Federal Employees Want Taxpayers to Keep Their Distance

The Washington Post (WoePost to regular readers) recently had a very ominous quote. Sandra Salstrom, a lobbyist for the American Federation of Government Employees, told an eager stenographer, “It seems like if they are successful here, this could just be the tip of the iceberg. We don’t know who’s next.”

Rick McKee – Augusta Chronicle, GA

What inhumane, outrageous and bigoted Trump administration policy has attracted the attention of Ms. Salstrom? Has someone purchased a one–way ticket to Somalia for Rep. Ilhan Omar?

Not exactly, but the outrage does involve travel. The Trump administration is planning to move portions of the Dept. of Agriculture and the Bureau of Land Management closer to where agriculture happens and land is managed.

Placing swamp bureaucrats closer to the people over which they rule is evidently inherently offensive. Cong. Steny Hoyer (D–Barnacle) warned, “In the White House, there is, among some people, a real disrespect for federal employees, animated by their disrespect for the government generally. So if you’re hostile to government, you’re then . . . hostile to those who work in government.”

For the USDA this means part of that behemoth will be moving to the Kansas City area. And if I lived in either Kansas or Missouri, I’d be offended. They got some crazy little women there, but I don’t think they hurt no one.

The left is acting like the destination really is Somalia — not that there’s anything wrong with that!

The WoePost, which slavishly covers the federal workforce, even has a swamp columnist. Joe Davidson writes the impending move of the Economic Research Service portion of the USDA has caused employees to “quit in droves.”

Which only proves the “drove” isn’t what it was formerly cracked up to be. The total headcount of this “drove” was six employees. That doesn’t even qualify as a crowded elevator, but it’s typical of the sky–is–falling response to any change in the bureaucracy.

The average employee attrition at ERS had been about one–per–month. After Sec. Sonny Perdue heralded the crack of doom and the arrival of Mayflower, the attrition rate doubled to two–per–month. For a 300–person agency the former rate was 4 percent and the doom–laden rate was 8 percent, which is still much less than the nationwide attrition rate for “government, education & non–profit employment sector” of 11.2 percent.

Even the relatively humane approach of the Trump administration is twisted into a choice between life among the wretches who pay their salary and professional suicide: “The Agriculture Department is offering employees a rare choice: accept a forced transfer to a post 1,000 miles away or be fired.” Having a choice certainly beats the George Clooney treatment where an employee is escorted to a conference room while his office is packed up in his absence. But that’s the savage private sector, not the humane, understanding federal government.

We’re also supposed to be concerned about the priceless “scientific talent” the nation will be using, but when you remember it was USDA “scientists” that foisted the high carb – low fat diet on the nation that resulted in an obesity epidemic, I think we can get along just fine without them.

And they can take their BMI index, too.

The Bureau of Land Management is also pulling up stakes. The plan is to move “84 percent of the agency’s headquarters staff west of the Rockies.” Coverage there was equally grim. “This announcement is deeply unsettling, and has created a lot of uncertainty for us,” the participant said. “The best part of my job is my co-workers, and they are working to tear us apart for purely political reasons. I’m sick to my stomach.”

I’m wondering when we’ll start seeing photos of former USDA employees sitting on the top of railroad cars heading to Canada for asylum when this item caught my eye, “Other employees embraced the reorganization, according to the meeting participant, asking how early they can leave Washington.

Yet, strangely enough, there were no quotes or additional information from employees happy with the impending move.

It’s tough to take this wailing and gnashing of teeth seriously when it’s accepted government practice to shuffle military families like balls in a bingo drum, but somehow moving a bureaucrat is cruel and unusual punishment.

Conservatives should cheer this Trump initiative. It’s not shrinking the size of government, but it is breaking up the concentration of bureaucratic empire–building in the metro DC area. Why shouldn’t the entire USDA be moved to the Midwest where it’s closer to the farming heartland? Why shouldn’t the Dept. of Energy be moved to an area where energy production is supported and not condemned?

Best of all, maybe the work habits of average citizens will rub off on the newly–arrived swamp denizens.

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Evidently Ahab Mueller Wasn’t the Captain of the Pequod

There are some questions that just aren’t asked at a hearing because the questions are superfluous. The answers are part of everyone’s database. At least everyone who counts.

Adam Zyglis: The Buffalo News

When Special Prosecutor Robert ‘Ahab’ Mueller testified before the House I would’ve asked about FISA warrant applications. Why Sen. Diane Feinstein was warned about a Chinese spy in her office but Trump was put under surveillance. And why Republicans were indicted and Democrats weren’t.

It never would have occurred to me to ask Mueller if he was familiar with the Steele Dossier and Fusion GPS. Knowledge of those two entities was taken as a given.

Only everybody didn’t know.

As the rabidly anti–Trump, pro–Russia–Collusion Politico reported, when Mueller was asked about the Steele Dossier and Fusion GPS, “He said he was unfamiliar with the so-called ‘Steele dossier’” and he was equally “unfamiliar” with Fusion GPS.

This is the equivalent of Dr. Robert Oppenheimer — the director of the Manhattan Project — being “unfamiliar” with uranium and Albert Einstein. The Pope being “unfamiliar” with the New Testament. Or Abbott being “unfamiliar” with Costello.

The Steele Dossier was the basis of Russia Collusion Delusion. It was used to get a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. It is the genesis of the entire investigation.

Fusion GPS is the band of sleazes who tried to peddle the lies contained in the Steele Dossier to law enforcement and the media. One of the Fusion staff is married to a top FBI official who influenced the investigation.

Without Fusion GPS there is no Steele Dossier and without the Steele Dossier there is no special prosecutor. This entire investigation and its corruption of the FBI and Justice Department was like Watergate if Woodward and Bernstein were the burglars and then tried to pin the job on Nixon.

How could Mueller not be aware of both?

A brief Google search on Fusion GPS produces almost 92 million hits. A news search has 836,000 references. A similar search on Steele Dossier has 2.3 million general hits and 75,000 news mentions. Federal retirees are always griping about their pension, but surely Mueller can afford an iPad and a Panera gift card.

The Opposition Media made Ahab Mueller into an icon of integrity and gravitas. That lasted until he opened his mouth. Mueller sounded like the confused, out–of–touch senior citizen the left claims Donald Trump is when they have dreams of invoking the 25th Amendment.

Mueller was only there to give the investigation a patina of probity while the 19 Angry Democrats went to work. Evidently, Mueller showed up at the office looking iconish, played some computer solitaire, went home to watch Walter Cronkite and then to bed.

This explains why the investigation went so far outside the parameters of the Dept. of Justice brief. Mueller couldn’t run a canasta game at an assisted living center. The 19 Angry Democrats kept him topped up on Ensure and out of the way.

It was like Howie Carr said on the radio, “I asked why [Mueller] was bringing a lawyer with him, when it was clear from his earlier press conference at the Justice Department that what he really needed was a nurse.”

Even if the Justice Dept. figured out something was amiss they lacked the courage to rein in the investigation. Trying to supervise what was going on in the Special Prosecutor’s Office would likely result in leaks to the OpMedia’s Hallelujah Chorus claiming “interference.” Then the predicate is set for “obstruction charges” thrown back at the Dept. of Justice. The Special Prosecutor’s Office was an iron triangle.

Mueller’s abysmal performance did prove me wrong. Ahab Mueller wasn’t the captain of the Pequod. He’s the figurehead. His testimony was like watching the movie ‘Cocoon’ only Mueller was still at the bottom of the pool.

Former Cong. Trey Gowdy summed the performance up best when he said, “The person that learned the most about the Mueller Report today was Bob Mueller.”

Rachel Maddow wants Democrats to dig a deeper hole. She’s says Mueller’s performance, “lights a fire under the need to speak to the people on his team who actually did the work.” Mark Levin is good with that, “Andrew Weissmann should have been testifying today…But they’re protecting Weissmann because he is the Svengali behind all of this in my humble opinion.”

One thing is certain. After his performance this week, Ahab Mueller is one of the few Trump haters who won’t be cashing in on the lecture circuit.

Trump Endorsed by a Turk

(The Census marks yet another cut–and–run by Trump, but I hate to waste a column.)

The Associated Press Gotcha Patrol has discovered President Trump’s Facebook man–in–the–street campaign videos are using actors instead of supporters. Even worse many of the streets are in Turkey or Paris.

Take the bearded “Thomas from Washington,” who is more likely Mohammed from Izmir. Thats a city in Turkey, a country that’s barely an ally, much less a supplier of hipster endorsers of Trump.

Mohammed says, Trump is “in our prayers for strength and wisdom from God almighty.” Substitute Erdogan for Trump and Allah for God and the ad’s veracity is absolute.

Reporter Bernard Condon has a valid point when he writes, “[Using actors] raises the question why a campaign that can fill arenas with supporters would have to buy stock footage of models.”

The use of models is a shortcut. A shortcut any experienced political ad maker would not take because of the potential for stories like this. As GOP media consultant Fred Davis remarked, “Whoever did this is probably 22 years old, and they’re going through pictures and thought, ‘This is a great picture.’”

Using normal people for commercials means finding someone who is camera–worthy, articulate and will pass a background check. The process involves travel, recruitment and hours in the edit bay taking snippets of the interview and building an ad. And that’s just before the commercial airs.

After the broadcast the campaign ad team has to hope the supporter isn’t arrested, hit with a restraining order or changes sides and endorses the opponent.

The use of overseas models eliminates all those variables, besides I thought the Opposition Media was in favor of global free trade.

Realistically, Trump’s use of paid models is just as authentic as his promise to build a wall, stop illegals crossing the border and deport the illegals already in the USA.

Which brings us to the latest adventure of the Gang That Couldn’t Administer Straight.

Since the Dept. of Commerce is part of the executive branch and is in charge of the census, determining what questions are asked should be a routine executive function.

Unfortunately for the slapstick Trump he’s in a governmental civil war and as Carl von Clausewitz posited, “War is very simple, but in War the simplest things become very difficult.” Adding a citizenship question that asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” in this environment is the very definition of simple but difficult.

The census is crucial because it determines the number of congressmen each state has and it’s used as part of the formula for federal handouts. Counting illegals and other aliens gives political power to leftist sanctuary states at the expense of states that don’t go out of their way to welcome a criminal class.

It stands to reason that a census of the United States should be a census of citizens of the US and not citizens of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and points south.

The administration should’ve been prepared for a court challenge. Commerce either was not prepared or — in keeping with usual Trump personnel office policies — it picked a team of Resistance collaborators to defend the question.

The Supreme Court upheld previous rulings deporting the citizenship question, although Chief Justice John ‘The Weathervane’ Roberts gave Trump an out when he said the administration could resubmit the question with a justification that made sense.

Naturally Trump’s legal team enthusiastically embraced surrender. Team leader Joshua Gardner evidently learned the lesson of Sally Yates. Instead of refusing to defend administration policy you personally dislike, just do a lousy job and celebrate your defeat.

The Tweeter–in–Chief may have realized that voters might cut you some slack on building a giant border wall. They could understand how deporting 29 million illegals would require some preparation time. But dropping the ball on a nine–word question was something else again.

Trump tweeted he was “absolutely moving forward” with the question.

Currently in–house Resistance is telling Trump no can do. It’s ¡imposible! The administration must move muy pronto to make the deadline. This is correct only if lawyers move at their usual foot–dragging, government worker speed.

Hugh Hewitt, a lawyer in the Reagan administration, suggested Trump bypass court altogether, issue a “new executive order” directing Commerce to “add such questions for particular reasons” and conduct the census.

Trump and his micro attention span are in the driver’s seat. The Resistance has thwarted Trump when he wanted to take an action, they don’t have a response to inaction. Trump can simply sit on the census until he gets a questionnaire that’s best for citizens and not criminals nervous about being caught.

When you get right down to it, delaying the census beats accelerating the takeover by illegals.

Virginia’s Blackface Governor Left Red-faced

Democrats and gun control are a case of Lucy holding and simultaneously trying to kick her own football. For the true believers in Virginia, the next off–year election is always going to be the one that hinges on gun control and returns Democrats to a level of power they haven’t enjoyed since the issue of the day was finally allowing blacks to vote.

Steve Sack Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Democrat’s last attempt to exploit tragedy and make gun control relevant was in 2015 and the results were dismal. Now in 2019 Democrats are going to try again as Gov. Ralph “Blackface” Northam (D–Shinola) tries to get out from under his personal cloud of scandal and become relevant again.

Northam’s political credibility was destroyed when a college yearbook photo of him either covered in blackface or dressed in Klan robes surfaced. Northam has never been viewed as a smooth political operator and his Responsibility Hokey–Pokey in the aftermath didn’t help matters.

First, he was in the picture. Then he was out. Then Northam shook it all about and admitted he had worn blackface when he entered a Michael Jackson contest. How denying he wore blackface in a yearbook photo, but admitting he did so later made a difference remains a mystery to me.

Northam refused demands from his own party to resign and instead resorted to the first refuge of a scoundrel – race baiting.

He pledged to devote the remainder of his single term in office to ‘racial reconciliation.’ One would think in a state that elected a black governor in 1990 and twice voted for Obama the races were pretty much reconciled, but ginning up imaginary racial grievances was Northam’s only hope for survival.

Then in an irony of ironies it looked like Northam’s career was saved by a black man!

A disgruntled city engineer on the verge of being fired or a model employee known for his sunny disposition — accounts differ according whether you plan to sue the city or you’re a city bureaucrat trying to avoid a lawsuit — killed 12 people in a Virginia Beach shooting inside a municipal building.

Northam pounced. He called a special session of the legislature and threw his support behind a laundry list of gun control measures:

“Universal” background checks; “assault rifle” bans, scary accessory bans; requiring gun owners to report theft or loss within 24 hours; “Red–flag” law; Prohibiting guns for individuals subject to a final protective order; reviving an ineffective law that limited handgun purchases to one–per–month; and allowing cities and counties to create a confusing patchwork of gun hysteria laws the legislature refused to pass.

It was the usual collection of don’t work and won’t work. Even our Kloset Klansman governor admitted this gun–grabbing dog’s breakfast wouldn’t have prevented the Virginia Beach shooting. That attack occurred in a building that was already a “Gun–Free Zone.”

Democrats conducted a series of carefully controlled show trials, excuse me, town hall meetings leading up to the session to generate favorable Opposition Media news coverage and raise public awareness. They were looking forward to a special session of fiery speeches and showboating politicians.

Northam could hardly wait for news conferences that would not include any questions about how to remove shoe polish and what thread–count sheet makes the best hood.

Anti–gun advocates even invited Andy Parker the out–of–control gun control advocate. Parker is the father of a TV reporter who was gunned down by a disgruntled homosexual black former co–worker in a high–profile shooting in 2015. Parker made gun control commercials for Democrats and afterwards threatened to assault a legislator who failed to send a condolence note and called other members “cowards.”

That resulted in the discussion going from ‘Do we need more gun–buyer background checks’, to ‘do we need more gun control spokesman background checks?’

On July 9th the special session convened and 90 minutes later the General Assembly voted to adjourn until after the November election. A shocked Northam — seeing his chance for relevance leaving town with the delegates — told the Washington Post, “I expected them to do what their constituents elected them to do — discuss issues and take votes.”

The WoePost immediately teed up the football. “The gun issue is likely to supercharge what is already shaping up to be a pivotal election year in Virginia…Democrats, who are hoping to take control of both chambers for the first time in more than 20 years, wasted no time Tuesday in embracing gun control as a rallying cry for their base.”

It’s hard not to gloat, but my favorite part of the coverage came when the House of Delegates voted to adjourn. In the gallery an angry male shouted, “Gutless bastards!” The Post had it as an anonymous, anguished cry, but my money is on Andy Parker.

*****************************

CLARIFICATION:

I’m glad I didn’t bet on Andy Parker being the individual who shouted from the House of Delegates Gallery. After this was written, I received an email from Parker that made a very convincing case on why it wasn’t him: “That wasn’t me shouting from the gallery.  Like everything I’ve done, I own up to it.”

Therefore, unless someone contacts me taking credit for the outburst, the perpetrator will remain anonymous.

Trump’s Healthcare Transparency Round 2

President Trump’s second go–round with healthcare pricing marks the first time I can recall a consistent effort on his part to achieve a goal in the face of opposition. Something sadly lacking in the immigration fight.

Daryl Cagle, caglecartoons.com

January was his first attempt. The Department of Health and Human Services required hospitals to begin posting ‘Chargemaster’ rates for medical procedures on their websites. The goal was to give consumers access to price information on medical procedures that had been negotiated with the government.

The Chargemaster is a typical government conspiracy against the taxpayer. It’s so complicated only industry insiders and federal employees have even a remote chance of grasping any useful information. It lists every possible treatment a customer can be subjected to, broken down into individual components.

Trying to estimate what it would cost to deliver a baby is like determining the cost of a new car by adding up the price of every individual part contained in the car. Even worse, those prices don’t reflect lower negotiated prices. That level of complexity and irrelevance still wasn’t good enough for the Uriah Heeps inhabiting hospital executive suites.

The regulation specified Chargemaster prices had to be published in a “computer friendly” format, so some of these parasites published the data in a format only a computer could understand. NBC found,”…[hospitals] made their prices available as JSON or XML documents, file formats more often used by programmers and data analysts than consumers.”

Back to the drawing board.

This time Trump signed an executive order directing bureaucrats to write a regulation requiring hospitals to post prices including “standard charge information, including charges and information based on negotiated rates and for common or shoppable items.”

That vagueness is what bothers me. What qualifies as a “shoppable item.” Is a bandaid shoppable, while a tonsillectomy isn’t? Knowing the price difference between a bandaid at MegaCare and CVS is not going to be useful, while knowing the difference between the cost of hysterectomy (I’m trying to be inclusive) at Catholic Charity Hospital and Pagan Price–Fixer Hospital is.

How much usable information consumers gain from Trump’s executive order really depends on whether or not the bureaucrat writing the regulation plans to go to work for a hospital or insurance company after he leaves government ‘service.’

Even that ominous prospect for consumers is too uncertain a variable for the Healthcare Industrial Complex. According to them any knowledge is a dangerous thing in the hands of a civilian. Rick Pollack, a professional liar for the American Hospital Association, claimed during an interview with Modern Health Care, “Publicly posting privately negotiated rates could, in fact, undermine the competitive forces of private market dynamics, and result in increased prices.”

My challenge to readers is to add the word ‘cars’ or ‘new homes’ to that sentence and try not to laugh.

The other disquieting news is that price disclosure could be interpreted to mean out–of–pocket cost for the patient. High health insurance deductibles sometimes provide a perverse incentive. Some potential patients may choose the highest out–of–pocket expense to satisfy all his  deductible and make the rest of that year’s care “free.”

Making a dent in healthcare costs requires a two–pronged approach that provides information to consumers and an incentive to price compare.

Simply require hospitals to post the lowest turnkey prices for the 25 most common surgical procedures; the 25 most common outpatient procedures and the 25 most common tests. The government should know what it’s paying for, so generating this list is easy.

Second, give consumers an incentive to choose a lower price by sharing the saving with him. For instance, charges for a knee replacement vary from $32,500 to $22,700.

Instead of pocketing the $9,800 saved by choosing the lower cost option, encourage insurance companies to share by applying ten percent of the savings to the patient’s deductible for that year. The patient would pay ten percent of the procedure ($2,270) and the insurance company would apply ten percent of the savings ($980) and their deductible for the year would be satisfied.

To ensure this wasn’t a one–time–only cost–conscious decision by the consumer, the insurer could continue to apply ten percent of procedure savings to future deductibles.

My proposal is simple, clean and understandable and it will work to lower healthcare costs. This is why there is no chance swamp bureaucrats will follow my advice.

Instead I fear we will still be stuck in a situation Sen. Angus King (I–ME) aptly described to the Wall Street Journal, “I know of no other business [healthcare] where you have no idea what something’s going to cost, and you can’t find out even if you ask.”

Food Expiration Dates Are a Conspiracy

Scott Nash is my hero this week. I’m so proud of him I might even spend some money in his out–of–the–way and somewhat expensive grocery store. Nash is the founder and CEO of Mom’s Organic Market and the Washington Post featured him this week.

(That’s another breakthrough. Normally the WoePost only features victims – real or imagined – and their downer stories. The story with Nash, on the other hand, was happy, upbeat, positive and scientific!)

For the past year, Nash has been eating food that is past its “expiration date.” The story explains, “He ate a cup of yogurt months after its expiration date. Then tortillas a year past their expiration date. ‘I mean, I ate heavy cream I think 10 weeks past date,’ Nash said, ‘and then meat sometimes a good month past its date. It didn’t smell bad. Rinse it off, good to go.’ It was all part of his year-long experiment to test the limits of food that had passed its expiration date.”

The heavy cream is no big deal. That ultra–pasteurized sugar suspension has the shelf life of Uranium–238. The meat is another story. That’s putting your theory where your mouth is. It’s the grocery–shopping equivalent of Dr. Barry Marshall who drank a glass of Helicobacter pylori to prove bacteria causes ulcers.

I’ve told my anti–science family for years that ‘expiration dates’ are a manufacturer’s scam to convince consumers to throw out perfectly good products and buy unnecessary replacements. The key word in the conspiracy being “buy.”

They moan “it’s expired” and I reply the product is only gaining momentum.

This is one of the rare times when the government and I agree, except maybe for the conspiracy part.

Even the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute has admitted, “‘Best if used by’ describes product quality, meaning the product might not taste as good past the date but is safe to eat. ‘Use by’ is for products that are highly perishable and should be used or tossed by that date.”

The jig should have been up even for the most gullible shopper when they started putting expiration dates on WATER! But sheeplike consumers just nodded and thought, “Gee, I didn’t know that. How old the water in our pool?”

Enviros should be on this like methane on cows, but they are noticeable for their absence. Tossing perfectly good food is wasteful and as the WoePost advises, “And you are not just wasting calories and money. You are wasting all the resources that went into growing, packaging and transporting that food.”

Here’s my handy guide to food longevity. Produce and fruit take care of themselves without government intervention. Canned meat is fine years after the ‘expiration date’ unless the can is bulging. The same goes for soup and canned vegetables. Candy and other bars are best judged individually. Cliff bars and protein bars just become more chewy, helping to cancel out some of the calories. Hard candy is good until Jesus returns. Snickers are fine, but the peanut butter in Reese’s Cups will become hard and develop a clay-like . It’s edible but not pleasurable.

Soft drinks will become flat in a few years, but remain drinkable. Snapple on the other hand won’t. I had a bottle of Diet Peach Tea this week that was of the 2016 vintage and it was awful.

With dairy products let your nose be your guide.

Currently, the feds only require expiration notices on infant formula. The other dates are part of the conspiracy. That may be changing. Emily Broad Leib a nanny affiliated with the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic has plans. “We’re going to need the main government agencies that regulate food to be able to say: These are what these labels mean. When you see these on products, here’s what you should do, here’s how you should interpret them.”

She also wants to bring back criminal penalties for those who wantonly tear the tags off of mattresses.

Scott, for his part, maintains, “Some things just shouldn’t be dated.”

I agree. My list of undated items would include water, ‘cheese food’, Twinkies and buttermilk, which is immortal. Buttermilk’s enemy isn’t time, it’s evaporation.

How Costco Ruined Buying a New Car

And it’s not just Costco. There’s plenty of blame to share. Consumer Reports, Sam’s Club, BJ’s and every other organization that promises to guarantee participants the lowest price possible on a new car are all co–conspirators.

This may seem hard to believe but until the ‘90s it was almost impossible for consumers to find accurate car price information. A sheep, excuse me, customer entering a car dealership was presented with a situation where the dealer had all the cars and all the price information.

Even worse, dealers would not discuss price over the phone. Buyers had to go to each individual dealership and be waterboarded by a different ‘sales team.’

The sales process was akin to the procedure the KGB used to force the condemned to sign confessions. The customer sat in an uncomfortable chair while a team of ‘good salesman’ and ‘bad salesman’ badgered you with false promises and assurances that if you’d just sign the sales agreement they’d let you go to the bathroom.

Asking to see the invoice on a car was greeted with laughter or outright hostility, much like the response one gets today after asking a hospital administrator what a hernia operation will cost.

If a customer had a couple of weeks to visit every dealer within a reasonable radius of home and a high tolerance for psychological pressure, there was a chance he could negotiate an excellent price.

Consumer Reports ended that agonizing process by first providing accurate cost information and second, by urging customers to negotiate over the phone instead of submitting to the time–consuming process of in–person visits for every dealer.

That put customers and dealers on a level playing field. Even with information, many car buyers still hated the negotiation process. Edmunds found 33 percent of the car–buying population would rather do taxes, go to the DMV, sit in the middle seat of an airplane or watch Beto live–stream a root canal than negotiate car prices.

Costco, CR and other like–minded marketers responded with a car–buying service for their customers. Some charge for the service and others just direct you to a dealership where the price has already been negotiated. All of the services promise to eliminate negotiation.

Which is the problem. Today’s consumer can’t seem to figure out the “No Haggle — No Hassel” pricing has a flip side, which is “Take It or Leave It.”

As dealer Brent Emon commented on the Three Thrifty Guys site, “I can say that there is ALWAYS someone who will buy our car at our price. It’s not like that poor Corolla is going to rot away on the lot because you walked away, it just means we sell it tomorrow instead of today.”

So Costco et al did eliminate negotiation, most because the dealers stopped.

I have yet to buy or lease a car from a Costco dealer, even after getting the Costco price, because they won’t budge from that number. And many other CR or TrueCar dealers are doing the same.

I blame the buying and price quote services. Consumers are so sheep–like they would rather take a price set by a third party — secure in the knowledge if the price is high they aren’t the only people paying it — than use that price as a starting point to negotiate their own deal.

Dealers like Emon conclude if cars are going off the lot at the “No Haggle – No Hassel” then why waste time trying to seal the deal with a penny–pincher like me? There’s always some relieved Millennial to take my place.

The last two times I’ve leased a car only one dealer of the five or six I contacted had a salesman ready to negotiate a deal, instead of order–takers who wait for a customer to buy at the set price.

I once had a Mercedes finance manager tell me that on some days a customer would come into the dealership, see the list price of a car on the window sticker and write him a check for the full amount. And he didn’t feel the least bit guilty for making a premium on that car, because on other days people like me would come into the dealership.

Don’t passively put dealers that won’t negotiate in the driver’s seat again. Make them talk or take a walk.

George Soros Continues to Collect District Attorneys

Last week’s Democrat primary in Virginia’s Fairfax and Arlington Counties was great news for companies whose business model includes cleaning human poop off the sidewalk. The sanctimonious leftists in both counties just nominated new prosecutors who plan on increasing justice by ignoring crime.

Thanks to almost $1 million contributed by George Soros, Parisa Dehghani–Tafti defeated the incumbent DA in Arlington and Steve Descano defeated the incumbent in Fairfax. Those two victories bring the total number of campaigns that Soros has tried to buy to at least 23.

The $583,000 that Soros gave Tafti represented 78 percent of her total campaign budget. The $392,000 George sent Descano was marginally less at 71 percent of his budget. In those two true blue counties winning the Democrat primary means winning in November, too.

So, what did Soros buy? Two more DAs who won’t be prosecuting “quality of life” crimes. This means that in Northern Virginia, just like in San Francisco, pooping in public, being drunk in public, camping in public, sleeping in public, shooting up in public and waving your pubes in public will no longer be illegal.

These “reform” DAs also won’t ask for the death penalty, won’t prosecute for “minor property crimes” and will be working as hard as they can to end “mass incarceration.” I can’t think of another elected office where the winner got there by promising he will take a laid–back approach to performing the duties of office.

Maybe you’re skeptical and wondering just how bad could it really be living under a Soro’s DA? Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx — the woman who broomed the charges pending against racial incident hoaxer Jussie Smollett — was a $408,000 addition to the Soros CollectionTM.

The politically naïve will contend the two new Virginia DAs — who between themselves have never tried a criminal case in state court —told the Washington Post both campaign’s issues were “use[ing] their discretion to no longer prosecute marijuana possession, ask for cash bail or pursue the death penalty. They said they would expand efforts to keep nonviolent offenders out of jail and charge in ways that lead to lower sentences across the board.”

Nothing about sidewalk BMs and discarded syringes there. That is true. And that is irrelevant.

Soros knows exactly how Tafti and Descano will operate in office because his PAC interviewed them in person. If both of these worthies weren’t chapter and verse on the Soros Soft on Crime program, George never would’ve cut a check. What they said in private to Soros’ operatives and what they fed the public only bear a slight resemblance.

In addition, Descano explained to Inside Nova that he “would not charge theft of property under $1,500 at the felony level.” And Tafti quoted, in Bacon’s Rebellion, is appalled that “Arlington produces felony convictions at two to three times the rate of neighboring counties despite having less crime.”

Watching where they step on the sidewalk will be the least of Arlington and Fairfax county residents problems in the near future. Wait until someone breaks into Buffy’s Prius and steals her airbag and stash of granola bars. Buffy’s not going to be happy when she learns fighting “mass incarceration” doesn’t involve fighting street crime.

Speaking of “mass incarceration” Michele Hanisee, President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, corrected another Soros’ candidate on that topic, “…as of 2016, 91 percent of state prison inmates are serving time for a violent, serious or sexual offense.”

Those aren’t black teenagers caught taking a toke or shoplifting Juul cartridges. Those are hardened criminals and if they’re back on the street in California or Virginia you will be reading about them sooner or later.

Another characteristic of Soros’ DAs is mass firings when they do take office. If I were a prosecutor in either county I would not be taking on any long–term financial commitments.

As the LA Times reported, “In Philadelphia, Soros financed DA Larry Krasner fired 31 DDA’s in his first week of office; nearly one-third were in the homicide unit and included a prosecutor set to begin a murder trial the following Monday …In Houston, the Soros financed DA Kim Ogg …fired 37 veteran prosecutors in pursuit of her “culture change.”

The Post assures voters neither Laurel nor Hardy, excuse me, Tafti or Descano “has plans to fire career prosecutors.” But Descano muses, “the question is, can these individuals can get on the program with reform?”

I’m guessing the answer will be no.

Both Tafti and Descano want to re–write the law without bothering to go to Richmond. If a conservative did this, it would be called ‘tyranny.’ When leftists do it, the term is ‘reform.’

It’s Time for Trump to Take On Mitch McConnell

This week we have one of those rare occasions when government priorities and government funding match exactly. Fox News reports, “Loose change left at airports may be used to help fund border operations.”

RJ Matson; CQ Roll Call

If you need additional proof Washington, Inc. doesn’t give a damn about stopping and reversing illegal immigration this should do it.

Maybe Trump will order the Pentagon to go through the seats looking for nickels after Nancy Pelosi commandeers a military jet to take her home on weekends.

Pelosi, though isn’t the problem. She’s doing what she promised her voters. The House isn’t the problem. Even under the ‘leadership’ of Paul RINO immigration bills were passed and forwarded to the Senate.

The problem is the Senate. Even when Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses nothing was done. People are tired of an immigration policy that only works against citizens and the Chamber of Commerce conservatives who refuse to change it.

Already Sen. Thom Tillis (R–Carolina del Norte) has a primary opponent named Garland Tucker III who is running TV commercials. Sen. Susan Collins (R–Intermittantly) has a primary opponent, as does Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–Weathervane). All fit Tucker Carlson’s description of our ruling class, “decadent and narcissistic.”

These primary opponents are a start, because without a change in the Senate, retaking the House and re–electing Trump will be as meaningless for border enforcement as it was in 2016.

The only way for Trump to send a message that he demands cooperation from the Senate is if he personally defeats his main roadblock: Curator of the Senate Mitch McConnell.

McConnell has treated Trump and his agenda with thinly disguised disdain since the election. McConnell’s claim to fame is mere longevity in office as if he were a turtle only to be valued by how long he has been in existence.

McConnell is completely undisturbed by the single most important issue facing the nation, the approximately 30 million illegal aliens already living inside our borders.

Instead of bucking the cheap labor lobby that supports the world’s first taxpayer–subsidized invasion, McConnell proudly introduces trivial legislation to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21.

“Youth vaping is a public health crisis,” McConnell announces while the real crisis is bussing the table in the restaurant where he eats.

As long as McConnell is ‘leading’ the Senate, Trump’s immigration agenda and reducing the size of government is dead. (Although Mitch and Jared – that negotiating fool – might be able to work something out on keeping Mitch’s wife as part of the cabinet during the second term, too.)

The Curator is gearing up for his 2020 re–election by trumpeting his two biggest accomplishments: Acting as the Judicial Human Resources Dept. for the White House and increasing the national debt.

Instead of tweeting about whatever has penetrated his thin skin this morning, President Trump should be lining up and funding a primary challenger for McConnell. Mitch’s approval rating among Kentucky voters is what pollsters term “underwater.” Fifty–six percent disapprove of job his performance while only 33 percent approve.

But wait until they find out about his get tough policy on Juul!

Trump on the other hand is vastly more popular. His approval rating is 61 percent compared to a disapproval of 35 percent. Even in 2016 Trump was more popular. He carried Kentucky by 30 points, while McConnell two years before won by only 16.

Challenging McConnell in the primary isn’t exactly a suicide mission. His last challenger, Matt Bevin, is now the state’s governor.

If Trump recruited a primary challenger and then put his charisma and his cash behind the challenger I believe the Mitch the Turtle would be soup. More important, it would send a message to the rest of the housebroken conservatives in the Senate that there are real costs to opposing the president’s agenda.

And so what if the challenger loses? Could McConnell pass any less of Trump’s immigration and border security legislation? How much more passive aggression does the Curator contain?

Either Trump changes the composition of the Senate or his administration will have accomplished less than the Bush Interregnum. The only difference being Trump’s was noisier.

Virginia’s Shinola Democrats Still Holding Out

I’ve often wondered what would happen if a politician simply ignored heated demands that he resign in shame over some leftist grievance. Naturally, I assumed it would be a Republican holding out in Assad–like resistance to tires burning in the street and Twitter mobs lobbing 280–character barrages.

Adam Zyglis; The Buffalo News, NY

Mistaken assumption. We now have three Democrat politicians in Richmond holding on to office in spite of demands from their own party that they resign.

When I last wrote about The Three ¡Carambas! in February, Democrats were watching in horror as the political dominoes fell. As each one toppled, the left’s demands for racial and sexual purity became less and less strident.

The Richmond crisis involved the top three statewide officials in the Commonwealth.

It began as a rock–and–a–hard–place college photo of Gov. Ralph Northam (D–Shinola) where the governor was either sporting blackface or was dressed in Klan formal wear.

Northam began a frantic performance of the Responsibility Hokey–Pokey (I’m desperately hoping neither Amos nor Andy ever made a reference to this dance). First, he was in the picture. Then he was out. Then Northam shook it all about and admitted he had worn blackface when he entered a Michael Jackson contest.

How portraying a child–molester was an improvement over insulting black people in general was never explained.

Northam looked like he was toast, which doesn’t require the application shoe polish.

With Moonwalk out, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would take over. Fairfax was young and black it would be perfect symmetry justice.

That lasted until two women accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting them. Both were credible. Both were black. And both were Democrats.

Northam and Fairfax would be embarrassing, but the job would fall to Attorney General Mark Herring, who had already called for Northam’s resignation. Sure, Herring was as white as Col. Sanders, but he had already proven himself a reliable ideological rubberstamp for the left.

Then the other can of shoe polish dropped. Herring said he had also participated in a pigment party, although he didn’t offer any photographic proof.

After Herring was the abyss.

Next in the line of succession was Speaker Kirk Cox and he was a Republican. Suddenly institutional racial outrages were youthful dalliances and innocent until proven guilty was once again applied to charges of sexual assault.

Almost four months later The Three ¡Carambas! are still in office. Northam has been laying low, looking for the real killers. For some strange reason the medical school that published the yearbook hired an expensive Richmond law firm to find out who was pictured on Ralph Northam’s yearbook page.

This was a little like hiring a law firm to find out who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb.

There are four photos on the yearbook page titled “Ralph Shearer Northam.” The non–mystery photos are a portrait shot, a cowboy hat with beer shot and a leaning against a sports car photo. The fourth is the two–shot of the blackface and the Klansman that mysteriously appeared on Northam’s page. Both are holding a beer and it’s the same brand Northam holds with his cowboy hat.

The law firm disagreed that nothing propinqs like propinquity and found that even though the photo is on Northam’s page, who’s pictured is unknown.

Justin Fairfax has been busy, too. He hired a polygraph expert — the same one whose results were used to attack Judge Brett Kavanaugh — and the expert concludes Fairfax believes he didn’t assault either woman. And that’s good enough for Fairfax.

Finally, there’s Mark Herring. He’s on a racial reconciliation tour according to the Washington Post. And in that lies the explanation for Northam and Herring’s survival. Virginia’s black leaders have realized these two politicians — desperate to keep their tarnished jobs — are now what amounts to personal Reparations ATMs.

There is no chance Northam or Herring will oppose black Democrat demands for anything. When Northam is in public he always has at least one black person near for protective cover and Herring is doing the same.

Fighting ‘systemic racism’ and keeping every black Democrat happy means keeping their job. Consequently, until their terms end no ask is too big.