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For the past few days, news of New York State’s coronavirus crisis has been updated daily by the BBC.

But do they have a crisis or not?

Does the United States have a coronavirus crisis?

American lawyer Robert Barnes has crunched the numbers and found them wanting:

In New York, it appears that things are relatively normal (see second tweet):

Is it worth tanking the economy for this pandemic?

Why aren’t we in a similar panic over other deaths?

Bubonic plague, thought to have died out centuries ago, is making a resurgence in California. Now THAT’s something to worry about:

The restrictions on personal and civil liberties will be problematic, mark my words.

Thank goodness that President Trump can see this:

Even so, there will be damage:

People will not look favourably on the panic created by politicians and the media over coronavirus:

They will begin to suspect something else is going on:

What about the flu season? Compare those tens of thousands of annual deaths with coronavirus:

Agree. It is pretty stupid to cripple Western economies for coronavirus.

Finally, though, people are questioning authority. Thank you.

By the time the coronavirus hysteria is over, there will be even less public trust of politicians or the media than there was before this started.

Good. May they be held accountable for frightening the public into submission.

Until the early hours of November 9, 2016, I used to ponder my notion of an ideal American president.

In a nutshell, he would do all the things the middle and working classes needed for the United States to thrive once again.

He would confound high-brow economists who said, ‘[Effective economic solution] cannot be done.’

Fortunately, the United States has had that great man — my ideal — in President Donald Trump since January 22, 2017.

President Trump has accomplished what egg-headed experts — the brightest minds in the world — deemed ‘impossible’.

His accomplishments are too many to list here, but here’s a summary:

One of my readers, Daughn, had this to say about the president’s appeal on another site (emphases mine):

All the guys who were the academics, the ones who went to Harvard Biz/Yale Law, couldn’t deliver 3% GDP in the past decade.

And moms and dads paid for their mistakes. Red states were hollowed out. Our factories = gone. Homes = foreclosed.

It left America vulnerable, and it’s THEIR fault.

Chickens home to roost.

Even worse……

All the guys at Brookings/Council on Foreign Relations screwed up in the Middle East, couldn’t win a damn war in Afghanistan with trillions of dollars to spend and 20 yrs to do it.

And moms and dads in red states buried their sons and daughters.

Trump paid attention to the electricians, the guys who drive the trucks, the women who cut hair for a living….. they’re a whole lot smarter than those who were supposed to be leading the country.

The establishment of both parties has failed.

That’s an excellent summary, explaining why the much maligned president has been gaining ground since 2017.

Could we call him the People’s President? I think so.

With the coronavirus situation, President Trump has suspended his rallies for the time being. That does not mean we will not be seeing him out and about, though.

On Thursday, March 5, Fox News invited him to take part in a Town Hall forum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Joe Biden’s birthplace.

It was the most watched cable news show in history (i.e. going back to the late 1970s):

Dr Dawn Michael makes an excellent point. Dems must have been watching, otherwise the figures would not have been as high.

Martha McCallum and Bret Baier presented the Town Hall, available here in full. What an exceptional 57 minutes — well worth watching:

I’m not alone in my opinion. This lady analyses election data. She has done sterling work so far in 2020. Here is what she had to say about the Town Hall:

The president was very conversational in his answers but didn’t miss a beat:

I don’t know who chose Scranton — Trump’s campaign team or Fox News — but it was perfect:

Those who do not have time to watch the show in full might enjoy viewing the highlights:

The president enjoyed the evening as much as the audience did:

Then it was back to the White House:

I am so grateful that I have my ideal president — the People’s President — during my lifetime.

Tens of millions of Americans would agree.

I will have more on the 2020 campaign soon.

In the meantime: MAGA!

Betty and Jorge Rivas have been Trump supporters since 2016.

They live in Tucson and own Sammy’s Mexican Grill.

On February 19, 2020, they attended President Trump’s rally in nearby Phoenix.

Someone spotted Mrs Rivas in the audience. Since then, their Facebook page has been littered with negative reviews.

On March 1, Fox Business reported:

That hurt business for several days, co-owner Jorge Rivas told “FOX & Friends” Sunday, but he said Saturday was a “very good day” for sales.

President Trump tweeted his support for the couple. He meant to say Tucson:

Even though business is booming, supporters of Sammy’s Mexican Grill, in the Catalina district of Tucson, are planning a lunch gathering on Saturday, March 7. If I lived there, I would definitely go. The address is in the second tweet, along with the organiser’s phone number. It’s probably a good idea to give him a call before showing up. He might be making reservations:

I like that law enforcement always eats free of charge. Excellent.

The Fox Business article said that Mr and Mrs Rivas received abuse by telephone in 2016, when then-candidate Trump invited Mrs Rivas on stage:

It’s not Trump’s first interaction with the restaurant owners. During a 2016 campaign rally, Trump called Betty Rivas onto the stage as she held a “Latinos for Trump” sign.

She said at the time that she took criticism then, too …

Nonetheless, a photo of Rivas and Trump has hung on a wall in the restaurant since then.

Here’s the life-size cut out of President Trump. Jorge Rivas explains what happened after the Phoenix rally. His wife adds a message in Spanish:

He had more to say about his unwavering support for the president and how happy he is to be an American. He also believes that a strong America is essential for the next generation. He and his wife have two sons:

Well, even if you can’t make lunch on Saturday, please remember Sammy’s next time you are in the Tucson area.

I wish the Rivases continued success with their business and in their family life.

In closing, I do not understand how the Left’s harassment of their political ‘opponents’ — i.e. normal people — is going to get said opponents on their side. Do they think the Rivases are just going to say one day, ‘Yeah, all the abuse was worth it. We’ll be voting Dem from now on’?

What a nonsensical ‘strategy’ unhinged leftists have.

CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference — was held during the last few days of February 2020 at the National Harbor resort just outside of Washington, DC.

The American Conservative Union has hosted the event every year since 1974.

CPAC is particularly useful not only as an event with speeches and panel discussions but also as a bellwether to gauge conservative trends and, in years such as this one, political candidates’ viability for the presidency.

Interestingly, CPAC 2016 did not turn out well for then-candidate Donald Trump. Not only did he not attend, his name was not even mentioned. The straw poll conducted that year put Ted Cruz on top of the preferred candidates’ list, with Marco Rubio in second place.

Since he has been president, Trump has addressed the conference every year since 2017.

CPAC isn’t just about well-dressed Republicans. It gets its share of less conventional conservatives, too.

The New York Post featured a report complete with photos on February 29, which said (emphases mine):

In the cavernous convention center, Trump superfans in 10-gallon hats mingled with student rabble-rousers and an army of wonks from the swamp’s countless conservative think tanks.

“What brings me here is my love of America and my inspiration and enthusiasm for President Trump,” declared a strapping 6-foot drag queen who identified herself only as Lady Maga. “I would like to defy the narratives that all conservatives and Trump supporters are bigoted, homophobic people.”

There was also a 12-year-old boy who was allowed to cover along with journalists:

Joining journos once again in the media filing center were 12-year-old Phoenix Legg and his chauffeur/dad, Matt. Now on his fourth CPAC, Legg was in town after hitting a prayer breakfast in South Carolina. As in years past, he was decked in his trademark gray suit and matching fedora.

“I like giving the news through the eyes of a kid and since I’m a kid sometimes people are more willing to talk to me,” said Legg, who has become a mini-legend with the confab’s crowd.

Now and again, CPAC withdraws certain invitations, i.e. one for Mitt Romney. This is because the senator from Utah voted to remove President Trump from office during the Senate impeachment trial. His name was also booed during the conference:

Not surprisingly, Ivanka Trump was among the speakers. As Chair of the American Conservative Union, Matt Schlapp organises the event:

Virginia resident and mega-MAGA Trump supporter Scott Presler made his debut. He was thrilled to bits:

His parents were in the audience:

Scott enjoys meeting people, especially fellow conservatives:

He has also run neighbourhood clean-up campaigns in Baltimore and San Francisco. Residents of Baltimore really appreciated his and his volunteers’ efforts. Unfortunately, it was quite the opposite in San Francisco. Nonetheless, he met someone who saw the abuse he took from rabid leftists and decided to leave the Democrats behind:

CPAC is attracting increasing numbers of minority attendees and speakers.

The New England Patriots’ Benjamin Watson, a married father of seven, spoke about the importance of family (watch his speech in full):

He also showed a preview of his forthcoming documentary, Divided Hearts of America, which is about abortion, and signed copies of his books:

Townhall journalist Julio Rosas seemed to be everywhere at CPAC:

What a great place to spend one’s birthday:

Scott Presler was on his panel:

Brandon Straka, the ex-Democrat who founded the #WalkAway movement, spoke:

He made more new friends …

… and met up with people he already knew:

He also gave interviews:

John James, who is running for the US Senate in Michigan, made a forceful speech about American opportunity:

Louisiana’s US Senator Steve Scalise, hospitalised for months after a horrific attack by a rabid leftist in 2017, spoke about American healthcare:

Vice President Mike Pence spoke:

But, as expected, President Trump stole the show:

He spoke about Mitt Romney (this was where the boos came in) and successful anti-terror operations in Iran:

He talked about the new deal he made with Afghanistan to end America’s longest running war.

He took verbal swipes at the media and New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer:

He then had a go at the Democrat presidential candidates:

Greta Thunberg didn’t escape his notice, either:

He closed on a serious note, however, and received a standing ovation:

Contrary to 2016, this year I am thrilled about President Trump’s prospects. It’s not over until it’s over, of course, but his campaign manager Brad Parscale is as close to perfect as is humanly possible in his field. Here he is with Lara Trump (Eric’s wife):

I wish the president and his campaign team every success.

The 2020 Nevada caucus took place on Saturday, February 22.

The results were clear for President Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Republican caucus

On Friday, February 21, President Trump ended a whirlwind tour of Western states with a noonday rally in Las Vegas:

Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale has been tabulating the demographic make-up of those attending the president’s 2020 rallies. These were the results for the Nevada rally, attendance at which was not limited to Nevada residents. Out of state Trump supporters also attended:

The next day, the result was overwhelming for the incumbent:

According to these tweets, Parscale will continue to examine and target Nevada’s demographics in the run-up to November:

Democrat caucus

Bernie Sanders’s victory brought out naysayers on the Left, two of whom suggested that their much-despised — by them — incumbent would be a better choice than the socialist from Vermont. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said, ‘Perhaps Trump would be better’:

Let’s remind ourselves that President Trump is not a natural Republican:

But, I digress.

Sanders’s win was declared on Saturday evening, when it was still a projection:

As with the Iowa caucus, final results emerged two days later, because of the same issues that beset the Democrats in Iowa:

Sanders won 40.5% of the final (second round) Nevada caucus votes, with Joe Biden on 18.9% and Pete Buttigieg on 17.3%. Bernie walked away with 24 Nevada delegates, Biden nine and Buttigieg three.

Former Democrat US Senator Harry Reid now thinks the state should have a primary rather than a caucus:

Interestingly, before the caucus, Reid said he would not endorse the winner:

Another interesting development was a drop in the number of minorities taking part:

Is Sanders a viable candidate?

It’s hard to say at the moment whether Bernie Sanders is a viable candidate in the long run.

The United States has 47 primaries to follow. (The New Hampshire primary was held after the Iowa caucus.) Super Tuesday, when a number of states will conduct their primaries on March 3, should prove decisive for Democrats who are struggling to secure delegates. One-third of delegates will be in play that day.

Sanders wasted no time after his time in Nevada to push forward his admiration of socialism, namely that of Fidel Castro.

Obama, along with other prominent Democrats, has condemned Sanders’s brand of left-wing politics. This is somewhat hypocritical.

Remember this?

Their condemnation comes because Sanders’s vision for America is theirs, but, contrary to him, they want to progress more slowly, e.g. according to the boiling frog analogy. They want Americans to sleepwalk into it, by which time it would be too late to extract themselves from it.

Sanders is unlikely to win many delegates in South Carolina (seen to be Biden country) or Florida (resolutely anti-Castro). However, more urban- and university-focussed states could see him continue his success.

As President Trump said on Sunday, February 23:

Well, I think it was a great win for Bernie Sanders. We’ll see how it all turns out. They’ve got a lot of winning to do. I hope they treat him fairly. Frankly, I don’t care who I run against. I just hope they treat him fairly. I hope it’s not going to be a rigged deal because there’s a lot of bad things going on. And I hope it’s not going to be one of those. So we’ll see what happens.

But I congratulate Bernie Sanders. And if it’s going to be him, he certainly has a substantial lead. We’ll see what happens.

Indeed. The Democratic National Convention this summer will be telling. Will Sanders be denied once again, as he was in 2016?

The Iowa caucuses, both Republican and Democrat, took place on Monday, February 3, 2020.

They truly were a tale of two parties.

The Iowa caucus is the first presidential candidate — and delegate — selection during a general election year in the US.

On the eve of the Nevada caucus on Saturday, February 22, it’s worth revisiting.

Republican caucus

Not all of the Republican Iowa caucuses have gone smoothly in recent years.

This year’s did, and so did 2008‘s.

However, 2012‘s was very tight between Rick Santorum who finished narrowly in first place with 24.6% of the vote and Mitt Romney, in second with a nail-biting 24.5%.

In 2016, Ted Cruz was still at the top of his game, finishing first with 27.6%, and Donald Trump in second on 24.3%. Yet, that was the year that Cruz’s campaign workers spread false rumours to Ben Carson’s supporters that the good doctor had dropped out of the race. A lie! However, Carson’s paltry 9.7% ensured that he did drop out soon afterwards. Terrible!

That was how Donald Trump was able to attach the word ‘Lying’ to ‘Ted’ in a tweet with photos of both their wives. The Telegraph has more on the story.

Trump never let up on Cruz, either. Cruz folded in tears a couple of months later. Marco Rubio dropped out a day or two later, leaving candidate Trump the last man standing.

This year, Trump, the incumbent, had two minor rivals and ‘other’. William ‘Bill’ Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, garnered 1.3% of the vote and one delegate. Joe Walsh, a former Congressman for Illinois, came in third place with 1.1% of the vote and no delegates.

President Trump received 31,464 votes and 39 delegates.

There was a record turnout for an incumbent president, breaking Obama’s record of 25,000:

It was like a mini-rally in places:

Democrat caucus

The Democrat caucus resulted in confusion, much like 2016’s.

The 2016 caucus was held on February 1 that year. The Des Moines Register asked, ‘Iowa’s nightmare revisited: Was correct winner called?’

‘Nightmare revisited’ refers to the Republican result in 2012. As the newspaper reported in 2016:

This time it’s the Democrats, not the Republicans.

Four years ago, the top Democrat candidates were Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (emphases mine):

Even as Hillary Clinton trumpeted her Iowa win in New Hampshire on Tuesday, aides for Bernie Sanders said the eyelash-thin margin raised questions and called for a review. The chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party rejected that notion, saying the results are final

At 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire announced that Clinton had eked out a slim victory, based on results from 1,682 of 1,683 precincts.

Voters from the final missing Democratic precinct tracked down party officials Tuesday morning to report their results. Sanders won that precinct, Des Moines precinct No. 42, by two delegate equivalents over Clinton.

The Iowa Democratic Party said the updated final tally of delegate equivalents for all the precincts statewide was:

Clinton: 700.59

Sanders: 696.82.

That’s a 3.77-count margin between Clinton, the powerful establishment favorite who early on in the Democratic race was expected to win in a virtual coronation, and Sanders, a democratic socialist who few in Iowa knew much about a year ago.

Incredible.

In 2020, the result was also contested. Bernie Sanders came in a very close second to Pete Buttigieg:

– Bernie won the popular vote: 45,831 to 43,273, or 26.5% to 25.1%;

State delegate equivalents were as close as they were four years previously. Mayor Pete ended up with 563.2 and Bernie with 563.1.

Good grief.

Turnout was also low:

So, why, then, was it so difficult for the media to get the results?

This is what happened at CNN:

Bernie, understandably, was not best pleased as Buttigieg announced victory:

Two theories abound as to what happened this year.

One blames the fiasco on a new app that the Democrats were using. Another pins it on incompetence.

Here is a good summary of both:

The new app

Those who blame it on the new app point out that some high-profile people working on the campaign of Mayor Pete — dubbed Mayor Cheat after the caucus — knew the developers:

Questions also arose over ACRONYM:

Here’s more on that:

Shadow’s app looks as if it is/was set to be used in Nevada, too:

One hopes the bugs get ironed out by tomorrow, the 22nd, otherwise, it could look like another case of:

Incompetence

A week later, Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi wrote an excellent article about what he saw: ‘The Iowa Caucus Was Waterloo for Democrats’.

If you enjoy politics, you’ll want to read about his experience and about the Democrats he met on and before February 3.

Taibbi discounts the app as having been a factor in the caucus vote meltdown. He adopts the British philosophy of ‘cock-up before conspiracy’.

Excerpts follow.

There were problems with unauthorised precinct captains. The night before the caucus:

a 36-year-old Minnesotan named Chris Storey called a number he’d been given, for a woman who was chair of the Waukee 4 district. Thanks to a new rule allowing out-of-state volunteers to be precinct captains, he was set to represent the Sanders campaign there.

“We got along, it was great,” he recalls. “She told me she was looking forward to seeing me the next day.”

The next day, caucus day, Storey showed up at Shuler Elementary School in Clive, Iowa. The same official he’d spoken with the night before met him at the door. “It was like two different people,” he recalls. “I was told there was a written directive from the county chair that nonresidents could not be precinct captains.”

Sanders had to get a last-minute replacement captain in Waukee 4, someone not formally aligned with the campaign. He fell short of viability there by five votes. County chair Bryce Smith, who made the decision, said he was responding to a late directive from the Iowa Democratic Party that said they would allow one nonresident captain per campaign, per precinct, but “the discretion of the chair is what goes,” i.e., this ultimately was a judgment call for county chairs. Smith said he didn’t like the change to the long-standing rule — “What’s stopping a campaign from hiring professional persuaders and high-profile people?” he asked — and decided to bar nonresident captains. The IDP has not yet commented.

As a result, some would-be captains from multiple different campaigns in Dallas County were pulled off the job (Smith said he got “five, six, eight” calls to complain). Meanwhile, in other districts, nonresident captains were common

There were other issues:

Caucus participants later in the week would offer an eyebrow-raising number of other issues: bad head counts, misreported results, misreads of rules, wrong numbers, telecommunications errors, and other problems.

Taibbi says this should have been a straightforward caucus:

The basics of the caucus aren’t hard. You enter a building that is poorly ventilated, too small, and surrounded by mud puddles — usually a school gym. You join other people who plan on voting your way, gathering around the “precinct captain” for your candidate. If your pile of people comprises 15% of the room or more on the first count, your candidate is deemed “viable” and you must stay in that group. If your group doesn’t reach 15%, you must move to a new group or declare yourself undecided. There is a second count, and it should be done.

The caucus results, such as they were, continued to cause confusion the rest of the week:

What happened over the five days after the caucus was a mind-boggling display of fecklessness and ineptitude. Delay after inexplicable delay halted the process, to the point where it began to feel like the caucus had not really taken place. Results were released in chunks, turning what should have been a single news story into many, often with Buttigieg “in the lead.”

He explains that, although it looked as if Sanders actually won on paper, there was cause to call the win for Buttigieg:

Though Sanders won the popular vote by a fair margin, both in terms of initial preference (6,000 votes) and final preference (2,000), for most of the week Mayor Pete’s lead with “state delegate equivalents” — the number used to calculate how many national delegates are sent to the Democratic convention — made him the technical winner in the eyes of most. By the end of the week, however, Sanders had regained so much ground, to within 1.5 state delegate equivalents, that news organizations like the AP were despairing at calling a winner. 

This wasn’t necessarily incorrect. The awarding of delegates in a state like Iowa is inherently somewhat random. If there’s a tie in votes in a district awarding five delegates, a preposterous system of coin flips is used to break the odd number. The geographical calculation for state delegate equivalents is also uneven, weighted toward the rural. A wide popular-vote winner can surely lose.

Returning to the aforementioned Chris Storey from Minnesota, who was ultimately turned down as precinct chairman:

Is it incompetence or corruption? That’s the big question,” asked Storey. “I’m not sure it matters. It could be both.”

Conclusion

Whatever went wrong with the Democrat caucus, President Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale had this to say:

Democrats should hope for a more carefully conducted caucus in Nevada on Saturday.

Super Bowl LIV (54, in new money) took place on Candlemas, February 2, 2020.

It is hard to imagine any half-time display less worthy of a Sunday, let alone on an important feast day in the Church.

February 2 is also Groundhog Day, and that found its rightful place in the advertising.

Half-time show

Not being an American football fan, I did not watch any of it but saw tweets about the half-time show the next day. You’ll have to click on the link to see the content.

Was this family viewing?

Jeb! liked it, though:

Yes, it does sound creepy. Quite something for a convert to Catholicism and a Fourth Degree in the Knights of Columbus.

The self-described ‘Follower of Christ’, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) also enjoyed it. He gave the half-time show an A+:

The SGT Report wrote about child grooming on February 7, mentioning the half-time show. This excerpt begins after the introductory section about a mother who posed online as an 11-year-old (emphases mine):

This is the new face of how predators are grooming young girls (and boys) to be trafficked, molested and raped. However, it starts much earlier, with a culture that has brainwashed itself into believing that sexual freedom amounts to a Super Bowl half-time show in which barely-clad women spend 20 minutes twerking, gyrating (some of it on a stripper pole) and showing off sexually provocative dance moves.

This is part and parcel of the pornification of American culture

Pop culture and porn culture have become part of the same seamless continuum,” explains theatre historian and University of Illinois professor Mardia Bishop. “As these images become pervasive in popular culture, they become normalized… and… accepted.”

This foray into porn culture—the increasing acceptability and pervasiveness of sexualized imagery in mainstream media—is where pop culture takes a dark turn. “Visual images and narratives of music videos clearly have more potential to form attitudes, values, or perceptions of social reality than does the music alone,” notes author Douglas A. Gentile in his book Media Violence and Children. In fact, music videos are among the worst culprits constantly bombarding young people today with sexual images and references.

Screen time has become the primary culprit for the oversexualization of young people.

Danger, Will Robinson, danger.

Mar a Lago party

President and Mrs Trump held a large private Super Bowl party at Mar a Lago in Palm Beach.

It looks as if they were filing in to the dining room during the half-time show. Actor Terrence K Williams was with them. Good for him:

The US president gave a pre-game show interview to Sean Hannity. This was before his third State of the Union address and his impeachment acquittal:

Advertising

The Super Bowl is the advertising world’s biggest day of the year.

Some American viewers are just as interested in the adverts as they are in the game, if not more so.

However, some advertising themes are more worthy than others:

That day, Ad Week posted ‘The 10 Best Super Bowl Ads of 2020’. They chose ads in reverse order for Porsche, Tide, Microsoft, Mtn Dew Zero Sugar, Snickers, Hyundai Sonata, Amazon Alexa, Google AI (artificial intelligence) and Jeep.

What, no Budweiser? Well, the iconic Clydesdales were nowhere to be seen — at least not this year.

Jeep won the top spot, in Ad Week‘s estimation. Those responding to Jeep in the tweet below also raved about it. I found it rather frustrating to watch. Then again, I never liked Groundhog Day:

Although this next video on Super Bowl LIV advertising is just under 20 minutes long, the two presenters from The Corbett Report offer an amusing, yet sound, critique of three adverts, which one of them chose to analyse:

The three adverts chosen have one running theme: artificial intelligence.

The first ad they played was Budweiser’s. It was poorly put together. This is because most of the advert shows an Alexa-type device in a young man’s flat. Where’s the brew, you might ask? Nowhere. Or maybe a bottle showed up briefly at the end. I don’t recall. (That is what makes it a bad ad.) This is a safety announcement about drinking responsibly. The Budweiser logo shows up only at the end.

The next advert the men looked at was the one Ad Week rated second (see above): Google’s. A man went through old photographs of his late wife Loretta and spoke to Google, narrating a caption for each photo. Each of his phrases began with the word ‘remember’. The helpful electronic Google assistant confirmed that it was logging all his captions.

The two presenters rightly pointed out that people were unwittingly posting their life stories to the cloud. How would Google use those data? How many thousands or millions of lives would be logged for Google’s use? Food for thought.

The third ad was for Verizon. It showed clips of first responders in emergency situations. Verizon’s superior network capabilities help them get to the scenes of accidents and fires that much quicker. What’s not to like, right? Yet, as The Corbett Report presenters said, pandering to the public’s emotions is a very slick and underhanded way of getting people to accept and rely on artificial intelligence.

So, we have Alexa monitoring one’s drink levels, Google ‘helping’ with memory problems and Verizon’s GPS (tracking) capabilities.

Danger, Will Robinson, danger.

Next week: How Cannes Lions ad winners shape your worldview

On Friday, January 24, 2020, the thousands gathering for the annual March for Life witnessed an historic event, an address to them in person by a US president.

Donald Trump delivered a brief address to the 47th March for Life in Washington, DC. None of his predecessors have ever done that:

Here he is, arriving on stage. These short videos are worth watching:

Here are a few highlights from his speech:

Read more in the transcript of his speech.

Donald Trump is the greatest pro-life president ever:

Some say he is America’s most important Christian voice:

Even the Vatican took notice:

The March for Life receives very little news coverage from the mainstream outlets. This is a great time-lapse photography video of the march taking place:

The designated thoroughfares were full of pro-life supporters:

Here are the lucky thousands closest to the stage:

So many Americans are grateful for the gift of their own lives. Adoption is very important:

However, the media would prefer that you not see that. This is their line on the unborn:

Wrong:

In the 1980s, President Reagan made an excellent point:

It is most encouraging to see the March for Life go from strength to strength, especially among younger Americans.

It was also great to see President Trump appear before them to speak. He is the only president with enough mettle so to do.

May God continue to bless everyone involved in the March for Life.

May He also continue to bless President Trump, who has faced four years of relentless opposition, impeachment being the latest.

One year after President Trump put more stringent immigration controls in place along the southern US border, the number of migrants has been dropping.

On January 6, 2020, Issues & Insights (I&I) reported (emphases mine):

Last week, 18 people crossed the border illegally into Arizona hoping they could exploit a loophole in U.S. asylum policy to stay in the country. Instead, they found themselves shipped back to Mexico while their asylum claims are reviewed

The 18 migrants were sent back to Mexico thanks to a policy President Donald Trump implemented that goes by the official name of “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), but more colloquially known as “Remain in Mexico.” First adopted a year ago, the administration has been working with Mexico to steadily expand it. The Nogales port of entry south of Tucson, Arizona, where the 18 were sent, is the site seventh to be included.

Before this policy went into effect, illegal immigrant families knew that if they crossed the border and claimed asylum, they’d effectively get a free pass. Immigration officials would release them into the U.S. within 20 days, on the promise that they would show up for their court date months in the future. Few bother to return. This policy was dubbed “Catch and Release” for a reason.

Now, they must wait in Mexico while immigration judges review their cases.

This has happened without the ‘wall’ (generally, a tall steel and cement-reinforced fence) in place, although that will be built, too.

Results have been incredible:

The number of apprehensions at the southwest border plummeted from 144,000 in May 2019 to just 42,649 in November – the last month for which the government has data. The number of families caught crossing illegally went from 84,486 in May to a mere 9,000 in November.

As the El Paso Times put it, “the policy has proved to be a virtual wall.”

The article, citing the Wall Street Journal, says that successes have occurred elsewhere, too:

Border crossings plummeted in most other areas of the border over the same period.

The I&I article says that the Trump administration has used a multi-pronged approach to border control, including international co-operation and tighter asylum application rules:

Last July, the administration issued a rule denying asylum to anyone who crossed another country before getting to the U.S. border if they didn’t seek asylum in that country first. This policy directly attacks the migrant caravans traversing Mexico. The administration has also struck deals with Central American countries that let the U.S. return asylum seekers to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The administration has tightened up what counts as a “credible fear” claim for asylum seekers. At one detention facility, the number passing the credible fear claim plunged from 97% to just 10%.

Trump’s threat to impose stiff tariffs on Mexico unless it got serious about border control also made a huge difference, with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suddenly sending troops to detain migrants.

Also:

A Government Accountability Office report released in December found that arrests climbed 34% from 2015 to 2018, detentions went up 35%, and removals rose 13%.

Who benefits from these changes?

Americans who have been shut out of the job market:

As we noted in this space recently, it’s been Americans who’ve gained work filling jobs that would have been taken by illegals.

In August 2019, ICE removed many illegals from Mississippi who were working at chicken processing factories. Americans applied for the jobs in droves, as Breitbart reported on August 13:

Roughly 150 locals attended an August 12 job fair to apply for jobs at the Koch Foods’ plants in Mississippi.

The fair was run after the August 7 removal of 243 alleged illegal migrants in two of the company’s chicken processing plants, according to local authorities.

Neil Monro’s article for Breitbart notes that Americans earn more once illegal workers are removed from employment:

… wages have spiked upwards for Americans when employers were forced to give up their illegal workforces.

Black employment also improves when illegals are no longer working. This welcome development will boost the American president’s favourability further, as the following tweet and replies to it indicate (click on original tweet to read more):

President Trump is doing the right thing.

I was unsure about his ‘wall’ idea in 2016, but, living overseas, had no idea how bad the southern border problem was.

As is so often said about him, ‘Promises made. Promises kept.’

What a relief for the American people: a president who truly does have their interests at heart.

Happy New Year!

Happy new decade!

I enjoy, albeit with trepidation at times, looking back at the decades I’ve lived through and charting the change from beginning to end.

O tempora, o mores!

1960s

In 1960, growing up in the United States, I remember that things were still quite formal. Most people took care in the way they spoke and in their appearance. They were careful to conduct their households in a respectable manner. By the middle of the decade, that began to change but not too noticeably.

By 1968, a social revolution was underway, including sexually. What was once private became public. Attire reflected that. Women began wearing skirts above the knee. Men’s clothes became more form-fitting.

Sloppiness and drugs became fashionable with the advent of hippies. Even though they were a small minority, they received a lot of media coverage. A slogan connected with them — ‘If it feels good, do it’ — began to pervade society at large.

Cinema and television reflected this change.

At home, Americans moved from watching westerns to tuning into a zany comedy hour. In 1960, Gunsmoke was the most viewed programme. In 1969, it was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Gunsmoke had moved to sixth place in the Nielsen ratings.

Film genres and themes also shifted. In 1960, the great epics were popular, with Spartacus the highest grossing film and Exodus coming third. Psycho was second. In 1969, while Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was in the top slot, Midnight Cowboy was at No. 3, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice was No. 6 and an X-rated movie, I Am Curious (Yellow) was No. 12. It would have been unthinkable in 1960 that an urban drama about homosexuality, a movie about swingers and one that was pornographic would have been so popular nine years later.

1970s

The cultural shift continued in the 1970s. American magazines and newspapers devoted many column inches to social drop-outs experimenting with communal living. Swingers were becoming popular in suburbia. Again, those were two small sub-groups of society, but everyone — even the most respectable — knew about these two phenomena.

Pop music got bolder, more sexualised. I remember in high school that we talked a lot about sex and could hardly wait to start dating so that we could experiment. Our parents wondered what was wrong with us. The idea of sin and the forbidden went out the window. ‘If it feels good, do it’ had spread to the middle classes. Previously forbidden carnal acts were encouraged as being completely ‘natural’. This furthered the evolution of a shame-free society. Today, I read that some teenagers don’t kiss on a first date; instead they engage in oral sex.

Interestingly, one of the most suggestive singers of the decade, Eric Carmen of the Raspberries, laments where this has led today:

I remember neighbours of ours getting divorced. The wife said that she could earn her own living now, thank you very much. The husband was heartbroken. We felt sorry for their two children. Until then, my family and I personally did not know any couples who got divorced. It just didn’t happen to everyday individuals. However, divorce rates continued to rise and, these days, no one bats an eyelid.

More women started working. What began as a liberating elective would turn out to be a mandatory means of survival in marriage in the years that followed. Few of us knew that then, though.

Returning to music, it was a great decade for youngsters. FM radio produced rather excellent stations devoted to little known genres that never reached Top 40 AM stations. Through them, we discovered prog rock from Britain: Yes, Rick Wakeman, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, to name but three musical greats. There were many more, too numerous to mention here.

Near the end of the decade we had disco. Saturday Night Fever was a huge box office hit and propelled John Travolta from television (Welcome Back Kotter) to cinema fame.

The most popular television sitcoms, such as Welcome Back Kotter, were all set in metropolitan areas. In terms of television in general, The Waltons was probably the only show with a rural setting.

Halfway through the decade, I spent a year in France, which was much quieter than the US socially and still quite formal, even though the more leftist state university students were generally unkempt and unwashed. In many respects, the country was a bridge between the 1960s and the 1970s in the nicest possible way.

1980s

Leaving university, I recall that many of my friends latched onto the Reagan zeitgeist and became conservatives.

They turned into their parents and lost the fun-loving verve they once had. I stayed single the longest, so was more acutely aware of a shift into respectability and suburban living.

I lived in a major US city then, earning my own way in life. For relaxation, I used to go to matinees at the weekend. The price of admission was cheaper and the cinemas were nearly empty, giving me the impression I had the big screen all to myself.

I saw a lot of world films in the first part of that decade, some from Brazil and Australia but mostly Britain and France. French film became a passion. Even one of the UHF television channels showed French films from the 1950s. Bliss.

As far as music was concerned, my favourite FM station played British and European singles apart from reggae on Sunday afternoons. More bliss.

Then, around 1986, something began to change. Although my favourite radio station stayed the same, the movie theatres weren’t showing as many foreign films. Within a couple of years, they stopped showing them altogether. One of my lifelines had vanished, sadly. The American films that replaced them were not very good, either, so I stopped going to the cinema.

Everything became very one-dimensional. America, somehow, had lost the link with the zeitgeist of European culture, which it never recovered. It used to be that people in the 1960s and early 1970s made a two- or three-week trip to western Europe to see the historic sites they learned about in school. It was what we today would call a bucket list item.

Fortunately, by the end of the decade, employment events intervened — and further improved — for me.

1990s

Living in England, I realised that I had an insatiable appetite for history and politics. I learned a lot about both thanks to a gift subscription to The Spectator, which I had read about in English lit class in high school. It’s been around since 1828.

In 1990s, my in-laws told me that Margaret Thatcher’s time was up. She had become too full of herself. We had high hopes for John Major.

I remember the 1992 election, which Major won handily. I could not understand the rage of my female colleagues who expected Neil Kinnock to win. They stayed up all night drinking, waiting for a Labour government that never came. The next day, at work, they were hungover, tearful — and, above all, angry. Why did they think he stood a chance? Perhaps I had been reading too much of The Spectator, but I had no doubt that Major would continue as Prime Minister.

By 1997, most of us felt change was needed. The Conservative MPs on the front bench seemed like tired, bloated bureaucrats. None of them had an original idea. Most seemed to be lining their own pockets. I was most consterned by Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley, who started closing A&E (Accident and Emergency) services at local hospitals. What was she thinking?

When Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, nearly everyone I knew rejoiced. Change was coming.

And how …

2000s

The first few years of Labour were fine. I was enjoying my work too much to pay any attention.

By 2005, I longed for a Conservative government, especially when Gordon Brown became PM with no general election.

After that, Labour became unbearable, banging on about people’s personal lives and habits. The smoking ban came into force in the summer of 2007. Ministers assured us in television interviews that private members clubs and hotels would be exempt. No, not at all. It was a blanket ban everywhere.

It was during this decade that London elected its first mayor, Ken Livingstone. He served two terms and introduced the city-wide congestion charge for motor vehicles, which we called the Kengestion Charge. My colleagues at the time reminded me that, as head of the old GLA (Greater London Authority), he was known as Red Ken.

Boris Johnson succeeded him, also serving two terms. His administration made the streets tidy again and also lowered crime.

By 2006, I started looking more closely at the EU and the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels who seemed to rule our lives. I agreed with those disgruntled Britons who wanted a referendum on our membership.

Most of all, however, I was sick and tired of Labour, to the point of despair.

I also asked my far better half to cancel my gift subscription to the The Spectator, as it had changed its editorial line considerably after Boris Johnson left as editor. Although more people now read it, it is a former shadow of itself. I would not call it neither conservative nor traditional at all any more.

2010s

Hope came in the May 2010 general election.

The Conservatives had to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. It was the David Cameron and Nick Clegg Show, but at least Labour were out of the picture after 13 years.

David Cameron referred to himself as the ‘heir to Blair’. It took me some time to see it, but he was not wrong.

He set out to reform the Conservative Party and alienated older, faithful members in their local associations. CCHQ suddenly did not need their help.

On a broader level, Cameron will probably be best remembered for opening up marriage to same-sex couples and for offering us the EU referendum, billed by all parties as a ‘once in a lifetime’ choice which they all pledged to implement.

A number of televised debates took place in 2016. I watched them all. Some of my friends were less than convinced by the Leave proposition. The one clincher was Brexit The Movie, which is an hour-long eye-opener about the Brussels gravy train and better than any of the debates, no matter how good:

I stayed up until the early hours of the morning of Friday, June 24, 2016 to watch the result. When it was clear that Leave had won, I went to bed. The next day, my far better half and I woke up to Cameron resigning because he did not like the result. We had a celebratory lunch in London and went to a party that evening that had been planned months earlier. I remember the apprehension we both felt about sounding out the other party guests as to their views on the EU. We later discovered that were not alone. Finally, someone there broke the ice upon his arrival by exclaiming:

Is everybody HAPPY? I certainly am!

At that point, we were free to talk about Brexit.

Theresa May became Prime Minister later that summer.

Across the pond, another sea change was happening: Donald Trump’s candidacy. It was even more of a shock when he won. A startled nation awoke to find that Hillary Clinton was not their president.

The conflicts about Brexit and Trump continue today. Opponents to both have grown ever more vehement.

On September 20, 2019, the British website Spiked issued a thought-provoking documentary on Trump and Brexit. It’s 26-minutes long and well worth watching. To cover Brexit, their reporters interviewed residents of Southend-on-Sea in Essex. To cover the Trump phenomenon, they interviewed Pennsylvania journalist Salena Zito and residents of Erie, which was once a major industrial powerhouse in that state. It has fallen on very hard times, indeed:

The major theme running through both is, as they put it, ‘change’, which I believe they should have called ‘self determination’ and ‘recovering the aspirational dream’.

One thing that struck me was the interview with the owner of a gym in Erie. He said that his father raised seven children on a janitor’s salary:

You couldn’t do that now.

Too right. Both parents now have to work — unlike in the 1960s — and few households can support more than two or three children.

People in Britain and the United States want to work and save more of their hard-earned cash. They also want good job opportunities for their children.

A fisherman in Southend said that, because of EU rules, he is restricted to an ever-smaller part of waters in which to fish. The number of fishing boats has continued to decline, he added, and the number of fisherman has also dropped dramatically. That is why he, and many others in Southend, voted Leave in 2016.

The decade closed with Boris Johnson’s landslide victory on December 12. Historian David Starkey explores what this means for the nation in this 57-minute documentary from The Sun, ably conducted by a young reporter:

Starkey explores the evolution of Parliament since Victorian times, when it became the institution we know today. As many Northern constituencies flipped from Labour to Conservative, Starkey says that Boris’s pledge to revitalise the North will mean little unless he espouses their values of patriotism, which, he says, has been a dirty word for many years.

He says that Boris could well become a figure like Charles II, who restored the monarchy beginning in 1660. Many of their personality traits are similar, he notes, particularly their penchant for bringing a nation together and reforming it at the same time. It is well worth watching when you have the opportunity.

There is much more to Starkey’s interview than summarised here. He talks about the people of the North, Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, David Cameron, Tony Blair and, significantly, Benjamin Disraeli. Starkey hopes that the PM will study his Victorian predecessor’s successes closely.

With that, I must close for now. There are many developments over the past 60 years that I have not mentioned. This is merely to give an idea about the direction that Western society took as the decades rolled on.

Welcome to 2020. Let’s hope it brings many good tidings. I wish all of us the very best.

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