Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Boycott the National Pedestrian Association

It is a good thing there is not a National Pedestrian Association (NPA).

It would be under vicious attack right now by the mainstream media and the liberal left.

Pedestrian deaths in the United States have risen to unacceptable levels. It would be unconscionable for any organization to be standing up for the rights of pedestrians considering the carnage that we are seeing on or about the nation's roads.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the last two years have seen almost 6,000 pedestrian deaths nationwide.  Let's put that number in context---that is over 16 people each and every day.

The National Rifle Association is under relentless attack right now after 17 were killed in the Parkland school shooting recently and 374 homicides were committed by rifles last year. 16 times that number of pedestrians were killed last year.

What is most troubling is that the number of pedestrian deaths has been increasing dramatically the last few years. In fact, pedestrian deaths have not been so high since 1983.

As recently as 2009 there were only 4,109 pedestrian deaths in the United States. This means that there has been almost a 50% increase in pedestrian deaths in the last eight years.

This is also despite the fact that deaths in automobile accidents have generally been on a steady decline since the early 1970's.

Motor Vehicle Deaths by Year
Credit:Wikipedia Commons

When you look at motor vehicle deaths based on miles driven the improvements in safety are even more dramatic.

Credit:Wikipedia Commons

Looking at these statistics it almost seems as if pedestrians are under attack. After all, they are defenseless crossing or walking along our roads while drivers in the those cars are safely ensconsed in their vehicle complete with seat belts, air bags and a ton of steel.

What is even more troubling about pedestrian deaths is that the deaths are disproportionately coming from males in the population. It looks like a prima facie case of discrimination.

70% of pedestrian deaths are males.

Children are also disproportionately the victims in pedestrian accidents.

21% of pedestrian deaths are children 14 years age or younger.

Where is the outrage? 75 times the number of children will be killed this year as they walk the streets in the United States as were killed in Parkland school shootings.

Many of those will undoubtedly be walking to or from school.

None of this should mean that the school shootings should not receive the utmost attention and action.

However, as I often have written in these page, context is everything when assessing anything.

If you are finding yourself getting overly worked up for or against gun control or the 2nd Amendment and the news of the day, my advice to you would be to pay closer attention when you cross the street.

The odds are much greater that you will be hit by a vehicle than shot by a rifle.

You also would be wise to not be reading BeeLine as you are walking down the street.

I doubt it is a coincidence that the rise of pedestrian deaths closely correlates with the rise in smartphone usage.

Of course, it would be easier to blame the National Pedestrian Association!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Politics and Policing at Parkland

Several BeeLine readers have asked me if I was going to write anything in the aftermath of the horrific Parkland school shootings in Florida.

I told them I did not plan writing on the subject as I have written extensively on the subject over the last several years. One of my most popular posts of all time was written shortly after the mass killings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, "Are We Looking At The Right Target?'

There is not anything in that blog post that I wrote over five years ago that is not true today. However, I decided to write something after I discovered some troubling information in the aftermath of the shootings.

Yes, a rifle was used to commit mass murder at another school.

However, once again the act was perpetrated by a mentally unbalanced, disaffected young person who many people had expressed serious concerns about before the incident.

The fact also remains that deaths by any type of rifle (homicide or suicide) is exceedingly rare in a nation of 320 million people with over 110 million rifles (there are also an estimated 86 million shotguns and 114 million handguns).

In 2016 (the most recent year of data) only 374 homicides were carried out with rifles.

That is less than the murders committed by knives (1,604), hands, fists and feet (656) or blunt objects such as hammers, clubs etc (472).

It is true that rifles (especially assault-type weapons) have the potential to create much more mayhem than knives, hands and hammers. I have no problem in considering stricter background checks or increasing the age to purchase a weapon. These seem reasonable policy solutions without encroaching too much on the 2nd Amendment.

However, I am not optimistic that merely passing some gun control measures will dramatically reduce the risk of a future school shooting.

The United States has always had rifles and other guns. Why didn't we have school shootings when I was growing up? Or even when my own children were going to school? What we are seeing is a relatively recent development.

What has changed? Is it the guns or something else?

As I asked over five years ago, "Are we looking at the right target?"

Could it have something to do with culture?

Broken families? Fatherless homes? Violence in television and movies? Video games? The internet? Poor mental health screening and services? Less school discipline? Less religious teaching? Too much political correctness?

You might ask what role could political correctness have anything to do with these shootings?

As the facts are coming out in the Parkland case I have found several items that indicate that politics seems to have been more important than policing. It is extremely troubling.

We have all seen the reports of how a sheriff's deputy who was stationed at the school did nothing to try to engage the shooter even though he was on the school campus and had a gun and a bullet proof vest on.

School Resource Officer Scot Peterson was subsequently suspended ( and resigned) and was called a "coward' by many. However, a police union official stated that Peterson believed that he did his duty.

“He believed he did a good job calling in the location, setting up the perimeter and calling in the description (of Cruz),” said the union official, Jim Bell.

What do you notice about this that we would not have seen 25 years ago?

How about a police officer being called a "School Resource Officer"?

Is it possible that when your title is "School Resource Officer" you don't think it is in your job description to engage a killer? Perhaps you believe that your job is to marshall the right resources but you do not have any responsibility to respond yourself?

Why is it that what we used to refer to as a police officer is now called a "School Resource Officer"?

It is political correctness.

Broward County seemed to be more concerned with using law enforcement resources for counseling and collaboration rather than policing crime and maintaining a safe environment for teachers, students and staff.

What really makes you scratch your head on this one is that Peterson had a base annual salary of $75,673.72 as of 2016 but that did not include longevity (he had been with the Sheriff's department for 23 years) and first- responder bonuses (emphasis added) according to the union official.

Don't you think someone should be at least asking this guy to pay back the first-responder bonuses he was paid over the years?  It doesn't seem that he earned them.

Even more troubling is the information that has come out about the so-called "Promise Program" in the county that was instituted back in the 2011/2102 period that I have learned about due to excellent research work by The Last Refuge.

A great outline of what the "Promise Program" was about can be found in this unrolled Twitter thread. It is more than troubling. It shows the truly tragic dimensions that politics and political correctness have in all of this.

The Broward County School Board and District Superintendent, entered into an agreement ("The Promise Program") with Broward County Law enforcement officials to stop arresting students for crimes. Perhaps the motive was high-minded at the beginning not wanting to see students saddled with a criminal record for petty crimes. However, bigger political issues soon took over as attractive state and federal grant money is given to school districts that are doing the best job in curbing juvenile delinquency.

It did not take long for school administrators and law enforcement to want to keep improving their statistics. Over time more and more crimes were overlooked so their statistics would look better and better and more and more money would roll in for the fabulous job they were doing at reducing juvenile delinquency.

Of course, it did not take long for students (and others) to figure out that they could do a lot of illegal things and never be held accountable. Criminal gangs even started to recruit students to do their dirty work knowing this.

This entire situation also forced the police to cover-up a lot of what was going on. For example, when they did not solve a burglary or robbery they could not return the goods to the lawful owner because this was "evidence" of a crime that they never wrote up in a report. It ended up being stored at the police department as lost goods found on the side of the road.

A lot has been made of the fact that in the aftermath of the shooting that the Broward County Sheriff's office had been notified 23 times about concerns people had about the accused Parkland killer. Everyone is asking how come nothing was done?

The Last Refuge puts all of this in perspective.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) didn’t “miss warning signs” or make “mistakes” in not writing up reports. The Sheriff’s office did exactly what their internal policies, procedures and official training required them to do, they intentionally ignored the signs, and intentionally didn’t generate documents.
It is important to understand the policy here. Broward County law enforcement (Sheriff Israel), in conjunction with Broward County School Officials (Superintendent Runcie and School Board), have a standing policy to ignore any criminal engagement with High School students.
When the police are hiding current, actual and ongoing unlawful conduct as a matter of standard procedure on a regular basis, what do we expect the police would do with reports of potential unlawful conduct? Of course they would ignore them.

So many are making so much of guns. Why do we hear so little about everything else that I mentioned above?

And why do we continue to put political correctness ahead of common sense and public safety?

The tragedy of Parkland provides a powerful reminder of those dangers.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

What's Your Longitude?

I wrote in my last blog post that "Self-Esteem Is Overrated."

Parents of Asian ancestry are not as concerned about the self-esteem of their children as Western parents are. They push their children to work hard and hold them accountable for results.

In order to excel at anything you need to work at it. Few children will naturally want to work or practice the necessary time to excel. Asian parents push their children to work hard and are not as concerned about overriding what the child wants to do as Western parents are.

Asian parents actually create a "low-esteem" environment for their children. They do not praise their children for their talent. They praise their children for their work ethic and effort. Asian students are no more "talented" that anyone else. Their success is a function of the expectations of the family and just plain old hard work, practice and study.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers attributes it to a "rice paddy" attitude. Simply stated, tending to a rice paddy is a 360 day, 3,000 hour per year activity. It is exacting, hard work where effort and dedication make a huge difference in results. The peasants that tended these rice paddies may be long gone but the culture carries on in their progeny. Gladwell makes the point that there is nothing that indicates that Asians are naturally any better at math, science or music but each requires hard work, persistence and doggedness. It is more attitude than aptitude.

I think it also stems from another factor. The sheer number of people on the Asian continent that anyone has to compete with in that part of the world. It is simply harder to feel that you are unique or special when you are competing against BILLIONS of other people.

I came across an infographic recently that illustrates this point in a compelling way.

Take a look at this chart prepared by based on global population in 2000 that shows where humanity lives on the planet based on longitude.

If you live in the Western Hemisphere it is almost as if you are living alone.

However, do you think that someone who comes from an Asian background might understand that they are competing with a few other human beings in anything that they want to do?

It reminds me of my college graduation day when I was feeling pretty good about myself having earned my diploma but then looking around at the other 3,000 students in the building that had done the same thing.  I felt pretty good walking into the ceremony, I didn't fell quite as good walking out. I realized I was a number. Everyone else was also a number.

What was I going to do to distinguish myself against all those others who were just like me? I realized I had really accomplished little to that point. It was up to ME to find ways to separate myself from the crowd going forward. I came in thinking I was at the end and realized I was really just at the beginning. There is no end if you want to excel and separate yourself---Asians parents understand this better than anyone else in the world.

Here is the chart that shows the world's population distributed by latitude.

There are also a lot of humanity living within a relatively small bandwidth of latitude in the world. Again, a lot of this is owed to major population centers in India, China and Japan.

 Of course, in the world we live in today it does not matter which longitude or latitude you live in.

You and your children are potentially in competition with all 7.6 billion other human beings.

Asian parents understand this better than anyone.

If you doubt it look at the entrance data for high schools in New York City that are based on a competitive exam.

Asian students make up only 15% of the students in the New York City school system.

However, this year they received 53% of the offers for placement at the top high schools.

On the other hand, Black and Hispanic students make up 71% of New York City schools but only received 10% of the offers.

Even more interesting is the fact that more Asian students (who only make up 15% of enrollment) took the entrance exam than any other ethnic group!

Do you think all those students decided on their own to take the entrance exam?

If you don't have any expectations, how will you ever get any results?

Perhaps Asian parents know something that others don't.

Their attitude as parents is the result of the longitude of their family culture. As a result, they understand competition in a much more personal way.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Self-Esteem Is Overrated

One of the reasons that I write BeeLine is to challenge my mind. It takes a lot of reading and research to do that. It is also a continuing challenge to take what I learn and turn out a blog that provides the content and context to make it interesting for you to read.

I am also always looking for new perspectives that challenge my assumptions. You can only grow if you are willing to do that. Hopefully, my writing also challenges your view of the world from time to time.

I recently came across some interesting research that has made me rethink some assumptions that I have held.

The first assumption was my belief that most people who got tattoos were insecure or had self-esteem issues. Getting a tattoo represented a way for them to draw attention to themselves and feel more important or special.

This seemed to be supported by a statement I saw one time from a Navy SEALs training instructor when he was asked if there was a way he could predict which recruits would fail BUD/S training. He answered that the best indicator was the number of tattoos the recruit had when he entered training. The greater the number, the greater the odds the recruit would ring the bell.

I also have long thought that a lot of problems in the African-American community were caused by issues of low self-esteem. I often read that low self-esteem among blacks was the root cause of problems ranging from academic underachievement to crime in the black community.

You even see that in the hype surrounding the new Black Panther movie featuring a superhero who is black. The film has been setting box office records since its release on February 16 due in part to its appeal to African-American audiences.

Consider this recent The New York Times Magazine article "Why 'Black Panther is a Defining Moment for Black America".
Ryan Coogler’s film is a vivid re-imagination of something black Americans have cherished for centuries — Africa as a dream of our wholeness, greatness and self-realization.
 “Black Panther,” ... is steeped very specifically and purposefully in its blackness. “It’s the first time in a very long time that we’re seeing a film with centered black people, where we have a lot of agency,” says Jamie Broadnax, the founder of Black Girl Nerds, a pop-culture site focused on sci-fi and comic-book fandoms. These characters, she notes, “are rulers of a kingdom, inventors and creators of advanced technology. We’re not dealing with black pain, and black suffering, and black poverty” — the usual topics of acclaimed movies about the black experience.
In a video posted to Twitter in December, which has since gone viral, three young men are seen fawning over the “Black Panther” poster at a movie theater. One jokingly embraces the poster while another asks, rhetorically: “This is what white people get to feel all the time?” There is laughter before someone says, as though delivering the punch line to the most painful joke ever told: “I would love this country, too.”

All of this seems to point to African-Americans who are insecure in their own country with low self-esteem that is preventing them from succeeding in America.

It is a common narrative and one that I assumed to be true just as I assumed that insecure people were hiding behind their tattoos.

It turns out that my assumptions were incorrect.

The reality, based on research I recently discovered, is that black youth actually have self-esteem that is at least as healthy as their white counterparts according to a study done at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Bernadette Gray-Little, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, performed a complex review of every piece of research available on black self-esteem. Using a technique called meta-analysis, her research culled data from the studies and treated them as if they were part of one giant study making her results less likely to be the result of chance.
'There have been inconsistencies in the results of the studies on this topic over time,' says Gray-Little. 'I wanted to see if I could find any basis for a firm conclusion. And if inconsistencies occurred, I wanted to know when and why.'
She found that before the age of 10, whites slightly surpass blacks in self-esteem. Everyone's self-esteem dips in the later years of school. After that, blacks narrowly but consistently surpass whites, up to the age of 21, the upper limit of the study.

This finding led me to look for other research on self-esteem.

It turns out that black women are also consistently found to have higher self-esteem than white or Hispanic women according to an article in Glamour magazine.

They were far more likely to describe themselves as successful (44 percent said so, compared with 30 percent of white women and 21 percent of Hispanic) and beautiful (59 percent, versus 25 and 32 percent). That’s consistent with other studies, says Jean Twenge, Ph.D., who has examined the effect of race on self-confidence. “Research shows black women score higher on self-esteem than women of other races and ethnicities, which may seem surprising, given the long history of prejudice and discrimination they have faced," she said.

And black women who wear their hair naturally have higher self-esteem than those that don't according to this study.

There is an association between favorable responses from society, earning middle class income, having advanced degrees and wearing hair naturally among Black women. We also found that Black women who wear their hair naturally generally felt better about themselves. We maintain that feeling good about oneself leads to greater life, career and academic success. 
What really surprised me were the numerous studies that have found that criminals generally all have very high self-esteem. In fact, some studies suggest that there is no group of individuals that have higher self-esteem.

This belief that increasing self-esteem among the members of society will increase goodness in society spread through the rest of America like proverbial wildfire.
It turns out, however, that the premise was entirely misguided. There is no correlation between goodness and high self-esteem. But there is a correlation between criminality and high self-esteem.
Florida State University Prof. Roy Baumeister (PhD psychology, Princeton University) has revealed that in a lifetime of study of violent criminals, the one characteristic nearly all these criminals share is high self-esteem.

As I thought about it further it does make sense. Someone who commits a crime must do so with some type of superior attitude. They also must believe they can get away with it. They have too much confidence...not too little.

To take this a step further, research has shown that among adolescents in America that Asian-Americans score the lowest in self esteem.

Large-scale representative surveys of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in the United States show high self-esteem scores for all groups. African-American students score highest, Whites score slightly higher than Hispanics, and Asian Americans score lowest.

 I find this interesting when you compare self-esteem to academic results for these adolescents.

SAT Combined Reading & Writing, Mathematics mean scores-2017

Or when you compare it to incarceration rates.

Asians were not included in the data above but the Bureau of Prisons reports that there are currently 2,298 prisoners of Asian descent in federal prisons right now. It is estimated that there are about 18 million Asians in the United States. That would be make the average rate of incarceration for Asians at approximately 127 per 100,000---less than half the rate for Whites and less than 10% of that of Blacks.

Is it a coincidence that parents of Asian heritage have a different mindset involving parenting than other American parents? I have written a couple of times in the past about "Tiger Moms" and their parenting style here and here. Amy Chua wrote an essay in The Wall Street Journal several years ago, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior". Notice what she says about the subject of self-esteem.

Western parents are too concerned about their children's self esteem.  Chinese are not. Asians assume strength in their children, not fragility.  Therefore, they push hard on them and hold them accountable for results.
Chinese parents believe their children owe them something.  Many Americans seem to believe that since they were responsible for bringing the child into the world that they owe the child in some way.
Asians believe they know what is best for their children and override their children's own preferences and desires. Chinese parents understand that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.

Perhaps the ideas that took hold 30 years ago that we needed to make everyone feel good about themselves was based on a bad assumption?

Perhaps we should not have been handing trophies to everyone in the league and telling everyone to celebrate their unique identity?

Could it be that those who are a product of a culture where you are just one of BILLIONS have a better understanding of what it takes to stand out in a crowd  They understand that not everyone is special. You become special through your hard work and your results.

That brings us back to tattoos.

It seems there is at least one study that indicates that those with tattoos have more self-esteem than those that don't. In fact, women with four or more tattoos had more self-esteem than anyone else.

However, women with four tattoos or more also have four times the rate of suicide as women with no tattoos.

Does this suggest that women who have higher self-esteem get tattoos only to discover later that their self-image is not what they thought it was? The real world does not meet the expectations of their world?

Perhaps all of this also explains SEALs and tattoos. Recruits with tattoos are the least likely to survive BUD/S training. That seems to suggest that those that came in with the biggest egos and self-esteem get cut down pretty quickly to size. The reality is a shock that they cannot cope with. As a result, they are more likely to quit.

However, Robert O'Neill (The Seal Team 6 member who killed Bin Laden) stated in his book (The Operator) that most special operators today have tattoos. They must get them after surviving BUD/S and getting their Trident. Perhaps that suggests that those with more humility and lower self esteem going into BUD/S training are stronger of mind and spirit. They believe they have something to prove. However, getting through training really boosts their confidence and self-esteem  (which what the training is supposed to do) leading them to want to display that self-esteem externally with tattoos.

All of this might suggest that, like me, your assumptions about self-esteem are wrong.

The bigger lesson here is that you can never assume too much. You must always look at everything with a humble mind and spirit. Chances are high that you don't know as much as you think you do. You are also likely to not be as special as your mother (assuming you did not have a Tiger Mom) told you were.

The following lesson was written down for us many, many years ago.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
                              -Proverbs 11:2

Self-Esteem is overrated. Humility is underrated.

It is the Truth.

No assumption is needed.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Food or Fraud?

The Trump Administration signaled again last week that it is willing to once again challenge the status quo by proposing a change to the food stamp program whereby a portion of the federal food stamp program would be replaced with actual boxes of food delivered to recipients' front doors.

The "Harvest Box" would contain domestically grown food and include "shelf-stable" items such as juice, pasta, canned meat and beans. It is estimated that this would save $129 billion over a decade, driven in part by government purchasing power at the wholesale level.

Predictably, opponents have already lined up on both sides of the aisle as well as some of the large supermarket chains which derive a reported 7.5% of sales from food stamps.

WalMart reportedly captures an astounding one in five food stamp purchases. Let's put that in context. If WalMart spun off a separate entity for its food stamp sales alone, those revenues would rank it about 200th on the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. corporations.

I have written about issues surrounding the food stamp program a number of times in these pages over the years. Here, here and here are examples.

Of course, today it is no longer officially called the food stamp program, it is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("SNAP') and they don't use stamps anymore, recipients get an EBT Card (Electronic Benefit Transfer).

When the food stamp program began in 1965 there were 500,000 people initially receiving food stamps. So far in 2018, an average of 43.7 million people are receiving food stamps according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That is down from a high of 47 million people in 2013 but it is still an astronomical number when the unemployment rate is 4.1%

This chart provides some perspective on how the numbers on food stamps has increased between 1975 and 2016. This chart and those that follow are provided by Matt Trivisonno.


This works out to more than one in eight individuals in the United States.


You get some additional perspective on the size of the program when you see that there are more individuals on food stamps in the United States than the entire population of countries like Argentina, Poland, Canada, Venezuela and North Korea. I doubt anyone in Venezuela or North Korea would be complaining about receiving a "harvest box" of food.


What are some of the arguments for the Trump proposal besides the projected cost savings? A big one is that it has been argued that a large portion of food stamps are spent on poor nutritional choices.

For example, The New York Times cited a U.S.Department of Agriculture report last year that found that household receiving food stamps spent 9.3% of their food stamps on “sweetened beverages,” a category that includes soft drinks, juices, and energy drinks, among others. Soft drinks were actually #1 on the list of all food purchases by SNAP recipients. Another 11% of purchases were made for candy, desserts and salty snacks according to the USDA report.

Of course, there is the bigger question of whether all those 6-packs of soft drinks are consumed by the food stamp beneficiaries? This is where the question of fraud comes in. In Kentucky's Appalachia region they even have a name for it..."The Pop Train" where food stamps are turned into cash.

WKYT in Lexington, Kentucky reported on "The Pop Train" in 2014.

"It happens everyday. We see it often," said Jackson Police Chief Ken Spicer.
WKYT's Miranda Combs investigated after receiving numerous calls telling WKYT to be at the Jackson Walmart or Save-A-Lot at the first of the month when SNAP benefits -- or food stamps -- are given out. The callers and Jackson's police chief told WKYT there would be people pushing and unloading carts and carts full of pop.
Chief Spicer told WKYT people will buy the pop with food stamps, then turn around and sell it for cash. He says typically the sale is made to small convenience stores outside the Breathitt County line. 

There are also some unscrupulous retailers paying 50 cents on the dollar for food stamps directly. They then launder the EBT amounts through their stores.

Where does the cash go that the food stamp recipients receive? It is not hard to conclude that a good deal of the money is going to buy drugs, including opioids.

Trump's "harvest box" proposal would provide better nutritional choices to the food stamp population while also making it much more difficult to trade in EBT currency.

Monica Showalter in American Thinker has an excellent article on fraud in the food stamp business and why the Trump proposal makes so much sense. She cites a Worcester, Massachusetts story from a couple of years ago involving a convenience store owner.

WORCESTER – A federal judge Monday sentenced a local woman to a year in jail and ordered her to forfeit $3.5 million and pay restitution in what lawyers said was the largest food stamp fraud case in Massachusetts history.
Vida Ofori Causey, 46, owner of J&W Aseda Plaza at 753 Main St., pleaded guilty in December to charges of conspiracy to commit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits fraud, SNAP fraud, and money laundering in a $3.6 million cash-for-benefits scheme.
The scheme involved buying food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar while charging the government the full value of the benefit.  In a four-year period, Mrs. Causey rang through more than $3.6 million worth of benefits from a three-aisle convenience store in Main South.

Showalter's observation on all of this as it relates to the Trump proposal.

The Worcester Telegram story is pretty emblematic of the widespread level of fraud out there in the federal food stamp program and, as the left howled, probably why the Trump administration moved to change half the benefit from food stamps to food boxes.  Food boxes are quite a bit harder to offload to store owners for cash at the local convenience store.

Perhaps it would not be so bad if food stamp fraud was not taken more seriously. Did you notice the jail time given to the woman who laundered $3.6 million in food stamps?

One year.

That is pretty typical sentence according to the article. Most convicted of food stamp fraud get 1-3 years.

By comparison, bank robbers get 10 to 25 in the slammer for an average take (as of 2012) of $9,521.
And while about half to three quarters of bank robbers are caught, the risk of getting caught at food stamp fraud is low, too, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Food stamp fraud costs a billion dollars a year and undoubtedly contributes to the opioid epidemic in run down areas, where cashed out food stamps go to the purchase of illegal drugs.
With the risk-to-reward ratio quite high for robbing banks and quite low for food stamp fraud, you can see why so much of this is going on.

If the penalty is so minimal for those that rip off the system for millions of dollars you can see that there is absolutely no reason for a food stamp recipient to worry about abusing the system.

If you doubt how rampant the fraud and abuse is with EBT cards you should take a look at this music entitled "It's Free, Swipe Yo EBT".

This is the "clean' version.

If you have the stomach for it, this is a link to the original perverted, profane version that shows truly how far over the line we are with food stamps.

Food stamps should be about food, not fraud.

Bring on the "Harvest Boxes". It can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Culture and Country

Borders. Language. Culture.

Radio personality Michael Savage has long stated that these are the three key elements that define a country.

You cannot have a country unless you have a well-defined and enforced border. Look no further than the border between North Korea or South Korea. North Korea's leaders know they would have no country without that border. The same was true for East Germany. The borders in those countries were to keep people in. However, borders are just as important to define those that rightfully should be in your country. Without borders you invite chaos. Chaos eventually destroys a country.

Countries also need a common language. If the people of a country do not share a common tongue you create divisions and dissension. And these divisions ultimately undermine the unity necessary to sustain a country.

A shared culture is probably the most critical element to sustain a nation. Unless the values, beliefs and customs are universally accepted in a country, there will be factions and friction that will rip a country apart. Look no further than the cultural divide between North and South on the subject of slavery in the United States in the early years of the nation.

Those that favor open borders and liberal immigration policies do not seem to recognize that all cultures are not the same. They do not seem to recognize that the culture that exists in the United States and other Western countries is unique. The values and beliefs that stem from our Judeo-Christian heritage are special. The recognition of individual freedom and property rights are not universal. The wealth that a capitalist economy provides is unsurpassed in the well-being in can provide for the citizenry.

Those that believe this are not racists, or Islamaphobes or evil imperialists. They are realists who understand human history over the last 1000 years. It has been Western culture that has contributed the most to the advancement of mankind.

A young, idealistic Peace Corps worker fresh from college learned this very quickly when she was posted to Senegal. Karin McQuillan recently wrote about her experiences in "What I Learned in the Peace Corps in Africa: Trump is Right" in American Thinker. It is a must read, especially for any liberals who want to proclaim "that Western Civilization is no better than a third-world country".

A few interesting excerpts from the article.

Three weeks after college, I flew to Senegal, West Africa, to run a community center in a rural town.  Life was placid, with no danger, except to your health.  That danger was considerable, because it was, in the words of the Peace Corps doctor, "a fecalized environment."
In plain English: s--- is everywhere.  People defecate on the open ground, and the feces is blown with the dust – onto you, your clothes, your food, the water.  He warned us the first day of training: do not even touch water.  Human feces carries parasites that bore through your skin and cause organ failure.
The longer I lived there, the more I understood: it became blindingly obvious that the Senegalese are not the same as us. The truths we hold to be self-evident are not evident to the Senegalese. How could they be? Their reality is totally different. You can't understand anything in Senegal using American terms.

Family takes on an entirely different concept in Senegal. It included everyone out to second and third cousins. Men have up to four wives in the Muslim culture and love and friendship in marriage are unknown in Senegal.
What I did witness every day was that women were worked half to death.  Wives raised the food and fed their own children, did the heavy labor of walking miles to gather wood for the fire, drew water from the well or public faucet, pounded grain with heavy hand-held pestles, lived in their own huts, and had conjugal visits from their husbands on a rotating basis with their co-wives.  Their husbands lazed in the shade of the trees.
Those that believe that there is some kind of innate value and belief system in human beings learns quickly that is not the case in a place like Senegal.
The Ten Commandments were not disobeyed – they were unknown.  The value system was the exact opposite.  You were supposed to steal everything you can to give to your own relatives.  There are some Westernized Africans who try to rebel against the system.  They fail.
Americans think it is a universal human instinct to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It's not.  It seems natural to us because we live in a Bible-based Judeo-Christian culture.

Those that believe that work ethic and individual enterprise is natural also find these traits are universal.
We think the Protestant work ethic is universal.  It's not.  My town was full of young men doing nothing.  They were waiting for a government job.  There was no private enterprise.  Private business was not illegal, just impossible, given the nightmare of a third-world bureaucratic kleptocracy.  It is also incompatible with Senegalese insistence on taking care of relatives.
All the little stores in Senegal were owned by Mauritanians.  If a Senegalese wanted to run a little store, he'd go to another country.  The reason?  Your friends and relatives would ask you for stuff for free, and you would have to say yes.  End of your business.  You are not allowed to be a selfish individual and say no to relatives.  The result: Everyone has nothing. 
The more I worked there and visited government officials doing absolutely nothing, the more I realized that no one in Senegal had the idea that a job means work.  A job is something given to you by a relative.  It provides the place where you steal everything to give back to your family

McQuillan states that she enjoyed her year in Senegal but the biggest gift she received from that experience was a greater appreciation and love for what we have in the United States of America.

I love and treasure America more than ever.  I take seriously my responsibility to defend our culture and our country and pass on the American heritage to the next generation.
I couldn't wait to get home.  So why would I want to bring Africa here?  Non-Westerners do not magically become American by arriving on our shores with a visa.
We have the right to choose what kind of country to live in.  I was happy to donate a year of my life as a young woman to help the poor Senegalese.  I am not willing to donate my country.  


Why is it so difficult for those who advocate for open borders to understand how closely culture and country are linked?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Detached From Reality

I often write about the distinctive difference in how liberals and conservatives view the world. That view very much shapes their political opinions.

Liberals are more theoretical and idealistic...and driven more by emotion than facts.  Conservatives tend to be more practical and pragmatic when looking at the world.

Most liberal ideas are well meaning and well intentioned. In a theoretical laboratory these ideas make a lot of sense. I think that is why so many academics are liberals. The ideas make such great sense in the classroom or a textbook. Unfortunately, in the real world these ideas must face reality. A reality where human beings make decisions based on incentives or disincentives relative to their own self-interest. A reality where unintended consequences often have much greater effects than the intended consequences.

It is in that reality that much liberals ideas begin to fall apart.

There is no state in the union that has more liberals than California. Liberal Democrats have controlled the State Senate since 1970. They have had a majority in the California Assembly over the same period but for the two years 1995 and 1996. California has voted for the Democrat in every Presidential election since 1992. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by a margin of more than 4.3 million votes in the state in 2016.

Therefore, it should not be a surprise that the state of California leads the nation in proposals and policies that are so detached from reality.

Here are few examples I have come across in the last several months.

Upset that federal tax law now limits the deductibility of state and local taxes, the California legislature is considering a scheme that would allow taxpayers to make "charitable" contributions to the state in lieu of their tax payments.

As someone who practiced tax law for a number of years, I can tell you it is well established law that for a charitable gift to be considered deductible it must stem from "detached and disinterested generosity."

Allowing a taxpayer to take a required tax payment and allowing them to make a "charitable" gift to the state in lieu of it is not "detached" generosity.  Thinking that this might be a way around the state tax limitation is detached from reality.

The second example is California's quixotic pursuit of a high speed rail line in the state. The project was narrowly approved by voters by a statewide ballot issue in 2008 who approved $9.95 billion in bond issuance. Where are we almost a decade later? If you listen to Governor Jerry Brown and the California High Speed Rail Authority the project is steadily advancing. The San Diego Union-Tribune explains that they may be slightly detached from the reality of the situation.

The truth is the project not only is seven years behind schedule, it has exploded in cost — to $64 billion — while shrinking in scope. The truth also is the rail authority has failed to honor a key promise made in 2008 to win passage of Proposition 1A — that construction of the first segment wouldn’t start unless the state had enough funding in hand to build a segment that could be self-sustaining. The state is now proceeding with the construction of a first segment going from San Jose to ... an almond orchard in rural Kern County. That is laughable.

The reality is that the project has no CEO right now, it has no realistic way to finance the project and ridership projections show that the train line will not ever come close to be self sustaining. In short, the project is totally detached from reality.

You also cannot be much further detached from reality than when you look at what California's position is on illegal immigration.

California enacted a law effective January 1 that officially makes it a "sanctuary" state that bars police from asking individuals who are arrested their immigration status or cooperating with federal immigration enforcement activities.

I have found this particularly amusing as several years ago liberals were arguing that Arizona could not enforce its tough illegal immigration law because immigration policy was specifically reserved in the U.S. Constitution to the federal government. That was when the Obama administration chose not to enforce U.S. immigration law. Now that Trump wants to enforce the law, liberals are all of a sudden interested in state's rights.

Things are so far off the rails in California that the state's Attorney General has threatened employers with fines of as much of $10,000 to employers in the state who cooperate with federal immigration authorities based on this law. Employers are thus faced with violating federal law or violating state law. Talk about detached from reality.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the city of Stockton, California which has launched an experimental program to provide a minimum universal basic income to every resident of $500 per month with no questions asked. The plan is the brainchild of the 27-year old Democrat Mayor of Stockton, Michael Tubbs.

Why could go wrong with this?

Mayor Michael Tubbs
Stockton, California

What makes it even more detached from reality is that the city of Stockton previously filed for  bankruptcy in 2012 after a 15-year spending binge.

"Go West, Young Man" is a phrase that was used in the 19th century to those who were looking for opportunity.

It seems that there are many in California today that are deciding that the future is much brighter in going East.

In fact, the latest census projections estimate that California may actually lose a Congressional seat (and an electoral vote) after the next decennial census in 2020. This is shocking considering that California gained seven seats between 1980 and 1990 alone.

The San Francisco media is even taking notice as explained in this story last week by CBS-TV affiliate KPXI, "San Francisco Area Experiences Mass Exodus of Residents" which now rates as the nation's leading area for out-migration.

One interesting factoid from the story.

Operators of a San Jose U-Haul business say one of their biggest problems is getting its rental moving vans back because so many are on a one-way ticket out of town.

It is heartening to see that increasing numbers are seeing the reality of what California has become.

It is depressing to see so many millions more continuing to live (and vote) totally detached from that reality.

Will we see a day in the near future when that changes?

That is my fervent hope because I love California and what it once stood for and symbolized for so many who went West.

Unfortunately, right now that hope is detached from reality.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Science of Success

I speak from time to time to groups on "The Science of Success".

Most people who achieve success have followed a formula that leads them there.  It does not just happen, they make it happen.

I just finished reading the book, "West Point 1915-Eisenhower, Bradley and the Class the Stars Fell On" authored by Michael E. Haskew.

West Point graduated 164 young officers in June, 1915 which included future 5-star Generals Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. However, an additional 57 members of that class also earned their stars as Generals (36% of the class). No class, before or since, has seen so many climb the ladder of success in the Army.

In reading the book it was evident once again that the key elements that I speak about in the "Science of Success" were also present with the West Point Class of 1915.

What are some of those elements?

Passion--Those that entered West Point in the summer of 1911, and graduated four years later, had a passion (287 started but only 164 graduated--57%) for what they were doing and what they wanted to accomplish in life. For some, that passion derived from the fact that they likely would not have gone to college but for being accepted at West Point. Eisenhower and Bradley were both from modest families whose families could not afford to send them to college. West Point was a way out and a way up in their lives.

Preparation--No one gets to the top without preparation, practice and perspiration. When you see a successful person you don't see what went in to getting them there.  Eisenhower and Bradley toiled for years in a series of postings and assignments that they were not sure would ever lead them higher than the rank of colonel. Neither saw any combat experience in World War I which they thought would limit their future career advancement. Although Eisenhower did not get the assignments he wanted early in his career, he made a decision that, despite his disappointments, he would perform every duty given to him by the Army to the best of his ability.  He carried out his duties in a manner designed to make every boss sorry to see him leave. When his time came he was ready.

Perseverance--No one ever succeeds without facing challenges and adversity. The West Point experience is designed to discover those that will persevere and weed out those who will quit when the going gets tough. Eisenhower spent 16 years stuck at the rank of Major. He did not get promoted to the rank of Colonel until March, 1941---over 25 years after graduating from West Point. You also see it in looking at the bigger picture. At their 25th West Point reunion in 1940, 109 of the 164 graduates were still in the Army (23 had died and 32 had resigned or been discharged). Of those 109 who had persevered, 59 ( 50%) became Generals. A little more than a year later Providence had an important role for them to play in world history.

Providence---There is no mistaking the fact that Providence is an invisible hand guiding our lives. Omar Bradley was an alternate to the West Point in the Class of 1915. He only gained admittance (in August rather than June like the rest of his classmates) because the candidate ahead of him failed an entrance exam.

Eisenhower wanted to attend Annapolis. He was first on the list of candidates for that appointment and second for West Point. However, his Congressman nominated him for the West Point spot and gave the Annapolis slot to someone else. Eisenhower would never have led the D-Day invasion as a naval officer. He also never would have been President except for Providence.

Likewise, many members of the Class of 1915 at West Point would never have retired as Generals but for World War II changing the arc of their careers. We can be passionate. We can prepare. We can persevere. However, Providence has a hand in our life that can alter its course. What can you do about it? You exhibit passion, you patiently prepare and you persevere on the new path before you. It is called dealing with life.

On the subject of perseverance, I recently came across a great article by Dr. Travis Bradberry on the "10 Habits of Mentally Strong People".  

Dr. Bradberry cites the research of University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth who conducted a study of West Point cadets to see if she could predict which of these young men and women would make it through West Point's introductory Beast Program. She found that those that survive are not the smartest, most talented or the most athletic. They have most mental strength---she calls it "The Grit Scale".

The Grit Scale measures mental strength, which is that unique combination of passion, tenacity and stamina that enables you to stick with your goals until they become a reality.
To increase your mental strength, you simply need to change your outlook. When hard times hit, people with mental strength suffer just as much as everyone else. The difference is that they understand life’s challenging moments offer valuable lessons. In the end, it’s these tough lessons that build the strength you need to succeed.
Developing mental strength is all about habitually doing the things no one else is willing to do.
You can call it grit. You can call it perseverance. Or you can call it being mentally strong. However, you have got to have it to survive and succeed in life.

New West Point cadets begin Beast Barracks

These are the habits that mentally strong people rely on regularly according to Bradberry.

You have to fight when you already feel defeated. A reporter once asked Muhammad Ali how many sit-ups he does every day. He responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups, I only start counting when it starts hurting, when I feel pain, ‘cause that’s when it really matters.” The same applies to success in the workplace. You always have two choices when things begin to get tough: you can either overcome an obstacle and grow in the process or let it beat you. Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through a challenge, the strength begins to grow in you. 

You have to delay gratification. There was a famous Stanford experiment in which an administrator left a child in a room with a marshmallow for 15 minutes. Before leaving, the experimenter told the child that she was welcome to eat it, but if she waited and didn’t eat it until he returned, she would get a second marshmallow. The children who were able to wait until the experimenter returned experienced better outcomes in life, including higher SAT scores, greater career success and even lower body mass indexes. The point is that delay of gratification and patience are essential to success. People with mental strength know results only materialize when they put in the time and forego instant gratification. 

You have to make mistakes, look like an idiot, and try again—without even flinching. In a recent study at the College of William and Mary, researchers interviewed more than 800 entrepreneurs and found that the most successful among them tend to have two critical things in common: they’re terrible at imagining failure and they tend not to care what other people think of them. In other words, the most successful entrepreneurs put no time or energy into stressing about their failures; they see failure as a small and necessary step in the process of reaching their goals. 

You have to keep your emotions in check. Negative emotions challenge your mental strength every step of the way. While it’s impossible not to feel your emotions, it’s completely under your power to manage them effectively and to keep yourself in control of them. When you let your emotions overtake your ability to think clearly, it’s easy to lose your resolve. A bad mood can make you lash out or stray from your chosen direction just as easily as a good mood can make you overconfident and impulsive. 

You have to make the calls you’re afraid to make. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because we know they’re for the best in the long-run: fire someone, cold-call a stranger, pull an all-nighter to restore the company server or scrap a project and start over. It’s easy to let the looming challenge paralyze you, but the most successful people know that in these moments, the best thing they can do is get started right away. Every moment spent dreading the task subtracts time and energy from actually getting it done. People who learn to habitually make the tough calls stand out like flamingos in a flock of seagulls.

You have to trust your gut. There’s a fine line between trusting your gut and being impulsive. Trusting your gut is a matter of looking at decisions from every possible angle, and when the facts don’t present a clear alternative, you believe in your ability to make the right decision; you go with what looks and feels right.

You have to lead when no one else follows. It’s easy to set a direction and to believe in yourself when you have support, but the true test of strength is how well you maintain your resolve when nobody else believes in what you’re doing. People with mental strength believe in themselves no matter what, and they stay the course until they win people over to their ways of thinking. 

You have to focus on the details even when it numbs your mind. Nothing tests your mental strength like mind-numbing details, especially when you’re tired. The more people with mental strength are challenged, the more they dig in and welcome that challenge, and numbers and details are no exception to this. 

You have to be kind to people who are rude to you. When people treat you poorly, it’s tempting to stoop to their level and return the favor. People with mental strength don’t allow others to walk all over them, but that doesn’t mean they’re rude to them, either. Instead, they treat rude and cruel people with the same kindness they extend to everyone else, because they don’t allow another person’s negativity to bring them down. 

You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what. People are far more likely to remember how you dealt with a problem than they are to recall how you created it in the first place. By holding yourself accountable, even when making excuses is an option, you show that you care about results more than you care about your image or ego. 

Whether it was 1915, or it is 2018, the science of success has not changed.

Potential and promise are great.

However, all the potential and promise in the world cannot compete when passion, preparation and perseverance are mixed together.

That is the real formula for success.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Mendacity and Misdirection

One of the key principles that underlies our government and society is that our justice system will be  fair, balanced and non-partisan.

That ideal is personified by a blindfolded Lady Justice who also stands for a moral force in our justice system that wealth, power or status does matter.  Justice is to be administered impartially. Our law enforcement and justice officials are not supposed to have their hands on the scales of justice. They are not supposed to play favorites. They are certainly not supposed to use their powers to target and trap their enemies.

Violating this trust is an attack on the most sacred of the foundational pillars that support our society.

The release of the so-called "Nunes FISA memorandum" should give everyone pause as to the extent to which our justice system may have been compromised at the highest levels.

We may find that there are valid reasons and explanations for the actions of the FBI and the Justice Department in the investigation of Trump and certain of his campaign associates. On the other hand, we may find that what we have seen so far is the mere tip of the iceberg of illegal and unethical actions. Time will only tell.

However, how did we even get to this place in the first place?

It goes without saying that we would not be here right now if Hillary Rodham Clinton had been elected President.

All of what we have seen thus far (or is yet to come out) would have been buried deep within the deep state.

Many actions would never have occurred because it appears that there was lot of activity (and panic) once Donald Trump was elected President. That may have caused fear of disclosure and established the need to cover tracks and and create misdirection from the true case at hand.

Where did it all start?

It started with Hillary Clinton wanting to evade the potential complications of the Freedom of Information Act while serving as Secretary of State. Therefore, she went to all the time and trouble to establish a private server to use for all of her email correspondence. Never mind that its intent was to evade the law. Never mind that it would inevitably lead to classified information finding its way on to that server. Clinton valued her reputation more than the security of her country.

She also knew that no one was going to stop her and tell her no.

This ultimately led to Secretary Clinton exchanging emails with President Obama on that private server. Those emails included correspondence that took place while Secretary of State Clinton was  on foreign soil---in Russia of all places. What is even more telling is that she corresponded with Obama as he was also using an unofficial email address with a pseudonym that was also likely unsecure.

Why was the Hillary email investigation whitewashed by the FBI?  Clearly they did not want to indict the Democrat nominee for President. Someone most expected (and probably wanted) to be President. However, a bigger problem for the Justice Department and the FBI was that an indictment of Hillary would also surely implicate the President of the United States as well.

In addition, consider that Obama stated in a 60 Minutes interview that he found out about Hillary's private server same way everyone else did---on the news.

That clearly was not true.

Andy McCarthy in the National Review explains.

If Clinton had been charged, Obama’s culpable involvement would have been patent. In any prosecution of Clinton, the Clinton–Obama emails would have been in the spotlight. For the prosecution, they would be more proof of willful (or, if you prefer, grossly negligent) mishandling of intelligence. More significantly, for Clinton’s defense, they would show that Obama was complicit in Clinton’s conduct yet faced no criminal charges. 
That is why such an indictment of Hillary Clinton was never going to happen. The latest jaw-dropping disclosures of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his paramour, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, illustrate this point.

Of course, none of this is a problem if Clinton succeeds Obama. He covered for her. She would cover for him. The FBI covered for both of them with a blind eye. The public would never know.

However, the election of Donald Trump changed everything. Here was a guy who was not a member of the club and could not be trusted to protect the deep state. The election of Trump represented an uncontrollable risk to the FBI and the Department of Justice.

The only answer to cover their mendacity was to begin a case of misdirection.

It may actually be true that the FBI believed that an "insurance policy" was necessary in the event that Trump was elected President. Various reports suggest that may be the case.

For example, it appears that the FBI first approached a FISA court judge with a request to put the Trump campaign associates under surveillance in June, 2016. Interestingly, this is right after Trump sealed the GOP nomination.

Giving the FBI the benefit of the doubt, this request could have been motivated by concerns about then campaign manager Paul Manafort who had many ties with Russia and Ukraine, who Trump had hired in March, 2016.

However, the reports are that this FISA request was rejected by the court.

Manafort was subsequently fired by Trump in August, 2016 when he learned that Manafort may have been under investigation for some shady dealings with a pro-Russia party in the Ukraine
The FBI then came back to the FISA court with another request in October, 2016 targeting a former volunteer campaign advisor named Carter Page. Page was an energy expert and had Russian connections. However, by October, 2016 the Trump campaign had severed ties with Page. Nevertheless, the FBI asked for what is called "Title I" surveillance authority in a FISA warrant request. This allows the FBI to literally look at anything Carter Page has ever done. They can tap his phone, read all his emails, enter his house or place of business and place bugs. They can also look at these records as far back as they want.

More troubling is that the Title I surveillance of Page "allowed the FBI to look at every single person he came in contact with; and every single aspect of their lives and their activities in growing and concentric circles; without limits to current time or historic review."

In effect, by putting Page under surveillance the FBI also had the potential to put anyone he ever came into contact under surveillance. It is if Carter Page was patient zero in a virus that expands exponentially in the population. In this way getting the FISA warrant on Page was potentially a key to opening up all sorts of intelligence of Trump and his staff.

This broad authority for Title I surveillance under FISA is why there are very strict requirements on its use. In effect, the FBI has to be able to prove that the person being surveilled is a foreign agent or spy. Nothing less will do.

This gives you a sense of what is required under the statute in order to undertake a Title I surveillance warrant.

Was Carter Page a Russian spy or was he just an energy expert with a lot of contacts with Russia?

Carter Page
United States Naval Academy '93

That will be a key question to be resolved, but in order to get the FISA warrant the FBI had to convince the judge that he was a Russian spy.

The FBI also had to convince the judge that Page's association with the Russians and the Trump campaign involved some type of potential federal crime. What was the crime? As I have written before, merely talking to the Russians is not a crime.  Even 'colluding' with the Russians to get dirt on Hillary is not a crime.

This is where the infamous Steele dossier comes in. That seems to be a principal piece of evidence in the FISA filing against Page.

However, this is the same dossier that FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress contained "salacious and unverified" allegations.

We also now know that the funding for the Steele dossier was paid for in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign. We also now know that Christopher Steele (the former British MI6 agent who authored the dossier) had a deep animus toward Trump. As a result, he was sharing the dossier with media outlets before the election with the obvious intent of harming Trump's Presidential prospects.

What I find really interesting is that the Democrats are arguing that the Steele dossier is true and they claim it shows that Trump was deeply involved with the Russians. Their argument is that the Russians were working with Trump to prevent Clinton from winning.

However, if the latter is true, why would the Russians have given such supposedly damaging information to Steele before the election that would harm their candidate?  If Trump was their guy why would they undermine his candidacy with Steele? That would be working against their interests.

Don't you think the Russians are smarter than that?

It doesn't add up.

Everything involved here looks to me like an attempt at misdirection to take the focus off of Obama, Clinton, the Democrats and the FBI. Their objective is to point their finger at Trump and the Russians so that no one is pointing the finger at them.

I was in law school at the time of Watergate.

If Watergate showed us anything it is that the cover-up always seems be worse than the original crime in Washington.

Watergate began with a bungled robbery of the Democratic National Committee offices by former CIA operatives in an attempt to gain access to DNC files and wiretap the offices. There was never any proof that I saw that Richard Nixon knew about the plans for the original break-in. However, he did get involved in attempting to cover-up his campaign's involvement after the fact. It led to his

Does any of that sound familiar?

However, Watergate is nothing compared to what possibly occurred in this case. This is a million times worse.

We may have had the FBI and Department of Justice being weaponized to attempt to force a duly elected President from office. The scary thing is that it could very well have been done to simply cover-up their own mendacity and misdeeds.

There is undoubtedly much more that we have yet to learn.

It took a long time for the truth to come out about Watergate and that was with a determined press who desperately wanted to find Nixon guilty of a crime.

It is ironic that the media today is doing everything in its power to aid in the misdirection. There is little interest in finding the truth.

It should give all Americans great concern.

We can only hope that truth will prevail and that Lady Justice really has the blindfold on when it does.