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First, a full admission about this article: I originally sent a version of it to The Washington Post for publication, but for reasons that will become obvious as you read on, they rejected it.

Here's the backstory. Several weeks ago, I reported on the very large increase in median household incomes under Donald Trump. Based on Census Bureau monthly data, from January 2017, when President Trump entered office, through August 2019, middle-class household incomes rose from $61,000 to an all-time high of $66,000. These numbers are in 2019 dollars -- that is, they are adjusted for inflation. Trump has repeatedly cited these numbers.

The left freaked out for understandable reasons. They are especially agitated because median household incomes have risen by $5,000 under Trump, compared to $1,100 in seven years under President Barack Obama. The data also undermines the case against Trump. Elizabeth Warren likes to say in every speech, "The middle class has been left behind by Trump's policies." That's flat-out wrong.

The self-proclaimed "fact-checkers" on the left went to work to try to discredit the numbers. This includes The Washington Post, PolitiFact and others.

As an aside, we have a big problem in America when the "fact-checkers" are all playing for the liberal team. A case in point is the liberal PolitiFact, which used the screaming headline "Trump's Shaky $5,000 Boast." The Post gave Trump two Pinocchios for claiming these income gains and said "Trump Inflates His Economic Record."

A standard complaint is that these numbers are assembled by a private organization called Sentier Research. But the two Sentier statisticians who analyzed this month's Census Current Population Survey -- a gold mine of economic information -- are probably the most knowledgeable people in the country on this data.

The two of them worked in the income division of the Census Bureau for a combined 40 years. They are scrupulously nonpartisan. "We just report the data," says Sentier's Gordon Green.

The Post challenged the reliability of this data -- even though, on numerous occasions, the Post (and The New York Times) have cited Sentier's research. Apparently, Sentier is reliable when it tells the Trump-haters what they want to hear and wholly unreliable when the data supports him.

Admittedly, these monthly numbers are a first estimate of what's happening with incomes over time and up to the moment. They catch the trends over time. In the absence of this data, the latest income data is far lagged by at least a year, and so this tells us with about 90% accuracy what's going on in real time.

Next, the Post complained that the income data needs to be adjusted for inflation. Actually, all the Sentier data is inflation-adjusted.

Next, they quoted Lou Jacobson of PolitiFact, who claimed that "even taking the expected 2019 statistics into account, the increase under Trump in the official data ... should be smaller than the increase Sentier's data shows." Sorry, Lou, we already know this was a fumble in your own end zone. The latest data that's come out just last week shows the income numbers rising to $5,200, not falling.

Then, the skeptics whine that we shouldn't compare Trump's record with Obama's because Obama inherited a deep recession. That's true, of course, but incomes continued to plummet for two years after the Bush recession ended. Moreover, it was the Post that editorialized before the 2016 election that a Trump presidency risked ruining the U.S. economy and causing a "global financial calamity."

So it's more than a little hypocritical for the Post to now claim that the Trump boom they never saw coming is simply a continuation of the Obama recovery. Every fair-minded person knows that if the economy were in recession now, liberals would be shouting, "Aha! Trump's policies failed."

Here's one of my favorite ridiculous claims by the Post: In attacking Trump's "rumbling distortions" on income gains, a reporter noted that the middle class isn't doing that well because "on an inflation-adjusted basis, (American) families are earning just 2.7% more (in 2016) than they did in 1999."

But the flat family income between 1999 and 2016 is exactly what makes the Trump surge in incomes so impressive. Yes, it's true that incomes barely budged during the Bush and Obama years -- up less than $1,200. Does Trump get the blame for that lousy record, too?

If the Post and others in the liberal media really cared about middle-class families, they'd be cheering these gains for scores of millions of households. But the left hates Trump, and so they feverishly root against the economy. It's not that these aren't facts. It's that the left doesn't want the good news to be true.

This is why the Post refused to allow me to correct the record. The grand irony in all of this is these are the people who assign Trump Pinocchios. He isn't the one guilty of rambling distortions.

Stephen Moore

Monday, 11 November 2019 01:30

Finding Neverland: Fun For The Whole Family

The production of the 2015 Broadway musical Finding Neverland may likely be remembered as one of my most memorable touring productions that has graced the stages of Fort Myers this season. But you better hurry if you're going to catch it... It is only playing at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre until November 16th.

The story line is a great lure for Peter Pan lovers everywhere and a safe show to take the kids to see. Based on David Magee's film of the same name, this musical traces how the playwright J.M. Barrie, played by Mark Bacon, came to write 'Peter Pan'.

The musical begins as Mr. J.M. Barrie is experiencing a bit of a writers merry go round. Theater owner Charles Frohman played by Kirk Lawrence, is in dire need of a hit to fill seats at the theater, but everything Barrie writes sounds much like what he's written before as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, played by Josephine Florence Cooper, is quick to point out. Sylvia, is a widowed mother of four boys who all meet Barrie at Kensington Gardens.

Barrie takes a liking to her four sons George, Peter, Jack, and Michael, played by, Canon Dobson, Caisson Dobson, Gabriel Cruz, River Reed, respectively, particularly Peter who is an aspiring writer, but following the tragic loss of his father he's more determined to act as a mature adult and be a steady support system for his hardworking mother instead of an imaginative child embracing his creative tendencies.

The adventures that the boys create, with some help from their new famous friend, serve as fodder for J.M. Barrie's play. While the creative juices are at work and he's busy trying to get the actors on board with his new play concept.

A budding relationship with Sylvia is threatened by illness, and Mr. Barrie must reconcile the world of make believe and real life......... and deal with both.

This musical has it all! It's a wonderful story about the power of imagination and belief, as well as the importance of human connection, and how it can change the lives of those you touch. It's funny, witty, serious and a tear jerker too. (we sat in the back to see the audience reaction) That's impressive for a musical! Even the set designs were impressive, the subtle movement of clouds added a comfortable realness and let's not forget Tinkerbelle!

Cast-wise, the energetic ensemble, the enormously talented kids, and even a scene-stealing dog Porthos, played by the very adorable Oscar Prather, do their very best to deliver a fun evening of entertainment for all........ under the direction of Mia Walker who recreated original director Diane Paulus' work.

Kirk Lawrence makes the most of his character's larger-than-life personality and sells the snippy remarks about children. Emmanuelle Zeesman plays the perfect 'mother in law' character, Josephine Florence Cooper, possibly the strongest soloist of the bunch, is believable as someone who has been through the wringer, but is determined to face whatever obstacle.... to do what's best for her kids. Her rendition of "All that Matters" is strong emotionally and delivers a captivating scene. Mark Bacon captures J.M. Barrie's willingness to embrace his inner child and is at his best when interacting with the boys. and had the range to convincingly play the leading man with boyish charm.

At the end of the show, the audience gave a standing ovation to the cast. (well mostly......., in truth, there were a few who did not stand)
But seriously.... We loved the show! The choreography and dance of the multiple actors on a seemingly small stage was most impressive! And the four boys were absolutely great!

Only running until 11-16 so get your tickets now! Broadway Palm Dinner Theater 239-278-4422

 

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Wouldn't it be wonderful if for one brief shining moment in Washington, Congress put good policy over politics -- and passed a bill that would benefit American workers, investors and businesses? 

We haven't had a true bipartisan victory in Washington for seemingly ages, but we are tantalizingly close to getting there. This would be the passage of the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).

Both parties want this modernized version of the North American Free Trade Agreement to pass. It is the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. But this latest modernized trilateral trade deal for North America hasn't happened yet because of an endless parade of stall tactics by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

She is blockading a vote of the 435 members of the House of Representatives. The odds are very favorable that Democrats and Republicans would provide enough yays to pass it and move it on to the Senate, where the trade deal would be approved by a wide margin. The whispering campaign on Capitol Hill is that Pelosi is worried about giving Donald Trump a "win," so she's inventing flimsy excuses for endlessly delaying a vote.

Her strategy might have some credibility if she had credible objections to this modernized trade deal, which Trump carefully crafted with trade negotiators from our neighbors Canada and Mexico. First, Pelosi said she wanted more worker protections in the trade deal. But this bill actually has stronger job and wage protections for American workers (some of which I think go too far) than the old NAFTA.

Trump insisted on those broader labor protections for the auto and other blue-collar workers in many of those Midwestern states that have seen middle-class job losses.

She continues to broach the idea of attaching a pension bailout bill to the trade deal. That pension bill has nothing to do with trade. It would also potentially cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars to bail out mismanaged labor union pension funds. This is Pelosi's way of throwing a wet kiss to the union bosses as payback for their support in helping her become speaker.

An even wilder idea is a scheme by Democrats to force Trump to allow the United States back into the Paris climate accord -- a $100 billion tax on Americans -- as the ransom for passing USMCA.

These are obvious poison pills, and the speaker knows it. Trump would never allow the U.S. into the climate treaty, and many fiscally conscientious Republicans would withdraw their support for the USMCA if they were forced to endorse these giant new taxpayer liabilities for obese pensions.

Then there's Pelosi's ploy to reopen the trade deal to repeal the hard-won patent protections for American pharmaceutical companies. Pelosi is acting as though this is a giant "giveaway" to the U.S. drug companies that would raise prices for American consumers.

She has it all wrong. This provision of the trade deal actually protects America patent rights for 10 years when made-in-America drugs and "biologics" are sold in foreign countries. The USMCA -- expertly negotiated by Trump's lead trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer -- actually forces Mexican and Canadian citizens to honor our patents and pay more for American drugs.

This could in the end mean lower prices for these drugs here in the United States because our two neighbors would pay their fair share to cover the billions of dollars of research costs to bring to market lifesaving new drugs. Trump should be applauded for getting Mexico and Canada to agree to live by the same patent protections that we require here in America.

Why would Pelosi object to a provision that effectively curtails foreign freeloading off American firms' medical research and development investments? Why should foreigners get special discount deals on our patented drugs that aren't similarly available to American patients?

Pelosi's cynical strategy to change the USMCA would bust the trade deal wide open and kill it. Trying to renegotiate a trade deal that has been years in the making is like putting toothpaste back in the tube. Opening up one section of the law makes every section negotiable and brings us back to square one.

The victims here would be American farmers, ranchers and hard-hat manufacturing workers. The economic benefits of the USMCA have been estimated by the U.S. International Trade Commission to be almost $60 billion in higher exports each year and some 175,000 new jobs. Passage of this law would put added pressure on China to pass its own trade deal with the Trump administration.

Pelosi should put America first by putting the political games aside and bringing USCMA to a vote urgently. Democrats won back the House in the 2018 elections by promising Americans that they could govern the country. Obstruction is not governing, and blocking free trade deals is no way to keep the Trump economic boom going. I hate to think that may be the point of her political tactics.

Stephen Moore

Saturday, 09 November 2019 23:33

Three Cheers for Refugee Reduction

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump approved a new annual refugee cap of 18,000, the lowest since the U.S. program began in 1980. The reduction follows news that America took a pause last month and refused to admit any new refugees. On economic, public safety and national security grounds, this is a very good thing for the 325 million people already in our country.

But you wouldn't know it from the grim headlines and hysterical condemnations by globalist zealots and media sympathizers.

CNN International led the open borders funeral procession last week, with a report decrying, "No refugees will be resettled in the US in October, leaving hundreds in limbo around the world."

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., hyperventilated that "Donald Trump is trying to destroy the very heart of this nation. I won't let him." Social justice group CARE bemoaned this "dark moment in our nation's history." Human Rights First complained that Trump's proposal is "crippling the United States' status as a global leader in refugee resettlement."

Heaven forbid citizens in a sovereign nation have an effective say in who comes here, from where and how many. Is one refugee-less month in America such a catastrophe? Calm down, Chicken Littles. Get some perspective.

It is most certainly true that America has a legacy of embracing people from around the world fleeing persecution and war. After World War II, the U.S. helped lead efforts to assist 650,000 displaced Europeans who had fled in fear, were expelled and were victims of Nazi crimes and terror. Congress passed the 1948 Displaced Persons Act to accommodate them. Five years later, the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 aided refugees from Italy and East Germany escaping Communist regimes, adding another 250,000 refugees over four years. In the 1950s and 1960s, we welcomed Hungarians, Cubans and Czechoslovakians also escaping Communist oppression. In the 1970s, we opened our doors to an estimated 300,000 political refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The Refugee Act of 1980 created the Office of Refugee Resettlement and office of U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs and raised the annual ceiling of admissions to 50,000.

Under Obama, that number soared to nearly 100,000 annually. The idea that we've abandoned our humanitarian leadership role because of this refugee resettlement reduction is ludicrous. Overall, since 1975, the U.S. has resettled more than 3 million refugees. Under Trump, the U.S. still accepted more refugees than any other country in both 2017 and 2018. On top of that, America forked over nearly $1.6 billion to support the U.N.'s refugee resettlement campaign. Moreover, America remains the largest single country provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide. Total U.S. humanitarian assistance was more than $8 billion in fiscal year 2017, covering food, shelter, health care and access to clean water for millions.

That's enough.

Past refugee admissions don't lock America into those same levels now or in the future. America's constitutional duty is to Americans first ("ourselves and our posterity"). The truth is that we've been generous to a ruinous, open borders fault. Last year, the Federation for American Immigration Reform tallied refugee resettlement costs to taxpayers at nearly $9 billion over five years.

In my adopted home state of Colorado, a new University of Colorado Boulder study acknowledged that refugees are often "trapped in chronic poverty" after resettlement subsidies dry up and are unable to lift themselves out of dependency on government aid such as public housing, Medicaid and food stamps. Federal statistics show that nearly half of all refugee households receive cash welfare. Chain migration perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

A tiny cabal of government contractors, mostly religious groups cloaking their profit-seeking in compassion and Scripture, perpetuates the refugee resettlement racket. Openly hostile to American sovereignty, these people spread their tax-subsidized syndicate's wealth to a vast network of subcontractors, often tied to billionaire George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, which promote global governance and unfettered migration espoused by the United Nations, European Union and Vatican. These special interests have systematically blurred the lines between legitimate refugees seeking asylum from oppression and economic migrants from Central America clamoring for higher wages or better welfare benefits. They're indifferent to the national security risks of absorbing large numbers of Muslims whose adherence to repressive sharia and religious jihad is utterly incompatible with our constitutional principles.

Mass migration champions have stretched the definition of refugee so thin that "climate change refugees" seeking relief from uninhabitable environments are now a phenomenon. Nuts.

Doesn't America have enough residents in need of shelter and support? If we let in millions of "climate change refugees," where do Americans seek refuge when they render our climate uninhabitable?

Only a complete moratorium on immigration would give America the break it needs to regain control of our system. Trump's refugee reduction is not an apocalypse. It's a long overdue respite from the world's wretched refuse that deserves cheers, not jeers.

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Michelle Malkin

 

 

 

A new way of removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from a stream of air could provide a valuable tool in the battle against climate change say the engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, who developed the new system.

It can work on the heat-trapping gas at virtually any concentration level, even down to the roughly 400 parts per million currently found in the atmosphere.

Most methods of removing CO2 from a stream of other gases require higher concentrations, such as those found in the flue emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants. A few variations have been developed that can work with the low concentrations found in air, but the new method is less energy-intensive and expensive, the researchers say.

The technique, based on passing air through a stack of charged electrochemical plates, is described in a new paper in the journal “Energy and Environmental Science,” by MIT postdoc Sahag Voskian, who developed the work during his PhD, and T. Alan Hatton, the Ralph Landau professor of chemical engineering.

The device is a large, specialized battery that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air, or other gas stream, passing over its electrodes as it is being charged up, and then releases the gas as it is being discharged.

In operation, the device would simply alternate between charging and discharging, with fresh air or feed gas being blown through the system during the charging cycle, and then the pure, concentrated carbon dioxide being blown out during the discharging.

As the battery charges, an electrochemical reaction takes place at the surface of each of a stack of electrodes. These are coated with a compound called polyanthraquinone, which is composited with carbon nanotubes. The electrodes have a natural affinity for carbon dioxide and readily react with its molecules in the airstream or feed gas, even when it is present at very low concentrations.

The reverse reaction takes place when the battery is discharged. During this process, the device can provide part of the power needed for the whole system, and it ejects a stream of pure carbon dioxide. The whole system operates at room temperature and normal air pressure.

“The greatest advantage of this technology over most other carbon capture or carbon-absorbing technologies is the binary nature of the adsorbent’s affinity to carbon dioxide,” explains Voskian.

In other words, the electrode material, by its nature, “has either a high affinity or no affinity whatsoever,” depending on the battery’s state of charging or discharging. Other reactions used for carbon capture require intermediate chemical processing steps or the input of energy such as heat or pressure differences.

“This binary affinity allows capture of carbon dioxide from any concentration, including 400 parts per million, and allows its release into any carrier stream, including 100 percent CO2,” Voskian says.

That is, as any gas flows through the stack of these flat electrochemical cells, during the release step the captured CO2 will be carried along with it. For example, if the desired end-product is pure carbon dioxide to be used in the carbonation of beverages, then a stream of the pure gas can be blown through the plates. The captured gas is then released from the plates and joins the stream.

In some soft-drink bottling plants, fossil fuel is burned to generate the carbon dioxide needed to give the drinks their fizz. Similarly, some farmers burn natural gas to produce carbon dioxide to feed their plants in greenhouses. The new system could eliminate that need for fossil fuels in these applications, and in the process actually be taking the greenhouse gas right out of the air, says Voskian.

Alternatively, the pure CO2 stream could be compressed and injected underground for long-term disposal, or even made into fuel through a series of chemical and electrochemical processes.

The process this system uses for capturing and releasing carbon dioxide “is revolutionary,” Voskian says. “All of this is at ambient conditions – there’s no need for thermal, pressure, or chemical input. It’s just these very thin sheets, with both surfaces active, that can be stacked in a box and connected to a source of electricity.”

“In my laboratories, we have been striving to develop new technologies to tackle a range of environmental issues that avoid the need for thermal energy sources, changes in system pressure, or addition of chemicals to complete the separation and release cycles,” Hatton says.

“This carbon dioxide capture technology is a clear demonstration of the power of electrochemical approaches that require only small swings in voltage to drive the separations,” Hatton said.

In a working plant, for example, in a power plant where exhaust gas is being produced continuously, two sets of such stacks of the electrochemical cells could be set up side by side to operate in parallel, with flue gas being directed first at one set for carbon capture, then diverted to the second set while the first set goes into its discharge cycle.

By alternating back and forth, the system could always be both capturing and discharging the gas.

In the lab, the team has proven the system can withstand at least 7,000 charging-discharging cycles, with a 30 percent loss in efficiency over that time. The researchers estimate that they can readily improve that to 20,000 to 50,000 cycles.

The electrodes themselves can be manufactured by standard chemical processing methods. While today this is done in a laboratory setting, it can be adapted so that ultimately they could be made in large quantities through a roll-to-roll manufacturing process similar to a newspaper printing press, Voskian says. “We have developed very cost-effective techniques,” he says, estimating that it could be produced for something like tens of dollars per square meter of electrode.

Compared to other existing carbon capture technologies, this system is quite energy efficient, using about one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured, consistently. Other existing methods have energy consumption which varies between one to 10 gigajoules per ton, depending on the inlet carbon dioxide concentration, Voskian says.

The researchers have set up a company called Verdox to commercialize the process, and hope to develop a pilot-scale plant within the next few years. And the system is very easy to scale up. Voskian says, “If you want more capacity, you just need to make more electrodes.”

© Environment News Service (ENS) 2019. All rights reserved.
www.ens-newswire.com

 


Fort Myers Beach Lodge Number 362 presented awards to two teachers as part of the  Adopt-A-Teacher program.

 

Bridget Zalesak, a Special Needs teacher at Mariner High School and Todd Krichbaum, Automotive Instructor at Ida S. Baker High School each received a certificate from the Grand Lodge as well as a monetary award from Fort Myers Beach Lodge.

 

The presentations were made by Worshipful Mark Stewart following a dinner in honor of the recipients.

 

This is the second year of the awards which are funded by a Golf Tournament sponsored by the Lodge.

It seems like today’s gyms are only about helping young people get fit for photo sessions or chase the perfect body.

That is why one gym is offering classes to an underappreciated group: those 55 years and older. These sessions, called “Ever Fit”, help them reach their health goals and participate in the activities they enjoy most.

Estero Fit Body Boot Camp is offering 30 minute group classes exclusively to those 55 years of age and older on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 am and 1 pm. These classes are designed to target components of our health that become more critical with age, such as flexibility, balance and diet counseling.

“We find that people in this age group have trouble finding a place to workout that is catered to their needs,” said lead trainer Chelsie. “That is why we are excited about offering these type of classes, to give those individuals a comfortable environment that can help them with their quality of life.”

Having coaches that understand the needs of this population is critical, and that is where Coach Chelsie excels. She is uniquely qualified to lead the classes, with special certifications as a Senior Fitness Specialist and Nutrition Specialist by the American Council of Exercise.

The Ever Fit program is designed to not only help with your physical health, but also to create a community. This community provides a comfortable environment to exercise in a group setting, with trainers that can modify workouts for you based on your fitness level. That is what makes the program created by Estero Fit Body Boot Camp special. It allows you to live your life the way you want (and maybe even meet some new friends along the way!)

Whether it is playing with grandkids, golfing, or going for long bike rides, Ever Fit is designed to allow you to do more of what you love most. Call Estero Fit Body Boot Camp today at (239) 949-4159 to try a FREE week of classes and join our community!

Member Quotes:

"Great instructors,
lots of camaraderie and super classes for all levels! I have improved in my balance and strength and I've lost 6 pounds and a few inches. The instructors guide you through modifications and always pay attention to your abilities.
I love the smaller classes and the
schedule is flexible." -Linda L

"Outstanding! For
a senior who does not do active sports, this
is great! Classes are not too intense, just right. The instructors are professional
and friendly."
-Greg H.

"I am really enjoying myself! I've lost pounds, inches and
I am really toning up. Chelsie, Paige
and Mia are great!"
-Linda M

 

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Here's what you can expect to see between now and the 2020 elections, which are less than a year away: an endless parade of so-called experts who will strain each day's political events through their ideological sieves in attempts to give them meaning.

This is nothing new. We all do it, not only with politics but also with life in general. We take information in and attempt to sort it into preconceived narratives that fit our understanding of what is going on. Otherwise, we can be overwhelmed by the thousands of bits of information that we take in each day.

Let's take the results from Tuesday's elections for the Virginia state legislature and Kentucky governor as examples. In Virginia, which has a Democratic governor, the Democrats took control of both the Senate and the House of Delegates. Before the election, each chamber had one vacancy, and the Republicans had a 3-seat advantage in the House and a 2-seat advantage in the Senate. The Democrats now have a 2-seat advantage in the Senate and at least a 9-seat advantage in the House.

As of last month, the Democratic candidates in Virginia collectively outraised the Republican candidates by 50%, or $10 million. While many will argue that Tuesday's results represent a rejection of President Donald Trump by Virginia voters, that's a simplistic interpretation. It's doubtful that the results would have been the same if each party had raised similar amounts of money.

Moving to Kentucky, which Trump visited to rally support for Republican candidates, the Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin appears to have lost to Democrat Andy Beshear, the incumbent attorney general.

Beshear is also the son of former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who held the office before Bevin. While some Democrats and Trump bashers will point to this Republican loss as a blow to Trump, let's look at how the governor's race compared with the rest of the Kentucky statewide races.

Based on vote counts Wednesday morning, Beshear won 711,955 votes, versus 707,297 votes for Bevin. Republican candidates won the five other statewide races. Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron won with 825,814 votes; Michael Adams won secretary of state with 748,150 votes; Mike Harmon won auditor with 782,027 votes; Allison Ball won treasurer with 858,578 votes; and Ryan Quarles won commissioner of agriculture with 823,801 votes. Each of the five statewide Republican candidates had vote totals that would have secured Bevin a victory.

The results of the governor's race is not a Republican problem; it is a Bevin problem. So let's think about what could have led people to vote for the other five Kentucky Republicans and not for Bevin.

Bevin had served with Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, an African American woman. In January, he dropped her from his ticket and added state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, Kentucky's first Hispanic state senator.

Bevin's explanation for this change was that Hampton's focus and priorities differed from his.

Bevin had taken on the teachers' pension -- without a lot of grace, and often came across as acerbic. He is not well liked by registered voters in Kentucky. A Morning Consult poll from the third quarter of this year reported Bevin's approval rating was 34% and his disapproval rating was 53%, the second-lowest among the nation's governors. When you consider those approval ratings, his election results don't seem so bad.

Beshear ran a moderate campaign that focused on state issues and ignored national politics as much as possible. He posted on Twitter when he had knocked on his millionth door while campaigning in Kentucky.

Bevin talked about national issues in an attempt to draw out the Republican base. The challenge is that to win an election, you have to garner more than one party's votes; you have to appeal to independents or swing a few voters from the other side.

While many will attempt to draw a straight line from the results in the Virginia and Kentucky races to Trump, the truth is messier.

For Virginia, the takeaway is that money matters, especially when it's a 3-to-2 difference. And for Kentucky, the takeaway is that it's not enough to belong to the majority party; the candidate and the campaign are both critical.

With a great economy, Trump's best bet is to hope the Democrats nominate a candidate that won't appeal to voters in a general election despite winning a Democratic primary. But lightning doesn't often strike twice (Hillary Clinton was a terrible general election candidate -- appearing aloof, entitled and irritated to have to campaign).

Instead, Republicans looking to set themselves up for 2020 should focus on candidate selection and have state candidates knock on every door they can, raise money and focus on the issues most important in their particular district, county or state. They must focus on earning every vote possible. While Trump will be at the top of the ticket, a team approach is the way to win.

JACKIE CUSHMAN

CREATORS.COM

When preparing the 2016 Democratic Party platform, the drafting committee promised: "We will do everything we can to protect religious minorities and the fundamental right of freedom to worship and believe."

But in the final text, Democrats substituted a broader term -- "freedom of religion." After all, critics of Hillary Rodham Clinton were attacking her occasional references to "freedom of worship," as opposed to the First Amendment's defense of the "free exercise" of religion.

"Freedom of worship" suggested that religious doctrines and traditions were acceptable, as long as believers remained inside their sanctuaries. "Freedom of religion" language would have implications for evangelists, educators, artists, doctors, soldiers, business leaders, social activists, counselors and other citizens in public life.

Thus, gadfly candidate Beto O'Rourke stepped into a minefield when he answered this question during a CNN town hall on LGBTQ issues: "Do you think religious institutions -- like colleges, churches, charities -- should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?"

O'Rourke drew cheers and applause with his quick response: "Yes. There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break, for anyone or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us." As president, he added, he would "stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans."

This stance would draw a different response from many other Democrats.

"Journalists should ask O'Rourke and every other Democratic candidate how this policy position would affect conservative black churches, mosques and other Islamic organizations, and orthodox Jewish communities, among others," argued law professor John Inazu of Washington University in St. Louis, writing for The Atlantic. "It is difficult to understand how Democratic candidates can be 'for' these communities -- advocating tolerance along the way -- if they are actively lobbying to put them out of business."

Meanwhile, this O'Rourke statement will remind religious leaders of the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision affirming same-sex marriage. During oral arguments, Inazu noted, a representative of the Obama administration admitted "the tax-exempt status of Christian colleges and universities who hold traditional views of marriage was 'going to be an issue.'"

Everyone knows "Democrats are not likely to lose the votes of black Christians and Latino Catholics and Muslims, since the Trump administration is making no real efforts to reach out to them," said Inazu in an interview. "What is more important is what other Democrats say when responding to O'Rourke."

Appearing on CNN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, warned that O'Rourke's stance would mean "going to war with not only churches, but also mosques and organizations that don't have the same view of religious principles as I do." The openly gay Episcopalian added: "If we want to talk about anti-discrimination law for a school or an organization, absolutely they should not be able to discriminate."

Front-runner Elizabeth Warren's press office also rejected O'Rourke's remarks, in statements to several news organizations.
So far, responses from other Democrats "will not be of much comfort to the many Americans who are concerned about religious liberty issues at this time," said Inazu. "O'Rourke may have offered a far-left stance that others will reject, but other Democrats are offering a familiar left-of-center stance."

After all, in its recent resolution praising "religiously unaffiliated Americans," the Democratic National Committee rejected threats from religious conservatives based on "misplaced claims of 'religious liberty.'" That text also said "the religiously unaffiliated demographic represents the largest religious group within the Democratic Party, growing from 19% in 2007 to 1 in 3 today."

The primaries are just ahead, and everyone knows candidates say wild things while appealing to niche voters, noted David French, a Harvard Law School-trained religious liberty specialist. He is senior editor at TheDispatch.com, a new website appealing to #NeverTrump conservatives.

"Right now, Democrats have to focus on all those white, secular, online progressives ... who are extremely hostile to small-o orthodox religion," he said, reached by telephone. But party leaders also know they "have in their coalition the least religious and the most religious cohorts in American life. ...

"There is that coalition of woke Democrats, but there are also millions of African American churchgoers. ... That's an issue Democrats will have to deal with sooner or later."

Terry Mattingly

Friday, 08 November 2019 17:46

Guest Editorial: Impeach Him! Heck Yes!

I have a degree in Political Science, and I am a card-carrying Libertarian. I've been studying politics and political history for the past 30 years. My specialty is U.S. Presidents.
That said, I hope that the House of Representatives impeaches Trump. Let me tell you what will happen next!

1. The House can pass articles of impeachment over the objections of the Republicans and refer to the Senate for trial.

2. The Senate will conduct a trial. There will be a vote, and the Republicans will vote unanimously, along with a small number of Democrats, to not convict the President. Legally, it will all be over at that point.

3. However, during the trial, and this is what no one is thinking about right now, the President's attorneys will have the right to subpoena and
question ANYONE THEY WANT!

That is different than the special counsel investigation, which was very one-sided. So, during the impeachment trial, we will be hearing testimony from James Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Donna Brazille, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Christopher Steele, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, James Clapper, and a whole host of other participants in this whole sordid affair and the ensuing coverup activities.

A lot of dirt will be dug up; a lot of truth will be unveiled. Finger pointing will occur. Deals will start being made, and suddenly, a lot of democrats will start being charged and going to prison. All this, because, remember, the President's team will now, for the first time, have the RIGHT to question all of these people under oath – and they will turn on each other. That is already starting.

4. Lastly, one more thing will happen, the Senate will not convict the President. Nothing will happen to Trump. Most Americans are clueless about political processes, the law, and the Constitution. Most Americans believe that being impeached results in removal from office. They don't understand that phase 2 is a trial in and by the Senate, where he has zero chance of conviction. Remember, the Senate is controlled by Republicans; they will determine what testimony is allowed -- and *everything* will be allowed, including: DNC collusion with the Clinton campaign to fix the election in favor of Hillary, the creation of the Trump dossier, the cover up and destruction of emails that very likely included incriminating information.
They will incriminate each other for lying to the FISA court, for spying and wiretapping the Trump campaign, and for colluding with foreign political actors, especially George Soros.
After the Senate declines to convict the President, we will have an election, and Trump will win. It will be a backlash against democrat petulance, temper tantrums, hypocrisy and dishonesty.
Even minorities will vote for Trump, because, for the first time, they will see that democrats have spent 2+ years focused on maintaining their own power, and not doing anything at all about black murders in Chicago, homelessness, opioids, and other important issues that are actually killing people.
And, we will spend the following four years listening to politicians and pundits claim that the whole impeachment was rigged.

So let's move on to impeachment.

Hyram F. Suddfluffel, PhD,
(Political Science)

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