June 2, 2018

After sneeringly dismissing the raises and bonuses many workers enjoyed due to the GOP tax cut as “crumbs,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is now desperately trying to put a negative spin on the latest eye-popping economic news.

Millennial of the Year

May 23, 2018

I think we’ve found the winner of the Millennial of the Year Award.

Mark and Christina Rotondo of upstate New York tried everything to get their 30-year-old son Michael, who’s been living in their house for the past eight years, to move out already. They offered him advice, pleaded with him to get a job and get his life together, gave him $1100 for moving expenses (he took the money but didn’t use it to move), cut off his food and phone, and finally resorted to sending him a legal eviction letter ordering him to vacate.

So, of course, he took them to court to fight it. Acting as his own attorney, he told the judge that his parents’ behavior toward him has been “really unfair to me and really outrageous,” and that “I don’t think trying to destroy someone is tough love.” He claims to have an income and a successful business, although he didn’t specify what that was; and he noted that he has a son himself, although he doesn’t have custody (there’s a surprise.) He said he plans to move out, just not today, or in 30 days, but he said he can’t imagine still being in his parents’ house three months from now (I’ll bet they can imagine it.) He claimed that three months is “reasonable;” still, he asked the judge to order his parents to let him stay for another six months. The judge called that request “outrageous” and ordered the parents’ lawyer to draft an order outlining terms of the eviction. But until an official eviction date is set, the judge allowed Michael to remain in his parents' home!

This is going to make for an awkward Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, I know Thanksgiving is more than three months away. Want to bet he’ll still be there?

In a 5-4 partisan split, a sharply-divided Supreme Court on Monday gave a victory to businesses in Epic Systems v. Lewis, ruling that employees who have entered into arbitration agreements with their employers and are not satisfied with the ruling must challenge it individually and can’t file class action lawsuits.

America is still mourning and reeling from Friday’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that left eight students and two teachers dead and 13 others injured. You may be even more stunned to learn that even in Texas, the shooter can’t receive the death penalty because he’s not yet 18. And thanks to a controversial 2012 Supreme Court decision that juveniles can’t be given life in prison, the mass murderer might someday be eligible for parole. That decision was based on psychologists’ claims that people 17 and younger don’t have the cognitive development to tell right from wrong. I'm sure that comes as news to many of us, who were aware from the time we were in kindergarten that murdering our classmates was wrong.

Police are still trying to understand the motivation for this heinous crime, but no matter what alleged reasons they come up with, it will never be fully explained because there can never be any sort of rational explanation for such an inexplicable act. But that isn’t stopping people from theorizing about why we are seeing so many such attacks when just 20 years ago, guns were easier to purchase, bullying was less vigilantly policed, but school shootings were virtually unheard of.

Oliver North made one such suggestion that is highly speculative but might be worth thinking about. He suggests that drugs might have something to do with it. Not illegal drugs, but prescription drugs such as Ritalin that are handed out like M&Ms to boys to make them stop acting like boys. He notes that nearly all the attackers are male, that many young males have been on Ritalin since kindergarten, and there aren’t enough studies to tell us what longterm effects that might have on the brain.

Of course, that’s purely conjecture, and maybe has nothing to do with this. But despite the shaky grounds for the theory, it wouldn’t hurt to have a society-wide discussion about the wisdom of drugging our kids, as well as whether normal boyhood behavior such as being aggressive, fidgety and rambunctious is really a mental condition. It’s long past time to question the ludicrous notion that masculinity is a toxic disease calling for drastic pharmaceutical treatment.

Meanwhile, David French in the National Review points up another possible explanation for the rise in school shootings, and it’s even more disturbing because it makes sense and trying to reverse it would be like trying to unscramble an egg. It’s a theory put forth by Malcolm Gladwell (a New Yorker writer, not an NRA conservative), based on studies by a Stanford sociologist. The theory is that school shootings aren’t isolated incidents, they are a riot happening in slow motion, sparked by the 1999 Columbine High School attack.

The argument is that riots are a social process in which more and more people do things they wouldn’t normally do. For instance, most people have too high a threshold of morality ever to throw a brick through a store window and steal something. But if one person does it first, then a couple more may join in. Those with slightly higher moral thresholds will resist until they see three or four people doing it, then they’ll join in. And on and on, up until the last holdout with the highest scruples sees everyone else smashing and stealing and thinks, “What the heck, why not grab something for myself?” Then you have full-blown chaos.

Gladwell argues that the Columbine shooters set off this slow-moving riot by laying down the “cultural script” for school shootings, complete with trench coats, pipe bombs, a manifesto and a website. Gladwell points out that virtually all the school shootings that occurred or were thwarted over the following eight years were inspired by Columbine. Even the Santa Fe shooter reportedly wore a trench coat, posted threatening images online and built pipe bombs, like the Columbine shooters.

To put it plainly, once the Columbine shooters did the unthinkable, it was no longer unthinkable. They lowered the threshold for what was unthinkable. The idea of shooting up your school was now out there in society, standing as a real option for achieving revenge and fame.

That’s why I don’t give the names of these shooters: I refuse to accord them the notoriety they dream of. That may be a small personal protest, but if every major media outlet joined me, maybe at least one potential killer would be swayed by knowing that he would never be famous, only shot or jailed. Please note I hope everyone would agree to that policy voluntarily. But if someone did argue for banning the reporting of shooters’ names by law, it would be hard for the press to protest. “If it stops even one shooting, it would be worth it” is the same argument liberal media outlets make to gun owners for revoking the Second Amendment, so shouldn’t they be willing to give up just a tiny fraction of their First Amendment rights for the same reason?

But that would be an easy out and not really address the bigger issue. You can’t stop these shootings by taking guns away from law-abiding citizens, any more than you can stop a riot by taking bricks away from bricklayers. This is not a hardware over-supply problem, it’s a sickness of the soul.

Our society has spent decades lowering the threshold for what is morally acceptable. Our children now grow up surrounded by celebrations of immorality and amorality, and the mocking and banning of traditional moral principles and their sources, especially the Bible. If we ever hope to stop this bloody, slow-motion riot, it won’t happen by banning bricks. It will happen when we start teaching our kids from the cradle that such disregard for the sanctity of life is absolutely unacceptable…and we start setting that example ourselves.


Speaking of efforts to restore respect for the sanctity of human life, here’s a story that was almost overlooked in last week’s avalanche of headlines about Israel, North Korea and “Russia-Russia-Russia.”

President Trump made good on his promise to defend unborn children when his Administration announced that it would send the Office of Management and Budget a proposal to update Title IX regulations to insure that family planning funds do not go to programs that provide abortion as a form of family planning. It would also reverse an Obama-era order that barred states from withholding federal funds from Planned Parenthood.

Currently, up to $60 million a year in Title IX family planning funds go to Planned Parenthood. Federal law already prohibits taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions, but Planned Parenthood gets around this by claiming that they are a women’s health service provider, and the taxpayer money that supports their clinics doesn’t pay for the wing where all the abortions are performed. Or as they call that in Hollywood, “creative accounting.”

I’m certain this will result in furious accusations of Trump and Republicans hating women and cutting off funds for women’s health care. That’s completely false. This represents no cut in funding for women’s health services -- not one penny. The money would just be redirected to clinics that don’t provide abortions. Planned Parenthood can even continue getting the money; they just have to disentangle their abortion services from actual women’s health services (and no, abortion isn’t a “health service.” It’s the only operation that’s considered a failure if someone doesn’t die.)

But considering how few women’s health services other than abortion Planned Parenthood clinics actually provide (if you don’t believe me, look at their own annual report that they were so reluctant to publish), redirecting those funds to other clinics that, say, actually have mammogram machines could only improve the quality of and access to health services for women.

I spoke more about this story last week on Fox News. If you missed it, click the link.


A big Huck’s Hero salute to 94-year-old World War II airman, Capt. George W. Starks. He came to the attention of writer Carole Engle Avriett after her husband went fishing with him and told her she needed to hear his story – and it was no fish story. Three years of interviews and research later, that story is now in a new book called “Coffin Corner Boys: One Bomber, Ten Men, and Their Harrowing Escape from Nazi-Occupied France.”

The book tells the story of how a then-19-year-old Starks was shot down over France and made his way 300 miles to Switzerland, dodging Nazis and walking on a broken foot with a 20mm shell fragment in his thigh. It also honors the many people he met along the way who risked their own lives to help him. You can bet this will become a great movie someday, but to George W. Starks, it was all too real. To learn more right now about his perilous trek behind enemy lines, click the link.

And here’s some news that I’m sure Capt. Starks and many other surviving World War II veterans will be relieved to hear. It’s now official: Adolph Hitler is really and truly dead. He did not survive his bunker. Over the years, there have been countless theories that he escaped to Argentina or even to a secret underground base in Antarctica.

But recently, a French forensics team was given access to Hitler’s alleged skull and teeth in Russia’s archives for the first time since 1945. From tests on the teeth and his dentures, and a comparison of the skull to a radiograph of Hitler’s head taken when he was alive, they concluded that there’s no doubt those are his remains and that he both took cyanide and shot himself in the head. So if you are an elderly Argentinian with a toothbrush mustache who was hoping to make some money off the tabloids, you’ll have to find a new angle. Try claiming you’re Charlie Chaplin.


With all that’s coming out now about the government spying on people in the Trump campaign, there’s one thing that really jumps out at me, and I don’t think it’s gotten much attention, at least not yet.

According to the report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the FBI had considered giving Trump a heads-up on their concerns about some of the associations of Carter Page and Paul Manafort. If that is correct, it would surely make good sense to have done it. If the FBI was so concerned about Russians and their possible effect on the outcome of our election, wouldn’t that have been the thing to do?

But the committee’s report goes on to say that then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch decided against briefing him. According to the Daily Caller News Foundation, various reports say that U.S. officials did not want to do that because it might tip off any Russian agents who might be circling around Trump. You have to read down ten paragraphs or so in their story to get to this stunner, and to me, it’s a case of burying the lede. (I’ll wait for you to come back if you’d like to read the story now.)

So, let me get this straight. The FBI had concerns about some of the associations Carter Page and Paul Manafort might be bringing to the table at Trump Tower, but they chose NOT to warn Trump about it and sent in human “informants” (spies) instead. Gosh, if they’d tipped off any Russian agents, the agents might have gone away. Problem solved, right? Get the Russians out of our election! No –- they WANTED the Russians sniffing around the Trump campaign. If the Ruskies got scared off, it would be a lot harder to spin out the story of Russian “colllusion.”

Besides, it sure looks like the “informant” (spy) played a role in setting up the players, most obviously in the case of George Papadopoulos, who was sent on that fishy trip to London on the pretense of getting a writing assignment that paid him $3,000 but concerned a subject on which no report appears to have been published. It was on the London trip that Papadopoulos met Australian diplomat (and Hillary associate) Alexander Downer, whose story supposedly led to the opening of the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation and the FISA warrants. (Comey, in typical bureau-speak, said it was part of a “broader mosaic of facts.”) But Papadopoulos’ drunken reference to stolen Clinton emails appears to have been “fed” to him beforehand by this “informant” (spy).

The only way it makes sense for them not to have alerted Trump is if the government’s main concern wasn’t the Russians, but Trump. They COULD have tipped him off --- maybe even enlisted his aid in trapping some Russian operatives; wouldn’t that have been great? --- but they chose not to. If pressed, you can bet the FBI will excuse the inexcusable by saying this is just “standard operating procedure.” If it is, there’s something terribly wrong within our intelligence community.

On the other hand, Hillary’s campaign and her tenure at the State Department featured plenty of Russian contacts, some of whom funneled money to her. Apparently the FBI and DOJ were too busy figuring out how to avoid charging Hillary with numerous felonies to bother spying on her.

It’s really still a mystery what prompted the investigation into “collusion” in the first place. What was that “broader mosaic of facts”? The DOJ is still refusing to provide committee chairman Devin Nunes with the documentation on that. And in breaking news, Trump is officially demanding, as of Monday, that the current DOJ address the issue of surveillance for political purposes, specifically to find out if the Obama administration was behind it.

Nothing seems serious enough to have warranted the investigation, let alone the spying. The Christopher Steele “dossier” was unsubstantiated, as Comey himself has said. The FBI had known Carter Page since 2013, when a Russian operative approached him and he shared some academic research, and he cooperated with the government in its investigation of the Russian spy ring. He wasn’t found to have done anything wrong. As for Papadopoulos, he appears to have been set up, and even then, he told the “informant” (spy) that he didn’t know anything about Russian interference. Michael Flynn was induced to plead guilty to making false statements when his interrogators didn’t even think it was deliberate. Regarding Paul Manafort, if the FBI had legitimate concerns about his Russian ties and any potential for those ties to impact our election, they might have at least briefed Trump on what they knew.

It would have gone a long way towards keeping the Russians out of our presidential campaign. If that’s what they’d wanted to do.



Tragic Friday

May 19, 2018

Friday’s news was dominated by tragedies. Over 100 people died after a Cubana Airlines flight crashed moments after take-off in Havana. And at least 10 people are dead after a 17-year-old student (who, as is my policy with those who seek fame through violence, will not be named) went on a shooting rampage at Sante Fe High School in Sante Fe, Texas, near Houston. After his arrest, he waived his Miranda rights and admitted to police that he’d shot multiple people with the intent of killing them, and he avoided shooting classmates he liked “so he could have his story told.” His private journal and cell phone revealed that he planned to commit suicide after the shootings, but apparently lost his nerve and surrendered.

Before anything was even known about the shooting, many were already trying to politicize it. But the more we learned, the more obvious it became that this atrocity didn’t neatly fit into any simple narrative, such as “lax gun control laws,” “mental case ignored by authorities,” or “victim of vicious bullies.”

For instance, some classmates said he was a quiet loner who was bullied, and he wore a trench coat every day. He also might have put off signals, such as posting images of a black trench coat with Nazi insignias and a “Born to Kill” T-shirt on his Facebook page. On the other hand, a friend told the A.P. that he sometimes seemed a little sad, down or “sluggish,” but he never talked about being bullied or wanting to kill anyone. Another classmate said, “He was actually a pretty nice kid,” not really popular but not an “outsider,” either. He added, “Nobody was expecting this…nobody.”

The shooter didn’t use a so-called “assault rifle,” but a shotgun and a pistol which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed were not obtained illegally. He reportedly took them from his father, although we don't know yet whether the father knew he took them.

Reports that he wore a black trench coat and a “Born to Kill” T-shirt, and that pipe bombs and pressure cooker bombs were found in the vicinity, might suggest some sick fascination with the Columbine High School massacre. Police detained a second student on suspicion of being an accomplice, but as of now, we really don’t know what the motivation for this heinous act was, and what we do know so far defies easy explanation.

Of course, that didn’t stop a lot of people from trying to explain it in ways advantageous to their agendas. But it doesn’t appear that the tragedy will spark an anti-gun movement in Texas: Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick said that he talked to students and parents affected by the shooting, and they all told him their reaction is to support arming teachers.

Of course, that was not the narrative in much of the national media. USA Today set off Twitter alarms with one of the most eye-popping write-ups, an attempt to paint the Texas attack as very similar to other recent school shootings with only two differences: explosives and the use of “less-lethal guns” than the AR-15. I understand their impulse to try to exploit any tragedy to promote the anti-AR-15 rifle agenda, but this was so patently clueless, the story was quickly rewritten after it was cited by critics as the worst coverage of the day.

First of all, the use of explosives (homemade pipe bombs and pressure cooker bombs) wasn’t a mere detail, it was a significant factor in derailing the "gun control will fix this" narrative. Will we now have Home Depot do background checks to buy pipes and wire, or Crate & Barrel impose waiting periods for pressure cookers?

Second, the notion that a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver are somehow “less lethal” weapons is staggeringly dumb, especially when the story is about the deaths of ten people (the updated version clarifies that “clearly, the use of any gun can be deadly, especially a shotgun at close range.” Yes, clearly.) Two of the deadliest shootings in US history also took place in Texas and involved pistols: the Luby’s cafeteria attack in 1991 (23 dead, 27 injured) and the Fort Hood shooting (14 dead, 33 injured). So much for pistols being "less lethal."

Several major media outlets also repeated the bogus CNN statistic that there have been 22 school shootings so far this year. That’s only true if you count many incidents that clearly don’t apply, such as a “shooting” with a BB gun, an accident discharge during a gun safety class and attempted robberies in parking lots near schools.

But the Bad Taste Award for politicizing the deaths of innocents has to go to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who tweeted an “open letter” to President Trump, seemingly blaming him and demanding he do something to prevent such shootings. But his partisan shot backfired, sparking a tsunami of tweets asking, if Democratic mayors know how to prevent shootings, why do so many of their cities have the highest murder rates; and if he’s not trying to politicize these deaths to launch his 2020 presidential run, then why didn’t he also blame previous Presidents for mass shootings that happened on their watches? It was a perfect example of the old saying that when you point your finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you. It’s ironic that that’s also the universal symbol for pretending you’re shooting at someone.

One person who did distinguish himself by his compassionate and selfless response to the tragedy was Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. The NFL star was already a local hero for taking the lead in helping raise $37 million last year to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. He called the shootings “absolutely horrific” and reportedly contacted school officials privately to offer to pay for the funerals of the victims himself.

As of now, that’s about all that is known of what happened, and the focus should be on praying for the victims and comforting their families, despite the scorn from those who insist that we must “do something” without suggesting what that "something" might be that would have made any difference.

I’ve mentioned this before, and I know there are millions of Texans who had the same experience: I grew up in a world where the school parking lot was filled with pickups with rifle racks, with rifles in them. But the thought never entered any student's mind to bring one of those rifles into the school and start killing classmates. Memo to USA Today: that’s what’s different. It’s not the weaponry or the laws, it’s the culture.

I’m not sure if it’s the loss of respect for the sanctity of life, an inability to distinguish fantasy violence from reality, the banishment of the Bible from the public square and the erosion of moral standards, an oversensitivity to personal offenses, or some combination of those and other factors. But take away all the guns and this kid still would have built pipe bombs and pressure cooker bombs. This isn’t a hardware problem, it’s a software problem. The software is the pressure cookers inside the shooters’ heads. Trying to solve this with more gun control laws is like trying to cure AIDS by coming up with a better ointment for the skin lesions. That’s not the cause of the sickness, it’s just a symptom.