In the blood feud between the Insane Far Left and the Lunatic Far Right, each of them a ridiculously small portion of the body politic, it’s easy to lose track of what is actually at stake in the current election.

As we watch Democrats encourage acts of violence and intimidation against Trump administration officials and continue to assert that Trump is impeachable because of fake evidence of collusion with Russia (a nation we are not at war with), it is easy to think that our choice this election is between Trump on one side and the Democrats on the other.

During the primary elections, the Trumpicle candidates vilified incumbent Republican senators and congressmen because they were not sufficiently subservient to Trump and his agenda. They talked as if genuine statesmen like Paul Ryan and John McCain were evil because they weren’t Trump’s puppets.

So they, too, would like you to regard this election as a referendum on Donald Trump.

It isn’t.

Almost every time Trump speaks or tweets, he reminds us of why most Republicans preferred other candidates during the primaries in 2016. If you remember, Trump ran against the Republicans in Congress.

When he was elected with no popular groundswell of public support, the congressional Republicans owed him exactly nothing.

So why should it surprise anybody that the only parts of the Trumpicle agenda that have made it through Congress are the ones that Republicans would have supported with or without Trump?

A stronger military. Federal judges who don’t believe they have the right to legislate from the bench. Less federal regulation of businesses. A robust, pro-American foreign policy.

(They haven’t repealed Obamacare, because Obamacare was a one-way road. As I said at the time it was enacted: Even though it was a fraudulent law, if the Republicans repeal it, Democrats will accuse them of hurting poor people – in other words, they will pretend that Obamacare actually did any of the things it was supposed to do.

(So instead of repealing it, Republicans can only tweak it and try to revise it until we have a system that is slightly less repulsive and destructive than the one that Obama’s administration left us with.

(If Republicans repeal Obamacare, the victims of Obama’s healthcare fraud will blame them. And the national media will go along with the scam.

(That’s a fact that congressional Republicans have to deal with. So no, they aren’t repealing Obamacare and they’re unlikely even to make a serious attempt to do so.)

This is a congressional election. Trump is not on the ballot.

So when you look at the ballot, and you see a candidate in the Democrat column and a candidate in the Republican column, a vote for the Democrat is not a vote against Trump, and a vote for the Republican is not a vote for Trump.

Republicans in Congress are not the dutiful soldiers that the Democrats are. While Democrats almost never vote against their party leadership – because they know that if they do, the party leaders will put up a primary election challenger, as they did with Lieberman – Republicans have the ability to think for themselves.

I know, that’s almost unthinkable – and if Trump had his way, they would all be obedient little soldiers – but in fact, Republicans can be fairly moderate and sane, compared to the lunatics on the Far Right. John McCain stayed in office as long as he wanted, voting against the party line when he felt that was the right way to get the job done – and every Republican knows he or she has that option.

When you look at the name in the Republican column, you are not seeing someone whose vote will be controlled by the Tweeter-in-Chief. Even those who got the Republican nomination by convincing primary voters that they were true-blue Trumpicles will still have the ability to look at legislation and make up their own minds.

So if Trump demands that they do something that violates their conscience or that will hurt their chances of reelection or that will waste tax money, they have the option of voting as they see fit. They might even listen to their constituents.

They might actually bother to read legislation before they vote for or against it – something that Democrats don’t feel a need to do, as they proved with Obamacare.

And when you think back over hearings about Supreme Court nominees, please remember that Republicans never tried to smear Clinton’s or Obama’s nominees. In fact, many of them voted for Obama’s nominees because they were excellent judges and because the Constitution, which Republicans have actually read, says that the Senate doesn’t choose the Supreme Court, they are merely supposed to advise and consent.

Contrast that with how the Democratic mob behaved over Kavanaugh. Just as with Clarence Thomas, a judge of unquestioned integrity was attacked by a person of obviously faulty memory – at best. She will probably be able to make a career of her vaporous accusations, because the Far Left will insist that she must be believed.

But the American people know better. A sexual predator repeats his offenses – you know, like noted sexual predator Bill Clinton, whose support staff all knew they had to watch out for “bimbo eruptions” all the time. Likewise, Bill Cosby is going to jail for a pattern of behavior that met his weird predatory needs, and which lasted for decades.

But neither Clarence Thomas nor Brett Kavanaugh ever had a single credible witness against them. In both cases, they were being accused by a woman who was apparently the only one whom they treated in a predatory manner.

Which is why, despite the smear campaign, we knew that these good men did not do what they were accused of doing. (And if you instantly thought, “There’s no such thing as a ‘good man,’” then you are in the lunatic fringe I’ve been talking about.)

When you consider voting for the Democratic candidate for a congressional seat, please think about how no Democrat has spoken out against the behavior of the Left in those confirmation hearings (though one Democrat in a red state was allowed to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, since it was going to happen anyway).

Not one congressional Democrat has spoken against the mobbing, beatings, vandalism, slanders and other misbehaviors of the anti-Trump “resistance.”

Where were the Republican riots during Obama’s administration? If there were any, you can be sure many Republican leaders would have spoken out against them – and if they didn’t, the Leftist media would have demanded loudly to know why.

I found Donald Trump repulsive and annoying before he ran for president. I found him appalling with everything he did during the 2016 campaign. But when the Democrats offered a completely corrupt, dishonest candidate – the worst their party had to offer – to oppose him, I have to admit I was relieved when the Electoral College gave the presidency to the Republican.

That’s because I trusted the Republican majority in Congress to slow-walk his most insane proposals, and I trusted the Supreme Court to block any of his actions that were actually unconstitutional.

I figured that even though Trump got into office as a populist, running against both Democrats and Republicans, the congressional Republicans would act with integrity and independence – or at least with an eye toward reelection – to give us something approaching a moderate federal government.

And even though I am as embarrassed and disgusted by Trump as ever, I must say several things about him that might actually border on praise:

  1. He has actually tried to fulfill his campaign promises. Now, I really hate most of his campaign promises, but please keep in mind that this guy actually remembered what he promised and has tried to carry out that agenda.
  2. He has turned out to be somewhat better at international relations than his tweety record would suggest. He’s no diplomat – ever – but he seems to be able to work out reasonable deals sometimes. And he never humiliated us by duplicating Obama’s international apology tour. Trump isn’t ashamed to be American, the way Michelle Obama declared herself to be.
  3. He actually noticed that without the cooperation of Congress, he can’t get anything done, and when he tries to bully senators and representatives, it always backfires. So over the past year and a half, he’s actually been trying to work out compromises with Republicans in Congress – something Obama never even attempted.

But the fact that his administrative record has been more in line with moderate Republican principles than his rhetoric ever suggested is owed entirely to the Republican majority in Congress.

If we lose that majority, then the insane lynch mob mentality of the Democratic Party will cause us to face a two-year nightmare of attempts to enact their insane agenda – including the impeachment of the lawfully elected president.

In other words, the choice is not between Trump and those who don’t like Trump.

The choice is between a surprisingly moderate government balanced between Trump and congressional Republicans, or a radical Democratic Congress that believes every accusation against any Republican and punishes everybody who doesn’t bow to every ridiculous demand of the politically correct.

I stopped identifying as a Democrat during the 2016 party convention, when a woman got thunderous applause for declaring that she aborted her baby for no better reason than her personal convenience.

At that moment, I knew that the great moderate Democratic tradition of Daniel Patrick Moynihan was dead, replaced by a mob of mindless conformity, following the stupidest ideology ever to be espoused by a large number of American grownups since the end of slavery.

But I didn’t become a Republican, either, because I would immediately fit Sean Hannity’s definition of a RINO – a Republican In Name Only.

So I’m going into that voting booth as a nonmember of any political party – not because I don’t want to join a political party, but because there is no political party that speaks for moderation in, well, anything.

Like you, I will vote without knowing much more about any of the candidates than (a) their party affiliation and (b) whatever lies their opponents have told about them during the campaign.

I will cast my ballot to maintain a Republican majority in Congress, not to support Donald Trump in anything.

I think that is important for our country, because I know what happens to our national defense when Democrats set the budget, and I know what happens to our courts when Democrats get to decide which people will be the politically correct dictators and lawmakers from the bench.

If the Lunatic Far Right actually came to power, they would be every bit as scary as the Insane Far Left. But right now, and for the foreseeable future, that’s not our choice.

The Republican column still represents a defense of American culture, not the made-up rage-filled dogmas of the politically correct mob.

The Republican column still represents a strong national defense.

It still represents at least an attempt at public civility instead of mouth-frothing violence and intimidation.

And it still promises congresspersons who are free to make up their own minds about what they believe will best serve the interests of our nation.

That’s what’s really on our ballot this time. Not Donald Trump.


The weather people really do a splendid job of warning us about hurricanes. But they can’t control them or even predict in detail what they’ll do.

One violent hurricane weakened considerably before it struck the Carolinas, so while it still caused a lot of flooding and damage, it wasn’t the storm of the century after all.

And it looped around Greensboro so all we got was a bit of a soaking.

Then a pop-up hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico makes landfall on the Florida panhandle and causes huge power outages in Greensboro, along with treefalls and more floods.

Weather may be better understood and easier to track than at any point in history – but it’s still the boss, and we aren’t.

Now, personally, I didn’t experience Hurricane Michael’s depradations in Greensboro, because my wife and I flew out of Greensboro on Thursday morning just before the winds and rain hit. We attended a family reunion and visited with grandkids in Seattle, where we had perfectly sunny days with cool autumn temperatures.

But our house stayed put for the storm.

Years ago, we invested in a whole-house generator system, fueled by piped-in natural gas. So we knew our refrigerators would have power, and we wouldn’t have to replace all our food.

We had also bought four Bell & Howell 16.5” rechargeable Light Bars. We gave two of them away to friends, and had two more charging in our kitchen when the storm struck.

Even those two Light Bars ended up giving light to some friends whose house was out of power.

Here’s the report from everybody who used those Bell & Howell Light Bars:

They work. They are amazingly bright. Nobody used the brightest setting because it was too bright. But on the lower setting, a Light Bar in the master bedroom cast light clear down the hall and into the kitchen.

And with a full charge, they had enough juice, as long as you didn’t let them run all night, to keep giving light till the house’s power was restored.

They come with a built-in stand, so you can put them on the floor or on a table or dresser. They use LEDs, so they don’t get too hot to handle.

It’s a product that works, folks. And at prices mostly around 30 bucks, it makes financial sense – because you don’t also have to buy lantern batteries or a lot of D and C batteries. Their batteries are built-in, and they’re rechargeable in about an hour.

Now, our whole-house generator is also reliable and wonderful and worked very well. But it was expensive. Power outages happen often enough, though, between summer thunderstorms and winter ice storms, that we decided it was worth the cost to not have to replace a fridge full of food every year or so.

Meanwhile, our computers keep running, because we bought the kind of generator that gives out clean power that keeps the computers healthy. That means a power outage at my house, which is also my office, doesn’t force me to take a day off work.

So before you spend a lot less money to buy a generator that can only power a few appliances and lights, and only for a while, you might want to call in a generator specialist to give you the full range of options, so you can decide what your needs are and what your budget can afford.


And here is the wrap-up of my alphabetical list of Perfect Movies.



That Thing You Do! (1996)

This movie exists because writer/director Tom Hanks willed it into existence. But its story of the creation and dissolution of a band with one big monster hit is still a delight every time I watch it. Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Steve Zahn, and Tom Hanks are still amazing in their roles – and the biggest triumph of the movie is that their one hit, “That Thing You Do!” is performed over and over again – and it always sounds like a hit, and we don’t get tired of it. But my favorite performance is that of Johnathon Schaech as the founder of the band, whose every artistic instinct is bogus and wrong – and yet who has the ambition to become the one big success in the group.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

They make schoolchildren read it when they’re way too young to understand the main thrust of this story, which is only tangentially about race in America, because its real meaning is the helplessness of parents to protect their children. Gregory Peck’s pontificating style works perfectly for Atticus Finch, and as child actors, Mary Badham as Scout and Phillip Alford as Jem were amazing. But at the very end, it’s Robert Duvall as Boo Radley who wins our hearts; it is his image that always comes to my mind when I think of this film, and it is Boo Radley whom I always see, no matter what part this brilliant American actor might be playing in dozens of movies since then.

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

My father served in the Navy in the Pacific in World War II, and Pearl Harbor was the defining event of a generation. But we saw this movie together, when I was 19, and he loved it as much as I did, precisely because it shows, fairly and accurately, the Japanese as well as American side of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. This is, in my opinion, the best war movie ever made. There are many fine actors, but the star of this movie is history itself.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

The first two Toy Story movies were great fun, but this third installment surpassed them all. The story goes deep into the meaning of childhood and how it comes to an end. Instead of being a movie about talking ambulatory toys, it’s a movie about children from the toys’ viewpoint. And anyone who can watch this with a dry eye must have had a dreadful childhood indeed.

The Tree of Life (2011)

If you are a normal person, you will hate almost every minute of this movie. But it is perfectly what it sets out to be, and if you can slow down your metabolism enough to watch it slowly and deeply, it will reveal its power to you.

Trouble with the Curve (2012)

It’s hard to hold your own in a movie with Clint Eastwood, but Amy Adams does it very well, as she plays the daughter of an aging baseball scout who knows and loves the game as part of her yearning for the love of her father. I’ve never cared about baseball, even though my childhood was filled with chatter about Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris; but as Eastwood teaches Adams how to hear how a pitch went by the sound it makes in the catcher’s mitt, I began to think I actually knew something about baseball. Justin Timberlake is also quite acceptable as Adams’s love interest.

Twister (1996)

For a dozen years, in every Hollywood story and pitch meeting I went to, somebody mentioned Twister as the epitome of the hackwork movie, and in a sense that’s true. Some executive decided to do a tornado movie, so they got Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin to write a script. But something weird happens when you hire terrific writers to create a made-to-order script: They’re likely to give you something way better than you expected. That’s what happened here, in one of the best ensemble movies ever made. Led by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, with Cary Elwes and Jami Gertz in outsider roles, the film revolves around a team of stormchasers, led by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Alan Ruck. This is a movie so good that you can listen to it and love it just as much – unlike the huge hit from the next year, Titanic, where it’s best to watch it by muting the sound and viewing the amazing visuals.

Unforgiven (1992)

Clint Eastwood bought this script and held onto it until he was old enough to play the lead. This move – with the cooperation of writer David Webb Peoples – gave us one of the best, and most tragic, Westerns ever made. Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman as reformed outlaws looking for one last score, with Gene Hackman as the sadistic sheriff who opposes them and Jaimz Woolvett as the half-blind kid who hopes to become a gunslinger, combine to make this an unforgettable movie.

The Uninvited (1944)

Ray Milland carries a stellar cast through my second favorite ghost story, in which we learn – eventually – that the living people who are trying to figure out the reason for the haunting started from such false premises that they are almost too late when things finally become dangerously clear.

Up (2009)

The first ten minutes of Up tell the life story of a young couple who marry and grow old together in the same house. The rest of the movie is an extravagant adventure story, in which the old man has an earnest child as his sidekick. What keeps bringing me back, though, is that life-story-in-ten-minutes work of genius at the beginning. And, of course, the image of a house being elevated by a thousand helium balloons.

The Usual Suspects (1995)

A crime thriller in which a group of ne’er-do-wells wins our hearts – and then gets savagely betrayed. Kevin Spacey’s and Gabriel Byrne’s best movie.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Perhaps Charles Laughton’s most powerful performance, along with Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich, in this wheels-within-wheels courtroom drama directed by the great Billy Wilder.

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

This can be viewed as a pure wartime propaganda film, for this musical biopic of the great vaudeville and Broadway performer, George M. Cohan, centers on his patriotic songs that once were known by every living American: “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Yankee Doodle Boy,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and the wartime anthem from World War I, revived for the second go-round: “Over There.” What makes the movie so great is the ardent performance of James Cagney, who was able to make Cohan’s strutting “dance” style work for an audience used to much better choreography. This musical stirred American hearts during the scariest time of World War II – but it’s still an exuberant masterpiece even now.

Young Frankenstein (1974)

“Stay close to the candles; the stairway can be treacherous”; “Walk this way”; “You haven’t even touched your food”; “What knockers!”; “Would you like to have a roll in the hay?” Mel Brooks has had a career based on memorable gags in his movies, but nowhere did he do a better job of creating quotable lines than in Young Frankenstein, which turns the old horror story into a raucous musical in which the monster sings and dances to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” while Madeline Kahn, in her most memorable role, rhapsodically sings “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.” This is Gene Wilder’s most triumphant role – even better than his brilliant turn as Willy Wonka.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are at their best in this updated remake of The Shop Around the Corner. If Nora Ephron had written and directed nothing else, this movie would secure her place in Hollywood history. We also have memorable performances by Jean Stapleton, Parker Posey, Greg Kinnear, Steve Zahn, Dabney Coleman, Dave Chappelle, Heather Burns, and John Randolph. Even though its action is spread across a whole year, this is more of a Christmas movie than Die Hard, which takes place entirely on Christmas Eve.