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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

And This Is A Surprise?

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, a well known close friend for decades of the Clintons, now has announced that not only did she know about the sex abuse meted out by Harvey Weinstein’s predations, but she also that she warned high ranking Democrats about him.  Since Thomason had connections at the highest levels among Democrats, that has to mean that both the Clintons and the DNC leadership knew all about Weinstein.  All these contributions that the Dems took from Weinstein came while they knew what he was doing.

The media is mostly ignoring this news.  After all, it won't do to have the Dems exposed as major hypocrites in this matter.  To me, though, what is surprising is not the silence in the media, but rather that anyone thinks it a surprise that the Dems all knew what Weinstein was doing.  If you think Weinstein's conduct was a secret, let me clue you in to another secret:  Bill Clinton did much the same thing both in and out of office.  I hope you're not too surprised to learn that.

Distortion First Class

The big story in the media today is that President Trump called the widow of one of the soldiers killed a few days ago in Niger and in the course of conveying the condolences of the nation supposedly said of the dead man that "he knew what he signed up for."  The Democrats, the media and many on social media are going berserk over this.  How heartless!  But that's not right.

What Trump was originally reported to have said was "he knew what he signed up for, and he went anyway."  In other words, despite the known dangers, the brave soldier went anyway to defend this country.

How often have we heard a policeman or soldier described as someone who ran toward the bullets when shooting started rather than running away from them?  It's much the same thing.  It's a comment on the courage in the face of danger displayed by the policeman or the soldier.  So is what Trump supposedly said.  It's a major compliment to the heroism of the dead soldier, not some insensitive or mean thing as the media is portraying it.

The truth is that it is disgusting that a private call meant to comfort the widow of this brave fallen soldier has been turned into a political circus by the Democrats and the media.  The poor widow has suffered a grievous loss.  Can't they leave her alone?  That would be the decent thing to do.

In Virginia's Election, Racism Suddenly Appears

It's hard to imagine in 2017, but there's a major issue of racism in the Virginia governor's election.  Democrat candidate Ralph Northam changed some of his election materials to drop both the picture and any mention of the Democrat running for Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, who happens to be African American.  According to reports, Democrat Northam dropped the black man off his materials because some of his campaign supporters said that they didn't want to distribute materials that mentioned him.  Shown below is a picter of the original materials (on the left) and the revised materials in which the Democrats dropped mention of their African American candidate for Lieutenant Governor.  This is the kind of stuff we would have expected of the racist/segregationist Democrats of the 1960s and 1970s.  Today, however, this behavior is unacceptable.  Northam and his party should be ashamed of their conduct.

View image on Twitter

It's Not Just Harvey

In the virtue signaling world of left wing Hollywood, the celebrities are always of elevated status and doing "good".  In the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein and his fall from grace, we're finding that much of Hollywood would be better described as sleazy rather than doing good.  Some A-list stars like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who spend a great deal of time pushing left wing political causes have been exposed as either abusers of women or at least behind the scenes defenders of others who are abusers.  A whole host of studio people in roles like director, producer and the like are being exposed as abusers of women as well.  Then there are the stories of others in Hollywood who abuse children, especially young boys.

There are sex abusers in all walks of life.  In Hollywood, however, it seems to be more a way of life than an aberration.  Those guilty of misdeeds or criminal behavior should be named and get the appropriate treatment or punishment.  The conspiracy of silence in Hollywood among the sanctimonious crowd that always claimed to know better than everyone else has to end.  Most important, those in Hollywood should be seen for what they really are:  self-absorbed people who care more about their own careers than about doing the right thing.  To be clear, I'm not talking about the victims here; for some of them, there are reasons for their silence.  It is not an easy thing to come forward and admit to being abused.  I am talking, however, about the legions in Tinseltown who knew what was happening to others but still stayed silent.  It is not enough for Jane Fonda to say she knew and is now sorry she didn't speak up.  There were many others besides Fonda who knew, and they all stayed silent.  They couldn't risk harming their own careers.  These are not the people we ought to be taking any advice from.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Models Are All Wrong, But Let's Use Them Anyway

There's a rather poorly named site called "the New Scientist" which is out with an article proclaiming that Hurricane Ophelia shows the new future for Europe.  For those who missed it, Ophelia was briefly a hurricane before it lost strength the day before it hit Ireland.  A hurricane hitting Europe is rare but not unknown.  Fifty and even 100 years ago, stronger storms than Ophelia hit the British Isles.  Nevertheless, it was an unusual event.  In response, The New Scientist announced that global warming would increase the number of storms hitting Europe unless something were done to stop it.

It sounds alarming, right?  Europe would suddenly become like Florida getting hit with megastorms each year.  Here's the catch:  The New Scientist admits that the evidence for its conclusion comes almost entirely from modeling.  In other words, there's no real evidence that there will be more or stronger storms hitting Europe other than what a computer simulation predicts.  That's a big problem.  For the last 20 years, computer models have been predicting various temperature rises and storm levels around the globe.  The predictions of the models have turned out to be not just inaccurate, but so far from what actually happened that the models have been shown statistically to be totally erroneous.  Let me amplify this a bit.  If a computer model predicts that tomorrow will see a high of 72 degrees Farenheit and the actual high comes in at 71, it says nothing about the model.  On the other hand, if the model predicts that over the next 20 years the high temperatures will increase by 3 degrees and the actual highs come in with a 1 degree decrease, that shows the model does not work.  Simply put, it's wrong.  For the last 20 years, the global warming models have been off in this way.

So why is The New Scientist publishing articles relying on models that have been shown to be erroneous?  Good question.  The answer has to do with the "religion" of global warming.  One cannot question global warming models without be a denier.  That would be heresy.

On top of this, we have another conundrum with which to deal.  At the dawn of the global warming age people like Al Gore told us we would see a great many more hurricanes and severe weather events.  Then we went more than twelve years with greatly reduced numbers of such storms.  The global warming crowd was so embarrassed that they changed the theory so that it explained that the would actually be fewer such storms due to global warming.  Of course, after this year and it high numbers of hurricanes, we are back to more frequent and stronger storms as the result of global warming.  If you follow, that means that the global warming believers tell us that more storms come from global warming and fewer storms also come from global warming.  In other words, no matter what happens, it's the result of global warming.

 

Courts Have To Follow The Law Too

A federal judge in Hawaii has once again enjoined enforcement of President Trump's executive order banning entry of citizens from certain countries into the USA.  This is the third time this court has enjoined enforcement of a version of the Executive Order.  The state of Hawaii had argued that the latest executive order is a continuation the President's "promise to exclude Muslims from the United States."  This decision by the Hawaii judge is an outrage.

The question of whether or not the President's campaign rhetoric could be used to interpret the clear language of an executive order was decided by the Supreme Court when it allowed a prior version of the order to go into effect.  The judge in Hawaii is supposed to be bound by the decision from SCOTUS.  Nevertheless, the judge just ignored the SCOTUS ruling.  As a result, there will now be an appeal to the 9th Circuit who should reverse the trial court.  Sadly, though, the 9th Circuit is the one federal appellate court most likely to also ignore SCOTUS for political reasons.  That means that eventually the case will again get to the Supreme Court.  Many months or even years from now, SCOTUS will again rule on this point and the EO will go into effect.  In the interim, however, proper legal policy of the USA will be prevented from enforcement because a liberal judge in Hawaii believes that somehow he is above the rules that govern all judges, indeed, that he can just ignore doing his job properly so as to satisfy his own political desires.

Let Me Give You A Clue

There's a funny piece from CNN today headlined, "Trump's Goals for Decertifying Iran Deal Remain a Mystery".  The reporters ponder why President Trump would refuse to certify that Iran is complying with the JCPOA.  They just cannot figure it out.

I've decided to give them a hint.  President Trump cannot certify that Iran is complying with the JCPOA because the Iranians won't allow the inspections needed to determine that question.  There's a list of things that Iran promised not to do anymore under the terms of the JCPOA.  The agreement calls for inspections to take place to allow monitoring of Iranian compliance.  When the agreement was signed, however, the Iranians announced that they would not allow inspectors to go to any Iranian military base.  President Obama and his people did nothing about that; they accepted the idea that Iran could inspect itself.  Since then, the US government and the other signatories to the JCPOA have gone along blithely accepting Iranian compliance even when there is a major question as to whether or not Iran has really done what it promised to do.  Are there centrifuges spinning daily at Iran's various military installations?  Maybe, we just don't know.  And not only do we not know; President Trump doesn't know for certain.  I'm certain that the CIA has told the President what they suspect to be the facts, but that's the same CIA who told President Bush about the WMDs in Iraq.

So what is President Trump's goal in refusing to certify Iranian compliance?  Most likely it is that the President refuses to certify false information to Congress and wants Iran to start to actually comply with the JCPOA.  Unlike Obama, President Trump wants actual deeds to matter more than just what gets said.

FBI Confirms that Comey Wrote His Statement Exonerating Hillary Clinton over 2 Months Before Interviewing Her

Newsweek, which bills itself as a journal of liberal thought, is out with an article reporting on documents just released by the FBI which confirm that Jim Comey wrote his statement on Hillary Clinton in May of 2016.  The draft statement was circulated to his staff for comment over two months before Hillary was interviewed.  It was also drafted prior to the interviews with Hillary's key staff members who were most familiar with the private email server scandal.  The only thing of moment that happened before Comey drafted his report at the end of the investigation was that president Obama had told an interviewer that Hillary was not guilty of mishandling classified information because she didn't have the intent necessary for a conviction.  And, of course, we know that the Comey report focused on that very lack of intent as the reason no charges were brought.  We also know that the statute involved does not require intent of any sort; negligent handling of classified information is sufficient bases for a conviction.

So we have Newsweek, a liberal member in good standing showing that Hillary got off easy (and by apparent pre-arrangement) in the email scandal.  Earlier today, I wrote about how another member of the leftist media, The Hill, published an article revealing that the FBI had done a full investigation of the Russia/Uranium deal that Hillary was in the middle of, but that the results of the investigation were kept away from Congress and the media while president Obama, Clinton and others approved the deal and profited from it.  What is going on?

In the last month, Hillary has been spouting bitter and seemingly deranged commentary about who is responsible for her loss in 2016 (hint: it's never her).  Hillary has blamed Obama, Biden, women, Wikileaks, Russia, and a whole host of others.  Her language is getting more and more "colorful".  Yesterday, she told a TV interviewer that Comey had "shivved" her, using the vernacular of a prison inmate attacked by another prisoner.  It seems as if the mainstream media has finally decided to silence Hillary by publishing a series of bad news articles about her.  As the media moves to discredit her, she will slowly become a non-person.  In that way, the media can get her out of the way before she continues poisoning the well for the Democrats in 2018 and 2020 by reminding people why they voted for Trump.

A Russia Collusion Scandal With Lots Of Familiar Names

The Hill is out with an article that you really needs to be read.  There really was a Russia collusion with Americans that affected both our national security as well as the American election.  But it's not what you think.  It seems that since 2009, the FBI was investigating a massive bribery, corruption and racketeering scheme by the Russians which involved Russia gaining US government approval to buy a big chunk of the US uranium mining industry as well as the right to sell that uranium to US nuclear plants.  It's the same sale involving Uranium One that made headlines during the 2016 campaign since it had to be approved by a group consisting of Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder and other top Obama officials.  The FBI found that massive amounts of cash went to Clinton interests from Russia or Russia related entities.  It also found that various Russian agents used threats and bribed to get American competitors out of the way with regard to transport and sale of the uranium.  The Obama administration never told the public about this criminal enterprise run by the Russians and then it approved both transactions.  How could this happen?  Let's take a look.

The investigation was begun by the FBI director Robert Muller.  Remember him?  He's now the special prosecutor looking into the supposed Trump-Russia connections.  Am I the only one who thinks it strange that Muller started the other investigation that somehow was never disclosed to the public or to Congress and now he's running the new investigation?  There better be a good reason for that or else Muller really needs to resign.

When Muller left, the investigation was run day to day by Jim McCabe.  Remember him?  He's the one whose wife got a "contribution" for her state senate race in Virginia of $750,000 from a Clinton related source.  Three quarters of a million dollars for a state senate race?  Really?  McCabe reported to Jim Comey who was FBI director at that time.  The person at the DOJ who coordinated the investigation was then US Attorney Rod Rosenstein.  He's now Deputy Attorney General and he's also the one who appointed Muller as Special Prosecutor.  Could it be that Rosenstein put Muller in place to make sure that the Russia - uranium matter never resurfaced?  Again, there's no evidence of that of which I am aware, but it is a question that Rosenstein must answer quickly or else resign.

So Russia ended up control about half of US uranium production after criminal payoffs and racketeering.  The FBI knew all about this; indeed, people have been indicted and convicted for their part in this mess.  Nevertheless, the high government officials of the Obama administration approved the dishonest Russian deals.  Oh, and coincidentally, many of them got major financial benefits from the Russians.  Somehow, the FBI under Jim Comey never told Congress or the public about all this.  Indeed, the government officials who approved the deal all say that they weren't told either.  I don't believe this but again, this needs to be fully investigated.

This really changes everything.  The Russia/uranium deals no longer are the province of a few authors who the Obama/Clinton people dismiss as conspiracy theorists.  This is real.  It changes everything.

Monday, October 16, 2017

More Of The Same

This morning, Syrian anti-aircraft systems fired missiles at two Israeli air force jets that were not in Syrian airspace.  The Israeli planes were on a routine reconnaissance mission.  The Syrian battery, part of the Assad forces, shot missiles from a Russian SA-5 installation located about 50 miles east of Damascus.  The Israeli planes were over 75 miles from the missile battery when the Syrians fired.  This was unusual, since the Syrians have only fired on Israeli planes once in the last year.

After the unusual start, the matter moved on to the usual finish.  The Syrian missiles missed the Israeli planes.  Syria hasn't hit an Israeli plane in decades.  The Israeli Air Force then fired its own missiles back towards the SA-5 battery used by the Syrians.  The Israelis destroyed the Syrian missile installation.  After being beaten by the Israelis, the Syrians falsely announced that they had destroyed one of the Israeli planes and damaged the other.  Then the Syrian regime announced that there would be dire consequences for the Israelis as a result of the attack which destroyed the Syrian air defense battery.  So far, no consequences have appeared.

One other thing is new, however,  The Israeli Defense Minister announced that if the Syrians repeat their firing on Israeli planes, especially those which are not even in Syrian airspace, Israel would destroy the Syrian air defense system.

We shall have to wait and see what happens.  My prediction is that the Syrians will stop talking and do nothing more.  They don't want to lose their entire air defense system.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Minister arrived in Israel this evening for a visit.  Even though Russia is a big backer of the Syrian regime, it seems to have no problem with Israel defending itself when the Syrians start firing missiles at Israeli planes.

The Kurdish Battle

In the region of Kirkuk in Iraq this morning, the Iraqi army and a great many Iranian backed Shiite militias moved into the territory controlled by the Kurdish forces, the peshmerga.  This is a very bad development for those who hope for peace in the Middle East.

The Kurds are long term allies of the USA, and we owe them our support.  The Iraqis are also our allies now, especially in the fight against ISIS.  At the moment, the USA is not taking sides, since both sides are supposed to be our friends.  Just as ISIS is crumbling to nothing, our two main allies in the fight are now fighting each other.

So is this neutral approach correct?  I don't think so.  The Kurds fought with American forces during the Iraq War.  They were the only ground force that stood up to ISIS.  The Iraqi army fled once ISIS attacked.  President Obama gave essentially no help to the Kurds, but still they continued fighting ISIS with us.  The Iraqis, however, have gotten into bed with Iran to the point that the Iranians pretty much control what Baghdad does.  Some people even think that today's attack is Iranian payback to the USA for declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to be a terrorist organization.  Even if Iraq is looked at as an independent regime, the Shiite militias are totally under the control of Iran.  From the standpoint of the USA, it is much better for a free Kurdish state to exist rather than a region under military control by the Iranians.

In addition, there are about 30 million Kurds in the region.  They stretch across Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.  Aren't they entitled to have their own state like all the other ethnic groups around the world?  Nothing ties the Kurds to Iraq aside from some colonial decisions made by Britain and France 100 years ago.  Even if a Kurdish state takes parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey as part of its formation, it will be a fair outcome that will empower this group.

An independent Kurdish state would likely side with the USA in any confrontation with Iran.  I doubt we could say the same of Iraq.

 

A Bad Day In New Jersey For Menendez

Last week, the prosecution rested in the corruption trial of NJ Democrat senator Bob Menendez.  As usual, the defense moved at that point to dismiss the various charges against the senator.  This morning, the trial judge ruled on that motion; Menendez lost across the board.  Every charge in the indictment will stay in the case.  That means that at the close of the evidence, every charge will almost certainly go to the jury for a decision.  Simply put, things could not have gone worse for senator Menendez.

There was some talk recently that Menendez might be skipping court to go to DC to vote on important matters.  With today's ruling, that seems much less likely to happen.  Menendez has his entire future on the line here.  He could stay a senator or he could be incarcerated in a federal prison or something in between.  Menendez is unlikely to risk taking off days from the trial because that would indicate to the jury that he didn't care enough to be there. 

I've seen some of the evidence presented by the government in the prosecution.  I don't know what the senator's case will be, but it certainly doesn't look good for him right now.  My prediction is that Menendez will be convicted of all or nearly all of the charges.  Of course, it is up to the jury, not me.  We will just have to wait and see.

The Obama Legacy? Really?

In the last week, there a major story line in the mainstream media:  President Trump is undoing the Obama legacy.  It's everywhere; this morning I saw it in the British press.  But is it accurate?  The simple answer is that the entire story is just another manifestation as to how transfixed the media is on Obama.  We had eight years of media cheerleading for Obama.  Now, when events of major importance are taking place, the media covers them by telling us how they affect Obama's legacy.

For example, President Trump refused to certify that Iran is meeting the terms of the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal.  It's not surprising that the President would not so certify; after all, the Iranians refuse to allow any inspections of nuclear facilities located on military bases.  No one in the West knows what the Iranians are doing in those facilities.  If Iran won't permit inspections called for by the JCPOA, how could the President certify compliance with that agreement?  This is a major problem that requires a decision how to deal now with Iran.  For the media, however, the President's move is an attack on Obama's legacy.  How ridiculous.

Then there's DACA.  Obama used an executive order to create the DACA program after first telling the nation over twenty times that he didn't have the power to take such an action.  He was right in what he said; there is no executive power to change the immigration law.  President Trump announce that DACA (as an executive order) would end.  He had no real choice since more than half the states were about to go to court to declare the program unconstitutional.  Congress now has six months to decide whether or not it wants to establish a legal version of DACA.  This is a major debate on immigration law that will affect millions of people.  For the media, however, the biggest point in the discussion is that the President is attacking the Obama legacy.  That's even more ridiculous.

President Trump is doing a great many things.  For the media, however, the focus seems only to be on Trump's tweets and on Obama's legacy.  The truly important items seem to be getting essentially no coverage.  That makes the American people the losers from the great media delusion.

UPDATE:  A few hours after I posted this, President Trump held a press conference in the rose garden together with senator Mitch McConnell.  Almost like clockwork, the President was asked if he was trying to destroy Obama's legacy rather than being asked about the merits of the moves in question.  It's sadly predictable.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Election Results in Austria Show Change in Europe

There was a political earthquake in Europe today.  In Austria, the center-right party won national elections, coming in first.  In second place, though, was the nationalist party that wants to restrict immigration.  The Socialists (who lead the current government) came in third; that is the party's worst showing since the end of World War II.  This will also be the first time that the nationalist party will be part of the governing coalition.

After the French elections, we were told that the nationalist/populist movement in Europe had ended.  Looks like they wrote the obituary for that movement too soon.

What's Actually Happening

From the current crop of news stories, you might miss what is actually happening in the USA and around the world today.  It's not that the stories are mixed into the news reports, but rather that they are totally distorted.

Let's look at an example.  President Trump ended subsidies under Obamacare.  He's trying to destroy Obamacare and make poor people pay more for their coverage.  Right?  That's what is in the news, isn't it?  The truth, however, is something quite different.  When Obamacare was passed, it included a three year "transitional" program that gave subsidies to insurance companies to assist in their making the switch over to Obamacare.  When the three years were up, the mechanism for giving subsidies to these huge insurance companies was still there, but the money appropriated by Congress had run out.  The Congress did not appropriate any more money for the subsidies.  President Obama, however, wanted to continue giving the cash to the insurance companies, and he did so without any congressional action.  It was such an improper act that the House went to court for an order that the subsidies had to stop.  The matter was litigated, and there was an order in 2016 holding that the subsidies were illegal unless Congress appropriated the money.  Clearly, that was the correct decision under the Constitution.  Since the Obama White House said it wanted to appeal, the court stayed the enforcement of its order pending an appeal.  In other words, the court didn't order an immediate cessation of payments.  This week, President Trump announced that the Justice Department had looked at the case and concluded that the court's decision was correct.  There will be no appeal by the White House and the subsidies will therefore cease in accordance with the court order.  That's hardly an "attack" on the poor.  It's the mega-rich insurance companies that won't get their subsidies, not the poor.  And following the Constitution is hard to characterize as an attack.  In this case, it seems the real truth doesn't matter to the media and the Democrats.

And then there's the matter of DACA and the wall.  President Trump listed is conditions for a law extending DACA, one of which is appropriation of funds for the construction of the wall.  The media and the Democrats denounced this as racist and, well you get the idea.  Here's a president who got elected promising to build a wall.  Of all of Trump's promises during the campaign, nothing was more central to his effort than building a wall.  Now the media/Democrats are surprised that he wants to build the wall in exchange for DACA?  Again, the supposed surprise is ridiculous.

The truth is that the media pays too much attention to what the President tweets rather than what he does.  I don't think that the average America feels that way.  Most people don't care what words he uses in some tweet.  They do care, however, about what he does.  Someday, the media/Democrat bubble is going to burst, and when it does and reality enters that world, it's going to be truly fun to watch.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Wow -- What Nonsense

It's pretty funny.  I just looked at the news to see if anything of moment had happened.  The answer is no, nothing new is on the scene.  Nevertheless, there are a series of rather bizarre "news" articles which are leftist opinion pieces masquerading as news.

First, Newsweek has an article praising Hillary Clinton for giving to charity all of the cash donated by Harvey Weinstein.  That's a rather dumb position since what Clinton actually said is that she would consider part of her next contribution to charity to be coming from the cash Weinstein donated in the past.  Clinton won't give a penny more to charity; she's just going to tell us all that this donation is actually the money that came from Weinstein.  The Newsweek piece then denounces Ivanka Trump for not talking about Harvey Weinstein.  If Hillary had to do it, then Ivanka ought to do the same.  Of course, that misses the major differences between Ivanka and Hillary.  First, Weinstein didn't give big bucks for decades to Ivanka, but he did give to Hillary.  Second, Ivanka never covered up the misdeeds of a man who sexually abused, assaulted and harassed women by attacking those women as "white trash" and liars.  Hillary, of course, did so famously for decades.

The second article announces that Donald Trump became the first president to address an "anti-LBGTQ" group, the Values Voters.  The Family Research Council uses the Values Voters Summit to promote pro-family, pro-marriage, and pro-life positions.  Is it anti-gay to be pro-family?  Is it anti-gay to be pro-life?  Is it anti-gay to be pro-marriage?  Of course not.  The truth is that rather than debate the actual issues of how to treat marriage, family and abortion, the left resorts to name calling.  The Values Voters must be anti-LBGTQ.  They're evil.  No need to consider their positions.

This is news?

Shouldn't That Be Six Days?

Judicial Watch is reporting that it has been informed by the FBI that the Bureau has located 30 pages of documents relating to the meeting between then attorney general Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton on the tarmac in a private plane in Arizona last year.  The FBI also told Judicial Watch that it needs six weeks to process the documents before turning them over.

The back story here makes the FBI conduct even more outrageous.  Judicial Watch made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all documents related to the Lynch/Clinton meeting.  Last fall, the FBI told Judicial Watch that no such documents existed.  Then, in another lawsuit, Judicial Watch saw documents relating to the Lynch/Clinton meeting identified by the FBI.  That meant that the FBI response to the original Freedom of Information request had been wrong (although we can't say if it was intentionally false.)  The FBI reopened the original request and is now responding to Judicial Watch.

How is it possible that the FBI needs six weeks to produce these documents?  It obviously has the 30 pages together in on place because it has an exact count of the number of pages.  Most likely even a very slow reader could read the entire 30 pages in a half hour.  What is the FBI going to do for the next six weeks that prevents it from turning over the file?  Nothing comes to mind.

It is conceivable that the FBI is still checking about some of the documents.  Even so, with the tiny number of documents involved, it seems more reasonable that the FBI get six days to complete its review rather than the six weeks requested.

Just In A Few Days

In the last few days the following has happened:

1.  President Trump has announced a new Iran policy and refused to certify that Iran is complying with the JPCOA.

2.  President Trump has signed an executive order that lets small businesses form associations which can buy health insurance as a group, thereby lowering the premiums paid.  The order also allows individuals to buy short term insurance policies, a move which will make life easier for people who move somewhere temporarily and who need insurance while ther.

3.  President Trump announced that the federal government would obey the ruling of a federal court that payments of subsidies to insurance companies under Obamacare could not be made because the funds for the payments were never appropriated by Congress. 

There's more, but these are the highlights.  By putting these three items together, the President is denying his opponents a chance to mount a media counterattack on them.  In fact, most of what we have seen from the opposition is just false statements.  For example, the media and Democrats are busy screaming that the cut off of illegal subsidies to insurance companies will deprive people of healthcare.  That's totally untrue.  People who get subsidies to help them buy insurance on the exchanges will still get those subsidies.  Nothing changes in that regard.  Insurance companies expected the loss of the subsidies this year, so they have already priced that change into the premiums they charge; again there is no change for the policy holders.  The only difference is that the US government is no longer paying subsidies to insurance companies.  Of course, the media and the Democrats don't like to talk about subsidies for big insurance companies, so they lie about the effects.

In the last few weeks, the President has also put forward his plan for a bill to keep DACA.  The Democrats and the media have screamed about it, but they won't be able to keep the DACA people in the country unless they come to a deal.  The CHIP program has also expired as of the beginning of this month.  This federal program for getting healthcare for children will be renewed, but the Democrats will only get that result if they make a deal on the rest of healthcare.  With all of this swirling together, the President ought to be able to reach a deal on a number of issues.  Maybe those issues will even include tax reform.

 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Just Imagine

According to the NY Daily News, Hillary Clinton is negotiating with Columbia to become a professor at the university.  Think of that.  All those parents who wouldn't listen to a word she said in 2016 because she is so untrustworthy will spend $75,000 so their kids can go to school and listen to Hillary speak.  The woman with nothing to say will once again get paid big bucks to say it anyway.

Another Hillary Clinton Lie -- This Time On Weinstein

If you read the mainstream media, you would think that yesterday Hillary Clinton said she would donate the funds she got from Harvey Weinstein to charity.  That would just be another of Hillary's lies that the media repeated without ever bothering to notice it was obviously false.

Here's what Hillary said:  "What other people are saying, what my former colleagues are saying, is they're going to donate it to charity, and of course I will do that.  I give 10% of my income to charity every year, this will be part of that. There's no -- there's no doubt about it."

So think about that for a moment.  Hillary gives 10% of her income to charity every year.  This year, she's going to consider the Weinstein money as part of that 10%.  Will she give even two cents more than she otherwise would have given?  The answer is NO.  Consider this example.  Let's assume Hillary's income in 2017 is ten million dollars.  Before the Weinstein statement she was giving ten percent to charity.  That's one million dollars.  After the Weinstein statement, she is giving ten percent to charity, but she's going to consider the Weinstein money "part of that".  That's one million dollars.  In other words, Hillary is NOT giving the Weinstein money to charity.  She's just doing what she always intended to do and also making a phony statement.

And while we're at it, let's examine Hillary's claim that she gives ten percent to charity.  In 2015 and 2014, the Clintons had income in excess of forty million dollars.  Except for ten thousand dollars that went to churches, they gave "charity" only to the Clinton Foundation.  Of course, the Clinton Foundation paid for things like all of Bill and Hillary's travel, the salaries of Hillary's staff, Chelsea's wedding and other things that should have been paid for by the Clintons themselves.  It was far from charity.  The Clintons give next to nothing to real charities.

h/t S Brill

Obamacare Subsidies To Insurance Companies

When the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare was at its height, Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi told us that the GOP just wanted to favor insurance companies over average Americans.  Now, the government has announced that it will stop paying subsidies to insurance carriers in accordance with a ruling by a federal court last year.  The same Democrats are apoplectic.  That always reliable hysteric, NY Attorney General Schneiderman, is threatening to sue.  I guess he doesn't understand how court cases work.

Let me explain.  When Obamacare was passed, there was a mechanism included in the bill to let the government subsidize insurance companies to "stabilize" policy prices.  That mechanism was funded for the first few years in the bill.  When the initial appropriation ended, Congress did not pass any further appropriation to allow additional spending.  That did not stop president Obama, however, and he ordered continued funding of the subsidies to insurers.  As a result, the House of Representatives actually went to court seeking an order declaring the subsidies to be illegal because there was no appropriation by Congress.  In 2016, the federal court ruled in favor of the House.  It did not order an immediate cutoff of the subsidies, however, to allow for any appeals.  Obama just kept send cash to the insurance companies.  Now, the Department of Justice has concluded after a full review that the court was correct and that there is no legal basis upon which to continue the subsidies absent action by Congress.  Accordingly, the subsidies have been cut off.  What that means is that Schneiderman can't sue because the issue has already been decided by a court.

If the Democrats are so worried about subsidizing the insurance companies, they can propose a bill that calls for such subsidies.  They don't want to do that, however, because they like to claim (falsely) that they stand against the insurance companies and with the people who have to buy policies. 

When Overwhelming Aid Is Not Enough

It's getting crazy in San Juan.  At least the mayor is getting crazy.  Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of the Puerto Rican capital, yesterday accused President Trump of "genocide" on the island.  It really makes me wonder what she is doing.

Let's take a look at some of the genocide.

1.  Since Hurricane Maria destroyed most of the island, massive federal aid has gone to Puerto Rico.  As I write this, there are more than 20,000 federal employees from FEMA, the military and elsewhere actively working to help those on the island.

2.  Yesterday, at the request of President Trump, the House voted another $36 billion for disaster relief which will go to help those hurt by the hurricanes.  This is not the final amount; it is just the next installment of aid which has already totaled over $20 billion.  The Senate is likely to approve the same bill by Tuesday.

3.  The magnitude of the help given to Puerto Rico is no less than that given in Texas or Florida, but the nature of the destruction is different.  In the Houston area, there were communities that were flooded, but there were also neighboring areas that survived with relatively little damage.  The same was true in Florida.  This meant that survivors could be housed in shelters in nearby undamaged areas.  On Puerto Rico, the whole island was smashed by the storm.  Over 95% of the power grid was destroyed.  Nearly every road on the island was blocked and most of the bridges were damaged or destroyed.  That meant that there were no places to move survivors in need of shelter.  Nothing that FEMA could have done would have prevented this outcome.

4.  Because the power grid was basically destroyed rather than damaged, it is a slow process to put a new one in place.  Even so, there is now more than 25% of the island with power, and that number should begin to increase in a faster pace over the next two weeks. 

5.  The biggest immediate problem after the storm was that as aid poured into the island at the ports (mostly in San Juan), it piled up due to a lack of trucks and truck drivers.  The local governments that would normally handle this aspect of the relief failed in their basic responsibility to disseminate the aid.  Translation:  the biggest culprit in the mess in Puerto Rico was the mayor of San Juan herself and her government which failed to deal with the port problem.  The military had to be brought in to take control of the port mess and clear it up (which was done well once that happened.)

6.  There is little that could be done which isn't being done as I write this.

This has been a massive effort.  Calling it an uncaring "genocide" is not just wrong; it is delusional.

Since the hurricane, the governor of the island has been hard at work on disaster recovery.  He is a Democrat and was, in fact, a Hillary Clinton delegate to the last national convention.  Nevertheless, he has been able to work well with the federal government and the President.  His latest move has been to try to crack down on local politicians who have been accused of hoarding relief supplies and giving them only to their supporters and friends.  He has coordinated well with FEMA and the federal effort.  The loud mouth mayor of San Juan, however, has made her principal effort since the storm to complain about inadequate responses from the federal government.  As of ten days after the storm, however, she had yet to even visit the FEMA headquarters in San Juan to arrange for coordination of the relief efforts of her city with the larger federal and island-wide efforts underway.  She did have time, however, for a whole host of TV appearances to make unfounded charges.

Yesterday, president Trump said that FEMA and other federal efforts cannot continue forever.  That's true.  It is not a threat to pull federal workers out of Puerto Rico tomorrow or soon.  It is a warning to the island leaders that they better get themselves set up so that they will be able to take over more and more responsibilities as the federal effort inevitably winds down in the future.  Some people say that this statement is the basis for the mayor's crazy "genocide" charge, but she said it before the President made his statement.

Because this is an anti-Trump statement, the media is loving it and repeating it.  That doesn't make it true, however.  It is outrageous, false and even disgusting. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Goodbye UNESCO

The US is withdrawing from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization which is usually called UNESCO.  The move comes as no surprise.  UNESCO has changed from a group focused on education and culture to one which spends most of its time and money on political positions pushed by certain groups of members.  For example, UNESCO recently designated the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank as a "world cultural site" because it is sacred to Moslems.  Remember, the patriarchs in question are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs and founders of Judaism.  UNESCO, however, omitted any mention of Jews or their religion from their decision.  Similarly, UNESCO was considering making a designation of the Old City of Jerusalem as a Moslem site while ignoring Jewish and Christian ties to the city even though Jerusalem is more important to those two religions than to Islam. 

The bias in UNESCO has been ongoing for many years.  Although it is the Trump administration that has withdrawn the US from the organization, the Obama administration stop paying dues to UNESCO in 2011 due to the bias (and we haven't paid dues since that time.)

There are reports that Canada may also be about to withdraw from UNESCO.

It's sad that an organization that could do so much good is instead hijacked by the usual crazies at the UN and destroyed.

Will NAFTA Become NABFTA?

There's renewed speculation today that the UK is looking into the possibility of joining NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Association.  That's rather strange since the future of NAFTA is up in the air at the moment.  Negotiations among the USA, Canada and Mexico over the future of the pact.  Just yesterday Canada's Prime Minister was at the White House meeting with the President and the main subject for discussion was NAFTA.  In the UK, the forces that fought against Brexit are posturing that the UK joining NAFTA is just a ploy to help in negotiations with the EU about the British exit from that bloc.  Maybe they're correct.  Maybe the Brits really have no desire to join NAFTA.

But would it be a good thing to add the UK to NAFTA?  Of course, that would depend on the terms of the deal.  In general, though, Britain would suddenly get much greater access to the North American market than any other country in Europe.  That market is actually larger than the European market of the EU.  American countries would get much greater access to the UK market, something that could also provide a strong benefit for businesses here.  And the good thing about NAFTA compared to the EU is that NAFTA is just a trade group; it has no government-like operations.  No more regulations from Brussels bureaucrats that supersede laws made in London.  No more unlimited immigration in Britain.  It certainly sounds like it's an idea worth exploring.

Maybe Britain in NAFTA is just a negotiating ploy.  Even so, it might be great to make that ploy a reality.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Supreme Court Wipes The Slate on the So-Called Travel Ban

In an order released yesterday, the Supreme Court dismissed the case challenging President Trump's Executive Order that temporarily barred entry of citizens from six countries.  That executive order was replaced by the White House with a new one a few weeks ago, so the challenge to the old one is moot.  In additional to dismissing the case, however, the Court also vacated the decisions of the 4th Circuit that had struck down the executive order.  By so doing, SCOTUS makes clear that the lower court's use of statements made during the campaign by President Trump to determine the supposed real purpose of the executive order is incorrect. 

Hopefully, this will end the nonsense of courts using something other than the clear language of a law or executive order to determine its meaning.  Certainly, that should be the conclusion of the lower courts.  If not, the matter will get back to SCOTUS, and the outcome there is rather clear.

No Franken Way

According to the latest reports, the attempt by senator Al Franken to block the nomination of David Stras to the 8th Circuit court of appeals just fell apart.  Stras is a well respected justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and his confirmation seems assured.  Franken, however, refused to return his "blue slip", a device used in the Senate by the home state senators for nominees.  Although it is not in the Senate rules, the blue slip is a custom under which a senator can block a nomination.  The custom has been honored off and on in the Senate.  Franken's stunt has pushed the Senate back into the "off" position.

Mitch McConnell says now he will push the Stras nomination forward.  There was no real reason for Franken's hold on the nomination aside from obstruction.  At least when it comes to judicial confirmations, the Senate is not allowing the Dems to block progress.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Hypocrisy Is Out Of Hand

The Harvey Weinstein story took a turn for the worse in the last 24 hours.  Now there are three women who say that Weinstein raped them.  There are also a whole string of Hollywood celebrities coming forward to discuss being sexually abused by him.  Then there's the news that the NY Times (which broke the story a few days ago) itself sat on the story since 2004.  Why did all these people cover for this guy for 20 plus years?  Why was this the biggest open secret in Hollywood?  Why did presidents Clinton and Obama celebrate Weinstein as a great man?  America may not have known, but certainly Hollywood and the Clinton and Obama White Houses knew.  Are these people who claim to care so much about empowering women really such hypocrites that they would kowtow to a slime like Weinstein just because of his money?  That fact truly says so much.

Two good examples are Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.  Both now say that Weinstein abused them.  When the events first happened, neither was an established major star, although they were far from unknown.  A few years later, however, both of them became major stars and could have survived coming forward to stop Weinstein from hitting on other women (indeed a great many other women.)  How do they justify staying silent?

The story has now gotten so bad that even Hillary Clinton (who obviously can excuse a great amount of sexual abuse of women) has now denounced Weinstein.  Bill Clinton is still silent, but of course, he would not dare to say anything.

 

No Waze In Teheran

I got a chuckle this morning when I saw that Iran has moved to permanently block the use of Waze, an app that helps drivers not only find directions but avoid congestion or accidents.  Personally, I hate having a phone tell me where to go, and I often wonder if the directions are valid.  Sometimes, it seems like the phone is just messing with me when it tells me to get off a highway.  That's not why the Iranian government is moving to ban Waze, however.  The reason is that the app was created by Israelis, or what the Iranians call "Zionist criminals."  So the mullahs think it is better needlessly to sit in traffic than to use something created in Israel.

That's just soooo seventh century.

Can We See The End Of McCaskill?

The Attorney General of Missouri, Josh Hawley, announced his bid for the senate yesterday.  Most likely, he will be the GOP challenger to Democrat Claire McCaskill.  Most likely, he will also be Missouri's next senator.

McCaskill is not all that popular in the state.  On top of that she has the problem that Missouri has become increasingly Republican in the last ten years.  In fact, the last Democrat to win a state-wide race was McCaskill who lucked out in 2012 when her opponent Todd Akin made major campaign mistakes.  It's unlikely that Hawley will be such a flawed candidate.

It's really about time for Missouri to have a senator more in tune with the people of the state.  McCaskill has been a strong liberal during her time in Washington, except during the year or two prior to her own elections when she pretends to be a centrist.  In the age of Trump, however, McCaskill has just been a loyal soldier doing what Chuck Schumer tells her.  So, for example, she is one of the Democrats who signed a letter announcing opposition to tax reform unless it meets certain conditions that defeat the basic purpose of the measure.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of McCaskill's time in office.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Golden Age of Democrats

Senator Dianne Feinstein announced that she is running for re-election in 2018.  Feinstein is already the oldest person in the Senate, and she will be 85 on election day next year.  What a joke.

The Democrats already have a rather old field of possible presidential candidates for 2020.  Bernie Sanders was old in 2016; by 2020 he will be ancient.  Hillary Clinton was also old in 2016.  If she's done blaming others for her loss last time, we may see her throw her hat in the ring again (if she can get up that much strength.)  Elizabeth Warren will be far into her 70s by 2020.  Jerry Brown is also talking about running in 2020; he first ran for president in the 1980s.  Then there's Joe Biden who is talking up a run in 2020.  He is older than the hills.

But let's get back to Feinstein.  She's planning soon on joining the 1% in California, and that's the oldest 1% in the state.  She may have good energy for someone in her mid 80s, but that's just not enough for a senator.

I don't like many of Feinstein's positions, but that's not what I'm talking about right now.  California deserves to have a senator who will be able to do what the job requires.  That means someone with both the mental dexterity and physical stamina.  If California Democrats actually pick Feinstein for another term, they will get what they deserve, but it would be a big mistake.

Going Too Far -- Media Style

The NY Post is reporting that ESPN suspended Jemele Hill this afternoon in response to her suggestion on social media that fans boycott the advertisers for NFL games if they don't like the directives to players on certain teams to stand for the national anthem.  It took less than a day for ESPN to act.

Jemele Hill is the same ESPN announcer who a few weeks ago called president Trump a "white supremacist" on social media.  ESPN did nothing about that.

So there you have it.  You can falsely call the president a white supremacist and ESPN doesn't care, but if you suggest boycotting advertisers, all hell breaks loose.  What more needs be said about ESPN.  It's less a sports network and more political all the time.

 

DACA and the Trump Points

President Trump released his requirements for any bill that allows the people covered by DACA to stay in the USA legally.  Basically, there are no real surprises in it.  The President wants the border wall authorized, strengthening enforcement of immigration law, a limitation to chain migration, and mandatory use of e-verify.  There's more, but these are the major points.

The response from the Democrats has been predictable. They are all screaming that these points are deal breakers.  Still, many of the items listed by Trump were included it the immigration bill that passed the senate a few years ago with nearly unanimous support by the Democrats.

Most likely both the President's list and the Democrats' response are just opening negotiating positions.  As the expiration of DACA gets closer and those it protects are threatened with deportation, there will be a narrowing of the gap between the two sides.  It still seems likely that we will see a deal before March of 2018 on this topic.

How Much More Proof Does One Need?

There are reports in the last few days that President Trump is going to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a "terrorist" organization.  Iran claims to be outraged at that possible designation.  The strange thing is that Iran and the Revolutionary Guards don't stop at saying they are outraged.  Instead, they have issued a threat against all American bases in the Middle East.  The Guards have threatened to launch missile attacks against those bases and also to treat all Americans "like ISIS".

Think about that.  The Iranian response to having their Revolutionary Guards named as terrorists is to threaten terrorist attacks against Americans across the region.  How much more proof does one need that these thugs are indeed terrorists?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

ISIS, ISI, IS, I ...........

ISIS is collapsing in Iraq.  The Iraqi army, the Shiite militias and the Kurdish peshmerga just took the last city of any size held by ISIS fighters.  According to reports, something like 1000 ISIS fighters surrendered to the Kurds as the ISIS lines collapsed.  These are the same ISIS fighters who promised that for them the only outcome was victory or death.  These people found a third alternative.

The lost of its last city means that ISIS is reduced to groups roaming in the western countryside at most.  These remnants are still able to plant bombs and booby traps, but the days of ISIS terrifying Iraqis across the country are over.

Great credit goes to all who fought against ISIS.  There are Americans who flew air missions and many special operations forces on the ground.  There are also the Kurds who have carried the main burden of the fight against ISIS on the ground for 3 years.  There are also the Iraqi army troops, the militias and even some Iranian forces that have been on the attack as of late.

There is still much more fighting to be done against ISIS around the world, but as a group, it is inevitably finished.  Now that is has lost the ability to even keep its fighters from surrender, ISIS is just a lost cause.  And it's really hard to get new recruits for a lost cause.

The Goal Is Growth For All, Not Benefits For Some

I'm getting tired of reading articles about who "wins" and who "loses" if tax reform passes.  There's a whole slew of them again today.  The reality, however, is that most are written by people who just don't understand the point of the whole tax reform effort.  The goal of tax reform is to inject additional money into investment in the private sector economy and additional consumer spending so as to increase the rate of economic growth.  For example, if the change to taxation of off shore profits held by American corporations can bring $750 billion back to the USA, that number is equivalent to more than 4% of the entire economic output of the country for a year.  If only half of the those funds are used for business investments in the USA, that alone would increase economic growth by a minimum of 2%.  So only partial success with just one segment of the tax plan would mean a major boost to growth across America.

There's no exact correlation between job growth and economic growth.  We do know that additional economic growth will mean a great many more new jobs.  We also know that the additional growth will normally mean higher incomes for those who are already employed.  Even the government will get more taxes from all this extra economic activity.  So without predicting exact numbers, we can be sure that higher economic growth will help those who already have good jobs, those who want better jobs, and those who are still seeking employment.  It's a big win for all Americans. 

The pundits, however, don't look at tax reform as a way to help everyone.  They only see who will get the benefits of the tax cuts.  These pundits and think tanks busily announce the winners and losers even before knowing the details of the final tax plan.  They buy into the standard Democrat playbook where one group or another is always a victim; they just can't accept the idea of a policy that is good for the country as a whole.  It's really a sad thing to see these people try to set one group against another in the negotiations about the tax bill.

On top of this, we have the Democrats who have announced that they will only support a revenue-neutral tax plan.  Of course, a revenue neutral plan will not provide additional cash for investment into the private sector or for purchases by consumers.  It would be a tax plan that would not promote economic growth.  The Democrats know this.  They want the tax plan to fail in its principal purpose.  As a result, we have the liberal think tanks that have announced the big deficit which will ensue from the current tax proposal even though 1) it is impossible to know the result without the final plan, and 2) no consideration is given to the effect of economic growth resulting from the plan.

It's important to consider, at least this once, what the benefit for the country will be from the tax reform plan.  Ultimately, that will help everyone.  We can all be "winners".

Trying To Stir The Pot To Bring Troubles To the Surface

The NY Times is at it again.  It's doing its best to stir up discord among Republicans.  Today's effort is a major story about how, Erik Prince, the founder of security contractor Blackwater, is planning to run for the Senate from Wyoming.  That would mean Prince would have to run in a Republican primary against senator Barrasso.  According to the Times, Prince is being encouraged by Steve Bannon and funded by Robert Mercer.

Is there any truth to this report?  Maybe.  Prince may be considering such a race, but I sincerely doubt he will try it.  Indeed, it's probably too late.  Here's the reason:  Prince doesn't live in Wyoming.  He had an address there for a few years in the 1990s, but no ties since then.  Wyoming might possibly be fertile territory for an anti-establishment GOP challenger to Barrasso, but few in Wyoming are likely to opt for a guy from out of state whose main business ties are in DC.  Too many people in Wyoming want a senator who actually knows something about the needs of the state.  They're not looking for a carpetbagger.

Of course, this is just my view.  Maybe in Wyoming people are sitting around in diners and bars discussing how they want a new senator because Barrasso is friendly with Mitch McConnell.  The NY Times certainly wants its readers to believe that to be the case.  After all, inside the DC/NY/LA liberal bubble, it seems comforting to think that the entire Republican opposition is in turmoil and about to implode.  But it is unlikely to happen.

The real truth is that if Prince wants to be a senator from Wyoming, he has to move there now and live there for five years.  At that point he might be able to have some success.  Until then, the Times is just whistling "Dixie".  (Actually, the Times would never whistle "Dixie" because the mere mention of that song might trigger some of its readers.")

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Can This Be True?

California has passed a law to make it no longer a crime to intentionally pass on HIV to someone else.  To be clear, an unintentional situation that resulted in an HIV infection was never criminal, but until now if someone who knows he or she is infected with HIV intentionally had unprotected sex or donated to a blood bank, it was a crime.  That is no longer true.

One really has to wonder how California could decriminalize a person who knows he or she has HIV giving blood to a blood bank.  Are all blood recipients now to be potentially exposed to HIV so as not to hurt the feelings of those already infected?  That's like ending DUI laws so as not to hurt the feelings of those with drinking problems.  It's like ending laws against theft so as not to hurt those who are kleptomaniacs.  It's crazy.

I'm not at all surprised that someone in California would propose such a law.  After all, California is one of the epicenters of political correctness.  I am, however, flabbergasted that the California legislature would actually enact such a law.  They are knowingly putting millions of innocent people at risk for HIV for no reason other than political correctness.  Shouldn't people's lives count for more than the feelings of those already infected?

I find it hard to believe that this story is true even though I see it reported.

Terror Attack In London?

Outside of a museum in London today, a car jumped the curb and went down the sidewalk filled with pedestrians.  The driver was taken into custody.  There appear to be no fatalities thus far, but people were injured.  It looks like yet another terror attack by vehicle in the UK.  Nevertheless, the British police have only said that they have "not yet ruled out" terrorism in the event.

Think about that.  We have another car attack and the police don't say that they don't yet know the motive.  No, they say that they have not yet RULED OUT terrorism.  Clearly, they are showing their bias against calling anything a terror attack.

This isn't the first attack of this nature in the UK, and likely it won't be the last.  Nevertheless, one would hope that the police approach these things with an open mind.  It clearly appears to be a terror attack, so why be so ready to rule that out?

Bowe Bergdahl -- The Final Story

According to reports today, Bowe Bergdahl is planning to plead guilty to desertion at his court-martial.  It's quite a shift from where things stood when he first returned from Afghanistan.

Remember Bergdahl was obtained in a swap with the Taliban.  The USA freed five high ranking Taliban prisoners and got Bergdahl in exchange.  President Obama held a ceremony in the rose garden at the White House to celebrate his return.  Susan Rice (who will say anything) called Bergdahl a "hero".  Then the truth started to leak out.  We heard that Bergdahl was a deserter who walked away from his unit and was later captured by the Taliban.  There were stories that he joined forces with the Taliban, although the truth of them has never been known.  What is a fact, however, is that after Bergdahl deserted, other troops were wounded or killed while searching for him.  We also know that at least some of the five Taliban leaders released in the swap are back fighting against the USA again.

 

The Cost of Birth Control

The Trump administration has announced an interim rule that allows employers with religious objections to provide health insurance plans that do not cover birth control.  The result has been an outpouring of upset from the left.  The move has been called "an attack on women's health" by various senators, while others actually said that women would "die" as a result of the change.  Various Democrat state attorneys general have announced the intention to sue to overturn the new rule.  In short, we have gotten the typical overreaction.

Let's consider two important points.

First, this is a very minor issue.  According to reports, once can buy a year's worth of birth control pills at Walmart for $48.  That's $4 per month.  It's not too much to expect people to spend that on their own.  Further, other birth control methods can be obtained for even less.  No one need "die" because of this.

Second, the lawsuits threatened will surely lose.  Under Obamacare, the Secretary of HHS is given the power to set rules for the content of health insurance plans.  That means that the Trump administration has the power to make this change.  It may be possible that the methodology used to make the change was erroneous; that I have not researched.  But remember, even were a court to find that the method used was wrong, the government could just follow the proper procedure and put the rule back in place ASAP.

The very people who gave this power to the government are the ones who are must upset that it is using that power. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sometimes, You Just Can't Win

I happened to see a bit of a show on MSNBC yesterday during which there was a panel discussing gun control.  The specific subject was the NRA's statement that it thought bump stocks should be regulated.  Bump stocks, of course, are the devices that can be added to a semi-automatic weapon to make it mimic a machine gun.  The Las Vegas shooter used these devices to spray bullets into the crowd at a furious pace. 

The move to regulate bump stocks has been gaining support in the last few days.  After all, there already is federal law that bans manufacture of automatic weapons for sale to the public.  Indeed, the ban on machine guns has been in place since the 1930's when it was put in place to keep such weapons out of the hands of Al Capone and the mob.  Since bump stocks are just a way to get the equivalent of a machine gun despite the ban on such weapons, there's no reason to allow these devices to remain legal.  It's also worth noting that bump stocks reduce the accuracy of the weapon to a great extent.  They have no purpose in hunting or any other valid use of the weapons.  (Okay, maybe if you are preparing for the zombie apocalypse you might want some.) 

What I found interesting on MSNBC was the reaction to the NRA supporting the regulation of bump stocks.  I hoped that those on the left would welcome the NRA position and move quickly forward to help get the new rules in place.  Instead, the MSNBC panel spent time discussing how the NRA was really trying to thwart doing anything to limit the bump stocks.  They seemed so opposed to anything that the NRA does that when they could have been happy with the agreement, they just continued to attack no matter the facts.  I can't say I was surprised by this, but it certainly was a disappointment.

The Jobs Report

The government issued the employment report this morning.  The headlines are that unemployment went down to 4.2% but there were 33,000 fewer jobs in the economy.  Those two numbers don't go together at all, but they come from two different surveys.  The real truth, however, is that the report is meaningless.  The surveys were taken just as Florida was being battered by a major hurricane and just after East Texas was hit by another hurricane.  As a result, the numbers for those large areas were severely distorted in many ways; the numbers should revert to being closer to normal next month.

A good example of the disruption caused by the hurricanes is that over 100,000 fewer people were employed in restaurants and tourism.  That's a reflection of the temporary mess in Florida.

We will have to wait until next month to see if where employment is actually heading.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Incredible -- Just Incredible

I just posted a piece about the NY Times article on Harvey Weinstein and the accusations that he sexually harassed interns, employees and actresses who worked for him.  Then I came across an article that blew me away.  Last January, Vanity Fair reported that Malia Obama was going to live in New York and be an intern working for Harvey Weinstein.

Think about that.  Surely, the White House knew of the rumors about Weinstein at that point.  How could the Obamas let their daughter go work for him as an intern?

Don't get me wrong.  I know of nothing to indicate that anything untoward happened between Weinstein and Malia Obama (and I certainly hope that is the case.)  I'm just astonished that her parents actually let Malia take this position.

Harvey Weinstein -- The Latest

The New York Times published a lengthy article detailing the decades of accusations by women that they were harassed by Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood.  Weinstein, of course, is one of the most important and influential men in Hollywood.  His first response came when his lawyer said he would be suing the Times.  Good luck with that.  Weinstein is a public figure, so he would need to prove actual malice by the Times to get any recovery, and given the sources who came forward for the article, there is no way such a claim of malice could survive.  Weinstein would need to show that the Times intentionally published a story that it knew to be false (or that it totally failed to check out the accuracy of what it was saying.)

So what happens now to Weinstein?  He's one of the biggest donors to Democrats in the USA.  Will the Dems all give back the contributions?  Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.  Will Hillary Clinton (a big recipient of Weinstein's cash) condemn him in public.  She could publish a new book called "It Take A Village ... To Satisfy Harvey".

Maybe president Obama will make a statement about his old friend Harvey.  Again, I seriously doubt that.  You see, sexual predators are big news only if they are Republicans.  Someone like Roman Polanski he raped a young girl and was forced to flee the country got a standing ovation at the last Oscars. 

Hopefully, Weinstein will get the full Anthony Weiner treatment.  If he did what the Times says he did, then he deserves to see his career end.

Making the Opposite Point

Politico Magazine is another outlet for liberals that seems permanently caught in the media/Democrat bubble.  A good example of this is the article by Nik Steinberg who denounces Rex Tillerson for destroying the State Department.  Steinberg was a political appointee of president Obama at the UN mission of the USA.  He is apoplectic because many of the so called professional staff at the UN have left the government for the private sector.  Supposedly, the secretary of state is destroying the future of the department by forcing these folks out.

We can argue about whether or not any of them have been forced to leave, but before we do let's take a look at those who Steinberg describes in detail who have left.  Here's his description verbatim:

[T]he sanctions expert who, each time North Korea carried out an illicit nuclear or ballistic missile test, could walk us through previous negotiations of U.N. sanctions—where China had resisted tightening the screws, and where Beijing might be pushed to apply more pressure—because he’d sat on our side of the table during many of those discussions. Or the former military officer who, when we were scrambling to determine the most efficient way to airlift supplies into West Africa during the Ebola outbreak, knew offhand the logistical capacities of every U.N. peacekeeping base in the region. Or our Syria expert, a native Arabic speaker who had developed a network of aid workers and civilians on the ground, providing a crucial source of information about the ongoing sieges and chemical weapons attacks. Or the legal adviser who knew the U.N. Charter by heart and had an encyclopedic knowledge of precedents that could be called upon for drafting Security Council resolutions in a crisis, as when Russia invaded Crimea.

Just think about those people.  The first one knew all about previous negotiations about North Korea and could guide the USA delegation through future talks on the subject.  Okay, he's gone, but remember that all those past negotiations were complete failures.  They ranged from deals struck by the USA with the NK's on which the North Koreans cheated and continued their nuclear programs while getting aid from the USA to deals where we tried to get the NK's to stop building nukes but failed.  Why do we need to know the nuances of those past deals?  Surely, America would not want to repeat past mistakes; yet, that is the "guidance" that this person would provide.  We need fresh ideas and fresh viewpoints, not the moldy failed views that prevailed until now.

Then we have the Syria expert who supposedly provided crucial info about chemical weapons attacks.  Remember that Obama waited for 18 actual chemical attacks over many months before ever responding to the problem.  President Obama consistently said that there was no proof of those attacks even when countries like France and Canada publically concluded that these attacks were ongoing and required a response.  That means that the sources of the Syria expert were either unable to confirm what the world knew was happening, or the president was getting the truth and just lying to the American people.  Either way, that Syria expert doesn't seem to have added much to the discussion.

Then there's the legal expert who knows the UN Charter so well; he helped drafting the resolution when Russia invaded Crimea.  Of course, resolution or not resolution, the Russians remain in Crimea.  In fact, Russia formally annexed Crimea and nothing was done in response.  That expertise in the arcane workings of the UN might matter if the UN mattered, but other than as a forum to talk, virtually nothing of moment happens there.  The legal expert may have great expertise, but it is in a subject of little importance.  He's like the historian with encyclopedic knowledge of Egypt in the Late Bronze Age.  He may be an expert, but it is in a subject that has little relevance to the real world.

That leaves the person who knew the logistics capabilities of bases in West Africa.  That sounds good, but can it really be that but for that expert it would have been difficult to determine these facts?  Of course not.  There are not that many bases for UN peacekeeping bases in the region.  After a phone call or two, all of the information could have been gathered in probably less than a half hour.

So let's put all this together.  Let's assume that Steinberg is correct when he says that career employees of the State Department at the UN are leaving the government.  Is that really so bad?  Do we really want to have the mistakes of the past, of which there are many, repeated by people who just seem to want to do the same things again and again?  Or, do we want fresh ideas and fresh viewpoints?  The reality is that Steinberg's own arguments make a rather convincing case for getting a new look at some of the fossilized methods and views of the US state department.  Steinberg is actually making the opposite point from the one he thinks he is proving.

A Tax Reform Trap

There are articles today about how the Blue Dog Democrats in the House are willing to back certain parts of the Republican tax plan.  The Blue Dog Democrats are the few moderates left among the Dems; they number 18.  The biggest problem seen by these members is that they want the tax plan to be revenue neutral, while the GOP plan is unlikely to be so.

It would be nice to have the support of 18 Democrats for the eventual bill, but there is no way to make the tax plan revenue neutral and effective at stimulating the economy at the same time.  The whole point of the tax plan is to get more cash into the hands of individuals and businesses so that it can be put into the economy.  If Congress just takes out as much as it puts in, there will be no such effect.  The big problem here is that when the CBO scores the bill, it will only use static scoring.  In other words, it won't consider the extra economic growth caused by a tax cut.  We know that such growth will occur because it happened in the past after tax cuts under Kennedy, Reagan and Bush.  As a result, the CBO will see any tax cut as increasing the deficit and therefore, not revenue neutral.  A proper tax cut, however, will add to the deficit in the first year or two and then bring in all manner of additional revenue as economic growth soars.  The GOP can't give up that growth in exchange for a few votes from the Blue Dogs.

Free Speech in Virginia?

The other day at the campus of William and Mary in Virginia, a speaker from the ACLU was about to speak to students about free speech.  In an ironic twist, the speech was shut down by Black Lives Matter protesters who chanted and screamed so that the speaker could not be heard.  The head of the BLM group was then allowed to speak to the assemblage and after making his pitch, he announced the event was cancelled.  The scheduled speaker was not allowed to speak because the BLM group continued chanting and screaming.

Since then, the university has issued a statement announcing its commitment to free speech, but nothing has happened to the protesters.  It's going to be interesting to see if anything happens to them.  After all, they improperly shut down a campus event.  Will Virginia authorities take steps to see that the right of free speech is protected?  Or will the authorities refrain from disciplining the students involved in the BLM protest?  This should be interesting.

Claiming Victimhood

Remember Hayley Geftman-Gold?  She's the CBS vice president who was fired for posting online that she had no sympathy for the people killed and wounded in Las Vegas because they are country music fans who are often Republicans.  Today, she's back in the news.  She's complaining that she's being harassed by things people are posting on her Facebook page.  She want now to be a victim and turned the matter over to police.

Think about that.  My understanding is that if someone wants to post on your Facebook page, they have to be your "friend" on Facebook.  That's who is harassing her, her friends.

To be honest, I detest Facebook and rarely, if ever, use it, so I won't pretend that I'm certain of what I just said.  Nevertheless, the fact that people would criticize the heartless and disgusting thing that this woman wrote on the very Facebook page where she wrote it does not surprise me.  Apparently, those who are posting have no sympathy for her.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Has Inflation Been Beaten Forever By Technology?

At the site Wired in the business section, there is a rather crazy article that proposes that inflation has been defeated by technology.  Prices that should have risen under the twentieth century parameters have stagnated instead, and the author credits technology for keeping those prices down.

It's an interesting idea, but it is based upon a faulty premise.  Here's the key sentence from the author:

But when Yellen acknowledges that the Fed may have misjudged, she is speaking to the fact that over the past eight years, economic output has picked up and employment has grown, but neither wages nor prices have risen much. Inflation has barely nudged 2% in the past decade.

Think about what those sentences really indicate.  The key line is "economic output has picked up and employment has grown."  These are the words of a committed liberal economist who now accepts that economic growth of less than 2% per year accompanied by a huge decline in the percentage of the population that is working is the "new normal".  It isn't.

Through the century preceding the Obama years, economic growth in the USA averaged about twice the level of the Obama years.  That century included the Great Depression with its major contraction in the economy, so in the rest of those years, growth was substantially more than twice the rate in the Obama years.  Indeed, Obama is the only president in modern American history who presided over an economy that never once achieved 3% growth in any year.  It wasn't a that economic output "picked up" but rather that it stagnated and barely grew.  On top of that, employment did grow, but at such a paltry rate that it took nearly the entire 8 years under Obama just to get back to the same number of jobs as was the case just prior to the recession of 2008.  In other words, the economy staggered along with wholly substandard growth for all of Obama's term in office.  The unemployment rate went down, but mostly because people left the work force rather than due to the creation of a great many jobs.  On top of this, the Obama refusal to enforce the immigration laws led to a giant influx of illegal aliens who worked for less than legal wages and kept American workers from getting raises.

Under the actual conditions, it is not surprising that neither wages nor prices have risen much.  On the labor front, there is a vast pool of potential workers who have given up looking for employment.  That doesn't mean that as conditions become more favorable they won't take jobs, but only that they stopped looking for a while.  Then there are also the millions of illegal workers who do all sorts of jobs for extremely low wages, thereby drying up employment opportunities for low skilled American workers.  With all this available labor, there is no reason for wages to rise.  That eliminates one of the two main causes of inflation, namely rising wages.  The lack of rising incomes is also coupled with the rising aggregate cost of health insurance to eliminate the other main cause of inflation, rising demand.  The average family has seen its costs for health insurance rise, sometimes dramatically, under Obamacare.  This rise has exceeded any rise in incomes, so the average family actually has less to spend on other goods and services than it did prior to the 2008 recession.  Less income means less demand which means less inflationary pressures.  Indeed, the only large items in our economy which have seen soaring prices are health insurance and health services.  That, however, is mainly a product of Obamacare.

None of the events of the last eight years indicate that the rules governing inflation have changed at all.  Technology has certainly reduced the cost of some items and it has created whole new industries and products as well.  That technology has not altered the basic laws of economics.  Only by first accepting that 2% growth and huge numbers of underemployed people is the new normal could one ever conclude, however, that inflation has been beaten.

Tillerson Exposes Fake News

NBC News published a report claiming that secretary of state Rex Tillerson was planning to resign last summer and that VP Pence had to convince him not to do so.  NBC also reported that Tillerson called President Trump a "moron" in a meeting at the state department.  Within a short time, CNN announced that it had "confirmed" that Tillerson had called Trump that name.  MSNBC rushed to the air a report claiming that the actual quote was that Tillerson had called Trump a "f__king moron".  Of course, not a single report identified the supposed source of these reports.  We just got the usual unnamed sources who supposedly backed up the story.

This morning, Tillerson denied the reports and called the Fake News.  He said he never threatened to resign and never had to be convinced by Pence to stay.  He further said that he did not even consider resigning at any point.  Then he was asked about calling Trump a "moron" and responded that he wouldn't "deal with petty stuff like that." 

What was the media response?  The first stories were headlined that Tillerson would not deny calling Trump a moron.  Really?  That's the story?  Unbelievable!

Tillerson has made clear that the central point of the reports were totally false.  So NBC, MSNBC and CNN are pushing stories from unnamed sources that are false.  And these networks focus on Tillerson's refusal to dignify the minor claim with a response?

I really can't stand this nonsense.

The Abortion Battle In Congress == Himes Hides

The House voted yesterday to pass a bill banning abortions after the fetus is 20 weeks old.  This is one of those bills that will pass the House and then fail to pass the Senate since the Democrats will filibuster it.  The Democrats will tolerate no restriction of any sort on abortion.

I don't want to rehash the abortion debate.  I would rather focus on the vote in the House.  All but 2 Republicans voted for the bill.  All but 3 Democrats voted against it.  There was an unusually high number of congressmen not voting, however.  One was my own representative, Jim Himes.  For years, Himes has consistently told us that he would oppose abortion restrictions.  Then, when it comes time to vote on the issue, Himes manages not to take sides.  It's a rather cowardly pose to take.  He panders to the local Democrat base but then hides rather than vote as he promised.

Don't get me wrong; I think that a 20 week ban on abortions makes sense and is a reasonable restriction to protect the unborn.  I just think that the cowardice and deception of Jim Himes deserves to be called out for what it is.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

So Would It Have Made A Difference?

The current push for more gun control laws is understandable after Las Vegas.  The usual people who push gun control are out screaming and crying about how America can't wait and the NRA is the devil.  Let's take a step back first and consider what is being pushed.

Some of the gun control people are pushing the requirement of background checks on all gun purchases.  We are already at the point where nearly all sales require a background check.  More important, the Las Vegas shooter passed three different background checks in the last few months as he purchased weapons.  Would universal background checks have stopped the Vegas massacre?  The clear answer is NO!

Another push by the gun control forces is to ban automatic weapons like those used so horribly in Vegas.  The problem, of course, is that since 1986, it has been illegal to manufacture and sell such weapons to the public.  Only the military and the equivalent can legally buy those new weapons.  The automatic weapons which were in existence before 1986 can still be sold, but the federal paperwork needed to complete such a sale is overwhelming and difficult to complete.  The Las Vegas shooter did not buy any of those old automatic weapons.  So would a further ban on automatic weapons have stopped the Vegas massacre?  Again, the answer is NO!

The current belief is that the Vegas shooter used automatic weapons which were converted from semi-automatic.  I haven't seen yet any clear evidence as to who did the conversion or when it was done.  There are very strict rules under which such a conversion may be done; afterwards, sales of the new automatic weapons are still government by the stringent federal laws on the subject.  There seems to be no paperwork filed by the Vegas shooter connected to that sort of a sale.  We don't know for sure, but it certainly seems most likely that the automatic weapons that the shooter used were illegal under the current federal laws.  So, if the weapons were already illegal and the shooter was breaking the law by owning them, is there a need for another law to do the same thing?  Again, the answer is NO!

I have no problem with a blanket ban on all fully automatic weapons.  Ownership of such weapons could be limited to just the military.  No one really needs a machine gun at home.  Such a law would be a minor change to existing gun laws since nearly all automatic weapons are already illegal.  But would such a law have prevented Las Vegas?  The answer is NO!

It would be a good thing is all those lamenting our gun laws or lack of gun laws would take a moment to calm down and consider what sort of laws they are actually seeking.  There's nothing being pushed now that would have prevented Las Vegas.  Put another way, the government and gun laws can't fix everything.