Day: October 2, 2017

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Passenger terror as plane engine DISINTEGRATES mid-air on flight from Paris to LA…


Passengers reacted with horror after the engine of an Air France plane from Paris to the USA disintegrated in the sky, forcing the aircraft into an emergency landing.

Horrifying video footage shows part of the plane’s engine flapping in the air as it flew over the Atlantic Ocean with 520 passengers on board.

Travellers described how everything seemed normal until they heard a “loud thud and a lot of vibration” before the pilot declared a mayday this afternoon.

Ground crews were left to “pick up pieces of the plane from the runway”, one passenger added.

Flight records show the Airbus A380 aircraft, travelling under flight number AF66, was diverted to Canada’s Goose Bay airport on its journey from Paris to Los Angeles.

The mangled front of the engine where the metal has been shredded

Part of the jet’s engine can be seen flapping in the wind in one passenger’s video footage
A side-by-side photo showing the damaged engine next to a functioning one

Travellers described hearing a loud thud before the plane began vibrating

Air France confirmed there was “serious damage” to one of the plane’s four engines before before it landed safely.

One traveller said on Twitter the engine had “blown over the Atlantic Ocean”, leading to the emergency landing in Canada.

Another, named Daniel McNeely, said: “I’m on board. One of our engines is slightly blown apart. Just glad to be on the ground.”

A large section of the engine ‘blew out’ over the ocean

There were 520 passengers on board when the engine disintegrated

Terrified passengers look out of the window of the jet

WARNING TAKEN FROM TWITTER
CAPTION:
Air France #AF66 operated by an Airbus A380 diverted to Goose Bay after engine #4 blown up over Greenland! (pic: Brand Martin)
LINK: https://twitter.com/flight_report/status/914167032706453505
The flight, bound for Los Angeles, was diverted to Goose Bay airport in Canada

He later added, alongside a photo of the engine: “I think the engine has seen better days.”

Peter Cowan also shared an image of the engine and wrote: “This is the reason ground crews had to pick up pieces of the plane off the runway after landing.”

Goose Bay airport is a small site not normally equipped to handle such large aircraft, according to passengers.

A map showing the course of the plane before its emergency landing

Th Air France Airbus A380 plane declared a mid-air emergency over the Atlantic (file photo)

Air France said in a statement: “Air France confirms that the crew of flight AF66 decided to divert to Goose Bay airport following serious damage on one of its four engines.

“The plane landed safely at 3.42pm and the regularly trained pilots and cabin crew handled this serious incident perfectly.

“The passengers are currently being assisted by teams dispatched to the location.

“Air France is currently working to re-route the passengers to Los Angeles via one of its connecting platforms in North America.”



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Survey: Majority of U.S. Physicians Now Support Single-Payer


For the past century, socialists, progressives, communists, statists, and an increasing number of Democrats have supported the imposition of a government-run socialized medical care system in the United States. Every Democrat president since FDR (except JFK and possibly Jimmy Carter) has spoken in favor of or introduced a plan for socialized medicine. Now, it finally appears that a critical mass has been achieved and the Rubicon has been crossed.

A Quinnipiac University national poll on August 3, 2017 reported “Replacing the current health care system with a single payer system in which Medicare covers every American citizen is a good idea, voters say 51-38 percent.” This reported majority support for single-payer reflects recent samplings of public opinion by Pew Research and other polling organizations. Citing a September 28, 2017 Quinnipiac survey, a CNN article on September 30, “Majority of Democratic voters are all-in on single-payer,” further advanced the story:

Asked in a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday whether they support a single-payer system, in which the federal government would expand Medicare to cover the medical expenses of every American citizen, nearly two in three Democratic voters (65%) said it was a “good idea.”


That result mostly fell in line with other recent surveys, which have shown increased backing among liberals and independents, with a slight upward trend across the board.


But the Quinnipiac poll pushed harder, incorporating another key detail into a subsequent question – the specter of a tax hike.


“Would you think that a single payer system is a good idea or a bad idea if it removed all health insurance premiums, but also increased your taxes?” the pollsters asked. With the added information, support dropped, but not as much as one might expect. Fifty-nine percent, just slightly down from 65%, still called it a “good idea.”

A “good idea” now that was once considered anathema

During the entire 20th century, the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest organization of physicians, strongly opposed socialized medicine. By and large, most of the American people and their political leaders were with the AMA. That began to change in 1993 when Bill and Hillary Clinton pushed their unsuccessful but groundbreaking national health care reform plan right out of the box. Meanwhile, medical education, like most higher education around that time, had institutionalized promoting socialism and indoctrinating new students in collectivist concepts like “health care as a right.” The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) in particular took up the charge for government-run health care and the nation’s nursing associations, hotbeds of social justice, socialism, and radical, anti-hierarchy activism, also started mobilizing for the long march ahead.

Another recent survey has found that a majority of the nation’s doctors – not just idealistic medical students – are now for the first time finally and fully on board with government-guaranteed and -run health care. This revelation suggests that another wall against socialized medicine has been breached.  MDLinx: “The majority of United States physicians—56%—support a single-payer health care system,” according to the survey, conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a Dallas-based physician recruitment search firm.

The survey relied on detailed responses from over one thousand licensed physicians who were asked about single-payer. According to the MDLinx article:

  • 14% [of physicians] somewhat support a single-payer health care system
  • 42% strongly support it
  • 6% somewhat oppose it
  • 35% strongly oppose it
  • 3% neither support nor oppose it

The 2017 results, according to a Merritt Hawkins news release, “contrast with a national survey of physicians Merritt Hawkins conducted in 2008, which indicated that 58 percent of physicians opposed single payer at that time while 42 percent supported it.” Merritt Hawkins cites four reasons why a growing number of physicians are in favor of single payer. “First, they are seeking clarity and stability.”

Second, it’s a generational issue. The various surveys that Merritt Hawkins has conducted for The Physicians Foundation in the past show that younger doctors are more accepting of Obamacare, ACOs, EHR, and change in general than are older physicians As the new generation of physicians comes up, there is less resistance among doctors to single payer.


Third, there is a feeling of resignation rather than enthusiasm among some physicians about single payer. These physicians believe we are drifting toward single payer and would just as soon get it over with. [emphasis added.] The 14% of physicians surveyed who said they “somewhat” support single payer are probably in this group.


Fourth, there is a philosophical change among physicians that I think the public and political leaders on both sides of the aisle now share, which is that we should make an effort to cover as many people as possible.

Travis Singleton, Senior Vice President of Merritt Hawkins, commented: “Physicians appear to have evolved on single payer. Whether they are enthusiastic about it, are merely resigned to it, or are just seeking clarity, single payer is a concept many physicians appear to be embracing.”

Some of the comments by doctors who responded to the Merritt Hawkins survey as reported by MDLinx  are revealing.

“As a CPA and an MD, I believe strongly in a single-payer system that removes the insurance industry from the medical delivery system. We must restore the sacred relationship between patient and physician, and only when we move toward a single-payer system can we ever restore it,” said pediatrician Craig M. Uhl, MD, of Palm Desert, CA.


“A governmental program with basic insurance paid by income taxes and contracted out to insurance companies by the individual states with standard forms, denials, and expected payments would simplify medical practice,” said OB/GYN and professor emeritus Selman Welt, MD, of Johnson City, TN. “Despite all the complaints against Medicare and Medicaid, they pay promptly and you know how they will react and how to make appeals. Then if some people want a more deluxe plan, the insurance companies can provide that with a second tier of standardized services.”


“We would probably earn less per patient, but more people would get needed health care so it would average the same,” said psychiatrist Jed Shapiro, MD, of Boulder, CO.


“Currently, medical and surgical subspecialists are overpaid (and ideally should earn less) and generalists are underpaid (and ideally should earn more),” said cardiologist Wade Martin, MD, of St. Louis, MO.

Not all of the respondents were enthralled with the possibility of single-payer.

“I do not care about the money,” said osteopath and family medicine physician Harold Kornylak, DO, of Virginia Beach, VA. “It would destroy free choice, individual responsibility, innovation, and make medical care like working for McDonald’s.”

The field of innovative alternative medicine has sold out, too

At one time in fairly recent history, for example during the 1970s and ‘80s, the growing field of innovative alternative medicine was a hotbed for support for medical freedom and many alternative medicine providers and patients were active politically in that area of ensuring medical freedom of choice. That began to change in the 1990s when, as I can report from personal experience, many among the new generation of natural medicine students and practitioners began to be influenced by, and then start espousing, pro-socialist ideas relating to medical care.

Eventually, entire professions of so-called alternative medicine were seduced and co-opted to abandon their commitments to medical freedom and pluralism and jump on the bandwagon of single-payer. Insidiously, federal agencies at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere burrowed in the Deep State bureaucracy, supposedly established to integrate alternative medicine into the mainstream, assisted in that co-optation and seduction.

The collectivist impulse that is enveloping society has now blossomed into full scale support for socialized medicine on the part of natural health care physicians’ groups, like those representing licensed naturopathic doctors. A 2013 article about Obamacare published by a leading naturopathic medical school, Bastyr University in Washington, for example, was titled “Health Care Reform Extends Reach of Naturopathic Medicine.” That same year, the author of an article at the Web site of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians wrote glowingly about a particular section of Obamacare, that it “offers naturopathic medicine a true watershed, and we’re making the most of this golden opportunity.”

Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. (1947-2015) photographed in his office in 2005

Photo © by Peter Barry Chowka

One of innovative medicine’s most acclaimed practitioners, the late Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D., spoke frequently about the Faustian bargain represented by socialized medicine and its fellow traveling Pied Pipers. He pointed to government-controlled health care’s incompatibility with medical innovation and freedom. When Gonzalez passed away suddenly in July 2015, the world lost a clear and articulate voice for sanity in health care, including the politics of medicine.

In 2005, in a lengthy interview that I did with Gonzalez on socialized medicine, he commented:

Medical science always thrives when there’s freedom to think independently. Socialized medicine doesn’t allow that because it requires physicians to practice according to preset standards. That’s the way the Canadian system is. You can’t deviate from those standards at all. The trouble is that medicine is not a fixed science. It requires creativity, originality in thinking in new ways. Socialized medicine doesn’t allow that. If socialized medicine worked, they would have had to build a Berlin Wall to keep people out. Instead, they had to build the Berlin Wall to keep people in because they were trying to escape socialism and socialized medicine.

Peter Barry Chowka has reported on health care, with an emphasis on alternative medicine, since 1972. Between 1992-’94 he was an advisor to the National Institutes of Health. His new Web site is AltMedNews.net. Follow Peter on Twitter.

For the past century, socialists, progressives, communists, statists, and an increasing number of Democrats have supported the imposition of a government-run socialized medical care system in the United States. Every Democrat president since FDR (except JFK and possibly Jimmy Carter) has spoken in favor of or introduced a plan for socialized medicine. Now, it finally appears that a critical mass has been achieved and the Rubicon has been crossed.

A Quinnipiac University national poll on August 3, 2017 reported “Replacing the current health care system with a single payer system in which Medicare covers every American citizen is a good idea, voters say 51-38 percent.” This reported majority support for single-payer reflects recent samplings of public opinion by Pew Research and other polling organizations. Citing a September 28, 2017 Quinnipiac survey, a CNN article on September 30, “Majority of Democratic voters are all-in on single-payer,” further advanced the story:

Asked in a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday whether they support a single-payer system, in which the federal government would expand Medicare to cover the medical expenses of every American citizen, nearly two in three Democratic voters (65%) said it was a “good idea.”


That result mostly fell in line with other recent surveys, which have shown increased backing among liberals and independents, with a slight upward trend across the board.


But the Quinnipiac poll pushed harder, incorporating another key detail into a subsequent question – the specter of a tax hike.


“Would you think that a single payer system is a good idea or a bad idea if it removed all health insurance premiums, but also increased your taxes?” the pollsters asked. With the added information, support dropped, but not as much as one might expect. Fifty-nine percent, just slightly down from 65%, still called it a “good idea.”

A “good idea” now that was once considered anathema

During the entire 20th century, the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest organization of physicians, strongly opposed socialized medicine. By and large, most of the American people and their political leaders were with the AMA. That began to change in 1993 when Bill and Hillary Clinton pushed their unsuccessful but groundbreaking national health care reform plan right out of the box. Meanwhile, medical education, like most higher education around that time, had institutionalized promoting socialism and indoctrinating new students in collectivist concepts like “health care as a right.” The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) in particular took up the charge for government-run health care and the nation’s nursing associations, hotbeds of social justice, socialism, and radical, anti-hierarchy activism, also started mobilizing for the long march ahead.

Another recent survey has found that a majority of the nation’s doctors – not just idealistic medical students – are now for the first time finally and fully on board with government-guaranteed and -run health care. This revelation suggests that another wall against socialized medicine has been breached.  MDLinx: “The majority of United States physicians—56%—support a single-payer health care system,” according to the survey, conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a Dallas-based physician recruitment search firm.

The survey relied on detailed responses from over one thousand licensed physicians who were asked about single-payer. According to the MDLinx article:

  • 14% [of physicians] somewhat support a single-payer health care system
  • 42% strongly support it
  • 6% somewhat oppose it
  • 35% strongly oppose it
  • 3% neither support nor oppose it

The 2017 results, according to a Merritt Hawkins news release, “contrast with a national survey of physicians Merritt Hawkins conducted in 2008, which indicated that 58 percent of physicians opposed single payer at that time while 42 percent supported it.” Merritt Hawkins cites four reasons why a growing number of physicians are in favor of single payer. “First, they are seeking clarity and stability.”

Second, it’s a generational issue. The various surveys that Merritt Hawkins has conducted for The Physicians Foundation in the past show that younger doctors are more accepting of Obamacare, ACOs, EHR, and change in general than are older physicians As the new generation of physicians comes up, there is less resistance among doctors to single payer.


Third, there is a feeling of resignation rather than enthusiasm among some physicians about single payer. These physicians believe we are drifting toward single payer and would just as soon get it over with. [emphasis added.] The 14% of physicians surveyed who said they “somewhat” support single payer are probably in this group.


Fourth, there is a philosophical change among physicians that I think the public and political leaders on both sides of the aisle now share, which is that we should make an effort to cover as many people as possible.

Travis Singleton, Senior Vice President of Merritt Hawkins, commented: “Physicians appear to have evolved on single payer. Whether they are enthusiastic about it, are merely resigned to it, or are just seeking clarity, single payer is a concept many physicians appear to be embracing.”

Some of the comments by doctors who responded to the Merritt Hawkins survey as reported by MDLinx  are revealing.

“As a CPA and an MD, I believe strongly in a single-payer system that removes the insurance industry from the medical delivery system. We must restore the sacred relationship between patient and physician, and only when we move toward a single-payer system can we ever restore it,” said pediatrician Craig M. Uhl, MD, of Palm Desert, CA.


“A governmental program with basic insurance paid by income taxes and contracted out to insurance companies by the individual states with standard forms, denials, and expected payments would simplify medical practice,” said OB/GYN and professor emeritus Selman Welt, MD, of Johnson City, TN. “Despite all the complaints against Medicare and Medicaid, they pay promptly and you know how they will react and how to make appeals. Then if some people want a more deluxe plan, the insurance companies can provide that with a second tier of standardized services.”


“We would probably earn less per patient, but more people would get needed health care so it would average the same,” said psychiatrist Jed Shapiro, MD, of Boulder, CO.


“Currently, medical and surgical subspecialists are overpaid (and ideally should earn less) and generalists are underpaid (and ideally should earn more),” said cardiologist Wade Martin, MD, of St. Louis, MO.

Not all of the respondents were enthralled with the possibility of single-payer.

“I do not care about the money,” said osteopath and family medicine physician Harold Kornylak, DO, of Virginia Beach, VA. “It would destroy free choice, individual responsibility, innovation, and make medical care like working for McDonald’s.”

The field of innovative alternative medicine has sold out, too

At one time in fairly recent history, for example during the 1970s and ‘80s, the growing field of innovative alternative medicine was a hotbed for support for medical freedom and many alternative medicine providers and patients were active politically in that area of ensuring medical freedom of choice. That began to change in the 1990s when, as I can report from personal experience, many among the new generation of natural medicine students and practitioners began to be influenced by, and then start espousing, pro-socialist ideas relating to medical care.

Eventually, entire professions of so-called alternative medicine were seduced and co-opted to abandon their commitments to medical freedom and pluralism and jump on the bandwagon of single-payer. Insidiously, federal agencies at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere burrowed in the Deep State bureaucracy, supposedly established to integrate alternative medicine into the mainstream, assisted in that co-optation and seduction.

The collectivist impulse that is enveloping society has now blossomed into full scale support for socialized medicine on the part of natural health care physicians’ groups, like those representing licensed naturopathic doctors. A 2013 article about Obamacare published by a leading naturopathic medical school, Bastyr University in Washington, for example, was titled “Health Care Reform Extends Reach of Naturopathic Medicine.” That same year, the author of an article at the Web site of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians wrote glowingly about a particular section of Obamacare, that it “offers naturopathic medicine a true watershed, and we’re making the most of this golden opportunity.”

Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. (1947-2015) photographed in his office in 2005

Photo © by Peter Barry Chowka

One of innovative medicine’s most acclaimed practitioners, the late Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D., spoke frequently about the Faustian bargain represented by socialized medicine and its fellow traveling Pied Pipers. He pointed to government-controlled health care’s incompatibility with medical innovation and freedom. When Gonzalez passed away suddenly in July 2015, the world lost a clear and articulate voice for sanity in health care, including the politics of medicine.

In 2005, in a lengthy interview that I did with Gonzalez on socialized medicine, he commented:

Medical science always thrives when there’s freedom to think independently. Socialized medicine doesn’t allow that because it requires physicians to practice according to preset standards. That’s the way the Canadian system is. You can’t deviate from those standards at all. The trouble is that medicine is not a fixed science. It requires creativity, originality in thinking in new ways. Socialized medicine doesn’t allow that. If socialized medicine worked, they would have had to build a Berlin Wall to keep people out. Instead, they had to build the Berlin Wall to keep people in because they were trying to escape socialism and socialized medicine.

Peter Barry Chowka has reported on health care, with an emphasis on alternative medicine, since 1972. Between 1992-’94 he was an advisor to the National Institutes of Health. His new Web site is AltMedNews.net. Follow Peter on Twitter.



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If a Liberal Whines with No One Around to Hear, Does He Make a Sound?


The left has a depressing message: racism, misogyny, greed, hate, communism, socialism, and the list goes on.  Americans have given these people a forum for decades, suffered through the angry speeches, the pompous lectures, the unending accusations and shaming.  And frankly, most people are sick of it.  They now go out of their way to avoid the liberal beatings. 

As a result, liberals have trouble getting their message out.  Most people don’t attend leftist rallies, they turn off programs where liberals rattle off their grievances, and they generally try to avoid the toxic left.  But liberals never take no for an answer, they always find another way to impose their will, to force us to listen. 

Thus the bait and switch.  As usual, liberals don’t have their own bait, so they have to co-opt ours.  They use events or activities we enjoy, places where we expect to have fun.  Then they parachute in and hammer us with their spiteful admonitions. 

  • Want to curl up with a good book?  Hopefully you can look at J.K. Rowling’s or Stephen King’s books without associating their novels with the authors’ venomous tirades. 
  • Maybe you’d like to see a movie?  Good luck trying to immerse yourself in the plot when the lead character – Jennifer Lawrence, George  Clooney, Meryl Streep, or another activist star – just delivered a political screed.  Makes it hard to imagine that very real person as the fictional character in the movie. 
  • Maybe you’ll just watch the Emmy’s or the Oscars.  But alas, more of the same: hate on display, a shameless pile-on to insult, demean, and slander the president and other conservatives.  Entire shows dedicated to tantrums and spite.
  • Enjoy a latte at Starbucks?  Not without a shot of politics.  Starbucks’s CEO promised to hire 10,000 refugees to refute the president’s travel ban, publicly supported redefining marriage, declared Starbucks’s U.S. stores gun-free zones, and launched the “Race Together” campaign in response to Ferguson’s fake news.  Tough to get away from political firestorms even for a cup of java.  
  • Do you like to shop at Target?  Be prepared to let your six-year-old daughter share a bathroom with any perv who claims to be confused about his gender.  Even if parents try to ignore this insanity, the fact that this open-door policy also pertains to dressing rooms seals the deal. 

In each of these cases, leftists use the bait, something we like to do, to lure us into their trap.  Then the switch: instead of fun or relaxation, we’re bombarded with vicious, vile political rhetoric.

And now they’ve tainted football, the last bastion of Americana. 

The football player who started this NFL cluster, Colin Kaepernick, is blatantly anti-American.  He wore socks depicting pigs in police hats, sat out the National Anthem, and defended Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to a South Florida reporter. 

Colin didn’t deny that his protest was against the flag.  He flat-out admitted it. 

For the fans, it’s like being invited to a Super Bowl party where the host announces that he hates America, thinks it’s a country of white zealots, dirty cops, and greedy oligarchs.  And those rotten NFL players are all selfish creeps, collecting their millions while the minimum wage stays stagnant.

You’re stunned.  What does any of that have to do with the party?  But you’re trapped.  If you stay, the moment’s past, the fun’s gone out of the room, the mood now somber.  But if you get up and leave, your friends will think you’re judgmental, that you don’t allow freedom of speech. 

This is an example of how the left springs their political ambush time and again.  They intentionally suck the joy out of every fun or pleasurable thing in America.  It’s their goal. 

Why?  Maybe to spread the misery.  Liberals are a wretched group – angry, bitter human beings.  Watch them.  They don’t smile or laugh, and they seem hell-bent on making sure no one else does, either. 

Or maybe they have other motives – to turn American against American, the people versus the NFL.  They do love to divide us, to pit us against one another. 

But what can we do? 

Turn them off.  Pass up activist authors for those who just write.  Find movies that aren’t tainted with Hollywood’s obsessive hate for our president.  Shop in stores that don’t force shared bathrooms or dressing rooms.  And yes, a little known fact is that Starbucks isn’t the only game in town.  In fact, I found a local coffee shop where the ambience is better, and so is the coffee. 

I’m still hopeful that the NFL can correct course but not sure it will ever be the same.  Meanwhile, turn to college ball or local games.  Whatever you do, don’t get wrapped up in the angry back-and-forth.  Not worth it.

And most important, don’t give these abusers a bigger platform.  The media love to cover the social wars, 24/7, to foment hate, feature angry proxies who lecture us on our racist nature.  Turn them off, you won’t miss a thing.  These shows just rehash the latest racial controversy or pimp fake news anyway.  No big loss. 

I’m not saying to boycott.  Organized protests are losing effectiveness – too many, too predictable.  But then, I’m sure the liberals factored that in when they decided to piggyback their misery onto our daily activities and recreation. 

But ironically, the individual customers who reject these social tyrants are making a bigger impact than any boycott.  Target has lost billions since its bathroom ultimatum; Hollywood’s going broke with their pompous activist stars; Oscars and Emmys ratings hit new lows; and the NFL’s suffering low ratings, dwindling ticket and merchandise sales, and a disappearing fan base. 

Yet my call to arms isn’t to punish the liberals for their intrusion; it’s to escape them.  As I said, they can’t get people to willingly listen to their chronic complaining.  Americans don’t want all politics all the time.  They can be involved in their government, work for their cause without sacrificing every enjoyable part of their lives to the altar of activism. 

And most want to get back to fun – backyard BBQs, the beach, and movies that take them away.  They want a holiday season free of politics, Thanksgiving without the latest political football, Christmas without a politically correct cloud.  Most just want to enjoy their lives, to be happy.

If we don’t let liberals crash the party, they can’t ruin it, can’t spoil the fun.  It’ll take them a while to understand that.  They’re still sorting out the election after all, but eventually, they’ll have to confront their own irrelevance. 

Will this silence them?  No, but to paraphrase philosopher George Berkley’s “if a tree falls in the forest” question: if a liberal whines and no one is around to hear them, do they make a sound?

The left has a depressing message: racism, misogyny, greed, hate, communism, socialism, and the list goes on.  Americans have given these people a forum for decades, suffered through the angry speeches, the pompous lectures, the unending accusations and shaming.  And frankly, most people are sick of it.  They now go out of their way to avoid the liberal beatings. 

As a result, liberals have trouble getting their message out.  Most people don’t attend leftist rallies, they turn off programs where liberals rattle off their grievances, and they generally try to avoid the toxic left.  But liberals never take no for an answer, they always find another way to impose their will, to force us to listen. 

Thus the bait and switch.  As usual, liberals don’t have their own bait, so they have to co-opt ours.  They use events or activities we enjoy, places where we expect to have fun.  Then they parachute in and hammer us with their spiteful admonitions. 

  • Want to curl up with a good book?  Hopefully you can look at J.K. Rowling’s or Stephen King’s books without associating their novels with the authors’ venomous tirades. 
  • Maybe you’d like to see a movie?  Good luck trying to immerse yourself in the plot when the lead character – Jennifer Lawrence, George  Clooney, Meryl Streep, or another activist star – just delivered a political screed.  Makes it hard to imagine that very real person as the fictional character in the movie. 
  • Maybe you’ll just watch the Emmy’s or the Oscars.  But alas, more of the same: hate on display, a shameless pile-on to insult, demean, and slander the president and other conservatives.  Entire shows dedicated to tantrums and spite.
  • Enjoy a latte at Starbucks?  Not without a shot of politics.  Starbucks’s CEO promised to hire 10,000 refugees to refute the president’s travel ban, publicly supported redefining marriage, declared Starbucks’s U.S. stores gun-free zones, and launched the “Race Together” campaign in response to Ferguson’s fake news.  Tough to get away from political firestorms even for a cup of java.  
  • Do you like to shop at Target?  Be prepared to let your six-year-old daughter share a bathroom with any perv who claims to be confused about his gender.  Even if parents try to ignore this insanity, the fact that this open-door policy also pertains to dressing rooms seals the deal. 

In each of these cases, leftists use the bait, something we like to do, to lure us into their trap.  Then the switch: instead of fun or relaxation, we’re bombarded with vicious, vile political rhetoric.

And now they’ve tainted football, the last bastion of Americana. 

The football player who started this NFL cluster, Colin Kaepernick, is blatantly anti-American.  He wore socks depicting pigs in police hats, sat out the National Anthem, and defended Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to a South Florida reporter. 

Colin didn’t deny that his protest was against the flag.  He flat-out admitted it. 

For the fans, it’s like being invited to a Super Bowl party where the host announces that he hates America, thinks it’s a country of white zealots, dirty cops, and greedy oligarchs.  And those rotten NFL players are all selfish creeps, collecting their millions while the minimum wage stays stagnant.

You’re stunned.  What does any of that have to do with the party?  But you’re trapped.  If you stay, the moment’s past, the fun’s gone out of the room, the mood now somber.  But if you get up and leave, your friends will think you’re judgmental, that you don’t allow freedom of speech. 

This is an example of how the left springs their political ambush time and again.  They intentionally suck the joy out of every fun or pleasurable thing in America.  It’s their goal. 

Why?  Maybe to spread the misery.  Liberals are a wretched group – angry, bitter human beings.  Watch them.  They don’t smile or laugh, and they seem hell-bent on making sure no one else does, either. 

Or maybe they have other motives – to turn American against American, the people versus the NFL.  They do love to divide us, to pit us against one another. 

But what can we do? 

Turn them off.  Pass up activist authors for those who just write.  Find movies that aren’t tainted with Hollywood’s obsessive hate for our president.  Shop in stores that don’t force shared bathrooms or dressing rooms.  And yes, a little known fact is that Starbucks isn’t the only game in town.  In fact, I found a local coffee shop where the ambience is better, and so is the coffee. 

I’m still hopeful that the NFL can correct course but not sure it will ever be the same.  Meanwhile, turn to college ball or local games.  Whatever you do, don’t get wrapped up in the angry back-and-forth.  Not worth it.

And most important, don’t give these abusers a bigger platform.  The media love to cover the social wars, 24/7, to foment hate, feature angry proxies who lecture us on our racist nature.  Turn them off, you won’t miss a thing.  These shows just rehash the latest racial controversy or pimp fake news anyway.  No big loss. 

I’m not saying to boycott.  Organized protests are losing effectiveness – too many, too predictable.  But then, I’m sure the liberals factored that in when they decided to piggyback their misery onto our daily activities and recreation. 

But ironically, the individual customers who reject these social tyrants are making a bigger impact than any boycott.  Target has lost billions since its bathroom ultimatum; Hollywood’s going broke with their pompous activist stars; Oscars and Emmys ratings hit new lows; and the NFL’s suffering low ratings, dwindling ticket and merchandise sales, and a disappearing fan base. 

Yet my call to arms isn’t to punish the liberals for their intrusion; it’s to escape them.  As I said, they can’t get people to willingly listen to their chronic complaining.  Americans don’t want all politics all the time.  They can be involved in their government, work for their cause without sacrificing every enjoyable part of their lives to the altar of activism. 

And most want to get back to fun – backyard BBQs, the beach, and movies that take them away.  They want a holiday season free of politics, Thanksgiving without the latest political football, Christmas without a politically correct cloud.  Most just want to enjoy their lives, to be happy.

If we don’t let liberals crash the party, they can’t ruin it, can’t spoil the fun.  It’ll take them a while to understand that.  They’re still sorting out the election after all, but eventually, they’ll have to confront their own irrelevance. 

Will this silence them?  No, but to paraphrase philosopher George Berkley’s “if a tree falls in the forest” question: if a liberal whines and no one is around to hear them, do they make a sound?



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What Catalonia Tells Us


The news from Catalonia — at the time of this writing, Sunday night in America — is not good. There has been violent confrontation over the independence referendum.

Hundreds injured in Catalonia as Spanish police crack down on referendum vote…

Police acting on orders from the Spanish government to stop the voting across the country’s northeastern region clashed with Catalans who were attempting to stop them from confiscating ballots. Videos that emerged Sunday on social media appear to show police using brutal force on people attempting to cast their vote.

Catalonia’s health service said Sunday night that at least 844 people were injured today by the evening — nearly half of them in the Barcelona region, where police fired rubber bullets near at least one polling station, according to The Associated Press. Spanish authorities said 11 police officers were injured in the melees.

— ABC News

For weeks, the Spanish state had been doing all it could to obstruct and suppress the then upcoming October 1st vote.  The Madrid government had been threatening people, arresting Catalan officials, and had stepped in to take over the province’s finances.

Spain has taken control of Catalonia’s finances to prevent funds being used for an independence referendum it deems illegal, a move that limits the region’s autonomy and puts in doubt the payment of thousands of public workers’ salaries. — TheLocal.es, September 20, 2017

On October 1st, Madrid followed through with its threats of force should the referendum go ahead. 

What immediately comes to mind is that Madrid did not act as forcefully as Franco would have. Franco would have sent in tanks and just killed people. The present Spanish response might have been thuggish, but it was measured. Likewise, the response of the Catalan people and their representatives were also measured.

It was not totally clear how the vote was going to swing. Pro-Madrid media were accusing the Catalans of suppressing local anti-Independence sympathies; and there seemed to be a degree of truth to that, as the data indicated. Still, however, Catalonia had a long history of striving for independence. There seemed to be real local sympathy for their cause. While most anticipated a victory for the pro-independence side, there was also the precedent of how the referendum for Scottish independence failed in 2014. Recently, even the Catalan government produced some disturbing poll results.

Opinion polls are hard to come by but the clearest indication came in July, when a public survey commissioned by the Catalan government suggested 41% were in favour and 49% were opposed to independence. — BBC

A check of this page, set up by the Catalan government — which has a readable Abstract in English — showed that the matter was not settled as late as July [See page 11& 12 of pdf file].  At that point, the Independentistas may not been as representative of the Catalans, as a whole, as it appeared. On the other hand, the referendum results today may only have demonstrated the inaccuracy of polls, as breaking news, at this time, seems to show.

Initial reports say that the referendum was 90% in favor of secession. This is the worst of all of Madrid’s fears. Even if there was local social pressure to minimize or limit the pro-Madrid vote, a 90% result indicates a massive sentiment to remove Spanish rule from Catalonia, even if the turnout was low. And that low turnout can be blamed on Spanish police interference.

Spanish riot police fired rubber bullets and seized ballot boxes from polling stations in Catalonia on Sunday as thousands flooded the streets to vote in an independence referendum banned by Madrid. —  The Telegraph

Spain will soon be in a meltdown of sorts. The Madrid government is constitutionally required to preserve the unity of Spain. The Catalan government has obliged itself to act upon the results of the referendum within 48 hours.

There is a problem: Spain’s democratic constitution of 1978, which was approved by more than 90% of Catalan voters, gave wide autonomy to the regions but affirmed “the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation”. Only the Spanish parliament can change the constitution.  — The Economist

Meanwhile, contrariwise:

[T]he regional [Catalan] Parliament has committed to making the result binding within 48 hours, which could translate any approval for a Catalan republic into a unilateral declaration of independence. Under Spanish law, however, the national government could still invoke emergency powers to take full administrative control of Catalonia. — NY Times, Sept 26, 2017

What happens how is anyone’s guess.

Most interesting is how the European Union has steadfastly taken Madrid’s side. Separatism cannot be allowed to prosper while the EU is trying to centralize everything. It sets a bad precedent.

Jean-Claude Piris, the former director general of the EU Council’s legal service, poured cold water on Catalonia’s plot to hold an independence referendum.


The Frenchman warned the EU would not welcome an independent Catalonia as a member state and called on Brussels to speak out. — Express, June 3, 2017

And so, today:

[T]he European Union remained conspicuously silent on the police tactics, which saw masked officers smash their way into polling stations and forcibly remove ballot boxes. — The Telegraph,Oct 2, 2017

One Catalan politician has finally spoken up to get angry at the EU for their silence.

Silence from the European Union in the face of a violent referendum in Spain has been condemned with one furious politician saying he no longer wants to be European. — The Daily Express — October 2, 2017

Another Catalan noted:

Another said: “Do not call me neither spanish nor european any more … I M CATALAN !!!” –The Daily Express, October 2, 2017

The centralizing bureaucrats of Brussels do not want independent nations.

The Catalan independence referendum is a much bigger issue for the EU than Brexit — The Independent, September 30, 2017

And one Scots Observer finally put all the pieces together.

“The EU want a fascist United States of Europe. viva Catalan.” — The Daily Express  

It seems the Catalonia is not merely a problem for Spain, but for all of the European bureaucrats. n order for Catalonia to be free, Catalonia may not only have to defy Madrid, but also the European Union. No longer will the Catalans have the option of trading subservience to Madrid to subservience to Brussels as an option. If Catalonia wants to be free, she may have to decide for total freedom.

If nothing else comes out of this referendum, that alone will be worth it.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago. He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com. 

The news from Catalonia — at the time of this writing, Sunday night in America — is not good. There has been violent confrontation over the independence referendum.

Hundreds injured in Catalonia as Spanish police crack down on referendum vote…

Police acting on orders from the Spanish government to stop the voting across the country’s northeastern region clashed with Catalans who were attempting to stop them from confiscating ballots. Videos that emerged Sunday on social media appear to show police using brutal force on people attempting to cast their vote.

Catalonia’s health service said Sunday night that at least 844 people were injured today by the evening — nearly half of them in the Barcelona region, where police fired rubber bullets near at least one polling station, according to The Associated Press. Spanish authorities said 11 police officers were injured in the melees.

— ABC News

For weeks, the Spanish state had been doing all it could to obstruct and suppress the then upcoming October 1st vote.  The Madrid government had been threatening people, arresting Catalan officials, and had stepped in to take over the province’s finances.

Spain has taken control of Catalonia’s finances to prevent funds being used for an independence referendum it deems illegal, a move that limits the region’s autonomy and puts in doubt the payment of thousands of public workers’ salaries. — TheLocal.es, September 20, 2017

On October 1st, Madrid followed through with its threats of force should the referendum go ahead. 

What immediately comes to mind is that Madrid did not act as forcefully as Franco would have. Franco would have sent in tanks and just killed people. The present Spanish response might have been thuggish, but it was measured. Likewise, the response of the Catalan people and their representatives were also measured.

It was not totally clear how the vote was going to swing. Pro-Madrid media were accusing the Catalans of suppressing local anti-Independence sympathies; and there seemed to be a degree of truth to that, as the data indicated. Still, however, Catalonia had a long history of striving for independence. There seemed to be real local sympathy for their cause. While most anticipated a victory for the pro-independence side, there was also the precedent of how the referendum for Scottish independence failed in 2014. Recently, even the Catalan government produced some disturbing poll results.

Opinion polls are hard to come by but the clearest indication came in July, when a public survey commissioned by the Catalan government suggested 41% were in favour and 49% were opposed to independence. — BBC

A check of this page, set up by the Catalan government — which has a readable Abstract in English — showed that the matter was not settled as late as July [See page 11& 12 of pdf file].  At that point, the Independentistas may not been as representative of the Catalans, as a whole, as it appeared. On the other hand, the referendum results today may only have demonstrated the inaccuracy of polls, as breaking news, at this time, seems to show.

Initial reports say that the referendum was 90% in favor of secession. This is the worst of all of Madrid’s fears. Even if there was local social pressure to minimize or limit the pro-Madrid vote, a 90% result indicates a massive sentiment to remove Spanish rule from Catalonia, even if the turnout was low. And that low turnout can be blamed on Spanish police interference.

Spanish riot police fired rubber bullets and seized ballot boxes from polling stations in Catalonia on Sunday as thousands flooded the streets to vote in an independence referendum banned by Madrid. —  The Telegraph

Spain will soon be in a meltdown of sorts. The Madrid government is constitutionally required to preserve the unity of Spain. The Catalan government has obliged itself to act upon the results of the referendum within 48 hours.

There is a problem: Spain’s democratic constitution of 1978, which was approved by more than 90% of Catalan voters, gave wide autonomy to the regions but affirmed “the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation”. Only the Spanish parliament can change the constitution.  — The Economist

Meanwhile, contrariwise:

[T]he regional [Catalan] Parliament has committed to making the result binding within 48 hours, which could translate any approval for a Catalan republic into a unilateral declaration of independence. Under Spanish law, however, the national government could still invoke emergency powers to take full administrative control of Catalonia. — NY Times, Sept 26, 2017

What happens how is anyone’s guess.

Most interesting is how the European Union has steadfastly taken Madrid’s side. Separatism cannot be allowed to prosper while the EU is trying to centralize everything. It sets a bad precedent.

Jean-Claude Piris, the former director general of the EU Council’s legal service, poured cold water on Catalonia’s plot to hold an independence referendum.


The Frenchman warned the EU would not welcome an independent Catalonia as a member state and called on Brussels to speak out. — Express, June 3, 2017

And so, today:

[T]he European Union remained conspicuously silent on the police tactics, which saw masked officers smash their way into polling stations and forcibly remove ballot boxes. — The Telegraph,Oct 2, 2017

One Catalan politician has finally spoken up to get angry at the EU for their silence.

Silence from the European Union in the face of a violent referendum in Spain has been condemned with one furious politician saying he no longer wants to be European. — The Daily Express — October 2, 2017

Another Catalan noted:

Another said: “Do not call me neither spanish nor european any more … I M CATALAN !!!” –The Daily Express, October 2, 2017

The centralizing bureaucrats of Brussels do not want independent nations.

The Catalan independence referendum is a much bigger issue for the EU than Brexit — The Independent, September 30, 2017

And one Scots Observer finally put all the pieces together.

“The EU want a fascist United States of Europe. viva Catalan.” — The Daily Express  

It seems the Catalonia is not merely a problem for Spain, but for all of the European bureaucrats. n order for Catalonia to be free, Catalonia may not only have to defy Madrid, but also the European Union. No longer will the Catalans have the option of trading subservience to Madrid to subservience to Brussels as an option. If Catalonia wants to be free, she may have to decide for total freedom.

If nothing else comes out of this referendum, that alone will be worth it.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago. He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com. 



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Enough Already with 'Pay Your Fair Share'


Congressional Republicans fresh upon the heels of victory after defeating the latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare are gearing up for their next project: tax reform.  Yes, I am being facetious.  As the majority party, who for the past eight years have been promising their voters to repeal Obamacare, the fact that they haven’t can mean only that that they really don’t want to repeal it – and thus far have succeeded in their efforts to see that it remains in place.

Taxes are the next frontier.  Republicans are the party of lower taxes and smaller government, aren’t they?  That’s what I always thought until the past 16 years.  The national debt doubled under a Republican president, then doubled again under a Democrat president – while the GOP controlled Congress during most of those 16 years.

If health care reform is a harbinger of tax reform, it’s likely that nothing will happen.  Taxes will remain where they are.  And hopefully, many GOP representatives and senators, after 2018, will not remain where they are, primaried into early retirement.

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend the stars are aligned for Republicans.  Control of the White House, Senate, and House, along with an engaged and energized Republican electorate.  Time to get stuff done.  Health care, immigration, the wall, taxes, regulation, and so on.

Wait, the stars are aligned, but unfortunately, congressional Republicans are looking at their feet, rather than the stars, failing to see the once-in-a-generation opportunity they have – not only to enact a conservative agenda, assuming that’s what they want, but also to cement their majorities for a generation.

President Trump’s tax plan, on the table for only a few days, is already under fire.  Of course, the media and their Democrat Party political arm are against anything and everything Trump.  But once again, it’s the president’s own party grousing about the tax plan.

The tax plan ends deductions for state and local income taxes.  This will significantly affect those states with high state income taxes, primarily blue, such as California at 13 percent; Oregon and Minnesota at 10 percent; and New York, New Jersey and D.C. at 9 percent.  Boo-hoo.  Aren’t high taxes good and noble?  Aren’t Democrats always moaning that the rich don’t pay their fair share?  Blue states get what they ask for.

The “pay your fair share” canard is dragged out of the Democrat broom closet any time a Republican dares to propose tax cuts in any shape or form, much like a pull-string doll that has only a few phrases to utter each time the string is pulled.  This one can join other phrases such as “Trump is a white supremacist,” “Russia hacked the election,” and “Republicans are racists.”

Expect to October media narrative to focus on “pay your fair share” rather than “Russian collusion,” which is fizzling out faster than NFL players kneeling for social justice.  What exactly is a “fair share”?

I once saw liberal pundit Juan Williams interviewed on this topic. The show host asked Juan what tax rate he proposes for the “rich” as a “fair share.”  Forty percent?  Fifty percent?  Seventy percent?  Poor Juan got tongue-tied and couldn’t come up with a number, proving that “fair share” is nothing more than a left-wing talking point.

Like asking a climate warrior what is “normal” for temperature, sea level, hurricane frequency, or any other aspect of climate that they insist is worsening.  If they don’t know what normal is, how can they know it’s worsening?  Maybe it’s improving.

It’s worth reviewing who actually pays income tax before making nonsensical claims about “fair share.”  IRS data from calendar year 2014 was compiled by the Tax Foundation.

In 2014, 140 million taxpayers earned $9.7 trillion in income and paid $1.4 trillion in taxes – about a 14-percent overall tax rate.  Seems fair.

What about the “rich,” those in the top 1 percent?  They paid 40 percent of income taxes.  Is that fair?  The bottom 90 percent of earners paid only 29 percent of taxes.  Is that fair?

Let’s leave the “rich” for a moment and look at the top 50 percent of all taxpayers.  They paid 97 percent of all income taxes, virtually everything.  The bottom 50 percent paid only 3 percent, virtually nothing.  How does “fair share” fit into those statistics?

Who are these top 50 percent fat cats paying almost all the taxes?  They have an income over $38,000 per year.  This translates to an hourly wage of about $19 per hour – only a few dollars more than the $15 minimum wage being implemented around the country.  Hardly rich.

Another way to look at is through average tax rates.  The top 1 percent must give 27 percent of their income to the federal government.  The top ten percent part with only 14 percent of their income.  The top 50 percent pay only 8 percent while the bottom 50 percent pay 4 percent.

So again, what is a “fair share”?  Should the top 1 percent pay half of their income to the government?  Why stop at 50 percent?  Make the top 1 percent pay 80 or 90 percent of their income to Washington, D.C.  Leave everyone with about $40,000 a year to live on.  A living wage.

Why not the top 10 percent, too?  Leaving little money left to purchase goods and services which in turn provide income to many others.  Such as purchasing NFL tickets or merchandise so millionaire ball players can protest how unjust America is.

As predictable as sunrise and sunset, the left is playing the class warfare card.  How about a real debate over what is a fair share?  Or why only half of workers are paying almost all the income tax?

Will Republicans, afraid of their own shadows and what Chuck Todd or Jake Tapper will say about them, cave on tax reform?  Rearranging the deck chairs and calling it a tax cut?  Rather than looking at far fairer alternatives such as a flat tax or a consumption tax?

Why aren’t Republicans talking about historic tax cuts and the resulting economic growth?  Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush 43 all cut taxes and unleashed the economy.

Are Republicans as eager as Democrats for Trump to fail?  For another of his initiatives to fizzle out?  The donor class may be happy, but the voters won’t be.  Republicans fear the former and loathe the latter.  But voters will win in the end, as they did last November 8.

Will Republicans dither and argue as they did over Obamacare repeal and replace, passing nothing, leaving President Trump with another goose egg rather than letting him fulfill another of his campaign pledges?

Trump may be stymied by his own party, but the voters are not.  Trumpism is alive and well, hitting back against the Republican establishment.  Ask Luther Strange.  Or Bob Corker.

This is another golden opportunity for the GOP Congress – a slow pitch right down the middle.  Rather than swinging for the fences, they will likely watch the plate for a strike.  Again.  Three strikes, and you’re out.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter

Congressional Republicans fresh upon the heels of victory after defeating the latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare are gearing up for their next project: tax reform.  Yes, I am being facetious.  As the majority party, who for the past eight years have been promising their voters to repeal Obamacare, the fact that they haven’t can mean only that that they really don’t want to repeal it – and thus far have succeeded in their efforts to see that it remains in place.

Taxes are the next frontier.  Republicans are the party of lower taxes and smaller government, aren’t they?  That’s what I always thought until the past 16 years.  The national debt doubled under a Republican president, then doubled again under a Democrat president – while the GOP controlled Congress during most of those 16 years.

If health care reform is a harbinger of tax reform, it’s likely that nothing will happen.  Taxes will remain where they are.  And hopefully, many GOP representatives and senators, after 2018, will not remain where they are, primaried into early retirement.

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend the stars are aligned for Republicans.  Control of the White House, Senate, and House, along with an engaged and energized Republican electorate.  Time to get stuff done.  Health care, immigration, the wall, taxes, regulation, and so on.

Wait, the stars are aligned, but unfortunately, congressional Republicans are looking at their feet, rather than the stars, failing to see the once-in-a-generation opportunity they have – not only to enact a conservative agenda, assuming that’s what they want, but also to cement their majorities for a generation.

President Trump’s tax plan, on the table for only a few days, is already under fire.  Of course, the media and their Democrat Party political arm are against anything and everything Trump.  But once again, it’s the president’s own party grousing about the tax plan.

The tax plan ends deductions for state and local income taxes.  This will significantly affect those states with high state income taxes, primarily blue, such as California at 13 percent; Oregon and Minnesota at 10 percent; and New York, New Jersey and D.C. at 9 percent.  Boo-hoo.  Aren’t high taxes good and noble?  Aren’t Democrats always moaning that the rich don’t pay their fair share?  Blue states get what they ask for.

The “pay your fair share” canard is dragged out of the Democrat broom closet any time a Republican dares to propose tax cuts in any shape or form, much like a pull-string doll that has only a few phrases to utter each time the string is pulled.  This one can join other phrases such as “Trump is a white supremacist,” “Russia hacked the election,” and “Republicans are racists.”

Expect to October media narrative to focus on “pay your fair share” rather than “Russian collusion,” which is fizzling out faster than NFL players kneeling for social justice.  What exactly is a “fair share”?

I once saw liberal pundit Juan Williams interviewed on this topic. The show host asked Juan what tax rate he proposes for the “rich” as a “fair share.”  Forty percent?  Fifty percent?  Seventy percent?  Poor Juan got tongue-tied and couldn’t come up with a number, proving that “fair share” is nothing more than a left-wing talking point.

Like asking a climate warrior what is “normal” for temperature, sea level, hurricane frequency, or any other aspect of climate that they insist is worsening.  If they don’t know what normal is, how can they know it’s worsening?  Maybe it’s improving.

It’s worth reviewing who actually pays income tax before making nonsensical claims about “fair share.”  IRS data from calendar year 2014 was compiled by the Tax Foundation.

In 2014, 140 million taxpayers earned $9.7 trillion in income and paid $1.4 trillion in taxes – about a 14-percent overall tax rate.  Seems fair.

What about the “rich,” those in the top 1 percent?  They paid 40 percent of income taxes.  Is that fair?  The bottom 90 percent of earners paid only 29 percent of taxes.  Is that fair?

Let’s leave the “rich” for a moment and look at the top 50 percent of all taxpayers.  They paid 97 percent of all income taxes, virtually everything.  The bottom 50 percent paid only 3 percent, virtually nothing.  How does “fair share” fit into those statistics?

Who are these top 50 percent fat cats paying almost all the taxes?  They have an income over $38,000 per year.  This translates to an hourly wage of about $19 per hour – only a few dollars more than the $15 minimum wage being implemented around the country.  Hardly rich.

Another way to look at is through average tax rates.  The top 1 percent must give 27 percent of their income to the federal government.  The top ten percent part with only 14 percent of their income.  The top 50 percent pay only 8 percent while the bottom 50 percent pay 4 percent.

So again, what is a “fair share”?  Should the top 1 percent pay half of their income to the government?  Why stop at 50 percent?  Make the top 1 percent pay 80 or 90 percent of their income to Washington, D.C.  Leave everyone with about $40,000 a year to live on.  A living wage.

Why not the top 10 percent, too?  Leaving little money left to purchase goods and services which in turn provide income to many others.  Such as purchasing NFL tickets or merchandise so millionaire ball players can protest how unjust America is.

As predictable as sunrise and sunset, the left is playing the class warfare card.  How about a real debate over what is a fair share?  Or why only half of workers are paying almost all the income tax?

Will Republicans, afraid of their own shadows and what Chuck Todd or Jake Tapper will say about them, cave on tax reform?  Rearranging the deck chairs and calling it a tax cut?  Rather than looking at far fairer alternatives such as a flat tax or a consumption tax?

Why aren’t Republicans talking about historic tax cuts and the resulting economic growth?  Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush 43 all cut taxes and unleashed the economy.

Are Republicans as eager as Democrats for Trump to fail?  For another of his initiatives to fizzle out?  The donor class may be happy, but the voters won’t be.  Republicans fear the former and loathe the latter.  But voters will win in the end, as they did last November 8.

Will Republicans dither and argue as they did over Obamacare repeal and replace, passing nothing, leaving President Trump with another goose egg rather than letting him fulfill another of his campaign pledges?

Trump may be stymied by his own party, but the voters are not.  Trumpism is alive and well, hitting back against the Republican establishment.  Ask Luther Strange.  Or Bob Corker.

This is another golden opportunity for the GOP Congress – a slow pitch right down the middle.  Rather than swinging for the fences, they will likely watch the plate for a strike.  Again.  Three strikes, and you’re out.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter



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The Curious Case of the Democrats vs Zuckerberg


The worst kind of fight in one in which you wish for both sides’ demise. Whatever satisfaction you get from watching one foe whipped is instantly tempered by the victor’s success. It’s a no-win situation.

Watching Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defend his digital empire before menacing lawmakers was one such brawl. In early September, Facebook disclosed that it had suspended hundreds of accounts associated with a St. Petersburg-based website that dispensed pro-Kremlin propaganda. The long-held suspicion that Putin operatives attempted to influence the 2016 election was confirmed.

Then the levee broke.

With appetites whetted with the possibility of finally cutting the social media giant down a peg, lawmakers, including an enlivened Senator Richard Burr (R-SC), demanded Facebook executives testify before Congress on the matter. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) declared, licking his massive chops with gleeful anticipation. During his recent big business conclave, former New York City mayor and slurpee-hater Michael Bloomberg said Facebook employees should be required to “read every message” posted on the platform — a demand far beyond the realm of reasonability.

The pressure got to Zuckerberg. Out of patriotism or profit (the latter, most likely), he announced new restrictions on political ads. The social kingpin also revealed that he is working in full cooperation with the U.S. government, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing to find out if President Trump colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. 

This was a remarkable concession in what is, at heart, a power struggle. “All these years, the 33-year-old founder of Facebook has been dismissive of the idea that social media and A.I. could be used for global domination — or even that they should be regulated,” Maureen Dowd giddily wrote in the New York Times. Now, Zuck and his digi-army are on the defensive. They’re being forced to accept more regulation by politicians who don’t have the first clue about their algorithmic magic.

The Russia business has awoken policy makers to a cruel reality: A private entity has the eyes of over a billion people in the world. Its influence is unparalleled. The government commandeering every television station in the country wouldn’t come close to the ability Facebook has to broadcast one universal message across the platform.

So the empire is striking back. Facebook is ostensibly under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. But with its unfiltered stream directly to the palm of your hand, Zuckerberg’s behemoth exercises what Orwell called “reality control.” By policing the flow of information, it can, quite literally, help define what is real in the individual mind.

With its capacity to sway public opinion, the question is: Who controls whom?

As a techie, Zuckerberg loathes the added attention. His clandestine campaign for president, zigzagging across the country, will now face more scrutiny.

Putting a slight damper on Zuckerberg’s imperial ambition is a small victory. The downside is that it feeds into the myth that somehow Vladimir Putin put Trump in the White House. If Democrats are to be believed, the Kremlin dropping hundreds of millions of rubles on anti-Hillary ads changed middle America’s mind about the inevitable Madam President.

But as Rachel Stoltzfoos of the Daily Caller News Foundation points out, this requires toddler-level gullibility. If the Democrats’ theory is correct, $150,000 in rinky-dink ads determined an election in which more than a billion dollars was spent.

Facebook has influence. But not that much influence — yet anyway. Don’t expect Democrats to let up on making Zuckerberg a punching bag, though. He’s one of a handful excuses they can point to in order to avoid coming to grips with their besting by Trump.

This whole episode is a warning for the future. Facebook has reshaped the way news is consumed. Traditional media outlets are at the mercy of an inhuman decider. Many, through no fault of their own, are finding themselves on the losing end.

Facebook has taken over a large chunk of the news publishing business by co-opting its lifeline: ad revenue. “The reality of the American media is that Google and Facebook own nearly the entire advertising market,” writes Lee Smith in Tablet magazine. By nearly monopolizing the means publications have to monetize their product, Facebook has its hooks deep in the news industry. Will journalists speak out against Zuckerberg when it could cost them their livelihood?

Conservatives are normally wary of extending government’s power over business. But as Facebook cozies up to the left, the greater chance there is it will be used as a weaponized propaganda arm for liberalism. Hillary Clinton received over $100,000 in campaign donations from its employees last year — far exceeding the amount given to any Republican. There’s no hyperbole when the president labels Facebook “anti-Trump.”

Some on the right have realized Facebook’s potential in suppressing unorthodox views. Former White House strategist and Breitbart bigwig Steve Bannon considered regulating the company as a public entity. Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Bannon reportedly mulled the idea of having a mole apply to the social media giant and report back from the inside.

A cockamamie scheme like that was destined to backfire. Zuckerberg isn’t dumb enough to let just anyone waltz into his A.I. fortress. But Bannon, a terra firma philosopher who doesn’t let his head get lost in the clouds, showed foresight. Republican blindness toward business is dissipating.

Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that the “pursuit of wealth generally diverts men of great talents and strong passions from the pursuit of power; and it frequently happens that a man does not undertake to direct the fortunes of the state until he has shown himself incompetent to conduct his own.” Zuckerberg wouldn’t be the first to parlay his private enterprise into a political career (our current president is testament to that), but he would be the most potent.

Facebook didn’t determine the last election, but as the company continues to gobble up attention spans like an insatiable Pac-Man, it’s plausible that it could one day skew a presidential contest.

That should give even the strictest laissez-faire conservative pause. Power’s a force not limited to the state. In some cases, it can be as innocent as the simple brushing of a phone screen with your thumb.

The worst kind of fight in one in which you wish for both sides’ demise. Whatever satisfaction you get from watching one foe whipped is instantly tempered by the victor’s success. It’s a no-win situation.

Watching Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defend his digital empire before menacing lawmakers was one such brawl. In early September, Facebook disclosed that it had suspended hundreds of accounts associated with a St. Petersburg-based website that dispensed pro-Kremlin propaganda. The long-held suspicion that Putin operatives attempted to influence the 2016 election was confirmed.

Then the levee broke.

With appetites whetted with the possibility of finally cutting the social media giant down a peg, lawmakers, including an enlivened Senator Richard Burr (R-SC), demanded Facebook executives testify before Congress on the matter. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) declared, licking his massive chops with gleeful anticipation. During his recent big business conclave, former New York City mayor and slurpee-hater Michael Bloomberg said Facebook employees should be required to “read every message” posted on the platform — a demand far beyond the realm of reasonability.

The pressure got to Zuckerberg. Out of patriotism or profit (the latter, most likely), he announced new restrictions on political ads. The social kingpin also revealed that he is working in full cooperation with the U.S. government, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing to find out if President Trump colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. 

This was a remarkable concession in what is, at heart, a power struggle. “All these years, the 33-year-old founder of Facebook has been dismissive of the idea that social media and A.I. could be used for global domination — or even that they should be regulated,” Maureen Dowd giddily wrote in the New York Times. Now, Zuck and his digi-army are on the defensive. They’re being forced to accept more regulation by politicians who don’t have the first clue about their algorithmic magic.

The Russia business has awoken policy makers to a cruel reality: A private entity has the eyes of over a billion people in the world. Its influence is unparalleled. The government commandeering every television station in the country wouldn’t come close to the ability Facebook has to broadcast one universal message across the platform.

So the empire is striking back. Facebook is ostensibly under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. But with its unfiltered stream directly to the palm of your hand, Zuckerberg’s behemoth exercises what Orwell called “reality control.” By policing the flow of information, it can, quite literally, help define what is real in the individual mind.

With its capacity to sway public opinion, the question is: Who controls whom?

As a techie, Zuckerberg loathes the added attention. His clandestine campaign for president, zigzagging across the country, will now face more scrutiny.

Putting a slight damper on Zuckerberg’s imperial ambition is a small victory. The downside is that it feeds into the myth that somehow Vladimir Putin put Trump in the White House. If Democrats are to be believed, the Kremlin dropping hundreds of millions of rubles on anti-Hillary ads changed middle America’s mind about the inevitable Madam President.

But as Rachel Stoltzfoos of the Daily Caller News Foundation points out, this requires toddler-level gullibility. If the Democrats’ theory is correct, $150,000 in rinky-dink ads determined an election in which more than a billion dollars was spent.

Facebook has influence. But not that much influence — yet anyway. Don’t expect Democrats to let up on making Zuckerberg a punching bag, though. He’s one of a handful excuses they can point to in order to avoid coming to grips with their besting by Trump.

This whole episode is a warning for the future. Facebook has reshaped the way news is consumed. Traditional media outlets are at the mercy of an inhuman decider. Many, through no fault of their own, are finding themselves on the losing end.

Facebook has taken over a large chunk of the news publishing business by co-opting its lifeline: ad revenue. “The reality of the American media is that Google and Facebook own nearly the entire advertising market,” writes Lee Smith in Tablet magazine. By nearly monopolizing the means publications have to monetize their product, Facebook has its hooks deep in the news industry. Will journalists speak out against Zuckerberg when it could cost them their livelihood?

Conservatives are normally wary of extending government’s power over business. But as Facebook cozies up to the left, the greater chance there is it will be used as a weaponized propaganda arm for liberalism. Hillary Clinton received over $100,000 in campaign donations from its employees last year — far exceeding the amount given to any Republican. There’s no hyperbole when the president labels Facebook “anti-Trump.”

Some on the right have realized Facebook’s potential in suppressing unorthodox views. Former White House strategist and Breitbart bigwig Steve Bannon considered regulating the company as a public entity. Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Bannon reportedly mulled the idea of having a mole apply to the social media giant and report back from the inside.

A cockamamie scheme like that was destined to backfire. Zuckerberg isn’t dumb enough to let just anyone waltz into his A.I. fortress. But Bannon, a terra firma philosopher who doesn’t let his head get lost in the clouds, showed foresight. Republican blindness toward business is dissipating.

Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that the “pursuit of wealth generally diverts men of great talents and strong passions from the pursuit of power; and it frequently happens that a man does not undertake to direct the fortunes of the state until he has shown himself incompetent to conduct his own.” Zuckerberg wouldn’t be the first to parlay his private enterprise into a political career (our current president is testament to that), but he would be the most potent.

Facebook didn’t determine the last election, but as the company continues to gobble up attention spans like an insatiable Pac-Man, it’s plausible that it could one day skew a presidential contest.

That should give even the strictest laissez-faire conservative pause. Power’s a force not limited to the state. In some cases, it can be as innocent as the simple brushing of a phone screen with your thumb.



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Is Michelle's 'true voice' Telling Her to Run for President?


In the biblical Song of Solomon, the voice of the turtle(dove) is a sign of Spring. But in the siren call of Michelle Obama — who emerged last week from her nine-million-dollar beltway mansion to deliver a speech in Boston — the voice of the lady birds who voted for Trump is a sign of Fall — the fall of womankind, to be exact.

Being every bit the scold as her husband, Michelle verbally attacked those she thinks deserve it most: the women who dared to vote for Donald Trump. This is not a small group, moreover, since Trump garnered 52% of the women’s vote compared to Hillary’s 54%. The husbands of both former First Ladies fared much better with the ladies. So the discrepancy is assumed to have something to do with the sex of the candidate.

Not that Michelle is likely to seriously know any of the ladies she chastises, since her gal pals are all rock-ribbed liberals. I doubt if she predicted that the pushback against her remarks would be so swift and sincere. 

The most important line of Michelle’s diatribe was this: “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.” She went on to say that “we look at those two candidates as women and many of us said, ‘That guy. He’s better for me. His voice is more true to me. Well, to me that just says you don’t like your voice.”

As far as I’m concerned, she might as well have been speaking in tongues. At the very least, she could have come hewed to conventional noun-pronoun agreement as well as logical consistency in the tense of her verbs. But Ms. Obama is no silver-tongued orator like her husband. In her ability to work up ire among some voters, in fact, she seems to be more like The Donald than like Barack.

When president Trump “colorfully” chastised a few NFL players for “taking a knee” during the national anthem, the press pounced on him as a racist intent on denying caring people the right to their own opinions. But when Michelle Obama insulted every woman who voted Republican in the last election as being pawns incapable of recognizing their own best interests, the press ate it up.

It has been that way since the surprising results of the last election. The most insulting things shouted out by those on the Left are given a free pass. It’s “free speech, after all. Not content to call Trump supporters “deplorables” during her campaign, Hillary has since labeled them “trolls” responsible for denying her victory. Now Ms. Obama has taken this accusation one step further to suggest that these same women not only betrayed the candidate, they betrayed themselves, their better judgment, and their principled “voice.”

If a female Republican candidate were running for the presidency, Michelle would find it wholly acceptable to vote for her Democrat male opponent. There would be no rhetoric about “true voices” and the unconscionable abandonment thereof. So it isn’t the gender issue, alone, that is prompting Michelle to lecture recalcitrant women.

Nor could it be her belated desire to toot Hillary’s fading horn. The Obamas have never been particularly fond of the Clintons, and they hardly went “all out” during her campaign

So why is Michelle now wearing her allegiance on her sleeve? As I see it, her intention is largely self-serving. This may not be apparent yet, but the “true voice” in my head tells me she is gearing up to be her own woman and run for her own public office. Thus it becomes imperative for her to advise females everywhere that, were she to need their support, she clearly expects to get it. One mistake is enough, she would argue. Tune out the bad voices and listen to hers.

In fact, the political reality is there could be a number of reasons why Michelle might be a Democrat candidate. In January, when the Obama administration ended, a Gallup Poll found she topped both her husband and Joe Biden with a 68% favorable rating. This falls just short of Laura Bush’s when she left the East Wing of the White House. But it is more than 20% higher than Clinton when she did. 

This could change when and if Michelle climbed into the political ring, but it’s currently to her advantage. And since the prospects in a Democratic field of candidates represent slim pickings and, in some cases, an overripe yield, she should not be written off.

During her terms as First Lady, Michelle chose popular causes to champion, like serving nutritional school lunches and cultivating home vegetable gardens, though there is no present evidence to suggest she is spading the earth around her new digs. Instead, her most recent involvement with “dirt“ goes no further than throwing it at women whose politics are different from her own. Even if my inner voice were to tell me to plant rows of beans and broccoli and put them in lunch pails, I’m sure I would not meet with Michelle’s approval.

It would seem, in fact, that Mrs. Obama is moving on from a past of counting calories to a future of counting votes. And she is well aware that support from the usual constituencies will not be enough for the Democrats to regain the White House. It certainly wasn’t for Hillary last time. So it behooves Michelle to get errant women who voted for Trump to next time vote for a woman. And it might be her.

Another reason Michelle might listen to the voices telling her to run for office is because one of them is her husband’s. Barack Obama would like nothing better than to see his wife become the first female president of the United States. He’s as eager to get back into the White House as Bill Clinton was. He is already deeply involved in a shadow government that recognizes him as the legitimate leader of his party. A tantalizing taste of frosting on the political cake would be the ability of the Obamas to pull off something the Clintons could not.

And how could Michelle propel herself to a shot at the presidency? The same way Hillary did. Run first for U.S. Senate in a state she could easily win. Chances are that would be Illinois, her home state, but carpetbagging in other liberal territory is not out of the question.

When I suggest to my liberal friends that Michelle might have intentions of becoming a political figure in her own right, they assure me she’s not so inclined. But these are the same folks who told me Donald Trump had no path to becoming Potus. So why would I listen to their voices?

Dick Durbin has been commuting to Washington D.C. from the Land of Lincoln for the past 35 years. He’s currently the second-ranking Democrat, having been reelected to his fourth Senate term in 2014. That means, if he’s so inclined, he would be up for reelection again in 2020

Could it be that Michelle Obama is be planning to run for a congressional seat somewhere in Illinois next year and then run for Senate in 2020 replace or challenge aging Durbin for his seat, which, assuming she won, would put her in the catbird seat for the 2024 presidential bid.

If the 2016 elections told us anything, it‘s that anything is possible.

In the meantime, Michelle is beginning to sound her megaphone. Even if her last garbled message resulted in somewhat of an uproar, she’s a woman who bears watching. 

In the biblical Song of Solomon, the voice of the turtle(dove) is a sign of Spring. But in the siren call of Michelle Obama — who emerged last week from her nine-million-dollar beltway mansion to deliver a speech in Boston — the voice of the lady birds who voted for Trump is a sign of Fall — the fall of womankind, to be exact.

Being every bit the scold as her husband, Michelle verbally attacked those she thinks deserve it most: the women who dared to vote for Donald Trump. This is not a small group, moreover, since Trump garnered 52% of the women’s vote compared to Hillary’s 54%. The husbands of both former First Ladies fared much better with the ladies. So the discrepancy is assumed to have something to do with the sex of the candidate.

Not that Michelle is likely to seriously know any of the ladies she chastises, since her gal pals are all rock-ribbed liberals. I doubt if she predicted that the pushback against her remarks would be so swift and sincere. 

The most important line of Michelle’s diatribe was this: “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.” She went on to say that “we look at those two candidates as women and many of us said, ‘That guy. He’s better for me. His voice is more true to me. Well, to me that just says you don’t like your voice.”

As far as I’m concerned, she might as well have been speaking in tongues. At the very least, she could have come hewed to conventional noun-pronoun agreement as well as logical consistency in the tense of her verbs. But Ms. Obama is no silver-tongued orator like her husband. In her ability to work up ire among some voters, in fact, she seems to be more like The Donald than like Barack.

When president Trump “colorfully” chastised a few NFL players for “taking a knee” during the national anthem, the press pounced on him as a racist intent on denying caring people the right to their own opinions. But when Michelle Obama insulted every woman who voted Republican in the last election as being pawns incapable of recognizing their own best interests, the press ate it up.

It has been that way since the surprising results of the last election. The most insulting things shouted out by those on the Left are given a free pass. It’s “free speech, after all. Not content to call Trump supporters “deplorables” during her campaign, Hillary has since labeled them “trolls” responsible for denying her victory. Now Ms. Obama has taken this accusation one step further to suggest that these same women not only betrayed the candidate, they betrayed themselves, their better judgment, and their principled “voice.”

If a female Republican candidate were running for the presidency, Michelle would find it wholly acceptable to vote for her Democrat male opponent. There would be no rhetoric about “true voices” and the unconscionable abandonment thereof. So it isn’t the gender issue, alone, that is prompting Michelle to lecture recalcitrant women.

Nor could it be her belated desire to toot Hillary’s fading horn. The Obamas have never been particularly fond of the Clintons, and they hardly went “all out” during her campaign

So why is Michelle now wearing her allegiance on her sleeve? As I see it, her intention is largely self-serving. This may not be apparent yet, but the “true voice” in my head tells me she is gearing up to be her own woman and run for her own public office. Thus it becomes imperative for her to advise females everywhere that, were she to need their support, she clearly expects to get it. One mistake is enough, she would argue. Tune out the bad voices and listen to hers.

In fact, the political reality is there could be a number of reasons why Michelle might be a Democrat candidate. In January, when the Obama administration ended, a Gallup Poll found she topped both her husband and Joe Biden with a 68% favorable rating. This falls just short of Laura Bush’s when she left the East Wing of the White House. But it is more than 20% higher than Clinton when she did. 

This could change when and if Michelle climbed into the political ring, but it’s currently to her advantage. And since the prospects in a Democratic field of candidates represent slim pickings and, in some cases, an overripe yield, she should not be written off.

During her terms as First Lady, Michelle chose popular causes to champion, like serving nutritional school lunches and cultivating home vegetable gardens, though there is no present evidence to suggest she is spading the earth around her new digs. Instead, her most recent involvement with “dirt“ goes no further than throwing it at women whose politics are different from her own. Even if my inner voice were to tell me to plant rows of beans and broccoli and put them in lunch pails, I’m sure I would not meet with Michelle’s approval.

It would seem, in fact, that Mrs. Obama is moving on from a past of counting calories to a future of counting votes. And she is well aware that support from the usual constituencies will not be enough for the Democrats to regain the White House. It certainly wasn’t for Hillary last time. So it behooves Michelle to get errant women who voted for Trump to next time vote for a woman. And it might be her.

Another reason Michelle might listen to the voices telling her to run for office is because one of them is her husband’s. Barack Obama would like nothing better than to see his wife become the first female president of the United States. He’s as eager to get back into the White House as Bill Clinton was. He is already deeply involved in a shadow government that recognizes him as the legitimate leader of his party. A tantalizing taste of frosting on the political cake would be the ability of the Obamas to pull off something the Clintons could not.

And how could Michelle propel herself to a shot at the presidency? The same way Hillary did. Run first for U.S. Senate in a state she could easily win. Chances are that would be Illinois, her home state, but carpetbagging in other liberal territory is not out of the question.

When I suggest to my liberal friends that Michelle might have intentions of becoming a political figure in her own right, they assure me she’s not so inclined. But these are the same folks who told me Donald Trump had no path to becoming Potus. So why would I listen to their voices?

Dick Durbin has been commuting to Washington D.C. from the Land of Lincoln for the past 35 years. He’s currently the second-ranking Democrat, having been reelected to his fourth Senate term in 2014. That means, if he’s so inclined, he would be up for reelection again in 2020

Could it be that Michelle Obama is be planning to run for a congressional seat somewhere in Illinois next year and then run for Senate in 2020 replace or challenge aging Durbin for his seat, which, assuming she won, would put her in the catbird seat for the 2024 presidential bid.

If the 2016 elections told us anything, it‘s that anything is possible.

In the meantime, Michelle is beginning to sound her megaphone. Even if her last garbled message resulted in somewhat of an uproar, she’s a woman who bears watching. 



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The Purpose of Political Parties


On Sep. 25, the Washington Post ran “The Democratic Party’s nomination process isn’t democratic enough” by Ronald A. Klain. Mr. Klain has an impressive list of jobs and accomplishments. Kevin Spacey portrayed Klain in the HBO film Recount (2008), which dramatized the Bush-Gore 2000 election battle in Florida. Klain was also a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

The focus of Klain’s article is reforms that he thinks will make the Democrats’ presidential nomination process “more democratic.” But shouldn’t the paramount concern and purpose of a political party be to find the best nominee, not the process by which the nominee is chosen? Klain does not believe his party’s nomination process is “rigged,” but writes:

… you have to acknowledge that the complexity of the process fuels criticism that it was constructed by insiders, to advantage insiders. Moreover, the current nominating process — built over decades in successive waves of reform, counter-reform and re-reform — is so jerry-rigged as to be incomprehensible to all but the most savvy observers.

Mr. Klain wants future Democrat nominees to be “democratically chosen by the broadest possible cross section of voters.” That means abolishing caucuses and using only primary elections. Klain offers up the numbers to demonstrate why primaries are more democratic than caucuses. He also believes Democrat primaries should be open to independents, although not to members of other parties.

Klain is running into a wall: the states. The states conduct elections and enact laws regarding primaries and caucuses. And those laws differ significantly from state to state. So it seems that Klain is doing nothing less than advocating an amendment to the Constitution to take away such prerogatives and responsibilities from “the several States,” at least for the selection of the convention delegates.

My solution to the problem of the primary-caucus system is simpler than Klain’s, and it is this: Convention delegates should be chosen by a party’s state committees only, and those delegates should vote for whomever they want as their nominee, regardless of the results of the primaries and caucuses. Any state law that would dictate to a party how their convention delegates must be chosen or how their delegates must vote in their conventions should simply be ignored.

You’ll notice that unlike Klain I’m not advocating for the abolition of anything. It’s better to just ignore unenforceable laws that should never have been enacted in the first place. Parties should not be quasi-governmental.

Some might think that I’m proposing that nominating conventions be “open.” But a more apt word would be “closed,” as they’d be closed to everyone except party insiders. But none of those insiders would be elected officials. Elected officials should never be allowed to work in a party’s organization. Having Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) as the head of the Democratic National Committee would never be allowed in a decent party system, and not because she is crooked or incompetent, but simply because she’s an elected official.

In choosing a party’s presidential nominee, why does Mr. Klain fixate so intently on democracy? We get enough democracy in general elections. Democracy has given the world, including America, some real stinkers. The voters aren’t always right. Of course, the voters aren’t always given good choices, thanks to the “process” Klain wants to only tweak.

In 2016, voters on each side gave us nominees that were unacceptable, if not loathed, by the other side. Many Americans believe that the Democrats’ nominee, the woman Mr. Klain advised, is an irredeemably corrupt, unregenerate liar who should be going through the judicial system rather than an endless round of talk-show appearances. Yet, she’s the one whom the primary voters chose. The primary-caucus system has been coming up with very divisive nominees, so why keep that system?

The very system that sewed it up for Hillary, the ultimate insider, also made it possible for her to be challenged by an outsider, Bernie Sanders. Hillary is now blaming that challenge for her defeat in the general election. On the Republican side, the same system gave us the ultimate outsider in the person of Donald Trump, a complete political neophyte. That same system forced GOP voters to split up their votes among 17 candidates. Ironically, the system set up to serve insiders allows invasions by outsiders. If a non-Democrat like socialist Bernie Sanders can run in Democrat primaries, then what prevents a non-Democrat like neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell or the race monger Louis Farrakhan from doing so?

The success of Trump should be sending a loud message to the parties that careerist professional politicians are losing favor with the folks. There is any number of people who have never held elective political office who could perform the job of president. The parties might start looking to them.

With my reform, would Democrat delegates have nominated Clinton? Wouldn’t they have drafted and nominated someone who wasn’t despised by half the country? Surely the Democrats’ bench isn’t so narrow that they must choose between the Dragon Lady and a socialist outsider.

Ron Klain thinks the “Democratic nominating process is a 1977 AMC Gremlin [when it] should be a 2017 Tesla.” And he thinks that the process can become a Tesla only when more people chime in by voting in primaries. That means that nominating conventions would remain mere rubberstamps of the primaries. I have another idea: Nominating conventions should be such that anyone, including the very best person, can be drafted.

Parties should be autonomous, self-determinative, and private. If you don’t like the nominees that come out of their conventions, then form your own damned party. Hell, I might even vote for your party’s guy… or gal.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. 

On Sep. 25, the Washington Post ran “The Democratic Party’s nomination process isn’t democratic enough” by Ronald A. Klain. Mr. Klain has an impressive list of jobs and accomplishments. Kevin Spacey portrayed Klain in the HBO film Recount (2008), which dramatized the Bush-Gore 2000 election battle in Florida. Klain was also a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

The focus of Klain’s article is reforms that he thinks will make the Democrats’ presidential nomination process “more democratic.” But shouldn’t the paramount concern and purpose of a political party be to find the best nominee, not the process by which the nominee is chosen? Klain does not believe his party’s nomination process is “rigged,” but writes:

… you have to acknowledge that the complexity of the process fuels criticism that it was constructed by insiders, to advantage insiders. Moreover, the current nominating process — built over decades in successive waves of reform, counter-reform and re-reform — is so jerry-rigged as to be incomprehensible to all but the most savvy observers.

Mr. Klain wants future Democrat nominees to be “democratically chosen by the broadest possible cross section of voters.” That means abolishing caucuses and using only primary elections. Klain offers up the numbers to demonstrate why primaries are more democratic than caucuses. He also believes Democrat primaries should be open to independents, although not to members of other parties.

Klain is running into a wall: the states. The states conduct elections and enact laws regarding primaries and caucuses. And those laws differ significantly from state to state. So it seems that Klain is doing nothing less than advocating an amendment to the Constitution to take away such prerogatives and responsibilities from “the several States,” at least for the selection of the convention delegates.

My solution to the problem of the primary-caucus system is simpler than Klain’s, and it is this: Convention delegates should be chosen by a party’s state committees only, and those delegates should vote for whomever they want as their nominee, regardless of the results of the primaries and caucuses. Any state law that would dictate to a party how their convention delegates must be chosen or how their delegates must vote in their conventions should simply be ignored.

You’ll notice that unlike Klain I’m not advocating for the abolition of anything. It’s better to just ignore unenforceable laws that should never have been enacted in the first place. Parties should not be quasi-governmental.

Some might think that I’m proposing that nominating conventions be “open.” But a more apt word would be “closed,” as they’d be closed to everyone except party insiders. But none of those insiders would be elected officials. Elected officials should never be allowed to work in a party’s organization. Having Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) as the head of the Democratic National Committee would never be allowed in a decent party system, and not because she is crooked or incompetent, but simply because she’s an elected official.

In choosing a party’s presidential nominee, why does Mr. Klain fixate so intently on democracy? We get enough democracy in general elections. Democracy has given the world, including America, some real stinkers. The voters aren’t always right. Of course, the voters aren’t always given good choices, thanks to the “process” Klain wants to only tweak.

In 2016, voters on each side gave us nominees that were unacceptable, if not loathed, by the other side. Many Americans believe that the Democrats’ nominee, the woman Mr. Klain advised, is an irredeemably corrupt, unregenerate liar who should be going through the judicial system rather than an endless round of talk-show appearances. Yet, she’s the one whom the primary voters chose. The primary-caucus system has been coming up with very divisive nominees, so why keep that system?

The very system that sewed it up for Hillary, the ultimate insider, also made it possible for her to be challenged by an outsider, Bernie Sanders. Hillary is now blaming that challenge for her defeat in the general election. On the Republican side, the same system gave us the ultimate outsider in the person of Donald Trump, a complete political neophyte. That same system forced GOP voters to split up their votes among 17 candidates. Ironically, the system set up to serve insiders allows invasions by outsiders. If a non-Democrat like socialist Bernie Sanders can run in Democrat primaries, then what prevents a non-Democrat like neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell or the race monger Louis Farrakhan from doing so?

The success of Trump should be sending a loud message to the parties that careerist professional politicians are losing favor with the folks. There is any number of people who have never held elective political office who could perform the job of president. The parties might start looking to them.

With my reform, would Democrat delegates have nominated Clinton? Wouldn’t they have drafted and nominated someone who wasn’t despised by half the country? Surely the Democrats’ bench isn’t so narrow that they must choose between the Dragon Lady and a socialist outsider.

Ron Klain thinks the “Democratic nominating process is a 1977 AMC Gremlin [when it] should be a 2017 Tesla.” And he thinks that the process can become a Tesla only when more people chime in by voting in primaries. That means that nominating conventions would remain mere rubberstamps of the primaries. I have another idea: Nominating conventions should be such that anyone, including the very best person, can be drafted.

Parties should be autonomous, self-determinative, and private. If you don’t like the nominees that come out of their conventions, then form your own damned party. Hell, I might even vote for your party’s guy… or gal.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. 



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air-france-engine-blowout.jpg

Emergency landing in Canada…


An Air France plane en route to Los Angeles from Paris made an emergency landing Saturday in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., after one of its engines blew out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Passengers on the Airbus A380, the largest passenger plane in the world, tweeted pictures of the damaged engine. The plane had left Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris Saturday morning.

According to transmissions from air traffic control, the plane landed safely in Goose Bay Airport at around 1:40 p.m. local time with part of the engine cowling missing, scattering debris across the runway. 

Passenger Pamela Adams said things were going “as normal” for the first six and a half hours of the flight.

“I was doing some yoga stretches and suddenly it felt like we had run into a jeep in the middle of 35,000 feet high,” she told CBC News. “It did not sound like an explosion as much as it sounded like an engine malfunction.”

She said she was “jostled” and the plane dipped slightly “but the pilots recovered beautifully.” Then an announcement was made saying the plane would be diverted to Goose Bay, where it landed about an hour and a half later.

“There wasn’t the panic that I would’ve expected,” she said, adding that the competency of the pilots may have helped keep people calm.

Passenger Sarah Eamigh told CBC News she was terrified after hearing a “boom” and then feeling the plane descend quickly.

“The cabin started vibrating. Someone screamed, and from there we knew something was wrong,” she said, adding that the trembling stopped about 10 minutes later. “We saw the cabin crew walking through the aisles quickly, and we heard an announcement from the captain that said one of our engines had an explosion.”

She said it wasn’t an extreme panic on board, but passengers were “white-knuckling” after the drop. Like Adams, she said the crew kept everyone on board calm.

After touching down, the plane was met by fire crews on the tarmac in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, but they weren’t needed. The debris had to be cleaned up before Runway 26 could be reopened.

Adams said passengers sat on the plane on the tarmac for two hours before receiving a meal, and were getting anxious without official word on what they would be doing, and when. Eamigh said they were told Air France was working on sending another plane for them, but weren’t told when, and would be remaining on the plane for the near future.

“It looks beautiful outside, just seems that the airport wasn’t ready or equipped for this kind of landing or this large of an aircraft, for sure,” she said, chuckling.



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