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Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Possble End Of Mueller's Investigation

The big issue about the Mueller investigation today is just how it obtained thousands of emails sent or received by the Trump transition team.  The Special Prosecutor's office says that it either got materials "with the account owner's consent" or by "appropriate criminal process".  The emails were in accounts of the Trump transition team which were housed on servers of the General Services Administration.  According to lawyers for the transition team, neither they nor their client were even aware that the Mueller group had gotten access to the emails.  That was only discovered when people from the Mueller group used the emails to question witnesses a short time ago.  The lawyers for the transition team say that many of the emails are privileged, and that all were obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of their client.

Let's stop here for a minute.  If the claims of the Trump transition team are true, then it will be a disaster for the Mueller effort.  A prosecutor cannot obtain evidence in an improper search or seizure.  Nor can the prosecutor get access to privileged materials without there being serious consequences.  The doctrine used to be called "fruits of the poisonous tree".  It means that the items obtained improperly cannot be used and proof that gets generated from access to those items also cannot be used.  The prosecutor has to be able to show that he or she had a method of obtaining the proof which was actually used that was wholly independent of the illegally obtained items.  Let me give you an example.  Let's say that one of the emails of the transition team mentions that there was a meeting between Mr. A from the transition team and someone who works for the Russian government.  Let's say further that the Mueller team has no proof that it knew about that meeting prior to reading the email.  The law requires at that point that no proof of the meeting or what happened in that meeting or as a result of that meeting will be admissible in evidence at a trial.  If the emails are privileged as attorney client communications, the restrictions will be even more severe.  In other words, if these emails were obtained illegally or if they are privileged, the Mueller team has a very major problem.

So were these obtained illegally?  That's not a simple question.  The question seems to depend on whether or not these emails are government documents.  If they are, then they may be subject to being turned over by the GSA.  On the other hand, if they are not government documents, then the GSA had no right to turn them over.  The documents belong to the transition team and can only be obtained by a subpoena served on the transition team (which never happened.)  Further, it seems clear that no one ever reviewed the emails for privileged documents before they were turned over to Mueller.  If, indeed, there are privileged documents in the batch turned over, then there will be hell to pay. 

This is big stuff.

Will NBC Fire Chris Matthews?

Now that we know that Chris Matthews was hit with allegations of sexual harassment and that NBC had to pay off claimants to keep them quiet, will Matthews be dropped off MSNBC?  Will he be fired?  We just heard an endless stream of invective from Matthews and the other MSNBC "hosts" with regard to Roy Moore.  They weren't too hard on Al Franken or John Conyers or the many other Democrats in Congress who got caught up in the sexual harassment mess.  Still, isn't it total hypocrisy if MSNBC doesn't fire Matthews?

This is TOO Ironic

Stephen Henderson who was the op-ed editor for the Detroit Free Press is the latest person to be fired for alleged continuing sexual harassment.  Just  a few days ago, Henderson wrote to condemn the GOP for still supporting Roy Moore in the Alabama senate race.  Now he's bounced for the same sort of charges as Moore was hit with.

Distorting Economics With Trump Hatred

I was somewhat startled this morning when I saw an article in Vanity Fair headlined "The Republican Tax Plan Is A Recession Waiting To Happen".  It was written by someone named William Cohan who must have taken Economics 101 at 8:00 AM and slept through the class in college.  Here's his key point:

But [the tax plan's] contents almost certainly presage a recession on account of higher annual deficits, higher national debt, and lower consumer spending—not to mention the inane decision to limit the deduction for state and local taxes and cap the deductibility of mortgage interest, both of which will make the cost of owning a home higher and chew up more of the average American’s disposable cash.

Cohan also "explains" that the value of homes will fall as a result of the tax plan.

Think about this for a moment.  first, when Obama came into office, he rushed to pass the "stimulus".  It resulted in much higher annual deficits and much higher national debt.  The tax plan will not come close to what Obama and the Democrats did in this regard.  Somehow, the people like Cohan who say this will now cause a recession thought it was wonderful when Obama did what they are now denouncing.

Second, limiting the deduction for state and local taxes and capping the deduction of mortgage interest will hardly "chew up" more of the average American's disposable cash.  The cap on mortgage interest only applies to the portion of the mortgage in excess of $750,000.  How many average Americans have mortgages of that size?  In fact, how many average Americans live in homes that cost more than $750,000?  The answer is roughly zero.  A cap on mortgage interest for loans to the extent they exceed three quarters of a million dollars affects only the wealthy.  And by the way, there already was a cap on interest deductions on loans above one million dollars.  So what exactly is getting "chewed up"?  People who live in very expensive homes in high tax states will get to deduct less, that is true.  These same people, however, will pay tax at lower rates since the brackets have been lowered.  Many of them will also escape the Alternative Minimum Tax which made the deduction for state and local taxes worthless anyway.  According to reliable studies, roughly 80% of Americans will pay lower taxes and only less than ten percent will pay more.  Remember, someone with an existing home mortgage will not pay a different amount each month.  The cash outlay on the mortgage and the home won't increase.  At the same time, most of these people will pay less in taxes, thereby increasing their cash flow.  In other words, this bill won't "chew up" the average American's disposable cash; it will do just the opposite and increase that disposable cash.

But what about the people who don't yet own a home?  Even Cohan admits that the bill may keep the value of homes lower.  That will make them MORE affordable for that average American about whom Cohan claims to care.  Isn't that a benefit?

The truth is that Cohan is just spouting hatred of the President.  He's dressed it up to try to sound like he knows what he's talking about, but clearly, he doesn't.

You can say what you like about the tax bill.  Nevertheless, no one can truthfully say that it will cause a recession.  It won't.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

So Loud Mouthed Chris Matthews Gets Outed as a Sexual Harasser

The news tonight is that NBC paid off staffers to settle claims of sexual harassment against Chris Matthews.  It's just another of those hard left voices who claim to speak for women's rights while getting charged with sexual harassment.  At this point, nothing surprises me anymore.

One Piece Of The Tax Bill To Remember

The new tax bill which will be voted on this week contains a provision that denies companies the ability to deduct money paid in settlement of sexual harassment claims if the settlement includes a non-disclosure agreement.  In other words, the bill changes the law so that the government will no longer subsidize settlements of harassment claims designed to hush up what happened.  That means that each Democrat who votes against the bill is actually voting to continue to have the government subsidize settlements that hush up the sexual harassment claims that get made.  Sounds like part of the Democrats war on women.

The Lies Have It

The tax bill is about to be passed by Congress this week.  As of now, it seems that every Republican senator is on board to vote for the bill, and there is a clear majority in the House as well.  People will be getting a major tax cut starting in 2018.  Nevertheless, despite this bill going forward, the lies being told about the bill seem to have affected the view of a great many Americans.  Here's some examples:

1.  According to a new poll, a majority of people do not expect their taxes to go down after the bill is passed.  They've listened, no doubt, to the lie from the Democrats that the bill takes money from the poor and middle class to give to the wealthy.  Actually, the bill gives the biggest tax cuts on a percentage basis to the middle class.  Estimates are that something like 80% of all taxpayers will see a cut.  Of the remaining 20%, about two-thirds will see no change.  About 6% of taxpayers will see tax increases, and the bulk of those will have incomes above $200,000.  Given the facts, it's crazy that so many people bought the lie that the bill will raise their taxes.

2.  The same poll shows that a large majority of Americans don't believe that the tax cuts will stimulate economic growth.  This too is wrong.  American businesses are going to get a major tax cut.  Think of a company, let's say a small domestic food company that now pays 35% federal taxes.  When those taxes get cut to 21%, that's a big increase in earnings and cash for that company.  That will have a number of effects.  First of all, the company's stock should rise because its earnings after tax will go up by about 20%.  That means that everyone who has invested in that stock will reap the reward.  The 401Ks and pensions of millions of people invested in stock like this will rise in value.  It will create wealth for a great many Americans and that will mean more spending and more economic activity.  Second, the company will have to decide what to do with the extra cash.  If it just pays it out in dividends, then many people will have higher incomes and will spend more, meaning more economic growth.  If the company just buys back stock, then again, more people will have higher incomes and will spend more, meaning more economic growth.  A big chunk of the cash, however, is likely to be used to expand the business.  These investments in plant and equipment mean many new jobs and more economic growth. In fact, aside from the company just putting the cash in its checking account and letting it sit there unused, there is really no use to which the cash could be put which would not mean higher economic growth.  The media and the Democrats, however, have told America the lie that the tax cut won't help economic growth.  They deride it as "trickle down" economics.  Actually, it's the same phenomenon that led to the greatest period of economic growth in US history from 1983 forward after the Reagan tax cuts.

3.  Will the tax cuts lead to a big jump in the national debt?  The bulk of Americans think so, according to recent polling.  The correct answer, however, is that this is the best chance to stop the growth of the debt.  Indeed, the cut in taxes and the resulting economic growth is the best chance we have to increase revenues in a sustained way.  Think of it this way.  If the cuts lead to a 1% of additional growth per year over the next decade, that would mean about 2 trillion dollars of additional GDP in the tenth year.  That extra GDP means two things:  1) about $400 billion in additional tax revenues, and 2) much lower expenses by the federal government as all sorts of programs like food stamps, welfare, Medicaid and the like have fewer people who need them.  It's prosperity that results in cutting the debt, not taxing us all into poverty (which is the Democrats' solution).  In the last 40 years, the only time the USA had budget surpluses was in the mid 1990s when the full effects of the Reagan tax cuts had the effects I listed above. 

I suppose that once the tax bill goes into effect, there will be a great many people who will be pleasantly surprised by the law's effect on their own taxes.  Growth will take a bit longer to fully kick in.  The GOP had better get the message out or the lies by the Democrats and the media will still be there.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Reality of Obamacare

Here's a key graphic about the success (or lack thereof) of Obamacare:

This Answers the Bloom Question

About an hour and a half ago, I wrote about the extraordinary article in The Hill disclosing that prominent attorney Lisa Bloom had gotten together with some Democrat PAC's who supported Hillary Clinton to arrange for big bucks payments to women who would agree to come forward in 2016 and charge Donald Trump with sexual misconduct.  It's a blockbuster story, but it had a major flaw in my mind.  I could not understand why The Hill, which is ardently pro-left, would publish such a story, no matter how good of a scoop it is.  Now, however, I understand.

Just a few hours ago, the Daily Mail published an article disclosing that the same Lisa Bloom allegedly offered actress Rose McGowan six million dollars to come forward and say that Harvey Weinstein had "changed" and ought not to be blamed for his prior behavior.  In common terms, Lisa Bloom is now "toast".  Being accused of trying to pay off Weinstein's victims to protect Weinstein officially makes Bloom lower than low in the current climate.  Bloom and her mother Gloria Allred may become persona non grata among the Hollywood elites and the others in the Democrat pantheon of opinion leaders.  As a result, for The Hill to publish this other story which makes Bloom look like a real sleaze, is no longer something that would affront the people whose opinions The Hill values.


The Big Story of he Day

The Hill, of all places, could hardly be called a supporter of President Trump.  Nevertheless, it is The Hill that broke a major story today coming up with substantial proof that lawyer Lisa Bloom "arranged" for various donors (especially PACs supporting Hillary Clinton) to pay women to come forward in the fall of 2016 to make charges of sexual harassment against candidate Donald Trump.  One woman who did come forward had the mortgage on her home paid off.  Another sought hundreds of thousands of dollars for making a charge against Trump.  Bloom went back through social media posts that the women had mad in the past to try to scrub them of anything favorable to Trump that might undermine a story told by the women.  In short, this all looks like a concerted effort by Hillary backers to get any story negative story possible about Trump out into the media prior to the election.  You can't tell from the piece in The Hill if these women were advised to embellish their stories or to lie about what Trump did, but you have to wonder why there were extensive negotiations regarding how much these women would be paid just to "tell the truth".  It's particularly strange that the negotiations seem to be between the lawyer Lisa Bloom who supposedly represented these women and the women themselves.  Bloom had a duty as attorney for the women to represent their interests, not the interests of a political campaign in the negotiations.

The details of the story are best obtained by reading the story in The Hill (available at the link in the second sentence of this post.)  This is big stuff.  We know that Hillary and the DNC paid for the phony Trump dossier to be created.  Did the same folks also pay for the charges by women against Trump to be manufactured?  We've known for a long time that the Clintons and their people are the very best when it comes to dirty tricks in political campaigns.  The implications of this, however, are truly extraordinary.

Here's a Switch -- A Democrat Woman Drops Congressional Candidacy after Allegations of Sexual Harassment

Andrea Ramsey just dropped out of the race to be the Democrat candidate in the 3rd district of Kansas.  Mrs. Ramsey had been accused 12 years ago in a complaint filed by a subordinate of sexual harassment.  According to reports,  there was a lawsuit at the time and Mrs. Ramsey had not been a party to that suit.  Her side of the story was never told at the time, and the case was settled in a confidential manner by her employer and the claimant.  We don't know if there even was any payment made to the claimant.

Ramsey says she doesn't remember a few of the events to which the claimant made reference like a particular business trip at that time.  She also denies that she ever harassed the claimant.  That did not matter for the Democrat campaign committee, however.  They cut ties with Ramsey once the allegations surfaced whether or not they are true.  Ramsey says that in view of that action, she sees no reason to continue in the race.

So here are the Democrats basically eating their young in their haste to stay on the supposed right side of the sexual harassment mess.  Ramsey seemed to be the Democrat with the best chance of unseating the incumbent Republican, but she has to go in the Democrats' McCarthy-like drive to convict people absent proof.  Hopefully, she won't be the last Democrat to go down the tubes in this idiotic drive.  It's one thing to get rid of someone like Al Franken where there's incontrovertible evidence he's a creep (like the photos).  It's quite another thing to convict someone and dump them when there has never been an airing of the facts or an chance for the accused to bring forth an answer to those charges.

The whole thing had better slow down and become more responsible.  We can't have mob rule, particularly when the mob is mostly the media. 

Somehow This Must Be Trump's Fault

There's a major upset in Iraq about a selfie posted on Instagram.  It's a picture of two women.  The Iraqi woman who posted the photo has been forced to flee the country after getting serious and repeated death threats leveled against her and her family.  So what's the photo?

It's a picture on Miss Iraq and Miss Israel that the two took at the Miss Universe International Pageant.  It has the caption "Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel".  Pretty heinous, right?

After the photo was posted, Miss Iraq was warned that unless she took it down, she would be stripped of her title.  She also started getting death threats directed at her and her family.  As a result, they all left Iraq, although the photo is still up on Instagram. 

I haven't yet heard anyone in the media blame President Trump for this, but that, no doubt, is coming.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

It's Official -- the Sky Has Fallen -- Net Neutrality Ends

If you listen to political shows or read the news, you surely know by now that the FCC voted to end the Obama era regulations that put the internet under government control  Those regulations, which the left branded as "Net Neutrality" were rescinded on a vote of 3 to 2.  So what does it mean?

According to the Democrats and the mainstream media, the world is coming to an end with the demise of Net Neutrality.  That's way too dramatic and also quite false.

Actually what has happened is that the internet today is just the same as it was in 2015 before the bureaucrats from Obama pushed through the Net Neutrality regulations.  You remember 2015, don't you.  At that point, people were unable to use the internet and there were a myriad of problems for the few who actually got internet access.  No, seriously, in 2015 both the functioning of the internet and the methods of access to the internet were fine.  There were no problems that were solved by Net Neutrality.  The only problems were imaginary.

Moving forward, the marketplace will control the internet rather than a few government bureaucrats in DC.  This should encourage faster development of the internet.  It should mean more productive changes.  Rather than slow and stodgy, the interest should be sleek and agile.

Don't expect to hear this reality from the media.  They love bureaucracies.  They're not that big on freedom.

So Does Tom Carper Have to Resign?

Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, has admitted that he slapped his first wife years ago hard enough that her face was swollen and she got a black eye.  When he ran for Congress at that time, the event was mentioned by his opponent and Carper both denied he had slapped his wife and centered his entire campaign around the "scurrilous" and "untrue" charges being leveled by his opponent.  Carper won that election.  For years after that, Carper denied that he had ever slapped his wife.  Now, the news is out that he, in fact, did just that.  Carper says that he would never do it again.

In today's climate, doesn't this admission by Carper require that he resign from the Senate?  This is worse, in my view, that Al Franken groping some women.  Franken's victims were not injured physically.  Carper's wife was physically assaulted.  She may not have chosen to press charges, but based upon Carper's description of the what happened, he would have been convicted of criminal assault had she done that.  Shouldn't Carper know better than to physically attack is wife?

I'm waiting to hear Chuck Schumer call for the departure of Carper from the Senate.  If Chuck won't do that, then at least all those women who wanted Franken tossed out should make a similar call against Carper.  Franken may be a creep, but Carper is an admitted wife-beater.

Unbelievable! The FBI/Mueller/ObamaDOJ/Clinton Mess Gets Worse

Peter Strzok is the new focus of investigation regarding the activities of the FBI and the Obama DOJ to meddle illegally in the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton win.  Strzok was also on the Mueller team until he was secretly fired many months ago by the special prosecutor when his deep bias against the President was discovered.  Strzok used to text with his mistress about how much they hated Trump and how they needed to do what they could to insure that Trump lost.  That is bad enough.  In addition, however, the text messages also make clear that Andrew McCabe, who was second in command at the FBI and who oversaw the investigation into Hillary Clinton and her email mess, was also involved in the anti-Trump discussions.  McCabe, you may recall, is the guy whose wife got three quarters of a million dollars from Clinton confidant Terry McAuliffe when she ran for a seat in the VA legislature.  These points have been well covered before today, so I am not going to repeat them.  Instead, let's focus on today's latest news.

It has just been discovered that within 36 hours of the discovery on convicted sex offender Anthony Weiner's computer of hundreds of thousands of emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton (including some classified information that Weiner's wife Huma Abedin had forwarded to Weiner's computer), Strzok's wife was suddenly appointed to be the head of enforcement at the SEC.  Is that a coincidence?  Hardly!  According to reports, much of the material on the Weiner computer dealt with financial information that pertained to the Clinton Foundation.  To the extent that these included corporate contributions, the information could have led to violations of the securities laws that the SEC would prosecute.  By putting Mrs. Strzok in control of that part of the SEC, the Obama people suddenly had another roadblock in place to prevent potential prosecution.

This is really an amazing development.  These moves require an active role for the White House before they could have happened.  I'm truly shocked.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

One More Bit Of Insanity

The race is about to begin.  One of the contestants sits down on the sidelines and announces that he will not run in the race so long as the other competitor is running.  The referee says that the other competitor is properly entered in the race and entitled to run.  The sitting contestant then calls for the referee to be replaced or he will pull out of the race (in which he won't run anyway.)

This may sound somewhat convoluted, but it's pretty close to what is happening now with the Palestinian Authority.  President Abbas of the PA has long said that he will not make peace with Israel.  Nor will the PA ever recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.  Despite this, the rest of the world has long accepted the view of the Palestinian Authority and tried to hold a "peace process" to move towards a resolution of the conflict.  No matter what the Palestinian Authority is offered, however, it is never enough.  Much like the runner who refuses to run the race, the PA refuses to take part in any peace negotiations with Israel.  So now the USA (the referee in our example) has announced that it will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The PA response is to call for the US to no longer be the intermediary between Israel and Palestine in the peace negotiations (which are not actually happening.)  Today, the PA called for the USA to be replace by the UN in the non-existent peace negotiations.

If there weren't people's lives at stake in this mess, it would be funny to watch the PA in action.  It's slapstick at its finest. 

A Taxing Parable

Consider this story:  Before the Civil War, a plantation owner had slaves who lived for free in little huts he provided.  Once the war ended, those slaves were freed.  The plantation owner told the former slaves that they could continue to live in the huts for free.  Many, however, chose to move elsewhere.  When asked what he thought of the slaves' leaving, the plantation owner said, "They've lost their homes."

This story is actually a demonstration of the attitude of the Democrats and the media towards the repeal of the Individual Mandate in the GOP tax bill.  The Individual Mandate requires each American to buy health insurance or to pay a substantial tax.  The mantra of the Democrats has been that if the Individual Mandate is repealed, millions will "lose" health insurance.  That's just like the slaves who, upon being freed, "lost" their homes.  The reality is that the former slaves made their own choice and left.  Similarly, the American people who make their own choice and drop health insurance coverage have not "lost" their policies.  Remember, all the subsidies and even the free coverage under Medicaid will not be altered; the only difference is that Americans will not be legally required to use those subsidies and free coverages.  It's called restoring freedom, not the loss of health insurance policies.

There has been so much misinformation put out by the media and the Democrats about this piece of the tax legislation, that many people have been confused.  They should learn the truth.

Roy Moore

Roy Moore lost in Alabama to a Democrat yesterday.  It's a big win for Doug Jones, but it's more correctly a big loss for Roy Moore.  The media is filled with people announcing how this is a big signal about 2018.  It's not, unless in that election there are many other candidates accused of molesting a young teen.  Nevertheless, we will probably have weeks now of pontificating about how Alabama changes everything -- it doesn't.  The other down side of the Alabama result is that we will surely have continued calls by Democrats for an investigation of President Trump and the women who claim he harassed them.  Those claims were politically litigated once already, and Trump won.  The Dems want a do over.  Meanwhile, though, if the identities of the congressmen and congresswomen who used the settlement slush fund are released, there will be a much bigger torrent of accusations, resignations and general upset in Washington.

One thing about the Moore race is worth noting:  the polls were wrong.  They were all over the lot, but most favored Moore.  The one recent poll that put Jones ahead came from Fox News, but it showed Moore losing by 10% not 1%.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Report From The Field

This afternoon, I got an email from a regular reader in Pennsylvania.  She gave me an update about today's latest "bombshell" report regarding allegations made against President Trump.  It's well worth sharing.

This morning as we sat in a doctor's waiting room, Megyn Kelly on NBC began interviewing a 35-40 year old woman who accused Donald Trump of touching her rear end in 2003.  The woman said that she was at a concert and was in the same room as Donald Trump, Melania, and (I think) Ray Charles.  She felt something touch her rear and thought it was a photographer's camera bag.  But when she turned around, the person nearest her was Donald Trump.  Therefore, she knew that he was the one who had touched her.  

She then went on for several minutes crying (literally) about her mistreatment by Donald Trump.  She had looked into his eyes and knew that he did it.  She also complained that this had happened to her numerous times since then--not by Donald Trump.

Megyn Kelly looked like a fool for interviewing her.  The people in the doctor's waiting room agreed that they were sick of watching things like this on TV.

This reader is a woman who would not put up with actual sexual harassment, and yet her take on this nonsensical report on TV was extremely negative.  The Democrats and the media may be in the process of overdoing their attacks in a way that discredits them all.  So what else is new?

The Worst Advice Ever

In keeping with the incredible "advice" being given to Israel with regard to peace with the Palestinians, we have to add what is probably the worst advice ever offered.  First let's go into a little background.

1.  The Gaza Strip is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas which ousted the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority president Abbas in an uprising in that territory.  Hamas then constructed tunnels from Gaza under the border and into Israel.  Hamas terrorists used the tunnels to launch attacks inside Israel without being detected.  In 2014, the Israelis and Hamas fought a two month war during which Israel destroyed all or nearly all of the tunnels.

2.  Since 2014, Hamas has used the supplies which get into Gaza to reconstruct the attack tunnel network rather than to help the residents.  The Israelis, however, have devised a system to thwart tunnel construction and to detect and destroy any tunnels that Hamas manages to build.

3.  In the last month or so, Israeli forces have blown up two Hamas tunnels that reached inside Israel.

That brings us to the bad advice.  The peace "experts" are worried that Israel's act of self-defense by destroying tunnels that Hamas has built under Israeli territory may cause Hamas to act in desperation and launch a full scale war.  These fools are counseling Israel not to destroy any further tunnels.

This is beyond stupid.  I wonder how many of these "experts" would give this advice if it were their families who lived on top of the tunnels, thereby facing a surprise terrorist attack.  These fools suggest that Israel leave its citizens open to deadly surprise attack in order not to upset the terrorists.

It never fails to amaze me just how little common sense many of the foreign policy experts have.

Predictions Were Wrong, But It Doesn't Matter

This morning I came across an article written by someone named Aaron David Miller in Politico Magazine.  Miller's thesis is that no one should be fooled by the muted reaction to the decision by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  Miller says the decision was just political and not related to foreign policy and also that the decision was a disaster.  Then he comes to the money sentence of his entire article:

Rather than any explosion of anger, what we’re more likely to witness is the continuation of a long, grim and nasty grind.

Get that?  Miller, who says he has been involved in Middle East peace talks for many decades, tells us that the result of Trump's supposedly terrible decision is that things will continue as before, and this continuation is proof that this move by Trump was a disaster.

Even for a liberal academic, this is a ridiculous argument.  Remember, before President Trump recognized reality and said that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, people like Miller told us all that such recognition would lead to waves of violence and anger across the Arab world.  The "peace process" would be destroyed (as if there really is a peace process).  They described the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in apocalyptic terms.  Then the President ignored the warnings of the liberal self-proclaimed cognoscenti, and there was essentially no response.  Oh, the usual people denounced the action; the Palestinian Authority called for yet a few more days of "rage"; but aside from the shows, nothing much happened.  So the "geniuses" of the peace process like Miller, who have failed with their old policies to make any progress for the last 20 years, were proven wrong.  Well, they can't have that, can they?  So Miller has a new argument:  with Trump's move, things will continue as before.  Obviously, that means Trump's move was a failure (according to Miller).  Of course, if you think for a moment, you would realize that what Miller wanted was for Trump not to recognize Jerusalem so that things could continue as before.  We have the same outcome either way according to Miller, but with recognition it is a disaster brought by Trump and without recognition it is motion toward peace due to following policies Miller likes.

Sometimes I wonder how educated people like Miller can write such nonsense.

Monday, December 11, 2017

What Kind of a Scheme Were The Obamacrats Running?

Last week a very high ranking Justice Department official named Ohr was demoted when it was discovered that he had met during the 2016 campaign with Fusion GPS, the authors of the phony Trump dossier (which was then used by the Obama administration to get a FISA warrant to spy on people associated with the Trump campaign.  That was really bad.  Today, however, the news came out that Ohr's wife actually works for Fusion GPS.  Just how closely connected were the Obamacrats, the Clintonites and the scum at Fusion GPS?  The entire Trump-Russia collusion thing actually seems pretty clearly to be an attempt by president Obama's people and Hillary Clinton's people to set up Donald Trump.

This is a true scandal.  It's not like the main Trump-Russia stuff where there's just no proof.  We know that the DNC and Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS $13 million for the dossier to be compiled.  We know that the dossier is filled with phony stories.  We know that the FBI had a hand in using the dossier to get a FISA court warrant to authorize spying on Trump campaign associates.  In other words, the government under Obama worked with Hillary's campaign to first manufacture phony evidence about Trump and then used that phony evidence to get a warrant to allow spying on the Trump campaign.  Just how low did these people go?

The reality is that the true "deplorables" of 2016 were Hillary, Obama and their people.

Well, CNN, It's Up To You

As of yesterday, Ryan Lizza wrote for The New Yorker and was a commentator on CNN.  Today, Lizza no longer writes for The New Yorker.  That organization fired Lizza after he was the subject of what are described as credible complaints of sexual harassment.  None of the details were released because of requests for privacy.

So what is CNN going to do?  That network is going to have a real problem.  CNN doesn't have the details about the Lizza complaints.  Still, CNN has a man on as a frequent guest who just got fired as an alleged sexual predator.  Does the network fire Lizza without any basis other than the actions of The New Yorker?  Does the network keep Lizza and watch it's credibility (to the extent there is any) go further down the drain?

I guess that those who live by the sexual harassment charge, die by the sexual harassment charge. 

For years, Lizza has been part of the holier than thou brigade in the liberal media.  They are always so much better than conservatives or Republicans -- at least in their own minds.  I guess that we should add women to the list of those to whom Lizza believes himself superior.

More "Evidence" Unravels

The constant stream of fake news is getting worse rather than lessening.  How many stories will the media get wrong in their rush to try to hang things on President Trump?  It's hard to see where this will stop.

Here's what we know:

1.  So far this year, there have been quite a number of stories pushed by the mainstream media that have turned out to be totally false.  The latest one just came out a few hours ago.  In the spring, CNN and the other media made a major point of how Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose certain meetings with Russians on his FBI disclosure form filed in connection with his nomination for Attorney General.  Sessions said that he had been told by the FBI not to include meetings held as part of his regular duties as a senator.  CNN especially denounced that answer as a lie.  They put "experts" on who explained that the FBI would NEVER give such advice.  Today, CNN has been forced to admit that emails released by the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act disclose that the FBI did indeed give Sessions the exact advice he claimed had been given to him.  In other words, the CNN report was just totally wrong.

2.  In the last week, CNN put out phony stories about the Trump campaign supposedly getting advance notice of Wikileaks dumps of DNC materials (it didn't.)  Then there's ABC News with the phony Brian Ross report that Trump told Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign (he didn't.)  There's many others too.

3.  Not even a single "mistake" by the media was in favor of President Trump's position.  Each time, the media spread a scurrilous lie and then later "corrected" it as just a "mistake".  One time that might be.  Even twice, it might be a mistake.  By the tenth time, however, it's pretty clear that this is a disinformation campaign and not a mistake.

4.  They're using the same tactics in the Roy Moore attack.  Multiple women said Moore tried to date them when he was around 30 and they were 18 or 19.  There's nothing wrong with that, but the reports all list these women as complaining about being sexually harassed (they weren't.)  It's just another lie. 

I understand that the media hates both President Trump and the Republican party.  They're allowed; it's ok.  What is not ok, however, is the practice by the media to lie and spread false stories designed to harm the President or the Republicans.  You can't claim that the tax cut bill will take money from the middle class to give to the wealthy when that is not true even arguably.  You can't talk about Trump-Russia collusion when the only supposed evidence to support that claim is a series of phony stories that the media writes off as "mistakes".  Honesty and truth have to come into play at some point.

The Bomber in New York

We still don't have all the details, but it appears right now that the bomber in this morning's blast in New York is a Muslim of Bangladeshi background who was wearing the bomb when it exploded, perhaps prematurely.  He appears to have been targeting the transit hub at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the adjoining subway lines.  Some stories say he has connections to ISIS.

Hopefully, the bomber will survive his injuries and will live to spend a great many decades behind bars in an American prison. 

The Attack That Failed -- Moore or Less

Tomorrow is the special election in Alabama for the senate.  Right now, it looks very much like Republican Roy Moore will win, and he will do so pretty easily.  The latest poll shows him up by 9 percent over his Democrat rival.  Each of the recent polls has moved in Moore's direction.  It seems that the concentrated media/ political attack on Moore based upon alleged sexual molestation of a minor has failed.  In fact, the majority of Alabama voters don't believe the attackers.

What does this all mean?  First, it means that the Democrat/media playbook for an attack like this doesn't really work.  Look at what the attackers did.  First they came forward with five women who complained about Moore in the Washington Post.  Four of the five, however, just claimed that Moore tried to date them when they were 18 or 19 and he was 32.  The fifth claimed that Moore had fondled her when she was 14.  The 14 year old was the only one with a real complaint.  No reasonable person who knew the details of the other four women's stories thought that, even if true, Moore had done anything wrong there.  For the media, however, the chant was that there were five women accusing Moore of molesting them.  It was an easy lie to disprove.  Then the left trotted out Gloria Allred and the second complaintant.  She told a story of Moore giving her a ride home from her job at a diner, but driving her to the parking lot around the back of the diner, locking the doors and attempting to rape her.  She also produced a yearbook "signed" by Moore to show that she knew him.  There were a few problems with the Allred-told story.  First, there's no parking lot behind the diner.  Second, the car locks that could have allowed Moore to lock the doors as the woman claimed weren't in use until five years after the incident.  Third, the woman refused to let the ink on the yearbook be tested for age when Moore said that the signature was a forgery.  Fourth, the woman ultimately admitted that she had written at least part of that inscription in the yearbook after originally claiming Moore had written the whole thing.  In short, her story was more than shaky.  The media also rushed out another woman who claimed that Moore molested her when her mother was present but she said nothing.  In other words, rather than concentrating on the one complaintant who had a viable story, the media and the left brought out masses of other women with stories that collapsed upon inspection.  As a result, the entire group of claims were weakened.

The other thing that this means is that waiting 38 years to make a claim is not a good idea.  Even worse is waiting 38 years as the man of whom you complain is running again and again for public office while you say nothing.  Even worse is coming forward only once the primary has ended and the man of whom you complain is the actual nominee.  It's just way too convenient to be believable.

We still don't know what happened for sure 38 years ago.  If I were on a jury, I would acquit Moore of all charges.  It looks like the voters of Alabama agree.  The posturing pols in DC may have taken a different stance, but they don't have any information more than we do.  They don't know.  They need to respect the decision of the voters.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

CNN. -- Completely Nutty News

I just happened to be in a restaurant that had CNN playing.  For about 25 minutes there was a non stop attack on President Trump and Roy Moore. The anchor was outraged that the President is going today to help open a civil rights museum.  There seemed to be no reason for the outrage other than that she hates the President. All during the reporting CNN ran a graphic that said Trump supports accused child molester. CNN didn't mention yesterday's news that one of the main accusers of Moore was disclosed to have lied. It seemed more like a Democrat campaign ad than a news report. Oh well I guess that is just typical CNN. Just a day after their fake email story was discovered by the WaPo it seems CNN is still at it. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

She Lied

One of the women accusing Roy Moore now admits she lied about Moore's supposedly signing her yearbook.  She still claims part of the signature was his, but she now admits to """adding" the date and location and never perhaps more.  Even with the admission her attorne, the ever shady Gloria Allred will not release the yearbook so that the ink used can be tested.

This is a major problem for those who accuse Moore. Why should we believe she stopped with only one lie??  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Something is Missing Here

Congressman Trent Franks (R-Arizona) announced today that he is resigning from Congress.  Franks was just made the subject of an ethics committee investigation.  According to reports, Franks discussed surrogacy motherhood with some female staff members, and that is the subject of the investigation.  I don't believe it.  No one is so delicate that they cannot hear a discussion of surrogate parenting.  There has to be more to the story.  The snowflakes on college campuses who need safe spaces might get upset at the topic, but I doubt that the average congressional staffer would.  Maybe we will hear more.

The Power of Public Employee Unions

There is a case now before the Supreme Court regarding whether or not public employees who are not union members can be forced to pay union dues anyway.  Some 40 years ago, there was a court decision that held that non-member employees could be made to pay a fee for the services they received from the union through representation in labor negotiations.  Over the decades, that practice changed into all public employees being made to pay full union dues whether or not they are union members.  Last year, the court got a case that raised the issue, but it voted 4-4 and the tie left the lower court case in place.  Now another case on the same topic has made it to SCOTUS.

The big news of the moment on this case is that the Department of Justice has filed a brief supporting the position of the non-union employees who are the plaintiffs in the latest case.  Last year, the Obama DOJ supported the other side.  It seems a fair bet to conclude that Justice Gorsuch will break the 4-4 tie in favor of the employees and against the unions.

The real impact of this decision is on fundraising for the Democrats.  Public employee unions are strongly pro-Democrat and they use the "dues" received to make political contributions to the Democrat party.  Once employees need no longer pay union dues to keep their jobs, experience has shown that a majority of employees drop membership.  This would dry up a major source of campaign funds for the Democrats.  Just imagine there no longer being an indirect subsidy of the Democrats by the government.  Such a result might also finally let states and other governments get pension costs under control.  A legislator who votes for reasonable pensions would no longer have to worry that union money would drive him or her out of office.

The Trees of Recognition

I had to chuckle this morning as I looked at the news regarding the reaction to President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The mainstream media is going all out to portray the move as an error which throws away seven decades of US policy.  CNN ran a story discussing how even White House officials said that the move will damage the peace process.

But when you look around, not all that much has happened.

1.  According to reports, hundreds of Palestinians marched in protests in the West Bank.  Although these reports are meant to show that Trump was wrong, they actually show the opposite.  The key word in the reports is "hundreds".  A few hundred people marched in the West Bank; the news acts as if it was tens or hundreds of thousands.  But it wasn't.

2.  The president of Turkey threatened to break relations with Israel, but he didn't.  The Turkish president didn't threaten a break with the USA which took the action.  Instead, he just talked and aimed his upset at the Israelis who did nothing.

3.  There have been two missiles launched from Gaza against nearby Israeli targets.  They hit nothing.  We don't even know yet if the launches came from Hamas or from some splinter group that periodically launches such missiles thereby causing retaliation from the Israelis.

4.  The Palestinian "leadership" called for three days of rage.  In other words, it was much like everything else that "leadership" does.  Hamas called the decision by Trump an "outrage", but so far no response has been forthcoming.

5.  The pundits on TV for the most part continue expressing shock and sadness that Trump would actually do what he promised to do during the campaign.  After all, Obama and Bush both promised this, but they never actually delivered on those promises.  We can't have a president who speaks honestly to the people during the campaign, can we?

6.  Perhaps the funniest take on the event came in the pages of the NY Times.  On the op-ed page, Tom Friedman wrote about how Trump gave away the US position without getting anything for it in return.  Trump recognized actual reality without demanding that Israel build no more settlements.  Oh, the horror!  Of course, when president Obama gave away the entire edifice of sanctions on Iran together with nearly $150 billion to the Iranians in exchange for an unverifiable promise to stop work on nuclear weapons for just a few years, Friedman was fine with that.  Two administrations or more had struggled to get the sanctions in place, and Obama gave them away for a deal that guarantees that Iran would have nukes in a few years.

These fools are not seeing the forest.  In a way that is unmistakable, President Trump has explained to the Palestinians and their allies that the USA will be recognizing reality rather than the fantasy world in which Palestinians actually want peace with Israel and facts are to be avoided.

Franken Goes

Al Franken just said that he is resigning in "the coming weeks".  Good!  I don't say that because Franken was a boor or a sexual harasser.  I say that because the departure of Franken from the Senate raises the political intelligence level of that body.  Anyone who ever listened to Al question a witness at a hearing understands that.  Just think of the question Al Franken asked of Jeff Sessions about meetings with Russians.  It was a rambling monologue with no clear question that left Sessions (and everyone else) a bit unclear what Franken was actually questioning.  It was also typical of the many questions of this sort that Franken has asked in committees over the years.  But it wasn't just Franken's inability to ask a coherent question that mattered.  It was also his problem with staying with the truth and even sticking to the realities that America faces.  It will be good to see him depart.

Normally, it would be customary to wish Franken well and thank him for his service.  For the man who allegedly only got to Congress in a hotly disputed election due to voter fraud in Minnesota, and for a man who accomplished absolutely nothing positive after many years in the Senate, however, all I can say to Franken is, "Don't let the door hit you in the rear on your way out."

The Bake-Off

The Supreme Court heard arguments this week on the case of the Colorado baker who did not want to bake a cake for a gay wedding.  The baker said that to do so would violate his religious beliefs.

I could write an analysis of this from a constitutional point of view, but I would prefer to keep things simple with just a few questions to be answered.

Why did this case get brought?  In other words, weren't there many other bakeries that could have been used for the cake?  The answer is that there were, indeed, other bakeries, but that would have missed the real point of the case.  This is not really a battle between some gay couple and a bakery.  It is a dispute between the state and a baker who does not believe what that state requires him to believe.  The goal is to squash any opposition to gay marriage on any basis possible.

Do the religious freedom acts of the federal and state governments mean anything?  There are acts that were passed in the last 20 years that require the federal and state governments to accommodate religious beliefs if there are reasonable alternatives available.  In other words, if a school district is adopting a new lunch program, it cannot choose to make the meals serve only pork if there are religious Muslims or Jews in the district.  There has to be an alternative so as not to force these kids to violate their religious beliefs.  Similarly, if there are alternative bakeries for the cake, is that enough so that the one in question here need not be forced to violate the baker's religious beliefs?

I'm curious to see how SCOTUS answers these questions.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Jerusalem as Capital of Israel

President Trump announced today that the USA recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Supposedly, the Arab world is furious, although not much has happened in response yet.  The cognoscenti of foreign policy are predicting the end of the Middle East peace process, although that process ended over ten years ago. 

Here's the real question though:  if America tells the Palestinians that we will recognize reality rather than following their demands to ignore it, does that really hurt the peace process or help it?  Shouldn't the USA encourage the Arabs to recognize the reality of Israel?  Doesn't that promote peace more than if the USA kowtows to Arab demands to follow a fantasy?

No Franken Way

So it seems that Al Franken is going to resign tomorrow (although I won't believe it until I hear it actually happened.)  Franken was hit with accusations from two more women who say he groped them.  The wave of accusations seems to be growing rather than stopping.  The Democrats know that by calling on Franken to resign, they can try to look like the party that cares rather than the party from which most of the abusers come.  They also know that if Franken resigns, he will be replaced by another Democrat appointed by Minnesota governor Mark Dayton.  They can also then point out that Roy Moore has not been forced to resign.  Of course, it is rather hard for Moore to resign since he hasn't been elected yet.

One thing is certain.  Franken's departure from the senate is no big loss.  The man has been a zero since he got to Washington.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Taking a Break

For the next week or so, I will be busy with many personal matters and will not be blogging much.  I will be back fully next week.

An Interesting Twist on Gay Marriage

The Supreme Court yesterday let stand a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court that states and local governments do not have to provide gay married couples the same benefits given to traditional married couples under the SCOTUS ruling that required states to recognize and perform gay marriages.  The argument supporting that view basically pointed to abortion and said that the decision granting the right to abortion did not require states to fund those abortions, so the decision granting the right to gay marriage did not require states to subsidize those marriages.  The case arose out of a policy in Houston of granting gay couples the same benefits as traditional couples.

The ruling is not a final one in the case.  Indeed, the matter will now proceed to trial in Texas, and it may someday be back in front of SCOTUS.

Nevertheless, the ruling is of interest because it would only have taken the votes of four justices for the Court to have decided to take this case.  That's a pretty good indicator of which way SCOTUS believes this should come out.  Of course, there are other reasons for the Court to decline to take a case, so one can't read too much into it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

This Was No Surprise -- The Supreme Court Lifted the Stay Preventing President Trump's Immigration Order

Since the start of President Trump's term, the media and the Democrats have gone crazy shouting about his ban on Muslims.  Of course, there has never been such a ban, but the Executive Orders issued by Trump were so characterized incorrectly.  The court in Hawaii and the Ninth Circuit both barred enforcement of each of the three Executive Orders.  The third order was put in place some months ago, and, as usual, the courts stopped it.

Today, the Supreme Court let the entire Executive Order go into effect.  In one paragraph, the Supreme Court swatted away the district judge and the court of appeals. The key is not just that the Supreme Court ruled in the President's favor.  No, the key is that the vote was 7-2.  That means that Justices Kagan and Breyer who are both strong liberals recognized the propriety of the Executive Order.  It's a not so subtle way of telling the court of appeals what the ultimate outcome will be if they screw up the decision one more time.

The Executive Order at issue here is not even close to any line of impropriety.  It provides that people from eight countries cannot enter the USA except if a waiver is granted.  Only six of the eight countries are Muslim majority countries, so it's hard to call this a Muslim ban.  The order also provides that if the feds can certify that any country on the list has started to provide the necessary background information on people seeking entry to the USA, then the ban will be lifted for that country.  In other words, we have countries that cannot or will not give the USA adequate information about those seeking entry so as to let the USA decide if the person is a security risk.  Only in the world where all American actions are bad and anything the President does is, by definition, an outrage, could this Executive Order be called a Muslim ban.  The Supreme Court recognizes this.  Will the media?

What Peace Process?

Supposedly, later this week President Trump will recognize something that has been a fact for decades, namely that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.  Let's put the diplomatic niceties aside and just point out that the Israeli parliament is located there.  The Supreme Court is located there.  The major government installations are located there.  The only thing that is not there are the embassies of the various foreign countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel.  Even Congress recognized this fact long ago and passed a law declaring Jerusalem to be the Israeli capital.  Since then, successive president have delayed the implementation of that law and kept the American embassy in Tel Aviv.  Trump is supposedly ending that delay.

So what is the response from the gray haired "experts"?  For the most part, these gurus are lamenting that the move would be a setback for the peace process.  No, seriously, they really say that.

My question is simple:  what peace process?  For at least the last ten years, there has been no movement between Israel and the Palestinians.  Indeed, the Palestinians have not actually participated in any peace efforts.  There was an election for the Palestinian government which was won by Hamas.  As a result, the Palestinian president Abbas tried to oust Hamas.  The Hamas people took over in Gaza, but the Fatah people of Abbas kept control in the West Bank region governed by the Palestinians.  Abbas himself just put off the required presidential election and stayed in office.  He is now in the twelfth year of his four year term.  There was a deal about six months ago between Hamas and Fatah, but nothing seems to have actually changed.  They are each more worried about the other than anything else.  Neither of them will make any move towards Israel for fear of being branded as weak by the other side.

So if we have a reality in which there is no peace process and Jerusalem is the actual capital of Israel, why shouldn't the USA recognize Jerusalem rather than worrying about damaging a non-existent peace process?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Impeachment of Trump

There are a batch of fevered articles in the last few days discussing the impending impeachment of Donald Trump.  They make me wonder on what planet these people actually live.  There's zero chance of impeachment and zero chance that Trump would be removed from office were he impeached.

Think about it.  What was the impeachable offense?  The left doesn't like President Trump.  Much as the left would like that to be the basis for impeachment; it isn't.  How about Trump interfered with an investigation and obstructed justice.  Democrats with backgrounds in the law (who should know better) are screaming that Trump's tweet in which he says that General Flynn was fired because he lied to Vice President Pence and to the FBI shows that Trump obstructed justice.  Think about that.  General Flynn, the national security adviser, gets fired for lying.  My own senator Richard Blumenthal says that is obstruction.  What nonsense will Blumenthal say next?  I know:  showing up at the presidential debates last fall was obstruction of justice by Trump.  It's just as illogical.

For those who have forgotten, obstruction of justice means interfering with an investigation in which you have no right to do so.  It's that last part that's the important part.  If someone prevents an FBI agent from looking at the contents of box that contains evidence, that could be obstruction.  Of course, if the person who says not to look in the box is the supervisor of the FBI agent who is directing the investigation, it isn't obstruction.  In fact, it is just the normal operation of the investigation.  So what about President Trump?  Didn't he mention to then FBI director Comey that he hoped Comey could "let it go" when speaking about Flynn who had just been fired?  Comey's memo says that.  You know, that memo that Comey illegally leaked to the media to try to get a special prosecutor appointed after he was fired.  The same Comey who wrote the decision in the Clinton email case three months before the investigation was completed and before more than 20 witnesses -- including Hillary herself -- were interviewed.  Why would we believe Comey's memo?  But I digress.  If the President had actually directed Comey to stop the investigation into Flynn (which he didn't) it still wouldn't be obstruction of justice.  The president has the right to direct the FBI how to proceed.  It isn't done all that often, but it is still the president's right to do so.  So there cannot be any obstruction of justice in such a situation.  So much for that impeachable offense.

But the Democrats have not stopped there.  They say that the President is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution which prohibits gifts to the president from foreign countries and others.  And how does President Trump violate that clause?  That's easy say the Democrats; some of the Trump properties rent space to foreign governments or have restaurants where foreign diplomats eat.  That's right, having the ambassador from Slovakia stay in a Trump hotel violates the Constitution according to these morons.  Not even close!  The Emoluments clause bars gifts to the president that would be considered something like bribes.  The founding fathers did not want a president (or other federal official) on the payroll of foreign powers.  In other words, they didn't want some official like the Secretary of State to have her husband give speeches and get paid $750,000 for twenty minutes of talking while she was considering whether or not to approve the sale of 20% of the nations uranium supply to a hostile foreign power.  They really didn't want that same person to collect over $140 million through her "foundation" at the same time.  That could be money given to her for nothing other than a favorable decision in the matter she was considering.  On the other hand, having a hotel guest who was charged the regular rate for a room is not what worried the founding fathers.  They wanted to prevent bribery not commerce.

So there's no impeachable offense.  That won't stop the Democrats though.  But there's also no way that the public or even the Congress and the Senate would stand for such a travesty.  It's a lost cause.  It's a waste of time.  It's just a distraction.  No wonder the Democrats and the media are so focused on it; they got nothing else.  Think about the Democrats plan for tax reform. Oh wait, they didn't have one.  Think about the revisions to Obamacare that the Democrats proposed to "save" the program.  Oh wait, they didn't do that either.  How about the Democrats plan for infrastructure -- doesn't exit.  How about their plan for trade deals like NAFTA -- also doesn't exist.  What to do with border security is another thing that the Democrats talk and complain about constantly, but they have no plan they have offered.  So let them talk about impeachment.  They have nothing better to do.

A Poll No One Seems To Be Reporting

CBS News did a poll in Alabama but no one seems to be reporting it.  The poll found that 71% of likely GOP voters do not believe the allegations against Roy Moore, with another 12% who don't know.  That leaves just 17% of voters who believe them.  For some reason, CBS didn't poll Democrats or else it is not announcing those results.  (Maybe they mirror the Republicans which would ruin the narrative.)

The poll also found that the race was tied among registered voters.  CBS, however, also has results for likely voters and those show Moore up by 49 to 43%.  My guess is that this is why no one is mentioning this poll.

I don't know who will win in Alabama, although I believe that Moore will prevail.  It just strikes me as sad that the results of a poll get buried because they don't align with the outcome that the media wants.

For me, it has always been likely that Moore would win.  He is not just the Republican candidate; he is a man who is very well known in Alabama.  He has a long established public persona which is directly contrary to the picture of a pedophile painted by the media.  It is hard to expect people to change their views about this man because of claims about what supposedly happened 40 years ago, especially since Moore denies the claims so vehemently.  Add in that the second accuser came forward with Gloria Allred at her side ( a big strike against her likely veracity) and that she produced with great fanfare a yearbook supposedly signed by Moore, but then she refused to let that book be examined by a forensic expert when Moore called it a forgery.  The reality is that it all came down to one 40 year old charge that Moore denies.  I just don't think it is enough for Alabama voters to pick a Democrat.

Sometimes I Wonder If They Even Think About What They Are Writing

This morning, I read a column in the Hearst Connecticut local papers headlined "What Does Senate Tax Bill Mean For State."  It was written by a reporter named Dan Haar.  He's not a household name, but it's worth using his column to illustrate just how poor and dishonest the media coverage of the tax bill really is.

The column starts with the usual complaint of the Democrats and the mainstream media against the tax bill:  in Haar's words it is "a tax reform bill that offers deep cuts for corporations, business owners and the rich."  Got that?  The bill is a gift to the corporations and the rich.

So then the column goes on to look at how the bill will affect Connecticut, especially Fairfield County, Connecticut.  For those who don't know, Fairfield County is the richest county in the state, and one of the richest in the country.  According to Haar, results in Fairfield County will be "mixed" but the rich will do fine with the burden on the poor.

Then Haar gets to specifics.  He says, "The deepest worry for many taxpayers locally is the loss of deductions for the big-three payments that add up to hefty tax savings for upper-middle-class and wealthy families, heavily in Fairfield County: the state income tax, the property tax and mortgage interest."

Did he miss something?  No more deductions for state income tax, and reductions in deductions for property taxes and mortgage interest hits those who are well off, the "rich" who Haar said are getting all the benefits.  Isn't that the exact opposite of what he first told us?  It is indeed.  The reality is that Most people in the lower part of the income distribution won't even notice that change because of the huge increase in the standard deduction.  Here's an example:  A married couple with a child who have an income of $60,000 per year and who live in a house that cost $300,000 in Connecticut would pay around $4,000 in state income tax and maybe another $5000 in property taxes.  Their mortgage interest would be $5000.  Under the present law, that couple gets to deduct $14,000.  The new law reduces that deductible amount to $10,000, but the couple has the alternative of deducting $24,000 under the standard deduction.  In addition, the couple will get a $2000 child care tax credit and there will be lower rates on the taxable income that is left, so this couple will pay substantially lower taxes.  Here's another example:  a married couple with one child that earns $300,000.  They live in a house that cost $1,600,000.  They would pay roughly $20,000 in state income taxes, another $25,000 in property taxes and $45,000 in mortgage interest.  Under current law, they could deduct all that for a total deduction of $90,000.  Under the new law, these rich people would have a deduction of $55,000 only.  The standard deduction has no effect on them since their total deductions are too high to use the standard one.  They do get a rate reduction which should save them roughly $4000 by itself, but the extra taxes paid due to the loss of deductions is more like $8500.  That means that the rich people are paying an extra $4500 per year.

The point is that the tax bill gives its tax breaks to the middle and lower income groups and to businesses.  It's not a big gift to the wealthy. 

Haar goes on to grudgingly admit that taxes will be cut for lower income families but adds the following:

But some of those benefits disappear after a few years, as lawmakers added a sunset provision to some personal tax rates because the massive business cuts create a deficit of $1 trillion in 10 years, even with some economic growth.

This is another of those idiotic points the media is so fond of.  Yes, the personal income tax changes will "sunset" after ten years.  Under the Senate rules regarding this type of bill, they have to.  In ten years, the law will go back to the current version.  In other words, the people who lament the changes are condemning those changes because we will go back to the current system in ten years.  If the current system is so much better that the new plan must be rejected, why lament that there's an automatic return to the current system in 10 years?  They can't have it both ways.

Despite what Haar says, the tax plan is not a gift to the rich.  It is, rather, an attempt to get the economy moving and growing faster.  Saying no doesn't accomplish that.  Saying no and stomping one's feet at the same time doesn't accomplish that.  Saying no, stomping one's feet and lying about what the new system would do also doesn't accomplish that.

The reality is that the tax plan in the Senate bill will produce winners and losers.  Any change in tax law does that.  The people who get most benefit from the parts that are removed are the losers.  The people who get the most benefit from the parts that are added are the winners.  The real point here is that there will be many more winners than losers and the country as a whole will benefit.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Maybe He Should have Harassed Someone

Yesterday, Brian Ross of ABC News reported that General Flynn had been told to contact the Russians by candidate Donald Trump during the campaign.  When the news broke, the stock market plummeted by a huge amount and fools like Joy Behar on The View ran to tell it to viewers as if her fondest wish had come true.  The news was spread all across the world.  This was it; Trump had colluded with the Russians. 

A few hours went by and ABC "clarified " and then "corrected" the report.  It wasn't candidate Trump who gave the direction.  It was President-elect Trump who told his staff to speak to the Russians about better coordinating the efforts to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  So it was AFTER the election was long over.  It was nothing even remotely related to collusion.  The report wasn't just wrong, it was spectacularly wrong.  Tens of thousands of people lost a great deal of money in the market panic that followed the erroneous report.

Today, ABC suspended Ross for 4 weeks without pay.  He is now the fall guy for ABC's incompetence.

But tell me, wasn't there and editor involved with the story?  Wasn't there someone at the network who checked the validity of what was being said?  How do those people get off pushing phony lies about President Trump while having Ross take the fall?

Of course, the usual suspects in the media have run to tell us that the contact was illegal when President-elect Trump ordered it last December.  That too is a phony story.  On December 2, 2016, the State Department was asked if it had any problem with the Trump transition people contacting the Russian government or the Russian ambassador or any other country.  The clear answer was NO.  The Obama State Department had no problem at all with direct contact between the Trump people and the Russians.  They said it was a normal part of the transition.

It's worth noting that someone asked former DNI James Clapper about the Obama Administration giving its blessing to contacts between the Trump transition people and the Russians.  Clapper (who lied under oath to Congress) said that the idea was preposterous.  Now, however, someone has come forward with video of the state department spokesperson saying just that.  Will Clapper be suspended for four weeks without pay?  I doubt it; I think he's unemployed. 

Sander Levin

Long time Michigan Democrat congressman Sander Levin is retiring.  If he were a Republican, there would no doubt be story after story about how the Republicans were leaving DC in fear of a coming Democrat wave.  That would be true even though there are no more than the usual number of retirements among the Republicans. 

As for Levin, I guess the equivalent on the Democrat side is for us to wonder if he's leaving Washington because he's worried about being exposed as a sexual harasser.  There's nothing to suggest that, but you never know.  It is true that we already have another Democrat exposed today, congressman Ruben Kihuen of Nevada.  One per day is usually all we have.

Strzok -- No Really -- Strzok

High level FBI agent Peter Strzok who led the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private and unsecured email server and who also was lead FBI agent working for the special prosecutor Robert Mueller is no longer on the job.  He was reassigned to work at Human Resources last Summer when text messages were uncovered between Strzok and another agent that were very anti-Trump and pro-Clinton.  Strzok was having an affair with a fellow agent assigned to the Clinton email investigation and they texted each other about political events of the day.  The texts were all stridently anti-Trump.  To say the least, that harsh anti-Trump and pro-Hillary position is a problem when Strzok was leading the investigation into Hillary's email mess.  The texts were discovered by the Inspector General who brought them to the attention of Mueller.  Strzok was removed from the team and sent to the FBI's version of Siberia.

Two questions arise here:

How could the FBI not know about Strzok's political views that he was expressing to his mistress?  Almost certainly, those around Strzok knew his views.  So does that mean that the problem was not his one-sided views but rather that he put those views in writing and got caught?

Second, why has it taken five months for the news of what happened to leak out?  Shouldn't the FBI or the special prosecutor have announced the personnel change?  Aren't the American people entitled to know that the guy who headed the Hillary investigation was seriously biased?

The News That No One Covers

Here's an extremely important bit of news that is getting almost no coverage.  According to Syrian and other Middle Eastern media, overnight Israeli missiles hit the Iranian base under construction at al-Kiswah which is south of Damascus toward Israeli territory.  The missiles were fired from Israeli planes flying over Lebanon, and they inflicted serious damage on the Iranian base.  The Syrians claim to have shot down two of the missiles, but that appears to be a false claim.

So why is this so important?  Isn't it just another of those battles that happen daily in the Middle East?  The answer is that this attack was made by Israelis on Iranians.  The Iranians are the principal foreign supporters of the Assad regime in Syria.  The terrorists of Hezbollah and the Shiite militias fighting in Syria are under Iranian control.  Iran, itself, has troops in the country.  Until recently, however, the Iranians have not tried to put forces near the Israeli border.  The base at al-Kiswah was the first place where Iran tried to change that policy.  The base is less than 30 miles from Israel.  When the Israelis learned of the base construction, they warned the Syrian regime that they would not tolerate an Iranian base near their border.  The Israeli government also warned Assad's other supporter, Russia, of their position.  Nothing, however, changed.  The construction of the Iranian base continued.  Then came last night's raid.  It was Israel enforcing its red line.

The question now is what will be the reaction.  The Russians basically won't care.  They are interested in maintaining their own bases in Syria, mainly the naval base in Latakia on the Mediterranean Sea.  The Assad regime will denounce the attack and even make false claims about how it shot down the missiles.  The reality, however, is that Assad is way too weak to make any move against Israel.  Assad knows that the Israelis could wipe him out pretty quickly.  That leaves the Iranians.  It is the mullahs in Teheran who will take the next step.  They might just back off in the face of Israeli resolve.  More likely, however, we will see some sort of response through other means.  Maybe Hezbollah will launch missiles at Israel from Lebanon.  Maybe some Israeli target around the world will get hit.  Back in the 1990s, the Iranians bombed the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina killing hundreds.  It's the kind of attack that could lead to much more very quickly.

One thing is certain, the next move is coming, and it is unlikely to be a happy one.

Conflating Antitrust Policy with the First Amendment

The Department of Justice started a lawsuit to prevent the merger of AT&T and Time Warner.  That decision was made by the head of the Antitrust Division.  It centers on whether or not AT&T would use the Time Warner products like HBO to unfairly compete with rival carriers and internet providers.  There's a lot of arcane antitrust issues at play.  The government position is a switch from most prior actions in recent years regarding vertical integration mergers, but it is not unheard of.

Cue the violins.  The Atlantic has published an article explaining the position of the DOJ is really an attack on freedom of the press by President Trump.  You see, Time Warner owns CNN and the President has made clear that he hates that network.  Therefore, his whole approach to this mega-merger must be driven by relatively tiny CNN and he must have mixed in to tell the head of the antitrust division what to do.  All of this is presented with no evidence that any of it is true, but hey, this is The Atlantic, and President Trump is involved.  Therefore, we have to believe the worst possible thing we can about Trump and just gasp in horror.  The author even goes on at length about how in Russia (surpise!) journalists are routinely threatened and even assaulted, as if opposition to a merger is the same thing.

The funny thing about the article is that the author clearly doesn't understand how antitrust law works.  If CNN were really the target her, the DOJ could have said it would approve the merger so long as CNN were sold to a third party that could rein it in.  AT$&T and Time Warner would have gladly dropped the news network to get approval for their deal.  If the President really wanted to achieve this, he could have gotten CNN sold to an ally of his who could change the entire ethos of the network.  Of course he didn't do that.

Maybe Someone Could Explain This?

Hillary Clinton spoke in Philadelphia yesterday.  She was promoting her book at an event at the Academy of Music (the old concert hall that used to be the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra.)  From reports, it was a rather bizarre event.

First, Hillary spoke about how strange it is that Fox News supposedly rails against her all the time even though the election was over a year ago.  It was typical Clinton.  Here she is giving a public speech but condemning Fox for supposedly still covering her.  The reality is that what she really meant is that Fox was giving her negative coverage, which she does not like.  Also, it is worth noting that the coverage on Fox regarding Hillary is mostly about the newly uncovered evidence regarding the Uranium One sale in 2010 and the hundred million dollars plus that the Clinton Foundation and the Clintons themselves got from the Russian interests and associates just as Hillary was making a decision on the Russian purchase of a big chunk of America's uranium production mines.

Second and even more bizarre, Hillary spoke about how it was karma that Matt Lauer got fired.  The woman who led the effort to discredit and destroy all of the women who claimed to have been molested or harassed by Bill Clinton is now talking about how karma finally got Lauer.  Huh?  Then, however, Hillary made clear that when she spoke of karma she was talking about the back to back interviews that Lauer did of her and President Trump during the campaign.  Lauer was denounced in the media as too harsh on Clinton because he actually asked her about all the things swirling around in the campaign like her email server, the rigging of the primaries against Bernie Sanders, and her lack of achievements.  How dare he? 

I shouldn't write about Clinton, but sometimes I can't help myself.  I want her to go away and stop talking to the public.  She won't.  If she keeps talking, however, then she ought to get honest coverage.  She is corrupt, dishonest, and really does not understand America. 

The "Temporay" Media Dishonesty

The GOP tax bill passed in the Senate last night on a close vote.  Not a single Democrat voted in favor of the bill.  One of the big talking points that the Democrats are using to blast the bill now is that the tax cuts for individuals are only "temporary" while those for corporations are permanent.  The mainstream media is parroting that point as well.  So far this morning, I heard CBS news and the AP mention the temporary nature of the individual cuts.  It's a completely bogus point, however, and the media is not even being honest about it.

Let's start with what "temporary" means.  Because of arcane requirements in the Senate rules, there was a limit on what could be done under the method in which the law was passed.  As a result, the changes to the individual rates only last ten years.  TEN YEARS!!!  That makes them "temporary" under the parlance of the Senate rules.  Of course, in 2026, if there haven't been interim tax law changes, it will be up to Congress to decide if it wants to let the rates go back to those in effect in 2017.  Does anyone think that Congress will let rates just pop back up on American individuals at that time?  I doubt it.

The reason that the individual rates are temporary and the corporate rates are permanent is because the goal is encourage investment in the economy by companies.  If those companies can't be sure about future tax rates, it might discourage investment as we got closer to a ten year expiration.  That won't happen now.

But think about how the Democrats are denouncing the temporary tax cuts.  Each of them voted last night to keep taxes right where they are in 2017.  Then they denounce the bill because in 2027 it might let rates go back to the same ones they just voted to keep.  Huh?

And look how the media talks about this point.  Here's an excerpt from the AP article on the passage of the tax bill:

Democrats derided the bill as a GOP gift to its wealthy and business backers at the expense of lower-earning people. They contrasted the bill’s permanent reduction in corporate income tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent to smaller individual tax breaks that would end in 2026.

Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has said the bill’s reductions for many families would be modest and said by 2027, families earning under $75,000 would on average face higher, not lower, taxes.

Do you see what the media did?  It tells us that in 2027, AFTER THE TEMPORARY TAX CUTS EXPIRE, the average family would pay more in taxes.  Of course, at that point, that average family would be paying taxes under the CURRENT system.  The media/Democrats are denouncing the GOP bill because people might be forced to pay taxes under the current system that they all just voted to keep.

This may sound complicated, but it's really not.  It's just incredibly dishonest and dumb.

The truth is that the tax cut bill passed by the Senate should energize the economy, promote economic growth, help create millions of new jobs, get many poor people out of poverty and generally help the entire nation.  Will some people be losers under the plan?  Certainly.  You can't take away deductions without hurting those who make extensive use of them, but you can instead look at what is good for the country as a whole.  I'm glad the Senate was able to get past the partisan nonsense and do what is right.