Chill, everybody

It is snowing in North Texas and the temperature is in the low twenties (Fahrenheit) this morning as this is written. More of the same and in larger quantities is expected along with possible single digit temperatures. And the Senate did not convict Donald Trump.

This very cold weather is bound to give the climate change/global warming paranoiacs another event to hang their collective hat upon. Spending the past fifty years around here, I recall a number of events of extreme summer heat, persistent droughts that ended with huge floods, and severe winters, that appeared sporadically in our region. Interestingly, today’s newspaper mentioned that “The measuring stick for cold outbreaks is arguably 1983. The DFW temperature was at or below freezing for 295 consecutive hours from Dec. 18, through the 30 [sic].” It also reported that the record high for the day was 84 in 1918, and record low was one degree in 1906. (Before my time, actually.)

I am not a “climate change denier” by any means. But my attitude is not to alter our lifestyles in a vain attempt to halt or reverse it. There are too many moving parts to the phenomenon, and humans are not going to move back into caves and forsake the comforts of modern technology. Mankind has dealt with adverse and harsh physical environments from time immemorial— from campfire and frond fans to central heat and air conditioning. The innovators will do so again.

There have been four Presidential impeachments, but no conviction and removals from office. They were all partisan ploys. The looming impeachment of Richard Nixon, which was aborted because he resigned the office, was arguably nonpartisan, which was why the result sought was obtained.

A number of Presidents were threatened with impeachment. These include the founders George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Andrew Jackson, arguably the most like Trump in temperament (and, together with Jefferson, were the Democratic Party’s patron saints until the woke movement deracinated them) was threatened, as was John Tyler, the first Vice-president to succeed to the Presidency. There were others. All fizzled in the early stages.

It was a forgone conclusion that Donald Trump would not be convicted. Why, then, did the Democrats in the House go to the trouble? One excuse was that they wanted to get a conviction to bar him from running again. But his return is remote anyway. What they really wanted was to spike the football. Revenge for taking away the ruling class’s power for four years.

The Trump second impeachment and trial recall a similar, though much bloodier, event three and one-half centuries ago. Oliver Cromwell, who had much in common with Trump, led an insurrection against the then ruling class of England headed by King Charles I. After a decade long actual, not metaphorical, civil war, Cromwell prevailed and chopped off Charles’ head in January 1649. Slightly more than ten years later, tired of the Cromwellian party’s rule in what was essentially a military dictatorship, the populace clamored for and received a Restoration of the monarchy, essentially the former ruling elite. The restored royalists went on a rampage against the Cromwell adherents, executing ringleaders who signed the kings death warrant (a few escaped to the North American colonies and elsewhere). Cromwell himself had died and was “out-of-office” as it were. Nevertheless, his corpse was exhumed, hanged, and his skull placed on a pike at London Bridge.

So then was Donald Trump’s impeachment and post incumbency trial an attempted cathartic moment for our quasi-royalists. The Trump Presidency is dead; their attempt to dismember and desecrate the corpse failed. They will doubtless attempt to select those of his entourage they believe worthy of being symbolically hanged, drawn, and quartered. Perhaps, they speculate, the rest can be left alone to enter the oblivion of irrelevancy. Good luck on that.

Post Mortem?

Stolen election? No.

There may have been some fraud, but not enough to make a difference in the critical states. Unsolicited mail-in ballots doubtless invited fraud, and changing of voting rules in those states in reaction to Covid-19 gives cover to those who claim fraud. It is unfortunate that the, now former, President pushed that narrative too far.

Biden did not beat Donald Trump. The now former President actually beat himself with help from Covid-19. His acerbic personality on constant display turned off many who would have voted for him for his stance on the issues and accomplishments. A lot of voters cannot see beyond personality. Many vote against their interests because they do not like the messenger. Trump’s persona in many of his tweets was that of, to be blunt, a jerk. This is not to absolve his far-left opponents, who were usually worse in that regard.

But what now?

Donald Trump lost won, but he did not lose by a landslide. Despite what the New York Times and Dallas Morning News writers opine, the last election was hardly a Republican debacle. Quite the contrary, Biden did not have any coattails to pull other Democrat candidates for Congress and statehouses, quite the contrary. And he doesn’t have a mandate for widespread structural change, as many on his side would like. Pushing a radical agenda through the Congress will be difficult. For every Democrat who lost his/her seat in the House, there is one whose winning margin was close. And Bill Clinton and Obama both lost Congress in their first midterm. If this history is lost on Biden, it is not on the Representatives and Senators facing their constituents in 2022.

Even so, there’s a lot of mischief Biden can do, and has done, with his “pen and phone”quickly.

Unless Biden can persuade the Democrats’ leadership in Congress to halt the Trump impeachment, there is no way he is going to unify the country. Attempting to “remove” a President who the voters have already removed makes no sense, and amounts to political masturbation (in which our politicians engage on a daily basis — in their case it makes you wonder if it’s really only a myth that it makes one go blind). To the extent that Senate conviction would bar Trump from further office, that could work in favor of the Republicans by removing a candidate with a large following from consideration in 2024 in favor of one with similar policies, but who is less acerbic. Anyway, it is doubtful that Trump, or Biden for that matter, will run again next time. Age itself might not be an objective disqualification, but there is pressure from younger candidates and their constituents. (As an aside, the only incumbent who lost and later won a second term was Grover Cleveland in 1892.)

Biden’s executive orders cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline permit is sheer lunacy. Forget that transmission of crude petroleum is much safer in pipelines than by rail or truck (which are more dependent than pipelines on the stuff they are carrying). It is going to put tens of thousands out of work. That will be a big issue, and the workers who still remain Democrat voters won’t forget in 2022. Other environmental and climate-change paranoid policies could drive gasoline prices sky high. Perhaps Biden, who famously commuted on Amtrak between Delaware and the Capital and who has lived in the D.C. bubble for over four decades, doesn’t realize how much non woke Americans are in love with their cars. High prices and filling station lines doomed Jimmy Carter in 1980. In my city, gasoline prices have already jumped.

The promise of “Green New Deal” jobs is pure fantasy. If such jobs materialize, it will be years until they do. Workers have to pay their bills and feed their families today. All of this said, the only viable option for the production of the energy that modern life requires is nuclear, which Biden’s core supporters oppose as much as they do fossil fuels. Wind power is Fifth Century (B.C.) technology with Twenty-first Century lip-gloss. Sun power will be sufficient only if the Sahara Desert is carpeted with solar panels and an efficient method of long-range transmission is developed. Not ruling that out, but it is as remote as cold fusion.

One wonders if the woke crowd, living in their gated subdivisions where all the houses have black lives matter signs on the outside and white persons on the inside, or those residing in climate controlled condos, really want to revert to a hunter-gatherer society they romanticize. Perhaps so, if their could still have their smartphones and sushi.

That bunch, based on their malevolent Twitter feeds and contributions to the comments sections of Washington Post articles, are the remaining jerks.

As for the future, all that can be said is — we will see.

Vice-Presidents; Removing the “Vice”

Throughout the 2020 Presidential election season there has been speculation that the election of Joe Biden was really a vehicle to place a true leftist into a position to become President. Biden’s age and the perception by some that he is in mental decline seems to make it likely he will not serve two terms for a total of eight years. If he does, would Kamala Harris, his vice-president, likely be poised to run and win in 2028, or if he bows out after one term, in 2024? Another possibility is that he would die in office (or become incompetent to function and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment procedure could be invoked to put Harris in the White House, temporarily or for the duration of Biden’s term).

It might be useful to look at Vice-Presidential succession during the past two centuries.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the first two VPs who succeeded their President. But both were elected under the pre-Twelfth Amendment procedure where the candidate with the second highest number of Electoral votes was elected as VP.

Since then twelve Vice-Presidents have made it to the Presidency; Biden will be the thirteenth (unlucky?). Three were first elected in their own right: Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon, and George H. W. Bush. Nine were “accidental” in that they succeeded Presidents whose terms were cut short, eight by death, Nixon by resignation.

Using the Vice-Presidency as a stepping-stone appears to be a recent phenomenon. One reason for this is that the only Constitutional duty the VP has, other than wait on the sidelines to step if the President dies, resigns, or is removed, is to preside over the Senate. Most candidates were chosen to “balance the ticket” or mollify factions. Until recently, Presidents mostly used their Vice for ceremonial or other feel-good purposes and had no interest in promoting their political prospects. Prior to 1960, Van Buren was the only VP who was nominated and elected to follow a President who completed his term(s). Several failed to follow their Presidents into the White House: Humphrey, Mondale, and Gore. Nixon failed to immediately follow Eisenhower, but was elected eight years later in 1968. George H. W. Bush was elected in 1988, immediately following Reagan’s two terms. Of the accidental Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, and Lyndon Johnson were elected in their own right after finishing their President’s remaining term, The other five were not.

All this is to suggest that if Harris were to become our first woman President, it will probably be the result of Biden leaving office prior to the end of his term, first or second. Furthermore, dubbing her as “accidental” would not be appropriate. It cannot be lost on observers that Harris was selected by the Democrat Party precisely for that purpose. Of course, another benefit to Harris’ candidacy was to shore up support from the party’s left wing, who might have otherwise sat on their hands. She’s a three-fer: a committed leftist, is the right sex, and has the right complexion for the so-called woke crowd.

A year or so ago, I saw Nikki Haley speak in Dallas. Her presentation suggested to me that it was probable that she would be the first woman President. That possibility has not gone away. Perhaps sooner than we think, there will be two female nominees, each one the daughter of immigrants. That would be a hoot (and I would still bet on Haley). But like everything else in this brave and crazy new world, only time will tell.

Note: Dave Berry in a year-end column pointed out that Kamala Harris’ name is an anagram of “I alarm a shark”! Joe Biden is “I need job”!

Perspectives on a Birthday

There are many descriptive word to describe this past year, some vulgar, some darkly humorous. It is not a time anyone would wish to repeat. Even the Christmas season has been spoiled to some extent. Nevertheless, celebrating the birth of the doubtless most consequential individual in human history should elate us. Not going to dwell on what Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in Bethlehem, now in the State of Israel, caused the next twenty and a quarter centuries to bring forth. There are numerous writings from all perspectives in that regard.

Several year ago I mentioned on this blog that Walter Russell Mead Bard, Bard College professor and editor at The American Interest, wrote interesting essays on his Yule Blog for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas Eve. I commend two of those essays to readers, and am certain that Mead’s others can be found and appreciated by those interested. These essays can be appreciated by nearly anyone irrespective of their religious belief. His Fourth and Fifth Day ones are at these links:

http://www.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/12/28/the-hinge-of-fate-2/

http://www.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/12/29/the-meaning-of-christmas-3/

God Jul

Craciun fericit

Wesolych Swiat

Linksmu Kaledu

Hyvää Joulua

Sretan Božic

Veselé Vánoce

Frohelich Weihnachten

Buon Natale

Joueux Noel

¡Feliz Navidad! (If you live in Texas and don’t know what this means, you reside in a cave.)

In other words, Merry Christmas (to all and to all a good night.)

Kicking a Hornet’s Nest or is there a “Doctor” in the (White) House?

Talking about kicking a hornets’ nest. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by long time contributor Joseph Epstein that criticized incoming first-lady Jill Biden’s use of the courtesy title/honorific  “doctor” or “Dr.” with her name.

The op-ed provoked a storm of on-lin comments. as of this morning almost 4,000, many of which would merit inclusion on public restroom walls. This morning, the WSJ  published some of the more respectful dissents. That newspaper also published a riposte by Paul Gigot, its editorial page editor, confirming the WSJ will not give in to the politically correct movement or cancel culture. That piece also brought on a storm of comment.

Here are the links
https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-there-a-doctor-in-the-white-house-not-if-you-need-an-m-d-11607727380?st=ioqq47uzqx6rpj9&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-biden-team-strikes-back-11607900812?st=i6ynwqh1smzft3c&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

WOW!

11/22/1963

Fifty-seven years ago today, I was in the first semester of my first year of college at Loyola University in New Orleans. It was a Friday, and I was looking forward to that evening. I was going to a school party on board a Mississippi River steamboat named The President, and had a date with who I considered to be a very attractive young woman.

Walking across the campus after lunch, I was on my way to a class when I heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, my home city. Classes were briefly held, but soon canceled. Students and faculty crowded into the student center where the lone television set— black & white, monochrome — was located. Those who couldn’t fit in listened to radios for the news that around 1:45 p.m. confirmed that the President was dead. Around 5:00 p.m. the afternoon newspaper’s final edition was delivered to the school racks bearing the headline “President Dead” in second-coming type that covered most of the first page (I kept a copy, but it was misplaced sometime during my various moves since. The Dallas Morning News font page from the next day is below). President Johnson took the oath of office in Air Force One, at Love Field, before taking off to Washington late in the afternoon. Those events and those of the next four days were a watershed in world history.

The event on the steamboat that evening was not canceled, but it turned out to be somber affair that lasted for about two hours of the four scheduled. At the time, most students were apolitical, though that would soon change with a vengeance. Classes for the next week were all canceled and I went home to Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday.

That time was different in so many ways. In this writing the focus is on the communications technology as it was then.

Two of the most essential infrastructures our communications are dependent upon today are satellites and fiber-optics, Though AT&T had, with NASA, launched the Telstars 1 & 2 in 1962 & 1963 , they were of limited use, and not for the general public. Fiber-optics were limited to scientists imagination – some at the time might have said hallucinations. The existence of the Internet was unimaginable, except perhaps in science fiction. Telephones were limited to land-lines for most. All were rotary dial; DTMF (Touch-tone) had only been offered to the public as of November 18, four days prior to Kennedy’s death. Portable automobile telephones existed but they were very expensive to own and operate and had limited number channels which made them nearly impossible to use during peak hours. Cellular was 20 years away in the future. Televisions were all broadcast – no cable or satellite — and programming was limited to three national networks and a few locally programmed stations. FM radio existed but was of limited use. Some radio sets were AM/FM, but most available were AM only. Auto air-conditioning was an expensive add-on if you wanted it factory installed; most A/C was aftermarket. The only familiar and affordable imported car was the Volkswagen Beetle, though there were some luxury imports from Europe, and the Japanese Datsun (later Nissan) had newly arrived (and was considered a joke by many auto aficionados). Computers were all main-frame and programmed and data entered by punch cards produced by bulky keypunch machines. The availability of personal computers for home, or even office use, was unimaginable. Electronic calculators did not exist. Although mechanical adding machines, some electrically operated, existed they were limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Slide rules were used to make more complex calculations, but the mainframe computers were necessary to do a large number. Air travel was expensive and limited. Overseas travel by air was beyond the means of most people. Sea transportation was a luxury and slow. Though more and more jets were put to use, airlines still used propeller engines on many routes. FAA regulations set fares and routes, limiting competition and expansion. Inter-city commercial passenger rail ravel was available, but declining mainly because of the expansion of the Interstate highway system. Nineteen sixty-three was technologically on a difference planet. It certainly was politically, socially, and culturally also. President Kennedy’s assassination, as well as the events of his administration, was responsible for a great deal of the changes, or at least the acceleration of them. The Apollo 11 visit to the moon eight years later, a Kennedy goal, was one. They might be topic for additional essays.

Dallas Morning New 11/22/1963

Presidential Tenure

This year’s presidential election had a minor significance to it. As it turned out, Donald Trump and his supporters were anything but pleased, and it is no secret where this writer stands in that regard. Nevertheless, it put Trump in a category with 12 of his predecessors. Let me explain.

Since the Constitution took effect, there have been 46 Presidencies not counting the one that will commence in January with 45 individuals as president. (Grover Cleveland served two terms, but they were split; he lost his reelection bid in 1888, but returned in 1892). During the 228 years, 12 elected incumbents were re-elected and served two full terms. These were: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Grant, Wilson, Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama.

During the same time, not counting Trump, 12 incumbents either did not run for reelection, or were defeated and turned out of office. It appears that Trump is the 13th, who broke the tie of that group with the two-termers. Maybe an unlucky number. The other initially elected one-term presidents were: Adams, John Quincy Adams, Van Buren, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, Taft, Hoover, Carter, and George H. W. Bush.

Of course, that only adds up to 24. What about the others? Five presidents did not finish the first terms they were elected to. William Henry Harrison, Taylor, Garfield, Harding, and Kennedy died in office (two were assassinated). Three did not finish a second term. Lincoln and McKinley were assassinated; Nixon resigned, the only President to do so. Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected three times, but died three months into his fourth term. The “accidental presidents” who took over upon the incumbents’ deaths or resignation were Tyler, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Ford. Four were subsequently elected to one term each in their own right.

As mentioned above, Cleveland and Franklin Roosevelt were outliers because of Cleveland’s split terms; and Roosevelt’s election to four terms.

A four-termer will never occur again, or course, per the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment. There has been speculation that Trump might run in 2024 to become another split term President. This may be because some supporters believe Biden will screw up everything, if he lasts, but the chance is negligible. Trump’s age will be against him; the boomers have had their day.

An interesting note: When William Henry Harrison, died after barely a month in office in 1841, vice-president John Tyler insisted that he then became the President. Article II of the Constitution at the time stated that “In the Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolved on the Vice President….” Some argued that Tyler was only an “acting President,” the “powers and duties” were his only temporarily, and a new President should be chosen in a special election. This mainly a partisan reaction. Harrison was elected as a Whig, but Tyler was a Democrat chosen as Vice Presidential candidate to “balance the ticket” and attract disgruntled members of his party. Many Whigs referred to Tyler derisively as “His Accidency.” As it turned out, this distinction had no practical difference and went nowhere. Tyler was accepted by everyone who matters as President. The precedent was established.

After President Kennedy was assassinated, the 25th Amendment was passed and ratified. It explicitly stated that upon the President’s removal, death, or resignation “the Vice President shall become President,” thus putting the rest any controversy in that regard.

The 25th Amendment also provided for filling a consequent Vice Presidential vacancy and standards and procedures to be followed in the event a President becomes disabled or otherwise unable to perform his duties. At least one commentator suggested that, given the virulence among certain factions his party and the apparent popularity of his future Vice President with those factions, future President Biden should watch his back. Not sure this writer buys into that concern, but we do live in interesting times.