Beware of a referendum question that glitters – it only appears gold
Posted October 22, 2017, 11:58 am
Citizens beware! All that glitters may not be gold.
On the ballot Nov. 7 is a referendum, something to which most people pay very little attention, but which can profoundly affect their lives and well-being.
The referendum asks: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing the local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within the local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is existing law?”
Wow, you may say, who wouldn’t want their property tax to disappear? Pennsylvanians have argued for decades that property taxes present an unfair burden to senior citizens and low-income property owners. Why, many ask, should I effectively rent my house from the government?
Lowering or eliminating property taxes is a cause that politicians can, and do, jump on with glee. It’s motherhood, apple pie and all that. It’s always popular with voters.
If the proposed amendment is approved, enabling legislation would have to be put forward in order to implement it. Implementing legislation provides the mechanism for local government, school districts and county government to replace the revenue lost by not collecting real estate taxes.
In 1997, after Resolution 1 was approved, which allowed local governments to reduce property taxes on primary residences by up to 50 percent, the Legislature passed Act 50, which included the implementing mechanisms for Resolution 1. This legislation provided a method for school districts to make up lost revenue from enacting Resolution 1’s homestead exemption. School districts, but not local governments or counties, were allowed to tax earned income 1.5 percent or less in exchange for reducing property tax if the voters approved the income tax in a referendum. If the current proposed amendment is passed, similar implementing legislation would have to be passed.
So, what are we really being asked to approve or disapprove? We are being asked to allow the legislature to pass legislation that would allow local municipalities, school districts and county governments to exclude up to 100 percent of the value of primary residences from property taxes. We are being asked to allow them to do that with absolutely no mention of how those revenues will be replaced or how expenditures will be reduced to offset the loss in revenue.
On the surface, the proposition may seem attractive, but let’s look under the covers.
The first, and most obvious, question is who benefits from this? To benefit, you have to own a primary residence and pay property taxes. The more taxes you pay, the more you conceivably will benefit. Renters, for example, will not benefit because they pay no property taxes and the owners of apartments do not receive the tax exclusion, so they have no benefit to pass through even if they are so inclined. Areas with low property values would benefit much less than areas with high property values. All of this will, of course, generate discussion about inequality of benefits between classes of people and areas.
The next question is how the revenue lost from property taxes will be replaced in municipal, school district or county budgets. Municipalities typically generate about a quarter of their revenue from property taxes. For school districts, property taxes are a major source of revenue. Probably the only viable sources of revenue available to local government and school districts are some types of personal income or per capita taxes. This could be substantial, possibly in the area of 3 percent to 5 percent of income. Not only that, but it would also apply to everyone, regardless of whether they benefitted from the property tax exclusion. That will not be an easy sell.
Other types of taxes have been proposed, but each comes with problems. The basic problem, and economic rule of thumb, with any tax is that if you tax something, you get less of it. Increasing sales taxes may cause people to spend less. Increasing income taxes may cause people to work less or work elsewhere. Increasing property taxes is less likely to cause people to sell property, up to some point. Researchers for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that taxes on real estate created the least drag on the gross domestic product per dollar raised of all taxes.
The basic problem with this proposal is the same problem that plagues the current state budget – the spending is in place before the discussion of how to fund it. The voters would be asked to approve eliminating a funding source before any discussion about how it will be replaced. If recent experience with the state budget has taught us anything, it is that our legislators are very poor at finding ways to generate income.
Secondly, as with the budget, the process should start with greatly reducing the spending side of the equation. Once spending has been reduced, then, and only then, talk about how much real estate taxes might be reduced in a revenue neutral environment.
What this proposal really is, unfortunately, is a backdoor attempt to resurrect Senate Bill 76, that deservedly failed last year. That proposal would have eliminated property tax entirely, replacing it with statewide income and sales tax increases, thereby giving Harrisburg complete control over vast sums of money and over our education spending programs, ultimately damaging our economy.
It is a shame that this is being snuck through in what will be a very low-turnout election, with probably 20 percent of the commonwealth’s voters determining a major policy change mostly without understanding what they are voting for.
This poorly thought-out referendum deserves a definite no vote, no matter how much it glitters. It is definitely not gold.
Ball is a Peters Township councilman and the vice chairman of the Washington County Republican Party.
Cost of the Proposed RAISE Act
Posted October 8, 2017, 11:58 am
In Part One of my discussion of immigration, I wrote about the cost of illegal immigration. I will now expand the discussion to immigration in general and discuss the RAISE Act, one of two current major legislative proposals to control immigration and reduce the cost to American taxpayers.
Prior to the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, between 1924 and 1965, this nation admitted fewer than 200,000 immigrants a year. The 1965 act removed many of the barriers to immigration, and the number of those coming to this country skyrocketed. Since 1990, with few exceptions, roughly a million people a year have immigrated to the United States. Mexico, China and India, in that order, are the leading countries of origin in recent years.
As noted in Part 1 of this series, this nation has every right, and even obligation, to limit immigrants to those who contribute to the betterment of America. Currently there are 12.8 million low-skill immigrants (high school degree or less) in America, and approximately 400,000 more enter each year. These immigrants result in a net fiscal loss to our government of $150 billion annually. This is the amount of benefits paid minus total taxes received.
This is the cost each and every year, and it is increasing. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that over a 75-year projection, the net cost of the current low skilled immigrants and their immediate descendants will be $1.9 trillion.
The proposed RAISE Act is an attempt to control and even reduce the fiscal cost resulting from low-skilled immigrants in a number of ways. The RAISE Act will eliminate chain migration, which is allowing the extended family of an immigrant to follow; cut the annual number of green cards in half; eliminate the diversity visa lottery; and eliminate the low-skilled worker allotment. It will also place a maximum, or cap, on the future flow of refugees and asylum seekers.
Eliminating the chain migration provision is a very important control measure. Currently, if an immigrant enters the country and his or her spouse becomes a citizen, they can petition the INS to allow their parents, adult children, siblings and in-laws to enter the country. The group they petition to allow in can then bring their minor children. Once they become citizens, the cycle starts over with more in-laws and parents and siblings. One immigrant can literally result in dozens of entrants.
The RAISE Act would allow each immigrant to bring only nuclear family.
The RAISE Act promises to cut legal immigration in half and replace ineffective immigration criteria that have allowed mass Third World immigration with a much more rational points system that evaluates the ability of a potential immigrant to contribute to the American economy and to assimilate in our English speaking nation.
The previously cited cost of low-skilled immigrants of $1.9 trillion over a 75-year period would be cut by at least $1 trillion by the RAISE Act, according to some estimates. Additional savings would be achieved by limiting illegal immigration.
The RAISE Act, of course, has its opponents. Some argue that it will reduce the GDP. Others argue that there will not be enough low skilled workers to fill available low-skilled jobs. Still others argue that low-skilled immigrants make it more possible for American workers to climb the economic ladder. And finally, some argue that reducing the number of immigrants will hurt the high-tech industry.
Reducing a large number of low- skill workers has questionable impact on GDP. Assuming they are employed, and it is a big assumption, they do contribute to the GDP. The contribution, however, is numerically small and is consumed almost entirely (98 percent) by the immigrant, so virtually none is net-positive contribution to the fiscal budget. In fact, most, even if employed, because of the redistributive nature of our tax system, are net negative to the fiscal budget. They are a part of the GDP, but a very small slice of the pie. Reducing low-skilled workers will not adversely impact our nation’s wealth.
As far as there not being enough low-skilled workers to fill available jobs, there are Americans in the low skilled category. It is entirely possible that making work a requirement for financial support would make some of these available, but more to the point, migrant work cards could replace some immigrant visas. A migrant is a person who is in this country temporarily for work and then leaves. They are distinctly not entitled to bring families and receive benefits.
It is entirely possible that low-end wage scales may undergo some adjustment if large numbers of immigrant low-skilled workers are not available. That might have the effect of drawing more U.S. citizens back into the labor pool. Paying a bit more for some services may be offset by lower taxes. What the net result would be is very speculative at this point.
As far as the impact of fewer visas on the tech industry, that has been an ongoing discussion for many years. No one is talking about changing the H-1B visa program, which has been a big source of tech personnel for decades. If fewer low-skilled immigrant visas are granted and the focus is shifted to high-skilled immigrants, this certainly would not hurt the high-tech industry and may well help it.
The RAISE Act, the revised version of which was introduced in August, being designated as Senate Bill 1720, has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. No action on the bill is anticipated this year.
Ball is a Peters Township councilman and the vice chairman of the Washington County Republican Party.
NFL bites the hand that feeds it
Posted October 1, 2017, 11:10 am
Left-wing ideologues seem to have an almost infinite capacity for doing really foolish things. The latest example of self-inflicted embarrassment occurred last weekend and involved the hyper-publicized disrespecting of our flag and national anthem by the overpaid thugs of the National Football League.
According to the leftist storyline, they were upset President Trump called them out on their prior disrespect and wanted to “show their solidarity.”
Did they ever! Solidly dumb. The president played them like a violin.
According to a recent Scarborough Research Study, NFL fans are among the most patriotic and the strongest supporters of the president of any fan group in sports. Trump used one of the left’s favorite tactics, ridicule, to goad them into exactly the reaction he knew would incense his NFL support base, and it worked like a charm.
The National Football League is a multi-billion dollar business. It is an entertainment business that employs about 1,700 very large and very strong people to engage in something resembling gladiatorial combat. Fans pay $100 or more for tickets to be entertained by the spectacle.
Football is entertainment – or at least it is supposed to be.
It is not supposed to be a platform for political antics. No one really cares what the average football player thinks about politics. They want to see blocking and tackling and running and passing. Fans, by paying for tickets to an entertainment event, have every right to expect to be entertained.
Last year, a very mediocre quarterback named Colin Kaepernick chose to “take a knee” during the playing of the national anthem to protest what he claimed to be the “oppression of black people and people of color.” That didn’t go over well, and Kaepernick is now a spectator.
Since Kaepernick’s shameful performance, similar actions have increased until they reached a crescendo this past weekend. Let’s look at what is truly going on when these leftists “protest” the flag and the anthem.
In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote a poem that was later set to music and became America’s national anthem. The poem was originally titled “In Defense of Fort McHenry,” and pictured the British bombardment of the fort during the War of 1812. The poem, and then song, commemorated one of America’s darkest moments. It describes America as a beacon of enduring hope, a light of freedom, that finds a way to endure. The song, which has been played at sporting events since at least 1918, and which officially became the national anthem in 1931, serves as a continuing reminder that this great nation has overcome threats and danger and continues to be a light of freedom in the world. It is a reminder that many of our citizens have fought and died for the freedom that allows us to do things like attend sporting events and enjoy our liberty, as imperfect as some may think it to be. There is still none better on this earth. It is out of respect for those who have given us our freedom that we stand when the anthem is played. Is this something that truly deserves to be disrespected?
The American flag is a symbol of our freedom and liberty. It is a symbol that Americans have rallied behind in times of war and travail.
It is a symbol that we have proudly followed at events around the world.
Who has not swelled with pride when our flag is hoisted at the Olympics, for example, to the strains of “The Star Spangled Banner?”
Unfortunately there are those who choose to desecrate and disrespect our flag. It has been publicly burned and torn, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such actions are protected by the First Amendment as “symbolic speech.” As distasteful and disrespectful as such actions are, they are constitutionally protected acts of free speech, and to legally ban such acts would be to remove one of the freedoms from the land that the flag represents. This does not mean that the flag deserves any less respect than the national anthem and we stand when the flag passes for exactly the same reason, out of respect for those who have given us our freedom.
NFL players are very highly paid employees of their teams. They are contracted to do one thing – play football. Last weekend, a large number – some report 200 – of these overpaid prima donnas, decided to disrespect their nation’s flag and their nation by kneeling, sitting or various other antics during the national anthem. Some, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, didn’t even have the courage to publically commit their disrespect and, instead, hid in the tunnel.
One man had the courage to come forward and show respect. No one could miss Alejandro Villanueva as he stood, helmet under his arm and hand on his heart. You see, Army Major Villanueva fought for his country and understands commitment and courage. I don’t think any of us really believe the lame walk back of his actions, pretty obviously prompted by team management. No, he was standing too proudly, too resolutely. His focus says it all.
While we are entitled to speak freely, we are not entitled to do so in a particular venue. While speech is protected, access to a particular forum is not, so if the NFL or the teams wanted to stop the disrespect, they certainly would be within their rights. Looking at TV viewership and empty seats, the disrespect is obviously not going over well with fans, largely conservative and Trump supporters.
Trump won a decisive victory, and the left still hasn’t figured out what happened. The owners and the media will, eventually. Football won’t disappear but it will be diminished.
As Daniel Sobieski wrote, “Those who would take a knee to protest the American flag have likely never been handed a folded one. NFL players who want to take a knee should talk to wounded warriors who no longer can.”
Ball is a Peters Township councilman and the vice chairman of the Washington County Republican Party.
The cost the american public incurs due to immigration
Posted September 24, 2017, 10:25 am
Want to start an emotional discussion without mentioning Pitt, Penn State or the Steelers? Bring up the subject of immigration.
Everyone seems to have an opinion whether it is good or bad, and how it should be administered. To some, immigrants are vital to our country, and to others they are the root of all our problems. In a series of columns, I will examine one facet of immigration: what it costs this nation and how those costs might be reduced.
On the plus side, many immigrants contribute in very positive ways to our economy. However, a significant number of immigrants cost billions each year in taxes, drain public resources, frequently present safety and security risks, and are a rapidly growing and all too often non-assimilated demographic.
The very real problem is to mitigate the negative and accentuate the positive.
Every year, our Congress struggles to produce a balanced budget. Rancorous discussion ensues regarding how much money gets spent on which items and from where the money will come. One topic that receives scant attention is the incredible amount of money Congress allocates for things it shouldn’t be spending money on in the first place.
First, the government should not be spending taxpayer dollars on illegal immigrants.
Illegal immigrants reside in this country in violation of federal law. Estimates vary, but the number of illegal immigrants almost certainly exceeds 11 million. A 2013 report from the Heritage Foundation estimated that the net cost to the United States is approximately $54.5 billion a year.
They arrive in various ways, whether by crossing our southern border or overstaying their visas. Some are actually “imported” by our government for “policy” reasons. But they arrive in large numbers every year, or at least they did under the previous administration.
Illegal immigrants tend to be low-skilled and have low education levels. The percentage of low- skilled illegal immigrants is estimated to be 40 percent. Despite the fact that they are legally prohibited from receiving state or federal aid, certain states and cities make them eligible for many of the over 80 means
tested welfare benefits that our government provides. These benefits include cash, food, housing, medical and other services.
In many areas of the country, illegal immigrants flood public schools at an average cost of $12,300 per pupil. That number can be significantly higher in many areas. They also consume population- based services such as police, fire, highways and parks. In many areas, they also crowd our jails. Twenty
two percent of the federal prison population consists of immigrants, and 14 percent, or 26,000 prisoners, are illegal immigrants. That is just federal inmates.
Immigration to our great nation is a privilege, not a right. If there is a right involved in immigration, it is our right, as a sovereign nation, to control who enters our country. It is our right to allow in only those who will make a positive contribution and who will assimilate.
We have absolutely no obligation to admit anyone, least of all those who come here to consume our resources, become burdens upon our society, fail to assimilate and to cause disruption. We certainly have no obligation to automatically call the progeny of anyone who happens to be here in any non-citizen status a “citizen.”
We also certainly have no obligation to automatically allow the greatly-extended families of anyone who comes here to come also. We do have every right, and indeed obligation, to expel anyone who enters this country illegally. We have the same right and obligation to expel anyone who may be here legally but who commits a serious crime.
We are constantly told we are a nation of immigrants. The real immigrants to this nation came here legally. They demonstrated that they had family or friends to support them, that they had enough money to support themselves until they found employment, that they had the skills to be employed. They went through the naturalization process. The real immigrants contributed to this nation by hard work. They learned our ways and our language and they assimilated. They became Americans. This is the “nation of immigrants.”
Real immigrants come here legally with the dream of becoming Americans. They contribute to society. They don’t come here to form unassimilated colonies and send America’s wealth elsewhere. They are not the unskilled and net negative contributors to our federal budget. They come with a dream, come with skills, work hard, assimilate, become citizens and realize their dreams.
The Pittsburgh area is a great example of how a large, legal immigrant population makes for a stronger and better country.
California and much of the Southwest are examples of largely uncontrolled illegal immigration.
President Trump has already reduced illegal immigration by more than half, and much more needs to be done. Prohibiting the use of state and federal funds to pay for means-tested programs delivered to illegal immigrants would be a great start. When the “freebies” are no longer available, many of the illegals will most likely leave of their own accord, since they are not here for any other reason. Many others will simply not come.
Here’s a suggestion: As part of the immigration process, include a provision that bans the right to vote for 15 years. Then let’s see how many politicians, particularly on the left, are still interested in promoting mass immigration of any sort.
In the weeks ahead, I will deal with several proposals to limit immigration and control its cost to our economy.
It’s not about statutes – it’s about freedom
Posted September 4, 2017, 10:25 am
I recently wrote an opinion piece on free speech in which I concluded that when free speech is suppressed and one group dictates what is “true,” the result is totalitarianism. We are currently watching that nightmare unfold in our nation.
Americans believe in free speech. A recent Rasmussen poll reported that, “Americans agree freedom of speech is under assault, but strongly insist that they are prepared to defend that freedom even at the cost of their lives if necessary.” Those are strong words.
The poll reported that 85 percent of American adults think giving people the right to free speech is more important than making sure no one is offended by what they say. Only 8 percent think it’s more important to make sure no one is offended.
Why is it that the mainstream media and many of our legislators and jurists seem so obsessed with the 8 percent?
With overwhelming support for free speech, just 28 percent of those polled believe they have true freedom of speech today. This is hardly surprising and it is a ringing indictment of the environment in which we live.
Free speech is being suppressed in many ways and I would like to discuss two of them, the first supporting the second: the control of information and the destruction of objects.
Media giants control information. That control is being concentrated more and more each time another merger takes place, eliminating competition and placing control in fewer hands. Advancing technology allows broader and more precise filtering, limiting access to only selected information. Information is either not reported, or falsely reported with impunity, and false “realities” are constructed.
When all else fails, media giants simply “disconnect” sites or people with whom they disagree, as Google recently did with one of its own employees. We saw this repeatedly during the presidential campaign. Watch and see what the media does not report about the recent Antifa attacks in Berkeley, Calif. When general discourse is manipulated, it is no longer free. It becomes one-sided and we move closer to totalitarian control.
This brings us to the current debate over Confederate statues. Objects represent a form of speech, and destroying objects, in this case statues, because of what someone perceives they represent, is a form of denial of free speech. It is no different than book burning. Is the war on statues a proxy war by the left? If people think the statues of Confederate heroes are being removed because they are symbols of racism or slavery, I would suggest they are probably mistaken.
As a point of history, in a letter by Robert E. Lee to his wife, quoted by Jeffrey Folks, Lee called slavery “a moral and political evil.” Lee emancipated slaves, built schools for them and facilitated passage to Liberia. Lee was offered command of both the Northern and Southern armies and chose to defend state’s rights, his home and his home state, not slavery as an institution. Fewer than 20 percent of southerners owned slaves in 1860, and defending slavery was not a primary motivation for the Civil War for most in the South.
Why the war on statues and the war on southern history and identity? It’s all political. It’s all about 2018 and 2020. The idea is to create a false narrative that everything about the South and southerners is evil. Why? The South voted for President Trump, so the Americans who voted for Trump are evil, Trump is evil, both must be removed. The statues are the symbolic connection, the representation of evil.
Eradication of monuments won’t stop with Confederate generals because the generals are not important by themselves. There are two statues in Washington that are surely on the “must topple” list because George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slaveholders and must be expunged from history. While they are at it, other slave-holding founders and presidents include Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Polk and Zachary Taylor. Woodrow Wilson refused to suppress Ku Klux Klan activity. Franklin Roosevelt ordered segregation in the military. Lyndon Johnson opposed civil rights legislation most of his career. Bill Clinton came from a slaveholding family.
While they are tearing down statues, don’t forget to tear down any statue of the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd. Byrd was the exalted cyclops of the Klan.
My point is there is no logical stopping point because the process itself is illogical. This is what suppression of freedom of speech looks like in action. Why is this happening when the overwhelming majority of Americans support free speech? What happens when the leftists show up at Washington & Jefferson College? Are we silent because we are being brainwashed and conditioned by the media’s onslaught?
It is time the 85 percent of us speak out, my friends. It is time to stop this assault on our freedom by the leftist elite.
I’ll conclude with a passage from George Orwell’s “1984”: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day-by-day and minute-by-minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
Real news Americans should focus on is economy
Posted August 20, 2017, 4:18 am
TRUMP AND HIS ADMINISTRATION HAVE MADE A GREAT START IN ONLY SEVEN MONTHS. THIS ISN’T THE GLITZY STUFF THAT SELLS NEWSPAPERS, AND GOODNESS KNOWS THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA HAS NEITHER REPORTED IT NOR GIVEN HIM ANY CREDIT FOR IT. BUT IT IS THE WORK OF A RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT THAT IS FELT BY WORKING AMERICANS – LARGELY THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR THE PRESIDENT.
The media in the past week or so has been full of overwrought discussions, many focusing on what is wrong with America and, particularly, the leaders of this nation. These discussions have been full of emotion, conjecture and speculation, and very short on provable facts, as distinguished from what the media is calling “fact.”
This discourse is entirely negative and, while it might be fun to jump in and provide some adult perspective, I will instead focus on the discussion of what is real, provable and positive in our nation and what is affecting Washington County in a positive way.
What is very positive is what is going on with our economy. When President Trump took office, he was handed a stagnant economy – a historically stagnant economy, in fact. The eight years of economic suppression under President Obama were the first time in American history that not one year saw economic growth of 3 percent or more. Average economic growth under Obama was, in fact, an anemic 2.1 percent, the fourth-lowest in history for any president. Obama’s war on business featured massive federal regulation that cost the economy more than $100 billion a year.
Trump has begun a focused program to end the massive federal regulations on American business and individuals, along with tax reform. There are already positive results.
Since Trump took office, more than 1 million private sector jobs have been created. It is important to note that these are in the private sector, because private-sector jobs help to create wealth. Under Obama, most new jobs were in the public sector, which do not create wealth, but drain money from the economy. Many Americans who had given up looking for work have now rejoined the work force, unemployment is at a 16-year low, consumer confidence is at a 16-year high and the stock market is setting new record highs.
As Trump promised, “Made in America” is a growing reality, with 16,000 new manufacturing sector jobs added in July alone, following the 9,000 in June.
Trump has already eliminated many onerous regulations on American business. He has approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which will create jobs and add to America’s energy independence. He is in the process of reviewing and renegotiating unfavorable trade agreements from the previous administration, an action likely to bring jobs back to America.
Trump recently announced Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn and Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda would open plants in the United States. The Toyota-Mazda assembly plant will involve $1.6 billion in investment and create 4,000 manufacturing jobs. The Foxconn plant will involve an investment of nearly $10 billion.
The policies and performance of Trump have resulted in high levels of optimism in both large and small businesses. The Index of Small Business Optimism is at or near its highest level since 2004, under President George W. Bush. Small-business owners are very positive about the president’s promise, and actual delivery, on deregulation, as well as expectations of tax reform and infrastructure spending. While small-business hiring remains strong, it is weakening as Congress fails to deliver on tax and health care reform. Current health care regulations are suffocating small business and relief is required quickly.
For major job creators, the Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Index increased 19.1 points to 93.3, the biggest quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2009. This is the first time in seven quarters that the index has been above its long-term average of 79.8. An index above 50 indicates expectation of economic expansion.
Major job creators are particularly interested in the president’s plans to reduce corporate taxes, invest in infrastructure and reduce onerous regulations. Tax reform was the single biggest issue with corporate executives. The executives generally see the economy as strengthening and anticipate an increase in capital spending.
The Federal Open Market Committee forecasts the gross domestic product to rise to 2.2 percent in 2017 and drop to 2.1 percent in 2018. Unemployment should drop to 4.3 percent in 2017 and 4.2 percent in 2018. Many jobs, however, will still be less than full-time, and in lower-paying service industries, meaning there is still room for significant growth.
Inflation is forecast to be 1.6 percent in 2017, and 2 percent in 2018 and beyond. Manufacturing is forecast to grow at a rate faster than the economy as a whole, reaching 3 percent in 2017. This is very positive.
Interest rates, including rates on mortgages and credit cards are forecast to increase. Deposit rates are expected to increase slightly. Energy prices, critical to this region, are forecast to improve slightly in 2017 and 2018 and then begin to increase more rapidly by 2020.
For the people of Washington County, these numbers mean a brighter future. Increasing gross domestic product means new businesses are starting, and existing businesses are growing. This means more jobs and higher wages. Stable inflation rates mean that the purchasing power of wages remains stable. When manufacturing grows, it means that good, higher-paying jobs are being created. Increasing energy prices, of particular interest in this area, mean that the many companies headquartered and operating in the county will again be hiring people for high-paying jobs in the energy sector. The stock market is up nearly 20 percent, and that certainly helps fund pension plans and 401(k)s for a lot of workers.
Trump and his administration have made a great start in only seven months. This isn’t the glitzy stuff that sells newspapers, and goodness knows the mainstream media has neither reported it nor given him any credit for it. But it is the work of a responsible government that is felt by working Americans – largely the people who voted for the president.
The real irony is that if the obstructionists would just get out of the way, many of them would also benefit, whether they want to admit it or not.
Ball is a Peters Township councilman, vice chairman of Washington County Republican Party and the chairman of Peters Township Republican Committee.
A leap toward continuing failure – New democratic agenda
Posted August 11, 2017, 8:00 am
Here’s a newsflash. I’d like to say you heard it here first but you probably didn’t. The Democrats have a new agenda! There is certainly no doubt that they need a new agenda. The one they have been using has been a failure of epic proportions.
In eight years of misrule under Obama, the Democratic party suffered the worst elected office losses in history. They lost 1,042 state and federal posts plus four more in recent runoff elections. Democratic Senate seats fell from 55 to 46, House seats fell from 256 to 194. Governorships declined from 28 to 16. A total of 958 state legislative seats were also lost. Obama said he could have won a third term if he were allowed to run again. Good thing for his party he was ineligible because there may have been no Democrats left in elective office at the end of that term.
The morning coffee hadn’t even been poured on November 9 before the Democrats were beginning the blame list for Clinton’s stunning, but predictable, defeat. It was, depending on the time, and whom you asked, Russian hackers, fake news, a Putin conspiracy, misogyny, a rigged election, or any one of a dozen other conspiracy theories. The root cause, however, is that the Democrats produced nothing for the majority of the American people. The economy was stalled, jobs were scarce, businesses were over-regulated, taxes were high and climbing, the vaunted Obamacare had failed to deliver on most of its promises, our military had been gutted, illegal immigrants were flooding the nation, crime was increasing in the cities; basically not much was going well. The root cause was cataclysmic policy failure. Liberalism as an operational strategy simply was not working and has not worked – ever.
Eventually, some Democratic strategists came to the realization that the party needed a new strategy. The old progressive liberal strategy certainly hadn’t worked. Over the period of the past several months they allege that they have labored hard and long to develop the miraculous new strategy that will rescue the Democratic party. That strategy was previewed two weeks ago and will be rolled out more fully over the next several weeks. Guess what? So far, it looks exactly like the old strategy – except it is more progressive and more liberal – and even less likely to work. So much for the “learn from your failures concept.
The new strategy is called “A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages”. The concept, we are told, is to avoid repeating Clinton’s attempt to offer something for everybody and, in doing so, lack a coherent economic message. The new agenda will be a purely economic message. You will, I am sure, be surprised to know that it will propose increasing taxes on “the rich”, more corporate regulation, higher wages, higher spending, affordable college and paid family leave. Just in case you wondered if they had run out of populist ways to spent really huge piles of money, there is the $3000 a year per child, child allowance. All this, of course, will require larger government, more reporting and more personal intrusion.
Let’s take a quick look at some of these proposals.
The child allowance is described as a “universal child allowance” and is a federal check sent to low income families. The cost of this program is estimated to be $180 billion a year to “provide low and middle income families raising children with a baseline level of stable income”. Since when is it the federal government’s job to provide “stable income” for raising kids? Isn’t this what families do? Doesn’t this suggest the potential for serious abuse as a source of income? Most importantly, when has economic opportunity ever been generated by taking money from a person who is presumably generating money and shifting it to one who is not while passing it through the inefficient filter of the government?
Then there is the ever popular higher minimum wage proposal. The deafness of the Democratic policy wonks is on full display here. City after city that has tried this has found that it does not work. Studies confirm that increasing minimum wages actually lower the effective pay of low wage workers because businesses are forced to reduce hours and reduce personnel to maintain profit margins (not the “huge” profits assumed by liberals but any profit at all). Many cities are rolling back minimum wage increases but this is apparently lost on the Democratic Party.
Family leave, like higher minimum wage, is an increased cost to business that must be offset somewhere, frequently by fewer employees or fewer hours.
Infrastructure spending is a favorite of every administration. The real questions are what infrastructure, where and how much? All too often, the projects chosen are pork barrel favorites of legislators for which the economic return does not justify the expenditure. If we need an example, in California look at the Mag-Lev railroad projects. The list is endless. Billions of dollars spent for projects of marginal value when real projects remain unaddressed. Factor in the wasteful impact of prevailing wage and Davis-Bacon on State and Federal projects and the truly wasteful nature of the term “infrastructure spending” comes into focus.
“Making the rich pay their fair share” is another Democratic favorite. How much is a fair share? According to the IRS, Americans earning over $100,000 paid 80% of all income taxes in 2014. In other words, 16% of people filing returns paid 80% of the taxes. Not only do the highest earners pay most of the taxes but the lowest earners were actually paid about $25,000 each per year in earned income tax credit. How much more is “fair”? Studies show that if incremental taxes are raised, tax receipts actually go down as income is sheltered or redeployed.
“All the political angst and moral melodrama about getting ‘the rich’ to pay ‘their fair share’ is part of a big charade. This is not about economics, it is about politics.” Thomas Sowell
This plan is so lacking in substance that even the Democrats’ captive media cheerleaders yawned and ignored it.
With their new economic agenda it would appear that the Democratic Party has made major strides toward guaranteeing its failure well into the future.
Conservative beliefs – Our foundation and our future
by Dave Ball
July 26, 2017
Thomas Paine famously began his pamphlet series “The American Crisis” with the oft-quoted line, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” He said that in 1776, and this nation once again finds itself faced with trying times.
For eight long and painful years, the Obama administration laid waste to the America of our forefathers. The Constitution was disrespected and constantly challenged, the rule of law was disregarded, the idea of a federal republic was scrapped in favor of socialism, our military might was dissipated and our economy was neglected, producing the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.
In November 2016, the American people said “enough” and to the shock of Clinton’s media colluders and delusional pollsters, Donald Trump was elected president.
The “why” was simple. People wanted jobs, they didn’t want America to look like socialist Europe, they wanted a strong military, they didn’t want Clinton. They wanted to “Make America Great Again.”
They wanted Donald Trump.
This obviously sent liberals into deep shock and denial. Instead of responding in a rational manner, the response has been to move radically left and to engage in nothing but often violent obstruction.
The result in our society has been a constant bleating from the media in search of any tiny tidbit with which to denigrate the administration, any reason to obstruct the president’s program.
Why is President Trump’s program causing liberals so much grief? Very simply because he is seeking, in a very short period of time, to first undo the damage of Obama and then to set America on a course to prosperity. What he is trying to do, and will do, is anathema to the liberal mind and they have no way of processing it, so they obstruct rather than think and reason.
In the midst of this, conservatives are frequently, and rightfully, asked just what it is that they believe in, what are conservative values and principles. If more people understood what those beliefs are, we would have less obstruction and more positive results for America. Let’s take a look at conservative beliefs, values and principles.
We begin with the core structural beliefs. The other values and principles depend upon these foundations.
• We believe in government as defined by the Constitution. The Constitution creates three branches of government and gives each separate duties.
• We believe that the duties of the government should be limited and adhere as closely as possible to the 18 duties enumerated in Article 1, Section 8; that is, the federal government has no business invading citizen’s lives in areas in which it has no constitutional mandate. Examples include education, health care, and the invasion of personal-information privacy.
• We believe that the three branches of government should carry out their duties as required by the Constitution; that is, the legislative branch should make laws, the executive branch should carry out laws and the judicial branch should evaluate laws. Judges should not legislate from the bench and the executive branch should not make law by administrative decree.
• We believe that the First Amendment means what it says with respect to the government not interfering with the free exercise of religion, nor interfering with the exercise of free speech.
• We believe that the Second Amendment means exactly what it says with regard to citizen’s rights to keep and bear arms.
• We believe that the Tenth Amendment means what it says about powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
From these core structural beliefs our functional values and principles are derived. These functional values and principles are the way the core beliefs operate in our society. These include:
• We believe in a strong and free economy. A free and open market economy is the result of minimal government interference. The marketplace determines the allocation of resources and seeks sustainable relationships of supply and demand. An open market economy is free of artificial distortions, which result from government regulation.
• We believe in a strong family system. Government interference in society through social engineering inevitably destroys the nuclear family. Strong families create stable and productive citizens and a stable society. Government dependence creates nothing positive, just larger and more expensive government.
• We believe in a strong and effective national defense. The United States must be able to protect its interests around the world. We need not be a global policeman, but we must be able to form secure alliances and stand behind them. We must assure that our nation is safe from aggression of any type.
• It follows from believing in a strong defense that we also believe in a secure nation. We believe in secure borders to protect us from illegal drugs, terrorists, and any other threat to this nation.
• We believe in a strong and reasonable immigration policy, one that assures the protection of American jobs and resources, first and foremost, but also allows qualified persons with sincere desire to assimilate and contribute to legally enter this country.
• We believe in quality education for our children. To achieve this, we believe that the entire education system must be accountable. Education must be fact-based, objective, and free of bias. Government should not be involved in defining curriculum. The educational system should promote moral values, teach the history of the founding of the United States and the truths enshrined in our foundational documents.
This is a short summary of what conservatives believe. There is certainly more but these are the important points. We can define our beliefs. They are grounded in the foundational documents of this nation. They are what America has stood for, for 241 years. They are what built this nation.
The future of America will be built on these beliefs – on conservative beliefs, values and principles.
Trump is producing the results we voted to receive
by Dave Ball
July 10, 2017
President Trump began his quest to “Make America Great Again” on Jan. 20 of this year, close to six months ago. During this brief period of time, what has been accomplished is amazing.
He signed more legislation in his first 100 days than any President since Harry Truman and more executive orders than any previous president. Despite the constant emotional and frequently retracted opposition of the liberal press, he is doing what America elected him to do. He is delivering on his campaign promises. That is delightfully refreshing for his supporters and it is scaring liberals and establishment elitists to death.
A poll taken just before his 100th day showed that if the election were held again that day, 96 percent of his supporters would vote for him again.
President Trump is a disrupter. He is disrupting the status quo in Washington, D.C. He is doing things. He is interfering with the established order of power and privilege. That, all by itself, is a very good thing.
Despite enduring possibly the most egregious ad hominem attacks in the history of politics, this president is getting things done.
To date, the president has signed 40 bills into law, mostly without any help from Democrats. The House has passed nearly 170 bills and the Senate is passing bills at a rate not seen for a long time.
The results we voted for – trump getting it done
by Dave Ball
July 3, 2017
President Trump began his quest to “Make America Great Again” on January 20 of this year, a scant five months ago. During that brief period of time, what has been accomplished is amazing. He signed more legislation in his first 100 days than any President since Harry Truman and more executive orders than any previous President. Despite the constant emotional and frequently retracted opposition of the liberal press, he is doing what America elected him to do. He is delivering on his campaign promises. That is delightfully refreshing for his supporters and it is scaring liberals and establishment elitists to death.
A poll taken just before his 100th day showed that if the election were held again that day, 96% of his supporters would vote for him again.
President Trump is a disrupter. He is disrupting the status quo in Washington. He is doing things. He is interfering with the established order of power and privilege. That, all by itself, is a very good thing. Despite enduring possibly the most egregious ad hominem attacks in the history of politics, this President is getting things done.
To date, the President has signed 40 bills into law, mostly without any help from Democrats. The House has passed nearly 170 bills and the Senate is passing bills at a rate not seen for a long time.
There is insufficient space in this column to list all of President Trump’s accomplishments but a review of major accomplishments includes:
On Nov. 8, 2016, the Dow Jones Index closed at 18,332. On January 20, 2017 the DJI reached 19,827. It reached 21,115 on March 1 and 21,349 at the end of June. This is the fastest rise in history. The market is up 16.5% since the election. This represents a gain of over $2 trillion in value.
In his first 100 days, the President decreased U.S. National Debt by $100 billion (compared to Obama who INCREASED it by $560 billion) and added 298,000 jobs in his first month alone. The US Manufacturing Index hit a record level early this year. The unemployment rate has moved steadily down since January to its lowest rate in over a decade.
The President signed an executive order scrapping much of the onerous Dodd-Frank bank regulatory law, initiated a broad review of the U.S. tax code and kept three large manufacturing companies and 2,000 jobs in the USA.
President Trump promised he would help veterans and he has. He has signed legislation allowing vets to seek care outside the VA system, he has signed a bill giving preference in grants to federal and state law enforcement agencies that hire and train veterans and signed major legislation aimed at increasing accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The President has also signed executive orders to investigate incompetence in the VA, protect those who bring problems to light, as well as update the medical records system.
Immigration and Border Security
President Trump implemented immediate change in the Department of Justice with regard to immigration policy and, as a result, illegal border crossings declined 40% in the first month after he took office and are now down over 70%. Current levels of illegal immigration are the lowest they have been in 17 years and are half what they were in Obama’s last three months.
The President has ordered $1.5 billion in border security funding and ordered an end to the “catch and release” program.
To protect against Islamic terrorists, the President issued two orders temporarily banning refugees from certain terrorist nations. Those bans were initially blocked by liberal courts legislating from the bench. Recently, the US Supreme Court sided with the President and reinstated the President’s order.
The President is also battling a number of “sanctuary cities” which harbor illegal aliens in violation of federal law, as well as cracking down on violent illegal alien criminal gangs such as MS-13. In Phoenix, as an example, this has resulted in a dramatic decrease in crime.
The President has also cancelled the Obama DAPA program which would have given amnesty to four million illegal immigrants.
Energy and Environment
President Trump has been very active in removing obstructive environmental regulations that harm the economy without demonstrable positive impacts. Among these actions were to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline projects, repealing a ban on off-shore oil drilling and ordering a review of the Clean Power Plan to give power back to the states.
Of great significance, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a massive income redistribution scheme which would have been financially punishing while offering no benefit to this country.
Also of high significance, the President began rolling back Obama’s odious “Waters of America” overreach regulations which gave the EPA control over virtually every pond and mud puddle in the country.
On his first day in office, President Trump signed orders withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a New World Order agreement that would give foreign firms significant trade advantages over the U.S., circumvent our courts, cost US manufacturing jobs, increase our trade deficit and destabilize global finance.
The President instituted a crackdown on violations of anti-dumping laws and directed investigations into aluminum and steel dumping. He also ordered a review of all free trade policies including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and began renegotiating NAFTA
President Trump expanded military spending by $21 billion and began the process of rebuilding the military that was seriously weakened by Obama.
He renegotiated the price of 90 F-35 fighters to the lowest price in history, saving at least $725 million and signed arms trade deals with Saudi Arabia worth nearly $500 billion.
The President has also taken a much needed tougher stance with North Korea than his predecessor.
One of President Trump’s most outstanding achievements has been the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch has already demonstrated that he is a brilliant and truly conservative jurist.
The President has prepared a list of equally well qualified candidates for federal judgeships and is preparing for the possibility of one or maybe two more Supreme Court appointments.
There are many more accomplishments that could be listed but these are among the more significant. How positive they are will certainly depend on one’s perspective but President Trump is taking action and that is what is scaring the daylights out of the entrenched elites. Their comfortable existences are definitely being threatened and they are not reacting well.
Free speech is freedom in U.S., around the world
by Dave Ball
June 27, 2017
We are currently being inundated by a flood of political rhetoric. It is impossible to turn on a television, pick up a newspaper, look at a website or scan social media without being barraged with often super- heated talk about the state of the nation, those who run it or those who think they should be running it.
Much of what is in the media and being discussed may be questionable and unsubstantiated, at best. Some may be false, at worst. Some may be true, but requiring context. Some is easy to understand and some probably defies comprehension. Whatever the nature of the report or discussion, it will be debated in living rooms, bars, public forums and other gathering spots.
When this is occurring, we are seeing freedom of speech in action. As chaotic as it is, as long as open discussion is taking place, we are seeing democracy at work.
Our right of free speech is an inherent right. The First Amendment enumerates the rights of We, the People. Note carefully, however, that the government does not give us rights. They existed before the government came into being. The First Amendment specifically prohibits the government from making any law interfering with those rights.
Free speech is a key and central component of our way of life, and certainly of our political system. It is through our freedom of speech that free people are able to obtain information, share and discuss it, make decisions based upon it, and communicate those decisions to others.
Free speech has been described as a “marketplace of ideas.” In this marketplace, many ideas may be presented, and rather than having an arbiter, such as the government, determine which is correct, free speech enables the marketplace to determine the truth from amongst varying and diverse opinions.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, concurring in the 1927 Whitney vs. California decision, wrote that “freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth.”
When this “marketplace of ideas” operates openly and freely, it allows those communicating with each other to form some consensus and some type of collective will. The “marketplace of ideas” is part of the democratic process of decision-making that is then reflected at the ballot box.
When free speech works, people use the “marketplace of ideas” to test thoughts and proposals and ideas, one against another, in a competitive environment leading to some type of collective decision. Such decisions are not always correct or the best possible decisions, but they do represent considered opinion and are an important part of self-governance.
While truth may not always be the product of collective will, the process of free speech and the marketplace of ideas leads eventually in the direction of truth as false ideas and non-truths lose in honest discussion.
Because free speech is also such a significant part of our American ethos of individualism, and thus self-expression, it is also an essential part of our way of thinking, imagining and creating, the essential ingredients of what drives this country’s progress. As such, they are strongly protected by our legal system, beginning with our Constitution.
While protection of free speech is not absolute, it is very strong. Freedom of speech does not, for example, protect obscenities, libel, abusive speech, or speech that creates a clear and present danger. Importantly, the law clearly does not give one the right to suppress speech solely because it is repugnant to one’s own beliefs.
When free speech is suppressed, when the marketplace of ideas is shut down, the group or entity suppressing free speech is saying, in effect, that it will be the arbiter of what truth is.
Today, free speech is under attack in many places and from many directions. In this country, we have, as one example, witnessed the steady growth of “shut-down” tactics on college campuses of conservative speakers or speakers with any point of view that the academic left finds at odds with its point of view. As colleges are increasingly run by left-leaning administrations, speech restrictions on campuses are proliferating and their effect on free and open speech is chilling. No longer are our colleges and universities marketplaces of ideas but, rather, silos of leftist dogma.
It seems ironic that institutions of higher learning, on the one hand, devote disproportionate time extolling what in their cases is a mythical concept of diversity, and on the other promoting layer upon layer of exclusionary speech codes and allowing, and even encouraging, the exclusion of speakers of differing viewpoints.
We have recently seen many notable persons “disinvited” from speaking at various universities or disrespected if they did speak. Political scientist Charles Murray was attacked by protesters at Middlebury College in Vermont, and conservative commentator Heather MacDonald was shouted down at UCLA. Ann Coulter has been “disinvited” from talking at some colleges, and an appearance by British media personality Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled at the University of California-Berkley campus. The list is lengthy.
Closer to home, in Washington County and in neighboring Allegheny County, we have seen political events where elected officials have been shouted down, where their offices have been mobbed and effectively shut down, and where their essential citizen services have been overwhelmed by denial-of-services tactics. All this is denial of free speech.
The denial of free speech we are seeing is clearly being fomented by the left. When free speech disappears, the result is one group dictating what is true – in other words totalitarianism. That is the objective of the left, a one-party system, their system. For the left, big government is the answer. Totalitarianism is the biggest government, their nirvana.
This is why we must fight every attempt to deny free speech. Keep the marketplace of ideas open. Our future and our freedom depend on it.
Withdrawing from the Paris Accord was the right call
by Dave Ball
June 12, 2017
President Trump’s announcement that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord apparently has caused more liberal anxiety than any event since his election but, unfortunately, no further pledges from Hollywood types to leave the country.
At one point in his speech announcing the withdrawal, in an attempt to explain his focus on protecting American interests, President Trump said, “I was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
This drew immediate reaction from His Honor, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. Peduto said that he was “offended” that Trump mentioned Pittsburgh in his climate speech. While the mayor has every right to be offended if he wishes, there are many others who are equally offended that Peduto is associated with Pittsburgh, so I guess we have a standoff.
The mayor noted, incorrectly, that, “Hillary Clinton collected 80 percent of the votes that Pittsburghers cast in November.” I can think of better advertisements for Pittsburgh but, hey, go for it Mr. Mayor. Every surrounding county went for Trump by margins of 60 percent to 75 percent.
In withdrawing from the Paris accord, Trump is doing exactly what he promised to do during his campaign and what the American people elected him to do. He is withdrawing America from an agreement that was poorly negotiated, that has no chance of achieving its vaguely stated goals, that would have cost this nation untold billions of dollars and millions of lost jobs, that would create a monumental income-redistribution slush fund for globalist United Nations bureaucrats and that was unconstitutionally entered into in the first place.
The president rightly is putting America and American workers first.
While liberals and academics are busy indulging in hysterical responses to the withdrawal, I suspect few have any idea what the accord really says or requires.
The stated aims of the accord are to limit the increase in global average temperature to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change in a manner that does not threaten food production and to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse emissions.
Reduced to its essence, all this is to be achieved by reducing the global production of carbon dioxide by amounts to be determined voluntarily by the signatory nations. There are no mandatory amounts, there is no compliance monitoring and there are no non-compliance penalties. In fact, if all signatories were to comply with their voluntary commitments, the earth’s temperature is estimated to be reduced by less than 0.17 degree C in the next 85 years. If China were not to comply with its commitment for a total of three weeks, it would negate the U.S. commitment altogether.
The big kicker is the finance agreement by which developed countries are supposed to commit to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 and continue to mobilize $100 billion a year until 2025 to aid developing countries in some unspecified actions to deal with unspecified and speculative climate-change impacts. What could possibly go wrong with a well-defined plan like that?
In 2016, the Obama administration gave a grant of $500 million to the Green Climate Fund as the first payment of a $3 billion commitment. Does anyone know what this fund is supposed to do? It is administered by the UN, a problem in and of itself, for “green projects.” Noble, but with apparently no oversight. All of these commitments of American taxpayer money were made without any authorization from Congress.
The cost to the U.S. economy for meeting the Obama administration requirements for the climate accord is estimated by NERA Economic Consulting to be $3 trillion over a period of several decades. By 2040, our economy would lose 6.6 million industrial-sector jobs, of which 3.1 million would be in manufacturing. In Washington County, we have already seen the brutal impact of what the Paris accord would look like in shut-down coal mines, endangered power plants and the struggling steel towns of the Mon Valley.
The United States is already $20 trillion in debt, thanks in large measure to the Obama administration. American taxpayers must not be burdened with more debt to subsidize the energy needs of other countries under the guise of an undefined, uncontrolled, unmonitored and unattainable clean energy plan that will do little for the climate.
All most people heard in the president’s speech was his description of how the agreement was bad for the economy, bad for taxpayers and of very questionable value in protecting the environment. He also said that the U.S. would be environmentally conscious, but not by shipping our jobs overseas, shutting down our energy industry or diminishing our national prosperity and quality of life. That is what I would expect an American president to say, and it was a relief after the past eight years.
That was not the most significant part of his speech, however. What made his speech significant was what he said about restoring American exceptionalism. In discussing additional reasons for withdrawing, Trump said, “There are serious legal and constitutional issues as well. Foreign leaders in Europe, Asia and across the world, should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives, thus, our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty. Our Constitution is unique among all nations of the world. And it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it. And I will. It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic affairs but this is the new reality we face if we do not leave this agreement or if we do not negotiate a far better deal.”
I hope everyone understands the importance of those words. In making that statement, the president announced that we are no longer on the path of globalization. “America First” will become a meaningful and sincere policy. The implications of this are huge and deserve full discussion in future writings.
For the present, the president has done the right thing for the nation and certainly for the citizens of Washington County in leaving the Paris climate accord.
When Conservatives Celebrate Socialism
by Dave Ball
April 19, 2017
To Conservatives, belief in an open and free economy and in the free market is a core belief.
We, as conservatives, espouse the free enterprise system, talk endlessly about reward for performance and view redistribution of wealth as the ultimate pox of socialism. We disavow the politically correct practice of rewarding “participation”. We encourage competition and boldly declare that, in this world, there are winners and there are losers.
It would seem, at first glance, that America’s love affair with professional sports is the personification of the gladiatorial spirit of free market competition, the reward for performance, mano-a-mano battle free of political correctness and socialism. But, on further review, is it? Have American professional sports instead become the poster child for everything that Conservatives say they abhor?
Let’s look at professional sports at the macro level, the league level. Whether we are talking basketball, baseball, hockey or football, each year begins with a large number of teams competing for a championship. The National football League has 32 teams and the National Basketball, Baseball and Hockey leagues each have 30 teams. The baseball season is 162 games long, the basketball and hockey seasons are 82 games long and the football season is 16 games long. At the end of those seasons, championship playoffs begin. In baseball, 10 teams make the playoffs meaning 162 games only eliminates 67% of the teams from championship consideration. In football, 12 teams make the playoffs meaning 16 games have eliminated only 63% of the teams. In hockey and basketball, 16 teams make the playoffs so 82 games eliminate less than half the teams from championship consideration.
After what seems like endless rounds of playoffs, each league finally crowns a champion. A triumph for the concept of competition? Hardly. This is where the losers win. There is no cost to the teams that perform poorly, that don’t make the playoffs, and that give their fans little to cheer about during the regular season. In fact, this is where redistributive socialism kicks in. The worst teams are rewarded with the early picks in the amateur drafts. “Winning” high draft picks is so valuable that teams have been known to tank at the end of a miserable season to assure an early draft pick. The rationale for this is a nebulous concept called “parity”. I call it the ultimate participation trophy. Someone needs to explain to me where ”parity” fits into the conservative understanding of competition and free market economy. Parity might have some validity if professional sports were purely entertainment but it is assuredly not. It is big business. Successful teams make millions of dollars, entire industries such as broadcast and cable TV, equipment and apparel are dependent on professional sports teams and the franchises themselves are often worth a billion dollars. Movies are entertainment. But even there, have you ever heard of the director of a box office flop being awarded first pick of scripts and stars for his next film? Didn’t think so.
Professional sports are cartels, legally protected cartels. The number of franchises are fixed. Entry barriers are exorbitant. The franchises are controlled by those who own the other franchises so there is virtually no market mobility. Host cities, and hence taxpayers, are frequently extorted for public funds to build stadiums and provide other tax benefits by the threat of moving a franchise. All this is far short of the conservative ideal of free market competition and free economy.
The single largest source of revenue is broadcast rights. The multi-billion dollar revenue from this is shared in various ways by the leagues with larger shares often going to poorer performing franchises. Basketball receives about $4 billion in broadcast revenue that is shared according to team’s markets. Football, also with about $4 billion in broadcast revenue, shares that equally among all teams. There are initiatives on the part of the players union to also require that stadium revenues from things like luxury boxes and concession sales also be shared. How socialist is that? Baseball has a complicated revenue sharing system that diverts more revenue from high revenue (aka large market) teams to low revenue teams – low performance has its rewards. Hockey also has a revenue sharing system to subsidize smaller market and lower performing teams.
So, to summarize American professional sports leagues, they are legally protected cartels with impenetrable entry barriers that practice monopoly business and blatantly socialist redistribution of wealth to reward those who perform poorly in the market place. How many of us Conservatives are, literally or figuratively, in the stands cheering on this behavior?
In European soccer, there is a tiered structure to leagues. There is an elite league composed of only the very best performing teams and then there are lesser leagues of progressively less talented teams. Each year, the teams that perform least well in the higher leagues are “relegated” to lower leagues and the high performing teams from lower leagues are promoted to higher status leagues. Performance does indeed have consequences. The higher the league, the greater the revenue potential. There is no subsidy of poor performing teams because they are your competition to survival in the league. There is no chance that the 16th best performing team will be in a playoff series with the top team. The regular season has consequences, right down to the last day. The system may not be perfect, in fact is not, but it is a lot closer to a free market product than American sports.
My point in this discussion is that professional sports is a metaphor for much of what is wrong in the way conservatives like to talk about their values. Our values are too often “squishy” and not rock solid. We say things one must wonder if we really understand and if we really mean. If we do understand and if we do mean what we say, are we really willing to defend what we say?
Think about it. The free market/free enterprise example afforded by professional sports is but one example. Who is ready to stand up and campaign for legislation removing the monopoly status of professional sports? Who is willing to support tiered leagues, even if it means that a local team, based on its performance, might not be a “major league” team? Do we really mean that a core principle of conservatism applies to everything or just things we want it to apply to?
Democrats Being Democrats – Blatant Voter Fraud Charged in Philadelphia 197th District Special Election
by Dave Ball
March 31, 2017
The 197th Legislative District is located in North Philadelphia. It is home to 57,125 people, 73.5% black and 2.9% Hispanic. 85% of the registered voters are Democrat but in most elections about 95% of the vote is Democrat, not an unusual situation in the City of Brotherly Love.
On March 21st, a Special Election was held in the 197th District because the incumbent was forced to resign in January having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, a federal felony. The Democratic candidate in the Special Election was removed from the ballot when his residency was successfully challenged. The Democrats nominated a replacement but filed too late. The Green Party also nominated a candidate and also filed too late. This left Republican Lucinda Little as the only candidate on the ballot. The Green Party and Democratic candidates pursued write in campaigns. Not to worry in Philadelphia. Write- ins present all sorts of opportunity for creative voting.
Election day saw an anemic turnout. 2,442 of the 197th District’s upstanding citizens allegedly showed up at the polls to do their civic duty. Even with about 95% of the registered voters, the Democratic machine felt compelled to crank up the fraud machine. So much so that the Pennsylvania State Republican Party is filing a Federal Lawsuit to have the election voided and asking PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro to launch an investigation. See the video link below of the PAGOP Press conference:
State GOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio notes that they have never seen such blatant tampering or violations of the magnitude that occurred in this election. Tampering with ballots, staffing polling locations with unauthorized poll workers, and election board officials handing out “write in” stamps are serious violations of our election code he noted. The violations were so blatant that even a well know Democratic Party attorney is joining in the lawsuit.
The Democrat write-in won with 1,964 votes, the Green Party Write-in received 280 votes and the Republican on the ballot received 198 votes. No, the Republican wouldn’t have won even if the election were fair but the point is that if the Democrats will go hyper fraud in a walk over election, what will happen in competitive races?
This is a great lesson for us as to why we need our Judges of Election and poll watchers. It is the only way we have to assure fair and honest elections. It is also a good reminder of what Democrats do when you don’t watch them. They’ve done it since Tammany Hall days. It is part of their DNA.
With the Democrat’s Selection of Tom Perez and Keith Ellison as Party Chairman and Vice Chairman it’s Game On
by Dave Ball
March 10, 2017
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t pay much attention to who the Democrats chose as the head of the DNC. One liberal no-mind is pretty much the same as the next. We do not live in normal times, however, and the choice they made is very significant to Republicans.
In the eight years of Obama mismanagement, the Democrats suffered one setback after another as Obama led the party steadily left. After the November election, the extent of the carnage was evident for even the most disbelieving liberal to see. Not only was Clinton not anointed Czarina as they all expected but they held neither legislative house and lost badly in state elections across the nation. The Democrats found themselves at an historic low point on the power curve. The country had soundly repudiated leftist progressivism. Their party landscape was a nuclear wasteland. The Democrats were fractured, with young dems supporting the antiquarian Bernie Sanders and Pocahontas Warren. Older dems clung to the Clinton myth, criminality and all. None could seem to understand the reality that neither their message nor their candidates offered anything that America wanted.
Limping into the Democratic National Convention, even the dems realized that new leadership and new direction was critically needed. The question to the average delegate was who and what direction. To the leadership, this had been determined. In the end, it came down to Tom Perez, Obama’s former Labor Secretary and Keith Ellison, Nation of Islam member and Representative from Minnesota. To many, this seemed the devil’s own choice. Ellison is about as radical as they come. A Muslim, possibly the most radical member of Congress, who would represent a turn to the far, far left. Ellison was regarded by some as a potentially suicidal choice. Why these two? When Perez was elected on the second ballot by a 235 – 200 margin, seemingly to appease the Sanders faction, many democrats heaved a sigh of relief, assuming they had dodged a bullet and escaped an openly deranged radical extremist. Because Perez was seen as not as extreme as Ellison, he was immediately defined as “moderate” and declared just the Moses needed to lead the dems out of their troubles and into the land of milk and honey (or socialism to the democrats). His first action as Chairman was to appoint Ellison as his Vice Chairman. Way to dodge the bullet, so much for selecting a moderate and does anyone think there was not a plan behind this.
Looking into Perez’ past as a predictor of the future is pretty scary. This is not a good person. Perez headed a group that took a $1.5 million donation from Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez to help illegal immigrants flaunt U.S. immigration law. His father was Ambassador to the US from the Dominican Republic and a well know operative for Dominican Republic thug Rafael Trujillo. In his early days working for Obama, Perez was an Assistant Attorney General who declined to prosecute the infamous Black Panthers who stood outside Philadelphia polling places with clubs. Why should he prosecute them? They were helping his party and he was the ever- faithful company man. Then there was the issue of uncounted military ballots. As long as these were considered to be mostly Republican, Perez refused to take up the case. When it became known that many were probably democratic votes, he got interested quickly. And of course there was the matter of his failure to halt obvious voter fraud in Florida by stopping the state from purging 182,000 non-citizens from the voter rolls. He has also filed many lawsuits against municipalities to force them to ignore tests for police and fire fighters and to implement affirmative action hiring plans.
It should be pretty clear that Tom Perez is an ultra- left activist and no moderate. Why, then, would Democrats want to install two ultra- leftists when “leftward ho” worked out so well for them over the past eight years? The dems, under a continuing Obama influence, and financed by Obama money, have several objectives. One is to transform America into a Muslim loving democratic socialist nation. To do this, the democrats must do a couple things. One is to change existing voter laws so that immigrants, and specifically illegal immigrants, can vote. This will swamp some traditionally blue states and give the democrats lasting and unbreakable power on the presidency and most probably the Senate. They will replace the blue collar and labor vote that they have lost with the low knowledge Hispanic vote. Think of it – tens of millions of easily controlled low information voters in the fastest growing demographic and a demographic that can be grown even faster with open borders. This is the Democrat strategy. Open borders and changed election laws. Slimy, underhanded, illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, yup, but nothing new for them.
We, as Republicans, must understand what we are witnessing and fight it with all our power. We need to close ranks around the President, stop bickering about small issues and focus on the coming Democrat/MSM onslaught because it has started already. Look at the irrational pushback on immigration control. Look at challenge after challenge to perfectly reasonable voter ID laws. Look at burgeoning unassimilated Hispanic communities in border states and elsewhere. Look at irrational decisions by radical left courts allowing voting by non-citizens. Look at the constant attempts to marginalize the President and thwart his programs. It’s all there, folks. The plan is in motion.
The election of Tom Perez with Keith Ellison as his assistant was no accident or fluke. It is part of a long term and well- funded plan.
It is time to fight because it’s game on.
President Donald Trump Emerges
by Dave Ball
March 1, 2017
Last night while watching his speech to Congress, I was really proud of our President. Last night Donald J. Trump clearly demonstrated to all Americans and to the world that he is the President of the United States of America. There is no doubt that this nation made the right choice last November.
President Trump began his speech with a message of unity and of strength. He called for the renewal of the American spirit. He called for an America that is strong, proud and free. He noted that he had made many promises during his campaign and that he and his administration would keep those promises to the American people.
Last night’s speech was not the dark and often confrontational inaugural address. Last night Donald Trump proved that he has become the President of this great nation. The President certainly laid out his agenda but he also extended a hand to his opponents to work with him for the good of our nation. He offered a number of areas where compromise is possible. While his speech may not have hit the rhetorical chords of a Ronald Reagan, it was solid, held attention and occasionally rose to emotional high points as when he introduced the widow of war hero Ryan Owens who received a two minute ovation.
Overall, Democrats should be scared to death by this speech. Many entered the evening expecting the President to self-destruct with barbs and partisan jabs providing endless fodder for the talking heads of the main stream media to eviscerate him with over the coming weeks. Initial reaction was amazingly muted because the President gave a great speech. Oh, they will find plenty to talk about but it will be minutia. Some will say he didn’t provide enough detail, some will say he didn’t mention one thing or another. Others will take exception to a particular program. Even Republicans will find fault as some will find his programs not conservative enough and others will find them too conservative. He had one hour to cover a game plan for the entire country. Not everything fits into that time slot.
Some major takeaways from the President’s speech, at least in my view, were:
- There will be major changes in tax structure. The focus will be on tax reductions for the middle class and tax reform to make businesses competitive. The focus of reform will be to create American jobs. While lacking in the detail that business analysts no doubt were looking for, this is a work in progress within the administration. I think the President wise to wait until there is some agreement before offering details.
- The President spent significant time on the immigration issue and did a very good job positioning it as an issue of safety for Americans. He clearly enunciated the words, “Radical Islamic Terrorism”, something Obama could not get out of his mouth. He clearly stated that the purpose of the immigration moratorium was to provide adequate vetting procedures to be put in place to protect Americans. He said that the administration will reform the system of legal immigration to improve jobs for Americans, strengthen American Security and assure that everyone follows American law. As the camera panned around the Democrat seating areas, they looked pretty ridiculous staring stonefaced and sitting on their hands when he talked about making America safer.
- One of the two initiatives raised by the President that I don’t really understand is his proposal to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. Obama proposed a similar “stimulus” package that proved to be a major boondoggle. Obama’s plan was supposed to be for “shovel ready” jobs and it turned out there were not very many. The fear is that this proposal will turn into a major league pork package with little real impact. He spoke of “public-private” partnerships to fund it but, again, that does not have a track record of practicality. I hope people keep an open mind about this proposal until the details emerge but it does not seem like a very conservative Republican plan on face value. This is not to say that our infrastructure is not in disastrous shape and badly needs to be addressed, however.
- The second proposal somewhat out of the blue was the President’s proposal for paid family leave. Not only is this not Conservative, it is not even Republican. It is, however, a cause championed by his daughter Ivanka. This may be very difficult to get any real Republican support on.
- The President had a great moment when he introduced Denisha Merriweather during his proposal for school choice. The President aimed this message at all demographics. Yes, our children most definitely deserve a chance to learn, despite teachers unions and crumbling city school systems. That learning can occur in many different formats. Just be aware that there are consequences for municipalities as children move from public to private to charter to home school settings.
- The President offered strong support for the military, pledging to restore our fighting force to its premier position in the world after a decade or more of neglect. He also said that while we will support our allies, they must contribute their share to that support. The President emphasized that we will strengthen our military and back our allies and rid the earth of the Islamic State.
- Then, of course, there was healthcare. The President vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare with a plan that expands choice, reduces cost and provides better outcomes. Such a plan, he said, will cover existing conditions and provide a transition from current plans. It will help Americans to purchase their own coverage – the plan that they want. No one will be left out. The plan will change the legal landscape to protect doctors and healthcare providers from high legal costs and will provide access to plans across state lines.
The President finished big by pledging to break the cycle of violence in the cities and to support veterans. He said, “The time for small thinking is over”. Indeed it is.
It was really interesting watching the Democrats throughout the speech. Their behavior, with few exceptions, was embarrassing and infantile. I suppose at some level, we should be glad that America had the chance to view how stupid these folks really are. They are in the hall of congress, in the midst of a large number of enthusiastic people, listening to a positive speech about the greatness of America. In this setting, they chose to act out like small children. It began with the democrat females wearing white outfits which, if nothing else, made them look like a visiting nurses aid society. The head “mean girl” Nancy Pelosi sat there with a peeved look on her face making snide comments to those near her. She refused to applaud or stand even for the most patriotic and positive comments. Pelosi and Keith Ellison refused to stand even when the widow of Ryan Owens was introduced. That was rude, stupid and disrespectful. The Democrats, as a group, would not applaud when the President spoke of protecting the American people, saving major cities, reducing violence, bringing back manufacturing or de-regulating the economy. Might it be that if these things were done, it would expose what a fraud the past eight years have been?
One can understand why the Democrats would not applaud the President’s call to reduce illegal immigration since that is the Democrat equivalent of a voter registration drive. It’s hard to understand why they would not applaud calls to eliminate sanctuary cities unless you understand they favor illegal alien criminals over law abiding American citizens. The Democrats do not want to protect the United States or keep it safe. They want to see Islamics overrun Israel. They do not want Americans to control their own well being since they see this as the place of the central government elite. There are 94 million people out of work and 43 million people on food stamps. We are in the midst of the weakest recovery in history. Iran is building an atomic bomb and so is North Korea. Cuba is still a communist hell hole. Poverty and crime have increased in the last eight years. The military is appreciably weaker. This is the legacy of Barack Obama and the Democrats. If they sat through this speech in silence, it should have been in shame.
A month ago, the Democrats and the media regarded President Trump as a buffoon or worse. Last night their greatest fear was realized. Donald Trump is the President of the United States and he has a strong vision to make this nation great again. He also has the drive and skill to make it happen. Democrats are an endangered species.
Last night we saw two things; a President with a vision and a group of petulant children still pouting because they lost. The democrats have some tough choices to make. They can grow up and cooperate, or at least not obstruct, or they can suffer another trouncing in 2018. As Republicans, it is our task to assure that we keep the pressure on and the momentum going. I’m all for another trouncing in 2018 cooperation or not.
Of Town Hall Meetings and Braying Jackasses
by Dave Ball
February 27, 2017
Town Hall Meeting – a forum in which elected officials meet with citizens to answer questions and discuss issues of interest.
At least that is what a Town Hall Meeting used to be before the hard left appropriated the forum as a vehicle to showcase Saul Alinsky tactics of deception and intimidation.
The left has obviously not gotten over the fact that they lost the election and Hillary was not anointed Comrade President to continue the Obama socialist takeover of America. For America, this is great news. We will survive and thrive under President Trump. We will return America to greatness and that is, apparently, what is scaring the daylights out of the left. They see their dream of shredding the Constitution and turning this nation into a third world “worker’s paradise” going up in smoke and they are behaving like little children, throwing a tantrum and stamping their feet.
We see news reports of Senior Democratic officials saying that they will respond to the increasing desire of their way-to-the-left liberal base and wage an all-out war against President Trump. Less than two months and there goes the idea of “bi-partisanship” on anything. To refresh everyone’s minds as to what Bipartisanship is, it has three major definitions. Bi-partisanship is what Democrats usually seek when they are in the minority and want Republicans to “work with them” to pass programs favored by democrats. “Bi-Partisanship” is what weak willed RINOs usually exhibit that keeps Conservative programs from being implemented. “Bipartisanship” is what Democrats forget all about when they are in the majority.
Speaking to the “all-out war”, Governor Jay Inslee (D) of Washington, and a poster child for the loony left, is quoted as saying, “My belief is, we have to resist every way and everywhere, every time we can.”
How is the Inslee War Strategy likely to work out? Well, let’s see, Obama shifted the Democratic Party ever leftward and under his brilliant leadership the Democrats lost 11 Senate seats, 62 House seats and 10 Governorships as well as about 1000 state legislative seats. I would certainly encourage Democrats to continue in this leftward strategy and to follow Inslee and the Democrat “senior leadership”. It may be possible to have 90% majorities in both houses.
It seems that the leftist zealots driving the Democrats further left believe that mobilizing useful idiots, unions and socialist groups, (but that’s redundant, isn’t it), for street protests, breaking windows, burning cars, carrying profane signs, wearing vulgar outfits and other childish agitation is the way they will achieve victory. It seems not to have occurred to the radicals that this is simply pushing their party further away from the American public, the adults, the people who vote. It is catering only to the interests of the coastal extremes of the party. Hating President Trump as a central focus is not a strategy for winning elections; it is an emotional response of immature adolescents.
All of this brings us to recent happenings in Washington County and surrounding areas. These are the phony “Town Hall Meetings” staged by left wing union groups and Democrats intended to ambush Republican legislators. The MO goes like this; a Democrat group, in association with some group like the SEIU, announces a Town Hall meeting with a Congressman on short notice, generally failing to invite the Congressman or only “inviting” the Congressman at the last minute. Why would the elected official want to attend such a function where there are essentially no rules and there is no intent to discuss anything, only to harangue and harass? We saw one example of this when Congressman Tim Murphy was “invited” to a Town Hall meeting at the Court House in Washington. Democrats aided by the SEIU and a local non-profit made sure that the deck was heavily stacked with SEIU demonstrators and sign carriers. Not only was the Congressman not invited but the sponsors told the press that Congressman Murphy had cancelled and was known to cancel from these events. Nothing could be further from the truth. To compound the bias and illegality, the Democrat County Commissioners allowed the rally to take place in the Commissioner’s meeting room despite specific county policy prohibiting such events in county facilities. The good news is very few people actually showed up. A group from the non-profit and the SEIU people and staffers were probably the majority of the 40 or so in attendance.
Earlier, Congressman Murphy was scheduled to speak to a class at Duquesne University. Someone posted signs around campus urging mass attendance and urging people to ask questions about all sorts of topics not related to the purpose of the class. When it became apparent that there would probably be people who were not only not part of the class but not part of the University in attendance and probably there to agitate and harass and that the campus police could not provide adequate security (despite statements made later), Cong. Murphy had no choice but to cancel his appearance.
The left, of course, has a field day pumping out lie after lie to their compliant media buddies about elected officials being afraid to discuss issues with constituents and cancelling meetings. This is when they take time away from lying about the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act and controlling immigration.
It is a sad state of affairs but the Democrats have moved so far left that they no longer know or care what truth is. They are scared to death that President Trump will do exactly what he promised from one end of his campaign to the other – to dismantle the administrative mess that Obama created. They will tell whatever lies they can and create whatever fake news stories they can to try to discredit the President and maintain their cozy socialist publicly supported positions. What, me work?
It’s over for them. Socialism ends when the people with the money (that’s you and me, the taxpayers) refuse to keep paying. We are there. It is up to us to keep up the momentum we gained in November, to support our elected Republicans and to bury the whining and corrupt left.
There is much work to do. It begins with replacing the Unaffordable Care Act and extends on to protecting our borders, protecting the vote, promoting business, housecleaning government bureaucracy and reforming taxes. That’s just the beginning.
God bless our great nation.
Distorted Media View of America
by Dave Ball
January 23, 2017
Switching from channel to channel over the weekend was really interesting. Firstly, it once again reminded me that I need to get outside more. More than that, however, it painted a clear picture of the distorted view of America that is being portrayed by our media.
At a macro level, the picture being presented was ten miles wide and a half- inch deep. It was all show and no analysis but that, unfortunately, is what we have come to expect from most of our media. Long gone are the true journalists, replaced by sound bite sensationalists, who are capable only of sending pictures edited to satisfy their political or social agenda with no analysis or analytical perspective. On the receiving side, the “one channel public”, people who receive their “news” from only one source that sooths their political or social perspective because they have never been taught the art of critical thought, soak up the images and never question the commentary.
I saw what we all saw. Endless hours of long range shots of mobs of mostly women parading in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Some carrying signs, many wearing shirts with logos of various natures. There were also shots of hoodlums breaking windows, burning cars, burning trash containers, destroying traffic signs and defacing buildings. The incessant message from the breathless talking heads was that these were huge protests against President Trump. That’s the half inch deep view.
No one was delving more deeply into who it was that was demonstrating, why they were there, and what caused such emotion in the first place.
To address the last question first, this nation has just endured eight years of the most divisive administration in memory. President Obama played the race and class cards on a regular basis. Further, he went out of his way to pursue an imperial presidency wherein much of his agenda was implemented by executive order creating further division. A constant vector to the left politically alienated much of the country as polls time and again clearly showed. Prior to the campaign, a Pugh Poll showed the United States was as politically divided as it ever had been in its history. A bitter campaign simply compounded the divide. It should, therefore, be no surprise that President Trump begins his presidency with a divided nation. The shame is how half of that nation is reacting to not being on the winning side. In 2008 and in 2012 Conservatives were equally disappointed at not winning but they did not display their disappointment by acting out like undisciplined pre-school children. Part of the problem may well be that many of today’s liberals have grown up in the “participation award” environment where they have never learned they can’t have everything they want, where they have no self-discipline. These are the snowflakes that populate our college campuses and need therapy animals and play dough to deal with the “trauma” of an adverse happening in their lives. These emotionally immature individuals may well be many of those who were acting out in some of the demonstrations.
Interviews with demonstrators and rioters ran the gamut from cogent to inane. Some of the marchers were able to articulate the cause they represented and why they were there. More were not able to articulate much of anything other than they were “just mad”. Organizers and speakers had various messages, again some cogent and some simply rabble rousing emotionalism. What was absolutely lacking was anything resembling the advertised inclusivity. Only one point of view was welcome and other views were clearly excluded. The march was definitely not about empowering all women but focused entirely on aggrieved leftists of the professional victim class.
What were the causes represented? Pretty much everything near and dear to the political left. There were of course the Pro-Choice abortion supporters, pro-gay marriage and pro-gay rights (whatever they are as opposed to anyone else’s rights) supporters, pro-marijuana supporters, pro-immigration supporters, Black lives Matter fans, Multiple lives (black, brown, Muslim etc.) matter fans (the same people who deride the “All Lives Matter” people) and, of course, those who simple hate President Trump because he wasn’t their choice.
My point is simply that, contrary to what many MSM newscasts might have their audiences believe, the marches were not a single issue protest against President Trump. Many demonstrators were proclaiming the same causes they have been demonstrating for, for many years. Many were not demonstrators at all but, rather, thugs and hooligans goaded on to commit malicious damage. The gathering was large because the previous administration had spent eight years developing a polarized and divided America and the venue was in the heart of liberal territory.
Free speech is a very fundamental right that we enjoy in this nation. For those that were expressing a point of view in a peaceful manner, as many were, that is their right whether we agree with their view or not. Those that stepped over the line of tasteful discourse by the use of obscene language or apparel, and there were many in this group, they need to grow up. What they are doing is purely exhibitionism and in poor taste. It is really hard to ascribe any credibility to celebrity speakers like Madonna and Ashley Judd when they talk about being loud and vulgar people or about blowing up the White House. Someone needs to explain how this advances the cause of women.
The hooligans who were destroying and damaging property were pretty easy to pick out of the crowd because most obviously were not part of any of the groups represented. Some may have been hired thugs, some may have simply been opportunists. In any case, of the 250 arrested and charged with felony rioting, if convicted, a large number need to be given jail terms and large fines. Thugs need to understand that the Obama policy of “room to riot” is over. Law and order is now the way of the land.
Our media needs to stop pouting and feuding and start a return actual journalism wherein they analyze events and look for causes and driving forces rather than editing sound bites to fit political and social agendas.
The Speech I Heard
by Dave Ball
January 21, 2017
Like a very large number of Americans, I watched President Trump’s Inaugural Address on Friday. Apparently the address that I watched was not the same one seen by a number of media outlets and talking heads. This is the real story of what needs to be changed in America.
President Trump gave a very strong and direct speech in which he minced no words in describing how his administration would govern. He clearly stated a number of things: he said that we, the citizens of America,are joined in an effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise to all people, that together we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come. He said we are transferring power from Washington back to the American people. He said that the establishment, the power elite in Washington, protected itself but not the citizens of this country. He said that what truly matters is not which party controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people.
President Trump said that the oath of office he took is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. He said that the day of America enriching foreign countries to our detriment is over. From this day forward, it is America first. He then went on to enumerate multiple ways in which that vision will benefit all Americans.
President Trump spoke of a new national pride and of spreading opportunity to all Americans. Whether born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or on the windswept plains of Nebraska, every child will be able to look up and be filled with the same dreams and be infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.
This is the speech I heard, and I know this is what I heard because I am reading the transcript as I write. A writer in the Guardian wrote, “His inaugural address sounded like any speech at a Trump rally. The scene was a campaign event writ large, with massive cheering crowd of white people wearing “Make America Great Again” red caps. Like his tone as a candidate, the new president’s voice was angry and dripping with pessimism….President Trump drew a dark picture of a country under siege from foreign trade competitors, Muslim terrorists and Washington insiders. There were no grace notes.” What speech did she watch? His sin, apparently, was that he didn’t use any of his short time “extending olive branches” and well wishes and being magnanimous. Then, apparently, the writer was appalled that he was rude to the Obamas. I wonder if she remembers Obama’s first inaugural speech and his comments about President Bush? At that point, she goes completely off the rails from talking about the inaugural speech and criticizes the “unprepared billionaires who displayed their ignorance at hearings last week”..and on to a love fest about Rep. John Lewis. Just for the record, President Trump mentioned terrorists once, in one sentence.
Leaders around the world seemed much more circumspect in their comments, as one would expect. Pope Francis urged Mr. Trump to show concern for the poor, Mexico’s president said that “we will work to strengthen our relationship with shared responsibility. The British offered President Trump “their warmest congratulations.
American celebrities, mostly snowflakes, were predictably distraught, seeing nothing but doom and gloom although none were speaking from Canada as they had promised. Local news media largely ignored the inauguration except to report on area residents who attended and to emphasize riots and demonstrations as opposed to the event itself.
So, how can it be that a speech that was very uplifting to all Americans, that promised to return government to the people, that promised to put America first in the dealings of the nation be seen as dark and gloomy? It only can from the perspective of special interests who feed off the government and depend on central government for their existence at the expense of the rest of us. In November Americans rose up and said they had had enough of that; That working Americans, those who paid the taxes, were tired of subsidizing bloated bureaucracies and overpaid bureaucrats. They were tired of governance by executive order. America was not achieving greatness under the socialist vision of Obama and the democrats and America wanted a change.
Friday at noon change arrived.