Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Settling the impeachment question once and for all

Back during the Bill Clinton impeachment I was trying to cut through all the noise of whether what Clinton did was actually an impeachable offense. While everyone was debating it on television I actually went to the Department of Justice sentencing guidelines and looked it up. I knew that treason and bribery were specifically listed in the Constitution as impeachable offenses. It made sense to me that if perjury or suborning perjury were more serious than either of those then Clinton could be convicted. They both were. Bribery is a base offense level 8 in the sentencing guidelines. Perjury or subornation of perjury is a base offense level 14.

After pounding this on the air for several weeks I got a late-night phone call at home from then-Congressman Lindsey Graham. He was one of the House Managers charged with prosecuting Bill Clinton in the senate trial. He had heard about my theory and invited me to fly to Washington to address the House Managers. I did, and I explained that one only need look at what the Constitution specifically says is impeachable and then compare that with the Department of Justice Sentencing Guidelines to see if they have a case.

Despite the obvious, they assigned one of the lawyers assisting in the case to study it. By this point the impeachment trial had started. I had a ringside seat in the Marble Room of the Senate as this drama played out. I got a call the night before what would turn out to be the last day. It was the House lawyer and a Florida congressman on a conference call. This was several days after I’d made my pitch to the House Managers. The lawyer announced with some surprise that I was right. The congressman on the phone said he’d be making the point on the Senate floor the following day. 

I watched the next morning with great anticipation. This stood to be a historic moment. The congressman was given the floor and launched into some flowery pronouncement about the geese landing on the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the journey that had taken them to this moment. Before I knew it, he had droned on so long that his time had expired and he never made the point about the sentencing guidelines. Senator Trent Lott appeared in the Marble Room to announce to the House Managers that the trial was over. The Senate voted and, as you know, they fell short of the votes needed to convict.

Why do I tell you all of this now? Because the very same logic can be used to determine if anything President Trump has done is an impeachable offense. The lowest rung in the Constitution is bribery. As you now know, bribery has a base offense level of 8. What we’re hearing from the left is Mueller is going to charge the president with obstruction of justice. What exactly is that? Sentencing guidelines aren’t clear. Most suggest that obstruction is an aggravating circumstance to another crime. In other words, if you bribe someone then obstruct the investigation the guidelines say you should add another 2 levels. The best I can tell, obstruction of justice by itself is a base offense level 3.

Logic would dictate that there has to be an underlying crime for the president to even commit obstruction of justice. Since there’s no indication that he’s obstructing an investigation into his own crimes then the highest level for his obstruction would be a 3. That falls far short of an impeachable offense. But don’t tell the Never Trumpers.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Understanding Antifa

I have long been warning you that Antifa is marxist. For the longest time they denied this. They claimed to be just like the boys who stormed the beaches at Normandy to fight the Nazis. They are not. They’re more like the thugs who stormed the streets of Petrograd in 1917 and went on a nearly 110 million-person killing spree until the Soviet Union was finally put to sleep some 70 years later. Now they finally admit to who they are.

A “menacing” group of Antifas recently pulled down their cowardly black bandanas from their faces and showed themselves to the world on Twitter. Their now-familiar logo of the two waving flags, one red and one black, is the exact same logo as the Communist Party of 1930s Germany. This particular chapter in Denver has now dropped any pretense that it’s not marxist. Their logo uses the 1930s nomenclature, “Antifaschistische Aktion,” which means “Antifascist Action.” Only this chapter has added a nice little logo to their flag: The hammer and sickle of the former Soviet Union.

I’ve done a lot of studying on these modern Antifa types. Basically they hate capitalism because they think the capitalist system is broken. The truth is it’s not capitalism that’s broken, it’s them. And I mean this in all sincerity. They believe capitalism is a failure and they are the failures. That’s why socialism and communism have, for so long, attracted the misfits of society.

It’s easy for us to ridicule them. I’ve certainly done my share of that. For this moment I would like to try a different approach. To fully understand disgruntlement one must first understand the disgruntled. These people aren’t losers in the conventional sense. Many a communist has come out esteemed institutions like Columbia University, which was a hotbed of communists during the Cold War. What attracts these people to marxism? To be blunt, many just don’t fit in. Many are socially awkward. They lash out at society in general for their inability to function normally within it. Marxism or Antifa give them a sense of purpose, like they’re changing the world.

I don’t want to sound patronizing, nor do I want to excuse their conduct, but many of these Antifa types are very smart. They’re that nerdy smart we all remember from high school. I’m sure many of these people were made fun of, or at least thought everyone was making fun of them. They also obsess over things including the state of society. It’s easy to look around at the have-nots and assume it’s not their fault. It’s even easier to look at the haves and hate them for what they have. That’s how marxism is bred and spread. It is quintessential class warfare.

Notice you don’t see many Antifas outside of their twenties. Once people grow up and take on some responsibility, perspective starts to change. At 25, my emphasis was solely on me. By 45 my emphasis was primarily on my family and their well-being and their future. Growing up necessarily changes your perspective.

Capitalism provides a competitive atmosphere that continually makes us all better. Is it fair? Not always, but I can’t think of anything more unfair than taking from those who produce and giving it to those who don’t. Capitalism and the United States are inseparable. Capitalism is what made America great, despite what New York Governor Cuomo may tell you. If you are anti-capitalist you are, by definition, anti-American.

The nanny state is for those who need a nanny. For the rest of us, capitalism equals prosperity.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Fake News running editorials saying they're not fake news

This is the week of collusion. The week when newspapers across the country band together to write scathing editorials about President Trump while acting as though they’re not colluding to bring his presidency down. This is all done under the “fake news” banner that Trump is attacking them and, by extension, the First Amendment. It’s an ironic confirmation that his accusation of fake news is actually true.

Let’s peel away the layers of this feigned outrage. The president says the fake news media are the “enemies of the people.” The outlets printing and broadcasting fake news about him know exactly who they are. And they know they’re doing exactly what he’s accusing them of, yet they pretend that he’s talking about all journalists. He’s not. Obviously. If that were the case he wouldn’t go out of his way to call on Fox News and ignore CNN, which clearly has an agenda to ruin his presidency.

I’ve often said that media bias isn’t so much what they tell you, it’s what they don’t. Many outlets will tell you only part of the story, leaving out the part that paints the real picture. The fake news outlets do this all the time. How many news outlets have reported that black and Hispanic unemployment are at record lows? How many ever reported that Antifa is a violent and historically marxist organization instead of one that’s just fighting white supremacy? Things look different when you know the whole story.

Then there are the stories that are just plain made up. Like the one from Roll Call’s senior political reporter, Emily Singer. She took to Twitter with a “scoop” that she’d found red-headed Russian spy Maria Butina in an Oval Office photo with Trump. Turned out it was an NSC staffer. That fire didn’t get put out until half the media had breathlessly reported evidence of Russian collusion right there in the White House.

How about Brian Ross from ABC News? He reported that Michael Flynn had been instructed during the campaign to negotiate with the Russians. Turned out the instruction came after Trump was elected president, when presidents-elect normally begin negotiations with foreign powers.

And the little girl from Honduras who became the face of family separation at the border. Turns out the mother and daughter were never separated and were being held in a family detention center in Texas. The mom had broken into the country at least once before.

Who can forget the photo of the little boy whose crying face inside a cage went viral. That picture is still being posted by the open borders crowd. In reality, the photo was taken at a protest on a plaza in Dallas. The little boy ran inside the cage to find his brother. He looked up and saw his mother outside the cage and got scared. That’s when the photo was snapped. That’s the source of the “Trump’s putting kids in cages” narrative, and it’s completely fake.

Shall I go on? I think you get the point. Too many so-called journalists are hiding behind the First Amendment in order to spread something that doesn’t even resemble journalism. It’s propaganda.

If you ever get a chance to ask a journalist why they got into the profession and they say it was to change the world then you know you’re talking to a provocateur of fake news. A journalist’s job is not to change the world. It’s to report the world. If they’re out to change it then they’re adding their own opinions. And that is the very definition of fake news.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The politics of fear

President Franklin Roosevelt once famously stated as he took over leadership of a United States in the throes of the Great Depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It was an attitudinal shift from the terror that had gripped the nation since the mighty crash on Wall Street just over three years prior. Historians will continue to debate whether or not FDR’s busy-work policies and alphabet soup agencies ended or exacerbated the depression, but one thing is for certain. His presidency set a high watermark for optimism for the country at large and the Democrat Party specifically.

That optimism enjoyed a brief resurgence under John F. Kennedy that his assassination seems to have stripped from the party permanently. Bill Clinton managed to put a happy face on the pessimistic party, but even his rise to power was on the back of a commodity the Democrats have mined and traded now for half a century. That commodity is fear itself.

While Ronald Reagan was restoring the country’s sense of self-worth, a new cult of despair was in its infancy. It was called the global warming movement. Its godfather, James Hansen, was taking a cue from Paul Ehrlich and his wildly successful freak-out, The Population Bomb. Ehrlich confidently and boldly predicted in 1970, “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” He took the occasion of the first Earth Day in 1970 to predict that 4 billion people would die sometime between 1980 and 1989 in the “Great Die-Off.”

We’ve had nearly fifty years to assess the utter absurdity of Ehrlich’s predictions, yet he still stands by most of them. That’s what happens when you go all in on fear. There’s no backing down without totally destroying your reputation in the process.

Such now is the fate of the global warming alarmists. They have peddled fear for a demonstrable 30-year period, a time-span that scientists and political observers can assess for its accuracy, or lack thereof. Philip Shabecoff, an environmental reporter for the New York Times, wrote in June of 1988, “The rise in global temperature is predicted to cause sea levels to rise by one to four feet by the middle of the next century.” While we haven’t reached the middle of the century we are nearly halfway there. On the low end sea levels should’ve risen by six inches. Of course, they haven’t.

Liberals, devoid of positive ideas of their own, have resorted to exploiting not only fear but guilt. You’re destroying the planet so you must do something about it. You have too much and you’re far too comfortable so you must do something about it. All of the great gulit-and-fear schemes from peak oil to global warming to the population bomb have something else in common other than guilt and fear. Redistribution of wealth. If you’ve managed to work hard and produce it’s somehow your fault that others have not.

Now, that’s not to say that misfortune doesn’t befall people for no apparent reason, but history teaches us that misfortune has visited many successful people. It’s how they deal with that misfortune that makes the difference.

The volume of hysteria among the liberals increases with each new bit of economic news. One would think that black and Hispanic unemployment at historic lows would be cause for celebration. It is only if you measure success by the normal metrics of success. It’s bad news if you measure it only by fear.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Taxis are clinging to life like the horse and buggy

Taxis went on strike in Spain in an effort to coax the government into regulating ride-hailing services like Uber. In Madrid, they clogged a main thoroughfare several miles long by forming long lines in all three lanes and stopping traffic. Yeah, that’s the way to win the public over.

At the heart of the argument I get it. They say their industry is heavily regulated. In places like New York City you have to buy an expensive taxi medallion, essentially a permit to operate a cab, although that cost has come down dramatically because of Uber and Lyft. That’s part of the outcry. Taxi medallions in New York were going for $1.3 million in 2013. Yeah, $1.3 million. Can you imagine? Now those medallions go for less than $200,000. And that’s probably overpriced. 

This is a government-imposed problem. The medallion system in New York was created in 1937. The government didn’t sell any new medallions until 1996 when it auctioned off a little over 2,000. Right now there are roughly 14,000 medallions. Compare that to 63,000 ride-share vehicles. You see why the taxi operators are upset.

What all this demonstrates is not that Uber and Lyft aren’t regulated enough. It’s that the taxi industry has been regulated too much. Apparently you don’t need a medallion and an uncomfortable car to take someone from JFK to Midtown Manhattan. You can actually use your own car. This is the ultimate free market economy.

The taxi industry created its own demise. I have to travel to New York City every once in a while as a talk show host with Westwood One. I can tell you nightmares about waiting in lines at taxi stands at LaGuardia. I can remember coming out of Penn Station on a sleet-soaked day that was turning to rain only to behold a line at the cab stand a block long.

Here’s the basic problem with a cab. A) You don’t know how long you’ll have to wait before you find one, and B) You have no idea how much it’s going to cost once you sit down in one. Ride-share services solve both problems. On your app you hail a car. You can see exactly where it is along with a timer telling you the approximate time of arrival. Even before you step foot in the car you know exactly how much it’s going to cost and you don’t have to fumble for cash or a credit card. It’s all automatic. And you don’t have to tip. They’ve started sending you a notice after the ride asking you to rate the driver. If you rate them high they’ll ask if you want to tip, but there’s no angry driver screaming at you in a language you don’t understand as he drives away because he thinks you’re a cheapskate.

There simply is no downside to ride-share services. If you’re worried about inexperienced drivers or accidents, how many times have you said a prayer in the back of a cab? I feel completely comfortable in the back of an Uber.

The genius is something I call self-monetization. If you want to know where everything is going it’s moving towards self-monetization. Look at Airbnb. Your spare bedroom is now a hotel. There are people who rent their spare cars out. I could rent out a plot for locals in the neighborhood to grow a garden. Amazon is now hiring people to throw packages in their backseats and make same-day deliveries.

The taxi is old twentieth century technology. The world has moved on.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.