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Friday, September 22, 2017

So Will Menendez Resign?

Despite the lack of coverage, the trial of New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez is actually proceeding in federal court.  The evidence thus far has been extremely damning.  It looks to me as if the charges against Menendez are true and he will be convicted.  Of course, I say that without hearing the full defense (and the rest of the prosecution case.)  One thing is certain, even if Menendez were to be acquitted, he is certainly no angel.  I even wonder if Menendez is as honest as Hillary Clinton.

So if Menendez gets convicted, will he resign?  Will the Democrats call upon him to resign?  Will there be a move to keep him in office until his replacement would be a Democrat?  In other words, will politics triumph over morality?

My guess is that there will clearly be no pressure from the media to get Menendez out of office.  Democrats only care about corruption is the target is a Republican.

Like There Was Ever A Chance

A few days ago, a friend of mine asked me what I thought of the chances of the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill.  I told him it almost surely would not be passed.  Today, senator McCain made clear that the bill would not pass when he announced that he could not vote for it because it had not yet been scored by the CBO.

Let's be clear about two things:

1.  Getting all the Republican senators on board for the bill wasn't going to happen.

2.  McCain refusing to vote for the bill absent a CBO score is infuriating.  McCain knows that the CBO has no idea how states would implement their new powers under the bill, but the CBO nevertheless would put out detailed projections as to the effect of those unknown implementation measures.  In other words, McCain knows that the CBO projections on the bill would be nothing but uneducated guesses.  For McCain to refuse on that basis is silly at best.

The key moving forward is not Obamacare, however.  It is tax reform.  The GOP better get to work on that bill and get it passed by Thanksgiving.  It can be done is some of the prima donnas in the senate can keep their tiaras on straight.

Those Pesky Private Planes

There's a big buzz about the travel of two cabinet members, Betsy DeVos who is Secretary of Education and Dr. Tom Price who is Secretary of HHS.  Both have made use of private planes more than once per month to accomplish their travels.

Let's start with DeVos.  The media and the left hate her with a particular venom.  DeVos' use of private planes is just the latest brouhaha to erupt.  There's a problem with the story, however.  DeVos is using her own private jet for travel, and she isn't charging the government for that use.  That's right; unlike most other cabinet officials, DeVos is saving the taxpayers money by providing her own travel means.  In short, the complaints are actually rather silly.

It's a different story with Price.  His department has chartered private planes for him something like ten times.  The travel people at HHS say that in order to meet his schedule, Price could not fly on commercial airlines on all occasions.  When there was time, he flew commercial, but when there was not, he went by private plane.  That seems reasonable to me.  Once again, it is not a major story.


One of the members of the Board of Selectment in Greenwich, CT was arrested for shoplifting at a malls.  He allegedly took about $600 worth of items at two stores in an outlet mall in Clinton, CT.  Drew Marzullo has been the lone Democrat on the Board of Selectmen for the last eight years.  He is a candidate for re-election in November.  No plea has yet been entered in the case, and Marzullo was released on bail.

This mess is unlikely to change the election results in November.  Republican Peter Tesei, the First Selectman (equivalent to a mayor) is likely to re-elected once again.  Still, for those Democrats hoping for an upset in the traditionally Republican town in the age of Trump, news of the arrest must come as a major disaster.  I doubt if the voters in Greenwich will want to re-elect a selectman who is facing a trial for this crime, and that will most likely bring the entire Democrat ticket down.

The leadership in Greenwich is certainly not all that important for the nation.  Still, since each of the last three Republican presidents had strong ties to the town, it's worth noting.

So Did This Actually Happen?

There was some sort of explosion at a remote part of the airport in Damascus, Syria in the early hours this morning.  No one knows the cause.  The Syrians claim that it was a missile attack launched by Israeli planes flying over Israeli airspace.  The Israelis have not commented, but they never do in situations like this.  Also, it is a major holiday in Israel.

So did the Israelis really strike at some installation adjacent to the airport in the Syrian capital?  Who knows?  The holiday of Rosh Hashanah seems like a strange time for the Israelis to launch a strike, but that is far from conclusive.  After all, the Iranians could have decided that the holiday was the ideal time to transship weapons to Hezbollah through the airport in Damascus.  Israel would not refrain from hitting such a shipment even on the holiday.

If the Israelis did hit the airport, it should clearly demonstrate two things to both Assad and Iran.

1.  Israel has the ability to hit everything and anything within Syria, and it will not tolerate the shipment of weapons by Iran to Hezbollah.

2.  The Russians will do nothing to stop Israeli attacks on Iranian shipments in Syria.  That's important, since only the Russians and Americans really have the ability to launch a credible defense against such attacks by the IAF.


Will This Move Make A Difference?

President Trump took action once more against North Korea yesterday in the hopes of curtailing that nation's nuclear/missile program.  The nature of the move may have gotten lost in the swirl of harsh talk and insults coming from both sides.  Here, however, is the gist of the move:  Trump issued an Executive Order that authorizes the Department of the Treasury to impose sanctions on people and companies (including financial institutions) that do business with the North Koreans.  Right before the order was signed, the Secretary of the Treasury called his Chinese counterpart and informed him that the move was coming.  Most likely, this was previously discussed with China as well.  In response, the Bank of China directed Chinese banks to stop dealing with North Korea.

It's hard to overstate the impact of these moves if they continue in place and are observed.  Chinese banks provide the main financial link for the North Koreans to the rest of the world.  Chinese banks also finance North Korea's trade which is mainly with China.  With these banks out of the picture, it is likely that the bulk of North Korea's exports to and imports from China will stop.  Even foreign purchases of components needed for the NK missile programs will grind to a halt.  It's the ultimate financial squeeze on the NK's short of an embargo and blockade (which are acts of war.)

Kim Jung Un is someone who would be perfectly fine with starving his people in order to complete the missiles and nuclear weapons program.  At some point, however, he has to concern himself with the likelihood that the NK people will rise up and replace him and his cronies.  It may not come to that, but it ought, at a minimum, to be a concern for Kim. 

One thing is certain.  President Trump has achieved more in his confrontation with North Korea in six months than Obama, Bush or Clinton did in eight years.  Hopefully this will all get resolved, but if we end up in a war in Korea, it won't be because the President didn't try to avoid it.  There's no doubt that the anti-Trump media will condemn the President for some reason regarding this policy.  it doesn't matter what he does; they condemn him.  The American people, however, ought to understand just how well this has all been done.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Conjectures, Lies and Nonsense.....This Is CNN

I just watched an analysis presented on CNN regarding the potential impact should the Graham Cassidy healthcare bill pass Congress.  It was a joke.  In fact, it was so far from reality that one would expect that the CNN reporter couldn't present it without laughing.

Let me give an example.  Under Graham Cassidy, there would be block grants to states who will decide how to handle healthcare.  The exact breakdown among the states is not yet known, but CNN presented figures discussing how certain states would fare in three, five and ten years.  You could say it is amazing how CNN knows what will happen in California or Texas in 2030 under this bill when no one else does.  Or, you could say that CNN is just guessing.  Those are the nice ways of saying that CNN is presenting Fake News.

But it gets worse.  CNN didn't just tell us what federal funding for California would be in 2030, it also told the audience how supposed cuts in funding from currently expected levels would be handled by the state legislature.  That's right, CNN pretended to know how the future California legislature will deal with unknown funding levels received from the federal government.  It's totally Fake News.  It makes about as much sense as if CNN were to announce the winner of the 2028 presidential election in California despite the fact that no one knows who will run or what the issues will be in eleven years, and then, in addition, to tell us the percentages of the vote won by each of the unknown candidates.  It's not news, it's just pure fiction.