Three Things You Need to Know – February 9, 2018

The Senate Circus Show

Last night might have been one of the weirdest and silliest nights our government has seen in quite a while. You easily could have watched CSPAN last night and actually been entertained. If last night’s theatrics had a musical score it would have been somewhere in between circus music and the Benny Hill theme.

The Senate agreed two days ago on a long-term bipartisan budget deal that is the equivalent of a massive raging dumpster fire. This set the tone for last night’s silliness when Rand Paul stood up in front of Senate Republicans and called them out on their hypocrisy. Paul didn’t pull any punches. He - straight up - called them all hypocrites and warned that quote “a day of reckoning is coming.”

Rand Paul’s right and every Republican in that very room agreed with him back in 2011 when they all fought Democrats to install debt caps. This new budget obliterates those debt caps AND sets the precedent for this to get even worse in the years to come. Did Republicans suddenly have a change of heart or did they never really believe in fiscal responsibility to begin with. Spoiler alert… it’s the latter. The truth is that they just wanted to win in 2011 by imposing debt caps, and they just want to win now by erasing them.

So BRAVO to Rand Paul for actually saying out loud what some on the Senate floor were probably thinking and feeling. Paul kept his criticism going long enough to delay the vote which actually caused the government to shut down a little after midnight. In the end, it was a valiant but losing effort. The Senate voted 71-28 to pass the deal. It then shot over to the House for a quick vote to try and avoid the shutdown extending into Friday.

Over at the House, Nancy Pelosi urged her colleagues not to show their hand until they knew how many Republicans would vote YES. As the pressure mounted she finally declared that she wouldn’t vote, because of DACA of course, but that she wouldn’t hold anyone else back from voting. One by one Democrat YES votes started flooding in. Is Pelosi auditioning for an acting gig? Neither her theatrics last night nor her 8 plus hour long DACA speech, had any value beyond pure theater.

I’m telling you, last night was kind of entertaining. If you were bored and nerdy enough to watch CSPAN at 2 am (don’t judge) you were either laughing, crying or downright pissed off. What else beyond a good movie or a BAD ineffective government can deliver on all that in one night?

The Dow Drop Part Deux

After nine years of stock market growth, the smooth sailing is finally getting choppy.

Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped another 1,032 points. It’s the second day this week that the Dow has lost over a thousand points. Monday’s point loss was the largest single-day drop on record. Yesterday’s was the second-largest.

The next two biggest single-day point drops on record happened in 2008.

The Dow has now dropped into “correction” territory, which means it is down 10% from its highest point of over 26,000 on January 26. The Dow hasn’t been in a Correction since February 2016. It would have to drop another 10% to be considered a Bear market.

When the market is in a “Correction,” it often indicates that investors are turning pessimistic about the markets. However, a Correction doesn’t mean the market is unraveling. Since 1998, there have only been 10 Corrections (including yesterday’s). Only two of those corrections continued the decline into Bear markets.

Everyone is scrambling for an explanation for this week’s shaky market. No one knows whether this volatility will last days or weeks. Investors seem to be nervous about inflation, and that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates faster than originally thought. The fear about inflation is driven by the increase in wages, which are rising at the fastest rate since 2009.

While the market is definitely acting weird this week, it seems more out of place than usual, simply because the Dow has risen to unprecedented levels in the last year. We’re not used to volatility, so any shakiness at all seems more disconcerting than it might in a more average year. Many analysts think this volatility is long overdue and nothing more than a healthy correction.

If nothing else, this week has been an interesting test case in the psychology of investors. The market has been doing so well for so long, people are in panic mode that it can’t possibly continue.

Racially Motivated Olympic Coin Toss?

A coin toss is causing controversy today.

You heard me. A coin toss.

Here’s what happened.

Two athletes were nominated by the United States Olympic team to be the flag bearer at the opening ceremony.

Shani Davis, an African American male five-time Olympian and Erin Hamlin, a white female four-time Olympian were tied for the position.

Both received the same number of votes from the representatives.

So, how do you handle a tie like this in the most objective and pragmatic way possible?

You flip a coin.

Erin Hamlin won and Shani Davis played the race card on Twitter writing:

“TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018”

Excuse me?

How can Davis possibly think that a coin toss was racially motivated?

What is the answer here? Should the Team USA have given Davis the position just because he is black? No. Did they give it to Erin just because she is a white female? No.

Should we start banning coin tosses in sports?

It’s the luck of the draw. It is the most non-biased and objective way you can pick something.

Davis was obviously still upset about not being flag bearer because he skipped the Opening Ceremony this morning.

What a sore loser. I’m glad he didn’t represent America at the Olympics today. He’s got a bad attitude—something even four shiny Olympic medals can’t hide.

MORE 3 THINGS

This compromise is an abomination

Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Three decades ago, "The Art of the Deal" made Donald Trump a household name. A lot has happened since then. But you can trace many of Trump's actions back to that book.

Art of the Deal:

In the end, you're measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish.

People laughed when he announced that he was running for President. And I mean that literally. Remember the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner when Obama roasted Trump, viciously, mocking the very idea that Trump could ever be President. Now, he's President.

You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.

This empire-building is a mark of Trump.

RELATED: 'Arrogant fool' Jim Acosta exposed MSM's dishonest border agenda — again.

The most recent example is the border wall. Yesterday, congress reached a compromise on funding for the border wall. Weeks of tense back-and-forth built up to that moment. At times, it seemed like neither side would budge. Trump stuck to his guns, the government shut down, Trump refused to budge, then, miraculously, the lights came back on again. The result was a compromise. Or at least that's how it appeared.

But really, Trump got what he wanted -- exactly what he wanted. He used the techniques he wrote about in The Art of the Deal:

My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I'm after.

From the start, he demanded $5.7 billion for construction of a border wall. It was a months' long tug-of-war that eventually resulted in yesterday's legislation, which would dedicate $1.4 billion. It would appear that that was what he was after all along. Moments before the vote, he did some last-minute pushing. A national emergency declaration, and suddenly the number is $8 billion.

Art of the Deal:

People think I'm a gambler. I've never gambled in my life. To me, a gambler is someone who plays slot machines. I prefer to own slot machines. It's a very good business being the house.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Senate passed the legislation 83-16, and the House followed with 300-128. Today, Trump will sign the bill.

It's not even fair to call that a deal, really. A deal is what happens when you go to a car dealership, fully ready to buy a car, and the salesman says the right things. What Trump did is more like a car dealer selling an entire row of cars to someone who doesn't even have a licence. When Trump started, Democrats wouldn't even consider a wall, let alone pay for it.

Art of the Deal:

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.

He started the wall on a chant, "Build the wall!" until he got what he wanted. He maneuvered like Don Draper, selling people something that they didn't even know they wanted, and convincing them that it is exactly what they've always needed.

As the nation soaks in the victory of the recent passing of the historic First Step Act, there are Congressmen who haven't stopped working to solve additional problems with the criminal justice system. Because while the Act was impactful, leading to the well-deserved early release of many incarcerated individuals, it didn't go far enough. That's why four Congressmen have joined forces to reintroduce the Justice Safety Valve Act—legislation that would grant judges judicial discretion when determining appropriate sentencing.

There's a real need for this legislation since it's no secret that lawmakers don't always get it right. They may pass laws with good intentions, but unintended consequences often prevail. For example, there was a time when the nation believed the best way to penalize lawbreakers was to be tough on crime, leading to sweeping mandatory minimum sentencing laws implemented both nationally and statewide.

RELATED: If Trump can support criminal justice reform, so can everyone else

Only in recent years have governments learned that these sentences aren't good policy for the defendant or even the public. Mandatory minimum sentences are often overly harsh, don't act as a public deterrent for crime, and are extremely costly to taxpayers. These laws tie judges' hands, preventing them from using their knowledge and understanding of the law to make case relevant decisions.

Because legislation surrounding criminal law is often very touchy and difficult to change (especially on the federal level, where bills can take multiple years to pass) mandatory minimum sentences are far from being done away with—despite the data-driven discoveries of their downfalls. But in order to solve the problems inherent within all of the different laws imposing sentencing lengths, Congress needs to pass the Justice Safety Valve Act now. Ensuring its passing would allow judges to use discretion while sentencing, rather than forcing them to continue issuing indiscriminate sentences no matter the unique facts of the case.

Rather than take years to go back and try to fix every single mandatory minimum law that has been federally passed, moving this single piece of legislation forward is the best way to ensure judges can apply their judgment in every appropriate case.

When someone is facing numerous charges from a single incident, mandatory minimum sentencing laws stack atop one another, resulting in an extremely lengthy sentence that may not be just. Such high sentences may even be violations of an individual's eighth amendment rights, what with the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. It's exactly what happened with Weldon Angelos.

In Salt Lake City in 2002, Weldon sold half a pound of marijuana to federal agents on two separate occasions. Unbeknownst to Weldon, the police had targeted him because they suspected he was a part of a gang and trafficking operation. They were oh-so-wrong. Weldon had never sold marijuana before and only did this time because he was pressured by the agents to find marijuana for them. He figured a couple lowkey sales could help out his family's financial situation. But Weldon was caught and sentenced to a mandatory 55 years in prison. This massive sentence is clearly unjust for a first time, non-violent crime, and even the Judge, Paul Cassell, agreed. Judge Cassell did everything he could to reduce the sentence, but, due to federal law, it wasn't much.

The nation is facing an over-criminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties.

In cases like Weldon's, a safety valve for discretionary power is much needed. Judges need the ability to issue sentences below the mandatory minimums, depending on mitigating factors such as mental health, provocation, or physical illness. That's what this new bill would allow for. Critics may argue that this gives judges too much power, but under the bill, judges must first make a finding on why it's necessary to sentence below the mandatory minimum. Then, they must write a clear statement explaining their decision.

Judges are unlikely to risk their careers to allow dangerous criminals an early release. If something happens after an offender is released early, the political pressure is back on the judge who issued the shorter sentence—and no one wants that kind of negative attention. In order to avoid risky situations like this, they'd use their discretion very cautiously, upholding the oath they took to promote justice in every case.

The nation is facing an overcriminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties. Mandatory minimums have exacerbated this problem, and it's time for that to stop. Congresswomen and men have the opportunity to help solve this looming problem by passing the Justice Safety Valve Act to untie the hands of judges and restore justice in individual sentences.

Molly Davis is a policy analyst at Libertas Institute, a free market think tank in Utah. She's a writer for Young Voices, and her work has previously appeared in The Hill, TownHall.com, and The Washington Examiner.

New gadget for couples in 'the mood' lets a button do the talking

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Just in time for Valentine's Day, there's a new romantic gadget for couples that is sure to make sparks fly. For those with their minds in the gutter, I'm not talking about those kinds of gadgets. I'm talking about a brilliant new device for the home called "LoveSync."

This is real — it's a simple pair of buttons for busy, modern couples who have plenty of time for social media and Netflix, but can't quite squeeze in time to talk about their... uh... special relationship.

Here's how it works. Each partner has their own individual LoveSync button. Whenever the mood strikes one partner, all they have to do is press their own button. That sets their button aglow for a certain period of time. If, during that time window, their partner also presses their own button, then both buttons light up in a swirling green pattern to signal that love has "synced"...and it's go time.

According to the makers of LoveSync, this device will "Take the Luck out of Getting Lucky." It brings a whole new meaning to "pushing each other's buttons." It's an ideal gift to tell your significant other "I care," without actually having to care, or talk about icky things like feelings.

If you find your significant other is already on the couch binge-watching The Bachelor, no problem! You can conveniently slink back to your button and hold it in for four seconds to cancel the desire. No harm, no foul! Live to fight another day.

Have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children.

No word yet on whether LoveSync can also order wine, light candles or play Barry White. Maybe that's in the works for LoveSync 2.0.

Of course, LoveSync does have some pitfalls. Cats and toddlers love a good button. That'll be a fun conversation — "Honey, who keeps canceling my mood submissions?" And have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children. "Yeah, kids, that button just controls the lawn sprinklers. No big deal."

If you've been dialing it in for years on Valentine's Day with flowers and those crappy boxes of chocolate, now you can literally dial it in. With a button.

Good luck with that.