Evening Edition - August 10

August 10, 2018

Education Failure

A charter school in Atlanta, Georgia, is the latest school to stop making students start the day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.  They claim it’s being replaced with something “more inclusive”: the “Wolf Pack Chant” - because the school’s mascot is a wolf or something.  Officials say students and teachers will work together in the coming months to create their school chant, which “will focus on students’ civic responsibility to their school family, community, country and our global society.”  Well, it’s nice that they managed to throw “country” into the mix, at least.


The excuse for this shunning of the Pledge of Allegiance from other schools is that it makes students “uncomfortable,” and some of them have refused to stand for it after seeing the shining example of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.


Apparently, these schools don’t even realize what an indictment these statements are of their own abject failure to educate these students properly.  If they were receiving a real education, then they would be overjoyed to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day, because they would know how incredibly lucky and blessed they are to be “included” in the population of the United States of America. 

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While they’re learning about all those other cultures that are part of the “global society” and as good as or better than ours, how about taking a few minutes to teach them why so many people who are part of those cultures gladly risk their lives to come here, to the nation these students disrespect, to enjoy the rights and freedoms these students have been taught to take for granted?  How about focusing a few days’ study on such non-American paradises as Pakistan, Cuba, Sudan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and the list goes on and on?  Maybe sending them for spring break in Venezuela instead of Fort Lauderdale would give those who make it home alive a little more appreciation for what previous generations fought and died to bequeath to them. 


I guess that’s too much to expect, for these schools actually to teach students the facts about America.  So if your kids go to a school like that, sit them down and make them listen to this, Red Skelton’s famous monologue explaining the Pledge of Allegiance, word by word.  I have a feeling that your kids will learn more about America from this beloved clown than they will from all the liberal clowns in charge of their school curriculum.



 Government spending up


Most people set as a goal in life trying to spend less money than they have.  Many don’t set aside nearly as much as they’d like, but rational people at least consider it a win if they get to the end of the month with more leftover paycheck than bills.  This is just one of many ways in which government is not like rational people. 


2018 is only two-thirds over, but federal government’s fiscal year ends on September 30.  That means government agencies that have yet to spend their budgets for the year are now going on steroid-injected spending sprees and handing out cash to contractors like there’s no tomorrow, just to try to get rid of all the money allocated to them.  The reason: if they spend less than they said they needed, Congress might give them less next year (fat chance, since in Washington, if you reduce an agency’s budget increase from 12% to only 10%, Democrats accuse you of making “draconian cuts.”)  They have to spend it all by the end of the fiscal year so they can tell Congress they ran out of money just in the nick of time and desperately need more next year. 


Unfortunately for these agencies, some have really been slacking off in the tax money squandering department this year.  As the linked article from reports, agencies were concerned about Congress’ failure to pass a budget agreement so they spent less than usual on contracts in the first half of the year.  While spending has ramped up recently, only two of the ten largest federal agencies have spent 70% of their discretionary budgets by the start of the fourth quarter. HHS has spent only 23% of its projected $65 billion budget, the DHS has spent 27% of its $44 billion budget, and the VA has spent only $15 billion of its projected $88 billion budget.  I would call that “winning,” except if the VA has money that needs to be spent on veterans, then spend it already.  And I have to quote this next part verbatim:


“That’s problematic because over the past five years, agencies have averaged about 32 percent of their spending in the fourth quarter, meaning the vast majority of agencies are way behind.”


Only in Washington would it be considered “problematic” to be spending less money than you expected.  But of course, only in Washington is all the money that’s spent other people’s money.


I’m not calling for full zero baseline budgeting, where every budget starts at zero each year and all expenditures have to be justified.  That’s great in theory, but it creates a ton of paperwork and wasted time.  But we need some sort of reform to stop rewarding ever-rising federal spending. Ronald Reagan taught us that if you want more of something, subsidize it.  Right now, we’re subsidizing federal agencies spending as much money as humanly possible so they can ask for even more next year.  What we mostly have to show for it are trillion-dollar deficits and a $21 trillion-plus national debt. 


How about subsidizing thrift?  Maybe offer agency managers and employers bonuses based on a percentage of their budget that they didn’t spend by year’s end?  Perhaps that would bring down deficits and stop late summer in Washington from resembling a madcap game show for contractors called “Who Wants To Be A Billionaire?”   


Incidentally, if you’d like to see what all that frantic federal spending looks like when you put it in digital form, click on this link:



 NYC regulations

If you’ve ever been to New York City, you know that one of the biggest problems (aside from finding a bathroom) is finding transportation.  There’s the subway, but visitors have a hard time figuring it out and many don’t want to go near it, for obvious reasons.  And cabs are expensive and often hard to flag down.  That’s why, for many New Yorkers and tourists, the creation of Uber and Lyft, the app-based ride-sharing services that come to you, was a godsend.  They also gave enterprising individuals with cars a way to make extra money with the freedom to set their own schedules. But as we’ve all learned, nothing that combines that much individual freedom, convenience, customer satisfaction and lack of burdensome regulation can survive long once liberals take over government. 


And so, on Wednesday, the New York City Council, as part of Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s ongoing campaign to ruin the revitalized city he inherited from Republicans Giuliani and Bloomberg, voted not to issue any more Uber or Lyft licenses for a year (most cities don’t even require licenses.)  DeBlasio has been trying to crack down on ride-app services since 2015, claiming they cause traffic congestion and are “driving New Yorkers into poverty.” 

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Unless “Poverty” is one of the five boroughs, I guess he’s talking about Uber and Lyft drivers, since the legislation allows the city to regulate their pay.  Or maybe he means cab drivers, since the entrenched taxi companies hate Uber and Lyft.  They could change their business model to keep up with the times, or they could get the government to crack down on their competition.  That’s capitalism of the crony variety.


It will be interesting to see if New York City traffic actually moves faster with fewer Uber and Lyft drivers on the streets.  But I’d be willing to bet that people who need to get somewhere won’t care much that the driving time is ten minutes shorter if they can’t find anyone to drive them there.


Clearer every day: Bruce Ohr's notes show illegitimacy of "Russia" probe

If Trump’s lawyers seem to be taking a much tougher stand lately, it’s probably because almost every day, something new comes out about what we now know was a plot to prevent Trump from being elected, and, later, to stop him from functioning as President.  The real “Russia” news isn’t coming from Robert Mueller --- the worst crime of all may be his unbelievable skill in the art of selective prosecution --- but from intrepid reporters such as John Solomon and Sara A. Carter, undeterred watchdog groups such as Judicial Watch, determined Republicans on congressional committees, and attorneys such as Gregg Jarrett and Alan Dershowitz who aren’t afraid to speak out about what’s happening to justice in this country.


It seems everything has been turned on its head.  The institutions we’ve historically trusted to investigate and enforce the law equally have shown themselves to be unworthy of that trust.  This isn’t just the rant of someone blindly coming to the defense of the President –- it’s based on legal principles and hard evidence, more and more all the time.  The evidence has been painfully slow in coming because it concerns the very people who would normally be CONDUCTING such an investigation.


It must take a lot of effort to ignore this evidence.  Of course, Hillary supporters were already used to turning their heads away to keep from looking at her unlawful conduct through the years.  She managed to get her party’s nomination –- never mind how she and the DNC worked to undermine her competition for that “honor” –- and would have become President if it weren’t for that pesky heartland of America that refused to ignore her gigantic ethical shortcomings.  America will thank us later.


There’s so much news breaking on the special counsel front that it’s hard to know where to start.  I encourage you to go to THE HILL and read up.  Along with Alan Dershowitz and Sharyl Attkisson, John Solomon has a new piece, with fresh evidence in the form of Bruce Ohr’s handwritten notes that show what Ohr, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele and friends at the DOJ were up to a month after Trump was elected President.  Those notes are in the hands of congressional investigators now.


We already knew that Simpson and Ohr had gotten together after Trump’s election, because that was Simpson’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last year, but we didn’t know what they talked about.   Now we have a pretty good idea.  Not content with the way things turned out, they were working to involve Christopher Steele –- who got fired from the FBI for leaking and lying and wasn’t supposed to be doing any more work on the “Russia” investigation –- in the continued funneling of Trump/Russia stories to Ohr at the Justice Department and, it appears, even to the special counsel.


One note about John Solomon:  His reports for THE HILL are now listed under “Opinion” rather than hard news (I assume because of his frequent appearances on an opinion show like "Hannity"), yet it seems to me that this is a plus.  I would think that Solomon finds it incredibly freeing to be able to help the overwhelmed reader make sense of the massive pile of hard evidence he’s turning up.  For example, in this piece, he speaks personally about having taken Ohr’s notes to career intelligence professionals with years of experience in “sorting the reliable from the garbage.”  All told him the information had “the lowest level of credibility.”


In particular, one of Ohr’s references to a “Hail Mary” leak to the media stood out to them as “an act of desperation that they would see as weighing against the motives of an intelligence source.”  (Well, of course it does; we already knew Steele himself was quoted by Ohr as saying he was desperate to keep Trump from being elected and passionate about him not being President.)  All the intelligence professionals wondered the same thing:  why Ohr, who wasn’t in the chain of command for the Russia counterintelligence probe –- and whose wife worked for Fusion GPS on the Trump “project” –- was talking with Glenn Simpson at all.  One highly decorated intelligence professional told Solomon that much of what we’re learning about the Russia “collusion” case is “breaking every protocol at the fundamental level of intelligence gathering.”


This is just one more reason for Trump NOT to sit for questioning by Mueller.  Why should he lend legitimacy to an “investigation” that is showing itself more and more every day to be illegitimate?


In response to “The West Hollywood Walk Of Lame,”I got a great reader comment from “Firewagon” suggesting that someone of Trump’s huge accomplishments likely doesn’t care one bit whether he has that star or not. And he used the word "synapse"! Here’s what he wrote:

“What would anyone think would be on this President’s list of priorities, or even niceties, for accomplishing in his lifetime? Let me suggest that having his name mixed among some mottled group of “thespians” for some honor, on a sidewalk, would not even spark a single synapse in that portion of his brain that controls thought! What people today are all but unaware of, since we who love our entertainment and hold people who entertain up as some ‘royalty’ to be admired, (is that) in early history, these people were considered to be low class and of the cheapest estate.”

Thanks to FIREWAGON for helping us all keep the entertainment industry in perspective. Though I know many people in entertainment who are decent, smart, hard-working and outrageously talented, many are not, and the idea that Hollywood celebrities should be worshiped as “royalty” has always irked me, too.

Israel retaliates

Early Thursday, Israel launched 150 airstrikes on Hama militant strongholds in Gaza.  It was in retaliation for a barrage of 180 missiles fired into the Israeli town of Sderot, which injured 11 people, including one woman who is in serious condition.  Others are being treated for shock trauma.


Incredibly, Hamas took credit for the missile attack on Israeli civilians, then promptly condemned Israel for “the barbaric shelling of Gaza and the deliberate targeting of civilians.”  The only thing more breathtaking than the naked hypocrisy of that statement will be the number of allegedly civilized people who will swallow and repeat it.  Israel does everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, which is why Hamas hides behind civilians, even children.  Meanwhile, Hamas deliberately targets innocent Israeli civilians. 


As usual, I wonder whether those who condemn Israel for retaliating for these attacks on innocent civilians would expect America to just sit and take it if MS-13 gangs in Mexico started firing missiles into the suburbs of San Diego.



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Today's Commentary --- Clearer every day: Bruce Ohr's notes show illegitimacy of "Russia" probe -- "Humanized mice" and aborted fetuses: a story worthy of Stephen King -- Education failure -- NYC regulations -- Israel retaliates -- How the government spends money -- Evening Edition - Daily Verse

Today's Commentary --- Clearer every day: Bruce Ohr's notes show illegitimacy of "Russia" probe -- "Humanized mice" and aborted fetuses: a story worthy of Stephen King -- Government spending in the 4th quarter -- Taking down Trump -- Catcalling?!? -- Key detail omitted -- Evening Edition - Daily Verse