Once More, unto the Breach!

US President Donald Trump gestures as he delivers a speech during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on January 26, 2018 in Davos.

I don’t write to alienate readers, although I no doubt have unwittingly accomplished that feat innumerable times. Today’s post will inevitably elicit gags from some. So be it, as it must be said.

Nary a day goes by when I don’t hear or see someone I know saying something like “I cannot support Trump because he is (you choose how many adjectives you wish to apply) boorish, petulant, childish, perverted, dismissive, racist, inconsiderate, chauvinistic, embarrassing, ignorant, obnoxious, stupid, illiterate, hawkish, naive, irresponsible, dangerous, unfaithful, caddish, and disgusting.” Did I leave anything out?

And now, unto the breach! First, those of you who have nodded “yes” in agreement to one, two, or several of those Trumpian word associations, (and I would be one such person) you must ask yourselves these questions: Do I know Donald Trump personally? How much of what I think about him is formed by what I have seen and heard via tv and social media? Am I being objective? Am I even trying to be objective? Do I actually have the slightest inclination to be objective?

You could respond by saying “Look, if it looks like a skunk, walks like a skunk, and smells like a skunk, it’s a skunk, dammit!” This is a valid point, but only to a degree. And here’s the rub: the vast majority of the vitriol about Mr. Trump is drivel. That’s right, and that’s when some of you start to get offended. You see, we don’t have to love our President. He or she (just going to say “he” now, but maybe I should say “ze”?–nah–) doesn’t have to be someone we want to invite to dinner. While we would prefer to admire our President, we don’t have to. And while we would love our President to be a behavioral role model for future generations, President Clinton let that genie out of the bottle twenty years ago. 

The crux of the matter is that what we need  is a stronger, more economically stable America. And while there are a lot of question marks about what the future holds in store for us, we have made more progress toward a stronger, more stable America in the past year than we did in the prior eight. Let’s cut to the chase; it’s time to put country before personality.  Trump is a jerk. I’ll give you that. (He is a New Yorker, so he did get a head start on that front.) But right now, I don’t care. You see:

–I care about our country.

–I care about job creation and economic hope for the future.

–I care about a resurgent middle class.

–I care about deregulation, freeing businesses to hire more people and get more done.

–I care about the need to craft a  sensible immigration policy, and enforcing US laws that already exist.

–I care about crushing ISIS and a resurgent Al Qaeda.

–I care about being able to say “Islamic Terrorist” and not be branded a racist.

–I care about putting justices on the Supreme Court who are committed to interpreting Constitutional intent, not rewriting law to subvert the Constitution into a personal and contextual progressive view of what it should mean in today’s world.

I could go on. The point here is that on all of my caring points above, the Trump administration has helped our country. Republican policies are being implemented and our prospects at home and abroad are stronger than they have been in years.  Could President Trump screw it all up? Of course he could. There are any number of looming decisions that may threaten our current rebound toward strength and prosperity. Blithely ripping up NAFTA is a good example of what could go wrong. However, as we sit here today we have heard a lot of rhetoric, but one year into this administration, no actual actions have been taken other than those which are positive for our economy and people.

If you want to keep disliking the man, it is your prerogative. He will no doubt continue to give you some ammo! But don’t take Lazy Lane en route to perpetual disdain. If nothing else, take some time to dig deeper than what the main stream media wants you to see and hear.  I think this exchange four days ago with General McMaster provides a nice glimpse into the gap between today’s biased news and actual reality on the issue of human rights. Click here to view.

To all y’all who simply hate the man, I am not the guy who will try to change your minds. I am the guy, however, who will implore you to separate the man from the mission. The mission is being accomplished, and we are a better country for it. Its way too early to write Donald Trump’s history, but if it had to be written today, he would be remembered as a horse’s ass who got great things done for his country. As I said, I don’t need to have dinner with the man, but I’ll embrace what he is doing to improve and secure Americans’ lives from sea to shining sea.

More to Follow-

Same Old, Same Old

The Triumvirate–President Obama’s legacy lives on

Is anyone surprised by last night’s budget impasse? To be fair, the Republicans attempted the same maneuver back in 2103 when they tried to tie passing a budget to repealing Obamacare. They were doomed to fail, and they were destined to look like the bad guys. For the Democrats to link DACA to the budget is the same old game, but for one thing; the Democrats are wilier. They have the media on their side, and they have an amazing knack for taking a cynical political ploy on their part and having the GOP blamed for any problem that may ensue! 

If this were a bunch of five year olds, the Republicans would be the kid sent to  the time-out chair because he fought back after having his crayons stolen. “It’s not fair”, says the petulant child. Guess what? No one cares.

The Democrats are masters at manipulating the populace and the main stream media are altogether too willing to oblige. To put this in perspective, take a gander at this 2012 article from the Economist. The view from abroad was clear and distinct. They saw how Messrs. Obama and Holder held all the cards in the deck, and the GOP was just spitting in the wind (to put it nicely). Click here to read same. 

Admittedly, President Trump is an X factor, as no one really knows what he will say or do next. Just as befuddling is a GOP that is anything but unified. Pierce Wire is clear. We have supported a controlled amnesty and path to citizenship for law abiding immigrants who have overstayed their legal welcome here in the US. We wrote and posted an article years ago proposing a program called “COAL”- Chance of a Lifetime…if only anyone had listened! Indeed, Pierce Wire’s predecessor  website (Opine Needles) spent quite a bit of time talking about American Exceptionalism in the context of the American Dream. This fundamental tenet of our nation’s growth and success over the past three centuries is something to which President Obama and his minions (now in the form of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer) do not subscribe. Here is a video I presented 3 years into the Obama presidency. 

Nothing has changed. Notwithstanding the fact that (on paper at least) the GOP have the majority in both houses of Congress and the President (in theory at least) is a Republican, the Democrats still control the narrative. The Republicans are flat out horrible in presenting a unified position and making a coherent case to the American people. 

I fear the upshot from this most recent squabble will once again be a public relations disaster for the GOP, and the Schumer Shutdown will be remembered instead as GOP cold-heartedness toward our poor, downtrodden DACA folks. 

My biggest fear is that if the GOP continues to back itself into the conceptual time-out chair, the backlash in the November mid-term elections will be severe, and all chance of getting real reform accomplished will be lost. The swamp, such as it is, will hardly have been drained. What a shame it will be if that scenario comes to pass.

More to follow-

 

Righteous Indignation

This blog has never been a home for rationalizing, justifying, defending, or supporting Donald Trump. It’s author is not about to start now. That said, this blog is a home for defending and supporting traditional GOP principles. We are a nation of immigrants. It is our core and our strength. All of us are immigrants.

This week’s hullabaloo was all about President Trump’s alleged (it was, after all, in a private meeting behind closed doors) reference to Haiti and several African countries as, in short, “Shitholes”. 

Lesson #1-There is no longer such a thing in Washington DC as a private meeting.

Lesson #2-Donald Trump really doesn’t care whether participants in a private meeting violate the implicit pact of silence. If he is so inclined, he will simply deny he said that which he is accused of having said. 

Lesson #3-The President’s mind boggling, endless bombshells are used by his detractors  to pursue their agendas with just as much disdain for the truth as that of which they accuse the President!

In short, truth, honesty, and transparency are in short supply in Washington. “This is nothing new”, you may say. Perhaps that is the case, but certainly this administration has brought out the worst on both sides of the aisle.

Lest I lose the plot, let’s take a look at the context of the conversation in which the President is alleged to have made his defamatory remark. A group of Republican and Democrat congressional representatives were gathered to talk about immigration reform. This is when the President is alleged to have made his remark. Within 12 hours, there was global uproar. The vast majority of the tumult was about his blatant, unrepentant racism.

I’m sorry, what did I miss? Where does racism enter the equation? You see, this is classic spin. The President made a callous, very un-Presidential remark. Is anyone, at this point in time, shocked by that? But he did not say anything about race. For the record, and for balance, the President tweeted this remark. “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”

In the years 2010-1014, the biggest percentage increase in immigrants to the United States came from these countries; Saudi Arabia (up 93 percent), Bangladesh (up 37 percent), Iraq (up 36 percent), Egypt (up 25 percent), and Pakistan, India, and Ethiopia (each up 24 percent). (Click here for more details.) Now ask yourself; if, by chance, the subjects of the conversation had been Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, India, and Ethiopia, do you think the President would have had any different comment?

His commentary had nothing to do with race. He simply thinks there are a lot of crappy countries in the world, and, surprise, surprise, a disproportionate amount of our immigrants come from those countries. You, (and I, for that matter) may argue that opening our arms to those from the most depressed countries in the world is what we are all about. The President may disagree. He would tell you that disagreement is the crux of the discussion that took place last week. Alas, that was not the proverbial take-away.

Mr. Trump’s intemperate remark (as reported by his detractors ) opened the door for another round of media and late night President bashing, but the at the heart of these diatribes there lies a farce. There was wasn’t anything blatantly racist in or around his comments. They could have been about the vast majority of countries from which immigrants flee to come to the United States. You see, folks, they want to leave their countries too! Why? Because THEY think their countries are shitholes, and they want to come to the last great land of opportunity and hope left on this planet.

Have you ever seen Brittany Hughes on Reality Check TV? Watch this video. Bingo!

Now, the typical media response was more like this one, when MSNBC interviewed Congressman John Lewis. I don’t have a quarrel with much of what the Congressman says in the interview. But the leap to racism is subjective! Across the board, people have played the race card on Trump based on their own feelings, tastes, and opinions. NBC published this article entitled “Is it Finally Time to call Trump a Racist?” Perhaps more than anything, they label President Trump a racist simply because they detest the man. They hate everything about him. Let me be clear one more time. There is much about President Trump that I do not like! But don’t lose your own personal virtue and integrity by throwing around disingenuous labels.

I’ve had enough of the righteous indignation. It seems to me that the President gives his detractors plenty of valid reasons to form opposing positions without them having to resort to tangential, obfuscatory, pandering attacks.

More to follow-

 

Wading into the Climate Change Quagmire

Mr. Global Warming, whoops, I mean Climate Change, himself

Today the President tweeted “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been my mental stability. and being, like, really smart.” Did he really say, “…and being, like, really smart”? I thought he grew up in New York and not in the California valley. Oh well, my position remains unchanged. This administration is doing very good things for the US economy, and the workforce overall. While the recent tax plan will cost me and many of my friends more money, I believe most of us support the desire to help those working families who will indeed be assisted by the recently passed legislation. 

Enough of that. Let’s look at this cold wave that has hunkered down on much of the country over the past week. 

Many of you are fixin to get mad at me. You are climate change believers. Well, you can simmer down, because, you see, so, like, am I. Wait, what, did I just say that. Yep, I did.

Anyone in his or her right mind cannot possibly deny the fact that our climate changes. The twist, folks, is exactly why it changes. And, the bottom line is that no one has been able to prove that the reasons for a hotter and colder earth have to do with anything other than solar radiation levels and plate tectonic activity. If you want to read a short explanation for earth’s dramatic temperature shifts over the millennia, just click here. I know, some of you are aghast and agog! I can’t possibly believe that climate change is purely a result of natural phenomena, can I? Ummmm, yes, I can. No one, and I mean no one, not even Al Gore and his legion of sycophants, or any other alleged “top-notch” scientist (whose studies are inevitably funded by leftist think-tanks) has proven anything to the contrary. 

You see, the discussion is a classic red herring. The climate changers make one want to believe that anyone who questions them is a flat-earth believing moron. The actual issue is lost in the recriminations. The question is not whether there is climate change. We all know that our climate changes. The quandary is what actually causes climate change. Science has established the natural phenomena discussed in the above referenced article directly impact the warming and cooling of our planet. There is absolutely no reason to believe that some future generation won’t be dealing with a severely cooling planet. History is not predictive, but it surely is instructive! 

Science has NOT proven that man is irreversibly affecting the climate and radically altering the natural order of things. Now, just pause for a moment and put those pieces together. What they say, when neatly placed in the puzzle, is that there has always been and always will be climate change. There are natural forces at work that make that statement irrefutable. What they don’t say, even after hundreds of millions, if not billions, of progressive dollars thrown into the bottomless pit of preconceived questions that demand prescribed answers, is that man has altered that which occurs very naturally. There are only theories. 

Al Gore’s sky is still falling. I suspect it will for decades to come. Maybe there will be a scientific break-though and I will repent at some point down the road. But for now, I look at the majesty and miracle that is this planet earth, and I rest comfortably that there are natural forces that will dictate whether I get to pile wood into my fireplace in Houston, Texas  on a cold winter night. 

More to Follow-

Chuck, Shut up. You Sound Like an Idiot!

He has dug his hole so deep he has no way out.

Yes, I am breaking my rule and writing about tax reform for the third consecutive time. Alas, I can’t help it. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are not stupid. They know their personal tax payments are probably going to increase. I know mine will. The difference between Chuck, Nancy and me is that I know those on the upper end of the economic ladder are not getting tax breaks, and the lower middle and middle class are. Well, actually, Chuck and Nancy know that too. They are just too entrenched in the politics of envy to tell the truth to their constituency. Shame on them. 

Immediately following the passage of the tax reform bill yesterday, several Fortune 500 companies announced  they would be distributing bonuses to their employees. I thought it was a moment reminiscent of the Little Rascals. Click here for a 10 second trip down memory lane. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are already feeling the benefit of this tax reform bill, and it hasn’t even taken effect! Click here to read what USA Today had to say. Concurrent with the myriad positive announcements, Mr. Schumer was outlining how the tax bill would have no meaningful impact on America’s working men and women. Click here for that nonsense. Whoops!

Facts are facts, and they are prickly little things when they don’t fit the populist narrative.

Before my centrist friends accuse me of going all hard-ass on them, let me be clear; the GOP is still a fractured lot, and the President manages to boggle the mind with some regularity. But folks, this bill is good for our country, and as its benefits become more and more clear, all but the willfully blind will recognize and acknowledge the benefits. The willfully blind include the likes of Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist. Check out this article he wrote. An excerpt (if you, as I, feel nauseous reading too much Krugman) now follows. ” The core of the bill is a huge redistribution of income from lower- and middle-income families to corporations and business owners. Corporate tax rates go down sharply, while ordinary families are nickel-and-dimed by a series of tax changes, no one of which is that big a deal in itself, but which add up to significant tax increases on almost two-thirds of middle-class taxpayers.” I left his link to to the progressive Tax Policy Center data intact. Have at it. Krugman has never encountered a Republican policy he doesn’t disdain, and he has been wrong since God was a small child. The discipline of economics has always been too closely linked to political dogma. Paul Krugman is the poster child for that statement.

One can do anything one wants with data. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will rest on its own result-based laurels.  

If the GOP will now muster up the nerve to take on run-away entitlement spending before the mid-term 2018 elections, they may just be able to overcome the general sentiment that they don’t get much done!

More to Follow-

Hypocrisy, But I Repeat Myself!

The Iron Lady of England. She was a strong leader who led England out of a massive economic hole created by socialist policies.

Rarely, (never, actually) do I write back to back blogs on the same subject. Well, rules are made to be broken.

The GOP appears to be making the tax reform bill better and better. Don’t get me wrong; what comes out of conference will still be a bill developed by Republicans looking over their shoulders, always fearing the 1% moniker. The Obama years left us with two legacies that will take time to eradicate. They are:

–deliberately heightened racial tensions, and

–economic warfare.

The first bullet speaks for itself, but in case you need a refresher course, I will give it to you in one word: Ferguson. Next subject please.

The second bullet should also be self explanatory, but I will use more than a word to explain. We are a nation that has always lauded entrepreneurs. Our colonists were capitalists. They were traders. They found ways to survive (and in many cases thrive) in spite of Big Brother (King George) making life more and more difficult for them. Over the centuries we have applauded success. Now, for some heinous and insidious reason, success is mocked. Success is greed. Success now foments social tension, and the cure is, (duh) higher taxes and redistribution!

Any nation of 330,000,000 people is going to have challenges. We have many. But the idea that the solution lies in eliminating income disparity is shamefully (and cynically) laughable. I think Margaret Thatcher explained it best when asked a question by William Buckley. She kept it simple! Click here to see for yourself. Even better (yes, it gets better!) watch Mrs. Thatcher take on the liberals in Parliament on the issue of redistribution. As she said, the left would “rather have the poor be poorer” than to admit conservative economic policies work. Watch her here. Now you have to admit, that is good stuff!

What it demonstrates, however, is that our problems are not new or unique. Progressive leftist redistributionists have been spouting this gibberish for decades. It is as it always has been. There will forever be those who wish to undermine the very foundation of our capitalist structure that has made us the economic superpower we are.

At the risk of repetition, I repeat that which was written last week:

“Time and again over the decades, tax reform has led to increased revenues to the US Treasury. When the environment is right for investment, American companies (big and small) have always spent money, hired people, and generated more tax revenue to Uncle Sam. Our deficit problems have nothing to do with tax reform. They are solely a function of the lack of willpower to come to grips with social spending that is completely out of control!”

It is not rocket science. But as long as we have the demogoguery of the Schumers, Warrens, and Pelosi’s of the left stirring up social unrest, we will always be fighting a rear guard action to help our economy (and our citizens) be uplifted.

Stay Strong, my friends!

More to Follow

Hypocrisy!

All this bloviating and no one is addressing the real issue!

Chuck Schumer calls the GOP tax bills (there are still two bills and only one will ultimately go the the President’s desk for signature into law) “wealthfare”. Nancy Pelosi says they are “give-aways to big corporations and billionaires”. Elizabeth (aka Pocahontas) Warren says the tax cuts will “deliver massive cuts to corporations” and will “kick working families to the curb”. Bernie Sanders says the tax cuts are “morally repugnant” because the rich don’t pay their “fair share”. Oh boy…where does one start? 

First, let’s get real. When over 80% of all federal taxes are paid by less than 10% of the taxpayers, any tax reform is going to impact those who pay virtually all the taxes! Let’s look at this another way. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay a whopping 3% of the Federal tax bill. Folks, tax reform and cuts will, by definition, impact the people who pay the taxes! The democrat leadership cannot get out of its own way. They pander to the people, preying on their emotions and fears. They will say and do anything to attack the GOP. 

Let’s talk about another  myth. Democrats and liberal think tanks are ridiculing the GOP bills because they increase the deficit. That is rich, isn’t it? Democrats are concerned about the deficit. Give me a break! You need to know two things:

  1. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy slashed investment taxes. After his assassination, his broader tax cuts were enacted, producing eight years of soaring growth — 5 percent a year.In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan slashed rates again, giving the nation nearly a decade of robust 3.8 percent growth.

    In 2003, George W. Bush’s tax cut boosted the economy, producing 4 percent growth for six straight quarters.

    Compare this vigorous growth with President Barack Obama’s eight years of stagnation. Obama’s economy lumbered along at around 2 percent growth because high taxes and over-regulation discouraged companies from investing. Democrats still insist that 2 percent growth is the new normal. Nonsense. Roll back regulations and taxes, and the economy will surge. (Betsy McCaughey–NY Post, October 1, 2017)

  2. If the deficit increases over the next decade, it will do so because no one has had the guts to control run-away spending on entitlements. Just look at the chart above. Our federal spending on social programs is a disaster waiting to happen. 

 

Time and again over the decades, tax reform has led to increased revenues to the US Treasury. When the environment is right for investment, American companies (big and small) have always spent money, hired people, and generated more tax revenue to Uncle Sam. Our deficit problems have nothing to do with tax reform. They are solely a function of the lack of willpower to come to grips with social spending that is completely out of control!

So, you can listen to the same-old, same-old palaver spewed out by democrat leadership, or you can let history guide you to what will be a good outcome for the United States. Tax reform works. It has always worked. But if we do not get a handle on Federal Government spending, no amount of economic stimulus will be able to stop the tsunami that is headed in our direction. Let’s get the tax bill passed, then focus on passing legislation that corrals our irresponsible escalation in social spending.

More to follow-

Tax Relief, Tax Reform, or Total Capitulation?

The 1% that pays the 80(+)% of Federal taxes today already see circa 43 cents of every salary dollar they make taken by the US Government.

Just when I thought the GOP couldn’t screw things up more than they already have, lo and behold, they produce a tax relief/quasi-reform bill that Democrats would (if they were honest with themselves and the people) proudly promulgate and foist on the American people. Why can’t the GOP do anything right? When will we ever have another opportunity to stimulate growth in our economy as we could do right now? That is a rhetorical question. But for those of you who are not catching my drift, the answer is “We won’t; not in our lifetimes, at least, and if the history of all successful civilizations that have come before us is any barometer, not in any succeeding generations either.

How’s that for optimism? Look, all is not gloom and doom yet. If, by some miracle, 51 Republicans vote “Yea” on the Senate’s version for the tax bill, then the bill will go to conference with the House, and something will emerge for the President to sign. That something will most likely have provisions for phased in corporate tax relief. That is not as good as the mind-numbingly  simple notion that the relief should come no later than 1 January, 2018, but something is better than nothing. For all those who do not understand that a rising tide lifts all boats, take some time to read Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. They didn’t write in innuendo. They wrote and spoke in terms backed by data and results. So let’s grant the GOP that there is still a possibility that some form of corporate tax relief is headed our way. Praise the Lord.

What about the people and the more direct impact on their wallets? The House and Senate plans are not totally dissimilar. Again, if the bills actually get to conference, a compromise will most likely be achieved. But what exactly have they done? Let me help you. Both Houses of Congress capitulated. They are so browbeaten by the Obama era populist 1% refrain that they are scared to even propose any legislation that actually helps the people who pay 80% of the federal taxes. They are proposing tax relief for the 20%! Don’t get me wrong. I am happy for any help we can provide to our middle class. But a tax relief bill that focuses solely on those who pay a small percentage of the taxes does not address the problem. It is a bandaid on a severed artery. The point is that the 80% pay anywhere from 35% to 43% of every dollar they make today in federal taxes-including the hidden Obama-care tax that will remain in place. Those numbers are simply not going to change in any material manner. 

I haven’t dug deeply enough, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that both bills have features that provide relief to those who don’t even pay any taxes now! What on earth has happened to common sense? That is another rhetorical question. The answer, for those who are refusing to follow along here, is that the GOP is scared to do the right thing. Our representatives know that doing the right thing exposes them to being accused of promoting a tax bill about which Democrats can accuse them of favoring the wealthy. God forbid! I mean, what benefit could be derived from a tax bill that cuts taxes for the people who pay all the taxes? That is simply not acceptable.

We are intellectually bereft. Our Democrat politicians talk in populist sound bites aimed solely at creating division and envy, and our Republican party (divided and fractured as it is) is now petrified of taking positions that are right for our economy but can easily be used as weapons of deceit by the Democrats. 

The only hope I can see for meaningful tax relief/reform is is the GOP passes the compromise bill coming out of conference, and then somehow, someway, it introduces further relief and reform next year. 

Then there is the death tax-known more formally as the estate tax. What a joke. First, the death tax is materially irrelevant. The revenue generated by the death tax is meaningless. Yet the notion of abolishing the death tax is to Democrats as luscious a talking point as a juicy steak left on the counter for dinner is to a labrador  alone in the kitchen.  Democrats have a field day with this red herring. Earlier today, I wrote “…what an amazing discussion. How have we arrived at a place where citizens of our great country think it is perfectly ok for the long arm of government to take money (money that has been earned and on which taxes have been paid) away from a family simply because the principal has died? It is preposterous. It is no one’s business what the family does with its money. Nowhere in our Constitution is it decreed that fellow citizens must decide how one’s hard earned money should be judiciously redistributed following one’s death. The entire conversation is preposterous. Yet that is where we find ourselves. Woe are we.”

A refutation was not long in coming from someone on the left. He replied, “The estate tax…(is) like other taxes helps fund your military, healthcare, highways, parks, welfare for farmers, your congress, president, etc. You won’t need it because your dead. Your kids won’t need more than 50% of it because you taught them to be self sufficient and you want them to have some semblance of success all on their own. If you got creative you donated it to charitable causes minimizing the estate tax. Remember nobody got rich on their own. And the constitution doesn’t preclude an estate tax…our kids and their kids don’t need huge trust funds that last several generations. It robs them of a life. They need to wait tables, bag groceries, mow lawns, go to college and get a job. This is what builds character and self esteem which will ultimately bring satisfaction. A 50% estate tax over 10 million won’t kill our country club pals. Indeed doing away with the estate tax will create more depression in our kiddos who have done little but rely on parents after spending summers at air conditioned camp, Traveling to Europe, and playing golf at (a country) club.”

My response to that mind-boggling lack of logic was simply “amazing”. Seriously, there is no point debating much with people who think the government should decide what families should do with their money, and the government should apparently also decide how our children and grandchildren should order their priorities! Wow. 
I could go on, but I imagine you get the picture. The GOP just keeps digging a hole for itself. It’s not too late, but if I were you, I would send a shovel or two to DC and tell your representatives to get the heck out of this hole and fill in the dirt as soon as they can!
More to follow-

“The Need for Civility in an Uncivilized World”

The Secretary of State under George H W Bush was (and remains) a gentleman and a superb diplomat

The following is a speech that Secretary James Baker recently gave to a group at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in the great city of Houston, Texas.  Pierce Wire readers will know that I have longed for the return of grace, dignity, and statesmanship to the political process. Alas, I (and many of you) have largely been spitting in the wind-better than the alternative, I guess. 

Words of wisdom now follow-

“I have been asked to speak tonight about the need for civility in an uncivil world.

It is a complicated question, one that robustly challenges Christians because it puts us directly in the crosshairs of a critical theological question: How do we reconcile our Christian desire to confront what we consider wrongdoing in the world with Our Lord’s endorsement of tolerance toward others?

Further, it is a complicated question at a time when many of our values are being challenged by today’s culture.  Basic Judeo-Christian values that were generally accepted during the first two hundred years in America are now being questioned.  How do we deal with this situation?
As I consider my response, I want to make it clear that I’m no theologian and this question is probably above my paygrade!  But I am a former public servant, an attorney, a father, a grandfather and a great grandfather who is now in my 88th year. And I suspect that the some of the same things that have become apparent to me are also apparent to many of you here tonight.
The world, it seems is going through a tectonic transformation — one that brings tremendous opportunities. And with them, great risks.
 
In many ways, the future looks brighter than ever.  Technology and science are marching at the fastest paces connect us with one another around the world. Mankind will be heading to Mars by 2030. And long before then, most of us will have self-driving cars.  Our health is better than ever before. Globally, we are living twice as long today as we did less than century ago. And the average life expectancy continues to rise.
Wealth, meanwhile, is spreading around the globe as more and more countries adopt America’s successful paradigms of democratic governance and free-market economics. Last year, the World Bank announced that a smaller percentage of the world’s population lived below the extreme poverty line than at any other time in recorded history.
And if you can pull your attention away from the constant deluge of negative news, you might be surprised to learn that we are living in one of the most peaceful times during the past century. The annual global death rate due to war is down from an average of 22 deaths per 100,000 people during the Cold War years to 1.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2014, the latest year with complete numbers.
 
Yes, there are risks in the world today. Global climate change, nuclear proliferation and radical Islamic terrorism are three, to name just a few. And violence and economic disparity remain difficult challenges around the world.  On balance, however, more people may be living in relative peace, better health and greater prosperity than during any other time in world history.
At the same time, sadly, our own country is going through a period of great civil unrest, perhaps the most toxic I have experienced in my life. The tenor of our national discourse is tinged with an aggressive anger and a virulent rhetoric that threatens our society. We seem to prefer arguing over statues and other symbols of the past rather than building projects for our future.
 
When you open the newspapers or watch television, it’s sometimes hard not to cringe at the bankruptcy of our public debate. We hear shrill cries for the removal of the Jefferson Monument because that Founding Father owned slaves. We are scolded that “safe places” are needed on college campuses to protect our students from discussions they don’t agree with.

America’s national ideal of e pluribus unum-“out of many, one”-threatens to become a hollow slogan as jaded Americans constantly are confronted by tidal waves of animus from their televisions and smartphones.

The practice of identity politics increasingly divided us along lines of race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual identity. Countless demagogues stand ready to exploit those differences. When a sports reporter of Asian heritage is removed from his assignment because his name — Robert Lee — resembles the name of Robert E. Lee,  it shows the insanity of the principal of “political correctness.”
The one thing that has united us in the past has been love of country, patriotism and respect for our flag and our national anthem. Now, it seems, some believe it is ok to disrespect those symbols in order to call attention to grievances they hold.  Obviously, they have a constitutional right to do that. But doing so risks unraveling what in the past has unified us.
Symbolic of our national anger is the partisan animosity between Republicans and Democrats that has brought Washington to a standstill. We can’t seem to get anything done because our government isn’t working for us.
These divisions are real. In our national politics, and particularly in Washington maintaining lines of civil and constructive communication seems increasingly more difficult.
There are, of course, several reasons for our hyper-partisan political environment:
First, there is a redistricting process that pushes congressional districts to the fringes of the political spectrum. As result, the reasonable center is being squeezed out of our politics. The art of compromise is now missing from our polity.
Second, there is the simple fact that we live in a fairly evenly divided red-state, blue-state country, with the two sides seeing the world through vastly different prisms. The problems confronting a Democrat on Chicago’s South Side are different than the ones facing a Texas Panhandle Republican.
Third, our rapidly developing social media lowers our national debate into an angry brawl. Through social media, people throw the wildest allegations against the wall to see which ones stick. Further, the spreading of fake news via social media undermines real news, and creates a jaundiced society that doesn’t know who or what to believe.
And fourth and finally, the press no longer objectively reports facts but rather acts as an advocate and player in our political debate. If you watch FOX, you think you’re watching the house organ of the Republican Party. And if you watch MSNBC, you know you’re watching the house organ of the Democratic Party.
So what can we do to revive the type of bipartisanship that is necessary for our  government to accomplish anything for the American people?
In Washington, it will take leadership in both parties!  Republicans and Democrats will have to, once again, work together and compromise if they want to get things done.  But all Americans must also shoulder some of the responsibility. Each of us needs to look inside our own heart.
The harshness of our political debate has been matched  It is becoming uglier and more crass.  The norms dictating decent behavior are eroding; and it seems that we’ve lost sight of the basic regard we owe our fellow men and women.  Rather than blame others for our myriad of problems, we should recognize that in a democracy, no one side gets to make all of the rules.
Our country has survived and thrived for so long, in large part, because we have learned how to work together on important issues. Compromise in a democracy is essential.  Our Founding Fathers differed on many issues, but they worked out compromises to define our core principles that still hold today.
As followers of Jesus Christ, when thinking about our role in society today, it’s important to ask ourselves, “What Would Jesus Do?” How did Jesus respond to the chaos of the day and the lifestyles that were antithetical to his morals?  He looked at people with hope, whoever they were. And all were invited to follow him — the good Jew AND the hated Samaritan.  He says in the book of John, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus didn’t focus on the political upheaval of the day, but on each individual’s heart. He calls us to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan makes it clear that our neighbor is not just someone we agree with. Our neighbor is everyone with whom we have contact. He teaches us NOT to judge others, but to examine our own hearts and repent of our wrongdoing.
Jesus challenges us to love our enemies, to do good for them, and to forgive those who have wronged us. He cautions that if we aren’t willing to forgive others, God can’t forgive us.
In politics, compromise is essential. But being a practicing Christian requires us to be respectful of our neighbor even when compromise is not possible.  Working hard for our political beliefs and values is very important, but it is more important to never lose sight of walking in the light of Jesus.
Thankfully, we have been given the Good News that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, and we have also been given prayer as the way to live. We are continually told to pray in both the Old and the New Testaments.  In II Chronicles it says, “If my people who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
We have work to do in the civic arena, but we also have much work to do in our hearts if our land is to be healed.  When we look at our world in the context of our faith, we could despair if we didn’t know about God’s grace and mercy. The bottom line for us Christians, however, is that we are called to show grace and mercy–even to our philosophical opponents–just as we ourselves are shown mercy.
And so, when someone makes a point, listen to it, regardless of how incorrect it may seem to you. Don’t discount people just because you don’t agree with what they say. Or the way they look. Or where they live.  Listening is an important part of learning about one another.  And in this country, we need to do more of that, and do less of the screeching that too many people today think passes as discourse.
During the six weeks since Hurricane Harvey hammered the area, Houston has demonstrated many of the attributes I’ve been talking about. In the midst of the biggest crisis our community has ever experienced, we stopped being Democrat or Republican . . . rich or poor  . . . black, white, or brown . . .  Christian, Muslim, or Jew
Instead, we’ve all been Houstonians — first, and foremost. With the single focus of restoring and healing our community, we’ve prayed for one another, we’ve helped one another and we’ve looked out for one another.  This dynamic and broad-gauged response by Houstonians has been simply remarkable. And it is precisely what we need nationally.
Yes, we have many differences among us here in Houston — just as we do in Texas and across the nation.  But in the end, we are all Americans living in the very finest country in the world — the country everyone wants to come to, and no one wants to leave.  Realizing and respecting that phenomenon is what unifies us when times get tough.
 
It SHOULD unify us ALL the time.”
 

Kaepernick Gone Wild!

The Protest was one thing last year. It is quite another thing now.

What hath Colin Kaepernick wrought? This debate was very black and white (sorry, couldn’t resist) to me last year. Colin Kaepernick chose to use our National Anthem and his fame as platforms to protest what he saw as institutional injustice against black Americans. I disagreed with his decision to use the National Anthem. It seemed to me that his fame gave him plenty opportunity off the field to become as active as he desired in pursuit of social justice. But that was then. This is now.

Allow me to ask you a question. If you ran a business, and your family depended on you to bring home the bacon to make ends meet, how would you feel if one of your employees disrupted your business to make a social statement about an issue very important to that person? Can anyone seriously suggest that you wouldn’t make it very clear to that person that your place of business is not where such disruptions should occur? And can anyone seriously suggest that if that person continued to disrupt your business you wouldn’t terminate that person’s employment? Of course you would.

I cannot tell you how much I wish the President would focus on health care, tax reform, and matters pressing around the world. Weighing in on this situation during his speech in Alabama last Friday night was incendiary and unhelpful to anyone.

People already knew where they stood on this issue. The President of the United States stepping into the middle of the discussion served only to dump fuel on the fire. I guess it is the reaction of the NFL and now most team owners that bemuses me. The talking heads have droned on about how teams on Sunday displayed unity by locking arms together, or in some cases, by staying in the tunnel during the National Anthem. Give me a break! Owners and coaches were scared to death that their players would divide between themselves over the issue at hand, and the result would be implosion on the field. What we saw on Sunday was self-serving unity. 

Why can’t the NFL take a non-political position and make it clear that its players are free to do whatever they want to do on their own nickel!? How can the NFL possibly condone any of this behavior during before, during, or after a game, when players are still in their uniforms, and representing their teams and the league? It is ridiculous.

So here is where I am on the issue. The whole thing is totally bonkers. The President was wrong to step into the breach. The players who are falling into line under the mantle of “unity” are either deluding themselves or too stupid to see they are being used, and NFL leadership, owners, and coaches have lost the plot; full stop.

Let’s get back to honoring our flag and our country and playing football. These players are famous. They can find other times and places to pursue their respective quests for social justice. In short, knock it off!

More to follow-