My First Appearance in the Denver Post…

… Never Happened.

 

The Denver Post is the local major metro daily newspaper for the region, and reminds me of nothing so much as the Los Angeles Times. That’s not a compliment. Though not as blatant as the Times in refusing to publish opinion pieces that oppose leftism, they definitely favor guest columns and letters that support their own staunchly leftist editorial stance.

Here in Colorado Proposition 113 is on the November ballot, and on 5 September the Post published an editorial urging voters to support and enact that initiative. The following, in italics, is the text of a response I submitted to the Post for publication as a Letter to the Editor (LTE), refuting their position. The response explains the purpose of Prop 113 and why it fails to meet constitutional standards.

The Editorial Board’s (EB) endorsement of Prop 113, which would allow Colorado to join an interstate “compact” to cast its votes in the Electoral College (EC) based on the outcome of the national popular vote and “to walk away from the antiquated electoral college system”, was disappointing, to say the least.

The Founders purposely created the EC to avoid direct democracy in presidential elections, considering it – correctly – as little more than mob rule. The end result would be elections utterly dominated by a few coastal high-population urbanized states, with smaller states completely marginalized to the point of irrelevancy.

It’s not “democracy”; it’s a mobocracy.

Though the EB correctly points out that “…  the founders of this nation empowered states to decide how they would allocate their electoral votes”, they overlook the fact that the US Constitution also requires that each state provide a republican form of government to its citizens, and allowing the residents of other states, through the “compact”, to determine the outcome of an election within the borders of its own state does not comport with that mandate.

Further, the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 10 states: “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress,… enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State…”

That’s about as straightforward as it gets.

I have little doubt this nutty “compact” idea won’t stand up to judicial scrutiny at SCOTUS if an attempt is ever made to use it to determine an election outcome.

If you wish to read the original editorial you can do so here. As is SOP for leftists, they’re either completely ignorant of the actual constitutional issues that are involved – a common problem with leftists, who seem to have never even heard of that invaluable parchment – or they simply don’t care about it, the only other explanation, one which is entirely unacceptable.

Ultimately the Post published seven LTEs, three supporting their position and four opposed. None of those LTEs were mine. Before I say why I think that’s so, let me establish my bona fides.

I’ve been submitting material for publication for over three decades, and have a success rate of over 90% of my material being published. It’s been in The Signal of Santa Clarita, the LA Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, and national publications such as USA Today, Wild West Magazine and the Mensa Bulletin. So I have a pretty good idea of whether or not something I’ve submitted is likely to be published. In this case, though I felt my LTE was pretty well-written and didn’t violate any “style” guidelines, I also felt pretty certain it wouldn’t see the light of day.

“Why’s that, Brian?”, you ask.

Here’s why. Of the LTEs that were published in the Post, particularly those opposed to the idea of this interstate compact, NOT ONE raised the most important point at issue: the specific ban in the Constitution against interstate agreements or compacts.

Imagine the dilemma of the Opinion editor at the Post being confronted by the very specific and irrefutable obstacle to the editorial position they’d publicly taken on this issue. Do they publish that LTE, and if so do they have to also acknowledge they’re supporting a proposal that clearly flies in the face of constitutional proscriptions? Do they have to print a retraction? Probably much better all around if they simply pretend they never saw it, so they simply spike it.

Thus I wasn’t at all surprised when my LTE simply vanished into the ether, probably along with anything written by anybody else who’s actually taken the time to read the Constitution.

As I said in my opening paragraph, the Post reminds me very much of the LA Times… and that’s definitely NOT a compliment.

 

 

 

©Brian Baker 2020

Lipstick On A Pig

Gary Horton’s August 5th rant of the week, “It’s Time to Reimagine Law and Order” (link), certainly touched all the bases we’ve come to expect from the radical left recently as they relate to “fixing” our allegedly broken law enforcement system.

Throughout his column Horton repeatedly refers to America’s “incarceration rate” as the rationalization for his position: “Today, America incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. At 700 inmates per 100,000 residents, we top arch-bad guys Cuba by 30%, Russia by 200%, China by 540%, and repressive Iran by 230%.”

He apparently thinks such communist “paradises” as Cuba et al are going to accurately report imprisonment rates which reflect badly on their utopias. Not to mention that they have euphemistically designated “re-education” camps that aren’t counted as prisons, and in which people aren’t “incarcerated”; they’re “cured”. Also not to mention that in those countries boatloads of people simply… disappear.

When I posted that observation as an online comment Horton replied: “Look at the company we’re not only keeping, but exceeding… When you compare the US to other modern industrial democratic nations, the difference is beyond stark. Canada, Germany, England, Australia…. we are multiples and multiples higher in incarceration. They are not countries gone wild, Brian. They are nice places to live. So – please explain WHY we have this odd outlier outcome – and how can we fix it? How would you fix it?”

But as I responded there, I’m not going to “explain” anything because I reject the entire notion that incarceration rates are meaningful in any way as they pertain to this country. Some people commit criminal acts. If they get caught and convicted in a public trial they get locked up (except maybe in Commiefornia). It’s as simple as that.

If we were talking about some police state in which people get locked up for “thought crimes” or political activities he might then have a case. But that’s not the case here. We’re unique in the world in that we have rights and freedoms that are constitutionally guaranteed. As far as I’m concerned we’re the gold standard. So I don’t care what other countries are doing. They have nothing for us to emulate; they should be trying to emulate us. I’ve been to every one of those countries he mentioned in his comment, and well over a dozen more, and there’s not a single one of them in which I’d prefer to live rather than here.

Are we perfect? Of course not; nothing created by humans is. But the idea that this country is, or is becoming, some kind of police state is simply absurd.

Horton is spouting the same rhetorical nonsense we’re getting from the antifa/BLM radicals who are creating such havoc across the country, but he’s dressing it up in better language. It’s a sorry attempt to slather lipstick on a pig.

 

©Brian Baker 2020

(Published 21 August 2020 at my blog and in The Signal)

 

 

Oops! I Did It Again!

My hand, doing the dirty deed

 

I am so totally getting my Bernie Bro on… again!

I’m not a member of any political party; I’m one of those “independents” pollsters, pundits, and politicians are perpetually pontificating upon. During the last presidential primary season four years ago, because I could vote in the primary of either major party, I decided that for the first time in my life I’d cast a vote for a Dem/socialist, and decided to do so for the Bern, Bernie Sanders. I even wrote about it at the time, and that column was published right here:  ( https://theviewfromtheisland.com/2016/06/10/are-unicorns-real/ “Are Unicorns Real? I’m feelin’ the Bern…!” 10 June 16 )

Well, here we are again, for Super-Duper Tuesday (the New and Expanded Super Tuesday), and since my new home in Colorado participates in that event, with Trump having the GOP nod tied up I’ve decided to throw my support to the Bern once again.

You’ve got to hand it to the Bern. At least he’s honest. He doesn’t deny his socialism, in contrast to virtually everyone else in that sorry political party, all of whom constantly bleat that the “progressive” policies they’re constantly trying to shove down our throats are anything — ANYTHING – other than blatant socialism, if not outright communism.

The results of the Super Duper Tuesday event add even more delicious drama to the ongoing soap opera that is the Dem/socialist primary process. Sanders’s seemingly unstoppable momentum ran into a brick wall in the south, while Biden’s previously moribund and all-but-embalmed campaign was resuscitated by his sweep of those same southern states. Liz “Fauxcahontas” Warren only took third place in her own home state of Massachusetts while “Midget Mikey” Bloomberg was only able to win American Samoa. In fact, he’s already “suspended” – read “ended” – his ridiculous effort to buy an election, throwing his support – for whatever that’s worth – to Biden. Warren has also dropped out, though as of my writing this column she hasn’t yet endorsed any other candidate.

Now the real fun starts.

At this point it looks like the ultimate nominee will be either Biden or Sanders. The Democrat Party national convention meets in Milwaukee starting on July 13, and if either Sanders or Biden have secured a majority of the delegates at that point then presumably that person will win the nomination on the first ballot. The process will be complete and the nominee selected.

However, if neither has won a clear majority in the state primary process, either directly through state voting or indirectly via deals struck with other candidates who have agreed to support him by pledging their own delegates, then they’ll have a contested, or “brokered”, convention leading to subsequent ballots. That’s when the knives come out. “Super delegates” – party poohbahs – get to participate in the selection process, and those people are pretty much all “establishment” drones, the very people scared to death of Sanders dragging their electoral hopes down the drain. The same folks who threw the 2016 nomination to Clinton and infuriated the Bernie Bros back then.

I think this is a real possibility, particularly given the preference of that party’s “establishment”.

If this year’s Dem/socialist convention is brokered and Biden wins, particularly if that win is viewed by the Bernie Bros as being a rerun of 2016, the outrage from that faction will be palpable and consequential, costing Biden vital support in the general election in November.

There’s rich irony in the fact that, for a party so immersed in identity politics, their 2020 nominee, whoever wins, is going to be a rich, old, white guy in his late 70s. For the hard-left faction, Biden is too “establishment” and doesn’t check off any of the required “social justice” criteria. For the “establishment” types, Sanders is a scary communist who’ll drag the entire party into political oblivion and irrelevancy. The question then becomes whether or not “orange man bad” is enough motivation to stimulate the angry faction to vote for a candidate they don’t otherwise support.

Come November Trump will be facing either a Marxist who wants to turn the USA into Venezuela, or a doddering geezer who seems to be suffering from the early stages of dementia.

Interesting times… Grab some popcorn and settle back for the show.

©Brian Baker 2020

 

(Also published 3/11/2020 in The Signal)

On Impeachment Insanity

      

 

In his February 1 letter to the editor, published in The Signal, the local newspaper of the Santa Clarita Valley, entitled “Republicans Making Dems’ Points” Duane Mooring wrote: “We must impeach and remove Donald Trump from office because the evidence is very clear that he abused the office of president of the United States solely to promote the interests of Donald J. Trump.”

Nonsense.

That’s an accusation unsupported by any objective facts and based on pure speculation. The only way anyone knows the “motivation” of any actor is if that actor states what it is — unless the accuser can read people’s minds — and in this case the accused (Trump) has clearly stated that it wasn’t his motive. That’s why proving motive isn’t a required element of evidence in judicial proceedings.

Further, Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate corruption — specifically Biden’s as VEEP — is a perfectly legitimate request. Biden’s current political campaign doesn’t immunize him from criminal investigation for his past actions as a federal officer. In fact, the argument can be made – and I’m making it – that investigating his actions regarding Burisma is very much in this country’s best interest, as it’s very germane for people to know about any candidate’s corrupt actions, especially if carried out as an elected official.

The fact that it’s possible that Trump may be facing Biden in the November election is purely incidental, and immaterial. If Biden doesn’t have anything to hide, he’s got nothing to worry about, right?

Running for office doesn’t get a person a free pass from being investigated. If anything, the opposite is true, especially as far as Dem/socialists are concerned when the subject is Trump or other conservatives. Does the name Brett Kavanaugh ring any bells?

Fortunately, Senate Repubs have had enough of this hyper-partisan Dem/socialist nonsense and by the time this letter sees print will have most likely put this entire sordid fiasco into the trash bin of history, right where it belongs.

 

©Brian Baker 2020

(Also published today in The Signal)

 

 

 

 

From Colorado: Hola, Commiefornia!

 

Well, as I mentioned in my last column I’ve packed up and moved from the no-longer-Golden State, settling in the metro-Denver town of Castle Rock. It’s been quite an experience, and I’m surprised to find that I’m not suffering at all from any nostalgia for Commiefornia.

The first and most obvious difference was the cost of housing. I sold my house in the Pacific Hills development near Seco and Copperhill in Santa Clarita and bought my current home in Castle Rock, a satellite community near Denver that is socio-economically almost a clone to the neighborhood I left. But for about 2/3 of the price I realized from the sale of my house in Santa Clarita I bought a house that’s a couple of hundred square feet larger. Definitely more bang for the real estate buck. Going along hand-in-hand with that is the saving realized by no longer needing earthquake insurance, as well as the commensurately lower property taxes.

Another gift that keeps on giving is the price of gasoline. A few days ago I tanked up my delightfully un-PC gas-guzzling climate-killing SUV (the preferred mode of transportation locally), and paid $2.47/gallon for 91 octane. The lower grades were even cheaper. Gee… gas is gas. I wonder what could possibly explain such a price differential between here and there. Could it simply be… taxes?

Speaking of taxes, the state individual income tax rate here is a flat 4.63%. Huh… Imagine that…

My last column on this topic (“Adios, Commiefornia”, November 5, 2019) generated quite a few responses – in columns, letters to the editor, and comments in the threads – in which several folks tried to rebut the points I made. The one common theme that I thought made the most sense was highlighting the physical appeal of the state. That’s undeniable, but it’s also not a universal trait. Would anyone consider Bakersfield or Riverside “beautiful”? San Berdoo?

Doubtful at best.

Sure, the SCV is wonderful. I really loved living there, and I was there a very long time, going back to before it was incorporated as a city. But I have to tell you, Castle Rock is just as beautiful. I look at the Rocky Mountains about 10 miles away every time I leave my house. Vail is about an hour west of Denver, and when I drove through it on my way here I was stunned at how gorgeous it was. The only thing you have that we don’t is an ocean, and since I’m not a “beach person”, as I said before, I couldn’t care less about that.

But here’s the real kicker. Yes, we have our leftists here, especially in some of the urban areas. This is a “purple” state. But for the most part they’re not the loony extremists that seem to roost in Commiefornia. There’s still hope to see sanity prevail here, and it’s my goal to try to save this state from destroying itself by following the Left Coast as it careens off the rails into oblivion.

There’s another unexpected benefit, too. I still read all the same news outlets every morning, but now when I read the daily reporting on the antics of Gavin Nuisance Newsome and his Merry Band of Political Pranksters in Sacramento I no longer find myself starting my day being outraged at their lunacy. I can simply shake my head in wonder, and feel pity for my friends still stuck there as victims of the state’s signature Marxism-Lite.

It’s done wonders for my blood pressure.

I have no doubt that the usual Dem/socialist zealots are going to run to the ramparts and scream about Commiefornia being the “5th largest economy in the world”, blah blah blah. Well, just a few years ago Venezuela was the richest economy in South America. But insane and unsound fiscal and social policies in the form of Marxism managed to turn that around, and now Venezuela is an economic disaster zone. There’s nothing to guarantee the same thing can’t happen to Commiefornia; money doesn’t grow on trees, though the fools in Sacramento seem to think the Money Tree Forest lies just over the rainbow. But that “money tree” actually only exists in the bank accounts of hard-working people, and many of them – such as me – have already fled the state. As things get worse and the burden becomes even more onerous, that trickle of out-migration can easily turn into a tsunami.

Unless things change – radically – your state is locked in a death spiral.

©Brian Baker 2020

(Also published today in The Signal)

 

 

 

 

Adios, Commiefornia!

 

Well, it’s been fun, but the time has come for me to pull up stakes and move on. Yes, I’m leaving Commiefornia.

I’m sure this announcement will be welcome news for many readers. Over the years I’ve read the many responses to my writings – as letters to the editor, other columns, and on-line comments – and can imagine how happy at least some of my critics will be to see me gone. Well, that’s great.

When I returned from my all-expense-paid Luxury Tour of Southeast Asia in 1970 the Army in its infinite wisdom assigned me to the Presidio of San Francisco to finish off my enlistment term of active duty. I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven! This was paradise!

California was everything I’d hoped it would be based on all the movies I’d seen growing up. As a foreign service brat I’d lived all over the world while growing up, and though I’d seen some really nice regions, nothing seemed to compare to the California of the movies. And lo and behold, here I was, and it lived up to the hype!

In 1974 I moved to SoCal to pursue an acting career, and though it wasn’t as visually stunning as the San Fran area, it made up for that by being the California as portrayed by the Beach Boys in the music they made while I was in high school, as well as the movies I’d seen at the O Club in Tehran. Too cool!

Ten years later, in 1984, I moved to the SCV. That’s right; 35 years ago, literally half my lifetime. I absolutely love this valley, and will always consider it my home, even after I leave.

But leave I must.

In the fullness of time this state has devolved from being my ideal paradise into a cesspool of corrupt politics, insane social and fiscal policies, out-of-control taxation, outrageous cost of living, an inundation of illegal aliens and welfare mooches, and a general decline in many ways to a Third-World standard of living (I’m looking at your “poop patrols”, San Fran, as well as the “homeless camps” in so many areas around the state).

On the upside, the climate and physical geography are still really nice. “So, other than that, how’d you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

My daughter and her family decided they saw no future here for themselves, so they’re already gone. I’m on my way to join them. I have to say, I’m really looking forward to it!

Destination: Colorado. I know… you’re saying to yourselves: “Why are you going there, Brian? Why not Texas or Utah?”

In all honesty, Colorado definitely was NOT my first choice. It probably wasn’t even on my list. But the family made the decision and already acted, and there are some real upsides.

It’s really physically beautiful. No ocean, but then, the last time I went to a beach was decades ago. I’m not a “beach person”. My son-in-law landed a really good job, and with his increase in pay and FAR lower living expenses, they’re going to do a whole lot better than they ever could here. And second most importantly to me (after the family issue), though in many ways it reminds me politically of California back two or three decades ago, it hasn’t gone ‘round the bend yet to sheer lunacy. So I can continue my contributions to the culture and political wars in the hope that the state will refrain from turning into Commierado.

Yes, a whole bunch of unsuspecting Dem/socialists out there are about to find out how annoying I can be when I criticize their loony leftism. I can hardly wait!

Not only that, but I’ll be getting my license to carry a concealed handgun as soon as I establish residency. Colorado’s pretty much a “gun state”, which tickles me no end. Open carry is unregulated, and permits for concealed carry must be issued to any law-abiding citizen who requests one. Now there’s “common sense” gun regulation I can love.

So, basically, I’m outta here. I’ll continue to read the online Signal daily. After all, this will always be “home” to me. I may even make the occasional submittal of material for publication, in which case the editors can decide whether or not to publish, even though by then I’ll be an “out-of-towner”. We’ll see how that plays out.

But for now, adios, Commiefornia!

 

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Also published today in The Signal)

A Field of Rakes

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pulled the trigger and announced the start of an “impeachment inquiry” targeted at President Donald Trump. I’m not really sure what exactly an “impeachment inquiry” actually is. In fact, as of my writing this, apparently no one else is, either. As far as I can guess, it seems to be just sticking a name to something the Dem/socialists have already been doing, from pretty much the day Trump was sworn in.

This may be Pelosi’s method of trying to quell the discord within her own ranks, particularly from the ultra-radical element as personified by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her “posse”.

As an aside, I have to note that just a very few years ago Pelosi was the face of radical extremism in the Dem/socialist party; now she’s the “voice of reason”? Yet another illustration of how that party has lurched so far to the left that they’re falling off the edge of the map, and has become unrecognizable.

Of course, all this furor of the last two and a half years is rooted in the leftists’ refusal to accept the fact that Trump legitimately won the 2016 election. They’re convinced he somehow “stole” that win from their sainted Hilary, and they’ve been flailing ever since trying to, basically, reverse that outcome. For over two years they were convinced that the Mueller investigation was the sound of the cavalry bugles just over the hill riding to their rescue only to learn it was really the mournful notes of the sad trombone.

I have to scratch my head and wonder how they think this ends well for them, because I can’t think of any way it does.

If the House votes to impeach Trump it will be meaningless because there’s just no way he’ll be convicted in the Senate and removed from office. That requires a 2/3 vote for conviction in that chamber. The votes simply aren’t there.

Even if that were somehow to miraculously happen, Saint Hilary still won’t be President; Mike Pence will be. He’s the Vice-President. Hilary’s nobody, the political equivalent of three-day-old sushi, and she’s never again coming even within sniffing distance of the Oval Office.

If Pence assumes the office, the leftists will look back on the Trump era with nostalgia, as Pence’s conservative credentials are pretty much impeccable, and his life is so squeaky-clean that he’ll be unassailable on that front.

So what’s the goal of this “impeachment inquiry” if actual impeachment isn’t going to succeed? Is it to provide a fig leaf of legitimacy for the Dem/socialists to continue their endless thrashing around in trying to besmirch and delegitimize Trump, at least until the next election?

I suspect that’s the case, and if so I believe that they’re not just stepping on a rake, but doing a jig in a field of rakes.

I believe the leftists have overplayed their hand, and pushed this mess to the point of becoming farce. Obviously, there’s no way they can portray themselves as the “loyal opposition”, the traditional position of the party out of power, since there’s nothing at all “loyal” about refusing to accept the legitimate outcome of an election.

Though this kabuki no doubt plays well to their radicalized political base, I think most normal people have become bored and inured to it, particularly in light of the economic boon that’s taken place over the last couple of years.

In fact, according to a Quinnipiac poll released on 25 September (https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=3641) “… only 37 percent of voters say that President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 57 percent say no, he should not be impeached.”

Think about that. After over two years of their endless shenanigans the Dem/socialists have convinced a little over a third of the electorate that Trump should be impeached, with the remainder either against impeachment or not caring enough about the issue to even have an opinion. Further, my guess is that the third who do want to impeach him have wanted that from election night. I doubt the leftists have moved the needle a single iota in all this time.

If they’ve been hoping to gin up a groundswell of outrage leading to Trump’s repudiation by the populace, I’d say that effort has been a pretty epic failure.

I think that if they continue down this impeachment highway they’re in for a very big and unpleasant surprise. The American people have only a limited appetite for base political opportunism, especially when it’s unfounded and perceived as “unfair”. The leftists have now painted themselves as being extremists, not only with their endless persecution of Trump, but also in light of their obsession with Justice Kavanaugh – more impeachment talk – as well as the clown car of radical leftist candidates they’re fielding for the presidency itself.

I doubt this ends well for them come November 2020. The American people have a tendency to rally behind those they see as being unfairly and baselessly persecuted, which is exactly the perception the Dem/socialists are fostering.

As I said, they’re dancing the jig in a field of rakes.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

 

“Minority Report”: When Movies Come True

From the Bill of Rights:

“Amendment V
No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”

“Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

 

In 2002, 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks released the Tom Cruise starrer “Minority Report”, which was based on a novella by Philip K. Dick (who’s turning out to be almost as prescient as Orwell).

The story takes place in the near future, the basic premise being that three mutant humans, known as “precogs”, have the power of precognition (foreseeing the future) when working together in concert, which gives them the ability to see murders take place before they actually happen. Based on their visions, the police have the authority to get to the scenes of the crimes and arrest the murderers before they have the chance to actually kill their victims, thereby not only being able to prosecute and imprison the offenders, but also saving the lives of the victims.

But there’s a fly in the ointment. It turns out that very occasionally a crime is foreseen for which one of the precogs sees a differing vision, that vision being the titular “minority report”, and the administrator (and inventor) of the program has kept this fact secret, as it might endanger the validity of any resulting prosecutions of the “future crimes”, and therefore the existence of his bureau. And, in fact, it turns out that innocent people have been snared by this program.

Substitute “red flag laws” for “precognition program” and we bring the plot elements of a dystopian-future movie to our current political discussions.

Red flag laws would allow the authorities to confiscate the guns owned by a person if that person is accused by someone else – and there’s a pretty broad range of acceptable accusers (real-world “precogs”) depending on the jurisdiction – of possibly being a danger to themselves or others. Based on the accusation a hearing takes place – of which the accused isn’t even notified, let alone allowed to attend and defend themselves – after which the authorities can carry out the confiscation.

This is exactly the process that takes place in the movie.

I see all kinds of problems with these laws. To begin with, the accused is being deprived of his gun rights and property (the guns) without being convicted of any crime, nor being medically diagnosed as being psychologically unsound, in clear violation of the Fifth Amendment requirement for due process.

A hearing or other legal mechanism is taking place, in secret, without the accused even being notified or allowed to attend and defend himself, in clear violation of the Sixth Amendment.

Only after his guns have been confiscated does the accused get an opportunity – at some future date which might be months down the road – to appear before some form of tribunal to make his case in defense of his rights, at which point he has to prove his innocence of the accusation, a very clear violation of the presumption of innocence upon which our criminal justice system is allegedly founded.

That raises the question of how one proves that they’re innocent of a crime they haven’t even committed, and prove that they’ll never do what others have said they “might” do. This is all very Kafkaesque.

Notice that these laws aren’t even aimed at acts that people will surely commit; only acts they might commit. I can’t think of anything that’s more speculative than that. Apparently it’s crystal ball time.

Where does this kind of thing lead? Did you ever drink too much at a party? Well, you might commit a DUI at some point in the future, so maybe we should revoke your drivers license until you can prove you won’t ever drive under the influence. Maybe take your car away just to “be safe”.

Why not? More people are killed in car accidents than are murdered by gunfire.

The reality is that anybody can accuse any other person of anything. That’s the principle reason why our judicial process requires actual proof, and the accused enjoys the presumption of being actually innocent absent that actual proof. Red flag laws turn that premise onto its head.

Further, there’s absolutely nothing that prevents people from maliciously manipulating the system with false accusations, based on a host of reasons: personal or political enmity, divorce disputes, feuding neighbors, or even simple anti-gun hysteria, just to name a few.

This entire red flag bandwagon is leading to some very bad law. It’s a case of a movie – “Minority Report” – coming true.

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Also published today in The Signal)

The Ten Dollar Bill

 

Take a ten dollar bill out of your wallet or purse. Take a look at it. What’s it worth?

“Obviously, ten dollars, Brian”, you’re thinking.

Maybe.

The actual intrinsic value of any object is the cost of its production and/or its rarity. Gold, for example, derives its value from its rarity. But that ten dollar bill isn’t rare at all and is nothing more than a small piece of rag paper and a smidgen of ink, less than a penny’s worth of material. So its intrinsic value is also less than a penny.

But it does have “worth”, a value we as a society agree on as to what it represents. That could be a specific quantity of something that has intrinsic value, such as a rare metal. We saw this when this country was on the gold standard, at which time that ten dollars represented about 1/3 ounce of refined gold metal. You could take the bill to a bank and exchange it for the appropriate amount of the metal.

Once the dollar was delinked from gold, its worth became a much more fluid property subject to the fluctuations of governmental policies. The only physical limit to the production of more ten dollar bills is the availability of ink and rag paper, and since there’s no shortage of either the government can crank those bills out in unlimited quantities should it so deem.

But creating physical ten dollar bills doesn’t create more actual “worth”. In fact, the opposite can take place.

Our current ten dollar bill’s actual worth is based on its buying power. How much of a person’s labor or the physical goods they produce – through agriculture, manufacture, or intellectual creation – does societal consensus allow that ten dollar bill to purchase?

If I raise cattle, John makes cloth and you sell gasoline, how do John and I pay you for the gasoline you sell us? Do you have to accept some amount of cows and bolts of cloth, as well as all the other disparate products and services people produce, to sell your product? The ten dollar bill is the method used to assign a universally accepted value to facilitate the exchange for transactions, replacing the need for actual barter.

As our country’s economic base – our ability to produce goods and services – has increased our supply of ten dollar bills has also increased to make those transactions possible. In a perfectly balanced system there will always be just enough ten dollar bills available to accurately reflect the relative value of each product or service.

If our economic base shrinks, it’s also important to remove some of those ten dollar bills from circulation to maintain balance and currency value. But the real problem arises when the government – which doesn’t actually create anything of value itself (government is a “consumer”, not a “producer”) – turns on the printing press and cranks out a lot of ten dollar bills that don’t reflect any increase in societal productivity. Those “excess” ten dollar bills flood the market, and since they don’t reflect an increase in societal productivity, they dilute the actual value of the ten dollar bills that are already in circulation.

This is what is meant by “inflation”, which is a decrease in the buying power of money. The ten dollar bill buys less.

In fact, graphic examples abound of what happens when governments turn on the printing presses with abandon. In a few short years Venezuela went from being the most prosperous nation in South America to an economic wasteland, its 2018 rate of inflation being an incredible 929,789%. Its money is essentially worthless. In 2008 the inflation rate in Zimbabwe was 250,000,000%. Following World War I the inflation rate in Germany hit 344% per month!

Which brings us to the current Democrat party presidential primary. The current gaggle of candidates seems to be in a race to see how much “free” stuff they can offer to the electorate (pretty much legal bribery, in my opinion). The list includes “Medicare for All”, including illegal aliens; eliminating private health insurance; open borders; “free” college; writing off current student loan debts; “guaranteed monthly income” of $500 – $1000 per month depending on the candidate; “free” universal daycare and pre-K, the “Green New Deal”; and a plethora of smaller programs too numerous to get into.

How do they propose to pay for this largesse? It pretty much boils down to “tax the rich”. Sadly for them, the reality is that even a complete confiscation of everything “the rich” own won’t come close to paying for this cornucopia of “free” goodies. Their only alternative will be turning on the printing presses, and cranking out more and more of those ten dollar bills.

Ultimately, you’ll need a barrel full of ten dollar bills just to buy a gallon of milk… IF there’s even any milk on the shelves.

If they win we’ll get to find out personally what it’s like to live in Venezuela. Is that what you want?

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

TDS and the Border Wall

I must applaud Gary Horton’s column of 26 December, “Border Wall Shutdown Is a Bad Gift for Christmas”. It’s a glorious illustration of TDS: Trump Derangement Syndrome.

When Dem/socialist Obama was President and the Republican-controlled Congress blocked his proposals, leading to government shutdowns, the leftists bellowed that it was the Republicans who were at fault for being obstructionist.

Now that Republican President Trump’s border wall proposal is being blocked in the Senate by Dem/socialists, leading to a government shutdown, to those with TDS it’s still magically the Republican’s (Trump’s) fault.

If Trump were to announce he was on the verge of finding a cure for cancer Horton and his cohorts would demand he stop his “war on cancer”, their TDS is so bad.

As to the government “shutdown” itself… Meh. It’s the boogeyman doll the Dem/socialists like to wave around every time they don’t get their way when they throw a tantrum. I mean, really… who cares?

Have you noticed any effect at all on your own life? Some government workers are going to be having a paid-for-later vacation. A few parks may be shut down for a while, in the middle of winter, not exactly the big tourism season anyway. Big whoop.

The fact is that the border wall was Trump’s signature campaign issue, and he’s finally thrown down the gauntlet. There’s absolutely no doubt that a big part of the blame lies with Paul Ryan and his incompetent Speakership in the House while the Repubs had control until they lost it in the recent mid-term election. Ryan’s now gone; good riddance.

But make no mistake. This particular shutdown lies squarely in the laps of Pelosi and Schumer. They’re the ones leading the charge against funding the wall, all while trying to throw the blame off for their own actions onto Trump.

Not only was the wall Trump’s main issue, but it’s also an effective method of border control. I know the left likes to decry that reality, but all one has to do is look at Israel to see how effective a wall is to control a border.

This is an issue that’s worth going to the mats for. I hope Trump sticks to his guns.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2018

 

(Also published today in The Signal)