Covid – The Numbers Don’t Add Up

I’ve avoided writing about Covid-19 for quite awhile.  Part of the reason is that I disagree with much of the reporting on this disease in the media, but who am I compared to all the “experts” pontificating almost daily?

The fact is, I spent several years of my professional life working in human subjects scientific reasearch. I’ve read hundreds of medical and epidemiological studies. I’ve gone head to head with the CDC in Congressional hearings. I’ve testified and sat on a committee at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. So yeah, I do know a little bit.

I’m going to talk mainly about numbers here. These are numbers taken from official sources such as the CDC and Johns Hopkins University. Links to these sites are at the bottom of this piece, if you want to “fact check” my numbers.

First of all, lets cut right to the bottom line. Every day we read “news” articles about the new “spread” of Covid, moving from place to place like a tidal wave. Are the numbers we read accurate? Sometimes, sometimes not. Among all the numbers, however, there is really only one number that counts.

The number of deaths.

Having Covid-19 and dying from Covid-19 are two entirely different things, no different than any other disease. Having the flu and dying from it is not the same thing.  It may be bad to be sick, but if you recover (as most do) life goes on. If you’ve ever had the flu, or pneumonia, or the measles, and you’re reading this, you understand what I mean.

So what we really want to know is not how many people contract the illness, but how many do not recover – they die from it — and those numbers are low.

The numbers that follow are from  June 21,2020:

The United States: Currently there have been 120,106 deaths attributed to Covid. The population of the United States is 332,639,102.  If we divide the numbers of deaths by the population, we get the figure 0.0361%, which is about 4/100 of a percent. For undstanding, this is FAR LESS than ONE TENTH OF ONE PERCENT. In other words, your chances of NOT DYING from Covid are 99.964% ! Another way of looking at this is to break the death rate down to cases per one hundred thousand of the population. The US average is currently 35 deaths per one hundred thousand people in the population. This 35 figure is important to what follows.

The States: When it comes to Covid,
all states are not alike, not even close.

The Northeast: The states in the Northeast have by far, the worst records of deaths in the country.  My state, New Jersey, has the unenviable record of having the highest number of deaths per 100,000 at 145!  Over 4 times the national average! New York State is right behind at 127 deaths per 100,000, followed by Connecticut at 122,  and Massachusetts at 114.

The reason for this high number is pretty easy to explain. At the beginning of the “pandemic” the governors in these states panicked. In order to clear out hospitals for potential Covid cases, they shipped huge numbers of people to nursing homes and long term care facitilies — facitilies that were in no way prepared to handle contagious disease. Infected patients spread the disease like wildfire in these facilities, infecting thousands of old and often already sick people. Thousands died. In fact, more than half of all Covid deaths in these states are a result of this debacle, which artifically increased the death rate.

Other states with similar policies also are above the national average for deaths per 100,000. These states include Michigan (62), Illinois (54), Maryland (51) and Pennsylvania (50) It also needs to be noted that these states are the most prominant in driving up the national average. Take them out of the equation, and the national average drops considerably.

The Rest of the Country

Things are vastly different in many other states. The media has (falsely) been trying to “pump up the volume” about the spread of Covid, but let’s look at the numbers:

Florida: Florida has been criticized for opening beaches too early, Spring Break, etc etc. But the fact is deaths per 100,000 in Florida are 15, ten times less than New Jersey, and about half the national average.

Georgia: This state is running higher than Florida, with a death rate of 25 per 100,000, still less than the national average, and six times less than the Northeast states.

North and South Carolina: 12 and 13 deaths per 100,000 repectively.

Texas: Lots of news about “upswings” in Texas, but the Lone Star State has the astonishing rate of just 8 deaths per 100.000.

And finally Arizona: I mention this state especially because it is making headlines as I write this with the ‘surge” of new cases. The death rate in Arizona? 2 per 100,000.

So what’s going on here? I don’t claim to have the answers, but something is wrong, very wrong.  Are we being lied to? Yeah, I think so, but as mch by omission as commission. We are simply not being given all the facts. We are given selected numbers which do not show the true picture.

Think of it this way. With a population of over 322 million people, the United States would have to have over 320,000 deaths to equal one tenth of one percent of the population. We are not close to that number, and there is clear evidence everywhere that the death toll is going down.

People have been driven to near panic is some cases, and frankly without  good reason.  The “experts” have been wrong again and again in this mess. We’ve been locked down, our economy has been trashed. How long will it take to recover, I don’t know, but it won’t be pretty.

Do I believe the experts? Do I believe the media? Hell no, and I won’t again for a long time if ever.




Johns Hopkins Covid Tracking

The Covid Tracking Project

CDC Covid Tracking

WHO Coronavirus








A Covid Story — Something is Rotten in Denmark

No it’s not in Denmark. Please forgive the bad Shakespearian reference.

But something is wrong (or right) in India, and Russia, and Pakistan and other countries in Asia.

The worldwide Covid-19 epidemic is not effecting any of these three countries, and others in Asia even remotely like it has impacted the United States and Europe — not even close.

Just by way of introduction, let’s look at some of today’s (4/13/20) numbers from the Johns Hopkins website (link below)

Covid 19

United States — 553,526 cases, 23,146 deaths

Russia – 18,288 cases, 148 deaths

India – 9,240 cases, 331 deaths

Pakistan – 5,374 cases, 93 deaths

We can immediately see the differences.  And let’s point out, these are not small countries. Russia has about 145 million people, Pakistan has 221 million, and India 1.35 billion people, almost tied with China for the most populated countries on the planet.

How is it then, that these vast and densely packed countries have far fewer cases of Covid-19 than the United States?

But wait, it gets worse. It is somewhat vague comparing countries, but what if I told you that thirteen US states have more cases than India or Pakistan,  and nine of those states also have more cases than Russia? Those states are California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington state.

So why? Why the difference? The United States reported it’s first Corona Virus Case on January 20th.  India and Russia were not far behind, on January 30 and 31st respectively. Pakistan did not report until February 26th.  From the beginning, cases in the US spread like wildfire, but not in these other countries.

What is different? Could it be diets, climate, type of health care? Is there something genetic about the virus, something in the Asian genome that makes Asians less suseptable to the virus? Or is it something else?

I don’t know what it is, but I do know that the numbers are vastly different and no one seems to be paying much attention to that. Maybe I’ve been quaranteened too long, maybe I’m just nuts. But the numbers are still the numbers.

Don’t take my word for it. Links to the relevant websites are below, check them out for yourself and feel free to tell me I’ve gone off the deep end —or not.


Johns Hopkins Covid-19 Dashboard

The Covid Tracking Project

World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Main Page



Scottsbluff — A Covid Story

American flag blowing, close-up

I was reading a discussion thread on Facebook about two weeks ago. The discussion was about the Covid-19 virus and how it was spreading.

Another commenter mentioned the town of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. He was pointing out that remote parts of the country were not experiencing the virus, and said there were no cases in Scottsbluff.

This caught my eye, because I’ve been to Scottsbluff.

Back in the early 1990’s we took a driving vacation in the Midwest.  We visited Scott’s Bluff National Monument, and spent the night in the town of Scottsbluff.  It’s a sleepy little town with a population of around 15,000, pretty much in the middle of no where.  It’s about sixty miles off Interstate 80 in Western Nebraska. The closest “city”( population 65,000) is Chyenne, Wyoming, about 100 miles away.

So anyway, I was not surprised that the virus had not found it’s way to Scottsbluff, it’s not easy to get there.

I don’t know why, but a few days later, I looked at the Johns Hopkins website which tracks all the reported cases of Covid-19 worldwide.

There was one case of the virus in Scottsbluff.

Somehow, someway. this virus had made it’s way across the country, off the Interstate into the High Plains of Nebraska. One case, just one, but it was there.

A few days later I checked again — There were three cases in Scottsbluff.

I  just checked the Johns Hopkines website. Scottsbluff Nebraska currently has ten cases of the Corona Virus.

Zero cases to three cases to ten cases in less than two weeks. No deaths so far, thank God, but the implications are there.

How did it get there? Who knows? A truck driver, a resident returning home from a trip?  A traveler passing through? We’ll probably never know.

Scottsbluff isn’t alone. Look at the John’s Hopkins map, and it is covered with tiny little red dots; small towns everywhere with at least one case of Covid-19: Gove, Kansas;  Henry, Missouri; Randolph, Arkansas, Crenshaw Alabama; Iron, Wisconsin; Aroonstook, Maine. Thousands, literally thousands of little red dots. The virus has penetrated every nook and cranny of the country.

As of today, (4/11) there are  503,594 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States. The death toll stands at 18,860.  That’s a death rate of 3.7%, far higher than any flu we’ve ever seen.

Is it tapering off; is “social distancing” working? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. It’s too soon to tell. I do know this — One case of the virus can go to three and to ten cases pretty damn quickly.  Don’t think for a moment this virus is going away because we want it to.  We still have a pretty long road to travel.


Johns Hopkins Covid Website

Scottsbluff, Nebraska



Cover Me

trans radio

I want to preface this piece with a little explanation. I’ve been writing off and on in this blog for about seven years. More often that not, the topics have be serious, my take on issues of the day.  That is changing.

Besides the fact that no one really gives a damn about what I have to say, I’m tired of writing about those things. I’m tired of the negativity. As we’ve hit 2020, most everything I read is troubling;  as Oddball from Kelly’s Heros would say, full of negative waves:

So this time I’m writing about something I like; music and performers.  Not  just any performers, but those who have chosen to pay tribute to the musical greats, many of them gone.

When I was a kid growing up, it was almost impossible to see our favorite singers and performers live.  Huge stadiums and other concert venues had not yet been created.  Live entertainment by well-known celebrities was often confined to night clubs for adults.  We kids only had radio and television, limited to local shows like Bandstand.

By the time these venues came around, I was married and raising kids, so concert tickets were not in my budget.  The first big-name performer I saw live was Kenny Rogers, and by then he was getting a little long in the tooth.  Years later, I discovered tribute performers.

To be clear, tribute artists are not impersonators. An impersonator is a guy who looks like Elton John that you hire for your supermarket opening. A tribute artist does their best to actually perform like the real celebrity. There are many of them; sometimes they are good, sometimes not. In this post I’m writing about some that I’ve seen that are pretty damn good.

I guess I saw my first tribute artist about ten years ago.  The show was at a small theater near me known for tribute performances. We took a chance and went.

His name is Doug Church, performing as Elvis Presley. I had never heard of him and had no great sense the show would be much. I was wrong. What we got was a full blown Elvis review. I’d never seen the real Elvis in person, but I had listened to his music for many years and saw his shows on tv.

Now let me stipulate for a naysayers. Yes he is not Elvis, and maybe yes, there are better tribute artists. But what we got that night, for a pretty low cost of admission, was a hell of a good show.

The thing I like about these artists, is most of them go the distance. Their shows come with bands and backup singers and dancers.  It’s a full few hours of entertainment.

I am a fan of Queen. The reason I am a fan is because my son was a fan as a teenager and the music of Queen blasted through my house for quite some time.  So it took, and I became a fan.  When I heard about a show called “One Night with Queen” at a local venue, I had to go.

Gary Mullen is an English performer, and the show was great. Again, he’s not Freddie Mercury, but no one is.  His show is an entertaining reminder of just how good Mercury and Queen were.

The thing I have noticed about tribute performers is they work hard at it.  They picked an entertainer to emulate, and most seem to do their very best to honor that performer. Obviously some are better than others, but most of the ones I have seen do a pretty good and usually pretty entertaining job. Then there is this one — I took my wife, daughters and grandaughters. The show was fabulous.  Abba Mania:

Notice the audience reactions in these shows, ecpecially the Abba video? That is real. These performers get the audience up on it’s feet, singing and dancing along.

The next two are groups I discovered by going to free concerts. My town has free summer concerts in the park, and last year, this guy was performing, and what a show it was. It was a beautiful summer evening, the crowd was great, and the concert was free! That’s pretty hard to beat.  Danny V’s 52nd Street Band:

Then there is one more. I’ve always been a Four Seasons fan, These guys are another local group. They put on an enjoyable show.  Lights Out:

I never saw any of the real performers  in person, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve seen Elvis, Queen, Abba, Billy Joel and The Four Seasons. These tribute performers are great entertainers.  If you ever get chance to see one of these groups, check them out. You might be very pleasantly surprised.

Here are the websites for the groups above:

Doug Church

Gary Mullen and the Works

Abba Mania

Danny V’s 52nd Street Band

Lights Out





Flipping off Technology


flip phone

An ill-tempered (frequently old) person full of stubborn ideas or opinions. 

While I don’t necessarily see myself as “ill-tempered”, I’m certainly old and filled with opinions. I do, however, own a flip phone. I talk on the phone; nothing more nothing less. I don’t text or message; I don’t take pictures, I have no apps. My phone wouldn’t even know what an app is. But I’m not the only one:

“Legendary investor Warren Buffett said the market for Apple‘s iPhones is not yet saturated, counting himself as a notable holdout.

“When I actually buy it, it’s all over, folks. The last person has bought it,” Buffett joked.

Buffett showed off his retro Samsung flip phone on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday and didn’t seem eager to trade it in for a smartphone, despite some weighty encouragement.

“Tim Cook sent me a Christmas card again this year saying he’s going to sell me an iPhone this year,” Buffett said. “He keeps sending me these reminders every Christmas.”

buffet phone

Buffett is far from the only Apple holdout.” (1) 

There’s no doubt the “dumb” phone is a thing of the past — or so we’re told. All it does is make phone calls.

We’re told we need smart phones. We need to be connected to the world all the time. We need our texts, our social media, all our Internet connections. Do we – do we really?

Prior to mobile telecommunications, we had land lines. At home, at work, or from a pay phone, we reached out to whomerver as we needed to do so. I lived the first sixty-plus years of my life quite nicely without having any need for a portable telephone. I was forced into buying one.

I traveled all over the country without a phone. When I flew, I called my wife from a pay phone (remember those?) when I arrived at the airport and she came to pick me up, if she wasn’t there already. One flight changed that.

I flew into Philadephia one evening. By then, most people seemed to have phones. As soon as we landed, other passengers were breaking out their phones calling someone. I followed my normal routine, which was to get off the plane, find a phone, and call my wife to pick me up.

Except I could not find a public pay phone. They were gone. The airport always had loads of pay phones throughout the terminal, but not any longer. I gathered the phones were no longer being used very much, so they took them out. I walked all over the terminal trying to find a phone. Finally, after what seemed like endless searching, I found one in a corner of the baggage claim. It was near the luggage carousel and near a door, and it was noisy as hell. I could hardly hear my wife at all as I screamed into the phone to make myself heard over the din. The warrant had been served — I bought a phone.

Don’t get me wrong; it was convenient. I could call from the airport or anyplace else; I had moved into the 21st Century, or so I thought.

By the time I purchased my “dumb” phone, they were already disapearing, being rapidly replaced by “smart” phones that did everything under the sun. Almost everyone I know has one, and the younger the  person, the more it seems those gadgets are as necessary as breathing.

And therein lies the problem.

I’m old, but I’m fairly savy about basic technology. I got my first computer all the way back in 1987. I used to know how to program Fortran (anyone even know what that is?). I learned DOS to work my first computers;  Windows wasn’t even on the market yet.  I taught myself how to write HTML from scratch. Computers and technology can be fun and useful — but I think they have decided drawbacks.

Everywhere I go today I see people staring at the screens of their smartphones. More often than not, they don’t seem to be talking on them, rather they are “fingering” them, flipping through something or other to do something or other. They often seem to be totally unaware of the world around them. And that is unfortunate.

cellphone 01

Don’t get me wrong; I know they can be useful gadgets. Whether it is checking the weather, banking online, or using the GPS. No argument. To me, however, they are an “attractive nuisance”.  Rather than simply using them to perform a task, many people seem unable to leave the damn things alone, even for a short time.

I taught college for a number of years, and always prohibited the use of cellphones in my classroom. I notified students on day one that if I caught them using a phone in class, I would dismiss them for the day. Every semester, especially during the first few weeks, I removed student after student from my class. They tried every trick in the book to hide what they were doing, but it was always their eyes — I saw they were staring at something, usually downward, at the phone they were trying to conceal on their lap or elsewhere. Most of them eventually got the message, but there were others I had to bounce completely from the class, such was their obsession.

It’s funny  — But it’s not

I started writing this as a tongue-in-cheek piece about being old.
As I began reading online however, I realized that smartphone addiction is not a laughing matter.  Millions of people seem to exhibit signs of addiction to their smartphones. CNN even coined a term for it “Nomophobia” (NO MObile PHOnephoBIA).(6)

“…The average American teenager who uses a smart phone receives her first phone at age 10 and spends over 4.5 hours a day on it (excluding texting and talking).” Three-quarters of teens admit to checking their phones every hour; half describe themselves as “addicted.”…(7)

“… adult iPhone users who were separated from their smartphones but could hear them ringing experienced spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increased feelings of anxiety and unpleasantness…” (7)

Have we really gone that far down the drain? Technology can be a wonderful thing, making or lives easier and more productive. The thing is, technology is meant to be used; but it seems with smartphones we are being used.

Watch this video:

A smartphone is a tool, a useful tool to be sure, but just a tool. Think of it like a dishwasher. It makes the task easier, but we could certainly live without it — or could we? Of course we could. People were hand washing dishes for eons before dishwashers; it is a convenience, nothing more and nothing less.

Technology makes life easier, and sometimes make us lazy. Think back before televisions had remote controls; you had to get up and manually change channels. No one does that anymore; it’s easier to use the remote, and we’ve become more lazy. But what happens if we lose the remote, or the batteries go dead and we don’t have replacements? Do we curl up on the couch and moan? No, we get up off our lazy ass and change the channels — although we definitely buy new batteries the next day. It’s a little annoyance.

This doesn’t seem to be the case with the smartphone.

“As with many forms of addiction, smartphone addiction is also something that often stems from other underlying emotional and psychological issues. It can be a side effect of depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Overuse of a handset can be a crutch that people with post-traumatic stress, attention deficit and social anxiety lean on too.” (8)

smartphone 01

One problem I see, is that folks who are addicted to their phones won’t even acknowledge it. Does the alcoholic know he is an achoholic? Does the drug addict know he is an addict? I think deep inside, the answer is yes. The smartphone addict? Not so much. Try telling someone they are addicted to their phone and watch the response.

Smartphone addiction is socially acceptable where other addictions are not. The alcoholic or drug addict often tries to hide their behavior. Phone addiction doesn’t hide; it resides in plain sight.

So what’s the bottom line here, what’s the takeaway? I think it’s the acknowledgement that technology can be a wonderful thing, but there can also be a downside. When we use it as a tool, it can be very useful. When the technology uses us, it can become problematic.

Final footnote and confession: I’m on the verge of acquiring a smartphone. It turns out my old-style phone no longer functions in some environments, notably inside some buildings.  Maybe this is a form of planned obsolesence. So if you see me with a smartphone, don’t call me a hypocrite. I held out as long as I could. Anyone interested in my collection of cassettes or VHS tapes ?


(1.) Warren Buffet uses Flip Phone — CNBC

(2.) We’re All Addicted to Smart Phones — The Guardian

(3.) Steve Hilton — No Cellphone

(4.) Making His Phone Dumber was the Smartest Thing He Ever Did — Boston Globe

(5.) Phone Addiction is Real — Forbes Magazine

(6.) Smartphone Addiction — CNN

(7.) Even Apple Investors are Worried About Smartphone Addiction

(8.)The Growing Problem of Smartphone Addiction — Techaddiction

(9.) The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction

The Green New Deal — Magical Thinking

magical thinking 2

“Magical thinking is the belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. A four-year-old child, for example, might believe that after wishing for a pony, one will appear at his or her house.” (2)

So now we have it; a proposal by Congressional Democrats called the “Green New Deal” (1), for a sweeping agenda which will save the world from climate change and cure all the ills of society in one fell swoop.

Whether this resolution is awe-inspiring or ridiculous is likely in the mind of the beholder, but at the very least it is gargantuan and sweeping.

I’ve been told that I don’t suffer fools well. For a long time now we have been hearing sweeping proposals of “renewable energy” as the panacea for many problems.  Proponents of this “energy” almost never bother with the details. Why? Because the details do not work.  Their ideas are not simply magical thinking; they are wrong.  They are absurdly wrong, yet proponents continue their mantra as if by saying it over and over again it will become real. Let’s put this nonsense to rest.

A few years back, I wrote some articles on alternative energy. They can be found here   The Story of Alternative Energy  and here   Alternative Power Part II .  These articles elaborate on what follows. For more details and references, I suggest reading them.

At this time, I am going to review some of that information and look into a few other items mentioned in the “Green New Deal” resolution.

Before going further, let’s remember this number: 10000 Gigawatts.  This also can be stated as 10 million Megawatts, but we will stick with the former because it is easier to understand. What is this? It is the amount of electricty used in the United States every day: 10000 Gigawatts.

Alternative energy – Wind Power


Wind turbines are big, expensive, and largely inefficient.  The most common commercial wind turbine in the US is built by General Electric. It has blades 116 feet long, and stands on a 212 foot high tower. It  weighs about 235 tons.  They cost between $1.5 and $2.5 million dollars each, with a total construction cost of $3 to $4 million apiece.

Energy companies will tell you this turbine will power around 332 homes, but if you do the actual math as I did in my previous articles, the reality is about 83 homes, and only when the wind is blowing. The wind stops, they stop, electricity stops flowing.  The best realisitic assessment is that these turbines only produce electricity about 40 percent of the time.

Current wind turbine capacity in the US: 65 Gigawatts.

There are about 54,000 wind tubines in the US curently. Estimates of how many turbines it would require to power the US come in at around  583,000, using industry estimates of efficiency, which appear to be about four times too high. So, by my rough calculations, you are looking at the need for over two million wind turbines, which still would only work forty percent of the time.

Costs: These turbines cost about $1.5 – 2.0 million dollars each. Add contruction costs and land acquisition, and it comes out to about $4 million each. Total cost ? Try eight trillion dollars. In addition, annual maintainence costs are about $500,00 each, bringing the annual cost to maintain these turbines to about one hundred billion dollars per year.

Most “wind farms” are located in places like the Midwest, notably in Iowa and North Dakota, where there are vast stretches of empy land. These monsters are not at all practical in populated areas, particularly near cities. The occasional wind turbine seen in these areas is a novelty, not a serious source of electricity.

Wind power can provide supplemental energy. It is indeed renewable and essentially “clean” compared to fossil fuels. It is not, however a reliable subsititute, not even close.

Alternative Energy – Solar Power

Solar Panel with green grass and beautiful blue sky

There is no doubt that solar power is becoming more popular. Drive around most suburban neighborhoods and you are likely to see a number of homes with solar panels on the roof. It’s clear the selling of solar is taking hold.

But to what end? Therein lies the question.

First of all, they are not cheap. A system not subsidized by tax dollars can cost $15000 – $25000 for a single home. Most of the ones you see in the neighborhood are likely government subsidized, so they cost the homeowner (thanks to the taxpayer) far less.

So how effective are they? That is an excellent question, and if you Google it, you will find answers all over the board, most provided by companies selling the panels.

Solar panels average 15% efficiency. Remember, they do absolutely nothing at night or when the sun isn’t shining.  With all the hoopla out there, the best I could figure out is they could save the home owner as much as $1000/year on electric bills under the right conditions, but every situation is different.  Can they be an auxiliary for fossil fuel electricity? Yes. Are they a suitable replacement? No.

Current installed solar capacity in the US : 50 Gigawatts.

Our current capacity of both wind and solar power is 115 Gigawatts, about one percent of our daily needs. The bottom line is that neither wind nor solar energy are any more than supplemental power sources for fossil fuels. Contrary to their much ballyhooed promotion and magical thinking, there is nothing, absolutely nothing  to suggest they will become any more than minor supplements for the forseeable future.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

planes trains

Now it gets to be fun. Included in the Green New Deal proposals are plans to get rid of airplanes, build high speed trains everywhere, and require all cars be electric powered. It’s hard to know where to start.

Planes and Trains

According to the FAA, there are 43,000 daily commercial flights in the US alone, moving some 2.6 million passengers around the country. At any given moment, there are about 5000 planes in the air. That’s over 15 million flights a year, carrying not only passengers, but also over 42 billion pounds of freight.(3)

The “Green New Deal” proposes to get rid of all of these planes and replace them — with trains?

An airplane can fly from New York to Los Angeles in a bit under five hours at an average speed of 560 miles per hour. The newest high speed trains can travel about 160 miles per hour. The same straight line trip, if it were possible today (it isn’t) would take the train over 15 hours, three times as long, but that’s not even the point.

There are currently two high speed rail projects in the United States. Let’s take a look at them:

California:  California High Speed Rail (CHSR) was approved by the California legislature in 2008, with an initial $9 billion dollar bond to begin construction. Construction of the 800 mile long system from southern to northern California began in 2015. The initial segment was planned to be open in 2027, and the  first phase completed by 2033.

However, in February 2019, incoming California governor Gavin Newsome announced the plan would be scrapped after a 110 mile initial section is completed. The cancelletion came as projected costs for the project jumped from an original $40 billion to almost $100 billion with initial service in 2033. The section still planned is expected to cost about $11 billion dollars. (5)

Texas: The Texas Central Railway is a proposed 177 mile long hi-speed railway between Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. Originally proposed in 2015, construction was to begin in 2018, but has now been posponed until sometime in 2020. Construction is expected to take about six years. The railway is being built by a private company.

That’s it. That is the extent of hi-speed rail in the US. Yes, there is the infamous Amtrak  Acella Express between Boston and Washington DC. which is technically a hi-speed train. But the fact is that anyone who has ridden it, as I have, will tell you it is too often very much less than high speed.

The notion that a massive network of hi-speed trains can be plunked down all across the country and replace air travel isn’t simply “magical” thinking. It smacks of delusion.


There are 268.8 million registered vehicles in the United States. 760,000 (3/10 of one percent) are electric.

The plan is to do away with gasoline/diesel powered vehicles and replace them completely with electric vehicles. While this includes all types of vehicles, including trucks, we will simply focus on cars.

An electric car is one that is fueled by power through a rechargable battery. The first commercial car of the modern era was the Tesla ($76,000) which became available to the public in 2008. Since then other manufacturers have entered the market, notably the Nissan Leaf ($29, 900), Chevy Bolt ($36,600), and electric versions of the Ford Focus ($29,100),  and Kia Soul ($33,900).

The batteries that today’s electric cars run on are based on lithium and nickel. Lithium is a scarce metal, and nickel is toxic. The batteries cannot be recycled, and present a toxic waste problem. Until or unless a better electric car battery is designed, electric cars as they exist today are not sustainable.

The promotion of electric cars is a bit deceptive. The high price Tesla is supposed to get about 250 miles per charge, but the lower price models mentioned only seem to get about 100 – 150  miles per charge. In addition, it has been learned that cold weather can significantly reduce the attainable milage from a charge.

The Green New Deal folks imagine everyone in the country zipping around in electric cars. They talk of thousands of “charging stations” everywhere. One comment: What powers the charging stations? Wind? Solar? Really?

Wrapping it up

Okay, so you get the general idea.  These utopian notions of a carbon free society saving the world from climate destruction are at best magical thinking.  They are the kind of thoughts one would expect from children, not serious adults.

One can almost accept outlandish notions from young, inexperienced, first time government officials. Such naivete is disturbing, but it seems to be the world we live in. That other more experienced officials  -including potential candidates for the Presidency would applaud and endorse this nonsense is not acceptable.

Serious people propose serious ideas. These people are not serious, they are foolish and delusional. They should not be taken seriously.

(1) Green New Deal — House Resolution 109 Text

(2) Magical Thinking

(3) FAA — Air Traffic by the Numbers

(4) Hi-Speed Rail — Wikipedia

(5) California High Speed Rail

Fake News — A Weapon of Mass Destruction


Yeah, so this one got to me. By now, you’ve all heard the stories about the kids from Covington, Kentucky and their run-in with a Native American. In case you’ve been vacationing on Mars, let me fill you in with the background story. I don’t like using a lot of videos, because I know it takes time to watch them. This story, however, necessitates it.

On January 18, 2019, a group of high school students from Covington Catholic High School attended the annual March For Life rally in Washington DC. While they were there, they encountered a Native American, Nathan Phillips and a group of his followers. What happened next is where the story all begins.

Covington Catholic (Ky.) High School student Nick Sandmann, seen here standing before Native American activist Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial, says he has received death threats after video of their encounter went viral

This photo is from a video on Twitter that went viral. We’ll talk more about that in a little bit, but in a nutshell , all hell broke loose.

Here’s the video. The video is part of a longer MSNBC piece. They keep replaying the short snippit over and over.

This video is instuctive, as it includes an interview with Nathan Phillips. He presents one of his versions of the encounter, which subsequent videos show to be false. Notice MSNBC made no effort to question anyone else involved, nor review any other videos which were already online.

CNN presented a similar video. Notice how they embellished the story.

Okay, so the initial story portrays Phillips as seeing a group of white kids harassing a group of religious Black men, who were simply being religious. Here are those Black men, part of a group calling themselves the Black Hebrew Israelites. Notice how they call the kids “future school shooters”. They also called them “fags” .

Near the end of this video, you will see Phillips and his entourage come into the scene.  The Israelites see him coming and start saying something like “Here comes Gant, here comes Gant…” I have no idea what that means.

This set the stage.  Three groups, the high school kids, the Israelites, and the Native Americans, all in the same area but reasonably well seperated. The Israelites, who got almost no attention by the media were harassing both of the other two groups.

As Phillips and his group walked between the Israelites and the high school students, the Israelites started yelling that some of the students were wearing Make American Great Again (MAGA) hats (1:17). They (the Israelites) said, “Look at the Make America Great Again hats — look at the hats”

Phillips and his group turned toward the students and walked directly up to them, in direct contradiction of what he said in his interviews. He immediately got within inches of the student in the video and began beating his drum and chanting.

There are many, many videos online now, some quite long, expanding on this incident. This short analysis, however, hits the nail on the head.

Okay, so enough with the videos. You can find all you want on YouTube.  Let’s talk about the implications.

Fake News

So was this fake? No, it actually happened. But what makes it Fake News is the way the media reported it.

How it all started — talia#2020fight:

This is how it all began, a tweet on Twitter.  A tweet went out from this account, ostensibly owned by a California school teacher (later shown to be fake). The Tweet went viral, generating over 2.5 million views and was reTweeted at least 14,400 times.(1) Twitter has suspended the account, and is reportedly conducting an investigation. Stories indicate that some news media reached out to this account for information, but receiving no replies, went with this one minute video as the story. The history of the activity on the account is still online. To get some idea of the madness that errupted from it, follow the link below. (2)

So, relying on a single video from an unknown source on Twitter, the “reporting” of the story began. Did the media seek other videos, some of which were already up on YouTube? Nope. Did the media attempt to investigate what really happened? Nope.  Did the media attempt to interview any of the students? Nope and nope again. The sole initial interview was with Nathan Phillips who presented his story. This was the narrative, and this was what all the major media ran with.

All of them, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, all the major broadcast media. And the print media as well, The New York Times, the Washington Post, all carried essentially the same story based on a one minute long video and an interview with a single participant.

By the next day, the editorials came out, blasting these wicked teenagers for harassing and threatening this Native American Vietnam Veteran (he is not a Vietnam Vet).  The student’s own diocese threw them under the bus, implying expulsions and worse. The mayor of Covington was appalled. Celebrities and Congress members joined in the Twitter fray. Calls to “dox” them and essentially ruin their lives ran amok. There were even death threats against the students and their families. Their school was forced to close after online threats against the students.

The media groundswell became a tidal wave. Don’t believe me? Google a term like “MAGA kid” (the new perjorative for the student in the video). I just did and Google showed 116,000,000 results. Yup; One Hundred Sixteen Million entries on Google and counting. The media went totally nuts; I mean stark raving beserk over this “story”.

Why? Indeed why?

The Red Hats

So what caused all this to begin with? Demonstrations often have counter-demonstrations, but usually those involved are debating two sides of an issue. This was not the case here.

The students were in Washington to particpate in the annual March For Life rally, a pro-life/anti-abortion rally that has been taking place every year since 1975. Phillips and his people were there for the Indigenous Peoples March, a new event, which had no connection whatsoever to the pro-life event. By any logic, the two groups should not likely have even crossed paths, much less conflicted. What brought on the collision?MAGA hat

Some of the students were wearing Make American Great Hats. The Hebrew Israelites pointed this out to Phillips as he moved toward the students.  Was that his reason for getting up in their faces? Maybe, maybe not, but it was clearly the reason the media jumped on this and made a non-story into a national issue.

The optics were perfect for the media. A young, white, MAGA hat wearing male, “smirking” at an authentic Native American “elder” (He’s 64, by the way), indigenous peoples activist, and “keeper of a sacred pipe”, whatever the hell that means.  The optics were perfect, the video vague; a perfect chance — Get Donald Trump!

Yeah, that’s what it comes down to, those red hats. Absent the hats, the story still would have run, but without “legs”. Add the hats, and it was the anti-Trump media Trifecta: Pro-life white toxic racist boys wearing facist Trump hats harassing a poor Native American.  Bingo!

This was the perfect target for the Social Justice Warriors, and the media became their quite willing accomplices.

Madness. Mindless madness

The story is still playing out as I write this, although it has waned. The media suffers from chronic ADHD, and has to move on to another “story”.  One of the results of this is the families of the students may file a few lawsuits for libel and defamation of character against minors. I hope they do, and I hope they win.

It would have been hard to believe such insanity could exist only a few short years ago. Journalists once enjoyed respect, and were believed. It was expected that they sourced their stories and checked their facts.

I’ve been a newspaper reporter ( before they became “journalists”). Back in the 70’s and early 80’s I had editors who would castrate a reporter who got his facts wrong. Hell, we even doubled fact-checked obituaries.  It was important to get the story right. It meant something; your reputation and your newspaper’s  depended on it.

Something changed. Now getting it “first” is more important than getting it “right”.  Knee-jerk reporting is the name of the game.  This incident is only the most recent of other giant missteps by the news reporters. Similarly, too many news organizations seem to have a political agenda. They have pre-decided who is right and who is wrong. They have taken sides, especially in the political arena. The notion that any given news operation is objective seems less true today.

Many people now believe that they cannot trust the media any longer. They think the news has become filled with propaganda, trying to advance a viewpoint rather than seeking the truth.

Incidents like this suggest those people are right.


(1) Twitter Suspends Account… CNN Business

(2) Twitter Thalia#2020fight — thread


Movies of 2018: A Review

I enjoy movies, I always have. I see more of them these days in retirement;  probably bacause I have a nice movie theater nearby, and senior citizens can get in for $5.  I’ve seen sixteen movies this year, more than usual, but 2018 was an unusually good year for movies.

That’s not to say they were all good. I saw some mediocre movies, notably Winchester,  The 15:17 to Paris, and most of all Vice, which was flat out terrible.

My observation has been that movie quality seems to run in patterns. Every other year, it seems to me, is a good year.  2018 was a good one, so I’m not expecting much next year.

Anyway, here are a few I liked:

Honorable Mention:

Starring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike and Wes Studi, Hostiles is the story of a Army Captain Joseph Blocker (Bale) charged with taking Cheyenne war chief Yellow Hawk (Studi) and his family from New Mexico back to their tribal home in Montana.

Blocker takes the assignment only under threat of court martial, as he an Yellow Hawk have a history as enemies.

Along the way the group crosses paths with settler Rosalee Quaid (Pike), whose family was massacred by Comanches. She was the only survivor.

There are solid performances here. Christian Bale is restrained and understated but delivers a solid performance.  Rosamund Pike ably demonstrates why she is receiving more and more accolades. Wes Studi delivers his best performance since The Last of the Mohicans.

A Quiet Place

I’m not usually into science fiction or horror films,  but this one definitely has a twist.  Directed by and starring John Krasinski (The Office), and co-starring Emily Blount, this movie is almost totally without dialogue.  Kransinski pulls off the seemingly impossible, holding the viewer’s attention, and keeping the audience on edge for ninety minutes straight.

In a nutshell, it’s about an alien invasion.  The aliens cannot see, but have such an acute sense of hearing, that the slightest sound brings them flying in for the kill. It’s tense, it’s scary, and it’s fun.

7 Days in Entebbe

I enjoy movies based on real events, and I am old enough to remember this 1976 event.  The film stars Rosamund Pike and Daniel Bruel, and follows the events after terrorists highjacked an Air France airplane filled with Israeli’s and landed it in Uganda.

The terrorists demanded ransom and the release of Palestinian militants. The Israeli government instead took the audacious risk to rescue their citizens from over 3000 miles away.

Special Category 

Before I get to the finalists, there was one exceptional film, a documentary which truly stands out

They Shall Not Grow Old

Director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy),  produced an extraordinary documentary to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Using archived footage from the British government; Jackson and his team spent three years converting silent black and white film to a full-color sound movie that is absolutely stunning.

The film is both a wonder of the application modern technology, and an emotional story that honors those who fought in that war. This is history coming alive like never before. It is well worth seeing.

The Winners

5. The Mule

This is not Clint Eastwood’s best movie. However, it proves that at 88 years old he can still act and direct with the best of them.

4. A Private War

I’m falling in love with Rosamund Pike. I’ve seen her in four films this year, and her best performance is in this biopic.

Marie Colvin was an American correspondent who worked for the British newspaper The Sunday Times. For twenty-seven years she was the Time’s foreign correspondent, covering wars and conflicts around the world, but most often in the Middle East. She lost an eye during fighting in Sri Lanka, but continued to put herself anywhere there was fighting and a story to report. To say that she was a brave and amazing woman is an understatement.

Rosamund Pike rises to the occasion, and portrays Colvin in a way that does service to one of the best war-time reporters of the modern era.

3. A Star is Born

Oh yeah, I liked this movie, I really did. I was never much of a Bradley Cooper fan until I saw him in American Sniper;  that changed my mind. As far a Lady Gaga — damn, that woman can sing!

Of course this movie is a remake of a remake. People argued over which version was best, but I say who cares? This version has plenty going for it and was a most enjoyable two hours in the theater.

2.Bohemian Rhapsody

I mean really, was 2018 a great year for musical films or what?

You either loved Queen (I do) or you did not. If you were a fan, this is not a movie to be missed.

Rami Melek (Mr. Robot) delivers an uncanny, wonderful performance as Freddie Mercury, the genius behind Queen. Mercury and Queen were outrageous and extraordinary, and this film delivers  by telling their story and by being filled with the music of Queen.

1.The Green Book

Viggo Mortensen is a really good actor.  In this role, based on a true story, he takes on the role of driver for jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on a road tour through the deep South in the early 1960’s.

The interaction of the two actors is supurb. It’s a gritty look back at a time of turbulance, though the eyes of two men from different worlds with nothing in common, and the bond that forms between them. Excellent film.

In a year of good films, this one was the winner for me.

Of course, most of these films are gone from theaters now, although some may come back at Oscar time. All should be available on DVD soon.  If you’re looking for a movie some night, you can’t go wrong with most of these.




Immigration Part Six: Temporary Protected Status and a Caravan


TPS 01

Immigation and immigration law are controversial and often confusing subjects. In this piece we will take a look at how the law addresses people from different countries, and in particular those currently coming to the US from Honduras.

Hurricane Mitch formed  on October 22, 1998 in the Caribean Sea. Over the next ten days, it became one of the deadliest hurricanes to ever hit Central America, causing over 11,000 fatalities, 7000 in Honduras alone. Most of the other deaths were in Nicaragua.

Honduras suffered massive damage. As much as 80 percent of it’s transportation network, including roads and bridges was destroyed. Agriculure was destroyed, and fresh water became nearly unavailable. Twenty percent of the population was left homeless.

Countries from around the world donated over $6.3 billion dollars to the Central America recovery effort.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Immigration Act of 1990.  The bill was first introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy in 1989. The Act increased levels for overall immigration, and included several controversial portions, including a new “Diversity Immigrant Visa”. The law also included the new “Temporary Protected Status” Visa.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The bill established a procedure whereby the Attorney General (now Secretary of Homeland Security as of 2003) could provide temporary protected status to immigrants who are temporarily unable to return to their home country due to armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions: (7)

  • there is “ongoing armed conflict” that creates unsafe conditions for returning nationals;
  • there has been an earthquake, flood, drought, epidemic, or other environmental disaster that makes the state temporarily unable to accept the return of its nationals, and the state has requested TPS designation; or
  • “extraordinary and temporary” conditions in a state prevent its nationals from returning safely. (5)

On January 6, 1999, then Attorney General Janet Reno designated Honduras as the first recipient of TPS status due to Hurricane Mitch.

Since the origination of the Act, twenty-two (22) countries have been given this status. As of this writing, ten still remain: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras,  Nepal,  Nicaragua,  Somalia,  South Sudan,  Sudan,  Syria, and Yemen. As of 2017, there are approximately 300,000 immigrants residing in the United States with Temporary Protected Status, some since 1999.

Unlike illegal immigrants, individuals receiving a TPS Visa may not be deported unless they break the law. They are permitted to work in the US, although they do not receive a “Green Card”. In addition, TPS holders are eligible for a range of Federal benefits:

“Refugees and asylees are eligible for food stamps/SNAP*.  Refugees and asylees are eligible for SSI benefits and Medicaid for seven years after arrival and are eligible for TANF** for five years. After this term, they generally are ineligible for SSI, but may be eligible, at state option, for Medicaid and TANF.”(* SNAP is Suplemental Nuitrition Assistance Program,** TANF is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).(8)

“Temporary” Status

In the past (prior to 1998), the temporary aspects of this status usually meant just that. Twelve countries were granted TPS status, and that status generally expired in less than five years, even with extentions. (7) The ten countries granted TPS since 1998 however, have had their temporary status extended again and again.

Enter President Trump

When President Trump entered office, he determined that existing long-lasting TPS orders were not to be extended.  In January of 2018 the government announced that temporary protections for asylees from Nicargua (2500 immigrants) will expire in January 2019. Haiti (59,000 immigrants), July 2019. El Salvador (263,260 immigrants) will expire in September 2019. Honduras (86,000 immigrants) January 2020.

On May 4, 2018, the United States Department of Homeland Security declined to renew temporary protected status for Hondurans, stating, “Twenty years is enough time for any country to return to some semblance of normalcy after a natural disaster. Normal does not mean ideal. Honduras, like many other nations that have received TPS designation, was gripped by poverty and turmoil before it was struck by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. There is no reason to believe that these longstanding problems would be solved by another extension of TPS.” Honduran individuals with temporary protected status were given 18 months to depart the United States. (7)

People from these countries have few choices. They can apply for citizenship, a long and costly process, or they can attempt to stay illegally. Since they are registered in the system however, the government knows where they work and live and would likely be easily deported. Obviously, this is being met with protest:

TPS 02


Asylum is the seeking of protection in another country when one may be persecuted in their own. According to the United Nations since 1948, everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution based on race, religion, nationality, or political opinions. The right to request asylum however, does not mean that asylum must be granted.

There are normally about 320,000 asylum cases pending adjudication . On average, cases have been taking over 1000 days, almost three years for final decisions. In some locations, such as New Jersey and California, the wait time has averaged 1300 days. As of May, 2018, there was a back-up of 697,777 total immigration cases pending before 334 immigration judges nationwide.

Typically, if an immigrant makes it into the United States and requests asylum, they are detained for a short period of time, assigned a hearing date, released into the US, and told to return for their hearing. This is what is meant by the term “catch and release”.  Frequently however, partially because of the long wait for a hearing,  the person does not return, and remains illegally in the US.

The Adminstration sets an annual ceiling for resettlement of refugees. President Trump reduced that number to 45,000 for FY2018. President Obama had raised the ceiling to 110,000 during the last year of his administration.

Applicants can apply for asylum at any US embassy or consultate in the world.

This brings us to the “Caravan”caravan


There is, at the time of this writing, a large migration of people from Honduras, heading toward the US border. Dubbed the “Caravan”, this group seems to vary in size as it moves along, but numbers in the thousands of people.

The caravan began around October 12, with about 160 people. It rapidly grew in size, with numbers estimated between 5000 – 7000 near the end of October. Precise numbers are non-existent, and the count seems to vary as the size of the group expands and contracts along the way.

The reasons given for the migration are multiple; poverty, lack of job opportunites, crime, violence , climate change, etc.  Regardless of the reason, the migrants are hoping to plea for asylum once they reach the US border, which likely will be in late November, if the group does not disperse. There have been “caravans” like this before, but some have disbanded before reaching the US.

Regardless of the results of this “caravan”, one thing is clear; there is an uptick in migration toward the US border, and how it will be handled is not clear, largely because the government, especially Congress has failed to address the issue or update current law.


First, it needs to be stated that the current migration from Honduras seems to be planned and orchestrated. Large groups of people from countries do not simply migrate spontaneously without a reason. It would appear there are those trying to take advantage of the special status of Hondurans.

Secondly, these migrants do not have to come to the United States to apply for asylum. They can do so at any American embassy or consulate. There are ten (10) such American consulates scattered across Mexico, but there seems to be little interest in applying there. This “surge” is orchestrated to reach the US border.

Back in the days when masses of immigrants came to our shores from around the world, the United States had few immigation laws and virtually no limitations on numbers; but now we do. Congress has seen fit to put limits and qualifiers on who gets into the country and who does not. This is the law.

Laws are only useful if they are obeyed and enforced. Deliberate disobedience to the law is a criminal offense. Willful non-enforcement of the law is neglect and malfeasance.

Lawful immigration is acceptable and welcome, illegal immigration is not. A person who comes into this country illegally has broken the law, and is guilty of only a misdemeanor. If that person is caught, deported, and comes in again, it is a felony, and they are a criminal. That may not seem right, but that is the law.

Congress writes the law. They can change it. Congress has repeatedly failed to revise our immigration laws, creating an untenable situation. We cannot blame someone from a poor country trying to come to the United States. We can blame our own government for failing to address this issue, and failing to enforce or change the law.


(1) USCIS: Temporary Protected Status Designated Country: Honduras

(2) Federal Register: Termination of Desgination of Honduras for Temporary Protected Status

(3) Federal Register: Extention of Honduras TPS Status

(4) Wikipedia: Hurricane Mitch

(5) Temporary Protected Status Policy

(6) Immigration Act of 1990

(7) Wikipedia: Temporary Protected Status

(8) Congressional Research Service: Noncitizen Eligibility for Federal Public Assistance

(9) USCIS Credible Fear Interview

(10) USCIS Asylum Office Workload June 2018

Impeachment: High Crimes and Misdemeanors (Part One)

Okay, buckle up folks. This one is going to be a little boring. I originally thought this would be one essay, but as I got into it, I realized the topic is too complex. I decided to break it into pieces. And there is the operative word” “complex”.  Contrary to the nonsense being bandied about today in the media and all over the Internet, impeachment is a very complex process. Because it is so serious, it is important that people understand not only how the process works, but what are the actual grounds to impeach an elected official, in this particular case, the President.

inpeachment 01

“Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body formally levels charges against a high official of government. Impeachment does not necessarily mean removal from office; it is only a formal statement of charges, akin to an indictment in criminal law, and is thus only the first step towards removal. Once an individual is impeached, he or she must then face the possibility of conviction via legislative vote, which then entails the removal of the individual from office.” (1)

Impeachment is a serious matter. Even more serious when concerning a President of the United States.  Impeachment has been used by the U.S. government nineteen times, but only twice for a President (Andrew Johnson, 1868, Bill Clinton 1998).  One US Senator was impeached (William Blount 1797). The remaining sixteen impeachments were of judges or cabinet officials.

The Constitution

So, what exactly is the authority for impeaching a President? It’s found in the Constitution, Article 2, Section 4, and reads like this:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

This very small passage gives rise to great discussion which we will attempt to cover, point by point.

First of all, what are “high crimes and misdemeanors”?  The Constitution names two of the “high crimes”; they are treason and bribery.

The Constitution is very specific about the definition of treason (Article 3, Section 3, Clause 1): “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

The Constitution does not define bribery.  It is generally accepted as an official taking money or gifts that influence the official’s behaviors.

The “Misdemeanors” part gets a little trickier. Originally the framers chose the word “corruption”, followed by “maladministration”. Ultimately they settled on “misdemeanors”, a term used in British law that could run the gamut from misappropiating funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not spending allocated money, or even threatening a grand jury. In other words, the very vagueness of the term allowed it to be used by prosecutors to charge almost anything they deemed as an abuse of power as a “misdemeanor”.

Of the nineteen actual impeachment processes since 1797, (mostly judges), the misdemeanors that have been charged included being habitually drunk, showing favoritism on the bench, submitting false expense accounts, making false statements under oath, and other similar charges. Of the eighteen impeachments, only nine resulted in removal of the official. In the remaining cases, the official either resigned or was acquitted.

Presidential Impeachments
Andrew Johnson

andrew johnson

Andrew Johnson was Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President, and assumed the Presidency when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. Johnson, a Democrat, had immediate problems with the Republican-dominated Congress during reconstruction. Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, which required Johnson to receive Congressional approval to fire any  member of the executive branch who had been approved by Congress. Johnson believed the Act was unconstitutional, and responded by firing the Secretary of War, a Republican. Congress responded by passing eleven articles of impeachment, including sending orders through improper channels and conspiring against Congress. In the Senate, only three charges were brought, and he was not convicted.

The case against Andrew Johnson seems clearly a partisan political attack, with little substance, giving some insight into just how nonsensical articles of impeachment can be.

Bill Clinton


Bill Clinton’s problems began when a special counsel was appointed to investigate Whitewater, an Arkansas land deal that Clinton had participated in twenty years earlier. In a good example of the “reach” of an appointed special counsel, the investigation expanded to include the firing of White House travel office staff, the misuse of FBI funds,  and Clinton’s affair with Monica LewInsky.  The House Judiciary Committee  presented eleven impeachable items, all related to the LewInsky affair. The Committee voted four articles of impeachment, including perjury before a grand jury, obstruction of justice, and misusing and abusing his office. Clinton was impeached, but not convicted by the Senate.

Some people believe that Richard Nixon was impeached. He was not, and avoided impreachment by resigning from office.

The Process of Impeachment

Impeachment proceedings begin in the House Judiciary Committee. Any bills of impreachment are referred to this committee. As part of the Judiciary Committee inquiry, the Committee may collect evidence, hold hearings and hear testimony of relevent witnesses. Typically the committee has both a majoriy and minority counsel, one for each party.  If grounds for impreachment are found, the Committee formulates the Articles of Impeachment. The committee then votes on the articles, and if passed, they are referred to the entire House of Representatives, which then debates the issues.

If Articles of Impeachment are approved, the House appoints managers, who act as procescutors for each article. A hearing on the matter is held in the Senate, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as the presiding official. The hearings are conducted as a trial, with witnesses and testimony. The defendant is entitled to legal counsel, and may cross-examine witnesses. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Senate debates the issues in private. A two-thirds majority is needed for a conviction and removal from office.

The entire process can be quite lengthy. What follows is the timeline of the Clinton impeachment:

January – August 1994: Attorney General Janet Reno appoints Robert Fiske Jr. as special prosecutor in the Whitewater Investigation. He is replaced by Kenneth Starr in August.

January 1998: Starr receives permission to expand his probe to include the Clinton/Lewinsky relationship.

September 1998: House of Representatives receives report from Ken Starr (3183 pages of testimony and evidence).

October 5, 1998: the House Judiciary Committee recommends a full impeachment inquiry.

November 19, 1998: Starr presents his case to House Judiciary Committee

December 11, 1998: House Judiciary Committee approves three articles of impeachment.

December 19, 1998: House of Representatives approve two articles on impeachment.

January 14, 1999: Trial begins in Senate

February 9, 1999: Senate begins closed-door deliberations.

February 12, 1999: Clinton acquitted.

So this is the basic process. In future articles, we will discuss  more current issues, especially how they may relate to President Trump. Inasmuch as the media seems to have caught impeachment fever these days, it is likely there will be much to discuss.


(1) Impeachment — Wikipedia

(2) Gerald Ford — Wikiquote

(3) Presidential Impeachment Legal Standards

(4) Alan Dershowitz Unitary Theorty of the Executive

(5) Unitary Executive Theory

Constitutional Rights Foundation High Crimes and Misdemeanors