Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Best of BeeLine-2017

Here is a Top 10 List for the Best of BeeLine for 2017. The first 5 are the most popular posts I wrote during the year based on the number of views. The second 5 are a few of my personal favorites out of the 132 blog posts I wrote during the year.

If you missed reading these "Best of Beeline" posts the first time around, here's another opportunity to get to "the shortest route to what you need to know" to start 2018 off right.

BeeLine readership grew at a rapid rate in 2017. Total readership grew by over 75% during the year and more than 750 now have email subscriptions. All of that growth is organic. I don't actively promote or advertise this blog. New readers almost always come from one of you passing it along to someone else.

If you enjoy BeeLine, please pass a recommendation on to your friends and family. I enjoy writing it but it is a lot easier to sit down, research and write when I know more are reading my blog.

If you want to make sure you don't miss a post, consider putting yourself on the BeeLine email list. You will receive an email the first thing in the morning when I post a new piece. You can sign up in the upper right hand corner on this page. You will receive a follow-up email (from FeedBurner) that you will need to confirm to begin delivery.

Thank you to all my loyal BeeLine readers and Happy New Year to each one of you!

The Best of BeeLine-2017

Most Views

Revolutionary Replacement  March 9, 2017

The problem with Obamacare and the GOP's ideas to repeal and replace it. The approach that could be taken to repeal and replace Obamacare that no one is talking about but has the potential to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.

Your Financial Life  October 15, 2017

Financial lessons that every young adult needs to know.

The Washington Post Is "Surprised"  October 12, 2017

The Washington Post was "surprised' to learn that the United States has one of the most liberal abortion policies in the world. Only North Korea, China and Vietnam have abortion rules that are more lax than in the U.S.  Liberals often like to talk about the extremist views of conservative Republicans. The facts say the opposite with regard to who has the extreme views on the issue of abortion.

Consensus Isn't Science   April 23, 2017

Whenever we hear about the "science" of human related climate change there is nothing "settled" about it. That is why we hear that this view is supported by the "consensus" of scientists. The facts about consensus and how often it has been wrong when it comes to science.

Immigration by the Numbers  September 7, 2017

One of the great ironies of modern politics is that most of the issues that are near and dear to liberals (environment, sustainability, working class wages, education, affordable health care) are going to get much, much worse if their views on immigration policy continue.

My Personal Favorites

Nature or Nurture?   January 15, 2017

Are great athletes born or made? It turns out that both are required.

What's a Grandma?   March 5, 2017

Grandparent names today are not the grandparent names of yesterday. Baby boomer grandparents are not grandma and grandpa.

It's Not Fair!  May 14, 2017

People do not measure their circumstances in absolute terms. They measure in relative terms. It is no different with monkeys.

Spelling It Out     June 5, 2017

How the National Spelling Bee shows that the concept of "white privilege" is a meaningless term.

One Generation Away   November 8, 2017

How many things that are important in your life are one generation away from extinction?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 in Pictures

I enjoy viewing great photography and I have occasionally posted blog posts highlighting some great images. Here is an example I posted back in 2012.

I am not a photographer. I don't have any fancy equipment. My compact camera is at least a decade old and I rarely use it. It is much more convenient to use my iPhone to take my shot.

I am not alone. This graph shows the rise and fall in camera production over the years. Camera sales are only 1/6 of what they were ten years ago.

The orange lines represent smartphone sales. There is not enough room on your computer screen to show the 1.7 billion smartphone units (with a camera) that were manufactured in 2016. The scale of the graph stops at 120 million.

That works out to about 85 smartphones sold last year for every single camera.

I thought in order to close out 2017 I would post some of my favorite images that were taken on my phone during the year. These photos may not end up in any coffee table books but they will give you a sense of my travels this past year and the great beauty there is in God's creation no matter where you are in this world.

Hilton Head Island, SC

Miramar Beach, FL


The Players Championship
17th Hole
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Dublin, Ireland

Cobh, Ireland at sunrise

Northern Ireland
Note for Golfers: 2019 British Open is going to be played at Royal Portrush Golf Club which is just beyond this castle in the green area in upper right portion of this photo.

St. Andrews Golf Club

Normandy American Cemetery

Lisbon, Portugal


Boise, Idaho

December Sunset
Cincinnati, Ohio

It is not easy finding the time to write when I have these scenes to take in. I continue my writing due to the many kind words I receive from you. Thanks for reading BeeLine. I sincerely appreciate it.

All the best to you and yours in 2018.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Friend or Foe?

The United Nations vote last week involving the decision to move the United States Embassy to Israel's capital city of Jerusalem shows as much about what is going on in other countries as it does in Israel. That is particularly true of Europe where Muslim migration has, and will continue to, change the face of Europe.

The UN vote was taken to condemn the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. I wrote about this issue earlier this month.

UN Ambassador for the United States Nikki Haley made no mistake about how United States viewed the vote.

Here is the final tally of that vote at the United Nations. Note that the United States considered an
abstention vote as a vote with the United States.

Notice that the only countries in European Union  that did not vote against the United States on that issue were the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania. Each of these countries has fewer than .5% Muslims. Compare that to the rest of Europe---most particularly France, Germany, Sweden and the U.K.

Credit: Pew Research Center

It has become politically impossible for most European countries to take any position that is pro-Israel. It will soon become impossible for them to take any position that is not outright pro-Islam. It is just a matter of time considering migration and demographic patterns on the continent.

There are now close to 50 million Muslims in Europe. About half of those are in the EU countries that include Germany, France, Sweden etc.

Paris is now the home to more than 2 million Muslims.

There are more than 1 million Muslims in London. The mayor of London is a Muslim and Mohammed is now the most popular name in the United Kingdom.

Let's put that number in context.

There are less than 1.5 million Jews in Europe. By comparison, there were almost 10 million Jews in Europe in 1939. Do you begin to get a better idea of why there is little support for Israel in Europe or the United Nations anymore?

And it will only get worse.

Even with no further migration, Europe will have nearly double the Muslim population it has today within a generation because of higher fertility rates. Pew estimates that Europe's overall Muslim population could be as high as 15% (3 times what it is today) by 2050 with continued high migration patterns. Extending that same pattern to France, Germany and the UK means that Muslims will make up 20-25% of the population in those countries in 30 years.

There are an estimated 2.6 million Muslims living in the United States. The Jewish population is currently 5.3 million. Israel has a Jewish population of 6.4 million.

To give you a better understanding of why Israel faces so many challenges in a body like the UN is the fact that 83% of the entire core Jewish population in the world (14.2 million) lives in either the United States or Israel.

The Muslim population in the world---1.8 billion.

In other words, there are about 1,300 Muslims in the world for every Jew.

Do you begin to understand why so many support the Palestinian narrative despite what the actual history and facts are in that part of the world?

When it comes to being a friend or foe of the United States and Israel this vote says a lot. The numbers behind the vote says a lot more.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Democrat Grinches

Taxpayers in the United States got an early Christmas present this week.

The House and Senate both passed tax reform legislation that President Trump had made a centerpiece of his 2016 election campaign.

However, if you listen to Democrats, this is the worst piece of legislation that has ever existed in the history of the republic. In fact, Nancy Pelosi said exactly that.

In fact, not one Democrat voted for the tax reform package in either house of Congress.

You might call them Democrat Grinches in this Christmas season.

If you don't believe that to be true consider that a majority of Democrats supported the Reagan tax cuts in 1981 and the Reagan tax reform package in 1986 (the last major tax reform bill).

How times have changed! I guess Democrats have come to only embrace tax increases.

Here are what a few prominent Democrats said about the tax bill.

Bernie Sanders
" is the day of one of the great robberies, criminal activities if you like, in the modern history of this country, because the federal treasury is being looted tonight."

"What a disgrace. That's what this bill is. It's an absolute disgrace."

GOP tax bill "is the worst bill in the history of Congress".

"The House just passed the disastrous #GOPTaxPlan. I’ll be voting NO on the bill when it comes to the Senate and I call on my colleagues to do the same. This bill is NOT tax reform. It’s tax cuts for the rich and so-called “trickle-down economics” that DOES NOT work."

 I particularly enjoyed Feinstein's comments because at the same time she was calling this "tax cuts for the rich" she was also complaining that it would limit the deduction of mortgage interest on mortgages over $750,000 and state and local income taxes of over $10,000.

Who does she think is deducting mortgage interest on a $1 million home and paying state and local taxes of over $10,000? Most people outside of New York, California and in and around the District of Columbia would define those taxpayers as "rich".

I explained in an earlier post of why it made sense to limit the state and local tax deduction as a way to reduce tax rates and increase the standard deduction for the middle class.

The fact is that in California the top 1% pays 48% of the state's income taxes and deducts those taxes on their federal tax returns. It is this group ("the rich") that will be hurt the most by the elimination of the state and local tax deduction.

The same is true in New York City. The top 1% (that is only 35,400 tax filers) pay 46% of the city's income taxes. That group ("the rich") will also bear the greatest loss of the federal tax deduction.

It is certainly not the middle class.

Legislators in New York, California and other high tax states claimed that the limit on the deduction of state and local taxes in the tax bill was discriminatory and meant that these states were subsidizing tax cuts for those in other states. However, they did not seem to have any problem in past years as all the other taxpayers paid higher tax rates to subsidize their deduction for their high state and local taxes. The reality is that this measure simply tries to level the playing field by limiting the huge tax advantage that these states have had for years.

I predicted two months ago that we would hear a continuing cacophony from Democrats calling this a tax cut for the rich. However, as I explained, it is hard to give too much to the bottom 50% of taxpayers when they already pay less than 3% of the income tax burden. It is also hard to not provide some benefit to the rich in a tax rate cut when the top 10% of taxpayers pay 71% of the income tax burden.

However, the fact is that the ones who most surely will benefit from this bill will be those further on down the income scale. The standard deduction has been doubled to $24,000 for married couples.The child tax credit has been doubled to $2,000. However, the first $1,400 of this will be refundable even if no taxes are due so that the credit could be used no matter what. In effect, a couple with three kids gets a guaranteed payment of $5,200 each year from Uncle Sam.

The argument that the Democrats make about this being a handout for the "rich"is even disputed by the liberal Tax Policy Center that Pelosi and company like to often cite on tax issues.

Rich Lowry in Politico Magazine shares an important fact from the TPC analysis that the Democrats choose to ignore.

In 2018, 80.4 percent of tax units get a tax cut, averaging $2,140. A grand total of 4.8 percent will see a tax increase. The small percentage of people who will get a tax increase is disproportionately tilted toward the top of the income scale.

Further, the Joint Committee Taxation analysis of the bill shows that the average tax rate goes down for every income cohort in 2019. The only income group that does not get any actual tax savings (after taking away lost deductions) are those making $1 million per year of more. Their share of the income tax burden will increase from the 19.3% they pay today to 19.8%.

Of course, there are much bigger changes in the tax bill involving the corporate tax and business taxes.

Democrats don't like these changes either but the reality is that the United States did not have much choice if it wanted to remain competitive in world markets.

There is a reason that so many corporations, businesses and manufacturing plants have relocated overseas over the last 30 years---our tax system encouraged it. These relocations took millions of jobs from the middle class.

This chart shows what has happened over that period.

Quite simply, the world changed and the United States stood still.

The new corporate rate of 21% will make the United States competitive on this measure once again.

A big part of the ultimate success of this tax bill to improve the lives of Americans is dependent on the deployment of that freed up money within the economy. Liberals don't think any for-profit corporation for business will do any good for anyone. Those evil capitalists are just so mean.

I guess that is why Savannah Guthrie of NBC's Today show asked Paul Ryan if we was "living in a fantasy land" to think that the GOP bill would help workers.

Credit:Walt Disney Co.

This is how Fantasy Land looks like so far one day after passage.

5 companies have already announced major plans for major capital investments in the U.S., bonuses for workers or increases in the minimum wage (AT&T, Comcast (which owns NBC), Well Fargo, Fifth Third Bank and Boeing.

Bear in mind that the bill has not even been signed into law yet.

Merry Christmas from Donald Trump.

It promises to be a bleak holiday for the Democrat Grinches.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Who Wants It More?

Much of what determines who will win or lose in life depends on "who wants it more?"

My father used to tell me that he believed that much of his success in life was based solely on the fact that he got out of bed early. He would tell me that he beat 90% of his competitors simply by getting out of bed and going to work.

I guess that is why the favorite piece of advice that he used to impart to his grandchildren was that  "the early bird gets the worm."

There are many things that are overrated in life---IQ, talent, education---among them. The will to "want it more" than others is not one of them.

I recently finished reading "The Operator" by Robert O'Neill. It is an autobiography by the Navy SEAL who fired the shots that killed Osama Bin Laden.

The pages of that book are filled with examples of those "who want it more."

For example, consider that there were 500 fellow Navy recruits who submitted themselves to pre-qualification testing for SEALs training when O'Neill was in basic training. Only four ultimately met the fitness testing requirements required to gain admittance to SEALs training.

Of those who actually make it to Coronado, California for BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training, 80% fail to get through the 28-week program.

This is how O'Neill describes it in his book.

Nobody can predict who'll make it through BUD/S. The brass tries to figure it out; they bring in psychologists and boost the number of guys beginning the process, hoping more SEALs will be left standing at the end. They tweak the design to create more equal opportunity for minorities, but all that happens is that the instructors do to the students exactly what was done to them, and always 80% don't make it. We have more white SEALs simply because more white guys try out. 80% of white guys fail, 80% of Filipinos fail. 80% of black guys fail. And the irony is, the Navy doesn't want an 80% failure rate. We're always undermanned.

Those who become SEALs simply "want it more" than those that don't.

No matter what the Navy process tweaks do, they can't crack it. You'd think the Olympic swimmer would make it. You'd think the pro-football player would make it. But they don't---well, 80% don't.

The person who makes it is the person who has the will to "want it more" than the next person.

That strength of mind isn't associated with any ethnicity or level of skin pigmentation. It's not a function of size or musculature or IQ. 

In the end, it is simply "who wants it more?"

It is no different in the Alabama Senate election that was held this past week between Roy Moore and Doug Jones.

Jones won because his supporters wanted it more.

Consider the fact that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 in Alabama 62%-34%---a 28 point margin.

The Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore 49.9%-48.4%. That is a swing of some 30 points!

Look at the vote totals. Trump tallied 1.3 million votes in 2016. Moore only captured 650,000 votes a year later. In other words, Moore only captured about 50% of the votes that Trump received.

On the other hand, Jones received 671,000 votes compared to Hillary's 729,000 votes. That is 92% of Clinton's total. That is a remarkable turnout considering this was a Special Election.

It appears that almost every Democrat voter in Alabama turned out to vote for Jones. Cynics might say that those votes included dead Democrats and those from Mississippi and Georgia as well.

Some have argued that Moore lost because of some 22,000 write-in votes that most believe were Republicans who did not want to vote for Moore. However, that was just 1.7% of the total votes cast. Trump won despite write-ins of 1.0% and 2.1% that went to Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2016.

Roy Moore did not lose because of write-in votes. He lost because, as my father would say, his most likely voters never got out of bed to vote. Looking at the vote totals, there were some 650,000 who voted for Trump who failed to show up to vote for the Republican one year later in Alabama. If only one out of every 25 of those people would have voted for Moore, he would have won.

Who wanted it more? The Democrats. It is that simple.

There are many political pundits who want to take the results from the Alabama Special Election and extrapolate it to 2018 and predict an enormous wave election for the Democrats.

It is possible. However, it all depends on turnout which tends to be the most important factor in most election contests. I have written about the importance of turnout in political races before. This is what I wrote on the subject right before the 2016 election.

Turnout explains why Obama won in 2008 and 2012. It also explains how the Republicans won resoundingly in the mid-term elections in 2010 and 2014. It is also the reason that Trump is President of the United States right now.

There is little question that Democrats are highly motivated right now. The same could be said about Republicans when Obama was in power. It seems that those at the bottom of any hill tend to be more motivated to fight towards the top than those at the top of the hill are motivated to retain their position.

Who wants it more?

That will be a big question in the mid-terms of 2018. Will Republican voters defend their gains as zealously as they did when they were motivated to achieve Congressional majorities and The White House? They will need to "want it more" than Democrats or they will be in trouble.

"Who wants it more?" will determine what happens in 2018.

I came across one other interesting factoid on the subject of "who wants it more?" this week.

It is this Gallup International survey on the percentage of those in various countries who would be willing to to fight for their country.

In other words, "Who wants it more?" when it comes to defending their country in war.

The overall sample across 64 countries showed that 61% of respondents were willing to fight for their country.

The percentage in the United States---44%.

Compare that to Pakistan (89%), Vietnam (89%), Afghanistan (76%) and China (71%).

Of course, it could be worse.

Only 11% in Japan, 18% in Germany and 20% in Italy are willing to fight for their country today. I guess World War II really took the fight out of these citizens.

The complete list of "Who Wants It More?" when it comes to war.

Credit: Gallup International

Let's just say that I am extremely grateful and thankful that those Navy SEALs and our other uniformed military service personnel are in that 44% for the United States.

Praying for peace on earth on this Christmas Week.

Thanks to those who wanted more and were not afraid to give it all.

New Bern (NC) National Cemetery
December, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Off The Rails On Immigration

Immigration has changed the face of America over the last 50 years.

This chart shows how big the change has been.

The total immigrant population increased from 9.6 million in 1970 to 43.3 million in 2015.

The share of the population comprised of immigrants increased from 4.7% to 13.5% of the U.S. population over that same period.

There is little doubt that immigrants are one of the key factors that made America great over its history. The country benefited immensely from the talents and attitudes of those who were motivated by the opportunity that exists in the United States of America.

Almost every one of us can trace our heritage to someone who wanted something more in their life and had the courage to seek a new path for themselves...their children and their heirs.

However, it also seems clear that in the past half century that immigration got out of control. Despite well-defined laws that were on the books, both Republicans and Democrats turned a blind eye to the increasing wave of people who wanted entry into the United States.

The law was simply ignored for what appears to be political purposes. Democrats wanted votes. Republicans wanted cheap labor.

If you do not think that our immigration policy is a significant problem today and for our future, you need to watch this 5-minute video by NumbersUSA that puts the issue in its proper context

Make no mistake, Donald Trump would never have been elected President but for this issue. It was a centerpiece of his announcement to seek the Presidency and it was central to his campaign platform.

The American people understood that their elected officials had let them down. They failed to enforce the law. They failed to reform the law. As they failed, our country paid the price in countless ways---crime, suppressed wages, increased demands on infrastructure, pressure on school budgets, funding for increased welfare and healthcare costs.

As the video above points out, it will also get much, much worse in the future. What we are seeing today is just the tip of the iceberg. A continuation of current immigration policy will continue to squeeze middle class incomes, contribute to urban sprawl, put pressure on our environment and natural resources, and harm efforts for long-term sustainability. Ironically, most of these issues are very important to liberal voters but the Democrats in Congress only see the issue in simplistic terms involving new potential voters.

It is wrong and the people know it is wrong. However, no one said or did anything about it until Donald Trump stepped up and told it like it was. The establishment called him innumerable names for calling this issue out but all he said is what people saw with their own eyes as they went about their daily lives. Immigration is totally out of control.

The American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau provides some further perspectives on this issue that are interesting.

Consider a few facts from that survey for the year 2016.

  • 27.2% of those who reside in California are now foreign born. 23.0% in New York, 22.5% in New Jersey and 20.3% in Florida. 
  • Only 1.7% of those who reside in West Virginia are foreign born. Mississippi is at 2.0% and Montana at 2.1%.
  • 65.5 million people who reside in the United States speak something other than English at home. That is 22% of the population! Almost half of those that speak English at home are native born citizens!
  • 40.5 million of those people who speak something other than English at home are speaking Spanish at home. Of those people, 36.2% have less than a high school education and 21% are living below the poverty level. By comparison, of all of the U.S residents who speak English at home, only 8.6% have less than a high school education and only 12.2% are living below the poverty level.
  • If you consider all of the foreign born non-citizens in the United States (whether or not they speak English at home), 49% are living at or below 200% of the poverty level. The comparable number for native borns is 30%.
  • Although Hispanics from Mexico and Latin America make up about half of the foreign born immigrants (both legal and illegal) in the United States, there are many other nationalities represented in the immigrant population. For example, consider that there are almost 1 million people in the U.S, who speak Haitian at home. 48% of this total live in Florida. There are 281,000 that just speak Punjabi at home (48% live in California) and 259,000 who speak Bengali at home (39% live in New York). 
  • 48% of the foreign born people who are not U.S. citizens are between the ages of 25-44. This is double the 24% that this age range is represented in the native born population. This is prime working age and most are competing for jobs in the workforce of some type with native born Americans. 13.6% of foreign born immigrants work in construction. The similar percentage of native borns--5.8%.
  • Interestingly, there are 5.7 million foreign born that are attending some type of educational institution in the United States. However, 56% of these are attending college or graduate school. This shows the tremendous number of foreign students who come to the United States to attend college. For native borns, only 26% of all those enrolled in school are attending college. 

In reviewing these facts you can see the logic of the immigration reform proposals that President Trump put forward last October in response to calls by Democrats to extend the executive order of Obama and legalize the children who were brought here illegally under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

A major problem of the current immigration law is that it places too much weight on family connections as an entrance pass into the country.

For example, between 2005 and 2015, 9.3 million new immigrants were allowed into the country legally based solely on family ties. That's more than 70% of all the legal immigration that occurred in that period. That number alone is equal to all of the immigrants who entered the country in the 20 years between 1970 and 1990!

Entry into the country under current law has little to do with education, skills, training or the ability to speak English or any demonstrated motivation to do anything other than to join a family member.

By the way, the terrorist from Bangladesh who attempted to blow himself up in the Port Authority Bus Station in New York City this week was in the country due to chain migration. His skills? He seems to be an unemployed taxi driver based on initial reportstest

What are the common sense factors Trump wants to use to determine who is allowed to legally immigrate into the country? The system would be based more on merit than on family connections. English-speaking ability. Education. Job skills. Financial independence. These would all be given higher preference who would be awarded green cards.

These would appear to be imminently reasonable if you look at the numbers above. Why are we not establishing a system that gives preference to those who have the most to contribute to our country?

The mainstream media would like you to believe that Trump's position on immigration is outrageous, extreme and unsupported by the American public.

The numbers above, and the fact that Trump is President, suggest that they are wrong again.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Capital Context

I have looked on in amusement as political pundits, media mavens and some Democrats attempt to criticize President Trump's announcement that the United States of America will begin recognizing Jerusalem as the capital Israel.

Of course, their objective in all of this is to try to make Trump look like an ignorant, out of touch, know-nothing to try to build on their consistent narrative of negativity about the President.

Israel has claimed Jerusalem to be its capital since the nation was founded in 1948. The Jewish people have considered it to be their spiritual capital and home since King David made it the capital of his kingdom in 1003 B.C.

If you think about it, not recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of our ally Israel would be akin to the Great Britain refusing to recognize Washington, D.C. as our capital.

How would we feel if Great Britain had its embassy in Philadelphia? After all, the present day District of Columbia actually sits on land that was once part of the state of Maryland. What if Great Britain did not recognize that annexation to the federal government? (The District actually once encompassed land ceded by both Maryland and Virginia in what was originally a 100 square mile territory. The land that sits west of the Potomac River that once was part of the District was returned to Virginia in the mid 19th Century.)

Here is what the District of Columbia looked like in 1835 before the retrocession of D.C. to Virginia in 1846.

Here are the boundaries today. A perfect diamond-shaped district became something quite different.

Despite anything you hear or read, the fact is that the position that President Trump has taken on Jerusalem is exactly the same as has been articulated by Presidents Clinton, Bush43 and...Obama.

Real Clear Politics have the videos to back it up .

Clinton is seen in 1992 saying, "Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel and must remain an undivided city accessible to all."
Bush is seen in 2000. "As soon as I take office, I will move the United States ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital," he says.
Obama is seen in 2008 saying, "I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. I have said that before and I will say it again."

Of course, there has also been a law on the books since 1995 which recognized that fact (and which Clinton signed into law) and stated that the U.S.Embassy should be moved to Jerusalem. By the way, that law passed Congress by votes of 374-37 in the House and 93-5 in the Senate. Hardly a close call.

Past Presidents did not follow through on their promises.

What is different about Trump?

He actually did what he said he was going to do.

Why did the other Presidents not follow through? They were told that doing so would hamper efforts to broker peace in the Middle East between the Palestinians and the Jews.

How has that worked out?  Not real well as decade after decade passed with no easing of tensions.

Trump is clearly not interested in following the same failed strategies of the past.

You might be asking why is it so hard to broker peace in that part of the world? Why is there so much hatred by Muslims towards Jews? Why have the Palestinians rejected peace plans over and over again over the last century even when given plenty of opportunities to have their own country? (which they have never had in history).

The simple truth is that they don't want anything of the sort unless Israel is not permitted to exist.

Trump is not allowing himself to be played on this issue like all the others before him.

I wrote about Palestine and Israel six years ago and it bears reading it again if you need context about what is really going on with this issue.

Some things really do not change.

Donald Trump does not appear to believe that.

Palestine and Israel
(first published 9/22/11)

We often hear of the plight of the Palestinians and we see the utter hatred of Israel and the Jewish people by Muslims.  Sitting here in the United States it is hard for the average person to figure out what is going on.  I came across three recent stories that provide a little context.

The first is "Debunking the Palestinian Lie" that I found on PowerLine.  We often hear about how Israel has pushed the Palestinian people from their rightful country.  The fact is that the Palestinians never have had their own country. Their statehood was never even recognized when the Palestinians were part of the Turk's Ottoman Empire. They were given plenty of opportunities to have their own country over the last 90 years. The Palestinians simply refuse to allow the Jews to be anywhere near them and have their statehood as well. They have made it perfectly clear they have no interest if they cannot also obliterate Israel. View the short video in the story if you are not aware of the history.

You might also want to read this story, "A Century of Palestinian Rejectionism" by Fred Siegel for some historical context.

The third story is a column by Diana West where she writes about "The Jihad is Against the Bible". Ms. West says make no mistake, it is Israel in which the axis of Islamic Jihad turns.  Why Israel? West quotes Bat Ye'or's new book "Europe, Globalization and the Coming Universal Caliphate".

Why Israel? Ye'or asks. "Given the immense territories conquered and Islamized over thirteen centuries of expansion and war," she writes, "why would Muslim countries keep plotting to destroy Israel?" And further: "Why does the immense oil wealth of Muslim nations nourish a flood of hatred that poisons the heart of humanity against such a small nation? Why is Israel considered so alarming?"
The well-read global citizen might regurgitate something about land, modern Zionism and the post-1948 "plight of the Palestinians," but these are stock narratives overwriting the age-old reason. "What Israel possesses," Ye'or explains, "is the Bible."
To appreciate the depth and breadth of this perhaps obvious but seldom pondered explanation, it's essential to realize that Jewish and Christian Bible characters, from Abraham to Moses to Jesus, pop up in the Koran as Muslim prophets who actually preach Islam, not Judaism or Christianity. This is the time-wrinkling, religion-morphing way in which Islam repudiates what it regards as falsifications in both the first (old) and second (new) testaments. Given that the Jewish and Christian religious books long predate the Islamic religious book, it's not surprising that in their Koranic guises the biblical characters "wander," as Bat Ye'or writes, "in uncertain space with no geographical or temporal references." Still, Muslims claim that these same "Muslim" characters lived in "Palestine," Bat Ye'or writes, on the basis of the "Jewish and Christian scriptures that they reject."
The land of Israel itself -- whose "every region, town and village is mentioned in the Bible with historical and chronological precision" -- is thus "sacrilegious" to Muslims, she explains. "They observe with destructive rage this unfolding return of history that they claim as their own. ... Any confirmation of the veracity of the Bible is seen as an attack on the Islamic authenticity of the Koranic figures taken from the Bible."
So much for those slivers of real estate as being the driver of war on Israel. It is, in fact, a jihad, a religious war against Judaism and the land of the Bible, root of Christianity. As Ye'or puts it, "Israel, in the land of its history, towns and villages, resuscitates the Bible, the book the Koran must supplant."
The bottom line according to West is that the war on Israel is also a jihad against the Bible and Christianity. The real story is that Muslims believe that Christians have gone astray by placing themselves in the lineage of the Hebrew Bible when their real origin is Islam.  Getting rid of Israel and the sustaining Jewish roots is seen as necessary to facilitate the Islamization of Christians which is the final goal.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Swamp Dollars

The five richest counties (measured by median household income) in the United States all surround Washington, D.C.

U.S. Census Bureau data

The overall Washington, D.C. metro area in 2016 was displaced by San Francisco for the first time in recent years with the highest household median income. Washington, D.C. is now second but note the huge gap between those two cites and the rest of the country.

When you further consider that 18.6% of the households in Washington. D.C. live below the poverty level (disproportionately African-American) it gives you an idea how much the rest of those who live in and around our nation's capitol are making.

What was the poverty rate in Washington, D.C. in 2007 before Barack Obama became President?

16%. It doesn't seem that much hope and change got spread around to those that the Democrats say they are looking out for, does it?

What percentage of the vote did Donald Trump get in the District of Columbia in 2016?


Trump only garnered 12,723 votes in D.C compared to 282,830 for Hillary Clinton. Third party candidates (Gary Johnson, Jill Stein) and write-ins actually got more votes collectively than did Trump in D.C!

A fixed election by an evil foreign dictator does not win by those vote margins.

All of the above explains a lot, doesn't it?

The new household income information is in the U.S Census Bureau's 2012-2016 American Community Survey which is the country's only source that tracks socio-economic characteristics across all 3,142 counties in the United States. One of its objectives is to track the incremental changes that are occurring within various small area estimates rather than national data.

For example, the survey shows that between 2012-2016, 563 counties (17.9%) experienced a decline in median household income, while median household income increased in only 234 counties (7.4%).

If you want to look for a reason that Trump was elected, consider that data.

Of further interest, of the 3,142 counties across the nation, 167 counties (5.3%) experienced a decline in poverty rates, while 566 counties (18%) showed a rate increase.

If you want another reason that Trump was elected, consider that data.

Of course, those people in and around Washington, D.C. have been largely insulated from what was going on in the rest of the country. The tax dollars continued to flow into Washington in a steady stream to pay the salaries of the government bureaucrats with automatic step increases every year.

It doesn't end there either. There are plenty of lawyers, lobbyists and lunch places along with everything else in DC. ( including the media) that end up with a piece of action. However, almost all of those jobs and wealth would not exist without the massive amount of money that gets shipped to D.C. with our tax dollars.

All but ignored is the fact is that the people paying the bills in the rest of the country are making a heck of a lot less money than the people they are shipping it to.

The Washington, DC area has no significant manufacturing base. It does not grow crops. It has no oil wells or coal mines. It does not produce computer chips or other high tech items. It produces almost nothing that creates value in a traditional economy. Yet, its residents have the highest household income in the country! What more is needed to know that something is seriously amiss in our country?

Washington is largely a gigantic redistribution machine today. Money comes in one end from one group of people and it goes out the other end to another group of people. Money and wealth have been created in Washington because of the bureaucracy to run that machine and all of the politicians, lobbyists, lawyers and special interest groups working to get "their share" of money coming out of the other end.

In the past, those in Washington could be confident that the good times would continue to roll no matter who was President because everyone was "in on the game." Whether it was a Republican or Democrat it did not matter one whit.

That changed with the election of Donald J. Trump.

Those in Washington are  no longer confident that they will be able to continue to game the system to their advantage.

Trump does not play by the same reasoning and rules that they are accustomed to.

Their entire income and existence is at risk from someone they still can't believe was elected President of the United States.

After all, 95.9% of their friends did not vote for him. How could he have beaten Hillary?

He had to have cheated. He had to have colluded with someone.

He has to be stopped at all costs.

He can't be allowed to succeed.

The swamp is deep. The depth of their desperation seems to know no bounds.

This Census Bureau data (thank you to the bureaucrats in D.C. who compiled it) may provide you some better perspective of why that is.

Infamy and Inspiration

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's most famous quote was delivered before a joint session of Congress on December 8, 1941 the day after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
Credit: Japan Times

The events of that day changed the arc of the lives of so many people.

One of those was my father who was 18 years old and working in a washing machine factory having graduated from high school the previous June.

Both his father and grandfather worked on the railroad. Both were killed on the job. My father, at age 5, was the oldest of three children when his father died. There were no social security survivor benefits and a pittance of life insurance. My father sold cottage cheese door to door when he was 6 years old to help support the family. He worked almost every day of his life from that point forward until he retired in his 60's.

College was out of the question. He had the intelligence and the drive but there was simply no money. There were no Pell grants or $1.4 trillion to be spent on student loans. You were just considered to be "out of luck" if you did not have the money for college.

My father used to joke that he was so poor growing up he did not know there was any more to a chicken dinner than the neck and wing until he was 19 years of age and in the Army. It probably wasn't far from the truth.

He served in the Pacific Theatre in World War II fighting the Japanese because of what happened on that day of infamy.

He made it through the War and was able to attend college on the GI Bill and by working various odd jobs . He began a career as a corrugated box salesman and ultimately ran a company division with over 25 box plants across the country.

That day also changed the arc of Dwight Eisenhower's life.

Eisenhower graduated from West Point barely in the top half of his class in 1915.  He never saw combat in World War I.  His career was considered undistinguished for the most part over the next 25 years.  He served as a major for 16 years.  He did not reach the rank of Colonel until March, 1941. He was promoted to Brigadier General in October, 1941, a mere two months before Pearl Harbor. However, two years after Pearl Harbor he was a 5-Star General.

Eleven years later he was President of the United States.

The events of that day also changed the arc of the geopolitical considerations and moral dimensions of war with the decision to use the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That final decision was left to another man who undoubtedly had no idea on December 7, 1941 that the arc of his life would change so dramatically in just over three years. In fact, he served only 82 days as Vice President before succeeding Roosevelt as President in April, 1945.

It would only be a few months before he would have to make one of the most momentous decisions any man has ever had to make. Harry Truman said "the buck stops here" and he meant it.

I just finished reading Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's book "Killing the Rising Sun" on the events that transpired after that "day of infamy".

Many people make much of what they call the the tumultuous, turbulent and treacherous times we live in today. Many seem to think it is unprecedented. Of course, many of those also think Donald Trump has single-handedly brought the United States to its darkest hour.

How little they know. How fortunate they are to live today.

A few reminders from the book about others that saw the arc of their lives change. In many cases there was no arc to their life as that day of infamy was the beginning of the end of their lives.

All info below from the O'Reilly book.

Consider that of 27,465 Americans held in Japanese POW camps, 11,000 died in Japanese custody.

Interestingly, 93,941 Americans were held in German POW camps, 92,820 survived the war.

In the Battle of Peleliu in the South Pacific the Marines took 6,500 casualties in one month to rid the island of 11,000 Japanese defenders. It took an average of 1,500 rounds of ammunition to kill just one Japanese soldier as most were hunkered down in a cave network.

On one night in March, 1945 the United States deployed 329 B-29 bombers to drop two thousand tons of M-69 napalm fire bombs on Tokyo. 100,000 Japanese were killed that night, one million left homeless and one-fourth of the city destroyed. (To learn more about this raid read my post here written in 2014.) There were actually more Japanese killed that night in that raid than in  either of the two atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that led to the Japanese surrender.

B-29's dropping ordinance over Japan in WWII

Out of 450,000 on the island of Okinawa, 150,000 were killed or committed suicide after the Americans invaded the island. The Americans lost 12,000 men with 5,000 of those being sailors who were killed by Japanese kamikaze attacks. Another 38,000 Americans were wounded.

People have no concept of what "horrible" means today when you consider that period in our history.

It is still a subject of much debate whether the atomic bombs should have been used. Some argue that the Japanese would have soon surrendered anyway. Douglas McArthur was one. However, McArthur was itching to lead a land invasion of Japan to burnish his image. He was not happy with the fame that Eisenhower had achieved in such a short time.

I think it is unlikely that the Japanese would have surrendered until much, much greater casualties had been taken on both sides. Countless more than the number of casualties from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That is the way Truman also viewed his decision.

Interestingly, O'Reilly got three former Presidents to state that they believe that Truman made the right decision. (Carter, Bush 41 and Bush 43). I imagine that O'Reilly also posed the question to Clinton and Obama as well. There is no mention of their views in the book. Is that a surprise with either of them?

I know my father had no misgivings. His next stop surely was going to be towards the Japanese islands from the base he was stationed at in the Mariana Islands. The same base that most of those B-29 bombers (including the two who flew over Hiroshima and Nagasaki) were based.

The war ended and he got to restart his life on an entirely new path.

Would he have had the same opportunities if he had not had to stop his life and take a detour because of what happened 76 years ago?

Would Dwight Eisenhower ever have risen above the rank of Brigadier General?

The answer to both is unknowable, but unlikely.

However, what is knowable is that human beings have an enormous capacity to deal with adversity and have the ability to persevere when it matters most.

December 7, 1941 was a day of infamy.

However, it also marked a time when so many stepped forward and stepped up.

It is worth remembering all of this as we hear so much criticism of our country, our President and our heritage today---not from people in other countries---but from those in our own country.

What started as a day of infamy grew to become millions of inspiring stories.

For those who think they have it tough in this country because Trump is President, or a baker won't bake your cake, or someone won't forgive your student loan debt, you might think about the real problems faced by previous generations.

It might also provide some answers about why no one who calls themselves an American should not be standing for the National Anthem.

Forget about yourself. Think about those who went before you.

I doubt that few would want to trade places.