiana Republicans will feel the effects of a national Blue Tidal wave as the Democrats narrowly win three statewide offices, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Auditor, while picking up 10 seats in the Indiana House.  Indiana Republicans will lose a congressional seat as well.  The (Indiana) story of the 2018 elections will be highly-educated voters in the northern suburbs of Indianapolis turning sharply against the GOP brand, and the concerns that trend will continue and threaten GOP domination in the state.

5.  Russia:  Mueller's investigation will continue to net several indictments and plea deals in early 2018.  When criminal charges reach the Trump family (think Jared Kushner), the pardons will start flying.  Talk of a constitutional crisis will ensue.  All hell will break loose. Mueller will ultimately be fired by Trump.  Mueller's activities will conclude with a report to Congress that the Trump campaign actively solicited and accepted help from the Russians during the 2018 campaign and that Trump and others attempted to obstruct justice into the investigation of those activities.  The document will also highlight that Trump's company is deeply in debt to Russian lenders and has for years laundered money for Russian oligarchs.  Democrats House members will sound the alarm for impeachment which Republican House members will ignore while continuing to attack the credibility of Mueller, the FBI and the Department of Justice.  The election of 2018 will be a referendum on impeachment.

6.  Supreme Court:  Justice Anthony Kennedy will announce his retirement upon the appointment of his replacement.  In addition, another justice, likely a liberal, will leave the court because of serious health problems or death.  The confirmation of two replacement justices will stall in the Senate.  2018 will end with 8 justices, including a reluctant Kennedy, on the court.

7.  Global Warming:  This month it will be announced that 2017 was one of the warmest years on record.  Americans, suffering through one of the worst cold snaps in years, will shrug their collective shoulders.  Meanwhile, there will be a push-back, with more and more scientists questioning the "consensus"  regarding the amount of anthropocentric global warming taking place and the supposed dangers a warmer climate represents to mankind.

8.  Technology:  A few American cities will follow Europe's lead and begin trying out driver-less buses.  The year will end with driver-less cars being in development by all major auto manufacturers.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Picking Seven Winners and Losers for 2017

Presenting seven winners and losers for 2017.


1.  American Investor:  The economy went from doing well in 2016 to doing even better in 2017, with the stock market soaring.   Workers with 401Ks and other investors did incredibly well.

2.  Women:  This year ushered in a new awareness for sexual harassment in the workplace.  Women are signing up to run for office in record numbers.

3.  Democratic Party:  Republicans began the year winning several special elections for Congressional seats, but ominously the margins were much more narrow than should have been given the ruby red nature of the districts.  In November, Democrats won a sweeping victory in Virginia that not only included the Governor and other statewide offices, but also scores of state assembly districts, a victory that has taken that body from a Republican super-majority to on the verge of a 50-50 tie.  Then came the shocker in December.  Republicans lost the special election to fill the United States Senate originally vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

4.  Corporations:  Corporations did extremely well under the GOP tax bill.  Contrary to the assumption of Democrats, not all corporate-type entities are large monoliths, overflowing in stockpiled cash.

5.  The Mainstream Media:  Despite getting lambasted by the President and his allies (or actually probably because of), TV networks like CNN and MSNBC, and news publications like the Washington Post and New York Times are enjoying better ratings and rising profits.

6.  Tom Brady & The Patriots:  Brady rallied his team to win the Super Bowl in early 2017 and the 40 year old quarterback appears poised to take his team back to the big game again in 2018.  As a Colts and Peyton Manning fan, I hate to admit their success, but it is impossible to deny.

7.  Major League Baseball: Ratings were up as a strong regular season was capped by a highly competitive and exciting post-season.  MLB is poised to gain fans as NFL declines in popularity.  That is if the baseball Gods do not blow it by continuing to do stupid things like having Playoff and World Series games run past midnight, when young and old fans of the game have long since gone to bed.


1.  Political Civility:  Name calling, "alternative facts," and lying has become accepted as part of political discourse.  It is not clear how our Republic will survive if the truth no longer matters.

2.  Steve Bannon:  He lost his job at the White House, then his candidate for U.S. Senate, Roy Moore, went down to spectacular defeat in December.   By the end of the year, President Trump was seen cozying up to Senate Major Leader Mitch McConnell, Bannon's arch-nemesis.  Bannon's expressed desire to primary "establishment" Republicans, with the support of President Trump, appears to be on shaky ground..

3.  GOP-Controlled Congress:  It wasn't before the end of the year that Republicans in Congress got around to passing a major piece of legislation.  Now entering 2018, the GOP majority in the House appears to be in great peril and the Democrats have a shot of winning the Senate, despite a map skewed heavily in favor of Republican challenges to red state Democrats.

4. American Democratic Institutions:  Institutions that Americans have taken for granted,  things like a free press, the rule of law, and an independent, non-politicized FBI, are under full scale assault by President Trump and his GOP allies in the House.

5.  Michael Flynn & Paul Manafort:  Flynn started the year as national security adviser.  He ended the year as a convicted felon. Paul Manafort was indicted for money laundering (seriously what took so long?) and other charges and faces spending the rest of life in prison if he doesn't cut a Flynn-like sweetheart deal to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.

6.  America's Youth:  We adults just added nearly $1.5 trillion to the deficit you will have to pay back during your lifetime.  You're welcome.

7.  Apple:   The I-Phone 10s are not selling and Apple was caught causing older I-Phones to slow down.  It appears the shine is wearing off the apple.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Pro-Trump Media Shields Conservatives From Truth About Coming Electoral Disaster

If you want to find out what has led the Republican Party to the electoral cliff it faces in 2018, you have to look no further than the so-called conservative media which has abandoned any attempt at objectivity to spout pro-Trump alternative facts.  On Trump TV, aka Fox News, the President had a tremendously successful first year and the Republican Party is heading to a tremendous victory in next year's mid-term elections.   Back in the real world, neither assertion is remotely true.  

The sign that an alcoholic finally turns the corner on his malady is a confession that he has a problem.  But if family members and friends continue to assure the alcoholic things are fine, that he should even drink more to celebrate his success, the destructive behavior of the alcoholic will lead to even bigger
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
problems down the road.  

That is precisely where we Republicans are.  We are being told by conservative news outlets, people like Fox News, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Laura Ingram, that everything is just hunky dory, no reason for alarm.  As a result, we Republicans delay the hard work of rebuilding the party and continue down a losing path that makes my party's fate much worse.  We conservatives need to be told the truth about what awaits the party when we chose to tie conservative ideas to Trumpism.  Unfortunately, Trump TV, like its namesake, has no interest in the truth.

Today's example of a so-called conservative media type hurting the conservative cause is former Speaker and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich who, contrary to every political analyst on the planet, claims that what is coming in 2018 is an enormous Republican wave.  Here is a bit of the article he penned:  
The great political surprise of 2018 will be the size of the Republican victory.
After members of the elite media have spent two years savaging President Trump, lying about Republican legislation, and reassuring themselves that Republican defeat was inevitable, the size of the GOP victory in 2018 will be an enormous shock. 
As I listened to the end of the year "analysts," I was struck by how little they know, how little they have questioned their own mistakes, and how mutually reinforcing their false information has been.
These are not analysts. These are liberal propagandists. Much of what they assert is just plain wrong. Fake news is, sadly, an accurate term. And the topic about which they have been the most fake is the GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The entire premise of Gingrich's article is that the "elite" media is misrepresenting the tax bill and the President's other accomplishments and when the public finds out about those and see the economy growing, the GOP will win in a landslide!  (I've resolved to use exclamation marks more often in 2017 because all great writers do so.  By the way, that was sarcasm!) 

Gingrich and company act like it is new that reporters lean to the left (more than 80% of journalists regularly vote for Democratic Presidential candidates) and that liberal bias inevitably leaks over into coverage. We conservatives have known that for about 60 years.  That does not mean conservatives should attack the American institution of a free press.  It means conservatives learn to play the game, use the media's other multitude of biases (bias for action, bias for conflict, for example) to earn favorable coverage.  Ronald Reagan, aka The Great Communicator, understood this.  Trump does not not.    Trump and his minions have instead chosen to whine about negative coverage and attack the legitimacy of our most important democratic institution - a free press.

But, I digress.  Gingrich's piece simply assumes that the word about the great tax bill will get out to the people despite the liberal media, apparently by political ads pushed by Republicans and conservative groups.  There is no evidence to support this whatsoever.    

Here is the fact that people like Trump and his minions on Trump TV ignore.  What has traditionally driven polling numbers is the economy.  Yet, despite the economy is already growing at a brisk pace and the stock market is soaring to new heights, Trump as a record low favorability rating and the GOP trails by double figures on the congressional generic ballot.   

What does that tell you?  It tells you that the performance of the economy is irrelevant to bailing out the GOP.   The Trump brand of politics, with its hate and divisiveness, is toxic to the Republican Party.  Many of those of us who opposed Trump knew he would for at least a generation stain conservative ideas, leading to a liberal resurgence.  That is what is about to hit the Republican Party in 2018.  Trump's win in 2016 will come at a terrible, terrible cost, especially for Republicans who choose to shed their integrity to warmly embrace the Trump brand of politics.  Conservatives can retreat to TrumpTV to hear people like Gingrich spin alternative facts, but that will not change the truth of what awaits the Republicans in 2018.