Turkey And Drumsticks 2016

For nine years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly make me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.

This may be the last of these. We’ll see. But this is the post I most look forward to every year.

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Thanks, Adam Smith

The 2 prevailing themes of my Thanksgiving Day posts have to do with the capitalistic/private property hankerings of out fore fathers, and the bounty that God has bestowed upon this great nations of ours. Giving thanks for what we have, a direct product of the entrepreneurial spirit formulated in our early years, and sharing this bounty with our neighbors, an American tradition going back to George Washington;

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

I found this Prager U. video last week that encapsulates perfectly that palm/forehead marriage as experienced by the pilgrims;

And, as they say, the rest is history.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, may your day be blessed with good food and the comfort of a loving family. And if the need strikes, float some bucks to those worthy charities that feed the less fortunate.

Deuteronomy 15:10-11 Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.

The Overtime Follies

Good:

In a stunning blow to the Obama administration’s economic legacy, a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday delaying implementation of a regulation that would extend overtime eligibility to an estimated 4.2 million workers.

The ruling puts in serious jeopardy the most significant wage intervention by President Barack Obama, who has been unable to persuade Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour. The Labor Department regulation, previously set to take effect Dec. 1, effectively restored overtime pay to the middle class after decades of erosion had reduced it to a benefit available only to low-wage workers.

Putting aside Politico’s liberal spin, the overtime rule is looking like a bad idea and a massive executive overreach.

But let’s back up a second and review the argument in favor of the changes in overtime rules. The Department of Labor raised the threshold for exemption from overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,120. At the same time, they made changes to what workers are exempt even if their income is below that threshold. This means that approximately four million workers who were previously on salary will not be getting paid hourly and thus eligible for overtime pay if they exceed 40 hours a week.

Ostensibly, the reason for this change is to curb abuses by businesses that give employees a slight bump over the $23,660 threshold and then require them to work 50-60 hours a week. When the President put the rule into place, he said that $30,000 a year did not constitute “management” and therefore should be eligible for overtime instead of being paid as straight salary.

The problem with this logic is that while $30,000 doesn’t sound like a lot to big time lawyers, government civil servants or Vice Presidents for Community and External Affairs, it is a reasonable income for many people who live outside of Washington, D.C. Warren Meyer, over at Coyote Blog, has been doing yeoman’s work cataloging why the increase in overtime exempt income is a bad thing:

The Obama Administration and its supporters (and apparently Politico, by how they wrote the headline) are smoking something if they think employers are going to react by raising salaries of current exempt employees being paid 23,660 or 30,000 or 40,000 to $52,000. Absolutely no way. There may be a few just under the $52,000 threshold that get a bump, but that will be a minor effect.

Everyone else is going to suddenly find themselves converted from a junior manager back to a wage earner. Companies are not going to allow these newly minted wage earners to earn overtime, and so I suppose one good outcome is that we may see a new boost in productivity as companies find ways to automate or eliminate junior management tasks to get all these folks down to 40 hours a week.

There are important differences between hourly and salaried work in the relationship with employers. Some are psychological — for better or worse, management [thinks] of salaried workers differently than hourly workers. And some are real — salaried workers can try to demonstrate that they are worthy of promotion by working extra hours and taking on extra tasks, things that hourly workers really can’t do.

Furthermore, he notes, thew new overtime rules are unlikely to deliver real benefits to employees. It may, in fact, hurt them:

Further, when someone gets switched from salary to hourly, they lose a minimum pay guarantee. When I get a $3,500 a month offer, I know that no matter how slow things are, until I am fired I get $3500 a month. There is a floor on my earnings. As an hourly worker, my hours can be adjusted up or down constantly. There is no floor at all

He also points out that the Department of Labor’s own study concluded that this would not increase the pay of workers. It would just lead to cuts in hours.

The thing is, none of this is theoretical to me. It’s all very real because it’s impacting my family.

After my son was born, my wife left her good-paying but long-commuting job to take a part time job in town at our school’s main campus. Her income was above the exempt threshold. But now it is below it. Under the old rules, she would still have been exempt because she was a skilled professional — a PhD biochemist and molecular biologist managing a lab and doing scientific research. But the new overtime rules, for some strange reason, removed that exemption. So skilled professionals with decades of training are now considered no different than clock-punching temps.

(Ironically, the exemption is being kept in place for two of the most downtrodden classes of workers in higher education — graduate students and adjuncts.)

This change in no way benefits my wife or any of the thousand of scientists around the country affected by this. She’s now, after twenty years of work, back to being a clock puncher, which is humiliating. As an hourly wage earner, she loses certain benefits, like maternity leave and vacation. Like many scientists, my wife is supported by grants which can not support paying massive amounts of overtime. So she’s been told not to work more than 20 hours a week. At other universities and research institutions, scientific staff are being told to only work nine to five and not answer e-mails out of hours lest they incur overtime. A few people are getting small bumps in salary to put them over the threshold. Most are being told to work a strict 40 hours (or, I suspect, lie about how much they work).

This is madness. This is what happens when people with no experience outside government start passing sweeping rules affecting millions of workers. This is what happens when you have people in charge who think businesses (and government institutions like universities) can just conjure money out of the ether.

The states and many businesses are suing, claiming that this is an unfunded mandate from the federal government (which it is). Congress is open to repealing this rule and Trump has indicated he would sign a bill repealing it. I’m not averse to raising the exempt threshold a little bit or a narrowly tailored change to prevent the abuses that supporters of the law assert exist. But this is way too far, way too fast and way too ill-considered.

Note: The judge in this case is an Obama appointee. One of the defining elements of the Obama presidency has been Democratic and liberal judges overturning his executive overreaches. I support their doing so and will continue to support it throughout the Trump Presidency and any future Administration.

This is what checks and balances looks like, folks. If you want judges and Congress to keep Trump in check, you should be applauding this decision. Today, it’s the overtime rules. Tomorrow, it might be registration of Muslims. Checks and balances are good.

“Bubble” Heads

Tough times for college kids, that’s for sure. Where the campus provides sanctuary, like minded (rigidly so) folks commiserating and comforting each other, outside their bubbled life, real diversity exits, different political points of view, hide the children.

I’m sympathetic, really. Only having one president for most of their lives, a rock star at that with amazing sea wave rolling abilities, to have their entire universe change like that, very frightening. And no one around to lend perspective, certainly not their teachers, who are more vexed than they are, more panicked, and equally discombobulated.

But, help is on the way;

Colleges across the country are preparing students for encounters with relatives who might hold different opinions as they depart from their academic bubbles for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Case Western Reserve University even notes that “away from the university, our families and friends often talk about issues differently than what we experience in our on-campus discussions.”
Most schools simply suggest avoiding political discussions altogether, assuming that students traumatized by Trump’s election will be at odds with family members.

Good advice. Once a preconceived idea, no matter how hasty it was arrived at, is formulated, allowing for alternate views only scrambles the brain. And the anxiety, if cherished, lovingly held opinions are challenged, doubts arise. And if this is questioned, what about all the others things your professors taught you? The balance is shifted, the earth tilts, and chaos ensues. No, we need order, better to just hold tight to the prevailing nonsense believed and wear your music headphones to the dinner table.

Or, just accept the fact that your family members are racist bigoted homophobes who hates Muslims, no muss no fuss.

Yes And No

News came out this morning that Trump will not prosecute Hillary, for anything;

(CNN)During the presidential campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, would join crowds of his supporters in chants of “lock her up!” and said to her face during a debate that if he were president, “you’d be in jail.”

But now that he actually will be president, Trump says he won’t recommend prosecution of Clinton, who he told New York Times reporters has “suffered greatly.”
What’s more, he said the idea of prosecuting Clinton is “just not something I feel very strongly about.”

Kelly Ann Conway talked more about this morning on Morning Joe;

Before we talk about Hillary, some constants were re enforced about the MSM; first, they are lairs, and second, they have no honor. An off the record meeting means you don’t write about what happened or what was said, and yet they did. As mentioned in my piece yesterday, Trump has the full measure of the MSM, has no allusions about how he will be treated.

Some supporters are not happy with his decision not to go after Hillary since this was one of his campaign promises (get used to it, there will be quite a few broken promises).

The other day I was toying with a post about exactly this. my positions was thus; leave her be with regard to her emails and her server, but keep the 4 or 5 separate investigations going with regard to the foundation.

After the election Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, reported that it was still full speed ahead Re: Hillary’s emails;

“It would be totally remiss of us to dismiss [the email investigation] because she’s not going to be president,” Chaffetz said of the defeated Democratic nominee.

“I still have a duty and obligation to get to the truth about one of the largest breaches of security at the State Department,” he said. “Tens of thousands of documents still have not been turned over to Congress.”

Now, that is off the table, as it should be. No doubt other Republicans think differently on this, that a breach is a breach, nobody is above the law, the duty to go where the evidence leads is not abrogated by the result of the election. And there is zero doubt in my mind that if the roles were reversed, no quarter would be given, compunction would override protocol and the investigation would continue.

I believe that a president must be magnanimous, compassionate, and have the good of the country as paramount to his judgement. Since he does represent all of the people, an incoming president can never do wrong by being judicious, and starting off showing superlative character and forgiveness can pay dividends down the road.

But the foundation is an entirely different animal. This was a family affair, leveraged even beyond the influences of the Sec. of State. Dubious accommodations were made out side her governmental role, between the foundation and her role as probable next president.

All this seems academic since it appears Trump put the kabosh on all Clinton investigations.

Fine, one last distraction.

The Indecorous President

As echoed by every single Trump voter on this site, the gold medal of Trump winning the election was that Hillary didn’t. A collective sigh was heard through out the country, she can now go away, snuggle up to her $millions, kick Bill out to the dog house, have Huma move in, whatever she wants, just have her removed from our sight and our ears and we are all happy.

And as with presidents, a certain decorum is expected, precedent has been set and for the most part followed, at least by the Republicans. The old guy ushers in the new guy, photos are taken in the rose garden, and all work towards a smooth transition. Then, on Jan 20th, the old guy rides into the sunset, he keeps his trap shut and allows the new guy to work his way into the job. This is how it’s been done, followed, and respected, minus Bill Clinton of course. But looky here, Obama has decided to set all that in it’s head, he likes the soapbox and will not just go away;

With Ma Clinton rebuked and put away wet and the far left superstars Bernie Sanders and Lizzy Warren circling Political Jupiter somewhere, it looks like Barky will try and set himself up as the reasoned voice of the Democrats. When asked if he will be like former President George W. Bush and pledge to stay out of politics and not criticize decisions made by his successor his answer was no surprise for the guy who believed he was always the smartest in the room.

Some excerpts;

Look, I said before, President Bush could not have been more gracious to me when I came in

But being gracious has never been part of his character, so he will not follow suit.

As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country

So Bush was not an American citizen or did not care deeply for his country.

if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it is necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, I’ll examine it when it comes.”

Oblivious to the fact that Trump voters do not share his values or ideals (kinda like the whole purpose of elections since sometimes folks want a change of direction).

More of that liberal arrogance ,”I’m right, and if it takes longer than 8 years to prove it, so be it”, that or ,”Crap, Trump is going to ruin my Legacy and undo all my executive orders, I better stick around”.

But don’t weep for the Obama’s, they just bought their 5th home in about the whitest neighborhood on the planet, yea diversity.

So Why Am I Smiling On The Inside?

When Trump gets together with the MSM, watch out;

Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The Post.

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.

“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

Shameful, I know, yadda yadda yadda

“Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary lost who hosted a debate – which was Martha Raddatz who was also in the room.”

What a bully that Trump is, making fun of poor Martha, who was so distraught that her candidate lost.

Yeah, I feel sorry for these reporters, all that cheer-leading for Hillary, all for naught. Having their prejudices and biases exposed like that, getting called out for the frauds that they are, the total capitulation to anything resembling objectivity and fair reporting. Quite a night.

I’ll give the usual suspects here a few moments of pillow biting. All done? OK

The meeting was off the record, meaning the participants agreed not to talk about the substance of the conversations.

And there lies the bear trap that Trump set for these clowns. He just knew that since they don’t have an honest bone in their bodies, that the meeting would still be talked about and reported anyway, that is what they do. Notice Trump and company kept their end, keeping quiet about.

The beauty of a Trump presidency is that he knows what snakes these folks are, he knows he will never get a fair shake, that he could have zero unemployment, 5% GDP growth, balance the budget and cure cancer, and they will still lie about him, bad mouth him, and complain, boy do they like to complain.

Having cleared the air, I expect that the press will have more access to Trump than they would Hillary or Obama combined. He will hold press conferences up the wazoo, and will not bar any news agency (like Obama did) from attending and asking questions. Will he call out duplicity when he sees it? I sure hope so. He will give more freedom to the press than they have ever had before, and let them stew in their own juices the whole time.

What, You Mean I Won?

Serendipitous, that’s for sure.

Since the election several events have transpired which indicate a lack of planning or forethought, even bordering on ,”I’m The Man, wait, now I got to do what?”

First, Trump’s finances. Even on the 10% chance (generous odds, to be sure) that he would win, you would think that Trump lawyers would have had a contingency plan for a separation, something lawful that Trump could do to avoid any conflicts of interest, an appearance of muddled loyalties or a concerted effort for pecuniary enrichment. But no, it is like he started thinking about this like yesterday. Some slack is given because his position is without precedent, does not fit nicely into a box, and will require some “creative” solutions. Blind trusts mean just that, you (or your kids) can’t manipulate or manage it. This, obviously, will not work with Trump. The other day I heard some money guy on foxnews recommend that he liquidate all his holding, nonsense. Aside from the tax consequences staring at him, why should anyone become poorer or suffer in any way financially while being President? If he wants his kids to mange his business affairs, that is his choice, and since none of them will hold any official position in the administration, no conflict there. But he still will have an ancillary effect, will be in communication with his kids and they in turn have his ear. Quite a quagmire.

Then we find out that Melania wants to stay in NY, to keep Barron in his school there, and to not live in the WH, didn’t they talk about this prior to him running? Personally, I would rather live in Trump Tower as well, have you seen that place? but what a logistical nightmare for the Secret Service, and for the local police. Yesterday I read now that Trump is President, the NYPD has to keep an additional 1000 officers on duty for protection, security, and traffic control around Trump Tower, when he is in NY. What a mess. And the travel back and forth between the 2 locals. You think multi million dollar Obama vacations looked bad, wait till the taxpayers see his travel bills. Although he does have his own plane, maybe he will fit the bill.

I have said it before here, running for President (and winning) is pretty cool, a definite feather in your cap, but Trump has no idea how disappointing, frustrating and unfulfilling the actual doing of the job will be.

Melting Snowflakes.

Oh, the drama. All the sky is falling predictions, a nation of Chicken Littles running around with their hair on fire, the sourpusses and worrywarts, what is a lefty to do;

The left is trying to come to grips with its utter rejection, and its response to Donald Trump will be to fall back on an endless series of freakoutrages – hyperbolic, unhinged, hack media-fueled spasms of faux moral panic every time he dares do anything.

Appoint someone to a job? Freak out – it’s an outrage!

Go to dinner? Freak out – it’s an outrage!

Actually keep promises made to the voters? Freak out – it’s an outrage!

Funny and sad all at the same time.

But it is worse than that. NBA teams refusing to stay at Trump owned hotels (where they have always stayed), the NBA pulling the allstar game out of North Carolina because the folks their just don’t cotton to male perverts being allowed access to girls rest rooms and showers, Paris designers wanting to Boycott Melania Trump (like she really needs your rags), the first foreign born first lady, wicked smart, speaks 5 languages.

Most of the possible appointees so far I know a bit about, but whenever a name pops up and the kneejerk erectus vomitus starts with the left, the level of their outrage in directly proportional to my approval of the pick, making them howl and bark at the moon, a welcome side effect for sure.

I guess they never read the story of the boy that cried wolf, or learned from the race baiters that screamed ,”Racist”, when ever the win blew. When everything is a catastrophe, or everything is racist, nobody listened to you, you have zero credibility, go bother some one else.

Could it be that they just need a dictionary to know what words actually mean? An all black cast of a dopey play lecturing someone about diversity, I know, right? BTW, how many labor laws did they violate with their blatantly discriminating casting call of “non whites only”, but some how it is “political” so we will all look the other way.

All this carping and gnashing of teeth over possible cabinet appointees, how memories can shorten when you will it so. Let’s take a stroll down Obama Lane; Tim Geithner, Janet Napolitano, Eric Holder, Hilda Solis, Shaun Donovan, a virtual who’s who of incompetence and partisanship. But let’s all hyperventilate over Sessions or Flynn or Mattis.

I keep hoping that sanity will prevail, that after the requisite temper tantrums, a certain level of resolve and acceptance will take over, that the process is what it is, must be respected and honored.

For as ever long as this blog is viable, I will be critical (when warranted) of Trump and watch him like a hawk, but braying at shadows, won’t work, sorry.

Don’t Get Distracted

The current spat over Pence’s attendance to Hamilton is a perfect Trump distraction. In the last few days, two stories have broken that are more important.

First, Trump settled the Trump University lawsuits for $25 million. There’s no admission of guilt, which is standard for settlements.

Second, there are indications that Trump will not, in fact, put his assets in a blind trust but will enrich himself as much as possible from his presidency. Trump has said he will forgo a salary. But diplomats are lining up to get rooms at the Trump hotel. When foreigners donated money to Clinton’s Foundation to get an audience with her, we called it corruption. What do you call this?

(This is aside from some of his appointments, which have included some troubling names, to say the least.)

Let’s not get distracted by Trump’s twitter tantrums. There’s already a lot going on here. Some of it matters; some of it doesn’t. Let’s stay focused.