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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Trump Immigration Speech

Donald Trump just finished his lengthy speech on immigration before a crowd in Arizona.  For many reasons, it was a masterful speech.  Unlike it would have been had it come from president Obama, Donald Trump's delivery wasn't that good.  What was masterful about the speech was its content.  Trump gave a detailed policy statement for his immigration plans and made a very logical presentation of the reasons for those plans.   There will surely be critics of the speech; it is after all a Trump speech so the media will trot out all those pundits and reporters who parrot Hillary Clinton's positions.  Nevertheless, for American voters who listened to the speech there was much to like.

First of all, this speech should end the constant sniping at Trump from the media that says he doesn't give enough detail on his policies.  No one could honestly complain about that tonight. 

Second, Trump drew a sharp contrast between his views and those of Hillary Clinton (to the extent she has expressed views.)  It was particularly effective when Trump pointed out that the media just doesn't push Clinton for answers on these issues.

Third, Trump made clear the impact that illegal immigration has on so many Americans.  Some have been hit by crime committed by the illegals.  Some have been unable to get jobs that were taken by illegals.  Trump went through the entire list.  Despite the inevitable counterattack from the Clinton forces that Trump's views on the subject are just racist, Trump made clear to the average voter a whole host of reasons for his policies that essentially everyone would think proper.

All in all, today was an outstanding day for Trump.  He had a great success in Mexico.  He gave a great speech tonight that should resonate with the American voters.  Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Ohio to a partially filled hall that reacted without much enthusiasm.  If one wanted to get proof of just what a good day it has been, I offer two bits of evidence.  First, Bill Kristol (who is a founding member of the Never Trump group) praised Trump for the trip to Mexico and the meeting with the Mexican president.  For that to happen, it had to really be good.  Second, after the speech, I watched about five minutes of analysis on MSNBC.  The commentary was, of course, negative (after all it was MSNBC.)  Still, the thing that the people on that network fixated on was whether or not the subject of who would pay for the wall had been discussed by Trump and the Mexican president.  Trump said after the meeting that there had not yet been such a discussion.  President Nieto said after the meeting that he had told Trump that Mexico would not pay, but Trump did not respond.  The morons on MSNBC were actually debating whether or not a comment without a response constitutes a discussion.  It's a silly back and forth about a very minor detail.  It seemed, however, that this all that the MSNBC morons had about which to complain. 

Maybe CBS Lost The Audio

I happened to be in my car this afternoon when the president of Mexico and Donald Trump made their statements at the end of their meeting in Mexico City.  I heard in its entirety what each of them said.  It was fascinating.  It was the beginning of a negotiation on some issues and the acceptance by the Mexican leader of others.  Trump also stepped back from confrontation and went out of his way to be accommodating and friendly.  There is no other way to understand what was said. 

There are four key areas of interest between the USA and Mexico that were the central themes of today's meeting (at least according to the statements.)  These are 1) prevention of illegal immigration; 2) dealing with the consequences of past illegal immigration; 3) trade and the NAFTA trade agreement; and 4) drugs and the drug cartels.  By far, the statements made clear that trade was the most important of the subjects.  We can discuss that, but let's look at what was said about the other subjects.

On dealing with the drug trade there was clear agreement.  Both Trump and the Mexican president talked about working together to eliminate or at least reduce the flow of drugs and to shut down the cartels.  There was no conflict of any sort, just agreement.

On prevention of illegal immigration Trump talked about the right to build a wall on the border.  Nothing was said by the Mexican president to contradict Trump on that point.  Indeed, the president recognized the right of any country to control its own borders.

When it came to dealing with the consequences of past illegal immigration, both men tried to finesse the subject.  Trump talked a great deal about illegals coming from Central America on a very dangerous journey across Mexico to the USA.  The Mexican president echoed those sentiments.  Trump did not discuss much about deporting illegals from the USA.  While the Mexican did not discuss that issue directly, he did talk about the big contributions that Mexican citizens make to the USA.  It was as close as the two came to a disagreement.

Finally, we get to trade and economic matters.  Trump has been saying throughout his campaign that the USA should either renegotiate the NAFTA treaty or else pull out of it.  NAFTA, of course, is the trade deal signed by Bill Clinton about 20 years ago which Hillary Clinton strongly supported at the time.  Trump says that it gives Mexico unfair advantages and that America needs to be treated equally.  The most important thing that the president of Mexico said today is that NAFTA could be improved to benefit both countries.  Translating that into English, the Mexicans were saying that they are prepared to renegotiate the NAFTA treaty.  That is a big first step and a big victory for Trump.  Unlike Hillary Clinton who accomplished nothing in office, Trump has already gotten an initial concession from Mexico before he even gets elected.  This was the opening of negotiations, not a final deal.  Still it is wonderful to see our country using its strength for once rather than just working out some losing deal that gives us no help.

About an hour after the joint statements were completed, I heard a "special report" from CBS News about Trump's visit to Mexico.  The reporter spent three quarters of the supposed report on the visit talking about what Trump had said the day he declared his candidacy more than a year ago.  She injected controversy into the visit and statements that just wasn't there.  About an half hour later, the regular CBS News radio report came on.  They spent half the report covering protests about the visit by interviewing one protester.  They also spent about a quarter of the report broadcasting the comments by Hillary Clinton on the visit which she made before Trump even got to Mexico City.

These CBS reports were so far from what I had heard that it made me wonder:  Did CBS lose the audio of the statements?  Maybe the network just did not know what had been said. 

Maybe They'll Get A Discount On The Wall

Donald Trump is meeting in Mexico with the president of that country.  It's an amazing event and it shows why Trump is correct when he says that he can get Mexico to pay for the wall he wants to build.

First, consider for a moment why the president of Mexico would get involved in the US elections.  Surely, Hillary Clinton cannot look kindly on this meeting.  It will resolve nothing, but it will give Trump a chance to get a great many headlines and to look presidential.  No matter how the Democrats spin the meeting, it should be a net plus for Trump.  Remember, Hillary's entire campaign these days has been "Trump is bad and I am not Trump."  If Trump can get more of the voters to look at him as a possible president, then Hillary's campaign dissolves and she will be forced to do the one thing she cannot:  come forward with policy reasons for her election.  So we have the president of Mexico providing help to Trump in his bid for the presidency.  Why? 

Maybe, the Mexican leader is hoping to attack Trump at the meeting and to sabotage his campaign.  I seriously doubt that.  The Mexicans can read the polls as well as anyone else.  They can see that right now Hillary is something like 4 or 5% ahead nationally and they understand that numbers like those could easily switch particularly given the fact that there are 10-13% undecided (who normally would break strongly against the party in power.)  Just think of the problems for Mexico if Trump wins after the Mexican president tries to stop him.  After all, Mexico is heavily reliant on the USA and hostile actions in Washington could cause a calamity in Mexico City.

More likely, the Mexican president is trying to gain some favor with Trump should he win.  Indeed, earlier this year, there was a stir when our Mexican friend said some rather nasty things about Trump.  My guess is that he is trying to erase those nasty statements from Trump's memory.

The point of all this is that we are getting an acknowledgement from Mexico that it understands that it had better stay on good terms with the USA and its leader.  In other words, when Trump says that he will get Mexico to pay for the wall, he is probably right.  Oh, there won't be a check written in payment, but one way or another, the cost of the wall will be subsidized by the Mexicans.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Lawyers Who Just Cannot Seem To Be Clear

I just read the 25 questions that Judicial Watch sent to Hillary Clinton regarding her private unsecured email system.  A federal judge has ordered that Clinton's answers must be forthcoming within 30 days.  Sadly, these questions are not going to clarify anything in a meaningful way.

There was no limit on the number of questions that could be asked, but the attorneys at Judicial Watch seem to have decided to keep the number small.  To do this, however, they seem to have decided nevertheless to ask everything that they could think of.  The result is a number of lengthy questions with multiple parts that are extremely confusing.  Here's an example of one such question:

6.  Were you ever advised, cautioned, or warned, was it ever suggested, or did you ever participate in any communication, conversation, or meeting in which it was discussed that your use of a email account to conduct official State Department business conflicted with or violated federal recordkeeping laws. For each instance in which you were so advised, cautioned or warned, in which such a suggestion was made, or in which such a discussion took place, identify the time, date, place, manner (e.g., in person, in writing, by telephone, or by electronic or other means), persons present or participating, and content of the advice, caution, warning, suggestion, or discussion.

To be fair, there is nothing improper about this question.  I have to say, however, that there are very few people in America who will read that question and understand it.  And this is one of the less complicated questions.  The lawyers who wrote these questions may thrill themselves with the answers that they get, but no one else is going to pay much attention.  Certainly, ordinary Americans are not going to pay attention to this.

It would have been much better to write simple, direct questions.

Do They Give Yoga Classes In Benghazi?

The news this afternoon is devastating for Hillary Clinton.  The State Department attorneys told a federal court that they now have over 30 emails that were sent or received by Hillary Clinton but which were never turned over by her when she gave the State Department what she claimed were ALL her work-related documents.  These 30 emails are among the 15,000 that the FBI managed to get off the Clinton server despite all the attempts by Hillary and her people to erase them.

Think about that.  Here are a few things that we now know for certain:

1.  Clinton told the public that she had turned over all her work-related emails to the State Department.  THAT IS A LIE according to the Director of the FBI.

2.  Clinton told the public that every one of the emails was individually reviewed by her people to make sure that no work-related emails were omitted.  THAT IS A LIE according to the Director of the FBI.

3.  Clinton not only told the public these lies, but she testified under oath in front of Congress and offered the same lies.  THAT IS A CRIME; it's called PERJURY.

4.  Clinton told America and Congress that she had deleted about 30,000 emails that were determined to be personal and not work-related.  She said the personal emails dealt with things like yoga lessons and details for Chelsea's wedding.

5.  We now know that at least 30 of the deleted emails dealt with the subject of the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.  That is what the State Department confirmed today to a federal judge.

6.  There is no way that any person could honestly remove 30 emails about an attack on a State Department facility and say that they were not work-related.  Of course, they were related to work.

7.  This means that not only did Hillary Clinton lie under oath concerning the deleted emails, but she did so in an outrageous manner that clearly showed her refusal to tell the truth.  The subject of Benghazi is not on the border between work-related and not-work-related.  This news makes Clinton's testimony to Congress blatant perjury.

Back in the 1990's Bill Clinton lied under oath about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.  All of his defenders told us that the perjury didn't matter because "it was just about sex."  What will they tell us about Hillary's latest perjury?  Maybe "It is just about national security."

This news really ought to disqualify Hillary Clinton from ever being president.

Let's Not Forget Who They Are

According to the AP, 72 mass graves have been uncovered in Syria and Iraq in land that has been taken back from ISIS.  These graves contain the remains of between 5000 and 15000 people.  Initial examination of the sites indicates that these are not people who died of natural causes.  They were executed by ISIS.

Think about this.  In the last week, there have been stories about the possibility that four civilians were killed in an air strike launched by American forces.  There have also been multiple stories about Israel tearing down the homes of two men who carried out terror attacks against civilians.  Each of these stories got more media coverage than our learning of the mass slaughter by ISIS of literally thousands of innocent people.  How can that be?  Why are some people outraged if a house is torn down but uncaring is thousands are murdered?

We need to focus attention on the mass murders committed by ISIS.  Those who died should not be forgotten.  How many Yazidis died just because they did not follow the religion of the ISIS zealots?  How many Christians were murdered in Iraq and Syria?  What happened to the Shiites in the territory taken by ISIS?  Are we just to forget the genocidal actions of the purveyors of an ideology of hate?

No doubt the Obama White House and the Clinton campaign don't want to talk about the ISIS murderers.  These geniuses don't want to offend segments of the Moslem populations with ISIS crimes because that might cause those people to do something bad.  ISIS murders thousands and these fools are worried about talking about it.  It's insanity; there is no other way to describe it.  We need to identify just who it is that we are fighting and to point out their horrific crimes to the world. 

So What Else Is New

Connecticut governor Dan Malloy has been under FBI investigation for violating the campaign finance laws by illegally sneaking hundreds of thousands of dollars into his re-election campaign in 2014.  Now we learn that there is another investigation targeting the governor and his inner circle.  This time the investigation centers on a close friend, major campaign contribution bundler and construction contractor who has a number of suspect contracts with state municipalities.  If you want to hear the details, the story is here

What amazes me, however, is that Malloy is the head of the Democrat Governor's Association and heads their efforts to get more Democrats elected.  He is in roughly the same position that Chris Christie held at the time that the Bridge scandal first erupted.  There are two major differences, however.  There was no evidence that Christie had any involvement with the bridge mess while according to media reports there was direct involvement by Malloy.  Second, the media went crazy covering the Christie story, while there is almost no mention whatsoever of the Malloy mess.

The Audacity of Arrogance

The news today says it is likely that president Obama will "ratify" the Paris Climate Accords when he is meeting with the president of China this week.  It's an amazing story.  The US Constitution says that any treaty must be approved by a two - thirds vote in the Senate.  The Paris accords have not even been voted on yet, and there is little chance of an approval when that vote comes.  As a result, Obama has decided (apparently) just to ignore the constitutional requirement.  He is going to call this an "executive agreement" rather than a treaty.  The problem for Obama is that an executive agreement does not have the force of law in the USA.  Violations of the Paris Accords will not matter.  Congress will not need to follow the rules in the Paris Accords.  Even the administration will be able to ignore the agreement if it wants.  And Obama will have doomed the Paris Accords in this country when his goal has been to get them passed.  If Trump is elected, he will no doubt announce that the Paris Accords are not an executive agreement and that nothing Obama did changed that.  He will either withdraw from the Accords or send them back to the Senate for approval (where they will die.)  If Hillary is elected, she will be faced with the choice of either pointing out the lie from Obama about the nature of the agreement and asking the Senate for approval, or she will continue with the executive agreement travesty and be left with an unenforceable agreement.

Sometimes, even Obama surprises me with the stupidity of his own arrogance.  Maybe he can call his presidential memoir "The Audacity of Arrogance."

Monday, August 29, 2016

Huma Dumps The Perv

Huma Abedin is separating from her husband former congressman Anthony Weiner.  The news comes after Weiner was once again caught in a sexting scandal.  This time the New York Post published pictures Weiner sent to a woman he met online.  The photos were much like the earlier ones that killed his political career except this time Weiner not only sent lewd pictures, but he did so with his young child in the photo as well.

I have not said this often in the past, but Huma Abedin is doing the correct thing.  Weiner was famously called a "perv" by Donald Trump.  It is not something about which reasonable people can disagree.

So all that being said, I have to add that I find it more than a coincidence that Huma acted only when Weiner pulled this stunt again during the presidential campaign.  My guess is that the Clinton campaign told Huma that either Weiner had to go or else Huma had to leave the campaign.  I am surprised, however, that Hillary didn't just dump Huma without any further discussion.  Indeed, we may still see Huma leave in the next week of so to deal with her "devastating" breakup with Weiner.  After all, Huma's mother has now been revealed to be a rabidly anti-American and anti-womens'-rights fanatic.  Indeed, we just learned that Huma herself was the associate editor of a journal that blamed 9-11 on the USA and which denounced those who push for womens' rights.  Huma's answer was that while she was listed as editor, she really wasn't.  In other words, Huma's listing as editor was just a fraud which was designed by Huma and her mother (no doubt) to funnel a salary to Huma in exchange for no work.

Hillary really ought to dump Huma.  No doubt she will do so once the campaign is over.  Right now, Hillary can't risk doing it because Huma is one of the few people who know the truth about the Clinton foundation, Hillary's emails and the other Clinton scandals of the last ten years.  Hillary has to keep Huma happy or there could be an explosion that destroys Clinton's campaign.

It's Good There Is No Kerry Foundation

It's truly amazing.  Two weeks ago, the country finally got to see emails from the Hillary Clinton trove of goodies in which we saw the Clinton State Department doing favors for mega-donors to the Clinton Foundation.  The most prominent example of this dealt with a man named Chagoury who is Lebanese but who lives in Nigeria.  The head of the Foundation wanted the State Department to put Chagoury in touch with the person in the State Department in charge of dealing with Lebanon.  After all, Chagoury had given between one and five million bucks to the Clinton Foundation according to the public records.  The Clinton State Department connected Chagoury with the American ambassador in Lebanon.  They did this even though Chagoury had been convicted in Switzerland for money laundering in 2000.  That was where the story stopped for about ten days.  Now the next shoe has dropped.  Here's the key:  in 2013, once Clinton was replaced by John Kerry as Secretary of State, Chagoury applied for a visa to enter the USA.  It was denied.  The reason it was denied is that Chagoury had ties to terrorist organizations.  The group in question is the same one that bombed the US Marine barracks in Beirut in the 1980s, an attack that killed over 200 Americans.

Let me state that more clearly.  Hillary Clinton's State Department set up a meeting between a supporter of anti-American terrorists and the American ambassador to Lebanon because the man had given a big donation to the Clinton Foundation.  This was not something unknown at the time.  The same man could not even get a visa to enter the US in the year after Hillary Clinton left office.  The Clinton State Department placed donations to the Clinton Foundation above the fight against terrorism and the security of American diplomatic personnel in Lebanon.

It is truly an outrage.  Thank God, that John Kerry doesn't have his own foundation.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Our Wonderful Healthcare System At Work

I was reminded of the recent news about the price for an Epi-pen today when I tried to straighten out a particular prescription that I need.  I am going to have a medical test in a few weeks and the doctor prescribed a particular type of prep to take in advance of the test.  He sent the prescription to my usual pharmacy.  So far, so good, but then the fun began.

First, I went the next day to pick up the prescription.  The clerk checked my records and told me that the prescription had not yet come in, but it would be in one Monday.  That was fine; after all, I don't need it for ten days.

I went home and a few hours later found that I had a phone message from the pharmacy telling me that my insurance would not cover the prescription.  They asked me to call a special number so that I could get right through and let them know what I wanted to do.  I called and got a fax line.  I also rechecked the message and found that it had been left about four hours prior to my first visit to the pharmacy.

Today, I went into the pharmacy to discuss the matter in person.  I spoke to a clerk who told me that there was no problem with my insurance but that the prescription had not come in yet.  Since I know how these things worked, I asked her to please double check the insurance.  When she did that she told me that she needed to get the pharmacist.  I knew that was a bad sign.

After waiting a few minutes, I was joined by the pharmacist.  She told me that my insurance would not cover the prescription for the test prep.  I said that this seemed odd since the insurance covered the test, but she said that it is not uncommon.  I asked what the prep would cost if I bought it without insurance.  She replied that she could not tell me exactly but that it would be roughly $500.00.  She said, however, that there was another alternative item that is basically the same as the prescribed "prep".  It was covered by my plan and would cost $40.  Then she added that were also over-the-counter items that worked just as well.  They would cost around $10.

Think about that for a moment.  My doctor prescribed a $500 item when there are $10 over the counter items that work essentially the same.  Think what this tells you about our system.  I wonder how many people have used the $500 item without having any idea that there was such a less expensive alternative available.

Tomorrow, I plan to call my doctor's office and inquire about changing the prep.  Most likely, the pharmacist is correct.  I will save $490, but I wonder how many people don't know that they can look for alternatives.  How many people are prisoners of the ridiculously complicated and expensive system?

Not Enough Inflation?

With the world's central bankers at Jackson Hole discussing the state of the world economy, we are seeing something that is hard to believe.  According to news reports, the bankers are lamenting their inability to generate higher inflation.  The idea is that some inflation is needed to cause economic growth to speed up.  Inflation will also reduce the real amount of debt undertaken by various governments.  Think of it this way:  if inflation ran at 2% for twenty years, the twenty trillion dollars of American government debt currently on the books would only be worth the equivalent of roughly eleven trillion of today's dollars.  We could pay back debts incurred with today's currencies with equal face amounts of the future's less valuable currencies.  The main storyline is that the bankers have gotten to the point where there is little more they can accomplish with monetary policy; they need "bold action" by the governments in using fiscal policies to increase economic growth.

Here's the big flaw in these stories:  The central banks around the world have already flooded their economies with excess cash.  Just in the USA, the Federal Reserve pumped something like three trillion dollars in new cash into the money supply in the last eight years.  That more than tripled the money supply from where it was in 2008.  In Europe and Japan, similar moves have been made.  The world is awash with cash.  All that cash has done next to nothing with regard to restoring vigorous economic growth.  The new cash is sitting in bank vaults; it is not being used for investments or purchases.  The bulk of the cash that actually gets used is going for speculation in stocks, commodities, and other items.  Those sorts of uses for the new cash do not lead to fast economic growth.

With these failures in place for monetary policy, one might expect the bankers to look for new methods to help grow the economies.  The bankers, however, seem unable to move beyond their current failed policies.  Indeed, some bankers are stymied because moving away from current policies carry with it a risk that the bubble in stock values will burst, inflation will return or we will see a recession.  Just look at the Federal Reserve.  The Fed finally stopped the worthless activity of so called quantitative easing.  Nevertheless, the Fed just won't raise interest rates to more appropriate levels.  Instead, America moves along with historically low interest rates that deprive savers of a return and push the stock market to new levels of speculation.  Of course, each time the Fed talks of raising rates, the stock market shudders and the Fed backs off.  Ultimately, when the bubble bursts, it will just be a bigger disaster.  Indeed, with all the excess cash in place, one has to wonder what will happen once the economy actually does start growing.  If the USA had a year with strong growth, we might see all that cash tumble out of its hiding places and make its way into the economy.  If inflation were to return as the Fed wants, we could see the boatloads of cash take inflation way past the 2% target and move it to levels last seen 35 years ago.  The damage done to our economy by a few years of 15% inflation would be hard to calculate, but it would be enormous.

The reality of the news about the central bankers is this:  we know that these people are wedded to their mistakes of the past.  They seem unable to look beyond the common wisdom (which also happens not to work.)  The world faces a potential disaster and we have bankers who don't seem to notice.

A Strange Story; Is It True?

The YNET site is reporting that there will be a meeting between Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Abbas in October to restart negotiations.  The meeting is to be held in Moscow under the aegis of Russian president Putin.  The news is not reported anywhere else that I can find.  I wonder if it is true or if it is just another of those rumors that pop up in the Israeli media from time to time and get reported as facts.  It would be an intriguing bit of news if true for a number of reasons.

First, Russia has never been a serious participant in the attempt to end the Arab/Israeli conflict in the past.  Holding the talks in Moscow would be a clear indication of just how much Moscow's involvement in the Middle East has increased in the last few years.  For one thing, the relationship between Israel and Russia has improved greatly in the last year.  Netanyahu has met with Putin four times in twelve months.  That's much more frequent than meeting between Netanyahu and president Obama. 

Second, the meeting would be an acknowledgement of the importance of Egypt in the region's peace efforts.  Just a short time ago, the Egyptian government said that the Israelis and Palestinians ought to meet and suggested Moscow as the place for such a meeting.  That, by itself, is another sign of the new Russian influence in the area.  Remember, in the 1970s, Egypt expelled all of its Russian advisors and for the next 35 years, the Russians were kept out of Egypt.  Since president Sisi of Egypt took office, however, he has warmed to the Russians after Obama had the US take a hostile position to his role at the head of the Egyptian government.

Third, the meeting is also an indication of Russia trying to ingratiate itself among the Sunni Arabs of the region.  Russia already has close ties with Iran which is the Shiite power in the region.  Russian involvement with the greatest Sunni power, Egypt, will put Moscow on good term with both sides of the Sunni/Shiite divide.  Without a doubt, the Iranians will not be happy to see Russia promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  If there really is such a meeting, there will surely be fallout in Teheran.

It is highly unlikely that the meeting in Moscow will result in any deal being struck between the two sides.  Abbas is not in a position to make peace.  His Fatah party is likely to be ousted in many of the local elections coming this fall in cities on the West Bank.  The expected victor is Hamas, the terrorist group that is unalterably opposed to any deal with Israel.  Abbas turned down in the past offers that gave him at least 99% of what he wanted.  Nothing has changed that.

So why would there be peace negotiations if there is really no chance that a deal can be structured?  Just think of what the meeting offers.  For Putin, it is a demonstration of Russia's new influence in the area and also of the loss by the USA of a leadership role there.  Egypt, Israel and even the Palestinians get to show the USA that there can be a major move in the region without any US involvement.  It tells the USA that if it wants to keep Egypt and Israel as allies, it will have to stop the constant negative barrages launched at those countries.  Israeli leader Netanyahu gets to show a step towards peace that ought to silence critics in Europe and the USA.  Abbas gets to show his people that he is their representative who is recognized by the world, thereby strengthening his position.

On the other hand, this may all be just a rumor.  We will have to wait and see.

Obamacare is Dying; Will It Do More Damage Before It Goes?

The Washington Post has an article today about Obamacare that everyone needs to read.  In a nutshell, here are the main points:

1.  Obamacare's exchanges are failing.  The estimate by the government three years ago was that there would be 24 million policies sold on the exchanges by 2016.  Only 11 million were sold this year.  That means that less than half of the estimated number of policies were sold.

2.  Three of the largest insurers, United Healthcare, Aetna and Humana are pulling out of offering individual policies in most states.  These carriers have suffered major losses on their policies because there are just too few policies sold to cover the medical costs of those who are covered.  This will leave one in four counties in the USA with only one carrier offering plans in 2017.  Imagine that.  One quarter of the USA will have no choice of healthcare policies.  Even worse, there will be some counties for which no policies are offered.

3.  Across the USA, states are authorizing major price increases for the policies that will be sold.  Many of the increases are more than twenty five percent.

4.  Even among the people who receive subsidies to buy insurance, there are a great many people who just don't buy policies.  The penalty for not buying insurance is still less than the cost of the policy for many, and the huge deductibles in most policies make the care delivered by the policies extremely expensive in any event.

Barring any changes to the system, Obamacare will not be able to last much longer.  If more carriers pull out of the system, we could see large swaths of the country in which NO policies are available.  That would make the legacy of Obamacare the complete destruction of the health insurance industry and the loss of coverage for millions of people.  Oh, and it would all come at a cost of about a trillion dollars.

Some of the same "experts" who explained why Obamacare would work in the first place now tell us that we just need to increase the penalty for not buying insurance.  If we could force millions more into the system, we would have their premium payments to cover the cost of medical care for the others.  Understand what that means.  The goal of these experts is to get something like seven million young and healthy Americans to pay something like $3,000 per year for coverage that won't kick in until they meet a $5000 deductible or something close to that.  We that to happen, we would see more than twenty billion dollars in additional premium revenues for the carriers, but remember where that money will come from.  It would be an additional burden on all those young people who are at the point in their lives where they normally would be buying first homes, cars, and other major purchases.  By sucking twenty billion dollars a year out of their pockets, Obamacare would then cause the housing market damage.  It would damage the auto market.  It would damage the economy in a major way.  In most ways, the "cure" would be worse for the country than the current mess.

The way to fix Obamacare is to focus on ways to get people better and less expensive care rather than on ways to get people insurance that has major gaps in coverage.  First of all, remember that Obamacare costs the US taxpayer enormous amounts each year.  Just jettisoning the Obamacare bureaucracy would free us tens of billions of dollars each year that could better be spent on care.  There is no reason why each policy sold has to include maternity benefits, birth control, abortions, and a whole host of other items that many people do not want.  The one size fits all approach of Obamacare clearly has failed, and it needs to go.  We also could modify the laws that pile excess costs onto hospitals in order to improve care but lower costs.  Treating a sick person at an emergency room costs as much as ten times as treating the same person at a walk-in clinic or a doctor's office.  If the law were changed to people who came to the ER without a real emergency got sent to such a clinic, costs would take a significant cut.

There are a whole host of other moves that could be taken, but nearly all of them start with getting rid of Obamacare.  Of course, we could just wait another year or two and watch Obamacare dissolve by itself after inflicting a great deal more damage on the USA.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

I Wonder Why Hillary Left Them Out

Hillary Clinton got her national security briefing yesterday.  Unlike Donald Trump who had two aides with him, Hillary went alone.  That seemed strange to me, so I have been wondering why she left the aides out.  If you think about it, you realize that most people would want someone else to hear the briefing in order to help remember details in the future and also to get a differing point of view about what has been said.  After all, it may be that important issues do not pop out of the briefing but only emerge after some thought.  The extra eyes and minds will help in that process.

In any event, I came up with these possibilities for Hillary's conduct:

1.  It may be that after the fiasco with Hillary's private unsecured email system, her aides were not able any longer to secure the necessary clearances.

2.  Hillary may have told the briefers that she would bring her full set of aides only if the CIA were to make a major contribution to the Clinton Foundation.

3.  Hillary may care little about the facts concerning real threats confronting the USA.  After all, she would probably lie about them anyway.

4.  Maybe the aides were holding a meet and greet with the Ku Klux Klan which resulted in Hillary's endorsement yesterday by the Grand Wizard of the Klan.

5.  Maybe Hillary did not want witnesses to what was said so that she can later deny ever being told.

There are other possibilities, but these seem the most likely.

Time To Get Prepared

In two weeks it will be September eleventh.  That's worth remembering for the obvious reason that it is the anniversary of the most significant terrorist attack in American history.  It's also the anniversary of the attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans including our ambassador to that country.  In other words, that anniversary is a likely time for a major attack on Americans by the Islamic terrorists.  I hope we are prepared.

It may seem hard to believe, but four years ago when Benghazi was attacked, the president Obama had taken no precautions at all for that anniversary.  At the installation in Benghazi, there was no extra security.  In fact, Hillary Clinton had been asked by the ambassador for an increase in security in Benghazi but the response was to REDUCE security instead.  But that is not all.  There were no forces on alert to deal with attacks on American installations in the Middle East despite major unrest in that region just prior to the anniversary.  More than anything else, that lack of preparedness is the reason why no forces were sent to rescue the Americans under attack in Benghazi.  The only force available was hours away in Italy.

Right now, there has been a major wave of terror attacks around the world.  We are also in the midst of a presidential election campaign which ISIS and al Qaeda would love to disrupt.  The upcoming 9-11 anniversary is the single most likely time for a terrorist attack.  Someone in Washington better be getting our forces ready and increasing security at possible targets.

It would be unforgiveable if we get hit with an attack and we are once again unable to deal with it because, as with Benghazi, no one bothered to take precautions.

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. 

The Fruits Of Ransom Payments

The Gaza Strip is an area the size of a small county that is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas.  It is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and is bordered by Egypt and Israel.  Yesterday, the State Department issued a warning telling all Americans to leave Gaza immediately.  Now Gaza is best described as a "hellhole".  Few people work.  There are shortages of all sorts of items.  People are often getting shot by Hamas security forces.  In short, it is a disaster of a place to live.  Much of the aid that gets sent there to help the people is confiscated by Hamas and used for weapons and construction of tunnels.  These have been the conditions for at least the last ten years.

Since things are so awful in Gaza, one does have to wonder why there are Americans there at all.  It's inexplicable, but the new State Department announcement is even more puzzling.  Things in Gaza have been terrible for years.  Why is the State Department only now issuing a directive to Americans to leave?  There's no new war.  There was an exchange of fire between Hamas and Israel the other day, but that happens periodically.  Nothing is different as far as the status of Gaza is concern.

What has changed, however, is that the world learned that the USA paid a ransom to Iran to release some prisoners/hostages at the time of the nuclear deal.  American policy of not negotiating with terrorists was thrown away by Obama and his people.  Suddenly, the Hamas terrorists know that if they take Americans hostage, they may get a big pay day from our government.  It could be Christmas in September for Hamas if it captures the right hostage.  That risk of being taken hostage is likely the reason why the State Department issued its warning only now.

The White House may still be claiming that the money that went to Iran was not a ransom.  The State Department, however, knows the truth and it is being forced to act to protect the American citizens in Gaza.

The Failure of America's Afghan Policy

When he ran in 2008, president Obama told the nation that Afghanistan was the "good" war while Iraq was the "bad" one.  If elected, Obama said he would end Iraq and put the fight into Afghanistan to win that war.  Well Obama won and he followed through to a certain extent.  In Iraq, Obama rushed to get all American troops out of that country after they had won a major victory over al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgents.  The total power vacuum Obama created by his sudden and total withdrawal led both to the growth of ISIS and the hegemony of Iran over Iraq.  In Afghanistan, Obama surged US forces in that nation.  Obama roughly tripled our troop strength in Afghanistan and stepped up attacks.  Close to 80% of all American casualties in Afghanistan came after Obama took office.  Then Obama decided to take our forces out of that country.  As a result, the Taliban have made a major comeback and ISIS has gotten a foothold in the country as well.  Now there is chaos in Afghanistan.

Today, there is an attack on the American University in Kabul.  We still don't know the extent of the attack, but initial reports say there are heavy casualties.  Certain areas of Afghanistan are under near total control of the Taliban.  Indeed, the Taliban control more of the country than was the case when Obama first ordered additional troops to Afghanistan.

The Obama policy in Afghanistan was one to which Hillary Clinton contributed.  She was in one the decision to surge our forces there.  She was also in on the decision to take the forces out, although the details of the withdrawal were reached after Clinton left the State Department.  I mention that because I think it important that Clinton get full "credit" for her part in yet another Obama foreign policy disaster.  The Obama/Clinton team managed to take a country where violence was mostly low level and to turn it into a killing field for Americans and Afghans alike, only to see control of the country move steadily towards our enemies.

Major News, Minor Coverage

Turkish armed forces have rolled over the border with Syria and attacked ISIS soldiers in the town of Jarabulus in Syria.  The Turks have used planes, tanks, artillery and special forces in a move to drive ISIS out of a town that ISIS has long held.  Meanwhile, nearly 2000 Syrian Sunni rebels have massed near the battle and are poised to join the fight along with the Turks to oust ISIS from their positions.  US special operators are also there assisting the Turks.

This is major, major news for a number of reasons, but it is getting scant coverage by the media.

1.  The Turks have an enormous military that could easily roll over ISIS.  The fight for Jarabulus should be over quickly if the Turks truly commit to winning the fight.  It ought to be a rout for ISIS.

2.  Jarabulus is on the last road still open between the center of ISIS power at Raqqa and the Turkish border.  If the Turks and allies take this town, ISIS will be cut off from most routes used by ISIS recruits and supplies.

3.  The Turkish move is a direct slap in the face for Assad and Russia, even though they are not taking part in this battle.  If the Turks oust ISIS and put the non-terrorist Sunni rebels in control in place of ISIS, it will be a blow against Assad and his allies.  They would not be likely to try to retake the town if such a move might bring in the active participation of Turkey.  Turkish forces in this area also will hinder the resupply efforts of the Iranians for Assad.

4.  The Turks may have entered the fight here just to keep the Kurds out of Jarabulus.  Most of the Syrian side of the border with Turkey is controlled by the Kurds.  Turkey is very suspicious of the Kurds since it suspects that the Kurds want to create a new national state for Syrian, Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian Kurds.  There has been a low level insurgency in Turkey by the Kurds for years.  Turkey will oust ISIS from Jarabulus, but its main goal may really be to block the Kurds from taking the area.

5.  For a long time, ISIS funded itself by selling oil produced in its territory by exporting it through Turkey.  The loss of Jarabulus will end what's left of that trade.

So this is a big deal, but the mainstream media is hardly covering it at all.  Maybe if one of the Kardashians were to parachute into Jarabulus we could get coverage.  Otherwise, the media just doesn't seem to care.

Another Mystery To Solve Per The FBI

Yesterday in Roanoke, Virginia, a man named Wasil Farooqui attack two people with a knife, wounding both.  According to the victims Farooqui shouted "Allahu Akhbar" as he slashed at them.  The male victim fought back and wounded Farooqui who then fled.  Farooqui was then arrested when he sought treatment for his wounds at the same hospital emergency room where the two victims were taken by police.  So we know that Farooqui is an idiot just from his visit to the emergency room.  What the FBI agent in charge of the investigation says, however, is that we don't know if this attack has any connection to terrorism.  Apparently, this is another mystery for the FBI to solve.

Here's a few things that we do know.

1.  Last August, Farooqui was stopped when he tried to enter Syria from Turkey.  (To be fair to the FBI, maybe Farooqui was just on vacation.  After all, maybe someone told him that Syria is lovely that time of year.)

2.  Farooqui has no connection to the victims who were just attacked at random.

3.  Farooqui shouted "Allahu Akhbar" as he launched his attack.  Needless to say, Farooqui is a Moslem.

It couldn't be clearer that Farooqui is an Islamic terrorist.  It doesn't take the FBI to figure that out.  Most likely Farooqui is not part of an ISIS network in this country; they surely would be smart enough to tell him not to go to the local emergency room, but he's still a terrorist.

We have to get over this nonsensical view that we shouldn't call a terrorist a (gasp) "terrorist" because it might offend him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No So Sorry-o

Claudio Osorio is a convicted scam artist who got $10 million in US funds after the State Department pulled some strings for him.  The money was supposed to go to build 500 houses in Haiti as part of the reconstruction after the big earthquake.  Osorio took the cash, but his company never broke ground on any of these homes in Haiti.  Instead, he used to cash to fund his lifestyle and to pay off some other creditors from whom he had taken money in the past.  Osorio eventually ended up in prison.

Here's the key, however.  Osorio was a big donor to the Clinton Foundation and he used his connections with Hillary Clinton to get the grant from the USA approved and funded.  The whole story is in a release from Judicial Watch that came out after the recent receipt of new Hillary Clinton emails.  Those are the emails that Hillary said were supposedly about Chelsea's wedding and yoga appointments; they were all "purely personal".  Well, no surprise, that was another Hillary Clinton lie.  In what universe would emails about a grant to be approved by the State Department qualify as a personal matter for Hillary rather than a work-related email?  The Clintons got cash through their foundation.  Osorio got cash from the taxpayers.  The Haitians who were supposed to get houses, got nothing.  And the American taxpayers got the finger from Hillary and her husband.

If you want to read the entire detail, it is here at Judicial Watch. 

Are There Only Two Americas?

In the 2008 presidential campaign, senator Edwards used to talk constantly about two Americas, one that was well off and one that was struggling.  His campaign flopped, but that does not mean his analysis was wrong.  In truth, though, Edwards' analysis of the country was incomplete; there are a lot more than just two Americas.  Here are the main three groups:

1.  There's the America of the well off, well educated people who run companies, teach at universities, and live very comfortable lives.

2.  There's the America of the people with high school or some college education who struggle each day to earn enough to keep themselves and their families fed, clothed, housed and happy.  It's not that these people are starving; rather, it's that for them things have been getting tougher, not easier.  When jobs are lost to overseas competition, it's these people who get hit.  When prices for health insurance rise, it's these people who get hit, the ones who earn too much to get subsidized but who earn too little to pay for the increase easily.

3.  There's the America of people who are and have been poor, the people who rely on the government and government help to survive each day.

The strange thing about these three groups is that the wealthy, highly educated and the very poor support Hillary Clinton, while those in the middle who are struggling support Trump.  The margins for each candidate in these three communities are quite large; they are not split evenly.  How can it be that the candidate of the rich (Hillary) is also the candidate of the poor?  It seems to come down to different perceptions group by group.  The wealthy and well educated are not feeling the squeeze right now.  The Obama years have been good for them; nearly all the increase in wealth across America under Obama has gone to the richest ten percent of the population.  These people understand that Hillary will continue Obama's policies and that those policies will continue to enrich them.  Also, because they are in good shape, they worry about the tone of things that the candidates might say rather than considering the content; it's a luxury that comes with affluence.  The people in the middle who are being squeezed would like very much to regain a share of the growth of the US economy.  Obama's policies have lost this group jobs, income and a chance for a better future.  They don't want those policies to continue, so they opt for Trump.  The last group, the poor, select Hillary because they accept her statements of concern for them (even if she has no record of ever doing anything to help them.)  This is a group that has been conditioned to expect the Democrat to care for them, and they continue to vote for Democrats as a result.

The reality is that with Hillary, we will have the wealthy running things for their own benefit with just enough being done to make it seem that they care about the poor.

Images of Disaster

I rarely, if ever, watch Sean Hannity on TV (I can't take the constant lists), but last night I happened upon his program from the site of the floods in Louisiana.  It was an amazing display of the power of television.  There was video of street after street of homes which had their contents piled on their front lawns.  This was the first step in the clean up after the flooding (which isn't yet completely over).  The images brought me back to things I had seen in similar situations while I was in the National Guard.  When an area gets flooded, the waters carry filth, disease, and vermin into the homes.  Almost anything that gets dunked into the water has to be thrown away.  There is just no way to rescue furniture, carpets, clothing, food, appliances, toys, or anything else.  Wood floors swell from all the water, buckle and weaken; there is a constant danger that these floors will fail if too much weight is placed upon them.  Walls get soaked with the toxic brew and also have to be torn out.  The truth is that if you have not lived through such a disaster, it is difficult to comprehend just how terrible a flood can be.

Most of the media has paid little attention to the Louisiana disaster.  In fact, the biggest media focus has been Donald Trump's visit to the area instead of the needs of the people there.  The victims will have problems for years due to this mess.  We ought not forget them.  It's time for us all to step up and contribute what we can to disaster relief for Louisiana.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Where's The Coverage?

The Democrat running this year for governor of West Virginia announced that he will not vote for Hillary Clinton.  So where's the coverage in the media?  This is not some guy who is one of many in a primary.  This is the official candidate of the Democrat party for governor in West Virginia, and the media is essentially silent about his rejection of the top of his party's ticket.

Remember all those stories about some Republican or another who did not endorse Trump?  When every one of those people announce his or her position, it was like a tidal wave of media coverage.  Now we get the same sort of thing on the other side and all we hear is crickets.

The truth is that Hillary Clinton has no chance to carry West Virginia, a state that used to be one of the strongest Democrat states in America.  Even so, Hillary's rejection by the state wide Democrat candidate is important news.  The media should cover it.

Making the Choice An Easy One

Do you live in Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, Alaska or North Carolina?  If so, your choice for health insurance will be easy if you use the Obamacare exchange.  That's because in these seven states it appears that there will be only one company selling insurance on the exchange.  There will be no need to compare networks of doctors, determine prices, or see which hospitals are covered.  You won't have any choice at all.  In those seven states, it will be like living in the old Soviet Union; everything will be decided by the government.

I can hear the White House spokesman now telling the people stuck with only one choice how much time they will save by not being force to make a choice.  Of course, if the one remaining insurer in these states pulls out of the system the White House may need to bring out president Obama himself to announce, "If you like health insurance, well, you're out of luck until next year, PERIOD!"

Let's listen again as the Democrats tell us what a big success Obamacare has been.  It's so funny and it never gets old.

Still No Answer on the 15,000 New Emails

Earlier today we heard that the FBI turned over more than 15,000 work related documents from Hillary Clinton that Clinton herself had failed to give to the government as required by law.  Hillary supposedly had her people go through over 60,000 emails to separate private stuff from work-related items.  Then, Hillary gave copies of some 30,000 emails to the State Department.  The new stuff turned over by the FBI means that about half of what Clinton and her people held back from the State Department was actually work related items that Clinton was required to turn over.

This is big stuff.  Just in terms of sheer numbers, the number of emails that Hillary wrongfully withheld is staggering.  It makes many of her prior lies look like small potatoes in comparison.  That's why I figured that by now we would have gotten some explanation from Clinton or her campaign as to what had happened here.  Many hours have gone by, however, and all we have gotten is silence from Hillary and her campaign.  They seemed stumped about how to lie their way out of this one.

The Clinton campaign knows that it can put a spin on its answer that the mainstream media will likely repeat.  Even the mainstream media, however, needs to have a storyline that it can repeat without looking idiotic.  It's really hard to explain why one would only provide two out of every three emails and make that explanation look plausible.  Instead, we are just getting silence.

Maybe CNN should put a .clock on the corner of its feed.  It can run until a plausible explanation for all this is offered by Hillary.  I doubt we'll see any such answer prior to the election.

Teachers' Pet

I was shocked today to open the latest issue of Harvard magazine to find a long article extoling the virtues of charter schools.  Usually, Harvard magazine marches lockstep with the liberal wing of the Democrats, but this article was different.  It pointed out (1) that enrollment in charter schools has been rising steadily for many years, (2) that a clear majority parents of school age children, especially minority parents, support charter school expansion, and (3) that the reading and math levels for students in charter schools are much better than those in regular public schools.  That package of points is completely opposite from the anti-charter school nonsense being peddled these days by the Democrats and their masters in the teachers' unions.  According to the article, a detailed study in Philadelphia showed that by attending a charter school, the average student performed at a level that was the equivalent of getting an extra 45 days of instruction each year.  It's a convoluted way of making the point, but those 45 extra days means that charter school students who were equal in other characteristics did achieved results 15% better than their peers in the public schools.

This is all important stuff and it ought to sway the outcome of the public debate.  Years ago when charter schools were new, we were told that it would be unfair to compare the outcomes for students in each system against the other because most of the better students went to the charter schools.  That's no longer the case.  In Philadelphia where the study was performed, over 30% of students go to charter schools, so the sample in both systems is large enough to produce a fair comparison.  The clear outcome is that the charter schools produce better educated students BY FAR.

It's also interesting to see that Hillary Clinton remains tied to the teachers' unions so she opposes charter schools.  Donald Trump, however, strongly supports charter schools.  Indeed, Trump makes that support a large part of his pitch to minority voters in which he asks for their votes.  Since more than 60% of African American parents support increased numbers of charter schools, it will be instructive to see if that support results in higher levels of support for Trump.

The basic idea behind charter schools has always been that innovative schooling could outperform the rigid, dying model of public school education used in big cities.  Charter schools operate so as to put the education of the kids rather than the contract demands of the teachers' unions first.  The success of the charter school model shows the power of free market ideas and concepts in action.

The Lies Have It

Another attempt by president Obama to avoid Congress and use regulations to change the law was stopped by a federal judge today.  A federal judge in Texas stopped enforcement of Obama's directive requiring schools to have transgender students use the bathrooms, locker rooms, showers and other facilities for the sex with which they identify.  The Department of Education argued that the directive was merely explanatory and not binding, but the court held that not to be true.  Judge O'Connor said that the effect of the directive was a compulsory order that the school districts have to follow, since it threatened a cut off of all federal funds for non-compliance.  As such, the judge temporarily enjoined enforcement.

After the directive was issued, more than half of the states brought suit against the federal government on the matter.  The ruling in Texas came in a suit brought by 13 states to bar enforcement.  Even after today's ruling, there will still need to be more proceedings and a final decision, but the directive is clearly dead for this school year.

It seems as if the administration thinks that they are dealing with the media when they are in court.  They just lie about things and expect to get away with it.  It's good to know that there are still places where truth beats lies.


Now It's Another 14,900 Documents that Clinton Didn't Turn Over To State

The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI found another 14,900 documents (mostly email) that Hillary Clinton failed to turn over to the State Department when she supposedly gave State copies of ALL her business related communications from her days as secretary of state.

Think about that.  Hillary turned over 30,000 emails to State.  She told the world and the State Department that those 30,000 were everything; there just was no more.  Then the FBI got involved.  First it found about 1400 emails that Hillary had left out of the document delivery to the State Department.  Now we hear that there are another 14,900.  That means that Hillary left out one email for every two she turned over.  Let's be clear:  THERE IS NO WAY THAT THIS OMISSION BY CLINTON WAS UNINTENTIONAL!

FBI Director Comey told us that the bureau was lacking evidence that Clinton's actions were intentional, so he said there should be no indictment.  If Hillary left out one in three of her work related emails, that is more than enough evidence of intent.  She should have been indicted.

It's events like this that make Americans unwilling to trust their government.  I don't know which is worse:  the secretary of state who acts as if the laws don't apply to her or the FBI director who won't look at obvious evidence and gives that crooked secretary of state a pass for her wrongdoing.

Huma/Hillary Day Two -- The Lies Start, And Their Not Even Good Ones

Yesterday, the New York Post ran a story exposing that Hillary Clinton's top aide for the last twenty years, Huma Abedin, was an editor of a hate-filled Islamic "journal" that railed against women's rights and even blamed the USA for 9-11.  The head of that journal was and remains Huma's mother.  It was a blockbuster report even though few media outlets picked it up (it might hurt Hillary, their candidate, you see.)  The Clinton campaign, however, was forced to respond to the report and did so with an obvious lie that was surprising because of just how stupid a lie it is. 

According to the Clinton campaign spokesman, Huma was not actually an editor of the journal, she was just listed as an editor on the masthead of the magazine for more than a decade.  The campaign spokesman was then asked if Huma was paid in her position as an editor.  The spokesman refused to answer that question.  He even refused to say if Hillary knew about Huma's position as editor of the hate rag or if Hillary knew about the contents of that magazine.

Think about that.  The campaign expects us to believe that for over a decade, Huma Abedin was falsely listed as an editor of this hate-filled magazine.  We are supposed to believe that Huma let her name continue on the masthead while she was an aide to Hillary Clinton even after the magazine ran articles blaming the USA for 9-11.  Since the refusal by the campaign spokesman to answer the question of salary obviously means that Huma was paid by the journal, we are being told also that Huma took cash for a phony job.  I know that Huma works for Hillary, but taking cash under false pretenses from those who push hateful positions about the USA always seemed to be limited in the past to just the Clintons.  Hillary has, at times, called Huma her "second daughter".  It seems that Hillary taught her well that when someone gives you cash, you never consider who that person is.

We are now left with a choice.  (1) Did Huma edit a hate filled magazine that denounced calls for women's rights and blamed the USA for 9-11 among other things, or (2) was the listing of her as an editor of this journal just a fraud so that she could siphon funds out of the magazine in exchange for doing no work?  It's not a very pretty choice.

Hillary really needs to fire Huma.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Huma/Hillary No Coverage

The New York Post ran an expose today of the past of Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's most trusted aide.  To explain just how close Abedin is to Hillary, remember that Huma is one of only two aides at the State Department that got email accounts on the private unsecured email system that Hillary set up.  In any event, the Post article discloses that for ten years, Abedin edited an Islamic journal that blamed the USA for the 9-11 attacks and also fought against the women's rights movement.  That's some pretty big stuff.  Trump's campaign manager of a few months got pilloried because he supposedly suggested an arrangement under which a Ukrainian political party hired the Podesta group in Washington.  Trump's campaign manager then left the campaign in order not to distract attention from the candidate, although he denied any involvement with the entire matter.  Huma Abedin, on the other hand, has been working for Hillary Clinton since the mid 1990's.  And the story about her is not denied; she really was the editor of the journal in question.  Indeed, Huma's mother runs the entire journal.  So we have the closest aide to Hillary Clinton pushing a story that the 9-11 attacks were the fault of the USA; that's really, really big.

Now let's move to the main question.  How much coverage do you think there has been of this story aside from the New York Post?  For the mainstream media as of now, the answer is ZERO COVERAGE.  NOTHING!  It is indefensible that this story is being buried.

Hillary had better fire Huma Abedin right now.  There is no way we can have someone in the White House advising the president who thinks that 9-11 was anything other than an attack by Islamic terrorists. 


Right on Cue, Obama Takes The Bait In Syria

Just yesterday, I wrote about why the Assad forces and the Russians would target the Kurds in northeastern Syria.  That attack not only hit America's Kurdish allies, but it came very close to hitting US special operations forces in the region.  Today, the next piece of the puzzle fell into place; the US commander for the region warned that further attacks near US special forces would bring retaliation.  Here's how CNN reported the comment from Lt. General Stephen Townsend who just took command this past week.

"We've informed the Russians where we're at ... (they) tell us they've informed the Syrians, and I'd just say that we will defend ourselves if we feel threatened."

It is highly unlikely that Townsend made this statement without first clearing it with the Pentagon.  It is also highly unlikely that the Pentagon would approve that statement without the blessing of the White House.  America is now warning the Syrians controlled by Assad and the Russians to stay away from our special forces.

Think what this does.  If Assad wants to test Washington, he will surely bomb in the area again.  If the USA planes stop the attack, Assad can look like the brave warrior standing up to Washington.  If the US planes don't stop the attack, then Obama will look even weaker than he does now (assuming such a thing is possible.)  If the Russians want to undermine the USA, what better way than to have America make a threat and then not back it up.

It is critical that our forces now behave in the manner that our general said that they would.  If any other force tries to attack in the region of our special operators, the US air force should take them out.  It may create tensions with Iran, but that's a small price to pay compared to the damage that would be done if America does nothing in that situation. 

The truth is that if Assad sends his planes anywhere near our special ops guys, we ought to take out not just those planes but the big chunk of his air force as well.  That would speak volumes.

CNN Won't Cover News Of Its Own Making

Robbie Mook, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, appeared on CNN's State of the Union this morning.  Mook actually said that the reason why there's been so much discussion of the Clinton Foundation recently is that Hillary Clinton has been too transparent.  That's a pretty funny statement.  The candidate who hasn't held a press conference in more than nine months is too transparent.  The candidate who set up her own illegal private email system to keep anyone from seeing her email is too transparent.  The candidate who never met a lie she didn't like is too transparent.  I think next week Mook is going back on the same program to announce that Bill Clinton has had problems in his life because he's been too faithful to Hillary.

Mook's statement is ridiculous, but he had to say something.  If Trump's campaign manager had said something this idiotic, it would have been all over the media instantaneously.  Mook's statement, however, has gotten next to no coverage.  And here's the really amazing thing:  CNN itself is not covering this story.  I just perused the CNN website to see how they reported Mook's comments.  After all, Mook made the mess on CNN, so they surely would report on it, right?  The answer, however, is that CNN doesn't have an article on its website about Mook's comments this morning.  CNN is blacking out this embarrassment for Clinton and her campaign.

For years in the 1990s, CNN was known as the Clinton News Network.  It seems that some things just haven't changed.

Right on Cue We Get Rockets Out Of Gaza

The news today includes the firing of multiple missiles at Israel from Gaza.  One of the missiles landed in the town of Sderot which is almost on the border itself.  Fortunately, no one was hurt from the missile attack.  In response, the Israelis fired back at Gaza at two Hamas installations.  There is no indication of casualties there either.

There has been a long period of calm on the Gaza-Israel border.  In fact, the restrictions on various types of supplies entering Gaza have been relaxed of late so that conditions could have been improving inside that territory.  So why now are missiles being launched at Israel after months and months of calm?  The answer is not all that difficult to discern.  It has to do with Syria, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as well as with the local elections.  Throw Russia into the mix and you have a total picture.

Let's back up for this explanation and go point by point:

1.  In the last year, Israel has been drawing closer to the various Sunni Arab states that are worried about Iran and which feel abandoned by president Obama.  There are not many public indications of cooperation between Israel on the one hand and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan on the other hand.  Nevertheless, there is no question that such cooperation has been increasing week after week.

2.  Despite the almost secret cooperation, it remains a problem among the Moslems of the Middle East for a country to be seen as a friend of Israel.  It is a long term process for such views to change.  If we get to the point at which the average person in Egypt or Saudi Arabia no longer thinks of Israel as a permanent enemy, the entire power structure of the Middle East could change.  Iran could be isolated and the Shiite ruled countries like Syria and Iraq might have problems as well.  Just imagine a formal alliance between the Saudis and the Israelis and you can see the problem for Iran.  For example, if Israeli planes could be based in northeast Saudi Arabia, they could hit Iranian nuclear program targets with relative ease.

3.  Missiles fired from Gaza and the inevitable response from Israel gets portrayed in the media as misdeeds by the Israelis.  In the Middle Eastern media, it is Israel that is at fault if it shoots back at those who fire missiles at it.  Each exchange of fire makes it that much harder for there to be public cooperation against Iran.

4.  Exchanges of fire between Gaza and Israel also embarrass Turkey which has renewed its relations with Israel in just the last week.  Turkish president Erdogan cut ties with Israel over issues relating to Gaza.  Putting Gaza back on the front page puts pressure on Erdogan.

5.  Meanwhile, there are soon to be local elections for Palestinians in the West Bank.  Firing from Gaza also shows that Hamas is still leading the fight against the Israelis.  If anyone gets killed in the cross fire, so be it; Hamas will get more votes.

6.  Then there's the Assad connection.  In the last week, Assad forces and even the Russians bombed Kurdish positions in Syria and put US troops in danger.  Assad has also continued to use chemical weapons and there should be a UN report out this week confirming that war crime.  What better way to distract attention from these events and prevent any calls for an American response than to heat up the border between Gaza and Israel.  Assad certainly does not have a close ally in Hamas, but there are no doubt people in Gaza who would still act on Assad's behalf (especially if the price were right.) 

There is also the possibility that what happened today is just the work of a few crazies who had some missiles.  If there are more missiles fired, we will know that more is happening than just some lone wolf missile firer.  It won't take long; if there are more shots, it will be this week.

A Rather Strange Article Even For Newsweek

I just read an article from Newsweek (yes, it still exists) about the murder of Democrat National Committee staffer Seth Rich.  To say the least, it was strange.  The "reporter" said he was going to give us the inside information about Rich's murder.  Rich was shot at 4:30 a.m. a few weeks ago as he walked near his apartment in Washington, DC.  Police thought at first that it was a robbery, but Rich's wallet, cash, watch and phone were still on the body.  If a robber actually shot Rich, he or she would most likely have taken those items.  This is the information the police gave out shortly after the murder.  The Newsweek article doesn't have any more information either.  Instead, the article goes on at lengths about how Julian Assange offered an award for information leading to the arrest of Rich's murderer and implied that Rich might be the source of the DNC emails which were leaked on the eve of the Democrat convention.  Newsweek says, however, that Rich has been cleared of having any involvement in the leak of the DNC emails.  It cites unnamed "sources" who implicate the likely perpetrator as the Russians.  Newsweek then blames those who connect Rich's murder to the leak of the DNC emails to right-wing conspiracy theorists.

There was no news in the article, nothing, nada, zilch.  There is still an unsolved mysterious murder of poor Seth Rich.  There is no discernible motive for the crime.  Wikileaks took action that indicated that there might be a link between Rich and the email leak.  There are purported statements from always unnamed sources who point the finger at the Russians, but those are hard to accept.  After all, the big move by the Democrats in response to their emails that showed they rigged the system for Hillary over Bernie was to start discussing the Russians.  There are probably 100 Democrat sources in DC who would only too gladly tell reporters that the Russians were involved just to keep that story going.  None of that explains the Rich murder, though.

To me, it's strange that a DNC staffer gets murdered and the effort is not to find his killer but rather to twist the story so it doesn't splash onto the Clinton campaign.