Thursday, March 7, 2019

Uncle Joe is gonna run


Donald Trump's worst electoral nightmare is coming to a state near you. Buzz has been crunching data with the Univac 3000, and the results are in:  Joe Biden will run for President in 2020.  Biden needs to win the Democratic nomination first, but the blue-collar, "ordinary Joe" is just the type of candidate who has the best chance of putting Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin back in the Democratic column and sending Trump back to New York City and his "friends" at the Southern District of New York's prosecutors' office.

2016 Election was not a landslide but any stretch of the imagination

The 2016 election of Donald Trump was the perfect storm that cracked the vaunted Democratic Blue Electoral wall.  Let's look at the numbers first.

Trump did not win the popular vote, in fact, he lost it by almost three million votes, 62,980,160 to 65,845,063.  With regards to the electoral vote, he narrowly won that --- 304 to 227.  (There was an unusually large number of faithless electors --- those who vote for a candidate other than the one who won their respective states.  Colin Powell got three, and John Kasich, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Faith Spotted Owl each received one vote.)  For those of you scoring at home, you need 270 to win.  Without the faithless electors, Trump still wins 306 to 238.

The election came down to Trump's narrow victories in three of the blue wall states --- Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  Those 46 electoral votes went to Trump, but without them, he loses 278 to 260.  The popular vote victories in those states were Pennsylvania (44,292), Wisconsin (22,748, and Michigan (10,704), for a total of 77,744.  The victories in these three states were powered by first-time or first-time in a long time voters who overwhelmingly voted either for Trump or against Hillary Clinton.

Changing demographics put Arizona (11 electoral votes), Georgia (16), and Texas (36) into play for the Democrats in 2020, so Trump will no only have to hold the three rust belt states he won in 2016 but will have to play defense in these three soon-to-be Purple states.

Why Joe's gonna run

Joe Biden would be President now if he ran against Trump in 2016.  He did not enter the race, primarily because of the tragic death of his son 46-year-old son Beau in 2015 from brain cancer.  It's a decision that we believe he regrets greatly. 

Biden ran for President twice before (1988 and 2008), but both times did poorly.  The difference this time started when he got the call from candidate Barack Obama in 2008 to be Obama's running mate.  This changed everything.  He was instantly transformed from an also-ran to a somebody.  His tenure as the "stand-by-your-man" Vice President only enhanced his stature.  He has been involved in politics for over 50 years, having been elected to the Senate from Delaware at just prior to his 30th birthday in 1972.  The political bug is in his blood and it will never leave him until the day he dies.

Being the political animal he is, Biden certainly sees the poll numbers.  Biden either leads or is at the top of every Democratic Presidential preference poll and leads Trump in every electoral state that is going to make the difference in 2020.  Yes, a lot of this has to do with name recognition, but Biden is not only well known, but he is very well liked, despite his propensity to make a major gaffe now and then.  Actually, his gaffe-making adds to his genuineness.

Biden also polls very well with the blue-collar workers (the Reagan Democrats) who got up off their couches and cast a vote for Trump in the crucial states.  Hillary never made a connection with these voters in 2016.  They were never enthused enough and Trump seemed like someone who felt their plight.  Biden has the same effect on these voters, albeit not as strong as Trump did in 2016, but enough to make the difference in 2020.

For these major factors, Biden will run, and why not --- he loves the political arena, and for the first time in his political career (2016 doesn't count,) he actually has a pretty clear path to the White House.  As far as the age issue, Trump will be 74 on election day 2020 and Biden turns 78 17 days after election day 2020.  Biden is in good health, and besides, they say that 70 is the new 50, so Biden is only 56 years old right now.

So Biden's options are to sit on the sidelines and rue the 2016 decision not to run or follow the political animal blood in his veins and jump back into the political arena with much more than a Don Quixote chance at becoming President.  The Univac 3000 says he's in and so do Buzz and I.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The New Normal


Impeach first, ask questions later.  If Barack Obama were still the President, the Republicans would be trying to ride him outta town on a rail if he tried to get away with a scintilla of the crap Donald Trump did.  A major part of the problem is a substantial sector of the American populace doesn't believe Trump did anything wrong.

When we look to the veracity of the two men the difference is stark.  According to the New York Times, Trump told six times as many lies in the first ten months of his administration as Obama did in his complete eight years at the helm.  Yes, we are not that naive to think that politicians don't stretch the truth, but as a good friend of mine says, "don't piss on me and tell me it's raining," and that's exactly what Trump is doing to the American people.

Truth is an absolute

The latest tally from the Washington Post has President Donald Trump at 9014 false or misleading claims over the first 773 days of his administration.  In Saturday's speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual gathering in Washington, D.C. he told 200 misleading or false claims in a two-hour speech.  Despite this, thirty-five to forty percent of the population is unmoved.  The objective truth that Trump is lying is chalked up to "fake news."

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was fond of saying, "everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts."  Apparently, in Trump's America, Trump and his supporters are entitled to their own set of facts.  It is much easier to make an argument when you start with the argument and then move to the facts than to use objective facts and tailor your argument to those facts. By contrast, it is impossible to have a constructive argument or discussion if you can't agree on the facts.

Let's turn to baseball for a quick analogy.  Here are a couple of quick, objective, and easily verifiable facts.  Outfielder Barry Bonds hit 762 home runs over the span of his 22-year baseball career and Shortstop Ozzie Smith hit 28 home runs over the span of his 19-year career.  Once we agree on the number of home runs each player hit and the positions they played, it would be foolish to argue that Smith was a better home run hitter or that Bonds was a better shortstop, however, if you believe that Smith hit 800 home runs and Bonds won 18 gold gloves at shortstop, we could argue all day long on the aforementioned propositions.

When did we lose our way

Since the solidification of the two-party system in the United States (probably the election of 1860,) the two major parties have had their disagreements on a wide array of issues.  Their positions have changed on some issues and their basis of support has changed over the years, but since the founding of the Republic, we have been a nation which knows how to compromise when it comes to getting things done.  Our Constitution is rooted in some major compromises, such as the creation of two houses of Congress, the apportionment of House seats, the separation of powers which all came about through negotiation and compromise.

This idea of compromise helped us make our way through the past 200 plus years.  We have addressed issues and come to solutions by taking two divergent points of view and forging something which wasn't always the solution that either side originally envisioned.  This was possible because parties generally agreed on the facts or at least the major facts.  Today, it seems like the problem is not coming to a compromise agreement, it is agreeing on the facts to start working to that solution.

Republicans and Democrats have almost always disagreed on how to solve a particular problem, but in most cases, they were able to distinguish fact from fiction.  They also realized that most people involved in the political process were in it because they love this country and truly want to do what they see is best for their constituents.  A lot of this changed in 1994 when Newt Gingrich grabbed hold of the soul of the Republican party, and this change was exacerbated in 2010 when the Tea Party movement began.  The final descent into the rabbit hole was the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

We need to get back on track

The only way that we will forge ahead in this great nation of ours is if we start agreeing on the facts.  We need to realize that even our political enemies may have a point now and then, and believe it or not, those same people love America just as much as you do.  Buzz and I were not big fans of George W. Bush, but we never doubted his patriotism.  And, Bush's biggest mistake was not made because he made up facts and flat out lied to us, but because he believed faulty intelligence.  20/20 hindsight is a great thing, and we can now look back at the Iraq war disaster and realize it was based on bad intelligence.

In Trump's America, the truth is not objective.  It's whatever Trump says it is.  Did Russia try to influence the 2016 Presidential election?  Nope.  The intelligence agencies say yes, but Trump says no because Vladimir Putin said Russia didn't.  Was Kim Jong Un responsible and aware of the torture of Otto Warmbier?  Experts say yes, but Trump says no because Kim Jong Un says he didn't.

We cannot continue like this. We need to accept that certain things are verifiable truths.  This is serious stuff that affects the American people.  This is not Trump padding his wealth to jump up a few spots on Forbes' list of the wealthiest people or continually using superlative adjectives that categorizes everything he does as "the biggest, the largest, the best, or the most."  We expect politicians to paint things in the most positive light, but we don't expect or deserve them to continually lie about things that any rational person sees as outright false.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The one word that explains Trump 2016 victory: Hillary


Two plus years later, Buzz and I have come to a definitive conclusion.  Donald Trump won the Presidency for one reason and one reason only --- Hillary Clinton.  Bernie Sanders or even Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, or Tim Webb (yeah the three other Democratic candidates) would be touting the title of the 45th President of the United States.

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

It took some time to realize exactly how bad of a candidate Hillary actually was.  It doesn't have anything to do with Benghazi or the missing emails.  They were made-up BS scandals that were disregarded by a vast majority of American voters, and remember, Hillary did beat Trump by over three million votes.  What it really came down to was what Hillary talked about 25 years ago --- the "vast right-wing conspiracy."  (Well maybe not vast, but persistent as all hell.)

For years and years, the GOP has been railing against Hillary Clinton.  The fact that she is not the warm and fuzzy candidate like her husband Bill made it easier for the attacks to stick.  Even good liberals had serious trouble warming up to her (hence the Feel the Bern.)  (And for those of you who believe Bernie got burned by the Democratic National Committee (DNC,) remember this, Hillary still kicked his butt in the popular primary vote and all those rules which favored Hillary had been in place for years --- they weren't changed mid-stream by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or any other nefarious DNC figure.)

Don't get us wrong, we believe Hillary would have been a very good President, certainly much better than Trump could ever be, but even Buzz and I never really warmed to her.  She would have been an overly-hard worker who wouldn't continually embarrass the office home and abroad.  She also would not have prided herself in ignorance to all things Presidential.

Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania

Trump won in 2016 because the Founding Fathers set up this crazy thing called the Electoral College, a system which gives a disproportionate advantage to smaller states.  (Electoral votes are based on Congressional representation (one vote for each member of the House and one for each Senator.)  That's kind of fair for the House numbers, but totally undemocratic for the Senate number.  The state of Wyoming gets one electoral vote for 300,000 people on the Senate side, whereas California gets one electoral vote for 20,000,000 million people.  In other words, all things being equal, the California equivalent would be about 67 Senate based electoral votes.

Because of the Electoral College set up, Trump was able to win the Presidency by getting pluralities in three states --- Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  The margin in these three states was 77,744 votes.  Trump's victory was the perfect storm of Electoral politics.  The big question is, can he repeat the perfect storm in 2020, that is if he survives until then.  Short of impeachment, Trump will win the Republican primary without any significant opposition.  A good majority of Republican voters have retreated to such a fact-free bubble that Trump could "shoot someone on 5th Avenue" and get away with it.  Their bubble is so impenetrable that only alternative facts get in.

It was highly unlikely that Trump could have pulled Electoral College magic out of his hat in 2016, but 2020 is even more unlikely.  He also has to worry about losing states like Arizona, and maybe even Texas this time around.  2018 saw major statewide wins for Democrats in 2018 in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  Pennsylvania saw its incumbent Democratic Governor win by 17 points and its incumbent Democratic Senator win by 13 points.  Michigan had a Democratic defeat a GOPer in an open seat for Governor by 10 points and incumbent Democratic Senator win by seven points.  Wisconsin saw its two-term incumbent GOP Governor lose by one point and its incumbent Democratic Senator win by 11 points.

2020 Presidential Race

The Presidential Primary season begins in about 11 months, and there are already enough Democratic candidates to field an NFL team, with a least a few more guaranteed to enter the fray.  Trump will get some opposition, but as for the reasons mentioned above, unless he's impeached, he will be the Republican nominee in 2020.  He has insulated himself so well that even in the Robert Mueller report says Trump should be indicted, only an impeachment vote by the Senate (and that would require 20 GOP Senators to join the Democrats to vote for impeachment) would derail Trump's re-election.

The other problem Trump faces in 2020 is that fact that the voters who fueled his narrow 2016 victory were either first-time voters or voters who had not voted in any recent Presidential elections.  Sure some of them will vote again, but at least half of this usually apathetic group of voters will not venture to the polls again in high enough numbers to fuel another Trump electoral win.

So as long as Hillary does not win the Democratic nomination, Trump will not be in the White House come the afternoon of January 20, 2021, and to paraphrase Gerald Ford, "our long national nightmare will be over."

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My grandmother, the "dreamer"





It was the late Spring of 1892 and my paternal grandmother celebrated her first birthday on a ship crossing the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Her parents left their native Poland to seek a new life in America.  My grandmother was a "dreamer."

One hundred and twenty-five years later, President Donald Trump has told "dreamers" that they are no longer welcome in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  (Dreamers are individuals in the U.S. who were brought to the country at an early age without documentation but have assimilated to U.S. culture and have been educated by U.S. school systems.)

DACA

President Barack Obama created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in June of 2012 after Congress failed to act,  but President Trump has decided to end DACA, ..... maybe.   DACA provided for administrative relief from deportation. It protects eligible immigrant youths who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants: 1) protection from deportation and 2) a work permit.

As of the1930 census, thirty-eight years after my grandmother's ocean journey, she was still not a citizen of the United States, but she became a productive member of US society until her death at the age of 92.  I have yet to find any documentation that she ever became a US citizen, although I believe she did sometime after 1930.

From the day the first settlers sailed up the James River and founded Jamestown in 1607, we have been a country of immigrants. Over the past 400 years, we have seen waves of immigrants seek the dreams of a new life in this great country.

Waves of immigration

The first wave was in the late 18th Century and early 19th.  These immigrants came primarily from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany.  The second wave of immigrants came from the 1820s to the 1860s.  These immigrants also came from European countries, primarily Germany, England, and Ireland.  The third wave from 1880 to 1914 were primarily from Eastern European countries, although the Western states saw a flood of immigrants from Asian countries.  The fourth wave, beginning in 1965 and continuing to present day is primarily from Hispanic countries and Asian countries.

The vast majority of these new immigrants became productive members of our melting pot of a society.  There are those who can only point to the bad acts of a very small minority of immigrants as one of their rationales on severely restricting immigration.  To the contrary of the sometimes hyperbolic rhetoric of the anti-immigration folks,  most major studies have shown a negative correlation between the percentage of non-documented immigrant population and crime rates.

Perhaps the wisdom of songwriter George Jackson provides some simple wisdom to the flawed argument of anti-immigrant enthusiasts.  "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch."

Huddled masses

The United States, at least a majority,  have lived up to the words of the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"  

Unfortunately, a sometimes vocal majority have believed and still believe that those immortal words only applied to them and not to those who came after.  They believe and believed the "golden door" should be slammed shut to prevent the "huddled masses" from over running "their" country.  Few beliefs fly more directly into the face of the beliefs that make our country the last refuge of those "yearning to breathe free."

DACA exemplifies the beliefs that make our country what it is.  It is consistent with the beliefs that allowed our nation to flourish and become one of the greatest nations the world has ever seen.  It helped create a country that is the freest society in the world.  It has not been an easy road, because some vocal minorities have thrown roadblocks in the way.

The Know Nothings

Our history is rife with anti-immigrant sentiment, but a particular example from the 19th Century may help us with the way forward.  In the late 1840s and early1850s, a political movement started known as the "Native American" party or just the "American" party, but most commonly know as the "Know Nothing" party.  (The nickname "Know Nothing" party came about because members of the "American Party" would claim to "know nothing" when asked about their political activities.

The Know Nothings were alarmed by an influx of immigration from Europe.  Many of the new immigrants were Roman Catholics, and this did not sit well with the predominant Protestant population.  The party reached its peak in the 1856 election when former President Millard Fillmore garnered 21.5 percent of the national Presidential vote as the standard bearer of the Know Nothing Party.  He ran on a nativist/anti-immigrant platform.

In 1855, a little known Illinois politician and future President Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend:

"I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.' When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

Fortunately for us all, the thoughts of Lincoln won the day, and have won the day for most of the 162 years that have passed since Lincoln wrote to his friend Joshua Speed.  Those same thoughts won the day when my grandmother, the dreamer, came to this country, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

We can only hope that the modern day Know Nothings join their 19th Century Know Nothings on the ash heap of history.



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mayor Jim Haggerty announces for Magistrate

Kingston Mayor Jim Haggerty

Kingston Mayor Jim Haggerty today announced that he is a candidate for election to the office of District Judge in court 11-1-05, which serves Kingston and Edwardsville. This seat became vacant upon the retirement earlier this year of District Judge Paul Roberts, who served with distinction for twenty-nine years.
“I look forward to bringing my two decades of community involvement as mayor to the office of District Judge, along with my nearly twenty-seven years of legal experience,” said Haggerty. “I believe that my experience, qualifications, education, and background make me the best-qualified candidate to serve the citizens of Kingston and Edwardsville in this important position.”
Haggerty has served as Mayor of Kingston since 1998, having been elected to five consecutive terms. At a time when local municipalities have struggled with failing budgets and massive tax increases, Haggerty has guided Kingston to financial success with an investment grade double A level Standard and Poor’s credit rating, a lower earned income tax, obtaining over $11.5 million in grants, and fully funding all municipal pension plans. He has also successfully led important community investments and improvements including a $2.5 million reconstruction of the Hoyt Library, design and construction of the $3.4 million central fire station, a $1.5 million upgrade to the Kingston Pool, and over $7.5 million in street improvements. Kingston has also been designated a Tree City USA for twenty consecutive years.
“I have done my best to serve with integrity, a steady hand, and a respect for all of our citizens,” said Haggerty. “I will bring these same important qualities to the position of District Judge.”
Haggerty is a 1983 graduate of Wyoming Valley West, ranking first in his class of 435 students. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) on a U.S. Army ROTC scholarship, graduating with a B.S. in Management Science in 1987. He was awarded his law degree, with distinction, from Georgetown Law School in 1990.
Haggerty has been in the private practice of law for nearly twenty-seven years, the last twenty-two years with his office in Kingston. His practice focuses on helping hard-working families in Luzerne County navigate the legal system. “Although I am a hometown attorney, I have appeared before over fifty magistrates and over forty Common Pleas judges. I have appeared in state and federal courts in over twenty-five counties in four states, and I have handled almost every sort of matter a lawyer can handle. I know how an effective judge runs an effective courtroom, and I will use that knowledge for the benefit of the citizens of Kingston and Edwardsville.”
Haggerty grew up in Kingston, the son of the late James and Judy Haggerty. He later served as a Lieutenant and tank platoon leader in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He was a First Honor Graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, KY. He is also a graduate of the Airborne Course at Fort Bragg, NC.

“My military experience taught me the importance of preparation, determination, and teamwork. And after getting pushed out of a moving airplane five times by a Green Beret jumpmaster, I am definitely prepared for any challenge.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Alternative Facts

Brooklyn Bridge courtesy of Wikipedia
President Trump says three to five million people voted illegally in the 2016 Presidential election.  This explains his 2.8 million vote loss of the popular vote, and now he's launching a "major investigation" into voter fraud.  For those of you who believe this "major investigation" will bear fruit, Buzz is getting out his deed to the Brooklyn Bridge.  He picked it up cheap a few years ago, and he says he's willing to sell it at a loss.

After raising this issue in a tweet late last year, the President, on his own accord, repeated this allegation when meeting with Congressional leaders on Monday.  Perhaps the President misspoke on Monday, so we all waited for the Baghdad Bob of the administration to set us straight at his Tuesday Press Briefing.

Here's what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

“The president does believe that. He has stated that before. I think he’s stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign,” Spicer said. “He continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.”

When pressed further, Spicer cited some studies which have been thoroughly debunked.  According to FactCheck.org, one of the studies cited (Old Dominion University) has even been debunked by its authors, who said their "extrapolation to specific state-level or district-level election outcomes is fraught with substantial uncertainty." 

Now, this morning, the President has announced he will continue "tilting at windmills" with a "major investigation" into voter fraud.

Perhaps the President bases his conclusion on those "alternative facts" to which Kellyanne Conway referred to on Sunday's "Meet the Press."  

This is a major problem.  The late New York Senator Patrick Moynihan famously said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  If we cannot agree on the facts, we cannot engage in any useful discussion.

Many supporters of the President will believe almost anything he says, and this is unfortunate.  The tall tales of his campaign are proof of this.  The problem arises when everyone else, including some members of his own party, question the President's veracity.

Senator Lyndsey Graham (R-SC)  said.  "To continue to suggest that the 2016 election was conducted in a fashion that millions of people voted illegally undermines faith in our democracy,  It's not coming from a candidate for the office, it's coming from the man who holds the office. So I am begging the president, share with us the information you have about this or please stop saying it."

Some will dismiss Senator Graham as not a true believer in the Trump Revolution, but you cannot dismiss everyone who criticizes you because eventually you will alienate many people you need.  The Republicans only have a 52-48 majority in the Senate, so Trump can't afford to lose but a few Republican Senators.

Facts DO matter.  They are not debatable.  White is white.  Black is black.  Up is up and down is down.  It is the duty and obligation of a free press to call "bullshit" when the President or any elected figure plays fast and loose with the facts.  It is also the duty and obligation of Republicans to call the President out when he uses "alternative facts," even if those alternative facts further the party line.

Let's hope that the next four years is not a 24/7 "Bullshit" call.  

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bright Shiny Objects


Courtesy of Catster.com
Buzz has a cat named Mnuchin, pronounced Munchkin, like the little characters from the Wizard of Oz, but spelled like Donald Trump's new Secretary of Treasury nominee, Steve Mnuchin.  

When Buzz is not crunching numbers on the Univac 3000, he's playing with Mnuchin, either using his red laser pointer or using some other bright shiny object to get Mnuchin to run around the room chasing the distraction.

While Buzz was getting Mnuchin to climb the walls, it reminded me how Trump has played the press and the American public with "bright shiny objects."  Whenever the press cycle has moved away from him, or more importantly, has moved to scrutinize one of his many questionable statements or positions, Trump gets out his laser pointer -- an off-the-wall tweet.

Conflicts of Interest

The perfect example is when the New York Times published a lengthy article about Trump's plethora of business interests throughout the world, many of which raise troubling conflicts of interest with being President.

The Times reported, among other things, as we all know, Trump has repeatedly said he is under audit from the Internal Revenue Service.   The IRS will be under direct supervision of the Trump administration.  The Trump International Hotel has a contract with the General Services Administration, whose operation again will be under the direct supervision of the Trump Administration.  Deutsche Bank is in negotiations with the Attorney General's office over mortgage abuses, which may result in a $14 billion penalty. Trump owes millions of dollars to Deutsche Bank.  The list goes on and on.

Richard Nixon on the law

Trump initially responded to the conflicts by taking a page from the book of Richard Nixon stating basically "when the President does it, that means it is not illegal."  He has since told us that he will hold a news conference sometime in mid-December with his children, where he will address the issue, but not before he tweeted about flag burning.

Flag Burning

"Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag -- if they do there must be consequences -- perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail," Trump tweeted.

Despite the fact that the issue of criminal punishment for flag burning was settled by the United States Supreme Court in 1989 (Texas v. Johnson) and in the subsequent failed attempt to pass a Constitutional amendment, the question is still a third rail issue.  The Supreme Court decision, joined by conservatives the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, held that flag burning was constitutionally protected free speech, and the proposed Constitutional Amendment didn't make it out of Congress.

For the next day or so, no one was talking about the conflicts of interest.  The buzz was over Trump's flag burning tweet.

In fact Buzz just received an email from the American Legion reviving the Constitutional Amendment prohibiting flag burning.  As of the time of posting, 83 percent supported an amendment in the American Legion survey.

So the bright shiny object worked again.  The conflict of interest story was pushed to the back burner.  This wasn't the first time we chased Trump's bright shiny object, and Buzz and I are afraid it won't be the last.