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Sunday, December 31, 2017

A District Worth Noting

The first congressional district of Pennsylvania is unremarkable in the main, but it illustrates perfectly the flaw in the non-stop charges of the left about gerrymandering.  If you watch MSNBC, you are told often that the reason Republicans hold the majority of the House of Representatives is that the districts are rigged so that Republicans will win.  Actually, the truth is that Democrats rigged the districts in the Voting Rights Act to guarantee certain seats would be Democrat, and that lumped all the Democrats together and hurt that party.

But let's get back to the 1st district of PA.  A map of the district shows that it winds along the shore of the Delaware River through Philadelphia and then continues down to Chester. 

Pennsylvania US Congressional District 1 (since 2013).tif

Under the Voting Rights Act, the Pennsylvania Legislature is required to draw the district so that a majority of its residents are minorities.  The 1st district complies.  It is about 37% white and 63% minority.  No Republican has won the district since before the Voting Rights Act was passed over 50 years ago. 

With all those Democrats crammed into one district, it is not surprising that there are a great many Republicans pushed into other districts.  The end result is that nearby districts are more Republican while the 1st district is overwhelmingly Democrat.  But here's the key point:  were the 1st district drawn otherwise, it would constitute a violation of federal law.

Iran on Fire?

Two days ago, I wrote about the beginning of street protests across Iran.  I hoped at the time that President Trump and his administration would not ignore those protests as president Obama and his people did in 2009.  Thankfully, the President has announced American support for the protesters' right to be heard.  This has been followed by statements by the State Department and other foreign policy offices of the USA (like the UN Ambassador) calling for the protesters to be allowed to state their positions without a crackdown on them.  It is a very low key way to make America's position clear.

The response of the theocratic thugs who rule Iran is also coming into focus.  They shut down cell phones and internet access across Iran to disrupt the ability of the protesters to get their story told.  They organized counter-protests to confront the street protests.  There has been some violence.  As far as we know at the moment, two people are dead and many more have been injured.  Meanwhile, there is also a story in the news that Sunni rebels have blown up an Iranian pipeline in the northwest portion of the country.

We cannot yet tell if the protests across Iran will die off or if they will escalate.  At the moment, there seem to be protests in more and more places across Iran.  The real key will be whether or not any of the Iranian military joins the protests.  If a sizable portion of the Iranian army were to join the protesters, the mullahs may lose control.  On the other hand, if the army sticks with the mullahs, they will be able to crush the protesters.

America should take whatever actions it can (in a low key way) to promote the cause of the protesters.  The demise of the Iranian theocratic regime would get rid of the world's most important state sponsor of terrorism.  It would enable some measure of peace to come to Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.  It could make the world a much safer place.  It would even help the USA in its push to keep North Korea from getting functional nuclear ICBMs.  The stakes are high.  Let's pray for a good outcome.

Wither ISIS?

Yesterday,  an acquaintance asked me a question that we could discuss when we next spoke.  He noted that I had written about the decimation of Isis and wanted to know how,  if at all,  Isis’s recent horrific attack in Afghanistan changed my view.  Instead of waiting to speak to him,  I decided to answer his question here,  since others may have had similar thoughts.
Simply put, ISIS is on the path to total destruction.  It won't disappear, but it will fade away slowly.  We will, however, be faced with occasional attacks by the loony thugs and their fellow travelers.  Here's why:
1.  ISIS has lost the so-called Caliphate.  The terrorists now control about 1% of the land that they held at the greatest extent of their conquests in Iraq and Syria.  From roughly 50,000 fighters, there are now about 1000 in those two countries.  Over 70,000 ISIS fighters have died.  That's 70,000 terrorists who won't be going elsewhere to carry out attacks.  It won't be long before all areas of ISIS control in Syria disappear just as they have in Iraq. 
2.  ISIS has been losing in a big way in 2017.  They were losing in 2016 as well, but they were still a formidable fighting force at that time.  It was only after the change in battle tactics and control measures put in place by President Trump that the ISIS collapse really got moving.  In recent months, we have seen the first mass surrenders by ISIS fighters.  If these supposed true believers are now deciding that they will stay alive and surrender rather than fight to the death to secure their place in paradise, then the ISIS religious ideology is also collapsing.
3.  Because of the major losses that ISIS has suffered, its popularity has waned among potential recruits.  As a result, the number of new ISIS fighters coming to join the effort in Iraq and Syria has gone from a torrent to a trickle to a completely dry riverbed.  Without new ISIS recruits, the whole effort by ISIS ends.  People seeing a victorious group may want to join that group, but very few people sit in their homes thinking how much they would like to go join a clearly losing cause where they will likely be killed for their efforts.
4.  The bombing in Afghanistan and other attacks around the world are signs that ISIS is not yet dead.  They do not indicate a change in the direction of ISIS' fortunes, however.  Attacks like this will continue until all the ISIS fighters get disillusioned or are killed.  The war, however, is nearing its conclusion.  Think of it this way.  In April of 1865, the Confederacy was a defeated remnant of the country that it had been in 1861 to 1863 when it fought the Union to a standstill on many front and even invaded the North on two occasions.  The Confederate armies had been smashed and most Confederate territory was in Union hands.  Nevertheless, the defeated group still mounted a dramatic attack on President Lincoln that resulted in his death.  It didn't change the outcome or direction of the war at all because the Union fought on with resolve to hit the south wherever it could.  So long as the USA and our coalition allies continue to fight against ISIS wherever it appears, there will come the inevitable end.  And, indeed, that is just what we are doing.  As ISIS appears in Libya, we take action there.  As ISIS appears in Somalia or Yemen or Afghanistan, we must take action there too.  No one, not even a crazed religious fanatic wants to follow a course that leads to inevitable defeat and death.  As long as we keep making clear that defeat and death is the direction in which ISIS is heading, people will continue to avoid participation and those already in the group will try to find ways to get out.

Here We Go With More Garbage

Politico is out with an article discussing the ten governor's races for 2018 most likely to change parties.  It's silly.  That's not to say that some governorships won't flip.  Some almost certainly will.  Right here in Connecticut, the bad taste left by our current governor Dan Malloy has actually made it possible that a Republican could win in this very blue state.  Similarly, Republicans like Rauner in ultra-blue Illinois could fall to a Democrat in November.  Still that doesn't make the Politico article meaningful.

Here's an example of what I am discussing.  According to Politico, Larry Hogan, governor of Maryland, is in this group of ten who are in trouble.  In the latest polling, Hogan has 61% job approval from Maryland voters.  In head to head match ups with potential Democrat opponents, Hogan has double digit leads against all but one, where he still leads by 8%.  As a Republican in Democrat Maryland, Hogan has to win Democrat votes, but he does so in the polling.  While it is not inconceivable that Hogan could lose, the same is true of every incumbent running across the nation.

I don't know why Politico wastes our time with articles like these.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Are Some In the FBI Trying To Cover For McCabe and Strzok?

The New York Times is out today with a lengthy story about how the Trump-Russia investigation began.  According to the Times, it was the result of a tip from Australian intelligence to US intelligence agencies about a drunken comment made by George Papadopoulos to and Australian diplomat in London.  The story raises more questions than it answers including many about the accuracy of the report.  Nevertheless, it offers a new reason for the genesis of the Trump-Russia investigation other than the totally discredited Trump dossier ginned up at the expense of Hillary Clinton and the DNC.  It also tries to take FBI agent Peter Strzok off the hook for using that dossier to get a FISA warrant to surveil some in the Trump campaign.  One must wonder, however, why it is just now, after all this time, that the Times suddenly learns of all this confidential information.

Let's unpack this a bit.

First of all, the Times reports that in a drunken conversation in a London bar, George Papadopoulos told a high ranking Australian diplomat that "he had just learned from high-level Russian officials in Moscow that the Russians had 'dirt' on Mrs. Clinton in the form of 'thousands of emails'.”  This conversation took place a few weeks before anyone even knew that the DNC had been hacked.  Were these the emails taken from the DNC computers?  Were they emails taken from Hillary's private unsecured email server which was very much public knowledge at that point?  Was the entire conversation just Papadopoulos trying to make himself seem important?  The Times never says, although they imply that it must be that the emails were the ones taken from the DNC.

Well, how can we determine which emails were being discussed?  One thing we can do is to look at the communications between Papadopoulos and the Trump campaign.  The Times says that those communications were had by email since Papadopoulos was in London most of the time.  The Times says, however, that the emails have been reviewed and they say essentially nothing that could indicate the Papadopoulos passed this knowledge of emails on to the Trump campaign.  How can that be?  Papadopoulos was a young man who was trying very hard to create some position for himself.  Is it conceivable that a high-level Russian source told him (of all people) that the Russians had all these DNC emails and that Papadopoulos would not immediately tell the Trump campaign in the loudest possible way?  Nope.  Papadopoulos would want to claim credit for bringing this news to the campaign, and that can't be done if no one in the campaign knows about the story.

That leaves the two possibilities mentioned above:  first, Papadopoulos may just have been making the whole story up to try to look important for the Australian diplomat.  It surely seems like the sort of thing that Papadopoulos would do.  Second, it is also possible that Papadopoulos was actually told by a Russian that the Putin government had Hillary's missing 30,000 emails.  I doubt this too, since Papadopoulos made no attempt to alert the Trump campaign to this news.

There's also one further possibility:  none of what the Times reports is true.  It is just Fake News.  It would be easy for an FBI source (like McCabe) to leak this story in an effort to throw the hounds off his own trail.  By blaming Australia which will and has already refused to comment, McCabe can claim to be innocent of basing the entire bogus investigation on the Trump dossier.

There are some indicators which point to McCabe as the source of this story.  First, the Times tells us that once the investigation of the Trump campaign- Russia story began, it was so secret that the FBI leadership did not even discuss it at the daily classified briefings.  According to the Times, the FBI

opened an investigation that became one of its most closely guarded secrets. Senior agents did not discuss it at the daily morning briefing, a classified setting where officials normally speak freely about highly sensitive operations.

Think about that.  If senior agents did not know about the investigation, who did know?  That would be just the senior leadership of the FBI, namely director Comey and assistant director McCabe.  They would be the only ones who could tell the Times that information of this sort was kept from other senior agents; after all, they were the only ones who knew.

The Times never tells us its source for this story, but McCabe seems to be the clear choice here.

So we have one final conundrum to face when it comes to this new story from the Times.  Why is it that this was all kept secret for more than a year as every other conceivable fact leaked out of the FBI.  Are we really to believe that the genesis of the Trump-Russia investigation was totally different from that reported by the media for about 10,000 times and that nothing of the truth leaked out?  I don't think so.  After all, why didn't the Papadopoulos story get included in the indictment of Mr. Papadopoulos?  Normally, a story this important would have made its way into the indictment, but it didn't.

And there's also the missing link:  why didn't Papadopoulos tell the Trump campaign if he had gotten such explosive news from a "high Russian source"? 

My conclusion from all of this is that we are dealing here with Fake News.  I don't know that the Times made it up, but the story is so unlikely that I assume someone fed Fake News to the Times who has now chosen to run with it so as to try to rescue the Mueller investigation.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Is the Unrest in Iran Real?

There have been protests against the ruling regime in Iran all across that nation for the last few days.  Because of the difficulty in getting news from inside Iran, we don't know the full extent of what is going on there.  In many ways, this may be the newer version of the 2009 street massive street demonstrations that then president Obama ignored.  The mullahs eventually cracked down on the demonstrators and crushed the opposition.  If these protests are real, however, they give President Trump a chance to remedy Obama's mistake.

Just imagine if there were a true uprising in Iran that overthrew the theocratic regime.  Imagine a new Iranian government that gives up regional hegemony as a goal.  Imagine a new regime that stops development of missiles and nuclear weapons.  Imagine a regime that invests in peace rather than war.  Imagine a regime that considers the USA to be a friend rather than an enemy (or at least not an enemy any longer.)  Such a development would change the status in the Middle East and the world for years to come.

It may be time for the USA to announce support for the crowds in the street.  There may be other actions that can be taken with a lower profile that would allow us to support the protesters without leading to a military crackdown in Iran.  I don't know what the right course is to follow.  I do know that we cannot just ignore the protests if they are real.

The Latest In Dossier News

I have no independent proof, but I saw online that Judicial Watch is saying that Peter Strzok was the one who used the discredited Trump Dossier created at the behest of the DNC and the Clinton campaign to obtain a FISA warrant in order to let the FBI spy on certain people in the Trump campaign.  If this is true, it ought to be the end of the Mueller investigation.

Let's unpack this mess.
1.  The Trump Dossier is a compilation of phony stories and false evidence which levels all sorts of outrageous charges at Donald Trump.
2.  Although they denied any connection to the Trump Dossier for over a year, the Democrat National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign actually paid over 13 million dollars to a company called Fusion GPS to put the dossier together.
3.  Fusion GPS is a PR firm that specializes in smearing opponents.  It hired former British spy Christopher Steele to get stories for the Trump Dossier.
4.  Steele was giving the FBI the sections of the Dossier as they were created.  Long before the 2016 election, the FBI had the entire Trump Dossier.
5.  During 2015 and 2016, the FBI supposedly was investigating Hillary Clinton for violation of the Espionage Act when she put classified information on her private unsecured email server.  The Hillary investigation was directed mainly by Andrew McCabe (the assistant director of FBI) with the assistance of FBI agent Peter Strzok.
6.  Both McCabe and Strzok had clear bias in favor of Hillary and against Trump.  McCabe's wife ran for the state senate in Virginia and got nearly three quarters of a million dollars in campaign contributions from Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe.  Despite the clear appearance of impropriety, McCabe never recused himself from the Clinton investigation.  Strzok was busy text messaging and emailing his mistress about all that he wanted to do to help Hillary against Trump.  He even said that he needed to have an insurance policy to get Trump in the unlikely event Trump won.  Strzok discussed his views with McCabe, but he was kept on the case.
7.  In the late summer or early fall of 2016, the FBI obtained a warrant from the FISA court to authorize surveillance of some members of the Trump campaign.  The conversations obtained from the resulting surveillance were leaked to the media and generally used against Trump and his campaign.
8.  Once the Mueller investigation started, Mueller began using Strzok as a principal member of the team.
If this latest story is correct and it was biased Peter Strzok who used the Trump Dossier to get that FISA warrant approved, then the corruption at the FBI runs so deep that the Mueller inquiry is finished.  It was always wrong for the FBI to use the discredited Trump Dossier as the basis for a warrant.  It is unforgiveable for a hopelessly biased guy like Strzok to use phony documents to fool a court into issuing a subpoena in this case.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

It Must Be Global Warming

The nation is caught in a severe cold snap.  Right now, it's eleven degrees outside, and that's mild compared to many other places.  The forecast says we won't see temperatures above freezing for another week.  I figure I ought to follow the usual media route and blame this on climate change.  We must be seeing global cooling, right? 

For years, no matter what happens in the weather, the media blamed global warming or climate change.  First they told us the sea levels would rise due to a melting polar ice cap.  That was because of global warming.  Then, measurements showed that the ice in Antarctica was increasing at a rapid rate.  The media said it was due to climate change too.  Next, they told us that there would be more severe weather and that it would be stronger, again due to climate change.  Then we went a record dozen years without a strong storm hitting the USA; the media said it was due to climate change.  The new storyline was that climate change actually reduces the number and severity of storms.  Then in 2016 we got a series of very severe storms that hit the USA.  The media flipped the story back to the original one and we were told it was all due to climate change which causes more and stronger storms.  So both stronger and weaker storm patterns are due to climate change according to the media.  Indeed, no matter what happens, it seems to be due to climate change.  Hey, the Shiites and Sunnis in Syria are killing each other in a civil war and the media even blamed that on climate change.

As a result, I have decided that the current cold snap must be due to global cooling.  The media told us that cooling was imminent in the 1970s.  It was probably "settled science" back then. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Is This True? If So, Watch Out

I just saw an article that reports that blood tests done on a North Korean soldier who defected to the South showed that he had immunity to anthrax.  That's rather unusual.  Anthrax is not a disease to which many people have built up antibodies.  The presence of these antibodies would indicate that the soldier had been given some sort of vaccine against anthrax.  It would also indicate that the NK's were planning on using anthrax as a biological weapon.

Let's take a moment right now to consider a North Korean biological attack on Seoul.  Anthrax spores would be spread around the Seoul metro area.  Basically, almost anyone who breathed in these spores would dies in a matter of hours.  Just by spreading the disease in the air, the NK's could kill millions of people in a day.  That's pretty creepy.

The problem is that there is no effective vaccine against anthrax that could be given to the widespread population across the south.  Also, the NKs could easily attack Japan with the anthrax.  Similarly, it would not be that difficult to spread the spores in an American city or two.

These are truly bad people.

ISIS Should Change Its Name to WASWAS

ISIS is disappearing.  According to intelligence estimates, ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria which used to number just under 50,000 soldiers, are now around 1000 fighters in total.  Coalition forces have killed something like 70,000 ISIS fighters in the last two years while only a few thousand escaped Iraq and Syria and went home.  Roughly 98% of the land previously controlled by ISIS has been liberated.  In other words, ISIS is moving into the past tense.  ISIS should be renamed WASWAS.

It's key to remember that the majority of all this destruction of ISIS has happened in the eleven months since President Trump took office.  The president got the White House out of the tactical military decisions.  While under Obama, the White House had to approve essentially every military move, that changed under President Trump.  There is much greater flexibility for the troops in the field today than there ever was under Obama.

The mainstream media has basically ignored this victory over ISIS.  The slow movements against ISIS under Obama accelerated to major victories for the US and its allies under Trump.  As a result, the media can't report the success or it will reveal that the Obama policy was a failure that Trump corrected.

It's Not a Steel Magnolia

There's a spate of news stories in the last day reporting about how Melania Trump has ordered that a 200 year old magnolia tree at the White House be cut down.  The tree was planted in honor of the wife of president Andrew Jackson.  Most of the stories focus on the age of the tree and that it was Melania's decision to axe it.

But what has the media left out?

First, the media has not told people that this tree is dying.  It is decaying and weakened.  The White House arborist is of the view that any strong storm will fell the tree and place both the White House and other trees in danger.  The First Lady just approved a move that the groundskeepers recommended.

Second, the media has also been silent about the fact that this tree has been declining for years.  In fact, the gardeners have taken cutting from the tree and grown them into small tree so as to have one to replace the dying tree.  One of those saplings is already ten years old.  The program to replace the tree started during the Bush presidency.  It's hardly a sudden decision by Melania Trump.

So, the media portrays this as an attack by Melania on a tree when it's actually the inevitable result of the aging of the tree which has nothing to do with the First Lady.

But there's another question here too.  If this were a statue of Andrew Jackson, there's no doubt that many Democrats and journalists would want it removed because Jackson (and his wife) owned slaves.  Wouldn't you think that these same people would cheer for the removal of a tree planted to honor Mrs. Jackson?  Apparently, removal of a tribute to the Jacksons is a good idea for these fools unless the order to do the removal comes from Mrs. Trump.


How Do They Say These Things With A Straight Face?

Have you ever heard of Ryan Cooper?  I doubt it.  Cooper is the "national correspondent" for the liberal site, The Week.  He just wrote a report under a headline which explains how to "crush" Trump.  Cooper's thesis is that Democrats should win control of the government by winning upcoming elections.  This guy is deep (not).  The article is just an angry screed filled with nonsense rather than reality, but I want to focus on a few sentences about how the Dems need to win elections that Cooper emphasizes.  Here they are:

This will mean, of course, overcoming Republican cheating. The GOP has rigged the House to give themselves a roughly 5- to 8-point handicap, and attempted to systematically disenfranchise liberals with voter ID requirements and other deliberately burdensome measures.

These sentences are not just wrong; they are lies.  In fact, they are blatant and outrageous lies.  Let's start with the supposed rigging of the House elections to give Republicans an advantage.  Without a doubt, there is an advantage for Republicans in House elections.  That advantage was given to them by Democrats, however; it was not the result of rigging by the GOP.  The advantage comes from the Voting Rights Act.  That law requires state legislatures to create "minority-majority" districts where possible.  In other words, if there are concentrations of minority voters like blacks or Hispanics, the federal Voting Rights Act requires state legislatures to push all these minority voters into one district so that there will be districts where minorities make up a majority of voters.  This was set up as a supposed civil rights law, but the main purpose was so that Democrats could have safe seats in these minority districts.  Right now about ten percent of Congress consists of minority-majority seats and every one of these seats is represented in the House by a Democrat.  The problem for Democrats, however, is that once they pushed all these minority voters into these districts, they left the other districts with more whites than otherwise would be the case.  For example, instead of five districts which each have 20% minorities there are four districts with 2% minorities and one district with 90% minority voters.  The Democrats pushed all their minority voters into that one district and left themselves with much more Republican districts for the remainder.  Since white voters are now strongly Republican, the Democrats have to win in districts that are stacked against them.  Remember, the Voting Rights Act was passed by an overwhelmingly Democrat Congress and signed by a Democrat president.  If this is cheating, it is Democrat cheating that blew up in their faces.

Second, it's amazing to claim that the GOP is "systematically" working to "disenfranchise" liberals with voter ID requirements.  Is there some reason why it is harder for liberals to get driver's licenses than conservatives?  Are there now political preference questions on the written driver's exam in any state?  Of course not.  Since every state with voter ID also provides free ID cards for those who do not drive, it is extremely easy for anyone -- even a liberal -- to get the necessary ID.  If that were not the case, the liberals could always go to the Justice Department and complain.  Oh wait.  The liberals couldn't go to Justice because the federal government has required a picture ID in order to get into the buildings around the country housing the Justice Department since 9-11.  Well, if that doesn't work, the liberals could fly to DC to complain to their congressman.  Oh wait.  The liberals couldn't get on a plane because that is impossible absent a picture ID.  In other words, normal day-to-day living in the USA requires people to have picture IDs.  That is all the voter ID laws require.  This is an excuse why Democrats lose.  It is not reality.

It doesn't matter to the Democrats that these are lies.  "Reporters" like this moron at The Week will continue to state them as facts.  It's just sad.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Two Important Updates

It's time for a few odds and ends.

Yesterday, I wrote that Guatemala has moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and that two other countries were about to follow suit.  This was a reality based reaction to the move by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  It was also a slap in the face for the so called "experts" who told us that Trump's move would be a certain disaster.  The wide spread violence these 'experts" predicted did not materialize.

Today, the NY Post is reporting that another 8 countries are talking to the Israelis about moving their embassies.  That would bring the total to 11.  Most likely, there are move to follow.

It shows that the conventional and accepted wisdom about the Middle East from the Obama days is not correct.

A second story that deserves an update deals with the corporate reaction to the enactment of the tax cut legislation.  When the bill passed, AT&T announced that it was giving $1000 bonuses to 200,000 workers.  Other large corporations did the same.  The Democrats and the media were furious.  How dare these big corporations share their gains with their workers?  Aren't they aware that as corporations they are supposed to be greedy and uncaring about anything like workers or society.  One Clinton-related personage even started a call for the boycott of AT&T for this "outrage".  Of course, the boycott call quickly petered out amid huge amounts of laughter that it generated.  Nevertheless, Democrats like Nancy Pelosi still denounced the granting of these bonuses.  One has to wonder what an average American thought when he or she heard that Pelosi and the Democrats were so strongly upset by companies giving bonuses to their workers.

It's worth noting that the move with the bonuses has continued.  As of today, something in the area of 1.6 million workers will be getting bonuses that average about 1000 dollars each.  That may not be much for multi-millionaires like Pelosi, but for the average American it is very significant.  There has also been a wave of announcements about new investments in the USA since the bill passed.  Of course, the media is downplaying these announcements, but word of the bonuses has gotten out.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Reality Starts To Slip In

Guatemala announced that it is moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  It is also expected that later this week both Paraguay and Honduras will do likewise.  That will make three nations who are following the USA in recognizing the reality that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.  And, despite the way the media covers the story, don't forget that last spring Russia also recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital although it did not move its embassy.  My prediction is that within two years, the majority of non-Muslim nations will have their embassies in Jerusalem.

I write about this now because of the way the media and the left reacted to President Trump's move on this point.  They treated the recognition of reality as some sort of massive disaster that would engulf the region in flames.  There was actually very little reaction.  Oh, the Palestinians announced three days of rage, but that's an everyday situation in the Middle East.  The truth is that what really happened is that the Palestinians and their allies now understand that they cannot dictate to the USA what our foreign policy ought to be.  Negotiations -- if they ever get started again -- will have to be based upon reality, not fantasy.  That's a very good thing.

Let's Analyze This

Suppose you were a US senator with a 24% approval rating in your home state, a rating so low that you have already announced that you will not run for re-election.  Then suppose that you appear on a cable news network and get asked if you will run for president in 2020.  What is your answer?

If you're Arizona senator Jeff Flake, you tell the interviewer that you haven't "ruled that out".  Seriously, that was Flake's reply.  Here's a senator who has been rejected by the voters of his own state (according to every poll).  That means that the people who really know Flake have decided that they don't like what they see.  In fact, prior to Flake's announcement that he would not run again, a majority of voters in his own Republican party in Arizona said that Flake did not deserve to be re-elected.  Nevertheless, this guy is so full of himself that he's pondering a run for president.

Maybe we should clue Flake in about that run for president in 2020.  Don't waste your time or ours.  If you want to be the Lindsay Graham of the 2020 cycle, it's up to you.  One would think, however, that getting forced from the senate would be embarrassment enough for a lifetime.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Modifying the Lies -- The Media Moves On

The AP released a story today about how Trump voters have reacted to the passage of the new tax law with shrugs and no enthusiasm.  It's a modification of the earlier lies that the media used to fight against passage of the tax bill.

A good example of this is the section in which the AP reporter asked Trump voters for their reaction to a bill which gives them just a small benefit while giving major benefits to the rich.  That's a dishonest question.  The new law gives about a quarter of its total benefits to middle income taxpayers.  Only business got a bigger portion of the benefits.  The wealthy individuals got less than either.  Looking at it another way, the top 10% of taxpayers currently pay about 72% of the income taxes in the USA.  The other 90% pay 28% of the income taxes.  That means that the middle income and poor are getting a much bigger share of the tax cuts than the rich.

Beyond the question being dishonest, however, the lies being used by the media are changing.  Prior to the passage of the bill, the media and the Democrats told America that the new law would raise taxes on the middle class to give benefits to the rich.  That was a total lie; the middle class gets major cuts not tax increases.  Now that the law has passed, however, the media/Democrat group changed the lie to the middle class getting only a small amount of cuts compared to the rich.  This group of consistent liars realized that come February, most Americans would see that they had gotten a major tax cut.  The media/Dems had to change the lie or risk being exposed for the liars they are.

The truth has not changed.  The tax law will cut taxes for 80% of Americans and leave 14% with no changes.  Only 6% of Americans, nearly all of whom are wealthy, will see increases.  The tax law will promote quicker economic growth; it will create jobs; it will mean higher wages; it will even increase government tax revenues as the economy gets bigger.  No lies, no matter how cleverly crafted can change these facts.  Americans should remember that the Democrats voted unanimously to keep them from getting a tax cut.  Americans should remember that Democrats voted unanimously for slower economic growth.  Americans should remember that Democrats voted unanimously for the creation of fewer jobs.  That's the truth.

Did You Hear? I Doubt It

President Trump just approved the sale to Ukraine of a large amount of defensive weapons.  The Ukrainian army will use these weapons to fight against the Russians in the eastern part of Ukraine.  The Russians are sometimes called "Russian separatists" as if they were just Ukrainian citizens who want to have the country rejoin Russia like it was in the days of the Soviet Union.  Actually, however, the so called "separatists" consist of Russian troops in special uniforms that don't identify them as Russian.  It's an invasion of Ukraine by Russia that began during the Obama years and which got no response from Obama at all.

The weapons to be sold include anti-tank missiles.  The supposed separatists actually have tanks even though the Ukrainian army doesn't.  If you ever wanted proof that the separatists are actually Russian soldiers, these tanks are it.  Just think how many citizen uprisings come armed with tanks.  TANKS!!  In any event, the missiles will allow Ukrainian army forces to defend themselves against the tanks and even destroy most of the tanks.  It is a sale that will make the Russians furious.  The weapons will take away one of their main advantages over the Ukrainians.

So have you heard much about this sale?  I doubt it.  It has been covered just slightly by the mainstream media.  Nevertheless, it is an extremely important move by President Trump.

So why is the media so quiet about this?  Here's the reason:  for the last year, the media and the Democrats have told us that President Trump is a puppet of Vladimir Putin.  The story line (or, more precisely story lie) is that Trump sold out the USA to Putin so that he could gain election to the White House with Putin's help.  What Trump just did in regard to the weapons sales to Ukraine is about the biggest slap in the face possible to the Russians and their aggression in Ukraine.  No "puppet" would ever make such a move.  Publicizing what the President just did undercuts the entire Trump-Russia phony narrative that the media has been pushing for a year.  No wonder they don't want you to know.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Baker Goes Too

I wrote earlier today about the early retirement of Andrew McCabe, the number 2 guy in the FBI, who was hopelessly compromised by his pro-Hillary stance in all the investigations etc.  Now we learn that James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI, is being reassigned.  Baker has been under investigation as the source who leaked the Trump dossier to the media last year.  He was replaced by FBI director Wray within an hour or so after McCabe finished testifying before a senate panel.

So we have the FBI Director Comey who wrote the memo absolving Hillary of any wrongdoing a few months before the investigation ended and before over 30 witnesses were interviewed.  We have McCabe who plotted with senior agent Strzok and his mistress for some way to insure against a Trump victory and who also led the Trump-Russia investigation (the insurance policy?) and parts of the Hillary investigation despite his clear bias against Trump.  We have Strzok too who questioned many of the key witnesses despite his blatant partisanship.  And we also have Baker who allegedly leaked the Trump dossier to the media with the seal of approval of the FBI on it, a good way to hurt Donald Trump.  All these people are now bodies on the field of battle, but the phony Trump-Russia collusion investigation they spawned is still going.  Isn't it time for that bogus BS to end?

Poor Baby

FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe is going to retire early next year according to reports in the Washington Post.  The WaPo blames continuing attacks by Republicans for driving McCabe from office.  That's funny.  I thought the reason McCabe was going was the discovery that he and agent Strzok and his mistress were conspiring against candidate Trump during the last election.  We all know the famous text message sent by Strzok to Page (the mistress) that spoke of such conspiracy in "Andy's" (McCabe) office.  If it wasn't that, maybe it was McCabe's wife taking nearly three quarters of a million dollars from a Clinton ally supposedly for a state legislative campaign, something that McCabe somehow didn't seem to reveal.  McCabe was a Clinton partisan who seems never to have looked at anything in an eve, non-underhanded way.  But the WaPo says McCabe's problems are due to the mean Republicans.  Actually, McCabe's problems are due to Republicans discovering just some of the things McCabe did.  My guess is that he is going before the rest get discovered.

Will There Soon Be War In Korea?

The UN Security Council voted additional sanctions on North Korea this week.  At this point, nearly every sanction possible has been put on the NK's.  Russia and China voted for these latest sanctions, so the NK's may not find much support from their traditional allies.  The real question is whether or not the NK's will back down from their current course of missile and nuclear weapons tests. 

This is a hard question to answer since we are dealing with the man President Trump calls "Little Rocket Man".  Kim Jung Un does not appear to act rationally at all times.  He believes that the best way for the survival of his regime to be guaranteed is for it to have deliverable nukes.  Kim believes that the USA would never take him out if he has the capability to destroy Los Angeles or New York in return.  That's probably true, but it's also true that President Trump understands this and does not want to get to that point.  As a result, this increases the pressure for the President to take action very soon to wipe out the NK nuclear and missile capability before any American city can be destroyed in the NK response.

There are now calls for the President to take some military action against the NK's to show Kim that his days will be numbered if he continues down the present course.  One commonly pushed idea is that the USA should destroy the next NK missile on the launch pad before it can be tested.  This would be a major escalation of tension and confrontation.  It would also push Kim to the point where he may feel he has no choice but to fire back in response.  Alternatively, Kim might accept the idea that if he does fire back, his remaining days on earth will be few.  The NKs could start discussing peace.  Stranger things have happened.

My own expectation is that were the USA to take out a missile on the launch pad in North Korea, the Kim government would launch a salvo of artillery towards Seoul within and hour.  Tens of thousands would die and the destruction would be enormous.  Total war in Korea would follow.  I put the odds of that response at between 50 and 60%.  Of course, it's a far better thing to see that happen than to see a nuke dropped on Seoul.  This is one decision, I'm glad I don't have to make.  There are no good choices, only those that are terrible and those that are bad.

Here We Go Again

Late yesterday, Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty, a man who recently returned from the Middle East, open fire on police officers at the Pennsylvania state Capitol building.  He shot at three groups of police before he was shot by the officers.  Fortunately, none of the police were killed.  A possible bomb was discovered on his body which required the bomb squad to handle.

So now the media is reporting that authorities are investigating if this had anything to do with terrorism.  Really?  A Muslim just back from the Middle East opens fire on police in a very public place just at Christmas (which happens to be the current ISIS playbook), but no one can tell if this is terrorism?  I get the caution, but it's ridiculous here.  There ought to be at least an assumption that this is likely terrorism.

Political correctness will just get people killed.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Impact Of The UN Vote

The General Assembly of the UN voted this week to condemn the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The vote was 128 to 9, but many countries either did not show up for the meeting or abstained, so there were 65 countries who did not vote against the USA.  The 2 to 1 margin in favor of the resolution is actually a pretty good showing for the US in a resolution directed towards attacking Israel at the UN.  Still, the USA had to watch countries like the UK, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea vote against us at the UN.  Sure, the resolution is toothless and meaningless, but it is nevertheless a symbolic action by these allies (and many others) that is a slap in the face to the USA.  We need to consider the real impact of the vote.

1.  Voting for fiction over reality is in fashion in world diplomacy.  Think about it.  For each of the countries that have diplomats in Israel, there are certain realities.  If the ambassador has to present his credentials to the president of Israel, the ambassador has to go to the residence on the president in Jerusalem.  If the ambassador wants to meet with the political leaders or foreign ministry personnel, that ambassador has to do so in Jerusalem.  If there is a need to go to court, the appeals are heard in the Supreme Court in -- you guessed it -- Jerusalem.  Nearly the entire structure of the Israeli government is in the capital which is Jerusalem.  The idea that nations refuse to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is the rough equivalent of countries' deciding not to recognize Washington as the capital of the USA.  Suppose France decided to put its embassy in Philadelphia since that was the first capital.  It wouldn't affect the reality that Washington has been our capital for over 200 years.  To put that in context, Jerusalem has been the capital of a Jewish state off and on for the last 3000 years.  No vote in the UN will change that.

2.  The threat by President Trump to cut foreign aid to countries that voted against the US in this vote ought to be carried out.  Just imagine how some of the countries to whom we send millions would feel if they lost 15% due to this vote.  There's an old expression the "money talks".  Maybe it's time for the USA to let our money do the talking.

The Bundy Trial

A federal judge just declared a mistrial in the criminal trial of Cliven Bundy and his sons.  Do you remember Bundy?  He's the rancher who got outsiders to come and stand with him and his family in a confrontation with federal marshals who were trying to gather up Bundy's cattle to pay for disputed grazing fees on federal land.  Bundy's family had grazed cattle on the land for generations, but the federal government ignored that and imposed ruinous grazing fees despite rules that required grandfathering in those who had previously used the land.  There was a nationally televised stand off with armed federal marshals confronting armed ranchers.  No one was hurt, but Bundy, his sons and some of those who helped them were arrested.  It was the criminal trial coming from that standoff that was just declared a mistrial.

The standoff was a move by the Obama administration to impose its will on the ranchers who were portrayed in the media as some sort of loony right wing fanatics.  The Bundy's claimed that their ranch was surrounded by government snipers and that they were under surveillance, charges that the Obama administration laughed at as preposterous.  Well guess what?  The judge declared the mistrial because the government had concealed certain evidence in its possession that had been requested by the defense.  That concealed evidence was records showing that there had been government snipers surrounding the Bundy ranch as well as video surveillance of the ranch 24 hours per day prior to the start of the confrontation.    There was also other evidence that the government failed to turn over.

There has been no final decision on whether or not there can be a re-trial, although it would seem from the misconduct by the government here that Bundy will be off the hook permanently.

It never fails to amaze me how the Obamacrats viewed an ordinary rancher like Bundy as an enemy of the people.  I guess the same people who set the IRS on conservatives saw an individualist like Bundy as just another enemy.  Thank God those people are no longer in power.

Do Lies Matter?

President Trump is most likely going to sign the GOP tax reform legislation this afternoon.  It's a great thing for the USA.  We've talked enough about the tax law and their effect.  The real question now, however, is whether or not the blatant lies told about the tax law will matter.

Since debate about the tax law began, Democrats and their allies in the media have been dishonest (to say the least) about what the tax bill will do.  Democrat leaders like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have told the country that most people will see tax increases rather than cuts.  Pelosi repeatedly said that 83% of Americans will get tax increases while the benefits of the bill will go to the ultra-rich.  These arguments have been parroted by Democrat after Democrat and then repeated by the mainstream media.  The arguments have been so successful that according to recent polling, less than 20% of those polled thought that they would get a tax cut themselves.  The problem, of course, is that what the Democrats and media have said is a lie.  Starting in February, roughly 80% of all Americans will get a tax cut.  About 14% will see no difference in their taxes.  Some 6% of all Americans -- essentially all of whom are wealthy people in California, New York, New Jersey or Connecticut -- will see increases in their taxes.  Think about that.  Eighty percent will get tax cuts but only 17% think that they will.  This will, no doubt, be a big (and a pleasant) surprise for most people.  It won't take long for most people to realize that the Democrats were lying on this point.

Then there's the issue of economic growth.  The Democrats and the media told Americans that giving more money to corporations won't get any benefit to the workers.  The money will all be used for stock buy-backs (or so the Democrats told us).  There won't be additional economic growth or more jobs created.  This too is a lie.  In fact, in just the two days since the bill was passed, large American corporations announced that over a million workers will get special bonuses to come from these companies tax savings.  Obviously, the economic growth will come in the future.  Indeed, it could be next summer before we see a real impact of the tax cuts.  There are no prominent economists, however, who expect no extra growth from the tax cuts.  There is debate as to the size of the benefit, but there is no doubt that over the next few years we will see more growth and more jobs.  But that's contrary to what the Democrats/media said.  Again, people will soon learn that the Democrats were lying.

So I ask again, will these lies by the Democrats and the media matter?  When we get to next November, will voters remember that every single Democrat in Congress voted against giving them a tax cut?  Will voters remember that as a group, Democrats fought against the tax cuts by telling lies?  Will voters believe what the Democrats say in the election?  It's the most important question of the 2018 election.  If voters remember the lies, there is no way that the Democrats can do well.  Lying to keep voters from getting higher take home pay is not something that most voters will appreciate.  Let's hope that memories are good in 2018.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Are They Kidding in Australia?

A few hours ago, a man drove through a red light, sped up and plowed into a crowd waiting on a corner in Australia.  I heard the news about an hour and a half ago.  CBS reported that the Australian authorities saw no connection to terrorism.  I thought it was just another drunk.  Then, about a half hour later, it was reported that the driver hit the crowd intentionally, but the reporter quickly added again that there was no connection to terrorism.  Now, the Australian authorities have described the driver as an "Australian of Afghan descent".  So we have an Afghan who most likely is a Muslim who intentionally drove his car into a crowd on the street corner.  No connection to terrorism is a silly statement.  They could say that they see no obvious connection yet to ISIS or something like that, but no connection to terrorism is nonsense.  Intentionally driving one's car into a crowd is a terrorist act whether or not it is Islamic terrorism.  If the driver happens to be a Muslim, then it's Islamic terrorism.  He could be the proverbial "lone wolf" or a thug trained by ISIS.  It doesn't matter.  This is terrorism until some proof comes forward to show that it is not. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It's An Amazing Turn Of Events - But It's Still The Same

The tax bill has passed, and the Democrats are still telling America that it will only help the rich.  Then today, within an hour or so of the passage of the bill, four large companies including names like AT&T and Comcast announced that they would be giving their employee bonuses or raising wages due to the passage of the tax bill.  Something like 860,000 employees are getting bonuses that average in the area of $1000 each.  There was also announced more than a billion dollars of new business investment in just the first hour after the bill passed.  So we have nearly a million workers getting nearly a billion dollars in bonuses.  And what was the media/Democrat response?

The basic response has been to call these bonuses an "empty" gesture.  Think about that.  How would you feel if your employer gave you a one thousand dollar bonus tomorrow?  Is it an "empty" gesture?  I don't think so.  For most people, if they got $1000 bonus and then heard one of the Democrats call it an empty gesture, they would just write off that person as a total fool.

Another big event today in the annals of craziness is the lawsuit brought by Democrats in Texas to keep congressman Blake Farenthold on the ballot as a Republican candidate for Congress.  Farenthold got caught up in the sexual misconduct scandals because he settled a claim against his office with that slush fund that the House set up.  Farenthold's response to the mess was to announce that he would not seek re-election in 2018.  He had already filed papers to appear on the ballot in the 2018 Texas primary, however.  Now he wants to be off the ballot.  Since it's many months until the primary and almost a year until the election, one would think that this would present no problem.  That would be wrong.  The Democrats have gone to court to insist that Farenthold has to stay on the ballot for the primary.  They're trying to use the court to guarantee the maximum confusion in the Republican primary.  To say the least, this is an idiotic move.  It is just a blatant attempt to gain politically even though there is no other purpose for the move.

Both of these are amazing stories to me.  I guess I shouldn't be so surprised, though.  It's just more of the same.

More Proof of FBI Collusion in the Trump Dossier

Deputy director Andrew McCabe of the FBI testified in closed session to a House committee yesterday.  Apparently, the testimony did not go well from McCabe's standpoint.  Basically, what McCabe said pointed towards FBI collusion with the DNC and the Clinton campaign in arranging for the production and use of the so called Trump dossier.  That's a compendium of false information compiled for the DNC and the Clinton campaign so that the FBI could then use it to get a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump Campaign.

Here's the key portion of the report from James Rosen of Fox News:

Investigators say McCabe recounted to the panel how hard the FBI had worked to verify the contents of the anti-Trump “dossier” and stood by its credibility. But when pressed to identify what in the salacious document the bureau had actually corroborated, the sources said, McCabe cited only the fact that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had traveled to Moscow. Beyond that, investigators said, McCabe could not even say that the bureau had verified the dossier’s allegations about the specific meetings Page supposedly held in Moscow.
The sources said that when asked when he learned that the dossier had been funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, McCabe claimed he could not recall – despite the reported existence of documents with McCabe’s own signature on them establishing his knowledge of the dossier’s financing and provenance.

Take a step back and realize how bad this all is.  McCabe says that the FBI worked extremely hard to verify the contents of the Trump dossier, but could only verify that Carter Page had traveled to Moscow.  That's hardly the basis to suspect collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  With that alone, no court, not even the FISA court, would have granted a warrant to the FBI.  So what did the FBI do?  It allegedly used the entire Trump dossier to back up a request for a FISA warrant.  That means the FBI used unverified info which was obviously false to get permission from a court to spy on Americans.  No wonder McCabe is now denying knowledge that Hillary and the DNC paid to have the dossier produced.  This is really bad stuff.

The Next Lie From The Left

The tax bill has passed (or will this morning).  Pretty soon, most Americans will realize that they are getting a tax cut despite all the lies from the Democrats and the media that the bill would raise taxes on the middle class and poor to benefit the rich (it doesn't).  By next spring, that extra cash in consumers' pockets and the lower corporate rate should ignite a period of higher economic growth, more job creation and higher real wages.  For the Democrats and the media, that's a problem.  There are elections in November 2018, you see, and Americans might be happy with the prosperity that they haven't really seen since before Obama took office.  That could spell success for the Republicans, and they can't have that.  So, Democrats and media are shifting to two new lies.  First, they are saying that today's good economic numbers and any future higher growth are the result of Obama's policies.  Second, they are saying that the tax cuts will cause a recession.  These are total lies, but just think how the debate will work.  Republicans will talk about the prosperity the tax cuts achieved.  Democrats will say that the prosperity is due to Obama's policies and the GOP tax cut will end that prosperity.  The media will tell us that "experts" all agree with the Democrats.  Remember, the lies from the Democrats and the media convinced a majority of Americans that the tax cuts would mean a tax increase for them so that the rich can get a break.  Maybe the lies of the Democrats will succeed in fooling America again.

An article this morning is a good illustration of this phenomenon.  Writing in The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner talks about "The Tax Cut and the Fake Trump Boom".  It's an amazing amalgam of falsehoods.  Here's a good example:

 For starters, the boom was already roaring along in 2015 and 2016, before Trump took office, as the post-recession recovery finally kicked in. The year 2015 showed the strongest GDP growth in more than a decade, and 2016 was not far behind.

Let that sink in.  Here are the actual facts: 

1. During the eight years of Obama, the US economy never once grew by 3.0% or more.  That means that Obama was the first modern president who failed to meet that minimum growth rate which is below the average for the last 100 years.

2.  In 2015, when Kuttner says the economy was "roaring along", the first half of the year only had a growth rate of about 2.6% while the second half of the year grew at the paltry rate of about 0.7%.  That's a lot closer to dying than roaring along.  2016 also saw a growth rate of less than 2%.  These are puny numbers.  It is growth too small to create enough jobs so that the long term unemployed could get jobs.

After starting with lies, Kuttner goes on to say that the tax cuts for corporations will lead to a collapse of the stock market before November of 2018.  Think about that one.  Higher after tax profits for companies will lead to lower stock prices according to Kuttner.  No one knows exactly what drives the stock market each day even though thousands of people report about it as if they do know.  One thing that has always been true, however, is that in general if a company's profits go up, so does the price of its stock.  Kuttner's "analysis" is just wrong, and he probably knows it.

It's important to remember how many times the Democrats and the media have told us that the tax cut bill will raise the taxes of the middle class and poor.  The left ought not be allowed to lie and lie and then just move on to a different lie without consequences.  American should remember this.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Iranian Missile Almost Destroyed The Saudi Royal Palace

An Iranian missile fired from Yemen was on a course to hit the Saudi Royal Palace today in Riyadh.  Fortunately, the missile was shot down by Saudi forces at the last minute.  There was a meeting of senior Saudi leadership underway at the palace when the missile approached.

This is a terrible story.  Just imagine what the Saudi response would have been had the missile hit its intended target and killed some of the Saudi leadership.  There would have been a war between the Saudis and the Iranians.  That would almost certainly have involved the USA and our forces in the region.

One thing that the Middle East does not need is another war.  ISIS has been basically destroyed; only the mopping up actions are left.  A sudden conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia would set back the cause of peace by decades.

There ought to be a serious response from the USA and other world powers to sanction the Iranians.  They cannot be allowed to take actions like this with no consequences.

More Dishonesty About Tax Cuts

I wrote earlier about the tax bill about to pass Congress and the dishonest treatment of it by Democrats and the media.  I just read another article that illustrates this.  Here's how the AP describes the bill:

The bill provides steep tax cuts to businesses and wealthy families, and more modest cuts to middle- and low-income families. It scales back a popular deduction for state and local taxes, repeals a key tenet of Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and allows drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Really?  Drilling in the Arctic makes the cut as a key point?  The bill focuses on wealthy families?  Nope, the middle class gets more of the cuts.  But the AP doesn't stop there.

The bill would bring average initial tax cuts for Americans across all income lines, but by 2027, it would boost average levies for everyone earning up to $75,000, which includes most taxpayers, Congress' nonpartisan tax analysts estimated Monday.
The Joint Committee on Taxation calculated that in 2019, people earning $20,000 to $50,000 would see tax cuts averaging 10 percent or more. Those making $200,000 to $1 million would see reductions averaging slightly less.
But by 2023, people making under $30,000 would see tax increases, and those earning more would see their tax cuts get smaller.
In 2027, the bill puts tax rates for individuals back at current levels, you know, the ones the Democrats and the media want to keep.  So for these people to criticize the return to current rates in 2027 as a tax increase is the height of arrogance.  Indeed, the individual tax cuts are temporary only because the Democrats have used Senate rules to require that.
Then there's the conclusion that most people making 20 to 50K will get over a 10% tax cut.  That's actually low, but it shows that even the Democrats and the media realize that they have been lying.  Best, however, is the claim that in 2023, people making under $30,000 would see tax increases.  Think about that.  Let's look at a couple earning $26,000.  The start under the new law with a standard deduction of $24,000.  If they have kids, they get a refundable tax credit of $2000 per child.  That means they pay no tax but get money back.  That does not change in 2023.  Only when the rates have to go back to current levels because of what the Democrats have done will there be any chance for this couple to pay taxes.
I'm truly tired of watching the media and the Democrats lie about the tax bill.

The Tax Cuts Are Here Today

The Democrat/media assault on the GOP tax reform bill continues even as that bill is almost certain to pass this week.  Just today, Vox is calling the bill an "American betrayal".  The Philadelphia Inquirer is calling it the worst bill since the Fugitive Slave act of the 1850s.  Other outlets continue in a similar vein.  Democrats are running protests in various places against the bill (although the turnout at the protests is rather meager.)

I continue to try to understand the objections to the bill from the left, but am still left with no understanding of any cogent objection.  Many Democrats/media tell us these are tax cuts for the wealthy with the cost paid by the poor.  That sounds good, but it's just a lie.  The bulk of tax cuts go to two groups:  American businesses and middle income Americans.  The left likes to say that tax cuts for business is a gift to the rich, but that too is a lie.  Tax cuts for businesses will mean more jobs and more rapid economic growth.  That helps everyone, not just the rich.  There's special benefits in the tax bill for small businesses, the ones that create most jobs.  Again, that's good for everyone.  And the second biggest cuts (after business) go to the middle class which gets about a quarter of all tax cuts.  Put that together with business and you have the bulk of the cuts. 

Another complaint from the left about the bill is that 11 million people will lose their health insurance.  This is not just a lie; it is an idiotic lie.  It is based upon a projection from the CBO.  That group estimates that over five million people now on Medicaid will choose to no longer get free health insurance once the individual mandate is gone.  Think about that.  Why would someone getting FREE health insurance drop it because of the end of the individual mandate?  The others who supposedly will drop their coverage are also people who will get the same subsidies as now.  The price after subsidies will not go up.  Again, some people may choose to go without insurance, but no one will LOSE their insurance.

A third complaint is that the bill cuts the top rate and also benefits the wealthy.  This is a variation of the first complaint.  Remember, though, that the top 10% of individuals by income pay something in the area of 90% of the income taxes.  You can't cut taxes without giving some benefits to the people who pay the taxes.  It's another complaint that just makes no sense.

I do wonder what will happen next February when the new withholding tables kick in.  All those people who have believed the Democrats/media story that they won't get a tax cut will suddenly see that this is not true.  They will get a tax cut.  Maybe the Democrats and media are starting to get worried about that.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Before It Gets Forgotten

I wanted to comment on the failed resolution presented to the UN Security Council to try to undo the decision by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  The measure failed with a vote of 14-1.  That's 14 in favor with a veto by the USA.  Some see the vote as an embarrassment for the USA.  It truly is not for a bunch of reasons.  First, the UN has no control over the actions of the USA in recognizing foreign nations.  It also has no control over where those nations put their capitals.  The resolution, had it passed, would have been no more than a toothless political stunt.  Second, the vote for the resolution by countries like Britain and France shows that those nations do not value the friendship of the USA as they should.  The resolution makes no difference to anyone; a vote by these countries to, in effect, condemn the US action will have an actual effect, and it won't be a good one for Anglo-American or Franco-American relations.  Third, there have already been something like five other countries that are moving towards recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital since President Trump took his action.  More and more countries are likely to join in that movement.  The resolution seems like a bunch of diplomats trying to keep a fiction in place rather than recognizing reality.  That's not something one would want from the UN.

Amazing Hypocrisy

That didn't take long.  Now that the Alabama senate race is over, the Democrats are no longer worried about whether or not Al Franken sexually harassed a batch of women.  There are now increasing calls among senate Democrats for Franken to change his mind and to stay in the senate.

Could these Democrats be more hypocritical?  I don't think so.  As long as the Alabama race was out there with Republican Roy Moore the target of sex abuse claims, the Democrats wanted to appear pure.  As a result, they called upon Franken to resign due to his admitted improper behavior with women.  Now that the Alabama race is over and Franken can't be used against the Democrats, they want him to stay.

Is it any wonder that most Americans despise Washington?

Linda Sarsour Accused of Helping Cover Up Sexual Abuse

Remember Linda Sarsour?  She's the darling of the left who helped organize the Women's March after the inauguration.  She's also a Palestinian activist who seems to get carte blanche no matter what she does.  She recently spoke at a meeting billed as one combatting anti-Semitism where she blamed the problem on "the Jewish media".  Nothing like blaming the victims, is there?  There was barely a peep about that.  Now, Sarsour is accused by a woman who used to work with her of covering up ongoing sexual abuse by a male co-worker.  This man is said to have consistently abused the woman who then went to her boss, Sarsour, for help.  Sarsour is said to have fat-shamed her and then covered up what had happened, thereby leaving the complaintant to further abuse.  Here's the full article on the charges. 

I bet nothing further happens.  The media just won't continue to cover this story.

We Knew It Was Bad, But This Is Ridiculous

Here's the first two paragraphs of a new article in Politico Magazine about how president Obama prevented US law enforcement from stopping the criminal activities of the terrorist group Hezbollah in order to win approval from Iran for the nuclear deal.

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.
The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

I strongly suggest you read the rest of the article.  It is HERE.  It is one thing for Obama to enter into a flawed deal that he thinks might benefit the USA; many would and did disagree with the Iran deal, but that was a policy disagreement.  It is something quite different for the president of the USA to actively prevent law enforcement from stopping drug smuggling and money laundering by terrorists in order to "help" get the approval of the terrorists' sponsor Iran.  That's actually real obstruction of justice by a president, not the silly stuff the left is currently talking about with Trump, but a real action by the president to (as they say in the UK) pervert the course of justice.  Obama is no longer in office.  Perhaps he ought to be indicted for this.  At least, there ought to be an investigation.

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.