Thursday, September 21, 2017

Investing Know-How

Investment manager Peter Lynch became famous in the late 1970's through the decade of the 1980's managing Fidelity's Magellan Fund.

Between 1977 and 1990 Lynch averaged a 29.2% annual return for Magellan which was more than double the S&P 500 market index for that period. During his tenure at Magellan its mutual fund assets grew from $18 million to $14 billion.

Peter Lynch used to say that he got some of his best investment ideas by walking around the shopping mall. "If you like the store, chances are that you will love the stock." That was Lynch's way of saying that people should invest in what they know. Start there and learn more about the product and the company. It does not necessarily take investing genius. It just takes tapping in to what you know and following through with some necessary research and due diligence.

Although malls might have been a good place to look for stock ideas in the 1980's that day seems to have passed.

Take a look at this chart that shows the changes in stock market value of some of the biggest names in retail between 2006 and 2016. The malls and shopping centers have not been a good place to shop for stock market winners.

However, what the retail giants have lost in value, Amazon has made up---and more.

The malls might not have been a good place to look for investing ideas the last decade but you could have done pretty well for yourself by just sitting at a computer keyboard or looking at your phone and letting your fingers do the walking for you.

Consider the wealth that has been created in the stock appreciation of just five stocks over the last ten years.

I am certain that all of you were aware of the names of these companies ten years ago. Almost all of you have undoubtedly utilized their products or services in some way. Did you own any of these stocks?

All the numbers below assume $1,000 was invested in each of these stocks on September 1, 2007 (except Facebook which did not go public until 2012 where I have used a 5-year period) and held until August 31, 2017.

If you had invested just $1,000 in these five stocks you would now have over $100,000. Your original stake would now be 20 times larger.

This would have given you an average rate of return of over twice what Peter Lynch was able to produce and for which he became known as the best mutual fund investment manager of his era.

It could have all been done by just letting your fingers doing the walking. There was no reason to even visit the mall.

Investing is easy if you have the know-how.

It is even easier with ten years of hindsight.

If you didn't own these stocks directly I hope you are consistently investing in high quality equity mutual funds. If you are, the odds are you will get your share of winners like these over time. You might not get them for the full run-up but you will still participate in their growth.

The next decade will bring similar winners. I don't know who they will be. However, there will be similar stories in another decade. You can't play if you don't save and put your money to work in order to participate in what the future will provide.

Save. Invest. Diversify. Let the money compound.

That is the know-how to know how to become wealthy over time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


There is no one that is a bigger fan of Chick-fil-A than me.

I had my first Chick-fil-A in Atlanta back in 1972 when I was just starting law school. At that time I don't think CFA had more than 20 locations. Today CFA has over 2,100 locations.

When I moved to Ohio in 1979, CFA had only one unit in Ohio. It happened to be in the town I moved to. I can honestly say that it was a factor in my decision to take the job offer and move there.

For about 20 years there was a CFA in a food court near where I worked. There were not many days that I did not head that way for lunch. It was hard to justify eating at any other fast food restaurant.

The same goes for Mrs. BeeLine and me today when we travel. If we are stopping for something to eat, it will be at Chick-fil-A.

Every time I eat at Chick-fil-A I marvel at the number of customers in the restaurant and in line at the drive-thru. You typically don't see that traffic at other restaurants.

It all adds up in the sales numbers and CFA is demolishing its competition in average per unit sales.

Here is the 2016 ranking of average sales per unit for the top 50 fast food restaurants in the United States.

CFA is in a class by itself. Average sales per unit are 63% higher than the next closest competitor. The average CFA location is selling almost $2 million more per location that McDonald's.

CFA's unit sales are more than double In-N-Out Burger and Chipotle.

CFA is tripling the volumes of Wendy's and Burger King.

Here is a list of the top 21. Go here to see the complete top 50 list.

CFA's volumes are even more impressive considering that they are doing it in a 6 day week rather than 7 days.

CFA still has amazing growth potential when you look at other numbers. McDonald's has 7 times the number of U.S locations. Burger King and Wendy's have 3 times the locations. CFA has not scratched the surface of its potential.

I had the good fortune to meet CFA founder Truett Cathy several years before his death.

When I met him I told him that I was one of CFA's biggest fans. In fact, I told him that I had eaten at CFA five days that week.

He looked at me with a grin and quickly responded,

"We are open six. What were you doing on the other day?"


It was my pleasure to meet the man who has set the standard in fast food.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kicking The Can In Kentucky

In my last blog post I highlighted the enormous unfunded public sector pension liabilities in the United States.

Only a handful of states have anything close to what they need to meet the promises made to state workers.

A few are in  "Code Red" status. It appears to be simply impossible for them to meet their obligations. Major changes will have to be made in these plans for there to be any hope that these pensions plans will not totally collapse at some point in the future. You can also be sure that large tax increases in these states are a near certainty as part of any solution.

Let's look at one of the "Code Red" states in particular---Kentucky.

Kentucky's state pension plans are a mere 31% funded according to the Bloomberg report referenced in my last blog.

The worst funded plan within all of Kentucky state plans is the so-called KERS-NH plan that covers state employees in non-hazardous positions.

It is only 16% funded. $13 billion in liabilities for promised pensions with only $2 billion in assets.

Kentucky recently hired an outside pension consultant to assess the situation and recommend steps that needed to be taken.

This is chart from the report of that consultant (PFM Group) that shows how close this pension plan is to total insolvency based on current practices. This chart also assumes that current employees will earn no further pension credits through any future wage growth. This clearly is a realistic assumption.

The projection is that this pension fund will have no assets at all in about ten years based on current assumptions. No assets means there is no money to pay anybody a pension who is a participant in this plan. Zero. Nada. Zip.

How do you save a pension plan that is in this kind of shape?

It requires drastic actions. Simply closing the plan to new participants does not come close to solving the problem when it is this bad and this late in the game.

Politicians do not like to make tough decisions. It is always better for them after the next election. However, the responsibility to fix this mess falls on the Kentucky legislature. Delaying or deferring action will only make the problem even worse.

This is what the consultant had to say about that.

“This is the time to act,” said Michael Nadol of PFM. “This is not the time to craft a solution that kicks the can down the road.”
“All of the unfunded liability that the commonwealth now faces is associated with folks that are already on board or already retired,” he said. “Modifying benefits for future hires only helps you stop the hole from getting deeper, it doesn’t help you climb up and out on to more solid footing going forward.”

What are the actions that are recommended?

1. Freeze the pension benefits of most current state and local workers. All of those workers would then be shifted to a 401(k)-style investment plan that offers defined employer contributions rather than a defined retirement benefit.

2. Increase the retirement age to 65 for most state workers.

3. Take cost of living increases away that were added to current pensioners since 1996. This would reduce current pensions to the original amount earned at retirement age. This would generally reduce the current pension benefit by at least 25% for anyone who has been retired since 2001.

However, even with freezing and rolling back the pension payments as recommended above, Kentucky would still need to find an extra $1 billion per year in additional pension funding to keep the state pension plans afloat.

This is despite the fact that pension funding has already been crowding out almost everything else in the state budget for the last 10 years as this chart indicates.

To obtain $1 billion in additional state funding without a tax increase would require that K-12 school funding be cut by over $500 million per year and spending at most other state agencies would need to be cut by 17% to make up the difference according to State Budget Director John Chilton.

In the wake of the consultant's report and the publicity that has surrounded it, Kentucky is now starting to see a mass of state worker retirements. These people apparently believe they can beat the clock on any changes. It is reminiscent of a run on the bank in the 1930's.  However, the reality is that these actions will only hasten the deterioration of these plans. More money will go out the doors every month. The problem will only get worse.

Predictably, the public sector unions are not happy with the recommendations and will surely put up a fight as the Kentucky legislature considers what to do about the massively underfunded state pension plans.

You can be sure that kicking the can down the road is the preferred option. However, Kentucky has already done that one too many times before.

There is almost nothing left to kick. The money will soon be gone and those state employees will learn too late that their pension plan was not much different than a Ponzi scheme perpetrated on them by their elected officials. All they will get is a gigantic kick in the pants.

Coming soon to a state near you?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blue States In The Red

Dark days appear to be ahead for many states, their pensioners and taxpayers, if you look at the most recent funding level of state pension funds.

These pension plans typically provide the main source of retirement income for state workers, public school teachers and university personnel. In most states, public safety personnel such as police and fire also participate. Big cities, like Los Angeles or Chicago, typically have their own pension plans and are not in the state plans.

According to the latest data compiled by Bloomberg, five states are on "Code Red" status due to pension funding levels that are less than 50%---New Jersey, Kentucky, Illinois Connecticut and Colorado.

New Jersey and Kentucky are only 31% funded.

Illinois is at 36%.

Connecticut is 44% funded.

Here are the states with the ten worst pension funded ratios according to the Bloomberg report.

All of these ten states saw their funded ratios fall in 2016 despite the fact that the S&P 500 increased nearly 10% during the year. The long term bond index was also positive for the year. These states have reached the point that payments to those currently on pensions are draining the assets to such a degree that it is becoming next to impossible to catch up.

How does it get this bad you might ask?

Connecticut is a case in point.

Connecticut is the richest state in the union. It has the highest per capita income. One of the reasons that Connecticut was able to attain that status was that until 1991 it did not have an income tax. As a result, it attracted many Fortune 500 companies and investment managers from higher-tax neighboring states in the 1970's and 1980's.

You would think that all of that wealth and all of the added income tax revenues would have put Connecticut on a firm financial footing.

You would be wrong.

Aaron Short explains the root of the problem in his article in The Daily Beast, "Why Connecticut is Collapsing".

"... the most frustrating thing about Connecticut’s struggles are that they never had to occur.
“A lot of what is going on now could have been predicted 30 years ago,” said state Comptroller Kevin Lembo. “Revenue was flowing into state coffers but politicians never did the hard work to make sure the retirement system was funded. They did the opposite and had them underfunded.”
For 80 years the state failed to properly save for the cost of pensions promised to its public employees and teachers. Its spendthrift decisions led then-Gov. Lowell Weicker to enact a state income tax in 1991.
Soon buckets of revenues from the new tax and from the state’s passage of legalized casino gambling began to flow into state coffers. State’s leaders went on a spending spree.

We see this played out over and over in government spending. Whatever they have seems to never be enough.

Calls for more taxes end up with more calls for even more more taxes.

It is a condition that is endemic to the political class---Democrat or Republican. Connecticut reached this point by mismanagement by both parties.

However, there seems to be some evidence that you have a better chance tof staying out of the red in a red state.

This graphic compares the overall fiscal status of each state with how they voted in the most recent Presidential election.


Is it merely a coincidence that that 20 of the top 25 fiscal rank states voted for Trump and 15 of the bottom 25 ranked states voted for Clinton?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Immigration By The Numbers

You can't run a country by emotion.

You can't sustain a country based on feelings.

You can't let everyone into the United States that wants to live here.

These are facts.

And they are supported by numbers.

If you want to better understand the immigration issue you need to spend nine minutes and view the video below from NumbersUSA.

If you are worried about the decline in middle class incomes---you need to view this video.

If you are worried about sustainability---and for many Americans this is of utmost importance---you need to view this video.

If you are worried about our natural resources and our environment---you need to view this video.

If you are worried about urban sprawl---you need to view this video.

If you are worried about population control---you need to view this video.

If you care about the future of our country---for yourself, your children or your grandchildren---you need to view this video.

Ironically, most of the issues that are near and dear to liberals are going to get much, much worse if current immigration policy is continued.

However, they are the same ones who are arguing that our borders should be open and we should welcome everyone who wants to immigrate to the United States---legally or illegally.

How many of those people understand the numbers about immigration and what it portends for our future?

Why doesn't anyone talk about what the influx of these people are going to mean to our environment, our education system and our economy in 10, 20 or 50 years.

Most won't take the time to look at the facts---and the numbers.

You will understand it all much better in nine minutes.

After you understand it, send this on to a liberal you love so they will better understand where all of this leads.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Art of the Deal

I read Donald Trump's book, The Art of the Deal, almost 30 years ago.

The Art of the Deal
Published in 1987

Trump's thinking and traits have not changed much in 30 years. Most people don't. What they were at 40 is what they are at 70.

Here are a few negotiating tactics that Trump wrote about in The Art of the Deal and some quotes from the book that were compiled by Peter Economy in Inc. magazine.

1. Think big

"I like thinking big. I always have. To me it's very simple: if you're going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big."

2. Protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself

"I always go into the deal anticipating the worst. If you plan for the worst--if you can live with the worst--the good will always take care of itself."

3. Maximize the options

"I never get too attached to one deal or one approach...I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first."

4. Know your market

"I like to think that I have that instinct. That's why I don't hire a lot of number-crunchers, and I don't trust fancy marketing surveys. I do my own surveys and draw my own conclusions."

5. Use your leverage

"The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you're dead."

6. Enhance your location

"Perhaps the most misunderstood concept in all of real estate is that the key to success is location, location, location...First of all, you don't necessarily need the best location. What you need is the best deal."

7. Get the word out

"One thing I've learned about the press is that they're always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better...The point is that if you are a little different, a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you."

8. Fight back

"In most cases I'm very easy to get along with. I'm very good to people who are good to me. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard."

If you read through these quotes you see the same Trump today as he was in 1987.

Thinking big. He's President isn't he? How many thought that was possible when he started?

Never getting attached to one deal or one approach.

Knowing your market. In this case, his base of voters.

Enhance your location. What better location or podium than to negotiate from than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Getting the word out. Now you know why he uses Twitter.

Fighting back.  No need to give any examples here. We see it every day. Trump takes nothing lying down.

The one tactic that I think Trump has yet to fully embrace as President is his use of leverage. He seems overly cautious to me. Perhaps it has to do with Rule #2 above---he is trying to protect his downside and does not want to antagonize Congress unnecessarily. After all, he needs them over the longer term if he is to be a successful President.

I get it. However, I think he is missing some great opportunities.

I previously wrote that I thought Trump should be applying leverage on Congress to get something done to repeal and replace Obamacare.  It would be easily done by simply ending the Obama administration executive order that is allowing Congress to avoid having to get their health insurance through the individual Obamacare exchanges. This is clearly not allowed under the law as written.

Trump could end it with a stroke of the pen. He has the leverage and it could be useful in getting Congress to get something done to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The same goes for DACA.

Trump announced this week that he is ending this illegal executive order of President Obama that effectively grants amnesty to almost 1 million children of illegal immigrants. However, he is delaying rescission of his order for six months to allow Congress time to change the law if it wishes.

For perspective, for those who are now criticizing Trump for his action regarding DACA let us not forget these words of President Obama when he pulled out his pen and enacted DACA..

"This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure..."

That was over five years ago. That is an awfully long stopgap measure. We also know how that policy caused our southern border to be over-run with thousands upon thousands of minor children (many unaccompanied) thinking they were getting a free pass into the United States.

If I were Trump I would make clear that I would not sign any law changing any portion of current immigration law until some basic safeguards were included to insure that we are serious about securing our border and moving towards a common sense immigration policy.

That would start with two items that Trump has already made his position clear about.

1. Funding for a border wall
2. Changes Trump proposed in August about the current rules for legal immigration.

That is the art of a deal. You want something. You need to give something.

You get something only when you have leverage. Trump has leverage. The ironic thing is that he would not have any leverage on the issue of illegal immigration but for the illegal actions of President Obama.

That is why executive orders were not meant for issues like this.

That is why we have laws.

For those who think it is heartless and cruel to rescind Obama's illegal executive order of DACA, take a minute a consider this perspective that I saw on the Twitter feed of David Horowitz referencing an article on the issue from the Conservative Review.

I have found that there is nothing better to evaluate your thinking than to consider "the opposite". There is a reason we have a Constitution and the President swears an oath to follow the rule of law. Those that think DACA is wise, consider the opposite.

And consider the leverage that the occupant of The White House has on this and other issues.

Imagine indeed.


I found this ABC News report on DACA interesting. DACA is supposed to be about young "dreamers." However, it appears that there are hardly any "dreamers" from any other country in the world except Mexico and Central America.

There are none from any Western European country.

None from any African country.

None from Japan or China. There are only 3,800 from India.

Over 600,000 of the nearly 800,000 registered undocumented illegals under DACA came from Mexico.

How is that "fair" to use a liberal term?

What about all of the other children in all the other countries in the world that wanted to come to the United States to fulfill their dreams? Their parents obeyed the laws of the United States and where are their dreams today?

This is the problem when the law is not followed and enforced.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Many, Many Sides

Liberals have a particular way of exalting their heroes but demeaning those they disagree with.

Look no further than the recent headlines where Donald Trump is their favorite target.

The latest round began right after the horrible violence at Charlottesville which Trump condemned this way. These are the exact words from which Trump was criticized so strongly and been labeled a racist.

(By the way, a lot of the criticism of Trump seems to have evolved from poor initial reporting by The New York Times who quoted Trump as blaming "all sides" at Charlottesville. This was mischaracterized by other media outlets to be "both sides". As you can see from the quote below, he said "many sides". The New York Times ultimately had to correct five quotes it falsely attributed to Trump about Charlottesville. Of course, as we have seen from the actions of Antifa in Boston, Berkeley and elsewhere in recent weeks, there is no doubt that hatred, bigotry and violence are not limited to any one side.)

"But we're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Va.. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America."
"I just got off the phone with the governor of Virginia, Terry Mcauliffe, and we agree that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true -- really, I say this so strongly, true affection for each other."
"Above all else, we must remember this truth, no matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our God. We love our flag. We're proud of our country. We're proud of who we are. So, we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen. 

Does that sound like a racist statement to you? You be the judge.

Let's compare that statement which many have argued proves that Trump is a racist or a fascist with a few others.

"I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing, and seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed.” 
 “Germans of future generations will honor Herr Hitler as a genius, as a brave man, a matchless organizer and much more.”

These statements were made by Mahatma Gandhi who has always been a hero of the liberal left for his teachings on peace and non-violence.

Gandhi also was known to have made racist statements about "Africans" to such an extent that the government of Ghana recently removed a statue of Gandhi from its main university campus.

How about this one?

“The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations.”

Those are the words of Che Guevara who ironically has been embraced and elevated by countless liberals and celebrities for the revolutionary romanticism he seems to inspire in them.

Ironically, many of those who wear T-shirts with his image are African Americans.

Jay-Z wearing his Che shirt

Or how about this?

"They are…human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ’spawning… human beings who never should have been born."
"Organized charity itself is the symptom of a malignant social disease…Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks [of people] that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant."

Those are the words of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, which liberal Democrats defend no matter the horrendous stories that we see about its internal operations.

By the way, Sanger also had much stricter views on immigration than Donald Trump ever thought about. This is what Sanger said in a speech in 1925 shortly after the Immigration Act of 1924 was enacted.

...the United States Government has become a pioneer by its immigration laws. It is really putting into effect today in it immigration laws, exactly what most Birth Controllers want. The only thing is, while it applies its laws in keeping out of this country the mentally defective and the physically weak and defective, the paupers and the other kind of so-called undesirables, we only wish it would extend its laws a little bit more and stop the multiplication of the same undesirable type within. 

There are many apologists in the media and among academics regarding the views of Gandhi, Che
Guevara and Margaret Sanger today. They argue that you need to consider the entire life and record of these people before you can judge them.

I don't disagree. I am not sure that anyone can judge any human being on a few sentences, a few months or even a few years of their life.

However, why is it that a 71-year old man who has been President of the United States for seven months is not afforded the same grace?

I think we know the answer. 

There are many, many sides to every story. Why do so many want to make every issue black and white?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

An Upside Down World

Looking at the images coming out of the Houston area it looks like the world has been turned upside down. However, the rain will stop. The flood waters will recede. Recovery and rebuilding will begin. Houston will be restored better than ever in the end.

However, the world is turned upside down in other ways. We see it nearly every day.

Ideology take precedence over facts.

Emotion controls over logic.

Political correctness eclipses practical realities.

Core values and norms that have guided societies for thousands of years have been tossed aside in the inverted world we live in today.

It is not clear whether this flood of nonsense will ever end.

There is no better example to illustrate that fact than the case of 22 year-old Kaylee Moats who has recently started a GoFundMe page to raise money for surgery to treat her for Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome.

MRKH syndrome is a condition in which a female is born without a uterus, cervix, vagina or vaginal opening. As a result, a woman with MRKH can never conceive and bear children and it is impossible to have any intimate relationship.

Reconstructive surgery can be done to create a vaginal opening to remedy the latter problem but is not considered a "life saving" procedure and is not defined as an "essential benefit" under Obamacare.

Therefore, it is not covered by any health insurance plan. As a result, Kaylee's sister started the GoFundMe page and publicized her situation with the goal of raising the $15,000 required for the surgery.

What is ironic is that if  Kaylee had instead wanted to change her gender (rather than trying to fix her gender) it would be considered an "essential benefit" and would be covered under Obamacare. In other words, Kaylee could become Kenneth and have that surgery paid for by Obamacare. However, she cannot get the surgery she needs and just be a complete Kaylee.

Of course, the reality is that Obamacare or "insurance companies" do not really pay anything in these cases. The cost of these surgeries is borne by the other individuals in the insurance pool. The federal government is merely mandating that "essential benefits" must be part of the insurance coverage. This means you and I pay for all of these "essential benefits" in our insurance premiums.

All of this gets turned even further upside down when you consider that until last week our military was spending tax dollars on medical treatments and sexual reassignment surgery for transgender personnel. President Trump has instructed the Pentagon to stop this Obama-era practice as well as cease admitting transgender individuals into the military.

We are even further upside down when we now also have convicted killers serving life sentences in prison receiving taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgeries as recently occurred in California.

Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private who was convicted of leaking national security secrets and received a 35-year prison sentence, put it all together when he (she?) received approval for sex reassignment surgery while still in a military prison. Manning's sentence was commuted by President Obama three days before he left office.

I can only imagine what a Washington, Grant, McArthur or Patton might think today.

Their world's were turned upside down by Revolutionary War, Civil War and World War. Real life and death consequences where failure would likely mean the end of our society as we know it.

Today we turn our world upside down and risk the end of our society as we know it by ideology and political correctness gone wild. It is something to behold if not for how dangerous and destructive it is.

On the subject of Bradley Chelsea Manning, I could also not resist posting the two tweets below (hat tip to @JackPosobiec) to show how the American Civil Liberties Union views "justice". Further evidence of an upside down world. Justice is no longer blind. It all depends on who you decide is on "the right side" and who you deem to be on "the wrong side".

The ACLU's even-handed view of "justice".

This tweet was right after President Obama commuted the sentence of Manning.

This is the tweet the ACLU put out last week after Trump pardoned Arpaio.

Let us keep in mind that Bradley Manning blatantly violating his oath as a soldier in the United States Army as well as federal law.  He was convicted by a jury of his peers and sentenced to a 35 year prison term.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of violating an order of a federal judge to stop enforcing federal and state immigration laws. The judge had ruled that Arpaio could not allow his deputies to question or detain anyone on the suspicion that they might be in the country illegally or turn them over to federal immigration authorities. Arpaio continued his immigration enforcement in defiance of the order arguing that “If they don’t like what I’m doing,” he said, addressing his opponents, “get the laws changed in Washington.”

By the way, the 85-year old Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt by a single judge. His request for a jury trial was denied by that same judge "on the grounds that the law did not require juries in cases in which the potential jail term was so short (six months in this case)".

I guess the judge forgot that the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..." (emphasis added)

The Obama Department of Justice seems to have specifically charged Arpaio with a criminal misdemeanor in this case to avoid a jury trial. Most legal observers believe that Arpaio would never have been convicted in a jury trial in this case. If what Arpaio did was so lawless why was he only charged with a misdemeanor?

According to the ACLU, and many in the mainstream media, it is "justice" to commute a 35 year sentence for breaking the law to time served but it is "injustice" to pardon a 6-month sentence for enforcing the law?

The statue of Mary and Jesus that was removed from San Domenico School in San Anselmo, CA

The topper in all this upside down world we live in today is the story out of California about the Catholic elementary school in San Anselmo that took down statues of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, and other religious figures, because "it could be alienating for that other religion, and we didn't want to further that feeling", according to the school's Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Indeed, we live in a world turned upside down.

May the flood waters recede.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Rain--Too Much and Too Little

Too Much Rain.

All of our thoughts and prayers right now are with the 7 million people in and around Houston, Texas that are dealing with the deluge and floods resulting from Hurricane Harvey.

This catastrophe hits particularly close to home as my daughter lived in Houston until six weeks ago. This is a picture that was taken by a friend of hers on Sunday morning. The water continued to rise throughout the day as the rain continued. This morning my daughter saw on Facebook that another person on that street was requesting a boat to evacuate their family of seven as 2 feet of water had inundated their house. This is about six blocks from my daughter's former home.

Fortunately, the last reports we have is that the houses on her former street are still dry.

Houston faces a long recovery period and it is certain there will be many who will ask how this could happen. Most certainly there will be those who blame this extreme weather on human-caused "climate change".

What they will fail to mention is that this is the first category 3 hurricane to strike the United States in almost 12 years. That is the longest period without a hurricane striking the continental U.S. since data began being recorded in 1851.

As bad as this catastrophe is, and as difficult as the recovery will be from this deluge of rain, it will likely pale in comparison to the human suffering and dislocation that resulted from the lack of rain in the Southern Plains 80 years ago.

Too Little Rain.

The so-called "Dust Bowl" lasted almost a decade spanning the 1930's.

This is how describes the Dust Bowl.

The Dust Bowl refers to the drought-stricken Southern Plains region of the United States, which suffered severe dust storms during a dry period in the 1930s. As high winds and choking dust swept the region from Texas to Nebraska, people and livestock were killed and crops failed across the entire region. The Dust Bowl intensified the crushing economic impacts of the Great Depression and drove many farming families on a desperate migration in search of work and better living conditions. It had a devastating effect on the Southern Plains region of the United States.

2.5 million people in the area were forced to permanently move. To put that number in context, the entire population of the United States then was about 125 million at the time. It was the largest migration in American history.

100 million acres of farmland were rendered unusable for agriculture. That is roughly the total size of the entire state of California.

Oklahoma lost some 440,000 people as a result of the Dust Bowl. 250,000 of those ended up in California between 1935 and 1940 as well as the storyline for John Steinbeck's famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

What caused the Dust Bowl?

First and foremost it was caused by a shift in regional weather patterns. You can see that clearly in this graph that charts annual precipitation amounts in Oklahoma for the last 120 years. Notice the deep and sustained drought that lasted the entire decade of the 1930's.

Compounding the problem were poor agricultural methods and federal policies that encouraged too much prairie grass land to be tilled for crops. With sufficient moisture these lands could grow wheat. However, when the drought came, and with no prairie grass to hold the soil in place, the winds in the plains turned the eroding soil into massive dust storms.

Similarly, the disaster in Houston has been compounded by too much development, too much concrete and other hard surfaces that have replaced prairie lands that used to absorb the water. That water now runs off and is channeled into tighter and tighter areas where flood potential is high.

Those Dust Bowl storms did not just stop at the border of Oklahoma. The top soil blew all the way to the East Coast of the United States.

On May 11, 1934, a massive dust storm two miles high traveled 2,000 miles to the East Coast, blotting out monuments such as the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol.
The worst dust storm occurred on April 14, 1935. News reports called the event Black Sunday. A wall of blowing sand and dust started in the Oklahoma Panhandle and spread east. As many as three million tons of topsoil are estimated to have blown off the Great Plains during Black Sunday.

What struck me as I read the history of the Dust Bowl period is how such events would be reported today if such a calamity occurred.

Think about it again.

2.5 million forced to move. 440,000 in Oklahoma alone. 100 million acres of farmland (the size of California) rendered unusable.

All because of drought.

Do you think something like this today would be blamed on a bad run of weather?

Of course not. This would be cited as Exhibit A as proof of man-made climate change. Or proof that fracking in Oklahoma caused the drought.

Carbon taxes would be levied. Oil and coal would likely be outlawed. Gigantic sums would be spent on "green" technologies. All in the name of saving Oklahoma and the planet.

However, look at the chart above one more time.

Wet periods were followed dry periods ever few years in the 40 years leading up to the 1930's.  There was then the extended drought lasting 10 years. It was followed by 10 years of above average moisture and another 10 year dry period in the 1950's. If anything, the period since has resulted in fewer extremes---especially on the dry side.

What does this tell me about climate change?

Yes, it is always changing. Temperatures have risen and fallen. Precipitation has fallen and risen. And all of it has been happening well before anyone had ever heard of a carbon footprint.

What would the reaction be when the rain started falling again in the Dust Bowl?

"Rain has returned to the Plains states. Our concerted actions against man-made climate change has saved the world!"

They would be wrong.

Who did people thank after the Dust Bowl ended?

Almighty God.

He is in control.

May He bless the people of Houston and its environs in this time of need.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

An Inconvenient Sequel

I doubt that there is anyone who is a bigger snake oil salesman or hypocrite than Al Gore. That is saying something when you consider the competition that exists in Washington, D.C.

Gore has been making dire predictions about the climate for over 25 years. He started claiming that we were on the verge of catastrophic climate change in his book, Earth in the Balance, in 1991.

In 2006 Gore made his catastrophic climate change warnings into a movie, An Inconvenient Truth.

In that film Gore predicted that we had but ten years to get things right on earth or face catastrophe. He stated that our weather would get increasingly warmer. That our climate would become more severe with more hurricanes and tornadoes. And that by the summer of 2015 the Arctic sea would be ice-free.

I debunked all of these predictions with the actual facts in my post "An Inconvenient Truth +10" on the tenth anniversary of the release of the film.

Al Gore is at it again with the release of another movie titled "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power".  I guess it was time for Gore to once again revise and extend his 10 year warning period for catastrophe to overtake us.

It would be somewhat amusing if not for the hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth that Gore has accumulated as he has peddled his propaganda.

What makes it all the more infuriating is looking at the way Al Gore conducts his personal life. For someone who claims that the world is going to come to an end because of catastrophic human-caused carbon emissions, Gore sure does not do much personally to save the planet.

Al Gore took a lot of heat (sorry, I could not resist) after the release of his movie in 2006 that his home in Nashville, Tennessee consumed 20 times more energy than the average American home.

Gore responded by stating that he was going to extensively remodel his home by installing solar panels and geothermal heating. It appears that he did follow through on these improvements and also invested in other energy savings improvements---new energy efficient windows, a rainwater collection system and a new driveway with rainwater permeable bricks that channel water to the collection system.

Nashville, TN home of Al Gore

The National Center for Public Policy Research estimates that Gore invested at least $250,000 and possibly as much as $500,000 on his energy efficient remodeling effort.

You would think that investing that much money in "green" solutions would mean that Gore's house would now be a model of energy conservation.

You would be wrong.

I guess you could also say that An Inconvenient Sequel is a good way to also describe the energy consumption at his Nashville home after all of his "green" improvements.

In 2007, before he made all his improvements, Gore's house was consuming 220,000 kWh of electricity per year. In the last 12 months, that number was 230,889 kWh.

Gore is now using 21.3 times the average homeowner compared to the 20 times he used a decade ago even though he spent upwards of $500,000 on "green" energy solutions that he is urging on everyone else to "save the planet".

By the way, those installed solar panels produce just 5.7% of the annual energy consumption for the house.

I don't think Al Gore ever learned anything about Return on Investment (ROI). Why would he? He is a liberal Democrat.

Here is Al Gore's actual energy usage for the last 12 months on his Nashville home. It is the real truth about power usage at Gore's home.

I find it particularly interesting that Gore is using over 66,000 kWh of energy per year to heat his pool. Heating that pool alone requires about 6 times what the average homeowner uses in energy per year.

Don't you think that if you are claiming that the planet is being harmed to such a degree by catastrophic human-caused climate change that you could sacrifice a little yourself by doing without your heated pool?

I cannot state it better than The National Center of Public Policy Research did in the conclusion to its report on Gore's energy usage.

Upon winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Gore stated, "The only way to solve this [environmental] crisis is for individuals to make changes in their own lives." Judging by his own home electricity consumption, Gore is failing to live up to the standards he expects of everyone else.

Al Gore---Snake Oil Salesman.

Al Gore---Hypocrite.

Take your pick.

And to think that this man came within 537 votes in Florida of becoming President of the United States.

In God We Trust.

It could be that people are finally becoming wise to the ways of Al Gore and his climate change claptrap. It appears that Gore' new movie is bombing at the box office.

According to IMDb, the movie has grossed just $3.0 million in U.S. theaters since it opened three weeks ago. More tellingly, it brought in $961,000 at 180 screens its first weekend but only grossed $816,000 at 556 screens on its second weekend of wide release and $331,000 at 514 screens on its third weekend. That trend is no friend for this film.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Longest War

I watched President Trump's address on Afghanistan last night and it was encouraging that he is willing to try a new approach in the war in that country---fight to win.

Forget the nation building. Forget telling the enemy your timetable. Forget the restrictive rules of engagement. Forget looking the other way as Pakistan plays us in the war. It is time to play to win.

Afghanistan, is by far, the longest war in America. It is now almost 16 years long. However, I think the description given by Secretary of Mattis to President Trump when advising him on the war to be more accurate.

"Mr. President, we haven't fought a 16-year war so much as we have fought a one-year war, 16 times."

For perspective, consider the length of these other U.S. wars.

World War I    24 months
World War II                    46 months
Civil War                                            52 months
Afghanistan                                                              191 months

President Trump stated in his speech that his instinct was to get out of Afghanistan. He stated his instincts are usually right. However, he has taken the advice of his advisers after hearing all the facts.

My instincts on Afghanistan match Trump's. I have spoken to those who have fought on the ground in Afghanistan. They have told me that beyond the restrictive rules of engagement the real problem is that the Afghans do not want to fight for their country. The Afghan forces are more likely to run than fight when engaged. Most of their troops are serving not for love of country, but for the pay they receive for wearing the uniform.

Unless this changes, it will be impossible to "win" in Afghanistan. Trump fully understands that by this statement in his speech.

America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress. However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden. The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results. Our patience is not unlimited. We will keep our eyes wide open.

The most refreshing thing I heard in the speech was the President of the United States referring to ISIS rather than ISIL.

We are accustomed to our Presidents showing defiance to our enemies rather than deference. In particular, to enemies as brutal and barbaric as ISIS. Unfortunately, that was not the case with President Obama.

Let's hope a change in attitude from our Commander in Chief can make all the difference in America's longest war.

For context, please read what has been my most read blog post in the almost seven years I have been writing  BeeLine.

(Originally published September 7, 2014)

You may wonder, as I did, why President Obama and his administration refer to ISIS as ISIL.

As ISIS rose to power in Syria and Iraq over the last year or so, we consistently heard it referred to as ISIS for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

All of a sudden our President started referring to it as ISIL.

I understood where ISIS came from. What does ISIL stand for?

It turns out it is the acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

What is the Levant?

It is a term used for centuries for the area shown in the map below.  The Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. It does not include Iraq.

In other words, Obama is effectively giving due recognition to the ambitions and dreams of these extreme Islamists for their caliphate by his use of the term ISIL. Notice also that ISIL includes all of the territory of Israel. ISIS does not.

Consider this perspective from, which wonders about the President's use of ISIL instead of ISIS.

Now, to us Westerners we don’t really make much of a distinction, do we? No, honestly from our perspective its all about the same. But how would a Muslim living in the Middle East view it? Just what is the Levant anyway? Let’s take a look.
The geographical term LEVANT refers to a multi-nation region in the Middle East. It’s a land bridge between Turkey to the north and Egypt to the south. If you look on a map, however, in the near exact middle of the nations that comprise the Levant, guess what you see? Come on, guess!It’s Israel.
When Barack Obama refers over and over to the Islamic State as ISIL, he is sending a message to Muslims all over the Middle East that he personally does not recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, but as territory belonging to the Islamic State.

With the exception of Reuters, no news organization was using the term ISIL until President Obama started to use it. However, it seems the ISIL label is being used more in the media thanks to the consistent use of it by our President and his administration. For example, the Associated Press recently started referring to ISIL instead of ISIS. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post still refer to the group as ISIS.

When has the President of the United States ever been so deferential to a sworn enemy of the United States?

ISIS is a group that has stated,

“I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established and we will not stop."

“We will raise the flag of Allah in the White House."

We are a long way away from when President George Herbert Walker Bush (41) referred to Saddam Hussein leading up to and during the Gulf War as SAD-em rather than Suh-DOM, which was the accepted pronunciation of Hussein's name. Bush clearly did this intentionally to get under Hussein's skin in some way. It should be noted that he stopped pronouncing it this way when the war was over.

There was an ulterior motive. Does Barack Obama have his own motive in using ISIL, rather than ISIS?

Those who are regular readers of BeeLine know that I am not a conspiracy theorist. I draw my conclusions based on facts and analysis of those facts. However, in this case, it really does make you wonder what Obama is doing, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Trump's Worst Week Ever?

The mainstream media was out in force this week highlighting what many described as the worst week ever for President Donald Trump.

Of course, at least ten times during his 30 week Presidency, one media outlet or the other has stated it was his worst week ever.

The negativity about Trump drones on and on and on and on and on and on.

I am a news junkie but I can no longer bear to hear the same thing over and over and over again on the network news and cable channels.

The mainstream media seems to have made it its sole purpose to demean, denounce and delegitimize President Trump.

They may yet succeed. At their core, most people detest political drama and a constant drumbeat from the media that amplifies anything and everything about Trump will undoubtedly take a toll over the long term. Mother Theresa herself could not withstand this type of barrage.

However, as I wrote at the depths of Trump's problems after the Access Hollywood video surfaced last October, I have learned to "Never Say Never With Trump." 

I have learned to not bet against Donald Trump. He has defied the odds week after week over the last year and a half. He fights to win. It is too soon to count him out. Too many people have counted him out and have been proven wrong.

If you doubt it, take a look at Trump's approval ratings after his "worst week ever".

Only 34% approved of Trump's job performance going into his worst week ever.

After Charlottesville, after Bannon was fired, after the media attacked him day and night for a week, Trump's approval rating rose to 38%.

That may look bad. However, do you know what Trump's approval rating was on November, 8, 2016, on election day before he won the Presidency?


63 million people voted for Trump although only 38% told pollsters they approved of him on election day. As the media tries to make it seem as if all those people are uneducated, uncultured, unrefined and racist, it bears remembering again that those are the most votes for a Republican candidate in history. More than Reagan. More than either Bush. More than McCain. More than Romney.

Yes, the number of voters has grown. However, that is still worth thinking about. The Left and the liberal media want you to believe that Trump voters are out of the mainstream. No, it is the mainstream media that is out of the mainstream.

Look no further than the current controversy about Confederate war statues. A recent NPR/PBS.Marist poll (after Charlottesville) asked whether these statues "honoring leaders of the Confederacy" should remain as a historical symbol or "be removed because they are offensive to some people? By 62%-28% overall, registered voters stated the statues should remain. Independents stated they should remain 58%-32%. Even so-called "soft" Democrats stated they should remain 52%-33%.

The only group that thinks the statues should be removed are so-called "strong" Democrats. However, 34% of them still thought the statues should remain.

I guess you could call most of the mainstream media "strong" Democrats so it is probably no surprise how they are reporting all of this.

The same can be said of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who has called for Speaker Paul Ryan to remove all Confederate statues from the Capitol.

"The Confederate statues in the halls of Congress have always been reprehensible," Pelosi added. "If Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy, I call upon Speaker Ryan to join Democrats to remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately."

Strangely, if the statues have "always been reprehensible" why didn't Pelosi do something to remove them when she was Speaker of the House for four years?

If you want to know why I say "Never Say Never With Trump" look no further than the actions of the press and people like Pelosi.

Trump may have his flaws, faults and foibles.

However, there are two sides in this drama. Trump is not the only bad actor in this political play. In fact, one of the things that appealed to voters about Trump he is that he was not the typical politician mincing words and trying hard not to offend anyone. He doesn't pretend to be something he is not. The same can't be said about the media and politicians like Nancy Pelosi.

The people understand this better than ever. They see the bias in the media and the hypocrisy of politicians like Pelosi in starker terms than ever before. It is on full view everyday. That is why Trump's poll numbers can go up after his "worst week ever."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Insuring Domestic Tranquility

One of the critical functions of government  is to "insure domestic tranquility".  It is in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution. Most historians trace the roots of this important governmental role to concern by the Founders on what they had witnessed in "Shay's Rebellion" that transpired shortly before they convened to draft the Constitution.

Shay's Rebellion involved men who took up arms to protest conditions in the country after the Revolutionary War. They tried to take justice into their own hands. The vehemence and violence that occurred had a profound impact on our Founders as they gathered shortly thereafter to draft the Constitution. Insuring "domestic tranquility" became a key reason for a strong national government.

Shay's Rebellion was also the catalyst to bring George Washington back into public service after his retirement as the leader of the Revolutionary Army.  The Rebellion convinced him to return to public service and work for a strong federal constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. In fact, Washington had no patience for trying to influence or appease protestors who exercised violence. He wanted "a government by which our lives, liberties and properties will be secured" to insure that such tumults would not be allowed to occur in the future.

Our constitution that was created in the aftermath of that civil unrest had as its primary purpose the protection of our liberty.

However, as James Madison explained so well in speaking of the protection of our liberty,

 "Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power."

This is useful perspective to have as we see what has unfolded in the actions of extremist groups on the left and right recently.

Alt right demonstrators carry torches and foment hate in Charlottesville
Credit: @TomasTaylor4

People have the right to exercise their free speech and to peaceably assemble. However, they do not have the right to occupy parks, take over streets, disobey municipal ordinances and disrupt the lives of other citizens.

They do not have the right to walk down a street carrying a torch spewing hateful speech.

They do not have the right to shout down speakers that they do not agree with at public meetings or gatherings.

They do not have the right to intimidate and threaten other people with clubs and bats in their hands.

They do not have the right to enter public property and tear down statues and monuments with which they do not agree.

They do not have the right to take justice into their own hands no matter how abhorrent or obnoxious those that they oppose may be.

Alt left (Antifa) protestors
Credit: @FormerlyFormer

President Trump is taking an enormous amount of criticism for remarks he made in the aftermath of the violence and death of a protestor in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

There seem to be three main complaints about his actions.

  • He did not condemn the white supremacist group forcefully enough in his first statement.
  • He assigned blame to the extreme groups on both sides for what occurred.
  • He was reluctant to paint all of the alt right group protestors with a broad brush because he supposedly did not want to antagonize his "base".

If there is one thing we know about Donald Trump by now is that he is not the most artful speaker of the English language. He is also someone who does not hem and haw. He does not spend an eternity thinking through every word he utters before he speaks. He does not spend time with flourish and fine points. He tells it like he sees it. It is one of the reasons he got elected. Compare and contrast Donald Trump's speaking style with Barack Obama. Trump probably gets out twice as many words in a minute as Obama did. 

However, with all that being said, I have a hard time distinguishing any substantive difference in what Trump said related to Charlottesville compared to what Obama did regarding the Black Lives Matter protests that ended in so much violence.

Did Obama forcefully condemn BLM in any stronger terms than Trump did the white supremacists? If he did, I cannot find any evidence of it. 

Did Obama blame police actions for causing the BLM protests (effectively blaming "both sides") and excusing the street violence that resulted? Yes. 

Did Obama go out of his way to not antagonize the BLM movement and its leaders Yes. He actually invited some of the leaders to The White House.

The big difference in all of this is that Obama got a pass from the media and the political establishment on everything he did. Donald Trump has not. You could call it a double standard but that gets nowhere close to the dimensions of the animus towards Donald Trump.

It is easy to say that Trump should walk, talk and tweet more softly knowing this reality. I am not sure that it would make much difference. A substantial number of Americans (and almost all of the media) do not want Donald Trump as their President.

The irony is that Donald Trump could never have been elected President but for the eight years of Barack Obama.

He would not have been elected if the illegal and unlawful Occupy Wall Street protests had not occurred and were allowed to take over our public parks.

He would not have been elected if the Black Lives Matter movement had not fomented so much violence and hate on the streets and against law enforcement in this country.

He would not have been elected had Barack Obama not worked so hard to create division and dissension in so many areas of American life.

At their core, most Americans, like George Washington, want a government that does not take sides, does not excuse violence and which secures our lives, liberty and property. They observed what was happening over the last eight years and did not like the direction of our country. I know that Democrats and liberals do not believe that to be true. However, facts are facts. Look no further than the votes of the American people for President, the turnover of the Senate, House and what has occurred with state and local offices. How else do you explain it?

I wrote about the Occupy Wall Street protests after I visited Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan back in 2011 and warned about its implications. It was a first-hand look at an abuse of liberty for which the Obama administration and local authorities looked the other way.

From my tour around OWS it was difficult to see anything positive.  Many of the signs had vile language.  It was difficult to see any kind of coherent message.  Seeing it first hand, it is clear that the media has downplayed the degeneracy of this group. 
We have real problems in this country.  If these are the people who are going to lead us to greater promise we are in far deeper trouble than we are already.
What is most troubling is the free pass that has been given to this group.  They have taken over what is privately owned property (although it is available to the public) in blatant disregard of individual property rights.  They have shown little respect for the people who live and have businesses in the area.
Would these actions have been tolerated if this was an openly Communist group?  The Ku Klux Klan?  New Nazi Party?  The Tea Party?  I think not. 

Six years later and what do we have? White Supremacists and New Nazis who think they should have the same rights to protest, use vile language and seek media exposure in the way the Occupiers and BLM did. Of course, that has led to radical leftists believing they have that right to confront them. In these situations in doesn't take much for violence to ensue. We saw that in Charlottesville as we have elsewhere the last few years.

A counter-demonstrator uses a lighted spray can against a white nationalist protestor in Charlottesville
Credit: Steve Helber, The Boston Globe

When two sides are looking for a fight they will usually find it.

Trump was right to condemn both sides.

He should make it clear that those that incite, foment or take part in violence will be dealt with harshly--alt right, alt left or alt middle.

Trump should make it clear that he is motivated by only one thing---the oath he took to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America".  His responsibilities are well defined.

It is high time that we start insuring domestic tranquility and hold people to account who choose to abuse our liberty.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Things That Are True Even If Trump Believes Them

James Damore, the Google engineer who was fired last week for referring to Google in a memo as an "ideological echo chamber" could just as easily have been referring to The New York Times.

The Times has had a particularly bad time in coming to grips with the fact that Donald J. Trump is President of the United States.

The number of negative stories about Trump is only surpassed by the number of positive stories it published about Barack Obama while he was President.

To be fair, the New York Times has actually been slightly more positive than the three major tv networks. This is an analysis of positive/negative coverage during Trump's first 100 days by Harvard's Kennedy School.

Credit: Harvard Kennedy School

One of my favorite quotes from election night appeared in the op/ed pages of The New York Times by columnist and noted economist (?) Paul Krugman on the morning after the 2016 when he famously wrote the following.

It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging. When might we expect them to recover?
Frankly, I find it hard to care much, even though this is my specialty. The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.
Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

This is a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the last year. That low point on the chart is when Krugman was writing that the markets would never recover.

Never is a long time. I don't like to cite stock market averages as scientific data. What goes up can go down. However, nine months later, Krugman could be said to have more than a little egg on his face.

Thomas Friedman is another New York Times columnist who resides within the "ideological echo chamber".  Friedman once said of Trump, "He doesn't behave as an adult, let alone President."

As I have written before, the Democrats, the media elites and  political establishment do not fear President Trump because they believe he will truly make a mess of things. Their real fear is that he will succeed. Nothing would be more damaging to their egos, reputations and view of the world. You need to understand this to understand their true animus toward the man. You should also understand that all of their efforts to destroy Trump are not for you is for theirs.

That is why I found it interesting what Tom Friedman wrote a couple of weeks ago in his New York Times column about Trump.

Of course, he started the column by attacking Trump. However, what I found interesting is that if you assumed that in the following passage, "He" was referring to Obama as President, the same would be equally true.

He seems not to have grown a whit in the job. He has surprised only on the downside — never once challenging his own base with new thinking or appearing to be remotely interested in being president of all the people, not just his base.

However, Friedman moves on from there and provides a warning to his liberal friends.

What strikes me most about Trump, though, is how easily he still could become more popular — fast — if he just behaved like a normal leader for a month..
With the Dow at 22,000 and unemployment at 4.3 percent, oh my God, this guy could actually become more popular outside his base without much effort. That’s scary. 

Friedman then goes on to explain how well Trump has connected on what he calls the "gut" issues with voters. As he puts it,

Some things are true even if Donald Trump believes them!

What are those things?

• We can’t take in every immigrant who wants to come here; we need, metaphorically speaking, a high wall that assures we Americans can control our border with a big gate that lets as many people in legally as we can effectively absorb as citizens.

• The Muslim world does have a problem with pluralism — gender pluralism, religious pluralism and intellectual pluralism — and suggesting that terrorism has nothing to do with that fact is na├»ve; countering violent extremism means constructively engaging with Muslim leaders on this issue.

• Americans want a president focused on growing the economic pie, not just redistributing it. We do have a trade problem with China, which has reformed and closed instead of reformed and opened. We have an even bigger problem with automation wiping out middle-skilled work and we need to generate more blue-collar jobs to anchor communities.

Political correctness on college campuses has run ridiculously riot. Americans want leaders to be comfortable expressing patriotism and love of country when globalization is erasing national identities. America is not perfect, but it is, more often than not, a force for good in the world.

Thomas Friedman seems to have finally figured out why Donald Trump was elected President.

However, it was just not Trump's so-called "base" that elected him. Trump garnered 63 million popular votes. That was more than any Republican presidential candidate in history. More than Reagan. More than either Bush. More than McCain. More than Romney. Yes, the number of voters has grown. However, that is still worth thinking about. The Left and the liberal media want you to believe that Trump voters are out of the mainstream. No, it is the mainstream media that it out of the mainstream.

Can we expect that Thomas Friedman will soon be on the Trump Train?

Or is he just hedging his bets?