Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump Hits the Ground Running

It's so refreshing -- watching an elected official follow through on his campaign promises. We have seen it in Kentucky this past year with Gov. Matt Bevin. And we saw it in the Commonwealth's legislative session, where the first Republican majority in the House in 92 years passed right to work and repealed the prevailing wage.

And now we are witnessing President Donald Trump using executive orders to undo the mess that President Barack Obama created, by executive order.  Note to Democrats:  live by the sword, die by the sword.

I've been really impressed with the administration's vigor in honoring its campaign pledges. Like Bevin and the Kentucky House, Trump was elected to do specific things and he is actually doing them. And doing them swiftly.

Forgive me for belaboring the point, but it's not something that we've seen among our elected officials in a really long time. Then again, Obama did put us on notice that he wanted to "fundamentally transform"our country. And he did, just not in a good way, but perhaps not in a permanent way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Thoughts on the Inauguration

President Donald Trump's inauguration felt historic to me and worthy of celebration, so I opted to watch it with a group of women. We toasted him with mimosas and agreed that the moment was meant to be shared. I say this as a counterpoint to the women who took to the streets the next day in their "pussy hats."  Women are not a monolith. Many of us are quite pleased with the outcome of the election. Indeed, Hillary Clinton only won 54 percent of the women's vote.

As for the inaugural speech, it did not strike me as "dark", as the media characterized it. It was a well-written and well-delivered. Trump was matter of fact about the reality that many Americans have been facing for many years. That is his particular gift:  he sees and hears the ordinary man and woman.  He doesn't like what he sees when it comes to the hardships they face -- made worse, in many instances, by government itself.

It was startling to see the president criticize those who were sitting on the podium with him. As I reflected on that, however, it seemed to me as more adult and honorable than the time-honored practice of bashing people behind their backs. Trump is nothing but forthright.

Sen. Chuck Schumer's speech was just bizarre. I was surprised to see him speak at all -- I don't remember that from previous inaugurations. He went on way too long. Neither I nor my friends could figure out what point he was trying to make. Sure, it's poignant to talk about the death of soldier in service to his country. I just couldn't see how that related to Trump's inauguration.

My sons were in the audience and said that the crowd was very polite, with exception of one lout who blew a whistle during the inauguration. Security quickly attended to him.

I commend Hillary Clinton for attending. I cannot imagine how hard that was.

The prayers and readings were a welcome reminder to pray for our new president and our country.  God bless America!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Prayers For Bush 41

And Barbara Bush as well.  God bless you and heal you!

Obama Never Ceases to Amaze

The Chelsea Manning pardon is such an outrage it makes one wonder whose side this administration is on.

Manning committed treason, for which he could have faced the death penalty. Now the Obama administration has shaved his sentence by 80 percent.

Then there is the spectacular hypocrisy regarding WikiLeaks:  if John Podesta's embarrassing emails are leaked, that's a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the election. But if national security information is leaked -- that puts Americans lives in danger -- it's no big deal, apparently because the leaker is "transitioning.'

Friday cannot come soon enough.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Another Solid Trump Appointment

President-elect Donald Trump has appointed my friend Rod Rosenstein as the number two at the Department of Justice.

President George W. Bush appointed Rod U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, and the Obama administration never replaced him.

The Washington Post gives an overview of the outstanding job he has done as U.S. Attorney. I'd add to that that I have known Rod since law school, and he is a really good guy -- as well as a true conservative.

It's an outstanding appointment, for a department that needs some serious house cleaning.

Hey John Yarmuth, Can I Have Your Seats?

Congressman John Yarmuth is boycotting the inauguration. Who cares?

The more important question is what is he doing with his tickets?  Lots of his constituents would like them. Yarmuth donates his Congressional salary to charity (for which I commend him).

I hope he donates the tickets to someone who doesn't share his antipathy for the new president. I think his constituents should call him and ask.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Score One For Property Rights

Demolition has begun. Remember that Louisville couple who had to fight for the right to demolish their home?  They won in the end by convincing Metro Council to overturn a ruling of the Landmarks Commission. That should not have been necessary.

The couple bought an old house in the Highlands with the intent to renovate it, until costs proved prohibitive. They couldn't sell it. The Landmarks Commission fought their attempts to tear it down. To justify this infringement upon the right of the homeowners to use their property as they see fit, efforts were drummed up to make the house look "historic" -- as opposed to just old.

I like old houses, I do. I live in one that we renovated, and thereby learned that renovation is way more expensive than new construction. We did it anyhow because we like history and wanted that reflected in our home.

That's my personal preference as a homeowner. It doesn't follow that I get to impose it on what other people choose to do with their own homes.

The basis of the fourth amendment, after all, is that a man's house is his castle. That reasoning applies to historic preservation, as well.

Property rights are the bedrock of rule of law. Thank heavens our Metro Council recognized that and did the right thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Trump's Press Conference - Wow!

My favorite part was when President-elect Donald Trump told the CNN reporter that he would not call on him, because of the network's fake news. Even over am radio, I could hear the guy spitting with fury.

Republicans have taken it on the chin from mainstream media for too long. It was really refreshing to see Trump call out the Clinton News Network -- which after all, signaled to Buzzfeed to release its hit piece of fiction last night.

Drama aside, the press conference included some real substance from Trump tax lawyer Sheri Dillon.

Dillon's style is much different from that of Kellyanne Conway.  The former is a Big Law tax attorney and the later is a political operative. Still, it has to be noted, that for a guy who is supposedly a misogynist, he sure employs smart, tough women who get the job done.

Dillon's methodical reasoning for the steps that Trump has taken to avoid conflicts of interest seemed sound. He is still walking a mine field. But plainly, they have made a serious effort to avoid the appearance or fact of impropriety.

In particular, Dillon did an excellent job explaining why Trump didn't toss everything he owns into a "blind trust."  It's a term that the public has heard for years with respect to other presidents. It is not applicable for Trump, however. As Dillon pointed out, real estate holdings cannot be equated with a stock portfolio:  Trump cannot unknow that he owns Trump Tower. That's why a blind trust is the wrong means to address the ethical challenges.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Congress Needs to Repeal the O-Care HIT Tax - STAT

This Health Income Tax from the Affordable Care Act will start to "hit" small businesses and the middle class next month, if Congress doesn't act quickly. This should be a no-brainer.

To be sure, the replace part of "repeal and replace" is tricky. There can be no doubt, however, that the HIT tax needs to be repealed immediately, even if Obamacare's replacement is still being formulated.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been following this issue for sometime:

The Obamacare Health Insurance Tax (HIT) is Back! 

Without immediate repeal, the Obamacare health insurance tax will start hitting premiums again as early as February.  The reason is simple: As small businesses and consumers begin enrolling in health insurance coverage for 2018, they will begin paying premiums which include this tax.  Insurance policies that provide coverage into calendar year 2018 will factor this tax into premiums.  The longer Congress waits, the more Americans will pay this tax.

Additional Obamacare Taxes – like the Medical Device and the Cadillac Tax – will be next to further increase health care costs.

The Obamacare Health Insurance Tax Drives up Premiums.
Unfairly, small businesses, seniors, and consumers are the ones that pay for this health insurance tax.  According to past analysis by former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Holtz-Eakin, the average family will pay an additional $5,000 over 10 years in extra premiums because of the health insurance tax. Further, other past analysis quantified that 84 percent of the premium tax burden for the four year period from 2014-2018 would be borne by those earning less than $100,000 per year and more than 50 percent of the tax burden would be borne by those earning less than $50,000 per year.

Voters are Demanding Change.
Many Members of Congress campaigned on making health care coverage more affordable. Now they can do something about it.

Trigger Warning For Those Who Liked the Golden Globes Speeches

My Courier-Journal column suggests that the Hollywood liberals stick to their day jobs. Reprinted with permission:

One of the bonuses of the presidential election has been watching the Hollywood elite throw tantrums. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth. It’s the only reason worth suffering through shows like the Golden Globes, where performers took the opportunity to express their grief at how half the country voted.
Meryl Streep even called upon Hollywood to protect journalists. (Huh?)
Before the election, numerous celebrities threatened to leave America if Donald Trump won. Apparently, this was supposed to deter the great unwashed from voting for President-elect Trump. Instead, it likely did just the opposite.
Among the would-be ex-pats: Barbra Streisand; Bryan Cranston; Miley Cyrus; Lena Dunham; Amy Schumer; Jon Stewart; Cher; Chelsea Handler; Samuel L. Jackson; Whoopi Goldberg; Neve Campbell; Keegan-Michael Key; George Lopez; Ne Yo; the Rev. Al Sharpton; Raven-Symone. But wait, there’re more:  Chloe Sevigny; Eddie Griffin; Omari Hardwick.
Don’t feel bad if you haven't heard of some of these folks, despite their publicists’ best efforts. We will have a chance to not recognize them at Derby.
As for the more famous, the pledge to emigrate is a re-run. Take Barbra Streisand: she threatened to leave the country if George H.W. Bush won, and then again, if George W. Bush won. Likewise for Cher. Their quadrennial threats to leave America are attempts to stay relevant.
We are still stuck with them. (Now if they were prisoners at GITMO, then the Obama administration might buy them a plane ticket out.)
Following the election, a group of celebrities “starred” in a “public service announcement” that urged Republican electors to the Electoral College not to honor the voters’ choice. Someone tell Martin Sheen he was not really president, and the “West Wing” was a set. Like the threat to emigrate, Sheen’s PSA failed.
The next phase of celebrity meltdown involved refusals to perform at the Inauguration. Sir Elton John supposedly declined an invitation to perform, although inviting a Brit to a presidential inauguration in the first place seems odd, given the Revolution. Other celebrities who were allegedly asked but declined: Garth Brooks; Kiss; Andrea Bocelli; Celine Dion; Katy Perry; and David Foster.
The mainstream media gleefully reported these supposed celebrity rejections, until the Trump transition team observed that the Inauguration “is not Woodstock.”  Nor should it be. After all, the voters rejected the aging hippie.
Rosie O’Donnell, deprived of an opportunity to turn down the invitation, launched a campaign to halt the Inauguration. O’Donnell tweeted, “HE MUST NEVER BE SWORN IN - DELAY INAUGURATION - INVESTIGATE - ARREST HIM” (emphasis in original).
One wonders if O’Donnell even believes her own tweets. She crossed the line from petulant to anti-democratic. In complaining about supposed fascism, she advocates anarchy.
O’Donnell was once a good performer. Same for Cher and Barbra Streisand. Their talent brought them fame and riches. It did not, however, make them political savants — something they lack the humility to recognize.
Celebrities have just as much right as anyone else to express their opinion. However, fame is no substitute for facts and reason.  Notoriety alone should not persuade.
Miley Cyrus, for example, campaigned on many college campuses for Hillary Clinton, but never attended college. She makes millions of dollars a year, not because of her intellect. Good for her that she’s not flipping burgers. It doesn’t follow that we should suffer her lectures about anything, including politics.
Not all, but many celebrities ride private planes and yachts and then whine about climate change. They advocate gun control but employ body guards. Perhaps they have forgotten how the rest of the country lives. As for those celebrities who no longer bother to conceal the fact that they think half the country is stupid or bigoted, the harder they campaigned for Clinton, they better they made Trump look.
There are a few conservatives in Hollywood, of course. But the orthodoxy is overwhelmingly left-wing — increasingly so. One reason for this, according to producer-writer Rob Long, is that celebrities don’t receive paychecks. Their huge salaries are sent to their manager or agent. So they never get the reality check of looking at a pay stub and seeing how much the government withheld to fund those liberal programs they love.
As a result, Hollywood has become as irrelevant to political discourse as its home state of California — an outlier. That should worry Hollywood. It should also motivate artists, including conservatives, to understand and portray the needs and concerns of the great swath of America between the two coasts. That’s a big audience.
The Hallmark Channel has done this with such success that it now has a second channel. There is a hunger for entertainment that does not coarsen the culture, entertainment grounded in empathy, not snobbery.
This year’s rejection of the elites has been a long time coming. And it makes for great performance art.