Cohen Is Not Believable

“I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I cam not a bad man.” This quote by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, during congressional testimony says it all. Oh, by the way, Cohen is going to jail for three years for lying to federal officials and cheating his banks.

All the things Cohen has said about Trump may be true, but how can Democrats showcase a liar and con man like Cohen as their chief witness in their efforts to impeach the president? Is this all the liberals have to offer us? I’m afraid the pathetic attempt to denigrate the president on Wednesday is not going to make any political points for Democrats in their efforts to regain control of the country.

Many Americans have already stipulated that Trump is a terrible leader and often lies and exaggerates his value and successes. But Cohen’s testimony is so surreal and non-believable that he gives Trump cover if in fact he has misled Americans about his hotels, voting conspiracies with Russia and other affairs of state. Cohen is more despicable than Trump!

The next item on the agenda is Mueller’s report. America wants to see an un-redacted copy of whatever Mueller has found. Let’s end the leaking, rumors and innuendo. Either the special counsel has proof that Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors or not. The world is waiting to see if the Mueller is something other than a witch hunter.

If Mueller delivers a rehash of Cohen’s testimony or can only give us a few inconsequential rogues who may or may not have collaborated with candidate or President Trump, then let’s end the dream of Democrats to impeach the president and allow him to do his job. He’s going to get what he deserves when the voters speak in 2020, if Trump actually decides to run again.

While Congress is dicking around with a truly untrustworthy scoundrel, Trump is attempting to get Kim Jung-un to give up his arsenal before he intentionally or accidentally starts a nuclear war.

The Trump administration is also negotiating with China to end the trade war and prevent the Chinese from stealing US technology.

Trump’s representatives are constantly dealing with flare-ups in the Middle East.

What members of Congress are not doing is fixing the health care system, the infrastructure crisis, the emerging new Cold War with Russia, the border crisis, the national debt crisis and so on. A whole day was wasted on the scam artist known as Michael Cohen as he tries to convince the authorities to decrease his time in prison.

Trump may the worst president ever. He certainly is the most disliked. But Democrats have really mucked up the political environment with their sole objective of ousting Trump. Talk about bad leadership, Pelosi and Schumer have spent zero time proving that their party is capable of leading the country.

To make matters worse, Trump’s prospects in 2020 are improving every day, in spite of Cohen and Mueller, because Democrats have all become socialists.

 

THE OSCARS

Once again I was unduly seduced by the glamor and intrigue of the Oscars on Sunday night. And yesterday I read a recapitulation of the proceedings by some “experts.” My overall take on the affair is that the ceremony is a colossal waste of time. It’s a total ego trip for the attendees.

Hollywood types spend an inordinate amount of time giving awards to each other and telling one another they are the most sensational people in the world. Actually the writers and technical people are the most talented people in the movie business. The actors memorize lines and say them over and over until they get it right. But actors and actresses are better looking than the technical workers so they get most of the face time.

That segues to the red carpet idiocy that precedes the actual ceremonies. Like millions of others my family and I fell into the trap and critically assessed the narcissistic and empty-headed individuals that paraded in front of the cameras. The interviewers tell the actresses they look gorgeous in their truly over-the-top, gazillion dollar gowns, and jewelry they borrowed from stores on Rodeo Drive. My favorite female pose is the one where they turn their backs to the camera and peer over their shoulder.

This year the Oscars were unable to find a man who doesn’t have a history of sexual misbehavior or other kinds of socially unacceptable missteps to host the program. The solution to this problem is clear, have a woman be the host for the evening. Dah! That became even more obvious when three SNL actresses engaged the audience, making everybody query why they weren’t chosen to do the entire show.

One of the really great changes to the program was to limit the acceptance speeches to 90 seconds. It’s a really great moment for Oscar winners, and so they want to wallow in their achievement and thank the hordes of people that helped them win the award. The only problem is that most of the speeches are boring, repetitive and nobody gives a crap about the no-names that “made it all possible.” In fact nobody really cares who wins best costume design or editing awards, even though they are critical functions in making a film.

The Oscars and the fifty other award-shows for celebrities have become a political correctness hotbed. The Academy that selects the winners has been on the spot in recent years to give awards to a diverse group of people. If they don’t nominate an appropriate number of women, people of color and foreigners, they are going to be lambasted. It really doesn’t matter which movie is the “best.”

The allocation of awards to the aforementioned groups this year seemed to be fairly evenly distributed. In fact, people of color and women did very well indeed. But not everybody was happy.

What turns on the Academy? What subjects are most important to the legion of people selecting Oscar winners? Is art in movie-making important? Should a movie have an important social message to climb to the top of the heap? There will never be a real consensus on these questions.

It appears that movies that address social issues are most likely to win. This year Green Book won best picture (and best supporting actor). The film is about a gay, black piano virtuoso who hires a white lower class thug to drive him throughout the deep South to perform concerts.

The racism and discrimination they encounter comes as no surprise. The growing relationship between the white man and the black man was the real story line. It was an inspirational piece of work. The Academy met the social standard as far as many were concerned, but not everybody (Spike Lee).

My favorite movie, which will come as no surprise to my readers was Bohemian Rhapsody, the story and music behind the rock band Queen and its flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek, an Egyptian man, portrayed Freddie. I’m sure that the academy has its fair share of old timers who were Queen fans when they were young, and they felt obligated to be supportive of Malek for best actor. He deserved it.

Another Oscar season has come to an end. Several people made political statements that nobody really cares about. We already know that Hollywood types and most of America hate Donald Trump, so Spike Lee’s incoherent rant was embarrassing. But everyone has a right to express his or her opinions. The good news is that the American public can simply ignore the political crap emanating from La La land.

Sexual Abuse And The Catholic Church

Issues that are rapidly destroying the Catholic Church are becoming more pervasive every day. The pope is attempting to deal with a massive and global public relations disaster. His reticence about enforcing a no tolerance sexual abuse policy is creating more doubt and suspicion for many Catholics. Additionally there seems to be little consensus about what to do among senior leadership of the Church.

The charges against the priesthood have increased materially in recent months. We now know that priests have sexually abused members of virtually every group that depends upon spiritual counseling. Along with other priests, young women and young men, it has been reported that sex between priests and nuns is not uncommon. Some nuns have given birth to children sired by priests.

For many years the hierarchy of the Church has protected evildoers among them, enabling these sinners to continue to prey upon vulnerable individuals inside and outside the Church. And we now know priests, pastors, bishops, cardinals and popes have turned a blind to horrendous behavior that made it possible for these acts to continue.

The perpetrators are criminals and have committed heinous crimes against humanity. They should have been prosecuted by legal authorities and defrocked by the Church. The facilitators of these dreadful actions are equally culpable and should be similarly prosecuted as co-conspirators.

The issue that is most disturbing relates to misuse of power. Priests are using their positions and status in the Church to target victims. So many of these injured parties have trusted their parish priests over the years while they were raping their children as emissaries of God.

Why have popes, cardinals, bishops and other leaders of the Church enabled criminals to escape prosecution and expulsion from the priesthood? It’s rather simple. The Church has chosen to protect its reputation at the expense of the safety of its flock.

Pope Francis toured the US with great fanfare and promise. In fact he assured the world he would deal with thousands of sexual abuse accusations and train his underlings to manage the Church’s problems more effectively.

These promises have not been kept because Francis is no different than the men who preceded him. He’s a conservative masquerading as a progressive pope. A college of cardinals that likely includes enablers elected him. Francis should conduct a survey and ask each of his underlings, under oath, if they have and/or are abusing anyone, and if they ever covered up acts of depravity by their peers or subordinates.

The Church uses the sacrament of penance to justify its inane policies. Anyone can be forgiven regardless of the severity of his or her sins in a confessional. But, the Church has suppressed the most important part of absolution, which is the vow to never commit the same offense again.

What should the Church do to end the onslaught it’s experiencing? It’s inevitable that Pope Francis will be called upon to resign by some. He has made little progress on the issues presented herein. And secondly the Church needs a fall guy.

Francis is too deeply imbedded in the sins of the past. He, along with many of his peers, has failed to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of his flock. Too many people have suffered and continue to feel the pain of actions going back many years. It’s time for new blood to take over. Real change will be possible only with new leadership.

Credibility can only be regained if all the evildoers, facilitators and incompetents are rooted out of the priesthood. Every offender needs to be identified, defrocked and prosecuted, if possible. Only then would Catholics around the world begin to again seek out the sage counsel of their priests.

Another major issue that should be on the table is the sensibility of celibacy. Why would any person seek the advise of a priest relating to marriage or child rearing if a priest has no experience in these matters? Priests should be able to marry and have children thereby ending an absurd rule that has in effect impacted so many over the centuries.

Any man will tell you that the touch, affection and physical love of a partner are critical to his happiness. Without them chances of psychological problems will increase. Related is the question why women cannot be ordained as priests.

The Church is at a crossroads. It needs young and reformed leadership to regain its status. If the Church continues to deny its missteps it will fade away over time.

Do You Really Understand Socialism?

Declaring that you are a socialist is all the rage these days. Thirty plus Democratic candidates are saying they are influenced by it to some extent. Unfortunately most people and many politicians don’t understand the real goals of this ideology, and they use the terminology incorrectly.

Socialism has different connotations, some relatively bland and some extreme. The important thing to note is that socialist countries don’t have a sterling reputation for longevity or success. Voters should learn to appreciate the pros and cons of this type of government before the 2020 elections.

One definition of socialism follows. “Socialism is an economic theory of social organization that believes that the means of making, moving and trading wealth should be owned or controlled by the community as a whole. In Marxist theory, it is a transitional . . . [a] social state between capitalism and communism.” The government is involved in every aspect of socialistic societies. Members of these societies are totally dependent upon the entitlements granted by political leadership.

The difference between capitalism and socialism is that capitalism encourages innovation and individual achievement, while socialism promotes equality and fairness at the expense of exceptionalism.

In a communist society the working class owns everything, and everyone works towards the same communal goals. Supposedly there are no wealthy or poor people. Nothing is obtained by working overtime or more than what is required. Communism frequently results in low production, mass poverty and limited advancement. Typically communist regimes are totalitarian.

Capitalism is the opposite of communism and socialism, where limitations don’t exist and reward comes to those who perform. In capitalistic societies, owners are allowed to reap the benefits of excess production, and competition occurs naturally, which fosters advancement. Capitalism tends to create a sharp divide between the most ambitious and hard working citizens and everyone else. Usually this results in a divide between the wealthiest and poorest citizens.

The trend in the Democratic Party is leftward towards socialism. It’s a potentially dangerous phenomenon if it goes too far. Yet the minimization of the gap between the affluent and the middle class is a noble objective.

Problems arise when politicians cannot agree how to achieve income equality. Socialists have no qualms with burdensome taxation on the rich, which in effect transfers wealth from one group to another. This tactic is anathema to conservatives.

The populist approach has appeal to a growing number of Americans because raising taxes will not affect them personally even as it weighs heavily on the largest wage earners in the country.

Capitalists would say it’s good when ambitious and hard-working people move ahead of their peers. Who really wants to work in a society that doesn’t reward innovation and sweat? Socialists denigrate this perspective and say that inequality is inevitable with capitalism. It is evil, even if advancement is a function of job performance and effort.

As an example let’s consider health care. Liberals are clamoring for universal, one-payer (government) health care, a noble objective with certain provisos. The most important consideration is affordability. Can our nation afford to give every citizen free, efficient and quality health services? The simple answer is no.

The current system, which supports needy people, retired citizens and all others not covered by employer plans, is effectively bankrupting the country. So any proposal to expand this entitlement is not feasible without massive adjustments to tax rates and cut back of other government spending.

The most popular adjustment proposed by progressives is higher tax rates on the most wealthy among us. Keep in mind affluent people represent only about 1% of the population. But uninformed liberals think the answer to all questions of affordability can be resolved by overtaxing this small group. One percent citizens would not be able to fund extraordinarily large deficits even if taxes were 100%.

So how can the nation make strides in affording health care to those who cannot afford it? For one thing, those that are in a position to pay for health care should continue to do so, including American companies who are now paying all or part of their employees health care costs. Why take these plans away from so many insured people and put it into the hands of government bureaucrats thereby creating greater deficits?

Liberals say that everybody should have equal access to the best health care, and it’s not fair for affluent people to have preferred access just because they can pay for it.

Not only do liberals want coverage for all, they want services to be equal. So if someone is prepared to pay for better services and doctors, it is irrelevant and would not be permitted.

The real answers lie in costly bureaucracy, gouging by pharmaceutical companies, cheating by patients and doctors, etc. There is so much fat and waste in the system, but liberals ignore it and want to raise taxes instead. The amount of savings from just eliminating cheaters is monumental. The RAND Corporation estimates that about $100 billion is lost each year from health care cheaters.

Another simple solution is to enable everybody to have insurance, and not revamp the entire health care insurance infrastructure. Obamacare was an attempt to do this. Rather than expanding Medicaid to more needy people, Obamacare demanded that every American be insured, even if they did not want coverage, with one-size fits all plans. In essence the government wanted to pay for unhealthy Americans by forcing other Americans to buy expensive insurance.

It’s going to be a long road to income inequality. S

But socialism is not the answer. Our country is built upon creativity, innovation, risk-taking and grit. America will be stronger if all classes of people are more prosperous as one group.

 

A 2020 Election Roundup

We are less than two years away from the 2020 elections. Presidential candidates are popping up all over the lot. It’s worth taking stock at this time regarding the various people and issues that will impact the next general election.

Let’s start with the incumbent. He’s really great at political rallies, and is an expert at stirring up his base. Yet very few presidents in history have evoked the scorn that Trump has from other politicians, women, millenials, business people and foreign leaders.

The administration has put together an impressive number of achievements during the past two years, much to the chagrin of the opposition. Our economy is doing very well. Rich people are getting richer in the stock market while the middle class has been uplifted by low unemployment, low inflation, higher wages and more confidence in the economic system. It’s been a good time for the most part, even though income inequality is continuing to make liberals go bananas.

The president is intent on keeping his campaign promises. In many areas he has been successful. These include the appointment of conservative judges, reducing government regulation, abrogating inane arrangements with our enemies (Iran and Russia), improving trade arrangements and even forcing increased expenditures by NATO members for military equipment.

The initiative that has sucked all the air out of the room is immigration and the construction of a wall on the Mexican border. The efficacy of a wall is still being debated, but the need for immigration reform is as clear as a bell.

If the liberal press was not dead set on denigrating Trump, and if he was not such a despicable character always pushing the edge of the envelope, America might just go ahead and give him another term. But scandal, real and created and by the press, and a propensity to lie and exaggerate are going to make it difficult for Trump to survive until 2020 and win the election.

Only a small number of Americans, far less than a majority, really support Trump wholeheartedly. He’s not attractive, eloquent or statesmanlike. He’s damn hard to like. Many Republicans say they are still for Trump because of his conservative positions on security, defense, abortion, guns, etc., but they would love to have a person representing them that was not such an ogre.

Democrats have decided to move in a direction that will greatly help Trump in 2020. Most of the candidates are strongly in favor of initiatives that are far-fetched, and frankly, dumb. These contenders are not shy about revealing their socialistic urgings in spite of the history of this ideology. It has no staying power, it dashes exceptionalism, it has never succeeded economically, it drives the middle class into poverty and the leaders are always tyrannical. Republicans are going to have a field day in coming months portraying Democratic candidates as incompetent and dangerous to our economy and way of life.

The emerging leaders of the party have no qualms about their blossoming socialistic objectives. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a budding leader of the Democratic Party, is a proclaimed socialist. She has developed her perspectives while standing behind a bar in the Bronx serving cocktails. At 29 she has not been alive long enough to appreciate the intricacies of government, economics or politics. Yet, if she were old enough she would probably be a candidate for president. This congresswoman of several weeks led the opposition to Amazon’s proposed attempt to put down roots in Long Island City, located in Queens, New York. The economic benefits that would have accrued to NY along with new jobs were dismissed by uninformed and naïve pols like AOC. By the way AOC represents the Bronx, NY.

Here is the current state of play. Trump might just walk away from the craziness and say it’s more fun being a real estate maven than being the most powerful person in the world. Many say his ego won’t allow him to do so. But he’s well into his 70s and life is too short to be bashed every day by fake newsmakers.

Trump could run again and be challenged by some classier conservatives such as Nikki Haley, Mitt Romney or William Weld (another former governor of Massachusetts mentioned in the Times today). This would necessitate a primary battle with a sitting president.

Trump could be forced out of office because of scandals that are brewing all over the place. It’s not feasible that either Mueller or Congress has something on the president that is impeachable. In this day and age real proof would have been leaked already. I predict that Mueller’s report will be a yawner chock full of minor missteps by minions tangentially affiliated with Trump.

I’m putting my money on Trump walking away. A normal person (which Trump is not) would be going insane with this daily bashing. Nevertheless I think the president will see the light and move on. He may even think it would be best for his country.

I must admit the possibility of getting Trump out of the White House is tantalizing. I’m tired of the same old crap in the papers and on cable news. But the Democrats are not going to defeat him, assuming he stays in office and is not impeached, with the current slate of candidates. They are going to slaughter each other in the primaries while striving to be the most left wing candidate in the group. It won’t sell with the American electorate.

Is Illegal Immigration Creating A National Crisis?

Reluctantly I must side with President Trump on his proclamation that illegal immigration into the US is creating a national emergency. And therefore he has the authority and obligation to access funding to prevent risk to our nation if Congress refuses to do so. Reaction to this situation will be the focus of future debates in Congress and ultimately at the Supreme Court as they both define what constitutes a “national crisis.”

Americans who are against building a wall are minimizing a very important fact. It is that 15 million people have entered our country illegally over the past few decades. These individuals are living in America without authorization of the US government. They are criminals regardless of whether they assimilated into our society, obey the law and pay taxes.

Fifteen million people represent 5% of the population of the US. It’s inconceivable that this alone does not rise to the level of a crisis. Many illegals are using services such as educational facilities and health care. In total experts have said that, after payment of taxes, this group costs US taxpayers over $100 billion annually.

The money being allocated to illegals is diverted from legitimate needs of Americans. It puzzles me why those representing downtrodden US citizens are not concerned about this unauthorized and un-appropriated use of taxpayer money. Their constituencies are effectively the victims of past negligence and incompetence relating to US immigration.

If this state of affairs, millions of illegals in our country and billions spent to support them, is not a crisis, I don’t know what is.

Before you start thinking all this is the ranting of a xenophobe, allow me to offer some further personal thoughts.

I think it would be absurd and inhumane to try to round up 15 million illegals and send them back to their countries of origin. This doesn’t mitigate the fact that the group is violating the law. It makes more sense for Americans to encourage Congress to create a path to citizenship for illegals based upon a very precise set of preconditions.

You’ve heard them all before. Illegals must register, without risk of deportation. They must be law-abiding. Their only crime can be living illegally in the US. All criminal offenders should not be able to obtain citizenship or remain in the country. Every one is required to have a Social Security number and pay taxes on their income. Everybody must promise to learn English and do everything possible to assimilate into our society.

There is one more condition that is very important to me, and many other interested Americans. I will not support new immigration policies unless the US ends further illegal immigration. The problem must not be allowed to grow, and we need to use all the resources available to the government to gain complete control of our borders.

This is a tall order. The US must be willing to consider every reasonable tactic including some experimental methods to stem the tide of illegal immigrants. We must do whatever is possible to assist border guards as they protect our homeland.

Given the existence of 15 million illegals, should the government be aggressive to thwart new interlopers? I think yes. Should all types of strategies be considered to stem this crisis? Yes. I’m prepared to pay my fair share to build a wall along with other things such as high tech surveillance.

The amount of money that should be spent, including a barrier, to affect a comprehensive immigration policy is small compared to how much the US has spent in blood and treasure fighting wars that cannot be won and entitlements that are bankrupting the country.

Trump has done a terrible job trying to convince Americans that a wall should be part of a larger response to the border crisis. His incompetence in this effort does not abrogate the fact that a lot of money is being spent on illegals and many of them are part of a growing humanitarian crisis.

 

What About The Moral Compass Of Democrats?

America’s moral compass has come under attack based upon the actions and attitude of President Trump. His lies and exaggerations have fooled no one in the age of the Internet.

Administratively Trump rules like a monarch responsible only to himself and his political base. He has singlehandedly destroyed comity in Washington making it impossible to find compromise and for him to effectively lead the country.

But the current paralysis of Congress is not only the fault of the president. Democrats have stooped to the lowest level of underhanded politics the country has experienced in many years. Certainly their actions have been turbo charged by the misfit in the White House. But they have taken obstruction, disrespect and anarchy to great heights. The moral compass of Democrats is low, as liberals put political gains ahead of the stability and security of America.

To reiterate, the worst thing one could say about Democrats is that they would do anything to denigrate the president, even at the expense of our country. It is the lowest form of politics that’s been evident since the war between the states. The only thing legislators have not done to this point is challenge each other to duels and fisticuffs in the Capitol Building.

The response of liberals to Trump and conservatives in general has been shameful. Trump’s terrible administration has been exacerbated by his opponent’s complete lack of respect of the office he holds. They are overly aggressive, ill-advised and incompetent. Democratic leadership has been unable to rein in the trash-talking and vile comments by its caucus.

The new crop of rookies in Congress has made matters worse by using Trump as an excuse to take the country left and even suggest that socialism is the answer to all of our problems. This group has called the president every type of monster in the most unprofessional and undignified manner. Their positions would have more credibility if they toned down the rhetoric and just exposed the president’s lies and political missteps with diplomacy and respect.

The Democratic Party has no status in America. All we know about them is that they want Trump out regardless of the costs, and they have no specific political agenda. The best they can muster is pie in the sky entitlements and programs that have no chance to succeed.

Democrats want open borders that will only serve to worsen the problems affiliated with the 15 million illegals already in the country

Democrats want to overtax the most successful people in America, which will negatively impact the economic potential of the country and our capitalistic society.

Democrats want to redistribute wealth from Americans who have worked hard to those that have grown to expect support for nothing in return.

Democrats want to end the use of fossil fuel in a few years, a ridiculous proposal that would destroy our transportation infrastructure.

Democrats want free college tuition with no strings attached.

Democrats want to expand a medical system that’s already on track to bankrupt the country.

And the list goes on. Apparently neo-liberals are unable to do simple arithmetic. By adding up the costs of all these programs, they would see that they are part of their impossible dream.

New congress people with little experience and even less common sense are making foolish and insulting comments about the president and even certain ethnic groups. This has created a dilemma for Speaker Pelosi who has not been able to temper the unbridled and unproductive enthusiasm of these young lawmakers.

Some Democrats have suggested that conservatives be harassed in public places such as restaurants. Some liberals are only in favor of free speech when it supports their positions.

Unbelievably liberals have been responsible for censoring speeches by conservatives at colleges and other public forums. The recent Berkeley riots were in response to such a conservative presentation. Keep in mind the college was the epicenter for free speech in the 1960s. No more.

When Democrats suggest that Trump has harmed America, they should look in the mirror and consider the fact that their response to a terrible president has not been sterling. Moreover the pathetic and socialistic slate of Democrats vying for the presidency will only increase the chances that Trump will win another term in office.

An Abortion Recap

Considering that the US is the most advanced society in the world, it’s odd that we struggle so extensively with basic issues relating to procreation. Our nation is dependent upon new births to sustain our culture and way of life. Yet we have been unable to establish a consensus on some important issues affiliated with childbirth and abortion.

We need a federal policy that accommodates the principles of the two competing groups focused on birthing, one that believes women should have total freedom to decide if they will give birth, and one that believes that unborn fetuses are living humans entitled to protections afforded to every American by the Constitution.

The purpose of this essay is not to change anyone’s beliefs or principles about abortion. Rather it will delineate the obstacles that have dogged the establishment of federal abortion policy in the country.

Abortion advocates believe women should have absolute control over the entire reproductive process. The ability to have an abortion from the moment of inception to the birthday is the gold standard for this group.

Pro-life proponents believe that life begins at inception and to abort a fetus at any time for any reason is murder.

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, set guidelines for the accessibility of abortions. “Abortion is legal but may be restricted by the states to varying degrees.” States have separately passed laws to restrict late-term abortions, require parental notification for minors and mandate the disclosure of abortion risk information to parents prior to the procedure.

Despite calls at the federal level to weaken abortion rights, New York State recently enacted a law, The Reproductive Health Act, that reconfirms that abortions are legal within 24 weeks of the start of a pregnancy or at any time when necessary to protect a woman’s life and/or her physical or mental health. New York wanted to ensure the right of abortion even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade prospectively.

Additionally abortions by authorized health professionals, including physician assistants, are now legal. And, the ability of a woman to obtain a late term abortion in New York has been made much easier if the woman can get approval of her physician. This literally means that an abortion, days before birth, can be arranged if a doctor believes that the birth would put undo stress on the woman. Most pro lifers find this provision unacceptable and too lenient. As an aside, in 2015 1.3% of abortions performed in the US occurred after the 21st week of gestation.

Both sides in the abortion controversy have ongoing efforts to agitate their opponents and gain advantages. Advocates are encouraging new laws similar to New York State’s, which is among the most liberal in the country. At the same time states that find abortion anathema are nipping at the edges of the controversy by making it more difficult to have abortions by requiring longer waiting periods, notifying parents, limiting where and by whom abortions can be obtained and so on.

The sword of Damocles is hanging over abortion advocates as the Supreme Court becomes more conservative. This should be an incentive for pro lifers to lock in a policy now. Notwithstanding this fact, prospective candidates for the Court in recent years have reiterated that stare decisis will greatly impact any decisions they make as a Supreme Court justice. Stare decisis means that judges look to previous similar issues to guide their decisions. These past decisions are known as precedent. Since Roe v. Wade has been legal for decades, it would be highly unusual for a new Supreme Court to defy this precedent and attempt to ban abortions, but it is possible.

There are many details that need to be worked out before this country ever enacts a federal abortion law. The cut off for a woman to make an abortion decision is paramount. According to most, it should be based upon the moment a fetus could be viable outside of the womb. However the target date may change with new technology.

Late-term abortions are anathema to many people including some liberals, except for reasons of health. Since so few take place each year, it should not require any great concessions by either side to settle this issue. However if past debates in Congress are a barometer of impending problems on this matter, it will not be easy to establish a mutually acceptable policy.

Since the current state of the abortion law allows abortions until the 24th week, and late-term abortions are minimal, Congress has a good start. The issue is whether pro-lifers will ever give up their crusade to ban abortions or continue to make life miserable for women in certain states.

 

What Is The #1 Rock Song?

What is the greatest rock and roll song of all time? For many people it comes down to two iconic choices.

In recent years I accepted the opinion of most rock experts that “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin held the #1 position. But I was conflicted.

For one thing I never saw Led Zeppelin live. I was supposed to go to a concert a few years ago. But after opening in London, the band cancelled the rest of the tour.

Stairway is a powerful song that starts off softly, increases to a  frenzied guitar riff and finishes quietly. The instrumentality is superb. It’s a miracle to hear Jimmy Page play the guitar and Robert Plant sing the lyrics. I love the title of the song and the vision of climbing stairs up to heaven at the end of my life.

A few years ago I had an epiphany. The other song deserves the top spot. It’s “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones. I had a change of heart because I’m a huge fan of the Stones and have seen them many times in person. But also Shelter brings me back to my college years and causes me to reminisce about the problems in America at that time. I felt threatened by a tremendous storm and sought shelter during those tender years.

Shelter is an explicit and unfiltered reflection of what young people felt in 1969. The Vietnam War was going strong and all able men were being drafted to fight a senseless war prosecuted by maniacal US presidents. Over 50 thousand Americans died in combat. It was a revolutionary time as young people protested not only an immoral war, but also the plight of African Americans and other oppressed people. What came out of this era still affects us to this day.

It might be helpful for those readers, who were not born when the album debuted, to know exactly what transpired at that time. Even I was surprise when I came across this list researched by a person referred to as “Melinda from Australia” about a Stones Internet post.

Here are some of the important events that inspired Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to write the song. It was the jewel and first track of the “Let It Bleed” album.

 

  • Robert Kennedy was assassinated
  • Black Power salute by African American athletes at the Olympics
  • Student protests that started the Polish political crisis
  • The My Lai massacre in Vietnam
  • London Grosvenor Square protest of Vietnam War, 91 people injured
  • Student protest at Howard University
  • Paris student riots
  • Black Panther shootout with police in Oakland
  • Martin Luther King assassinated
  • Columbia University students shut down school
  • Andy Warhol shot
  • Anti war protests during Chicago Democratic Convention

 

Keith Richards sat down on a dreary day and wrote a dark and depressing song. Many bad things were happening in the world and to the Stones at that moment. The 1967 album “Their Satanic Majesties Request” was panned and some said it would derail the Stones’ meteoric rise. And the group was dealing with the aberrant behavior of Brian Jones who died soon after.

Richards was also having love problems as Jagger had stolen away his current love interest. In his memoir Richards said “It was a terrible f—king day, this miserable storm hung over London. So I got into that mode- looking at all these people . . . running like hell.”

As Jagger and Richards were tidying up Shelter they felt something was missing in the song that would ultimately be glorified as “the greatest, most legendary, most daring and sophisticated dark and evil and sexy.”

The Stones summoned Merry Clayton, a 21 year-old African American woman who sang with Ray Charles, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Presley, to work on Shelter. It was about midnight when Clayton got a call to join the Stones immediately at their recording studio. Clayton was pregnant and tried to opt out, but was convinced to go by her musician husband.

She went to the session in a fur coat, pajamas, with rollers in her hair. The story is that Clayton did her part in three takes. She said, “I’m like, ‘Rape, Murder . . . ?’ You sure that’s what you want me to sing, honey?” It was, and Jagger and Richards were out of their minds ecstatic with her contribution to the song.

The key lyrics in the song include the following:

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

Rape, murder yeah!

The floods is threat’ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I’m gonna fade away

War, children, it’s just a shot away

Combined with the music played by Keith Richards on guitar, these lyrics present a portrait of the late sixties when war, riots and fear overwhelmed America and the rest of the world. There was no shelter at the time. It was a seminal moment in history.

This link will take you to one of my favorite renditions of the song. Unfortunately I do not know the name of the woman who sings with Jagger. She is incredible.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with my choice, and I, in no way am denigrating Stairway. It’s a fabulous song as well.

I have many memories of the 1960s that, to this day, define who I am. I was frightened about what was happening around the globe, especially in Vietnam. Circumstances caused me to grow up quickly to survive in those times as did most of my contemporaries. Every time I here Gimme Shelter I’m transported back to those memorable moments.

 

Support Candidates Who Are Intelligent, Experienced And Honest

America’s voting process is in great peril. It’s highly likely the electorate will be unduly influenced going into the 2020 Elections. [I am not referring to Russian influence.] This could lead to the installation of many unqualified candidates. Our government has been degraded in recent years by rash decisions of voters who have responded to calls to clean the swamp and elect individuals with no government experience. This led to the unfortunate election of Donald Trump and many other substandard politicians.

Only one or two issues persuade most voters during an election. For instance people that are supportive of a woman’s right to choose will usually vote for the candidates that want to protect Roe v. Wade. On the other hand gun advocates will usually favor those candidates that intend to protect the right to bear arms. Often pressing non-social issues are either minimized or ignored when Americans enter the voting booth. Unfortunately this method of choosing candidates sometimes results in leaders and legislators that are not intellectually or experientially qualified.

Having said this it’s incomprehensible that a voter would cast a ballot for someone whose beliefs are different than his or hers just because a candidate is highly educated. Yet one could make an argument that most social issues are not as pressing as nuclear proliferation, immigration crises, climate change, terrorism, education and the like.

Today some candidates are being degraded because of sex. In their zeal some radical elements are suggesting that female candidates should be elected under all circumstances. During the 2008 and 2016 Presidential elections many wanted a woman as president, no questions asked.

It’s time that females have equal representation in federal, state and local governments. But to select a candidate who is not as strong as another only because of sex is problematic in the short and long run.

Being a white male in this age makes it more difficult for a candidate to be elected. This group has dominated government and politics since the beginning of our nation. A totally understandable backlash is now underway. But logic tells us that one’s sex should not be the deciding factor for a voter. Intelligence, position on important issues and integrity should matter more.

The same thing holds true for affluence. Being wealthy is, in some people’s minds, a negative factor for a candidate. After all, this group has never had to struggle to survive, and they know little about the hardships that average Americans experience each and every day. Should a person’s net worth automatically disqualify a candidate? Consider the plight of Mitt Romney in 2012. He was highly qualified, and yet he was lambasted as a candidate because he’s a wealthy businessman.

The cadre of Democrats seeking the presidency is getting larger every day. They are left leaning, and their rhetoric is often directed at sex, race and privilege. This attitude is stoking class warfare in America.

The single most important issue for radicals is transferring the wealth of the most successful in the country to others. It makes no difference if wealth is garnered through hard work and innovation. The transfer of wealth and the evisceration of exceptionalism are the only important objectives for a growing number of Americans.

The most intelligent voters will consider a plethora of issues when choosing candidates. A candidate being a Democrat or a Republican is not enough information to make a good choice. The sex of a candidate is also not enough. A candidate’s race is not enough information either.

Voters should consider whether a presidential candidate has a set of beliefs that are consistent with the voter. The candidate should be experienced enough to deal with the Washington bureaucracy to keep campaign promises. He or she should be intelligent and have great speaking skills. He or she should be intuitive and empathetic. And finally he or she should have great integrity. I think our government already has too many liars and others who spin the truth.

I firmly believe diversity will make America greater But let’s not be led to think that diversity is the only important consideration.