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Friday, August 26, 2016

Why The Special Privileges?

Do you know who Leslie Jones is?  She was just in the remake of Ghostbusters, and she appears on Saturday Night Live.  She's not bad, but she's not a star either.  Lately, she's also been the target of some major attacks on social media.  It began after Milo posted a scathing review of the Ghostbusters remake.  Jones took exception and the war of words started.  Of course, it was played out on Twitter and other social media.  After a few days of receiving a bombardment from Milo's supporters on line, Jones decided to play the victim and closed her Twitter account in response to all the comments.  Jones said that the comments from unknown sources were nasty and included racist remarks.  She got coverage and, as a result, Twitter banned Milo from its site.  Having won that battle, Jones quickly rejoined Twitter and went back to normal.  Then someone hacked her computer and posted some pictures of her (including nudes) on her website.  The hackers also posted Jones drivers license and her passport.  Once again, we had a media meltdown.

That brings us up to date except for one thing:  the federal Department of Homeland Security is now investigating the hacking of Jones' computer.  It's amazing.  People get hacked every day, and Homeland Security never does anything about it.  Some second-tier comic gets hacked and the department is falling all over itself to find out who did this.  It is inexcusable that the feds get involved because Jones appears on TV and in movies.    She doesn't deserve special treatment.

Why All The Charges Of Racism Now?

The 2016 Food Fight (excuse me, presidential election campaign) has moved into the "you're a racist" phase with Hillary Clinton giving a speech denouncing Trump.  Trump, for his part, calls Clinton a bigot.  It's stupid nonsense, but why have we gotten here?  There seem to be three reasons:

1.  The biggest reason is that by throwing charges (and baseless ones) of racism at Trump now, Clinton hopes to change the subject of coverage from the corrupt Clinton foundation and her corrupt actions as Secretary of State.  Without a doubt, most of the media will follow that change in the story line.  Hillary Clinton and her advisers know that there's nothing that grabs the attention of the US media like charges of racism.  To explain the way that Hillary sold access to her office at the State Department takes work; it's not an easy task.  On the other hand to report how Hillary is leveling charges of racism is very easy.  In short, the charges of racism are just another typical cynical ploy from the campaign.

2.  The next reason for making the charges now is that it enables Clinton to avoid talking about policy.  The vast majority of the American people understand that things in this country are on the wrong track and going in the wrong direction.  Nothing is getting better.  Hillary's plans for her time in office should she get elected are to continue what Obama has been doing or to go even further down the road travelled by Obama.  Every time Hillary talks about those plans, she loses voters.  There just isn't a majority among the public for "more of the same".  Each day we talk about who is a racist, it is another day we don't talk about policies for the future.

3.  The last reason for the attack may surprise some people.  Hillary Clinton and her staff are terrified of Trump's appeals to African American voters.  Trump has been pointing out that for fifty years plus, the Democrats have claimed to be the ones who will help African Americans, but in reality that is just something that they say every four years.  In between elections, the Democrats do precious little to help blacks.  All one has to do is to look at the results.  Black employment, income, home ownership and other signs of economic success have all declined under Obama.  Trump says that African Americans should give something else a try by voting for him.  He even says, "what have you got to lose?"  Now black votes have been almost exclusively cast for Democrats for a while.  Obama got over 95% of them.  If Trump can swing the vote to just 80% for Hillary and 20% for him, it will be enough to win the election for Trump if the vote is otherwise like it was in 2012.  In other words, the stakes are very high.  Hillary and her advisers know that the Democrats have failed the black community.  Photo ops and symbolic gestures just don't cut it.  That's why Hillary is back calling Trump a racist.  If black voters accept that Trump might be a racist, then they will not vote for him and won't even listen to him.  Hillary is trying to inoculate herself against the charges that she and her party have abandoned the African American community.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Enough Already With The Racist Nonsense

Today, Hillary Clinton is speaking about how Donald Trump and his supporters are racist.  Yesterday, Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a bigot.  For weeks before that, Clinton's supporters have been blasting Trump for bigotry while Hillary has gotten a barrage from the other side about mistreating minorities in the USA.  It's enough already.  It really is.

Let's be clear.  Neither Trump nor Clinton are racists, bigots, or the like.  We ought to be deciding the election by choosing which candidate has policies we like better.  Of course, that's hard in this election since Hillary won't really tell us her policies and Trump changes his from time to time.  There are some areas where the policy differences are clear (like on the economy), but the media does its best not to publicize those policy differences.

The biggest problem with the charges and counter-charges of racism is that they make actual racism much harder to call out.  How many people actually believe it when someone is said to be a racist.  Since Obama took office, everything gets reduced eventually to racism.  Opposition to Obamacare?  It's racist according to the White House.  Enforcing the law on immigration?  The White House says that's racist too.  If you boil it all down you find that according to the White House, any opposition to Obama is always racist.

I hope we get past this crap and move on to real issues. 

The Joys Of Telephones

I just got a call from a computer voice telling me that the call is from the IRS and that they are about to file suit against me.  Then the computer voice tells me that I can arrange a settlement if I call a particular number.  Yesterday, I got four calls from the "warranty department" offering me a "final chance" to extend my warranty on a car that I have not owned since 2012.  Despite telling the caller that I had no such car, the calls continued.  Early this morning, I also got a call from a computer voice named "Bridgette from Cardholder Services" who gave me the chance to save huge amounts on my credit card bills.  On Monday, I got the call in which a recording tells me about the huge rise in crime in my neighborhood and then offers me a chance to get a security system at a discount.  The only one of the standard annoying calls that I have yet to get this week is the one from a heavily accented person who tells me in hard-to-understand English that he or she is calling from Windows because my computer keeps sending them error messages.

Why is it that these scam calls just keep coming?  These annoying attempts to swindle me are in addition to the many fund raising calls that I answer each week.  I put my number on the Do Not Call Registry, but it had no effect.  I've tried telling people nicely not to call because they are wasting their time.  After all, I already know that these calls are scams.  That too had no effect.  I've tried yelling at the callers, but they just hang up.  Still, I come back to the original question:  why do they keep calling if they already should know that they will not trick me into their scam?  It certainly is a mystery to me, a very annoying mystery.


Waiting For Nothing

It's now official.  The UN has confirmed that the Assad forces in Syria are once again making use of chemical weapons on a repeated basis.  Remember that the Assad forces are supported by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia.  It was just about two years ago that president Obama announced an "agreement" with Russia and Assad under which there would be no more use of chemical weapons and Assad would give up all his existing stocks of these weapons.  That obviously didn't happen. 

This outcome is not a surprise.  The agreement that Obama put in place had no method for verification that Syria had actually given up all its weapons.  The agreement also has no consequences specified that might deter Assad from once again raining death by gas from the skies on his own people.  If Donald Trump were here, he would tell us that Obama and his people don't know how to negotiate.  That's true, but it's of little solace to all those people dying in Syria from being gassed.

Before there was an agreement, there was Obama's red line which declared that the USA would not tolerate the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Obama threw that away when he entered into the agreement.  It is time, however, to bring that back.  We have forces in the area that could easily hit the concentrations of Assad's army.  In the civil war in Syria, there are no aircraft flying against Assad.  American and coalition planes have just hit ISIS targets.  The Russians and Syrian planes have occasionally hit ISIS but spent most of their time bombing the positions of the non-ISIS rebels.  Just imagine the change it would bring if Assad's forces paid the price for their use of chemical weapons.  President Obama should launch a major series of punitive raids against the Assad forces.  He should clearly announce that these are the response to the use of the chemical weapons and that the raids are limited both in duration and scope.  He should tell Assad (as well as Iran and Russia) that any further use of chemical weapons will lead to an even stronger response. 

Sadly, I know that Obama will never take such an action.  Instead, we may get some statement from the White House that the use of chemical weapons is on the wrong side of history, but that will be about it.  Meanwhile, civilians in Syria will continue to be gassed.

I can't wait for Obama to be gone. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Treating American As Idiots

I heard part of Hillary Clinton's phone interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN tonight.  It was astounding just how dumb Hillary thinks the average American is.  It is also astounding just how poor a candidate she is.  This is the first time that Hillary has actually taken questions from someone who is nominally a reporter in over three weeks.  Because of that, she has a lot of things about which she might be questioned.  The interview was short, however, and Hillary just covered a few points.  Even those, however, we poorly done.  Here are the main takeaways:

1.  Hillary says that while she was secretary of state, she was not influenced at all by who gave donations to the Clinton Foundation.  She says that Trump's charges about that are "ridiculous".  She actually said that there's a lot of smoke about the subject, but there's "no fire".  But here's the problem:  the charges are not coming from Trump.  The proof of just how much those Clinton donations influenced Hillary while she was secretary of state comes from an analysis of Clinton's official schedules done by two reporters at the AP.  First, the AP had to fight for three years to get copies of Clinton's schedules even though they are supposed to be public documents.  Then the reporters analyzed the schedules and found that more than one half of all of her meetings with private individuals were with donors to the foundation.  It's like 89 out of 170 meetings were with donors.  That's not a coincidence.  It's a lot more than smoke; it's major flames of fire.

2.  Cooper ignored the biggest question about the foundation and Hillary stayed away from it too.  It is illegal for foreigners to contribute to American politicians and also illegal for those politicians to accept contributions from foreigners.  Of those meetings with foundation donors, about half were with foreigners.  When those foreigners gave money to the foundation in order to get a meeting with Clinton, it was an illegal act by both the donor and by Clinton herself.  This will be a big problem for Hillary going forward.

3.  Hillary actually spent time on the phone with Anderson Cooper talking about the "shocking" news that many of Donald Trump's businesses have debts.  Trump is mainly in the real estate development business.  All real estate businesses have debt.  Hillary's statement is like saying that she's shocked to find out that the guy who sells hot dogs from the stand at the baseball stadium has hot dogs.  It's a major part of the business.  Hillary was just trying to confuse voters with yet another phony story and to run out the clock on her short time with Anderson Cooper.


The Latest on Iran -- Ransom, Lies, Harassment

There's so much news out today on Iran, and none of it is good.

First, in the Straits of Hormuz, Iranian small fast boats harassed a US Navy destroyer yesterday.  Four Iranian boats sped towards the destroyed and then crisscrossed in front of the navy ship.  It was like a high seas version of playing chicken.  Of course, had the American destroyer shot at or sunk any of the Iranian boats, there would, no doubt, have been some sort of attack by Iran on the destroyer.  Since president Obama doesn't want to do anything to upset Iran, our navy just backed off.  America looked impotent and silly.  It was a victory for Iran.

Second, we learned that the story told by Obama and the White House about the ransom payment for the American hostages was just another lie.  (Is it still news when Obama and his staff tell a lie, or should we just expect it to happen.)  Remember that the $400 million that went to Iran in exchange for the release of our hostages was paid in cash and in secret.  Obama's answer for why cash was used was that it would violate the sanctions to wire the money to Iran.  That explanation was repeated over and over again in the last week.  Well, it's a lie.  Two days after delivering the cash, the USA wired another 1.3 billion dollars to Iran.  The sanctions were still in place.  Nothing had changed in the two days between payments.  If wiring the $400 million would have violated the sanctions, then wiring $1.3billion violated sanctions.  The wiring of this cash to Iran proves that Obama was dishonest when he said the $400 million could not have legally been sent by wire.

it gets worse, however.  The $1.3 billion was not sent in one payment.  The US government used 13 payments of $99,999,999.99 to transfer the funds.  Apparently transfers of one hundred million or more are reported in a way that might have called attention to the transfer, so the total was broken down this way.  It was much like a drug dealer structuring his deposits and withdrawals so as to avoid discovery of the transaction by the police.

So we have the following.  1. A payment of $400 million in cash to Iran as ransom for American hostages.  The payment was made in total secrecy in the hopes that the American people never learn that we were paying ransom for our people.  2.  An ongoing attempt to conceal the true nature of the payment through the use of lies.  3.  When the transfer was discovered, Obama and his people used a lie that was so obvious, that this new information easily reveals it to be false.  4.  There is no apology to the American people for the lies coming from the White House.  Indeed, the media doesn't even seem interested in the never-ending string of lies coming from Obama.