Category: Dennis Lund

Ted Kennedy: Lion or Jackal?


On April 6, Chappaquiddick, a movie detailing the events involving Senator Ted Kennedy on Martha’s Vineyard in July 1969, will be released.  That incident demonstrated the depths to which the Kennedys were willing to go to salvage the political career of the last of the Kennedy sons.  In subsequent years, the actions of Ted Kennedy that night were forgiven by the Democrats, as were subsequent actions as noted below.

The movie is based on a book, Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Coverup, by Leo J. Damore, who committed suicide in 1995. 

Well, that is the official version, at least.  The Kennedy family exerted pressure to block the making and release of the current movie.  Similar pressure was reportedly put on Mr. Damore, which may have added to the issues that resulted in his death.

In the history of politics in this nation, few families have equaled the Kennedys in both political power and despicability for their personal actions.

I will look forward to seeing the movie.  In the meantime, there was precious little in the career of Ted Kennedy that anyone should be proud of.

After being expelled from Harvard for cheating, he was allowed, as is the custom at Harvard, to return the next year.  After all, he is a Kennedy.

Upon graduation, he was approached by the Packers for an NFL tryout.  Reportedly, the offer was declined because, as he told the scout from Green Bay, he wanted to pursue a real contact sport: politics.

Fast-forward a few years.  His brother John has been elected president, and it is time for Teddy’s career to begin.  What better way to kick-start his career than to be appointed to John’s seat?  The only thing that stood in the way was the law.  No problem.  After all, he is a Kennedy.

You see, Ted would not be the legal minimum age for 27 months.  The solution was easy: the Kennedys found a family friend, Benjamin Smith, who would accept the position and obligingly step aside when told.  All they needed now was a helpful governor, which was an easy find, as Gov. John Foster Furcolo was happy to help out his old friend, Joe Kennedy.

Seven years later, the young lion’s career hit a snag, taking a brief nose dive, literally.  It seems Teddy was “helping” a young lady named Mary Jo Kopechne home that night and drove his car into the water off a bridge at Chappaquiddick on Martha’s Vineyard.  Ted got out of the car quickly and immediately rushed into action – after all, he had a career to save.  He quickly sought help, while Mary Jo was left gasping for air.  I am reminded of the line from a Warren Zevon song: “Send lawyers, guns, and money – Dad, get me out of this!”

So while Teddy was busy saving his fledgling career, the girl was forgotten for several crucial hours.  She had survived the accident but was trapped underwater and eventually asphyxiated.  Had Ted not acted in the cowardly fashion he did, it is probable she would have been saved, as one rescuer later stated.

Papa Joe’s connections paid off, even posthumously.  After all, he is a Kennedy.  Young Ted received a two-month suspended sentence for “leaving the scene of an accident.”

Another person to run afoul of Teddy was the eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, a strong conservative intellectual with impeccable credentials.  However, Bork was naïve enough to actually trust the fairness of Democrats.  Mr. Bork quickly learned a difficult life lesson: Teddy did not have fairness in mind.  After all, he is a Kennedy.

Ted, lying in wait, blindsided Bork with a sucker-punch, one rarely or more viciously used in politics.  A full 25 minutes after the nomination was announced, Teddy launched his attack.  He characterized Bork as racist, anti-feminist, an extremist who longed for the “good old days” of “Jim Crow,” when blacks knew their place.

Problem was, none if it was true.  Excepting for the fact that Bork was a conservative, which was enough for Kennedy.  Bork never recovered from the Kennedy onslaught.

The next moment in the spotlight for Kennedy was when he tried to derail another conservative’s career – Clarence Thomas.  Had Mr. Thomas been a liberal, his personal story would have been told by Mr. Kennedy with tears of admiration welling up in his eyes.  Here we had a man, raised by his grandfather, born a poor black child, one who had overcome all the odds.  One problem, though: Mr. Thomas was not just any black man.  He had the temerity to be one who was intelligent, a free thinker, and the kiss of death: a conservative.

However, it was not to be.  The Democrats in desperation were digging deep, going so low as to search through his video rental history.  Finally, they found something: he was accused of sexually harassing a woman.

Uh-oh.  That let Teddy out of the questioning.  After all, he is a Kennedy.

Feminist Anna Quindlen, the N.Y. Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, expressed it best, saying: “He [Kennedy] let us down, because he had to; he was muzzled by the facts of his own life.” 

Even on his deathbed, Teddy was still fighting, still trying to circumvent the law for his own selfishly partisan political purposes.

As he was batting the cancer that was to kill him, he wrote a letter to Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.  It seems that Teddy wanted to change the law in Massachusetts, again, to allow the Democratic governor to appoint his successor should his term end prematurely.  The problem with that was that it was good ol’ Teddy who worked to change the law back in 2004, when a Republican was governor and he actually thought John Kerry, God forbid, might become president.  In any event, Patrick demurred, and in a special election, the seat went to the GOP’s Scott Brown.

So Teddy’s last wish did not come to pass.  But not for lack of trying.  As he had done his entire career, in the last, Ted Kennedy did not let the law stand in his way.

Why should he?  After all, he was a Kennedy.

On April 6, Chappaquiddick, a movie detailing the events involving Senator Ted Kennedy on Martha’s Vineyard in July 1969, will be released.  That incident demonstrated the depths to which the Kennedys were willing to go to salvage the political career of the last of the Kennedy sons.  In subsequent years, the actions of Ted Kennedy that night were forgiven by the Democrats, as were subsequent actions as noted below.

The movie is based on a book, Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Coverup, by Leo J. Damore, who committed suicide in 1995. 

Well, that is the official version, at least.  The Kennedy family exerted pressure to block the making and release of the current movie.  Similar pressure was reportedly put on Mr. Damore, which may have added to the issues that resulted in his death.

In the history of politics in this nation, few families have equaled the Kennedys in both political power and despicability for their personal actions.

I will look forward to seeing the movie.  In the meantime, there was precious little in the career of Ted Kennedy that anyone should be proud of.

After being expelled from Harvard for cheating, he was allowed, as is the custom at Harvard, to return the next year.  After all, he is a Kennedy.

Upon graduation, he was approached by the Packers for an NFL tryout.  Reportedly, the offer was declined because, as he told the scout from Green Bay, he wanted to pursue a real contact sport: politics.

Fast-forward a few years.  His brother John has been elected president, and it is time for Teddy’s career to begin.  What better way to kick-start his career than to be appointed to John’s seat?  The only thing that stood in the way was the law.  No problem.  After all, he is a Kennedy.

You see, Ted would not be the legal minimum age for 27 months.  The solution was easy: the Kennedys found a family friend, Benjamin Smith, who would accept the position and obligingly step aside when told.  All they needed now was a helpful governor, which was an easy find, as Gov. John Foster Furcolo was happy to help out his old friend, Joe Kennedy.

Seven years later, the young lion’s career hit a snag, taking a brief nose dive, literally.  It seems Teddy was “helping” a young lady named Mary Jo Kopechne home that night and drove his car into the water off a bridge at Chappaquiddick on Martha’s Vineyard.  Ted got out of the car quickly and immediately rushed into action – after all, he had a career to save.  He quickly sought help, while Mary Jo was left gasping for air.  I am reminded of the line from a Warren Zevon song: “Send lawyers, guns, and money – Dad, get me out of this!”

So while Teddy was busy saving his fledgling career, the girl was forgotten for several crucial hours.  She had survived the accident but was trapped underwater and eventually asphyxiated.  Had Ted not acted in the cowardly fashion he did, it is probable she would have been saved, as one rescuer later stated.

Papa Joe’s connections paid off, even posthumously.  After all, he is a Kennedy.  Young Ted received a two-month suspended sentence for “leaving the scene of an accident.”

Another person to run afoul of Teddy was the eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, a strong conservative intellectual with impeccable credentials.  However, Bork was naïve enough to actually trust the fairness of Democrats.  Mr. Bork quickly learned a difficult life lesson: Teddy did not have fairness in mind.  After all, he is a Kennedy.

Ted, lying in wait, blindsided Bork with a sucker-punch, one rarely or more viciously used in politics.  A full 25 minutes after the nomination was announced, Teddy launched his attack.  He characterized Bork as racist, anti-feminist, an extremist who longed for the “good old days” of “Jim Crow,” when blacks knew their place.

Problem was, none if it was true.  Excepting for the fact that Bork was a conservative, which was enough for Kennedy.  Bork never recovered from the Kennedy onslaught.

The next moment in the spotlight for Kennedy was when he tried to derail another conservative’s career – Clarence Thomas.  Had Mr. Thomas been a liberal, his personal story would have been told by Mr. Kennedy with tears of admiration welling up in his eyes.  Here we had a man, raised by his grandfather, born a poor black child, one who had overcome all the odds.  One problem, though: Mr. Thomas was not just any black man.  He had the temerity to be one who was intelligent, a free thinker, and the kiss of death: a conservative.

However, it was not to be.  The Democrats in desperation were digging deep, going so low as to search through his video rental history.  Finally, they found something: he was accused of sexually harassing a woman.

Uh-oh.  That let Teddy out of the questioning.  After all, he is a Kennedy.

Feminist Anna Quindlen, the N.Y. Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, expressed it best, saying: “He [Kennedy] let us down, because he had to; he was muzzled by the facts of his own life.” 

Even on his deathbed, Teddy was still fighting, still trying to circumvent the law for his own selfishly partisan political purposes.

As he was batting the cancer that was to kill him, he wrote a letter to Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.  It seems that Teddy wanted to change the law in Massachusetts, again, to allow the Democratic governor to appoint his successor should his term end prematurely.  The problem with that was that it was good ol’ Teddy who worked to change the law back in 2004, when a Republican was governor and he actually thought John Kerry, God forbid, might become president.  In any event, Patrick demurred, and in a special election, the seat went to the GOP’s Scott Brown.

So Teddy’s last wish did not come to pass.  But not for lack of trying.  As he had done his entire career, in the last, Ted Kennedy did not let the law stand in his way.

Why should he?  After all, he was a Kennedy.



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Why Does the Congressional Black Caucus Get a Pass on Farrakhan?


In late January of this year, a previously unreleased photo of then-senator Barack Obama schmoozing it up with Louis Farrakhan was made public.  The photo had been kept from public view to protect the political aspirant from potential negative fallout for associating with the racist and anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI).

How damaging this photo would have been to Obama’s presidential campaign is subject to debate.  Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, a rare honest liberal, stated he would not have supported Obama had he known of his association with “Calypso Louie.”  Certainly, at a minimum, the Jewish vote would have been impacted.  Dershowitz further added, “We should have nobody in public office associating with a bigot like Farrakhan.”

Keeping the “hidden” life of Obama quiet was instrumental in the success of this unique political figure.  Associations with a known terrorist and an anti-American preacher were downplayed, while those who pushed these stories were ridiculed as extremists.

Farrakhan posed a different problem, one that had to be kept quiet, thus the photo was shelved at the insistence of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).  There were 21 members of the CBC at that meeting who are still in Congress today.  They have yet to suffer any significant backlash for their association with Calypso Louie – in fact, they praised him, at least until they were caught.

In addition to the 1995 meeting, Maxine Waters and several other members of the CBC, including Barbara Lee (Calif.), Al Green (Texas), and William Jefferson (La.), met with Farrakhan, who offered his assistance for the rebuilding of New Orleans in 2006.

At that meeting, Waters, responding directly to Farrakhan, stated: “I think we need to get together and talk about how we’re going to put New Orleans on the national agenda.” 

When asked to confirm the discussions, Waters was “unavailable for comment.”

Another CBC member, Danny Davis (Ill.), also an attendee of the Obama-Farrakhan meeting, sang the praises of Farrakhan in February of this year:

I personally know [Farrakhan], I’ve been to his home, done meetings, participated in events with him.  I don’t regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything.  I regard him as an outstanding human being who commands a following of individuals who are learned and articulate[.]

Davis, possibly realizing that he was up for re-election, later clarified his statement:

There have been attempts to question my commitment to these principles because I did not specifically single out the views and remarks of Minister Louis Farrakhan.  So let me be clear: I reject, condemn and oppose Minister Farrakhan’s views and remarks regarding the Jewish people and the Jewish religion[.] 

The CBC, and especially Maxine Waters, has been decrying President Trump as a racist, yet the group has associated with one of the most extreme and vile racists active today.

The NOI, reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center to have as many as 50,000 members, is described at the SPLC website as follows:

Since its founding in 1930, the Nation of Islam has grown into one of the wealthiest and best-known organizations in black America. Its theology of innate black superiority over whites and the deeply racist, anti-semitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric of its leaders have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.

It is worth taking a closer look at Calypso Louie so we can understand the depth of the hatred that consumes this man.  Columnist John Hawkins, writing for Townhall.com, has a list of twenty of his quotes.  The following are just a few:

“Murder and lying comes easy for white people.” (CNN 1995)


“The Jews have been so bad at politics they lost half their population in the Holocaust.  They thought they could trust in Hitler, and they helped him get the Third Reich on the road.” (Anti-Defamation League 2015)


“White people deserve to die, and they know, so they think it’s us coming to do it.” (Washington Post 2015)


“Now God don’t want you intermarrying with [white women.]” (Facebook video 2015)

On the Jewish element in Hollywood and their support for the redefinition of marriage:

You’re God’s chosen people?  And you promote something that God rejects?  You’ve lost your covenant status!  You are not the chosen of God, you are the chosen of Satan! … You’re promoting homosexuality.  God doesn’t.  You promote filth.  God condemns it!

Lastly, one more on Hitler:

The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler.  Well, that’s a good name.  Hitler was a very great man.

In today’s world, one dominated by the easily offended and politically correct, there is seemingly no greater crime than being racist.  That charge, repeatedly leveled at those who disagreed with President Obama, is currently leveled at President Trump and his supporters.

Yet we have Farrakhan, an outspoken racist, an anti-Semite, and a Hitler-admirer, being fawned over by members of the CBC.  Yes, some members of the CBC may have repudiated him, but they appear to be doing so only when caught.

All Americans are aware of the racist past and are equally aware that racism continues, albeit on a different level.  But those who continue to use racism for political purposes should be strongly condemned and ostracized for their associations with a man as despicable as Louis Farrakhan.

Yet the CBC and its members are given a pass – one not justified in today’s world.

In late January of this year, a previously unreleased photo of then-senator Barack Obama schmoozing it up with Louis Farrakhan was made public.  The photo had been kept from public view to protect the political aspirant from potential negative fallout for associating with the racist and anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI).

How damaging this photo would have been to Obama’s presidential campaign is subject to debate.  Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, a rare honest liberal, stated he would not have supported Obama had he known of his association with “Calypso Louie.”  Certainly, at a minimum, the Jewish vote would have been impacted.  Dershowitz further added, “We should have nobody in public office associating with a bigot like Farrakhan.”

Keeping the “hidden” life of Obama quiet was instrumental in the success of this unique political figure.  Associations with a known terrorist and an anti-American preacher were downplayed, while those who pushed these stories were ridiculed as extremists.

Farrakhan posed a different problem, one that had to be kept quiet, thus the photo was shelved at the insistence of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).  There were 21 members of the CBC at that meeting who are still in Congress today.  They have yet to suffer any significant backlash for their association with Calypso Louie – in fact, they praised him, at least until they were caught.

In addition to the 1995 meeting, Maxine Waters and several other members of the CBC, including Barbara Lee (Calif.), Al Green (Texas), and William Jefferson (La.), met with Farrakhan, who offered his assistance for the rebuilding of New Orleans in 2006.

At that meeting, Waters, responding directly to Farrakhan, stated: “I think we need to get together and talk about how we’re going to put New Orleans on the national agenda.” 

When asked to confirm the discussions, Waters was “unavailable for comment.”

Another CBC member, Danny Davis (Ill.), also an attendee of the Obama-Farrakhan meeting, sang the praises of Farrakhan in February of this year:

I personally know [Farrakhan], I’ve been to his home, done meetings, participated in events with him.  I don’t regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything.  I regard him as an outstanding human being who commands a following of individuals who are learned and articulate[.]

Davis, possibly realizing that he was up for re-election, later clarified his statement:

There have been attempts to question my commitment to these principles because I did not specifically single out the views and remarks of Minister Louis Farrakhan.  So let me be clear: I reject, condemn and oppose Minister Farrakhan’s views and remarks regarding the Jewish people and the Jewish religion[.] 

The CBC, and especially Maxine Waters, has been decrying President Trump as a racist, yet the group has associated with one of the most extreme and vile racists active today.

The NOI, reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center to have as many as 50,000 members, is described at the SPLC website as follows:

Since its founding in 1930, the Nation of Islam has grown into one of the wealthiest and best-known organizations in black America. Its theology of innate black superiority over whites and the deeply racist, anti-semitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric of its leaders have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.

It is worth taking a closer look at Calypso Louie so we can understand the depth of the hatred that consumes this man.  Columnist John Hawkins, writing for Townhall.com, has a list of twenty of his quotes.  The following are just a few:

“Murder and lying comes easy for white people.” (CNN 1995)


“The Jews have been so bad at politics they lost half their population in the Holocaust.  They thought they could trust in Hitler, and they helped him get the Third Reich on the road.” (Anti-Defamation League 2015)


“White people deserve to die, and they know, so they think it’s us coming to do it.” (Washington Post 2015)


“Now God don’t want you intermarrying with [white women.]” (Facebook video 2015)

On the Jewish element in Hollywood and their support for the redefinition of marriage:

You’re God’s chosen people?  And you promote something that God rejects?  You’ve lost your covenant status!  You are not the chosen of God, you are the chosen of Satan! … You’re promoting homosexuality.  God doesn’t.  You promote filth.  God condemns it!

Lastly, one more on Hitler:

The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler.  Well, that’s a good name.  Hitler was a very great man.

In today’s world, one dominated by the easily offended and politically correct, there is seemingly no greater crime than being racist.  That charge, repeatedly leveled at those who disagreed with President Obama, is currently leveled at President Trump and his supporters.

Yet we have Farrakhan, an outspoken racist, an anti-Semite, and a Hitler-admirer, being fawned over by members of the CBC.  Yes, some members of the CBC may have repudiated him, but they appear to be doing so only when caught.

All Americans are aware of the racist past and are equally aware that racism continues, albeit on a different level.  But those who continue to use racism for political purposes should be strongly condemned and ostracized for their associations with a man as despicable as Louis Farrakhan.

Yet the CBC and its members are given a pass – one not justified in today’s world.



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We Don't Need No Stinkin' Predictions


With apology offered to B. Traven for the above appropriation of his words, I wanted to take a moment, as we approach 2018, to look back on tumultuous 2017 – or, more specifically, some of the comments made foretelling coming events.

It takes a certain person – cocky, self-assured, and thick-skinned – to make such predictions.  I am not that person.

The trouble with predictions is that if you are right, and you remind others of that, you end up looking like a jerk.  And if you are wrong, you will be reminded of that fact too often.

Another issue with predictions: The professional pontificators making them are rarely held to account when wrong.  Instead, they remain working at places like the N.Y. Times, CNN, and MSNBC.

No, you will not hear any predictions from me.  Instead, it’s more fun to look back at those foolish enough to make them to see who was right and who was wrong.

  • U.S. or Iraqi forces will drive ISIS out of Iraq in 2016. Politico contributor Mark Perry writes that Iraqi and Kurdish forces, led by U.S. [advisers], are preparing a major push into Mosul that should result in ISIS forces being pushed out of Iraq just before the election.  This should bolster Obama-Clinton favorability and further diminish Trump’s chances. –Bob Burnett, Huffington Post, 08/18/2016

“We’re going to have to do something extremely tough over there.  Like knock the hell out of them.  We have to get everybody together, and we have to lead for a change.  We’re being very gentle about it.  We have to be very tough[. … It’s called leadership.”  –Donald Trump, 09/19/2016

“ISIS has been militarily defeated in Iraq and Syria” –Inside Business headline, 11/21/2017

  • “This is Al Franken’s mo­ment in the spot­light, and if he chooses, he could par­lay his good for­tune in­to a bid for the pres­id­ency in 2020. –Josh Kraushaar, editorial writer, The Nation magazine, 02/06/2017

“Al Franken to Resign From Senate” –N.Y. Times headline, 12/07/2017

  • “It is possible to impeach Trump. I give it [’til] December.  Yes, December.  Our new special counsel, Mr. Muller [sic][,] has impaneled a grand jury as you know.” –Maxine Waters, 08/08/2017 interview on The Breakfast Club

“President Trump Back to Work at Golf Course Day after Christmas” –N.Y. Daily News headline, 12/26/2017

  • It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging[.] … The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.  Still, I guess people want an answer: [i]f the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never. –Paul Krugman, N.Y. Times 11/08/2016 

“[T]he economy recorded its best 6-month stretch of growth in 3 years, a sign that it might be recovering from the long spell of slow growth.  The U.S. economy expanded at a solid 3% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the third quarter of 2017, according to Commerce Department data.” –Tirthankar Chakraborty, 10/30/2017

  • “If you think there’s still a historically significant dearth of quarterbacks and a problem with quality of play in 2017, you’re entitled to your opinion.  If that’s true, though, it’s close to impossible to make an argument against Colin Kaepernick starting for a handful of NFL teams right now[.]” –Bill Barnwell, ESPN Sports, 12/18/2017

“Kaepernick doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it back to the NFL – not this season, and not ever.  He’s done[;] I don’t think he’ll ever get a chance.  Never again.  Kaep’s not good enough for the headache.” –Tony Gonzalez, TMZ Sports interview, 11/06/2017

  • “Hillary Clinton will become the next president of the United States.  [I expect] things will settle down after the election and that Hillary will do a great job. –Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, CNN interview, 10/192016 

    “Trump’s presidency is effectively over. I would be amazed if he survives [’til] end of the year.  More likely resigns by fall, if not sooner.” –Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal, CNN interview, 08/16/2017

“Trump Signs Historic Tax Cuts Into Law: ‘A Bill for the Middle Class and a Bill for Jobs'” –Independent Journal Review, 12/22/2017

As we look back on the year that was, and forward to the year that will be, one thing we can count on is that dire predictions rarely come to pass.  Proclamations of pending greatness follow a similar pattern – although, judging from the above, it appears that greatness is leading at the moment.

We as a nation have witnessed high levels of achievement rarely seen in history.  These successes are the result of efforts made when the nation stands united, working as one.  Problems arise when we are caught up in seeking to destroy others to gain some perceived advantage.

Tearing the nation apart to achieve an end is an exercise in futility, resulting too often in a backlash.

Working within the laws while projecting a high level of integrity is what is required to bring us back to being a nation that all Americans can be proud of.

Here is to hoping that 2018 will be the year we as a nation need it to be.

With apology offered to B. Traven for the above appropriation of his words, I wanted to take a moment, as we approach 2018, to look back on tumultuous 2017 – or, more specifically, some of the comments made foretelling coming events.

It takes a certain person – cocky, self-assured, and thick-skinned – to make such predictions.  I am not that person.

The trouble with predictions is that if you are right, and you remind others of that, you end up looking like a jerk.  And if you are wrong, you will be reminded of that fact too often.

Another issue with predictions: The professional pontificators making them are rarely held to account when wrong.  Instead, they remain working at places like the N.Y. Times, CNN, and MSNBC.

No, you will not hear any predictions from me.  Instead, it’s more fun to look back at those foolish enough to make them to see who was right and who was wrong.

  • U.S. or Iraqi forces will drive ISIS out of Iraq in 2016. Politico contributor Mark Perry writes that Iraqi and Kurdish forces, led by U.S. [advisers], are preparing a major push into Mosul that should result in ISIS forces being pushed out of Iraq just before the election.  This should bolster Obama-Clinton favorability and further diminish Trump’s chances. –Bob Burnett, Huffington Post, 08/18/2016

“We’re going to have to do something extremely tough over there.  Like knock the hell out of them.  We have to get everybody together, and we have to lead for a change.  We’re being very gentle about it.  We have to be very tough[. … It’s called leadership.”  –Donald Trump, 09/19/2016

“ISIS has been militarily defeated in Iraq and Syria” –Inside Business headline, 11/21/2017

  • “This is Al Franken’s mo­ment in the spot­light, and if he chooses, he could par­lay his good for­tune in­to a bid for the pres­id­ency in 2020. –Josh Kraushaar, editorial writer, The Nation magazine, 02/06/2017

“Al Franken to Resign From Senate” –N.Y. Times headline, 12/07/2017

  • “It is possible to impeach Trump. I give it [’til] December.  Yes, December.  Our new special counsel, Mr. Muller [sic][,] has impaneled a grand jury as you know.” –Maxine Waters, 08/08/2017 interview on The Breakfast Club

“President Trump Back to Work at Golf Course Day after Christmas” –N.Y. Daily News headline, 12/26/2017

  • It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging[.] … The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.  Still, I guess people want an answer: [i]f the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never. –Paul Krugman, N.Y. Times 11/08/2016 

“[T]he economy recorded its best 6-month stretch of growth in 3 years, a sign that it might be recovering from the long spell of slow growth.  The U.S. economy expanded at a solid 3% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the third quarter of 2017, according to Commerce Department data.” –Tirthankar Chakraborty, 10/30/2017

  • “If you think there’s still a historically significant dearth of quarterbacks and a problem with quality of play in 2017, you’re entitled to your opinion.  If that’s true, though, it’s close to impossible to make an argument against Colin Kaepernick starting for a handful of NFL teams right now[.]” –Bill Barnwell, ESPN Sports, 12/18/2017

“Kaepernick doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it back to the NFL – not this season, and not ever.  He’s done[;] I don’t think he’ll ever get a chance.  Never again.  Kaep’s not good enough for the headache.” –Tony Gonzalez, TMZ Sports interview, 11/06/2017

  • “Hillary Clinton will become the next president of the United States.  [I expect] things will settle down after the election and that Hillary will do a great job. –Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, CNN interview, 10/192016 

    “Trump’s presidency is effectively over. I would be amazed if he survives [’til] end of the year.  More likely resigns by fall, if not sooner.” –Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal, CNN interview, 08/16/2017

“Trump Signs Historic Tax Cuts Into Law: ‘A Bill for the Middle Class and a Bill for Jobs'” –Independent Journal Review, 12/22/2017

As we look back on the year that was, and forward to the year that will be, one thing we can count on is that dire predictions rarely come to pass.  Proclamations of pending greatness follow a similar pattern – although, judging from the above, it appears that greatness is leading at the moment.

We as a nation have witnessed high levels of achievement rarely seen in history.  These successes are the result of efforts made when the nation stands united, working as one.  Problems arise when we are caught up in seeking to destroy others to gain some perceived advantage.

Tearing the nation apart to achieve an end is an exercise in futility, resulting too often in a backlash.

Working within the laws while projecting a high level of integrity is what is required to bring us back to being a nation that all Americans can be proud of.

Here is to hoping that 2018 will be the year we as a nation need it to be.



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The Domestic Terrorism Count: Jihadists vs. Right-Wing Extremism


I’ve known Richard since 1981, as a mentor, competitor, and colleague, and I consider him a friend. I only recently though found out how liberal he actually is, but I do not hold that against him.

During a recent business trip, he brought up the subject of terrorism. He stated that the biggest terrorist threat in the U.S. comes from right-wing extremists, not the Jihadis. He then doubled down: white right-wingers have committed more acts of terrorism than radical Islamists. We were two days into a business trip and his diatribes were already wearing thin. This one caught my attention.

I learned his source was a Huffington Post article: “Most Of America’s Terrorists Are White, And Not Muslim” by Sarah Ruiz-Grossman     

The article was based on a study: “Home Is Where the Hate Is” by David Neiwert, published by “the Investigative Fund” organization.

Therein lies the problem. Richard, as well as too many other people, have a tendency to take what they read at face value.

Mr. Neiwart’s piece is full of numbers and statistics to back his claims. However, I am reminded a quote by Aaron Levenstein: “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

  • From January 2008 to the end of 2016, we identified 63 cases of Islamist domestic terrorism… The vast majority of these (76 percent) were foiled plots,
  • During the same period, we found that right-wing extremists were behind nearly twice as many incidents: 115. Just over a third of these incidents (35 percent) were foiled plots.

The claim is also made that “Right-wing extremist terrorism was more often deadly.”

It is not surprising that they ignore the over 3000 deaths (counting first responders) which resulted from 9/11.

Simply put, the claim is made that not only are right-wing extremists committing such acts with a higher degree of frequency, they are also better at it.

A closer look is certainly warranted, but before analyzing domestic terrorism, the term needs to be defined. Niewart’s article uses the following:

“What distinguishes an act of terrorism from a violent crime… is the ideological component of “the perpetrator’s motivation, his ideology and what he wanted the outcome to be. There needs to be a desire to instill fear among the general public, change government policy, or draw attention to a political or social cause.”

In the case of this study the fair definition above is not applied equally, which is standard fare for the political left.

Three examples of questionable inclusions from the report:

Richard Popolawski — A known white supremacist, he opened fire on Pittsburgh police officers responding to a domestic dispute, killing three and leaving two injured.

Wade Lay and son Christopher Lay — In 2004 they killed a guard during an armed robbery. Wade Lay testified that the money was meant to buy weapons and according to the district attorney there was a ‘self-proclaimed’ mission to revenge Waco. 

Joseph Stack — In 2010, Stack committed suicide by crashing a small aircraft into an IRS building killing one additional person. Stack left an anti-government, anti-tax manifesto behind.  The FBI stated that it was investigating the incident “as a criminal matter of an assault on a federal officer” and it was not considered terrorism.  

No one is defending the actions of these men, but does a domestic dispute or armed robbery qualify as terrorism, as defined above?

Regarding Mr. Stack, his gripe was with the IRS. His actions may or may not, meet the criteria for domestic terrorism, but does he qualify as being ‘right wing’? No proof on that was given. It’s telling that one of the figures that Stack quoted in his manifesto was that notorious right-wing rabble-rouser Karl Marx.

It appears the methodology used was too quick to label crimes as ‘terrorist’ acts, especially if they could be linked to the “right wing,” even if only tenuously.

Let’s assume their numbers are accurate. The data shows that the non-Muslim population commits twice as many terrorist attacks as the Muslim population. Yet Muslims comprise less than 2% of the total U.S. population. They are attempting to make the case that non-Muslim Americans are a greater threat to the country than the Muslim population. Yet are the authors really so naïve that they can’t tell they have proven the opposite? The relative risk from Muslims in America is 24 times as high as from everyone else combined.

Let’s look at it another way, as the point warrants emphasis:

White Americans comprise 72.5 % of the U.S. population. Muslim Americans comprise less than 2% of the total.

Again if we use their numbers, combined with the sourced demographics for 2008, we have the following:

For every two million white people, over a ten-year period there will be 1.3 acts or failed plots of a terrorist event.

For every one million adult Muslims, over the same time period, there will be 54 such events or failed plots.

Even adjusting the figures for white people to take out children, the resultant figure will not approach that given for the adult Muslims.

We can know with certainty that a very small percentage of any population will be afflicted with mental illness. Naturally, whites being the largest percentage of the population, will have a correspondingly high number of such people.

Muslims, on the other hand, are a very small component of the population, yet they account for a very large percentage of terrorism domestically.

Knowing that the propensity for terrorism is inordinately slanted to a narrow range of the population, logic dictates a focus in both law enforcement efforts, as well as immigration restrictions would be appropriate.

This is unacceptable to much of our nation. Today proposed restrictions are being fought; at the ballot box, through the courts and through domestic terrorism, (including use of chemicals in launched projectiles) by Antifa and other well-organized riot-promoting terror groups.

If we are going to eradicate the primary source of terrorism, the impetus will need to come from within the Muslim communities. It is they that must stand up to declare terrorism is at odds with their faith. It is good to know that this is occurring in many circles. But they must take these proclamations to the next level by pointing their fingers at guilty parties and turning them in to the legal authorities.

Until the time comes that it is no longer safe for radical Islamic terrorists to find safe haven in their own communities, then this issue will not be eradicated.

I’ve known Richard since 1981, as a mentor, competitor, and colleague, and I consider him a friend. I only recently though found out how liberal he actually is, but I do not hold that against him.

During a recent business trip, he brought up the subject of terrorism. He stated that the biggest terrorist threat in the U.S. comes from right-wing extremists, not the Jihadis. He then doubled down: white right-wingers have committed more acts of terrorism than radical Islamists. We were two days into a business trip and his diatribes were already wearing thin. This one caught my attention.

I learned his source was a Huffington Post article: “Most Of America’s Terrorists Are White, And Not Muslim” by Sarah Ruiz-Grossman     

The article was based on a study: “Home Is Where the Hate Is” by David Neiwert, published by “the Investigative Fund” organization.

Therein lies the problem. Richard, as well as too many other people, have a tendency to take what they read at face value.

Mr. Neiwart’s piece is full of numbers and statistics to back his claims. However, I am reminded a quote by Aaron Levenstein: “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

  • From January 2008 to the end of 2016, we identified 63 cases of Islamist domestic terrorism… The vast majority of these (76 percent) were foiled plots,
  • During the same period, we found that right-wing extremists were behind nearly twice as many incidents: 115. Just over a third of these incidents (35 percent) were foiled plots.

The claim is also made that “Right-wing extremist terrorism was more often deadly.”

It is not surprising that they ignore the over 3000 deaths (counting first responders) which resulted from 9/11.

Simply put, the claim is made that not only are right-wing extremists committing such acts with a higher degree of frequency, they are also better at it.

A closer look is certainly warranted, but before analyzing domestic terrorism, the term needs to be defined. Niewart’s article uses the following:

“What distinguishes an act of terrorism from a violent crime… is the ideological component of “the perpetrator’s motivation, his ideology and what he wanted the outcome to be. There needs to be a desire to instill fear among the general public, change government policy, or draw attention to a political or social cause.”

In the case of this study the fair definition above is not applied equally, which is standard fare for the political left.

Three examples of questionable inclusions from the report:

Richard Popolawski — A known white supremacist, he opened fire on Pittsburgh police officers responding to a domestic dispute, killing three and leaving two injured.

Wade Lay and son Christopher Lay — In 2004 they killed a guard during an armed robbery. Wade Lay testified that the money was meant to buy weapons and according to the district attorney there was a ‘self-proclaimed’ mission to revenge Waco. 

Joseph Stack — In 2010, Stack committed suicide by crashing a small aircraft into an IRS building killing one additional person. Stack left an anti-government, anti-tax manifesto behind.  The FBI stated that it was investigating the incident “as a criminal matter of an assault on a federal officer” and it was not considered terrorism.  

No one is defending the actions of these men, but does a domestic dispute or armed robbery qualify as terrorism, as defined above?

Regarding Mr. Stack, his gripe was with the IRS. His actions may or may not, meet the criteria for domestic terrorism, but does he qualify as being ‘right wing’? No proof on that was given. It’s telling that one of the figures that Stack quoted in his manifesto was that notorious right-wing rabble-rouser Karl Marx.

It appears the methodology used was too quick to label crimes as ‘terrorist’ acts, especially if they could be linked to the “right wing,” even if only tenuously.

Let’s assume their numbers are accurate. The data shows that the non-Muslim population commits twice as many terrorist attacks as the Muslim population. Yet Muslims comprise less than 2% of the total U.S. population. They are attempting to make the case that non-Muslim Americans are a greater threat to the country than the Muslim population. Yet are the authors really so naïve that they can’t tell they have proven the opposite? The relative risk from Muslims in America is 24 times as high as from everyone else combined.

Let’s look at it another way, as the point warrants emphasis:

White Americans comprise 72.5 % of the U.S. population. Muslim Americans comprise less than 2% of the total.

Again if we use their numbers, combined with the sourced demographics for 2008, we have the following:

For every two million white people, over a ten-year period there will be 1.3 acts or failed plots of a terrorist event.

For every one million adult Muslims, over the same time period, there will be 54 such events or failed plots.

Even adjusting the figures for white people to take out children, the resultant figure will not approach that given for the adult Muslims.

We can know with certainty that a very small percentage of any population will be afflicted with mental illness. Naturally, whites being the largest percentage of the population, will have a correspondingly high number of such people.

Muslims, on the other hand, are a very small component of the population, yet they account for a very large percentage of terrorism domestically.

Knowing that the propensity for terrorism is inordinately slanted to a narrow range of the population, logic dictates a focus in both law enforcement efforts, as well as immigration restrictions would be appropriate.

This is unacceptable to much of our nation. Today proposed restrictions are being fought; at the ballot box, through the courts and through domestic terrorism, (including use of chemicals in launched projectiles) by Antifa and other well-organized riot-promoting terror groups.

If we are going to eradicate the primary source of terrorism, the impetus will need to come from within the Muslim communities. It is they that must stand up to declare terrorism is at odds with their faith. It is good to know that this is occurring in many circles. But they must take these proclamations to the next level by pointing their fingers at guilty parties and turning them in to the legal authorities.

Until the time comes that it is no longer safe for radical Islamic terrorists to find safe haven in their own communities, then this issue will not be eradicated.



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The Supreme Court: A Modest Proposal


Once again the nation has suffered through the process of a Supreme Court nomination. Having done so, we can now either sit back and wait in dread for the next one, or we can consider modification of probably the most divisive process in politics, save for presidential elections.  

Senate Majority leader McConnell has played an instrumental role in moving the process to the point we are at today. His actions were taken not out of desire, but out of necessity. When your back is to the wall, it is either fight or flight. Hats off to McConnell for his decision to fight.

The Garland non-review was a courageous position, one advocated by Democrats in the past. The decision to extend the Reid rule to SCOTUS nominees was also a sign of courage. These decisions though have been adamantly opposed by the opposition, but taking two sides on a position is part and parcel to the post for Democrats.

As much as I approve of the results attained by McConnell’s actions, I am also of the opinion that this is not a process that can continue, if we as a nation are going to have any hope of reaching amicable agreements on future nominees.

How did this process go from a justice, such as Anthony Kennedy receiving a unanimous approval (97-0 in 1988), to the point we are at today?

In 2009 I wrote a piece on Kennedy attempting to point out the flip-side of the ‘Lion of the Senate’. From that piece:

Another person to run afoul of Teddy was the eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee, Robert Bork, a strong conservative intellectual with impeccable credentials. However, Bork was naive; he actually trusted that Democrats would play fair. Mr. Bork was about to learn a difficult life lesson as he came up against Teddy, who did not have fairness in mind, after all, he is a Kennedy.


Ted lying in wait, blindsided Bork with a sucker punch, one which was as vicious as has ever been used in politics. A full 25 minutes after the nomination was announced, Teddy launched his prepared attack, characterizing Bork as racist, anti-feminist, an extremist and one who longed for the ‘good old days’ of ‘Jim Crow’ when Blacks knew their place.

Having won a victory, the Democrats were not up for a second fight and Bork’s replacement, Anthony Kennedy sailed through.

The Clarence Thomas hearings were equally as vicious three short years later, and again it was Ted Kennedy who led the assault.

Since the Thomas hearings, nominees of a Democrat president have sailed through at an average 80-20 clip. Those nominated by a Republican have not had such smooth sailing, with an average approval of 56-44. One could claim that this is due to Democrat presidents nominating more ’mainstream’ candidates. This thinking, of course, would be wrong, as Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are hardly swimming in the middle of the river.

A more logical assessment would be that Republicans are far more willing to let the process play out, with presidents, generally speaking, being allowed to put forward their candidates of choice. Since 1900 only two Democrat nominees have been withdrawn or rejected. During the same period seven nominees of Republican presidents have had a similar fate.

The Senate, once collegial, has turned irreversibly adversarial, much to the detriment of the nation.

The recent nominations have demonstrated that Republicans have awakened, matching the seriousness with which the Democrats have long played the game. Not only have they awakened, they have won.

The Democrats will not take this well.

Given the above the following is offered for consideration:

Future justices would be nominated for a defined term, perhaps twelve years. At the end of his term a justice would either retire or be reapproved based on a vote in the Senate. Sitting justices would be ‘grandfathered’ in, so as to stagger the years of replacement nominations.

This system would result in several advantages, in that a fixed time frame would allow the Supreme Court record of a justice to be reviewed prior to reconsideration. Additionally, shorter durations would reduce the level of animus in fighting for future openings.

One drawback would be the instilling of politics into judicial decisions. However, we are kidding ourselves if we believe that is absent today.

The drawback above is offset by the possibilities presented if the twelve-year plan had long been in place: Ruth Ginsberg would have been reconsidered in 2005 and again in 2017, Clarence Thomas in 2003 and again in 2015, Kennedy in 2012, Roberts in 2017.

Justices who failed to live up to the expectations of their nominations would lose support. Justices such as David Souter would not have been re-upped. Certainly Roberts’ position would be at risk. Also aged and infirm Justices like Ginsberg would be allowed to sleep peacefully in retirement instead of at the bench or at State of the Union speeches.

The Senate would become the deciding factor in approval of a second term, while all presidents would almost certainly be assured of at least one and likely multiple nominees.

The Democrats will be bitter over Merrick Garland for as long as many Republicans are bitter over Robert Bork.

It is time that the bitterness of these squabbles be reduced. It is time for a modification of the process to be seriously considered.

The above outline is one possibility. Other options may have viability as well. Whatever method is ultimately decided upon; it has to be better than that which is now in place.

Once again the nation has suffered through the process of a Supreme Court nomination. Having done so, we can now either sit back and wait in dread for the next one, or we can consider modification of probably the most divisive process in politics, save for presidential elections.  

Senate Majority leader McConnell has played an instrumental role in moving the process to the point we are at today. His actions were taken not out of desire, but out of necessity. When your back is to the wall, it is either fight or flight. Hats off to McConnell for his decision to fight.

The Garland non-review was a courageous position, one advocated by Democrats in the past. The decision to extend the Reid rule to SCOTUS nominees was also a sign of courage. These decisions though have been adamantly opposed by the opposition, but taking two sides on a position is part and parcel to the post for Democrats.

As much as I approve of the results attained by McConnell’s actions, I am also of the opinion that this is not a process that can continue, if we as a nation are going to have any hope of reaching amicable agreements on future nominees.

How did this process go from a justice, such as Anthony Kennedy receiving a unanimous approval (97-0 in 1988), to the point we are at today?

In 2009 I wrote a piece on Kennedy attempting to point out the flip-side of the ‘Lion of the Senate’. From that piece:

Another person to run afoul of Teddy was the eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee, Robert Bork, a strong conservative intellectual with impeccable credentials. However, Bork was naive; he actually trusted that Democrats would play fair. Mr. Bork was about to learn a difficult life lesson as he came up against Teddy, who did not have fairness in mind, after all, he is a Kennedy.


Ted lying in wait, blindsided Bork with a sucker punch, one which was as vicious as has ever been used in politics. A full 25 minutes after the nomination was announced, Teddy launched his prepared attack, characterizing Bork as racist, anti-feminist, an extremist and one who longed for the ‘good old days’ of ‘Jim Crow’ when Blacks knew their place.

Having won a victory, the Democrats were not up for a second fight and Bork’s replacement, Anthony Kennedy sailed through.

The Clarence Thomas hearings were equally as vicious three short years later, and again it was Ted Kennedy who led the assault.

Since the Thomas hearings, nominees of a Democrat president have sailed through at an average 80-20 clip. Those nominated by a Republican have not had such smooth sailing, with an average approval of 56-44. One could claim that this is due to Democrat presidents nominating more ’mainstream’ candidates. This thinking, of course, would be wrong, as Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are hardly swimming in the middle of the river.

A more logical assessment would be that Republicans are far more willing to let the process play out, with presidents, generally speaking, being allowed to put forward their candidates of choice. Since 1900 only two Democrat nominees have been withdrawn or rejected. During the same period seven nominees of Republican presidents have had a similar fate.

The Senate, once collegial, has turned irreversibly adversarial, much to the detriment of the nation.

The recent nominations have demonstrated that Republicans have awakened, matching the seriousness with which the Democrats have long played the game. Not only have they awakened, they have won.

The Democrats will not take this well.

Given the above the following is offered for consideration:

Future justices would be nominated for a defined term, perhaps twelve years. At the end of his term a justice would either retire or be reapproved based on a vote in the Senate. Sitting justices would be ‘grandfathered’ in, so as to stagger the years of replacement nominations.

This system would result in several advantages, in that a fixed time frame would allow the Supreme Court record of a justice to be reviewed prior to reconsideration. Additionally, shorter durations would reduce the level of animus in fighting for future openings.

One drawback would be the instilling of politics into judicial decisions. However, we are kidding ourselves if we believe that is absent today.

The drawback above is offset by the possibilities presented if the twelve-year plan had long been in place: Ruth Ginsberg would have been reconsidered in 2005 and again in 2017, Clarence Thomas in 2003 and again in 2015, Kennedy in 2012, Roberts in 2017.

Justices who failed to live up to the expectations of their nominations would lose support. Justices such as David Souter would not have been re-upped. Certainly Roberts’ position would be at risk. Also aged and infirm Justices like Ginsberg would be allowed to sleep peacefully in retirement instead of at the bench or at State of the Union speeches.

The Senate would become the deciding factor in approval of a second term, while all presidents would almost certainly be assured of at least one and likely multiple nominees.

The Democrats will be bitter over Merrick Garland for as long as many Republicans are bitter over Robert Bork.

It is time that the bitterness of these squabbles be reduced. It is time for a modification of the process to be seriously considered.

The above outline is one possibility. Other options may have viability as well. Whatever method is ultimately decided upon; it has to be better than that which is now in place.



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