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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Per Curiam Means They All Agree

Since the Supreme Court ruled that President Trump's executive order barring entry to the USA for 90 days for people from six countries that have particular problems with terrorism could go into effect for the most part, the media has been doing its best to downplay this enormous victory for Trump.  Some of what the mainstream media has been pushing is just totally phony.  For example, the Court ruling was issued "Per Curiam".  That phrase means that this is the order of the court and the opinion was not written by a particular judge.  It also indicates that the decision is unanimous.  There was a partial dissent on a small point, but on the major issue of whether or not the president has the power to issue this order and have it enforced, there was unanimity.  In other words, despite the weeks and months of the media and "experts" telling us how the Trump order discriminated or was unconstitutional, the entire Supreme Court just blew away that position.  Think about that.  It means that justices Kagan, Sotomayor and the other liberals all ruled in favor of the President.

The media, however, has been reporting that we don't know the breakdown of the Court because it was not announced.  This is either a blatant lie or the report of an ignoramus who knows nothing of how courts work.  We know the ruling was unanimous on the key points.

One has to wonder if the reporters and "experts" who told us how the President would surely lose in the Supreme Court will now take a step back to consider how they got it so wrong.  My guess is that by tomorrow we will see the first story in either the NY Times or the Washington Post about how Russia hacked the Supreme Court decision.

Let's Hope The Warning Is Enough

The White House announced last night that intelligence indicates that the Assad regime in Syria is getting ready for another chemical attack and that, should that attack take place, the regime would pay a very heavy price.

Think about that for a moment.  It's an incredibly scary announcement.  A few months back when Assad launched a sarin gas attack on civilians in a town held by the Sunni rebels, President Trump responded by destroying the airbase from which that attack had been sent.  In ten minutes, Assad lost over 20% of his air force.  It was a crushing blow.  And yet, Assad is once again preparing a chemical attack.  What does it mean?

First of all, we do not know the intended target of the chemicals.  It could be another site held by the non-terrorist Sunni rebels.  It could be a position held by the Kurdish forces.  It could be an ISIS position.  There's no way to know right now.  Indeed, it is even possible that the attack could hit a position where there are American special operations troops.  Or maybe Assad has decided to drag Israel into the mix and he will hit the Israelis with the chemical attack.  Any of these moves would be crazy, yet, any are possible.

Right now, the Assad forces are winning in their battles in Syria.  Further, the non-Assad forces around Raqqa are slowly recapturing that city from ISIS.  It will not be all that long before all of the ISIS forces will be destroyed.  There will still be ISIS terror attacks, but the ISIS threat will no longer justify an American presence in Syria.  That would end US air strikes which protect many of the rebels who have been helping us defeat ISIS.  It would also swing the balance or power much toward the Assad regime.  In other words, Assad ought to be happy with his current position and not want to roil the waters.  Nevertheless, he is preparing for a chemical attack.

What has happened?  Is Assad embarrassed that he sat by while the USA took out an airbase after the last chemical attack?  Is Assad embarrassed that in recent days each time Syrian artillery spilled over into Israeli territory the Israeli air force struck back ten times stronger than the Syrian attack?  Is Assad worried that the USA and its coalition partners are planning to help the Kurds and the Sunni rebels set up separate regions within Syria that will remain outside the control of Assad?  Are the Iranians, Assad's main ally, telling Assad what to do?  We don't know, we just don't know.

Then there are the Russians.  They have already protested against the White House announcement.  In typical fashion, the Russians have even denounced the statement's calling this "another" chemical weapons attack because they refuse to accept that the attack which led to the US cruise missile strike ever occurred.  If Assad uses chemical weapons again (sorry Vladimir), will the Russians sit by when the US launches a punitive strike?  One would hope so, but that's far from clear.

This is a very perilous situation. 

One thing is certain, however.  America is no longer in the ostrich response mode.  During the Obama years, Assad used chemical weapons seventeen times before president Obama would even acknowledge that these attacks had happened.  Obama kept his head in the sand hoping that the chemical attacks would just go away.  President Trump and his team have adopted a much more proactive approach.  America is warning Assad not to go ahead with a second attack.  Maybe this will dissuade Assad, maybe not.  At least, though, the USA is now trying to shape events, not run from them.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Funny Thing About Economics....

It's a funny thing about economics:  certain rules always apply no matter what the politicians and the ideologues say.  For example, if you raise the price charged for something, people and businesses will try to use less of it in order to save money.  This is basic economics, and nothing and no one is immune to the rule's effect.

I was reminded of this tonight when I read about a study done regarding the effect of the new $15 per hour minimum wage in Seattle.  The study was done by a local college professor who is quite liberal in his politics.  His findings were that after Seattle raised the minimum wage to fifteen bucks per hour, businesses responded by cutting hours for employees, automating certain jobs, and (in small businesses) having the owners do more work themselves.  The hourly wage went up for those on the minimum wage, but as a group their weekly incomes went down substantially.  The new minimum wage made labor more expensive, so employers found ways to use less of it.

Think about that.  For the last five years, the only proposal that Democrats have had regarding how to deal with income inequality and a stagnant economy has been to raise the minimum wage.  Seattle, which is part of the liberal Democrat homeland, went all in and raised the minimum wage by a lot.  And what did it do?  It caused greater income inequality as the poor saw their incomes DECLINE.  It had no effect on the Seattle economy.

The real truth is that no matter what lie the Democrats push, the basic rules of economics still apply to life.  These are rules that cannot be dismissed or reversed with legislation.  Hopefully, some day the Democrats will realize this.

The CBO Follies

The Congressional Budget Office released its report on the Republican senate healthcare bill today.  There's only one way to describe the CBO's findings:  RIDICULOUS!!

Let me explain:

According to the CBO, if the bill were passed, there would be 15 million fewer people insured in 2018 than would be the case under Obamacare.  The CBO says that this number would increase to 22 million fewer people with insurance by 2027 under the senate bill than under Obamacare.

Those are the numbers in the headlines, but few people actually know how the CBO comes up with those figures.  Here's something that essentially no one has heard:  the CBO estimates that between 8 and 9 million people who the agency claims would have coverage under Obamacare in 2027 would get that coverage when their states decide to expand Medicaid coverage.  That is crazy.  When Obamacare was passed, states were required to expand the eligibility for Medicaid or lose certain benefits.  That rule was challenged, and the Supreme Court struck it down.  The Court held that states had the choice whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage, and that the states that kept the old definition could not be penalized for making that decision.  As a result roughly half the states did not expand Medicaid coverage.  These states have kept the old Medicaid coverage standards for the last five years.  The CBO, however, assumes that all of these states will suddenly decide to adopt the wider Obamacare standards even though the cost of doing so would be high.  Simply put, that's crazy.  States that didn't opt for wider coverage during the period when the federal government pays the entire cost, are unlikely suddenly to change their minds when the feds no longer pay the whole cost.  What all this means is that just under half of the supposed increase in the number of uninsured is the result of a crazy assumption by the CBO.

Here's another little known fact:  the 15 million additional uninsured in 2018 simply cannot be.  Under the senate bill, Medicaid coverage is unchanged in 2018.  Since Medicaid remains free for those who qualify, no one is going to drop out of the program because of a change in the law.  There are only just over ten million people with policies purchased on the Obamacare exchanges in 2017.  Surely some will choose not to renew their policies once the individual mandate is gone, but that is highly unlikely to be more than one or two million people.  Most of the people buying individual insurance will want to keep being insured, and remember that under the Senate bill, there will still be subsidies in 2018 for those who need help with the premiums.  So where does CBO come up with its 15 million figure?  The answer is that CBO assumes that private employers who now provide healthcare coverage will drop that as soon as the law no longer requires it.  Indeed, some 13 million employees are supposedly going to lose that coverage.  Again, that's ridiculous.  For the last four years, premiums have gone up and up and up.  Employers with fewer than 50 employees were not required by law to keep providing insurance, yet between 98 and 99% have done so.  There have been almost no employees who lost coverage as a result.  The employers realize that they must provide coverage if they want to keep their employees from leaving for other jobs.  This will be the same once the employer mandate is gone.  It is crazy to assume that large employers will drop coverage when small employers who find it harder to finance the costs have not dropped coverage.  Remember, the CBO itself says that premiums under the senate bill will be 30% lower than under Obamacare, so there is a clear reason why MORE employers would provide coverage under the Senate bill than under Obamacare.

So put all this together and you find that in 2018, the CBO has overestimated the number who lose insurance by something like 13 million people.  Add to this the 8-9 million who come from the CBO's imaginary assumptions about more states adopting new Medicaid qualification rules, and you find that nearly the entire 22 million people that the CBO estimates will lose coverage by 2027 are not really there.

This analysis is clearly too complicated to interest most people.  They just hear the bogus total number.  The truth is something quite different.  We need to get the word out.

Pulling Security Clearances

It's time to start pulling the security clearances of people who worked in the Obama administration.  It's now been made clear that there have been a whole series of leaks by former Obama staff people who retain their clearances.  It is normal practice to allow people from former administrations to keep those security clearances, but the ongoing avalanche of leaks requires that this policy be modified.  The leaks have gotten to the point where they damage national security or the security of our allies.  They need to be stopped.

Let's be clear, pulling the security clearance for someone like Ben Rhodes won't end the leaks even if Rhodes is the leaker.  Nevertheless, it will make clear to the people doing the leaking that the administration is serious about the problem and that they may soon find themselves on the wrong side of the law for leaking classified info.

More Media Misrepresentations

I just read an article about a change that the Republicans are making in the senate to their healthcare bill.  Under the change, anyone who goes without health insurance for more than 63 days will have to wait for six months before they can get new insurance.  According to the media, this is a "heartless" proposal designed to protect insurance companies from having to sell insurance to those who are sick.

This is total nonsense.  Let's look at this for a moment.

First, let's suppose that right now, under Obamacare, a 26 year old person decided not to buy insurance for 2017.  That person is uninsured, and Obamacare requires that he or she pay a fine for failing to have insurance.  Now let's assume that this person decided in April finally to buy insurance.  Can he or she just go on the exchange and purchase a policy?  The simple answer is NO.  Under Obamacare, once you drop insurance coverage by your own choice, you cannot buy a policy until the next open enrollment period.  That means that once you do not have insurance you cannot get insurance again until January first of the next year.  In other words, the person who dropped coverage under Obamacare last February will be barred from getting insurance for eleven months and has to pay a fine on top of that.  That makes the existing Obamacare law much harsher than the proposal put forward by the Republicans in the senate.  Strange, isn't it, that the media doesn't call the existing Obamacare law "heartless".

Second, there's a very good reason for this provision.  If someone could buy insurance only once he or she got sick, there would be no reason for anyone to purchase insurance.  It would make more sense to keep the premiums and go to get insurance only once it is needed.  Sure, you might have a few days of expenses to deal with before the insurance kicked in, but most people could live with that.  The problem is that if many people opted for a buy-as-needed insurance plan, the premiums for the rest of us would go through the roof.  The six month waiting period is meant to provide an incentive to people to buy insurance. 

So we have a perfectly sensible new law with a less harsh alternative to the existing Obamacare law.  The media calls it "heartless".  The truth is that the media is wrong.  The law isn't "heartless"; the media is "mindless".

 

A Summary of a Year's Worth of Efforts

In 2016, before the national political conventions, American intelligence agencies began an investigation into the activities of the Russians in connection with our elections.  Very quickly, those investigations started looking for collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.  After the election, the investigations got much more intense.  Since the inauguration, we have seen investigations by various House and Senate committees which have joined the FBI, CIA, and NSA investigations.  The media has also gone all out looking for collusion or cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Since it has been over a year since these investigations began, I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to try to summarize the evidence which has been found that supports the existence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.  Here is a rather exhaustive list of all of that evidence:

1.

That's right.  After more than a year, there is still not a single piece of evidence to show collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.  Nothing, nada, zilch, zero.

It really is time for this waste of time to end.

The Key to the SCOTUS Ruling on The Travel Ban

The Supreme Court ruled today on whether or not to allow enforcement of the ban on entry of people from six countries that have major problems with terrorism.  Previously, two federal courts of appeals had put a stay on enforcement of this executive order in place.  The Trump administration had appealed to SCOTUS and asked that the stay be lifted so that the travel ban could be enforced.  The Justice Department argued that the president had the clear power to impose the ban.  The lower courts, however, decided that statements that President Trump had made during the campaign showed that the intent of the ban was really religious discrimination which would violate the First Amendment.  To say the least, the lower court decisions turned constitutional law on its head and ignored some long-standing precedent from the Supreme Court.

SCOTUS lifted nearly the entire stay that the lower courts had put in place.  There will be further hearings on the issue next fall, but there are still some key points in the decision which must be noted.

1.  First of all, the decision to lift most of the stay was unanimous.  There was not a single justice who thought that the court should limit the power of the president to impose these sorts of restrictions under existing law.  This is key.  Remember, there are four liberal justices who one would to rule against Trump if the result were just political.  These justices, however, ruled in favor of established law.  There was a partial dissent by three justices, but that was over the Court should have left any part of the stay in place.

2.  The Supreme Court gave no weight to the argument that the President's statements during the campaign could alter the real meaning of the language used in the executive order.  This is well established law, but the lower courts ignored it nevertheless.  Here too there was not a single justice who supported the lower court position on this point.  Most likely it will be fully addressed in the further arguments in the fall, but today's ruling makes clear that the outcome will favor established law.

The decision today is a major victory for President Trump.  It guarantees presidential power.  It reduces judicial interference in the issue of immigration.  Most importantly, it makes clear that the endless protests of the executive order came from people who just wanted to ignore the law.  The Supreme Court has ended that now.

The Cutting Edge

Have you heard what have the Democrats in the Senate been saying about the Republican healthcare bill?  If you have been listening to them, you have learned that the GOP bill slashes Medicaid funding.  It cuts that program by so much that it will leave people to die.  This is not just what some moronic Democrat like Chris Murphy says; it is also what the intelligent Democrats have been saying.  The problem is that it is completely untrue; it is a knowing lie.

Here's the reality:  Under the Republican bill, funding for Medicaid is INCREASING each year for the next ten years.  When you increase something, it is hard to call that "slashing" the funding, as the Democrats have been doing.  With more money for Medicaid, it is hard to see how that leaves people to die.

What the Democrats are doing is the old Washington con job.  They want the funding to increase even faster than the GOP bill would do.  As a result, the Democrats say that the slower level of increase is a major "cut" in spending (except it isn't.)

There is nothing wrong with debating the merits of the healthcare bill.  That debate ought to be honest, however.  It seems that honesty is just too much for the Democrats to accept.  Once again, rather than debate the merits, the Democrats instead are arguing that Republicans want to leave the poor to die.  It may be that the argument works well in sound bites; nevertheless, they are doing a terrible disservice to the country by framing the argument by telling lies. 

We need to spread the truth.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What is Happening On The Golan Heights

For the last two days, artillery and rockets from Syrian territory have landed in the Israeli section of the Golan Heights.  The fire supposedly is spillover from poorly aimed guns, etc. in the battle between the Assad forces, ISIS and rebel forces in Syria.  Israel, however, has a longstanding policy of responding to any shelling, missile or other attack that hits Israeli territory whether or not it is claimed to be accidental.  As a result, there was Israeli air strikes and artillery fire at military targets in the region where the fire came from.

On the first day, it was possible to believe that the Syrian attack was accidental.  When it was repeated on the second day, the likelihood of it's being the result of poor aim decreased dramatically.  Most likely, this is fire on Israel in the hopes of drawing the Israelis into the battle.

It may well be that Iran and its Syrian puppet Assad are trying to drive a wedge into the strengthening relationship between Israel and the Sunni Arab powers like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.  If so, this does not seem to be working.  First, the Israeli counterfire has been aimed squarely at the Assad forces since they launched the fire in the first place.  Second, Isreal's hitting Assad forces or Iranians or Hezbollah is not going to upset the Sunni Arab countries. 

This is a dangerous move by Assad and the Iranians.  Were Israel provoked into a major response, it could deal a crippling blow to the Assad forces.  It is highly doubtful that Russia would step in to protect Assad from such an attack.  Iran does not have the ability to prevent it.

Hopefully, the firing will end after two days.

So Which Precedent Do We Use?

There's an article in New York magazine talking about the big "victory" the Democrats got from their recent loss in the special election in Georgia.  It's the usual stuff about how close Democrats came in a solid red district.  Of course, they still lost and losing doesn't count.  But what did the GOP's candidate 4% victory margin really mean?

It raises the question of which precedent to use.  New York magazine, of course, points to the victory last November of Tom Price in the congressional race.  Price won by 23%, so a 4% margin is much, much smaller.  Others, point to the Trump victory over Hillary Clinton in this district by just over 1% in the same election, so the GOP's 4% margin is much better.  Which is the proper benchmark to use?

The reality is that there is no real answer to this question, but there is still much to say on the point.  Dr. Price had been representing the district for a while, so he had all the advantages of an incumbent.  That should add something like 5% to his vote total, something that would raise his margin by 10%.  On top of that, you have the reality that the Democrats didn't really contest the district last November.  That too added to the margin of victory for the GOP.  If that failure to run a credible candidate or to campaign vigorously led to another 5-7% margin shift, then in a strongly contested race without an incumbent, the margin would have been between 6-8%.  The 4% margin that the GOP won in the special election is right in line with that.  These figures are just more numbers that are being used to justify a result, but they are as good as any other numbers.

The real truth is that the Georgia special election showed us that there has not really been a big shift in the electorate since last November.  Democrats may convince themselves that I am wrong and that there's been a big shift.  That won't make it so, however.  Indeed, the Democrats are likely to be sorely disappointed if they just rely on some sort of anti-Trump fervor to win in 2018.  They will still need a real program that appeals to American voters, and that is something that they just do not have as of yet.

Another Day Another Lawyer

The news is telling us that there is yet another Washington big wig who is lawyering up for scandal/criminal investigation.  This time it's Bernie Sanders and his wife who have hired a high powered attorney to deal with an investigation into possible bank fraud by Mrs. Sanders when she obtained millions in loans for the college in Vermont of which she was president.

I just note this because it is a criminal investigation into something that actually happened.  It is not conjecture; it requires no unnamed sources.  No, Jane Sanders got these millions in loans allegedly based upon faulty information given to the banks.  If she knew the information was false when she furnished it to the banks to get the loans, she is guilty of a bank fraud. 

Isn't it refreshing to think that there are still investigations that are aimed at actual acts that would be criminal.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hard To Imagine This

Saudi security forces cornered a suicide bomber who was attempting to blow himself up in the Grand Mosque in Mecca.  That is the single most important holy place in all of Islam.  Sunnis, Shiites and all other Muslims hold it to be holy, and yet, an Islamic terrorist was trying to blow it up.  That's like a group claiming to be religious Catholics trying to blow up the Vatican or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  It just makes no sense.

Perhaps the hope of the terrorists was that by destroying the Grand Mosque, the Muslim population of the world could be roused into action of some sort.  It's a bizarre sort of logic, however; it relies on there being no proof of who carried out the attack and acceptance that the attack came from elsewhere.

It is truly hard to imagine that this has happened.

Time For A Repeat Of an Old Trump Smear By the Media

It must be a slow Friday.  The Hill had to resort to repeating an old chestnut in order to get in today's smear of President Trump and his administration.  According to The Hill, chief of staff Reince Priebus is most in danger of losing his job at the White House because President Trump doesn't like the total chaos he sees in his administration.  The story is not meant to be funny, but it is a joke.

Think of it this way:

1.  This is at least the fifth time in the last six months we have been told that Reince Priebus is about to be fired.  Each time, the story is attributed to unnamed sources.  Somehow, it never has happened.

2.  Over the last six months, we have seen stories in the mainstream media about the imminent firing of Steve Bannon, the expected imminent departure of Kellyanne Conway, and the firing of Sean Spicer.  None of those happened.  Instead, Spicer is in the process of being promoted.

3.  The mainstream media has pushed the idea of chaos in the Trump camp repeatedly.  First we were told that the Trump primary campaign was in chaos.  Trump then won the primaries.  Next the GOP convention preparations were in chaos.  The convention went off without a hitch.  During the campaign against Hillary Clinton, it was a mantra of the mainstream media that the Trump campaign was in total chaos.  Hillary's campaign, on the other hand, was supposedly organized and running perfectly.  Then Trump won the election, and the post election books revealed that the Clinton campaign was a total mess.  That brought us to the chaos the media told us about in the transition team.  That process, however, went smoothly.  Since the inauguration, we keep being told that the White House is in chaos.  Nevertheless, the President has taken a lengthy series of actions to fulfill his campaign promises.  There seems to be no chaos.  The media also told us how the entire Republican party was in chaos; yet somehow, the GOP has managed to win every contested seat up for a special election.

Let's put it this way:  there is no chaos.  There is no reason to think that Priebus is on his way out.  This is just total nonsense pushed by the media because they've run out of other negative things to discuss about the President.  In short, it's Fake News. 

Who Are These Ghouls?

The assistant director of the Democrat party in Nebraska was fired yesterday when audio surfaced of him saying that he was glad the congressman Steve Scalise had been shot and he hoped Scalise had died. 

I'm not going to go into the details of this; they are too ghoulish to repeat.  What sort of political leader hopes for the assassination of his opponents?  The guy may be a Democrat, but he surely does not believe in democracy.

The chair of the Nebraska party fired the guy after audio of his comments was made public.  I wonder if she had previously heard what had been said but kept him on because there was not yet any proof of the statement.  It wouldn't surprise me.  Democrats are the party that tolerates an incredible amount of hate from their people.  The media plays it the other way, always blaming the GOP for hate, but the hate itself comes mostly from Democrats.

The Dishonest Assault on Healthcare; Why Do Dems Have No Solution?

The Republicans in the senate unveiled their healthcare bill yesterday.  Within minutes, we were told by Democrat after Democrat that the bill is "mean", that it would "leave people to die", that it would "kill people" and that it was designed "to give tax breaks to the rich."  Those comments came too soon for any of the senators who made them to have even bothered to read the proposal.  It was nasty criticism without knowledge.

Why is it that the Democrats just attacked the motives of the GOP without even addressing the content of the bill's specific provisions?  Why didn't the Dems tell us who would be left to die and why?  There's a simple answer to this:  they have no viable alternative.  They don't even argue that Obamacare is working; the new Democrat strategy is to blame the failure on the Republicans.  That's pretty funny and totally wrong.  Obamacare was passed by the Dems and hasn't been changed since then.  Their plan has failed, so they blame the GOP.  The Dems have no fix, so they impugn the motives of the GOP which is trying to correct this mess.

One of the biggest parts of Obamacare was the expansion of Medicaid which provides medical coverage for the poor.  Under the GOP plan, coverage under Medicaid stays unchanged for another three years and then the requirements for coverage are modified for only NEW enrollees into the program.  In other words, everyone on Medicaid now stays on Medicaid into the future.  The Dems say that this will leave people to die.  That's a knowing lie.  But consider this:  the GOP plan also allows states more flexibility to control the Medicaid program for that state.  If a state wants to check eligibility every three months, it will be able to do so.  Now it can only check once per year.  If the state wants to start a program to bring down the costs of the program by promoting some pro-health program, it can do so.  Right now, the only way states have to bring down costs is to pay doctors less.  As a result, and here's the shocker, people who have Medicaid coverage have no better health outcomes than people who are uninsured.

Let me say that again:  the USA is spending billions each year to provide Medicaid coverage for the poor, but those with the coverage do no better healthwise than those who stay uninsured.  MEDICAID DOES NOT WORK!!!  This is a national disgrace, and it is a particular disgrace for the Democrats.  They ignore that the program has failed and just fight with lies to preserve it.

The new healthcare bill is complicated; that's for sure.  I have actually read the bill, and it requires a lot of time just to figure out the full meaning.  I'm not going to tell you that everything in there is good; I don't know that -- it's just too complicated to make such a snap judgment.  I do know, however, that the Democrats' response is dishonest and despicable.  They don't have a clue what's in the bill.  They are fighting to preserve the rotting corpse of Obamacare, a program that died last year.  The end result of that fight may help them politically, but it will be at the expense of the American people.  They have no solution, so they are just trying to make the problem worse.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Time To Call

Do you live in Texas, Wisconsin, Utah or Kentucky?  If so, it is time to call senators Cruz, Johnson, Lee and Paul to tell them to vote for the Obamacare repeal/replace bill in the Senate.  These are the four senators who say that they are currently voting against the bill in its present form.  You need to tell these senators that if the bill fails because of their vote, we will be left with the disaster of Obamacare.  Millions will lose coverage as insurance companies withdraw from the market and costs skyrocket.  Make clear to these senators that they were sent to Washington to change Obamacare, not to perpetuate it.  You need to call today.

Senator Blumenthal Is Just Telling Lies Again

Like every other state, Connecticut has two senators.  One is a complete moron; that's Chris Murphy.  The other is intelligent and quite knowledgeable about the law.  Senator Blumenthal was the Attorney General of the state for an extremely long time before he was elected to the Senate.  That knowledge of the law, however, is something that requires Blumenthal to be honest in his public statements.  Unlike Murphy who sometimes says idiotic things because he just doesn't understand, Blumenthal knows better.  That makes statements like the one today into total lies.  Let me explain:

President Trump said today that he knows of no tapes of his conversation with Jim Comey the former FBI director.  Blumenthal rushed to the nearest microphone to claim that the President's effort to shape Comey's testimony by talking about possible tapes is "obstruction of justice".

Think about that.  Trump didn't ever say that there were tapes; only that Comey better be concerned that there could be tapes.  So what effect does that have?  It makes Comey wonder if there are tapes or not.  Comey was about to testify under oath to Congress, and he had to be concerned that there might be tapes that could show his testimony to be false if he made stuff up.  The only protection Comey had from a possible charge of perjury, would be to tell the truth.  After all, if Coney told the truth, he wouldn't have to worry about tapes; they would just confirm what he said.  In other words, what President Trump said put pressure on Coney to tell the truth. 

Senator Blumenthal well knows that pressing someone to tell the truth is not obstruction of justice; in fact, it is exactly the opposite.  Obstruction is present only when someone seeks to interfere with an investigation or to prevent the truth from coming out. 

So we have senator Blumenthal -- who well knows what constitutes obstruction -- telling a lie on that subject.  Sure, Blumenthal is not under oath, so his lie is not criminal.  Nevertheless, Blumenthal's lie is morally repugnant.  Blumenthal has to learn that the American people deserve the honest facts even if they are not going to provide a political benefit for Blumenthal and his party.

The "Secret" Plan

The GOP majority in the Senate is supposed to release a summary of its plans for the healthcare bill today.  It is an outline of the full bill that is just about complete and which will be released by Monday.

For the last month, the Democrats' battle plan in opposing the bill has been to denounce that it is being drafted "in secret".  We are told that it is undemocratic to draft a bill in secret.  Of course, Obamacare was drafted in secret, but that was by Democrats, so it doesn't count.  Of course, the House bill to which the Senate GOP is responding is fully public and has been so for months, but that's not worth discussing because it's not secret.  Supposedly, not a single Democrat has been able to learn what is in the GOP bill.

In the last few days, however, the Democrats have been shifting from the "secrecy" of the bill to denouncing its content.  For example, yesterday, the senators from my state of Connecticut both made detailed statements about how one feature of the GOP Senate bill or another will cause problems and be terrible.  It's not worth reviewing those statements; that's not my point.  No, I want to focus on one question that this shift in tactics reveals.

If the Senate GOP bill is really being developed in secret and the Democrats are unable to know what is in it, that means that the current shift to denouncing the content of that bill is dishonest.  After all, if the Democrats don't know what is in the bill, how can they denounce specific provisions?  On the other hand, if the Democrats do know what is in the Senate GOP bill and are actually speaking about real provisions in that bill, then they have been telling lies for weeks about how the bill is being developed in a way that keeps them in the dark.  In short, it is impossible for both of these to be true.

It's just more lies.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Democrats Do It Again

The two special elections are over.  In South Carolina, the GOP candidate won election to Congress.  In Georgia, the GOP candidate won election to Congress.  They're still counting votes in Georgia, but the Republican has a major lead with around 80% of the vote counted.  For the Democrat to pull out a victory, he would have to get more than 60% of the remaining vote and the areas where votes remain to be counted will not produce that kind of result.

Think about that.  The Democrats spent over thirty million dollars in this campaign.  It's an extraordinary amount.  They outspent the GOP by at least 50%.  This is a district that President Trump only carried by just over 1% and tonight the GOP seems to be winning by a much larger margin.  No amount of money brings triumph to Democrats when they have no plans and just offer negative campaigning.

Without a doubt, the story of this election will disappear from the mainstream media which will go back to all Trump bashing all the time.  Nevertheless, there is a lesson to be learned here even if the Democrats and the media ignore it.  The supposed dislike of the American people for President Trump may exist inside the liberal bubble.  In the rest of the country, however, not so much.  The GOP in Washington better realize this and get to work on the Obamacare repeal and tax reform.

Emoluments or Imagination?

You may have heard that a large group of Democrats in Congress are suing President Trump for his supposed violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.  I heard this discussed on cable TV panels, but half the time those taking part in the discussion cannot even pronounce "emoluments" let alone explain what the clause means.  Here's a short explanation:

First let's start with what the Constitution actually says:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

The Constitution prohibits an American from getting a title of nobility from our government.  That was a way to prevent the creation of a permanent ruling class like the ones in Europe.  Then the Constitution prohibits any government employee or office holder from taking a gift of any sort from a foreign country unless Congress approves.  No cash, no article, no title, no office can be received from a foreign government.

Second, let's consider why it was that the clause is in the Constitution.  Remember that after the Revolution and before the Constitution, the United States was governed under a document called the Articles of Confederation.  During the five years or so that this was the governing document, there were foreign powers who were making gifts to American statesmen.  For example, the King of France gave all manner of gifts to people with whom he dealt.  Benjamin Franklin got a diamond covered gold snuff box, for example.  Others got pensions or offices from the king.  The members of the Constitutional Convention wanted to end that practice.  They wanted to make sure that no one working for the government or holding office would succumb to bribes disguised as gifts.  That brought about the Emoluments Clause.

Third, let's look at how this has been interpreted in the past.  The Supreme Court has never ruled on this provision of the Constitution.  Congress has passed an act that regulates how and when federal officials can accept gifts from foreign governments.  For example, it is customary for visiting foreign leaders to give gifts to the President.  Items of this sort are held by the government as government property, although the sitting president is allowed to use them.  You may recall that when Bill Clinton left office, he tried to take some of the gifts he received with him, but he had to return them.

Fourth, let's look at the Democrats' argument.  They contend that the Constitution requires President Trump to get approval from Congress before any of his various properties can accept business from foreign governments.  In other words, the Democrats are not trying to stop gifts from a foreign country like Saudi Arabia to Trump; instead, they want to prevent the Trump hotel in DC from letting Saudi diplomats stay at that hotel.  This is a laughable argument.  The clause in the Constitution is designed to prevent bribed disguised as gifts.  It is not intended to prevent all business transactions between an American federal employee and foreign governments.  Consider this example:  suppose a member of Congress owned a vineyard where she and her husband grew grapes and made wine.  Suppose further that those grapes or wine were sold to a Chinese company owned by the government or to an embassy in Washington or a consulate in Los Angeles.  That's not an imaginary situation; instead, it is exactly the situation of Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat leader of the House and one of the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit.  Has Pelosi violated the Constitution by failing to check out exactly who is buying the grapes and wine from her vineyard?  Has she violated the Constitution if she knowingly is selling grapes to a company owned by a foreign government?  Of course not.  A business she owns is engaging in normal commerce, just like the Trump hotel in DC engages in normal commerce.  Anyone can come to the hotel and rent a room or hold a function.  The hotel does not have to investigate whether or not the person staying there is having his bill paid by a foreign government.

How about another example:  let's suppose that a president had written a few books, something like Dreams of My Father by president Obama.  President Obama got royalties from every purchase of that book by anyone.  If the government of Kenya decided to buy 2000 copies to give to government employees before Obama made his visit to that country, is that a violation by Obama of the Constitution?  The Democrats would argue that since a foreign government did business that put cash into Obama's pocket it must be a violation.  That, however, is laughable too.

The real point is this:  the Constitution wanted to prevent bribes disguised in the form of gifts.  It had no intention to prevent normal commerce.  The suit by the Democrats is nothing but a way to waste more time in court while screaming about it on TV.

Why The Left Doesn't Understand Liberty

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled UNANIMOUSLY that it was unconstitutional for the government to refuse to issue trademarks because the wording was derogatory.  The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech without government interference; the right to censor trademarks is government interference with speech.  I wrote about this yesterday at some length.  Today, however, I want to focus on the reaction from the liberal media to the decision.

USA Today ran an article calling the outcome a victory for "government sponsored bigotry."  Instead of the denunciation of the Court's finding in favor of free speech, USA Today could have just as easily run an article headlined "Why Political Correctness Should Beat Freedom of Speech".

The entire concept of free speech is that the government is not allowed to interfere with what people can say with only a very few exceptions.  You cannot call for the violent overthrow of the US government.  You cannot say things that are designed to cause injury or violence; it's the old "you cannot shout 'fire' in a crowded theater."  Free speech will not protect you if you participate in a criminal act.  It's not free speech to go into a bank and say "this is a robbery; give me the money."  That's about it for major exceptions.

You would think that the fact the ruling was unanimous would clue in the fools at USA Today.  It hasn't.  They are still living in the PC bubble.

What's The Strategy In Syria?

We got a typical "report" from the mainstream media, this time from The Hill, which discusses how the US role in Syria could "escalate" in the near future.  The reporter points to recent confrontations between US and Assad regime forces during which US planes shot down an Assad bomber that was attacking local American allies who were fighting ISIS, US planes shot at Assad ground troop who were also attacking those allies, US forces shot down a drone of Assad or Iranian ownership that had fired on US led forces, and, of course, the major missile attack that took out about a quarter of the Assad air force after Assad used chemical weapons again in the conflict against civilians.  Because this is more confrontation with Assad than took place during the entire eight years of the Obama administration, it is viewed as a sign of imminent escalation.  It's hard even for the media to criticize using missiles to stop attacks on civilians with sarin gas or using planes to for self defense or the defense of allies.  As a result, the "report" says that these "may" have been good things, but it then complains that we have no "strategy" in Syria.  Reading this article, you would think that our involvement in Syria is something like a haphazard military version of total chaos; we're in Syria, but no one knows why.  President Trump, we are told, just has no strategy.

It's rather disgusting that the mainstream media cannot be bothered to tell the truth.  The President has made it clear what US forces are doing in Syria.  Let's consider actual reality:

1.  American forces were introduced to Syria by president Obama, not by President Trump.  Obama ordered US air power to attack sites in Syria and then he sent special operations forces to assist and train local Syrians who were fighting ISIS.  Today, the only major addition by President Trump to these forces came when he ordered the cruise missile strike in response to the use of sarin gas by Assad.

2.  President Trump announced a clear goal in both Syria and Iraq:  it is US policy to see to it that ISIS is "destroyed".  It has also been announced as US policy that we seek no fight with Russian, Iranian or Assad regime forces but that we will use force in self defense or in defense of our allies if they are attacked.

3.  Obama had announced that America's goal was that "Assad must go" but then Obama backed off and negotiated deals which abandoned that goal.  Trump has not reimposed regime change as an American goal.  Trump, however, has not run away from taking steps that diminish the Assad regime when it does things that violate international law or attack our allies.

4.  Trump said a few months ago that the future government in Syria is up to the Syrian people.  That has not been changed by the White House.

This means that there is a clear strategic outline for the USA in Syria.  The idea that there is no strategy is ridiculous.

To be fair to the reporter for The Hill, it is possible that they expect President Trump to outline American tactics in Syria.  After all, Obama used to tell our enemies in advance what we would be doing and when we would be doing it.  President Trump has made clear for a long time that he would never discuss tactics.  That does not mean, however, that we have no plan, just that we don't intend to tell it to the enemy in advance.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Otto Warmbier Has Died

The American student who was released by the North Koreans thanks to the efforts of President Trump, Otto Warmbier, has died.  The NKs returned Warmbier a few days ago, but he was in a vegetative state after having suffered massive brain damage while in North Korean custody.  No one outside of North Korea knows what happened to Warmbier; we do know however, that the North Korean explanation that he had botulism is not true.  Anything is possible from injuries due to constant beatings to almost anything else.

It is still disgraceful that the NKs did not return Warmbier sooner once it was clear he would never recover.  It is also disgraceful that president Obama never lifted a finger to try to gain Warmbier's freedom.

It is a very sad story.

A Victory For Free Speech Over Political Correctness

The Supreme Court gave free speech a major win today.  It came in a case dealing with the granting of trademarks by the Patent Office.  A rock group called The Slants was denied a trademark on the ground that the name disparaged others and was offensive.  The group fought the ruling and has now won.  The Court ruled that the government cannot limit the speech of the trademark applicants on the basis that it considers the trademark to disparage others.  And make no mistake about it; this was not a close decision.  The court ruled unanimously by a vote of 8-0 (Justice Gorsuch did not take part in the case which was argued before he was sworn in.)

The biggest impact of this decision is the major blow that it strikes against the PC police who want to censor everything from t-shirts to team names.  Remember, in 2014, the Obama administration rejected the trademarks for the Washington Redskins on the basis of the same law which has now been rejected by the Supreme Court.  The Redskins ought to have clear trademarks for that name again in short order.  If I want to trademark "Crooked Hillary", "The Orange Oopa-Loompa", the "Loony Left", "Fascists for Trump", "Secular Christians" or even "Radical Islamic Terrorists", there will no longer be any problem from the Trademark and Patent Office.  Offensive speech cannot be stopped by the government.  That's an important part of free speech.

It would be nice to think that some of the campus liberal fascists who try to squelch free speech will hear this decision and change their ways.  I doubt it will happen, but it certainly ought to.

Now A Terror Attack in Paris

A terrorist with a car containing a bomb rammed a van filled with Paris police on the Champs Elysee in Paris this morning.  The car exploded on impact and the drive was killed.  First reports indicate that none of the police were killed but some suffered injuries.  The terrorist had an AK-47 and some other weapons in the car, but fortunately he never got to use them.

We are now hearing that the dead terrorist was on a watch list kept by the French authorities of terror suspects.

This attack comes on the heels of the van attack in London in which pedestrians were mowed down as they left a local mosque.

It has gotten to the point that there is really nothing more to say about these terror attacks.  We all just need to redouble our resolve to see that the purveyors of evil like ISIS and al Qaeda are destroyed.  We also have to make sure that Americans do not reach the point of getting triggered.  It will never be acceptable for there to be retribution against anyone other than the terror groups themselves.

More Syria News -- It Just Gets Worse

Here's the latest breaking news from the AP

BREAKING: Russia says it will treat US-led coalition planes in Syria, west of the Euphrates, as targets after US downed Syrian jet.

So what does this mean?  Will the Russians actually shoot at American planes?  If they do, will the American planes shoot at the ground anti-aircraft installations of the Russians?  I doubt it will get to that, but it does seem as if a major game of chicken is being started over the skies in Syria. 

This seems to be a test by the Russians of American resolve.  It is a typical move by Putin.  Yesterday, the USA acted very un-Obamalike and shot down a Syrian plane that was bombing US allies on the ground.  Now Putin is testing our willingness to continue to defend our allies.  This is the point at which Obama would have cut and run (if he ever had gotten this far.)  I don't expect that from President Trump.  If the Russians are met with strength rather than weakness, they will stop pushing.

Hopefully this can be smoothed over before things get worse. 

So How Special Will The Georgia Special Election Be?

I just read a piece from the Daily Beast about the special election in the sixth district in Georgia.  The author is telling us in advance that any victory by the Democrat will spell doom for the GOP and President Trump.  While this is both premature and ridiculous, it still didn't stop the author from doing all she could to slant the piece beyond that.  For example, she tells us that this is the most expensive race for a House seat in history, but she neglects to say that the Democrat has outspent the Republican by about two and a half times.  Both sides got their message out, but the level of overkill by the Democrat is important.  In fact, if the Democrat loses after an avalanche of spending like that, it is the Democrats who ought to be worried that they will never win again. 

More important than all the rest, however, is the misleading discussion of the importance of this race to Trump.  Last November, the President won this district by one percent over Hillary Clinton.  That hardly makes it a surprise that the race would be close now.  We already knew that these are voters who don't buy into the Trump message and persona.  On top of that, the Republican candidate does not have the advantage of running against someone as disliked as Hillary Clinton.  Nevertheless, if the Democrats finally win one of these special elections, we will surely hear about it for weeks or months even though it really won't mean much.

Of course, the early voting statistics seem to favor the Republican, a fact which the Daily Beast chose to ignore.  If Karen Handel, the GOP candidate, wins the election, we will quickly be told that this is just a Republican district and the results are meaningless.  After that, the media will never mention it again.

The real truth is that special elections don't really mean much.  So far in 2017 through all the races across the nation in special elections, there has been a net of one state legislative seat that switched parties.  It's hardly a noticeable move.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Another Attack In London

Tonight, a van drove into a crowd of worshippers leaving a mosque in London after the end of Ramadan prayers.  There were many injuries and possibly some deaths.  After the van stopped, one of the passengers jumped out.  The attacker was taken down by the crowd and held until police got there.  He is in custody, although his identity has not yet been released.

It seems rather certain that this is yet another terror attack in London. 

We don't know yet if this is an attack on moderate Muslims by yet another crazy Islamic terrorist or if it is a revenge attack by a non-Muslim as a result of the other recent Islamic terror attacks.  In either event, it is the move of madmen.

Correction:  An earlier version of this post said that the attacker had tried to stab people nearby after hitting them with the van.  Although reported by the media, this detail now seems wrong and has been deleted.
 

More News Out of Syria

US fighters shot down a Syrian air force bomber about an hour ago.  The bomber had just attacked coalition forces involved in the attack to drive ISIS out of Raqqa.  The forces hit were America's Syrian allies.  The Assad air force strike was being followed by a land attack from the Assad forces on those same American allies.  That attack by the Assad forces was stopped in its tracks by American air power which menaced the Assad ground forces until they pulled back.

The US command issued a statement saying that it would defend American allies engaged in the fight against ISIS.  This sends a clear message to Assad, Iran and Russia about the limits beyond which the USA will not allow them to go.

Hopefully, once the ISIS forces are wiped out, there will not be a follow on battle between the Assad forces and America's allies on the ground.  Still, the action by the USA today is completely different from the usual response during the Obama years which was to do nothing and then to protest to Moscow.  Obama might have even sent John Kerry to Moscow to chide the Russians about the misconduct by the Assad forces. 

What a difference it makes to have a leader who is not afraid in the White House.

Iran Launches Missile Attack on Syrian Base

According to a report by the French news agency AFP, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard announced that it had fired medium range missiles at ISIS targets in northeastern Syria, specifically at the ISIS post in Deir Ezzor.  The IRG said that the attacks were in retaliation for the terrorist attacks in Teheran earlier this month.  This is an major development for a whole host of reasons.

1.  The target supposedly hit by the missiles is over 1000 miles from their launch site.  We don't know how precise the targeting was, but if the missiles were on target, this is much longer range than Iran's missiles previously were known to have.   It may well be that Iran just launched the missiles at the town rather than at the ISIS headquarters there.  The Iranians have never cared much about civilian casualties, and they would not mind killing scores or more of Syrian Sunni civilians who are, in Iranian eyes, infidels.  We will have to wait to see if the missile story is even true and what damage was done by them if the story is true.  An accurate missile with a 1000 mile range, however, would be a major accomplishment for Iran and bad news for the world as a whole.

2.  Iran blamed the Saudis when the terror attacks struck Teheran; they denied that ISIS was involved.  Now Iran has struck back against ISIS.  This makes clear that the Iranians were just lying when they blamed the Saudis.  It should inform the rest of the world about Iranian dishonesty.

3.  The site hit by Iran is one of those that stands in the way of there being a land road between Iran and Lebanon through Iraq and Syria.  Iran desires control of these roads in order to send large supplies of weapons to both the Assad regime and to Hezbollah without having to resort to subterfuge.  If the attack at Deir Ezzor is followed with a ground assault in Syria by Assad/Iranian forces, we will know that the missile attack was actually part of a bigger plan and had nothing to do with the terror attack in Teheran.

4.  The attack should raise alarms in Israel and Washington.  For Israel, the existence of accurate Iranian missiles puts the entirety of Israel in the cross hairs of Iran.  Fortunately the Iron Dome system should be able to shoot down such missiles, but a sustained large volley of them would likely result in some getting through nevertheless.  For the Iranians, it would be enough to hit Tel Aviv no matter what site the missiles destroyed.  In Teheran, it would be seen as a victory if they just killed 40 people in an apartment complex.  For Washington, these missiles would indicate that Iran is close to creating intercontinental ballistic missiles which could hit the USA.  Alternatively, Iran could put nuclear armed missiles like those launched today on cargo ships and then launch them from 1000 miles offshore.

All in all, this is not a good development.

Steve Scalise

Congressman Steve Scalise who was shot at the baseball field in Alexandria just a few days ago, has now had his condition upgraded to "serious" from "critical".  This is great news.  The congressman is going to be in the hospital for some time as he recovers from his wounds and the multiple surgeries that saved his life.  According to the doctors, though, he will be walking and even running soon.

We should all give thanks for the progress so far and pray for Scalise's continuing recovery.

 

The HIV Walkout

Six members of the President's advisory council on HIV/AIDS quit this week.  They claimed in an article in Newsweek that President Trump just doesn't care about the disease.

There's a major problem with this story, however.  None of the people who quit were appointed by Trump.  They are left over Obama activists.  The council moved to holding sporadic meetings a long time ago.  In fact, the chair called only one meeting since Trump took office.  The lack of meetings was not something mandated by the White House; it was just a sign that the council had stopped doing anything much.  So now we get the big walk out to protest how President Trump supposedly just doesn't care about AIDS.

Oh, and there's one more thing that you need to know about the council.  The members do not get paid; they are not government employees.  They are advisors only, so by quitting they give nothing up.

I have no idea what President Trump thinks of AIDS and how to deal with it.  I do know, however, what a political stunt looks like, and this is certainly one of those.

An Insight That Most Miss

This morning I read a column by Selena Zito in the New York Post that ought to be required reading in Washington and in the newsrooms across America.  Zito discusses the opening of a new coal mine in Pennsylvania and what that means for the local community.  Simply put, the new mine is a major engine of economic growth for the area which has been under economic decline for decades.  The only comments from our nation's capital have been cheers from President Trump and complaints from liberal Democrats.  Coal is outmoded as a source of energy has been their cry.  Of course, the problem is that the coal which will be obtained from the new mine is intended to be used for steel-making, an endeavor that still requires coal.  The Democrats are so quick to condemn the mine on ecological grounds that they don't even bother to find out the details of what the mine actually is.  Their simple equation is written like this:  "COAL = BAD".

I grew up in Pennsylvania.  One thing was a given in the politics of the Keystone State; it was that miners and mining communities would vote for the Democrats no matter who they ran.  This changed briefly at times, and it changed in a major way when Ronald Reagan ran in the 1980s.  Since then, however, the Democrats still had a majority of the miners supporting them until the last decade.  The Obama attack on coal mining started a trickle of Democrat support which grew into an avalanche after Hillary Clinton admitted that she would put the coal miners out of work in one of her worst lines of 2016.  To win in Pennsylvania, the Democrats have to get back the support of the miners and mining communities.  The anti-coal outbursts that came in response to the new mine opening is likely to push even more people over to the Republicans and to President Trump in particular.

It's not often that you can watch a party throw away its chances in a vital swing state like Pennsylvania (as well as in Ohio and West Virginia).  It seems that 2016 did not teach the Democrats anything.

I strongly recommend reading Zito's column.  The link is in the first line of this post.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Final on Early Voting in the GA Sixth District

Early voting is now over in the sixth district of Georgia special election.  There were over 140,000 votes cast.  Compared to early voting in 2016, that's over 40,000 fewer votes, but it's a very high number for a special election.  We don't know how the vote split, but we do know who voted.  First, even with about 23% fewer votes cast than in 2016, the number of Republicans who voted was higher than the number of Democrats who voted by a larger margin than in 2016.  This is a very good sign for the GOP candidate.  Second, the age mix of those who voted early this year was not very different from the last election with one major exception:  the number of young voters (under 30) who cast a ballot decreased dramatically as a percentage of all the votes.  Third, the biggest group of those voting were neither Democrats or Republicans.  This was true in 2016 as well.  Last, the number of women voting was higher than the number of men, but the margin for women was much lower than it was in 2016.

Taken together, it would seem that the early voters in this special election are more likely to vote Republican than the early voters in 2016.  In 2016, Donald Trump carried the district by just 1% over Hillary Clinton.  In that same election, the GOP candidate for Congress, Dr. Tom Price (who left to become secretary of HHS) won by about 20% over his Democrat opponent.

After election day brings the rest of the vote, it may or may not be that the wave of opposition to President Trump which the Democrats keep trumpeting will materialize.  We will have to wait and see.  We already know, however, that the early voting did not see any evidence of the Trump opposition bringing people to the polls.

Cosby Mistrial

The trial of Bill Cosby for indecent assault has ended in a mistrial.  I was told that I should comment, so here goes:

1.  The DA of Montgomery County, PA has already announced that his office will retry the case.  This is silly.  I would think that the DA might want to speak to the jurors to find out what the logjam in their deliberations really was.  If there was one holdout who wanted to convict while all the others were in favor of acquittal, that is very different from one holdout who wanted to acquit while all the others wanted a conviction.  The DA, however, is in such a rush for some publicity to lessen the embarrassment of his office, that he ignores doing his job properly.

2.  It's not surprising that this was the result.  No matter what else gets said, there had to be a rational explanation for why all these women waited for 10 or 20 years to come forward to complain.  The alleged victim in this trial almost missed the statute of limitations by waiting for nine years and nine months before coming forward.  To say the least, it is very difficult to explain away a delay like that.  It's not impossible, but it does raise doubts, and doubts are all that are needed for acquittal.

3.  I sincerely, doubt that the retrial will end any differently.

4.  Finally, with all that being said, I can say that Cosby is really not a good person.  He admits that he gave the drugs in question to women, but claims it was consensual.  It's possible that his excuse is true, but it doesn't make him a good person.  Quite the contrary is true in my opinion.

The World Spins On

Do you ever feel like nothing changes while everything changes?  It sure seems that way today.  The controversy surrounding the performance of Julius Caesar in New York really illustrates this.  For as long as I can remember, the Shakespeare in the Park performances have been a part of Summer in New York.  These free, outdoor performances draw huge crowds.  They have always been free of politics; they were just tragedy or comedy on a grand scale.  This year, of course, it all changed.

The current performance of Julius Caesar outfitted Caesar as President Trump.  In that way, Act III brings the stylized murder of Trump in the Senate.  Critics of this move have come out of the woodwork.  Presenting the murder of the President as entertainment is an appalling bit of public theater.  An immediate controversy arose.  Two large corporate sponsors of the performance withdrew their support when the content became known.  On the other hand, Time Warner (which owns HBO and CNN among other things) actually increased it support to pick up the slack left when the others pulled out.  America was told this was just free speech.  We have to have free speech was the mantra.  When a crazy leftist with a rifle decided to take out a bunch of GOP congressmen, no change was made to the performance.  The players did not decide to tone down their violent depiction.  Again, it was free speech.

At last night's performance, a few protesters rushed the stage and started berating the performers and the audience for the nature of what was being shown.  This too was free speech, but you would never think so from the media/left reaction.  Nope, they thought it was an attack on free speech.  The protesters were cleared from the stage, and the play could have been finished at that point, but the message of the protesters had been given.  Is this protest which disrupted a play any different from a protest march down a major highway that disrupts traffic?  Not really; they're both free speech.  Of course, the police don't usually remove the marching protesters, something they did at the play last night.

I personally think it is usually wrong to disrupt the speech of others.  There needs to be a civil dialogue not a fascist monologue.  Nevertheless, it is hypocritical for the media to be upset about interrupting a play while saying nothing about protests that stop people from speaking on campuses.  It just becomes another manifestation of the inability of the media to see that not everyone shares their view of the world.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Financial Disclosures/Tax Returns for President Trump

The President released his yearly financial disclosure form a short while ago.  It is a 99 page list of assets, income, liabilities and partnership-type entities for Mr. Trump and his family.  In this case the family is just Melania and Baron; adult children are not included.

After a year of screaming and gnashing of teeth from the left about Trump's tax returns, I figured that I would look carefully at what had been released.  From this form, one can tell every investment that the President has.  You can see every loan he has taken.  You can see the location of each of his projects (none are in Russia).  It tells you loads of information about the President's finances.

It started me thinking.  Was there something that might be in the tax returns that could not be gleaned from the financial disclosure form?  The answer is that on the disclosure form, the value of assets are put into categories.  For example, a building might be listed as worth 5 to 25 million dollars.  There might be more exact numbers on the tax returns, but that would not tell you anything material.  In fact, much of the information on the disclosure forms would not be shown on the tax return.  From the financial disclosure form, you cannot tell who the other investors are in each of the Trump properties, but that information would not be on the tax return either.  There really is nothing much that would be on the tax return that isn't on the financial disclosure with one exception.  The tax return would tell you what deductions Trump had taken.  For example, we would get to see how much the President and his wife had donated to charity for the relevant year, something that is not addressed on the financial disclosure form.  That's about it, however.

For anyone who really is curious about the Trump tax returns or who thinks it is critical that those returns be released, I suggest you look through the financial disclosure form by clicking on the link in the first sentence above.  If you look at the issue fairly, you will see that it is actually a non-issue.

What the Hell Is Wrong With These People?

James Devine, a Democrat campaign strategist from New Jersey, created a Twitter hashtag yesterday called #HuntRepublicanCongressmen.

There's not much more that can be said about this disgusting guy other than that he was high up in the leadership of the New Jersey Democrat party and that he organized Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992 in NJ. 

When he was challenged on his outrageous behavior on Twitter, he doubled down on it.

People like this ought are not just deranged; they quite dangerous.

The Bogus Charges of Sexism

I just read another of those articles lamenting the "sexism" displayed again California Democrat senator Kamala Harris as she questioned witnesses at the hearings before the Senate intelligence committee.  While questioning the deputy attorney general and then attorney general Jeff Sessions, Harris was directed by the chair to let the witness answer the questions she was asking.  Supposedly, according to various media sources, these directions were just manifestation of sexism and possibly racism towards Harris who is both female and mixed race.

I decided that to understand this issue, I would need to watch the events in question.  I've been a trial attorney for many years and know a great deal about questioning a witness.  I understand that a committee hearing is not the same thing as a trial; at hearings witnesses are given great latitude.  We've all heard witnesses before Congress who answer a different question than the one they are asked.  We've also all heard witnesses who said that they could not answer for this or that reason.  With all this in mind, I watched Harris question both Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions.

Senator Harris questioned the witness in much the way one might try in court.  She asked a question and before the response was completed, she cut the witness off to ask another question.  In a court, the opposing counsel might object and ask the court to direct that the witness be able to finish his answer.  In the senate, their is no judge and no opposing counsel.  Instead, there is a custom of usually letting a witness finish his answer.  Senator Harris did not do this just once.  When she questioned the Attorney General, she cut him off at least six times in a row.  And to be clear, she cut Jeff Sessions off when he was answering the question in a completely straightforward and responsive way.  It seemed as if senator Harris just did not like the answer she was getting.

The direction to senator Harris came from the chair of the committee.  Senator Burr directed Harris to please give the witness the courtesy of allowing him to finish his answer.

I did not see all the questioning of these two witnesses, so I cannot state that no other senator cut the witness off to the same extent that Harris did.  I did see much of the testimony, and Harris was by far the worst offender when it came to interrupting the witnesses and preventing them from answering.  It seems to me that the direction given to her to stop interrupting and to let the witness answer was completely appropriate.

Simply put, this was not sexism or racism.  If anything, what we were seeing was a trial attorney who was questioning a witness as if she were in court rather than in the senate.  Harris is a freshman senator who probably hasn't gotten used to the different standard used in the Senate, so it is understandable why she was being so rude.  No matter what, however, this was not sexism or racism. 

We're Back to Nowhere With Polling

Two polls came out today about President Trump's job approval; they were the Gallup poll and the Rasmussen poll.  According to Gallup the voters disapprove of the President's performance in office by a vote of 57 to 39 %.  According to Rasmussen, the voters are split 50% to 50% on Trump's job performance.

What does this tell us?  The answer is simple:  the polls are meaningless.  During the 2016 election, Gallup did not poll the race between the President and Hillary Clinton.  Rasmussen was the second most accurate of the polls in that election.  Nevertheless, that does not mean that the Rasmussen poll is correct while Gallup is not.  And, to be sure, this is not just a quirk in the polling.  The statistical analysis of these results show that the difference between a 19% margin for disapproval and a tie in the two polls is much farther apart than any mere error in the sampling.

There is one difference that might help explain some of the difference.  Rasmussen adjusts its results to have the sample group conform to the levels of voter turnout in the 2016 election. In other words, if that election had x% of Republican voters and y% of Democrats, then Rasmussen adjusts its figures to meet that percentage.  Gallup does no such adjustment.  That means that if Democrats answer the pollsters more often than Repubicans, then the anti-Trump numbers will be pumped up.  The opposite is also true.

Right now, there's no way to know who will turn out in the next election, let alone who will be running for office.  This makes the adjustments or lack of adjustments critical to the outcome.  In fact, it may be that some people who support Trump won't tell the pollster because they don't want that information known.

If we put all this together, we can generalize about the results as follows:  based upon scientific polling, President Trump either has very low approval numbers or he has rather good approval numbers or somewhere in between

Why do they bother doing these polls anyway?

I realize that perhaps I should also ask why do I bother writing about them?

The Government Reorganization

Here's a bit of news that essentially nobody has seen:  the Office of Management and Budget directed all federal agencies to conduct a process of self review asking for items, tasks or regulations that can be cut to make the government more efficient, less costly, and more responsive.  This means that programs that don't work can be selected for diminution or termination.  It means that reporting requirements that are duplicative or unnecessary can be dumped.  It means that areas that could be coordinated with other agencies might actually be made better.  In short, it means that for the first time in a great many years, the federal government will actually look at carrying out its current missions in a better and more efficient way rather than just adding new programs and requirements to the items already being done.

No doubt, we will shortly hear the horrified screams from the Democrats about how cutting this or that program will leave people to die or how letting agencies recommend which programs should survive or be changed is a victory for lobbyists, but that really is nothing but pure nonsense.

Consider these few points:

1.  There are enormous numbers of duplicative federal programs and requirements.  For example, before entering into a new contract above a certain size, a federal agency has to write a memorandum with the details to OMB, a memo containing slightly different information to Congress, and a few additional reports as well.  By combining all those reports/memoranda into one unified report sent to each place, literally millions of manhours could be saved with no loss of information.  That move alone could save over a hundred million dollars per year.  As another example, there are currently more than 100 federal job training programs whose coverage overlaps in many places.  By combining these programs into four or five programs that target separate groups, the costs incurred could be greatly reduced and the savings could either be used to reduce the deficit or to increase the number of people being trained.

2.  No one knows better than the agencies themselves which requirements are the most unnecessary and onerous.  Hiring a consultant to come in and render a report might identify some items, but an outsider will not have the day to day experience of the agency personnel to guide them in identifying superfluous regulations.

3.  There are many government programs that just don't work or whose purpose went away long ago.  The best example of all time was the mohair subsidies paid by the feds to ranchers who raised animals that provide that mohair.  The production was needed during World War II so that there would be adequate domestic supplies for certain types of uniforms, and after foreign sources had been cut off.  Once the war ended in 1945, the need for the subsidies was over since the foreign sources were once again available.  Nevertheless, it took over another 30 years before Congress finally noticed the millions being spent on this program and ended it.  There are literally scores of programs of this sort that could be jettisoned at great savings for the USA.

The process started by OMB is scheduled to continue over the next year and is then to be followed by actual reorganization.  It's an amazing difference from the Obama years.  Under Obama, no one paid attention to the competence of the federal government in doing its work or the cost of doing that work.  That indifference to results led to messes like the Obamacare exchange websites that still, to this day, do not work as originally intended.  It has taken President Trump just five months to put results and competence back into the lexicon of the federal government.  It is a major positive change.

The Ultimate Indictment of Obama's Leadership

Otto Warmbier is the young American student who was just released by the North Koreans.  He had been arrested by the NKs for allegedly taking a poster from his hotel.  His sentence was 15 years at hard labor for espionage.  That was about a year and a half ago.  About 15 months ago, Warmbier slipped into a coma according to the NKs, but no one in the USA knew of this -- at least that is what we are being told.  Certainly, Warmbier's family was unaware of his dire medical condition.

With Warmbier in the NK prison for at most the pettiest of petty theft, the Obama administration did nothing to try to gain his release.  Clearly, Obama could not be bothered with trying to free this American.  That is bad, but even worse is what we have now learned about how Obama treated Warmbier's family.  The Obamacrats did all they could to discourage the family from speaking out or otherwise publicizing their son's predicament.  The Obamacrats even told the Warmbier family to discourage people from putting ribbons on trees in his hometown to show support for Otto.  According to Obama, putting up ribbons might offend the North Koreans.  North Korea uses phony charges of espionage to stick an American in prison; they mistreat him until he ends up in a coma; and then Obama worries about offending them by having people in the USA raise the issue of his release.

This report tells you all you would even need to know why American foreign policy was in such shambles during the Obama years.  All Obama seemed to care about was appearances, not reality.  Otto Warmbier could rot in an NK prison so long as the issue of his captivity was not visible and public.  After all, raising this issue might make Obama himself look bad, and he couldn't have that.

For the last year or two I have heard non-stop attacks on Donald Trump because he would run an administration where the most important issue would always be how any event would affect Trump himself.  He is, we are told repeatedly, a narcissist.  But Trump is the one who raised the Warmbier issue with the NKs.  He could have failed to gain the release of Otto Warmbier, but President Trump tried because it was the right thing to do.  Trump put his personal prestige on the line to get this poor guy released from the hellhole that is North Korea's prison system.  Obama, the true narcissist, wouldn't risk his image by making the attempt to get Warmbier's release.

This is the ultimate indictment of president Obama.

Time To Stop Amazon

This hour brings the news that Amazon.com is buying Whole Foods for nearly 14 billion dollars.  It's a move that requires the government to step in under the anti-trust laws.  In fact, it really is time for Amazon to be broken up or at least taken to task for its monopolizing behavior.

For the last two decades, Amazon has grown larger and larger.  During most of that time, Amazon did not make much in the way of profits.  It kept plowing its funds back into improving and enlarging its online business.  That was fine and perfectly legal, but then it changed.  Amazon got to the point where it sold a large part of all of the online sales in the USA.  Then it started to use the profits it earned on that quasi-monopoly to enter new businesses.  Amazon has moved into new areas and sold products at extremely low prices in order to beat out the competition.  It certainly seems as if Amazon has been selling certain types of products below cost in order to force competitors out of business.

Lately, Amazon has been trying to move into groceries.  This move has been based upon low prices which Amazon can support because of the profit it earns on other businesses where it has a monopoly.  A move by Amazon to buy the nation's largest purveyor of organic foods, Whole Foods Markets, would just be another step in expanding Amazon's monopolies.

This has really reached a point where the FTC and the DOJ need to oppose the merger and move to break up Amazon's monopoly.  There really is no other choice.

This Is The New Racism

I just read the third article of the day describing an action taken by President Trump as racist.  It's worth exploring, particularly since that word "racist" gets tossed around so much by the left.

What the President did was to cancel the Obama era Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program.  This program, also called DAPA for short, allowed the parents of American citizens to stay in the country without fear of deportation.  In other words, if a couple came to the USA illegally and then had a child here, that child (who is an American citizen) provided safety from deportation for both parents. 

The critics of this move say that it is directed at mostly Hispanics and it is racist.  There's a big problem with this argument, however.  DAPA never went into effect.  It was stopped by an order from a federal court that determined the program was an illegal act beyond the power of president Obama to create on his own.  It required an act of Congress to set up such a program.  So what President Trump did was to rescind the presidential order which had already been ruled improper and illegal.  It affected nobody.  It was not directed at anyone.  It surely was not racist except in the minds of those who hate the President and automatically think whatever he does must be racist.

The facts say otherwise, but that seems to be having no effect on the crazies in the mainstream media.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Early Voting in Georgia -- What Does It Mean?

As of yesterday, the number of early voters in the special election in the sixth district of Georgia is 119,500.  This is an extraordinarily heavy vote for a special election.  In the first round/primary for the seat in April the total of all votes cast was just over 190,000.  There are two more days of early voting to go, and then there's election day.  Barring some strange turn of events, there may be over a quarter of a million votes cast.  Total turnout could even exceed 50% of the registered voters.  While that may sound low, keep in mind that during a midterm election, turnout in this district is normally in the high 30's percentage.

So what does this mean?  Most people think that a higher turnout favors the GOP candidate because so many in this district normally vote Republican.  That, however, may be wrong.  Maybe the Democrats are correct that a surge of anti-Trump fervor will bring all manner of new voters to the polls which will help the Democrat.  After all, that Democrat has already spent more on this election than any other candidate for congress in history.  Of course, since over 95% of the Democrat's money comes from outside the state, the huge amount of spending could actually hurt his prospects.

We do have some information about the breakdown of the early vote.  Normally, early voting finds the Democrats getting out more of their voters with Republicans tending to vote more on election day.  Among the first 25,000 early voters, however, the Republicans tallied votes from almost 50% more voters than the Democrats did.  We also know that among that same group of early voters, the turnout among older voters (above 50) was substantially higher than it was among younger voters.  This too should mean a Republican leaning vote.  The polls on this race show the Republican winning handily among older voters with the Democrat leading among younger voters.

Now, we've had a further development which could lead to even higher voting levels.  The Republican candidate was the recipient of threatening letters accompanied by a package containing a suspicious substance.  Given the armed attack on the congressional GOP baseball practice yesterday, this latest threat could bolster the resolve of GOP voters to go out and show their support.  It may be that the attacker has unwittingly given the victory to the GOP.

We'll know the answer in just a few days. 

Even Now The Media Can't Seem To Stop

About a half hour ago, I was watching Special Report on Fox News.  It is by far the best pure news show on any network, and that is combined with a rather insightful panel discussion during the last third of the hour during which there is usually a calm, rational and almost non-partisan analysis of the days major news stories.  The panelists disagree, but most nights there are multiple viewpoints presented in a way that informs the viewer about events rather than about the partisan view of events.  The top story today remained the attack yesterday in Alexandria, Virginia on the GOP congressmen practicing for tonight's congressional charity baseball game.

As the show started, I decided to see what MSNBC and CNN were covering.  On MSNBC, Greta VanSusteran was playing.  Greta is constantly being barraged by the left for being too conservative for MSNBC, so she's not the usual far left MSNBC host.  Even so, Greta's show began with a discussion about the investigation into obstruction which the Washington Post now claims is underway by the special counsel Robert Mueller.  During the hour, I flipped back to Greta's show three other times.  Each time she was either hearing a report or holding a panel discussion about the same story. 

I also checked CNN to see what it was covering.  It was the same story as MSNBC.  It was all about Mueller's investigation.  One time, CNN was discussing President Trump's tweets about the investigation and the panel was actually laughing at those tweets.  Nevertheless, the investigation was the only story I saw CNN cover.

Obviously, I did not watch any of the three cable networks straight through for the hour, and I spent the majority of my time watching Fox News.  Still, it was striking, indeed amazing, that MSNBC and CNN found no time to cover the armed attack on the congressmen or other big stories like the return of the American who had been held prisoner by the North Koreans.

One of the main reasons for the attack on the congressmen is that the media cannot seem to control itself when it comes to President Trump.  Much of the media (like CNN or MSNBC) are in permanent combat mode.  It is always essential to the survival of the USA that they bring down President Trump.  It doesn't matter that they have no proof; it doesn't matter that much of what they have previously reported has been revealed to be false; all that matters to them is for them to succeed.

Here's a good example.  Tonight on CNN, I heard Lone Wolf Blitzer and some panelists describe the firing of James Comey as being an attempt by President Trump to interfere with the investigation of his collusion with the Russians.  Think about that.  Comey confirmed to Congress last week that he personally told President Trump three different times that Trump was not the subject of the investigation.  Indeed Comey told Trump that he was not a suspect.  So when Trump fired Comey a month later, what was the investigation which Trump sought to impede?  If Trump had been assured that there was no investigation of him, how does firing Comey affect the non-existent investigation regarding Trump.  Only the Washington Post, NY Times and Congressional Democrats said that there was such an investigation, and we all now know that was a lie.

Yesterday, people were shot because the media and the Democrats kept inciting violence among the Democrat base, at least with the crazies.  Couldn't the media people take off just a few days from the non-stop BS?  Don't they owe that to the American people?