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Friday, April 28, 2017

They Won't Even Tear Away From the Non-Stop BS

About two hours ago, the North Koreans launched another ballistic missile.  This short to medium range missile blew up in the air after about 25 minutes following launch.  The key is not that the missile test failed, but rather that the NKs launched the missile as a provocation to the USA.  The launch came on the day that a meeting of the UN Security Council was held to discuss what to do about the NK missile program.

I saw the news of the missile launch first on the internet.  I decided to see how the cable TV news networks were treating it.  Fox News was in the middle of Special Report, the channels evening news summary.  There was ample coverage and discussion of the meaning of the launch.  Then I went to MSNBC to see what was being said on Greta's show.  I checked in three times in fifteen minutes.  There was no mention of the NK missile launch.  There was, instead, a seemingly endless discussion of the success or failure of Trump's first 100 days.  It made me wonder if the show had been taped earlier. I also looked at CNN.  Wolff Blitzer was focused on General Mike Flynn.  Really!  The North Koreans launch another missile test, and the Blitz Man spends the entire broadcast talking about whether or not Flynn violated the law in 2015.  Who cares?

I know that the media like MSNBC and CNN are trying to tear down Trump as best as they can.  I get it.  Shouldn't news channels cover the breaking news though?  Shouldn't news that is extremely important and which could actually be an indication of impeding conflict at least be mentioned?

I really don't know why anyone watches CNN or MSNBC.

Another Outrage -- President Trump calls Warren Pocahontas

President Trump spoke to the NRA today.  During his speech, he mentioned that the Democrat candidate in 2020 is likely to come to speak to the group.  He mentioned that it might be a woman, "even Pocahontas".  That was it.  Twitter blew up.  So did Facebook.  The lefty trolls went crazy over this "outrage" from Trump.  How dare he call Warren "Pocahontas"!  Just because senator Warren falsely claimed to have Cherokee heritage in order to get her jobs at the law schools at Penn and Harvard, it is still bad form to mention her lies on that subject.  Right!  The left doesn't care what lies Warren told; they only care that she is one of them.  Anything that reflects poorly on her is, therefore, an outrage.  These outraged people are the same ones who constantly call the President everything from an OompaLoompa to Hitler to a fascist to a racist to you name it.  Those names have no basis in fact.  But if you call the dishonest Warren who defrauded two universities to get ahead, you are committing an unforgiveable sin.

I hope Trump keeps it up.  Someone has to tell the truth about people like Warren.

The UN Human Rights Council is Troubled by Arkansas

In what has to be the most hypocritical statement ever, the UN Human Rights Council announced that it is "deeply troubled" by the recent executions of four convicted murderers in the state of Arkansas. 
Think about that.  Four men who murdered people, who got fair trials, who got appeals and more appeals and who had a full chance to litigate their guilt or innocence were found guilt and sentenced to death.  Then the state of Arkansas actually carried out the executions rather than waiting for more litigation.  The shortest time since being convicted for any of these murderers was 12 years, so they had plenty of opportunity to try to overturn their sentences.  This is what the UN Human Rights people found troubling.

Now think about what the UN Human Rights Council has done with regard to the slaughter of half a million civilians in Syria.  Think about what this same group did when hundreds of thousands were starved to death by warlords fighting in Sudan/South Sudan.  Think of what the UN Human Rights Council has said about the Iranians who imprison anyone who opposes the government.  Think of what the UN said about the government of Venezuela which has taken to using thugs for executing opponents in the streets if they have the temerity to protest.  Apparently those millions of deaths with no chance of a reprieve was just not "deeply troubling".  In other words, the UNHRC is a completely BS organization. 

Let's Beat the Misinformation For Once

An event is coming which will lead to all sorts of misinformation (Fake News, if you prefer) in the mainstream media.  The Israeli government will shortly announce a plan to build 15,000 new homes in Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and its population has been growing rapidly.  The need for new homes is great.  The announcement of the government action has been made preliminarily and will be finalized within the next week or two.  The new homes will be spread throughout much of the Jerusalem metropolitan area.

Without a doubt, these new apartments will be called "obstacles to peace" by the left and the mainstream media, no matter what the actual facts are.  For these people, half of Jerusalem is a "settlement" so any home built in that portion of the city is likewise a "settlement".  The media is still following the destructive policy of the Obama years when the president elevated the issue of settlements as the single most important one in the whole Arab-Israeli conflict.  The Palestinians did not have to negotiated towards peace because they had the USA under Obama continually putting pressure on Israel to keep certain portions of its own capital free of Jews.  The left may have frequently compared Bush to Hitler (and now Trump to Hitler), but it was Obama who actually carried out policies designed to make certain areas "Judenrein" or free of Jews as the Nazis wanted.

It's important to understand the truth here.  In 1967, Jordan attack Israel and the Israelis counterattacked an took both Jerusalem and the West Bank.  That makes Israeli control of that land both legal and proper under international law.  Israel reunited the city of Jerusalem which had been divided (like Berlin) from 1949 to 1967.  All the inhabitants of the portion of Jerusalem that was won by Israel were offered Israeli citizenship at that time.  The newly won portions of the city were formally annexed by Israel nearly fifty years ago.  Since then, all people -- whether Jews, Christians or Moslems have been free to live wherever they want in Jerusalem.  This is as it should be.  The new homes are not for one group or another; they are for the city residents. 

Some of the new homes will be just a few blocks from Israel's parliament building or from the Israeli Supreme Court or the office of the Prime Minister.  Only in the totally distorted view of the anti-settlement crowd could such homes be considered an obstacle to peace.  These are not "settlements"; they are just new apartments in all neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Proof Of The Need For Tax Reform

The flash GDP number for the first quarter of 2017 was released this morning; it showed growth of 0.7%.  That's terrible.  Of course, it may change as more data is compiled and the government revises the figures.  Still, even were it to rise to 2.0%, it would still be anemic growth.  In many ways, it is president Obama's parting "gift" to the nation.  We had eight years of slow growth under Obama so another quarter where he was president for the first month is no surprise.  What is clear from this report, however, is that something has to be done to jump start economic growth.  America cannot continue down the Obama path of slow or no growth; if incomes are to rise, jobs created and futures to be promising, growth is essential.  Even our national power is at stake.  A stalled economy can only support so much in the way of defense.

Put all this together and you get a very strong argument for the tax cuts that President Trump is pushing.  Indeed, growing the economy is the point of the tax cutting exercise.  The left focuses on the idiotic notion that Trump is just trying to make the rich richer; the New York Times front page today talks of Trump trying to "transfer" trillions of dollars to the rich.  Even for the uber-leftist Times, this is silly.  The tax cuts will help everyone, especially those who are just starting out in life.  A new entrant in the job market needs for there to be jobs which are only created by growth.  Someone who has been working for four years needs to have available positions above his or her pay grade if promotion is to take place; those positions too are only created by growth.  People building houses can only sell them if there are more buyers, and those buyers need jobs which need growth.  People making cars can only sell those cars if there are sufficient new buyers; that's growth too.  Look, the point is that cutting the corporate tax from the world's highest to one of the lowest will countless new businesses to our shores.  Cutting the taxation on money held overseas if it is returned to the USA should give the economy a shot in the arm of something like a trillion dollars.  That means growth and lots of it.  The Times sniff that much of that money will go out in dividends to (pardon the expression) the rich.  Somehow they Times doesn't understand that even the money that goes to the rich will be either spent or invested and both of those activities will help spur the economy.  I guess the editors and reporters at the Times think that wealthy people stuff cash under their mattresses.

The individual tax cuts and modifications will also spur the economy.  The average taxpayer who now claims the standard deduction will get a major boost in take home pay because of the doubling of that deduction.  That means more spending which means more growth.

The end of the Alternative Minimum Tax will also mean that many will get a boost in after tax income.  The AMT was originally passed to hit a few dozen very wealthy people who paid no tax.  Over time, inflation raised incomes to the point where the AMT was hitting many millions of people who were not rich.  These people in the upper half of the middle income will no longer get hit with that extra tax.  Instead, the Trump plan does away with most deductions so everyone will pay tax at the state rates with most loopholes being gone.  There will still be a few loopholes for the unscrupulous to use.  While charity will still be deductible, we will no doubt see quasi-charities like the Clinton Foundation used to avoid taxes without actually doing much that is charitable.  Those activities, however, can be policed by the IRS.  That's about it for loopholes in the personal income tax.

No matter what happens in the details, however, the need for tax cuts is clear.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

So Is there About To Be an Introduction of US Forces into Southern Syria?

According to an article today in The National Interest, the USA is about to introduce American troops into southern Syria in an offensive against ISIS forces in that region.  In fact, the supposed "expert" who wrote that article says that America will establish a safe zone inside Syria along the border with Jordan and Israel.  The evidence for this conclusion is thin at best and imaginary at worst.  Maybe next week, the same expert will tell us that Martians are coming to fight ISIS.

It is not inconceivable that US forces could get involved in Southern Syria, except for one small problem.  There are no real US forces near Southern Syria.  There may be a hundred or so special operators who could be put in that region, but there just are not the thousands of troops that would be needed to establish a safe zone of the sort being predicted by this "expert".  Even a nation as powerful as the USA cannot create a safe zone with air power alone.  Further, there is no way that the Israelis are about to enter into fighting in Southern Syria; that would engender a major response across the region which would not help the anti-ISIS efforts.  The same is true with regard to the Jordanians.  King Abdullah needs his forces at home in Jordan to assure his own safety and that of his government.  He is truly unlikely to send his army into battle in Syria and to leave his home front unguarded.  There are Druse in the region who might be formed into an anti-ISIS battle group, but there are not that many who could fight.  There are anti-ISIS Sunni forces as well, but again, they are not numerous.  So absent a major shift in American troop deployments in which ten thousand or so troops get sent to Syria, this prediction of an American movement into that region is just nonsense.

It is remarkable that these media "experts" are published at all. 

A victory For Those Who Oppose Free Speech

In Portland, Oregon, the Antifa groups won a victory of sorts when the annual Rose Festival Parade got cancelled.  The parade is an event held to kick off the city-wide festival.  One of the groups scheduled to march in this year's parade was the local Republican party.  That led to the Antifa groups sending anonymous threats to the parade organizers that they would attack the parade and the GOP marchers if the group was allowed to participate.  After multiple threats, parade organizers called off the entire event.  No one will get to march.  Organizers said that they could not go ahead with the event if they could not guarantee the safety of those marching.

Think of what is happening.  The crazies on the left are using threats of violence to shut down people's constitutional right of assembly.  First we had violence in response to the Trump campaign which turned out to be bought and paid for by big bucks Democrats.  Then we had violence to protest Trump's victory as if that protest would change the outcome.  Then we had a great many instances of these same Antifa nut jobs preventing people from speaking at college campuses and elsewhere.  Through all of these events, the authorities have done little to prevent the problems from continuing.  Now we have the scope of the Antifa attack on the Constitution expanding.  They threaten to attack a parade?  It's an outrage, and it needs action to end it.

First of all, whoever sent the threats to the parade is guilty of criminal assault; they threatened physical violence.  The perpetrators should be identified and then prosecuted.  Next, at future speeches or parades or wherever else the Antifa threats are made, there should be a show of force by the police to dissuade the Antifa groups from continuing their criminal behavior.  Should the Antifa attack anyway, they should all be apprehended and arrested.  Once arrested, their prosecution should proceed to conviction.  Spending some time in prison ought to dampen down the zeal of those who seek to deny others their constitutional rights.

What's Happening in Caracas?

There are continuous protests in Venezuela especially in the capital of Caracas.  Security forces have confronted civilian protesters who have been marching in the streets.  President Maduro refuses to step down.  Instead, he has assumed dictatorial powers and taken away all the power of the national assembly.  Protests are broken up with violence.  So far, about thirty Venezuelans have been killed by the security forces at these demonstrations. A great many more have been injured.

The situation is rapidly getting totally out of control.  The Organization of American States decided to investigate events in Venezuela, so the Maduro government announce that the country had withdrawn from the OAS.  Hundreds of thousands of people are starving and the economy is in total collapse.  Things get worse each day.

Even worse, the situation is starting to look like the beginnings of the Syrian civil war.  There is a despot who is the subject of protests.  He is using the security forces to attack the protesters.  The next step may well be violence on a much more massive scale.  Indeed, the question right now is whether or not the Venezuelan military would stand for or participate in the government attacking the people marching in the street.  Hopefully, the Venezuelan military will step in and overthrow Maduro should such an order be issued.  Of course, the military might just obey the president and that would lead to civil war.  When the Syrian civil war began, president Obama ignored it.  He sat by and did and said nothing as more and more people were killed.  Hundreds of thousands have died and millions are homeless.  Had Obama acted early in the conflict, it could have been ended with minimal cost.  Normally, Venezuela is not the direct concern of the USA.  Having Venezuela disintegrate into warring groups and continuing civil war, however, would be very detrimental to the USA.  President Trump needs to ignore the Obama example of doing nothing and to try leadership by the USA instead.  That does not mean military action, but it does mean actively seeking a solution.

The Actual Tax Plan and The Inevitable Response

President Trump unveiled the outlines of his tax plan yesterday.  No matter what he put in the plan, the attacks from the Democrats and the mainstream media came quickly and predictably.  The banner headline in the New York Times today proclaims that the Trump tax plan helps the wealthy.  Bloomberg News has a piece out about how the tax plan is just another broken promise by Trump.  Then there are multiple reports about how the tax plan is designed to reduce the taxes paid by the President and his family.  Finally, we get the strangest attack of all; the Democrats are lamenting that the tax plan will increase the deficit.  I really wonder if any of them bothered to read the plan.

Let's look at the objections.

1.  The Trump tax plan will increase the federal budget deficit.  It is obviously hysterical that the Democrats are complaining about this.  In the last eight years when the Democrats controlled the White House, the federal debt climbed by more than in all the other years in American history combined.  This is not the pot calling the kettle black; it is a nuclear bomb calling a firecracker dangerous.  But let's put aside the incredible hypocrisy from the Democrats and their media allies.  Will the Trump tax plan increase the budget deficit?  That is not likely over the long term.  The tax reductions should pump up the economy in a major way.  That will mean more jobs and fewer people getting government support.  That will mean more income for the American people and thus higher tax revenues even if paid at a lower rate.  In short, once one considers the likely effect of the tax cut, there should be a lower deficit, not the reverse.  But..but..but, the media will tell us about what some "expert" predicts or what the CBO eventually says.  Remember, all these supposed experts do not consider the impact of the tax cuts.  They assume that the economy will be static.  The lower revenue taken due to the cuts will not create new sources of revenue in their calculations.  Imagine a person who cuts their intake of calories by one half and increases exercise greatly; then imagine an "expert" who tells that person that he or she won't lose weight.  That's basically what these "experts" are saying to us.

2.  Well won't the Trump tax plan help the wealthy?  Is the NY Times correct?  Of course, the tax plan will help the wealthy; they are the ones who pay most of the taxes.  The point here, however, is that this tax plan will help middle income and poor people as well.  If this tax plan leads to the creation of five million new jobs, who will fill those positions?  That will be the middle income and poor people.  And if the tax plan leads to higher levels of income for everyone, is that a problem if the wealthy also get part of that increase?  Nope.  All of America will benefit from the tax cut.  The argument that the wealthy might be helped is the rough equivalent of being against health care for the poor (Medicaid) because the money paid by the government to doctors will help the wealthy--after all, those doctors are rich.

3.  So is the tax plan a broken promise by President Trump?  Not really.  Indeed, not at all.  Bloomberg pushes this idea because this is not a tax cut for only the middle class and Trump said he wanted a middle class tax cut.  That's a phony claim by Bloomberg.  During the campaign, Trump called for a corporate tax cut (which is in the plan).  Those companies are not middle class, but this is still what he promised.  During the campaign Trump spoke of a middle class tax cut, but that did not mean that no one else could benefit.  Indeed, the President made it clear that he wants to jump start the economy to help EVERYONE.

4.  That leaves the nonsense about how the tax plan will help Trump and his family save on taxes.  This argument is really insulting to the intelligence of most Americans.  Do the media and the Democrats really think that Americans are so dumb that they would believe that President Trump is trying to change the tax laws so as to save money himself?  He already has more money than he could ever spend.  He has divorced himself from the management of his company, so he is not focused on his own taxes.  It's just such a stupid point that it is not worth saying more about it.

 

The Damascus Attack

There is a large weapons depot on the outskirts of Damascus in Syria that was destroyed by an attack yesterday.  The depot was filled with Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah.  There is no certainty in the reports of the attack as to what exactly was in that depot, but after the attack, large secondary explosions were observed.  These explosions indicate the presence of either large fuel storage tanks or, more likely, weapons containing explosives.  According to Syrian reports, no one was injured in the attack. 

The local reports blame Israel for the attack, but there is no proof of that.  It is true that Israel has said repeatedly that it will attack in Syria to prevent Iran from sending weapons to Hezbollah, but that is not enough to make this an Israeli attack.  As a matter of policy, the Israelis don't comment on events like this, so they are not about to admit responsibility for the attack.  Meanwhile, the Assad regime and the Iranians themselves are blaming the Israelis, but that too tells us little about what happened.  It is much better for Assad and his allies to blame Israel than to admit that a rebel group blew up a weapons depot.  Most likely, though, this was an Israeli attack, since rebels would not have cared about avoiding casualties.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Strange Disconnect on Sanctuary Cities

Yesterday, a federal district judge in California issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of President Trump's executive order to cut off funding for sanctuary cities.  If you read the mainstream media or listen to the participants, this was either a major blow to the President, a victory for the sanctuary cities or the act of an overreaching liberal judge who wants to impose his own views on the country.  I'm not sure, however, that it is any of these.

In the court hearing, the plaintiff cities/counties argued that the Executive Order was too broad and cut off all federal funding for them.  The US Attorney responded that the EO was narrow and only affected certain funds that came under grants from the Department of Justice to the police departments of the sanctuary cities.  Those grants have as part of their terms a requirement that the cities or counties cooperate with the federal government in the administration of the law.  The wording is different on each grant, but in general, that is what they say.

The key point, however, is that at the end of his order issuing an injunction with national scope, the federal judge said this:  "This injunction does not impact the Government's ability to use lawful means to enforce existing conditions of federal grants or 8 U.S.C. section 1373".  If the grants all have conditions that require the cities to cooperate in enforcement of federal immigration law and if the cities do not cooperate, then the feds can cut off the payments under those grants.  Such a cut off is a "lawful means" to enforce the conditions.  The cities breached the terms of the grant and therefore have no rights under them.  Further, the section of the US Code cited by the court says that no state, local or federal official or body can order government employees not to cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration statutes. 

There may be a temporary restraining order, but it seems to be directed only against the broad interpretation of the Executive Order which the federal government specifically said was an incorrect interpretation.

The Antifa --or -- Men In Black 4

To date, there have been three "Men In Black" movies.  The first was pretty funny; the second not so much; and the third was a true dud.  Now, when no one wants another, it seems there a group trying for Men In Black 4.  That group is the Antifa protesters who seem focused in Berkeley, California.

For those who have been asleep for the last few months, the Antifa bills itself as an anti-fascist group.  Its members show up in black outfits with black masks and head coverings.  They look like comic book ninjas (except they're not mutant ninja turtles.)  The Antifa is strangely named since the group used the practices of European fascist organizations of the past.  They oppose most of the basic liberties that define America.  Free speech is not allowed; only speech of which the Antifa approves is acceptable.  Freedom of assembly is also not allowed; indeed, Antifa seems to thrive on stopping anyone other than them from holding a meeting.  The reality of the Antifa group is that of a secret group of thugs seeking to control politics and people by intimidation and violence.

It really is time for all Americans to stand up and denounce this group.  They are the Ku Klux Klan in different color clothes.  They are the Nazis in English rather than German.  They are reprehensible and they need to be stopped.

For the last few years, tension has been building in this country along the political fault lines.  Conservatives distrust liberals and vice versa.  Since President Trump won the election, that divide has only grown deeper.  Nevertheless, we all need to remember that support of basic liberties for all people forms the foundation of this nation.  We man not like what someone says, but we have to accept his or her right to say it.  We simply cannot stand by and watch as freedom of speech is assaulted.  Even when the assault comes from those best described as violent comic book characters, it has to be strongly opposed.  Do not sit and watch.  Take a stand!

Cutting Corporate Taxes -- Energizing The Economy

President Trump is supposed to unveil the outlines of his tax plan today.  According to the advance word, one big component will be to reduce the corporate income tax to 15% from 35%.  This proposal has already drawn major comment with the attacks on it going at full speed even before it is officially proposed.

Let's take a quick look at what this proposal will do.

1.  The USA would go from the highest corporate tax rate in the world to one of the lowest.  Companies that locate their facilities in the USA will no longer have to operate at a disadvantage to foreign competitors due to taxes.  In fact, American companies would actually gain the advantage regarding taxes.

2.  This move ought to jump start the economy.  The after tax return on profitable investments in the USA would rise by almost 35% just from the change.  That would mean many more investments will make economic sense and will go ahead.  Higher investment is the single biggest way to cause economic growth and job growth too.  All that additional spending on investment and the resulting new jobs will also have a ripple effect through the economy.  Indeed, a tax cut of this magnitude ought to increase economy growth substantially.

So what are the attacks that are coming?

1.  The biggest and phoniest attack is that the tax cut will increase the deficit.  Just this morning, I heard a report that the tax cut (the exact nature of which is not yet known) will add two and a quarter trillion dollars to the national debt over ten years.  Amazing how these "experts" can determine what will happen to federal revenues without even knowing the exact nature of the tax plan, isn't it?  The key here, however, is that this analysis is static.  In other words, it does not consider the extra growth that the tax plan will bring.  But that growth is an inevitable result of the tax cut, so ignoring it makes no sense except in the world of Washington or the anti-Trump media.  Remember, if the tax plan can get the average growth rate up 2% so that instead of 1.5% the economy grows at 3.5%, the economy will be about 25% larger after ten years (due to compounding.)  That means America's GDP will be roughly five trillion dollars more after ten years than without the tax cut.  Federal taxes generally take about 20% of the GDP.  That means a trillion dollars more in tax revenues in the tenth year after the cut.  That addition would more than wipe out any drop in tax revenue from the early years of the cut.

Obviously, no one knows exactly what growth the tax cut will cause.  We do know for certain, however, that cutting taxes will accelerate growth substantially.  The idea that one would analyze the effects of the tax cuts while ignoring the impact those cuts will have on the economy is ludicrous.

2.  The second and also phony attack on corporate tax cuts is that they are designed just to help big business.  That's crazy.  If the added economic growth creates five million more well paying jobs, how could anyone say that doesn't benefit the average American?  If the economy is growing at a robust pace, that is a good thing for everyone.  Sure, it will help big business, but it will also help small business, wealthy Americans, middle income Americans and poor Americans.  It helps everyone.

We can save further review for after the actual plan is announced, but you should know in advance that the early attacks on this plan are just political propaganda put out by those who reflexively oppose anything that President Trump suggests.

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Baffled In the Bubble -- or -- How Dishonest Can A Pundit Be

In Politico Magazine, self proclaimed foreign policy expert Aaron Miller calls President Trump's foreign policy "baffling".  Then he goes on to say that Trump is following the policies of Obama and the Republican establishment.  As Miller puts it,

In abandoning almost every foreign policy campaign pledge, President Trump has hewed preternaturally closely to the policies of his Democratic predecessor and the Republican establishment, even while his unsettling personal style, impulsiveness and bracing tweets gives those centrist actions a still impermanent and unpredictable cast.

It's amazing that this supposed "expert" who teaches at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton doesn't see the obvious.  If Trump's foreign policy is baffling, but it follows extraordinarily closely the policies of Obama and the GOP establishment, then our "expert" is saying that Obama's polices were baffling.  He would, no doubt, be horrified at even the suggestion that his hero Barack had a confused foreign policy.

The truth is that professor Miller may be baffled, but it is a bafflement of his own making.  Trump's foreign policy is quite clear.  In two words, it is "America First".  Miller understood that to mean the USA would withdraw from the world and move towards isolationism.  After all, in the 1930s, there was an America First Movement that supported isolationism.  But so what!  That is not what Trump was ever aiming to accomplish.  His foreign policy is designed to put the needs of the American people first.  The USA will act in the national interests of America and Americans at all times.  That does not mean we will withdraw from the world.  Nor does it mean that isolationism will prevail.  It only means that American interests are of primary concerns.

A good example of this policy in action was the missile attack on the Syria air base after the Assad forces used sarin gas on civilians.  It is in the interests of the American people to dissuade any country or group in the world from using chemical weapons.  Those weapons might have hit a village in Syria a month ago, but they could easily hit the New York City subway system in the future.  It is in America's interest for there to be an international consensus that any such use is a war crime immediately punishable by a strong response.  That is part of America First, not contrary to it.

Another example is the response to the North Korean crazy dictator and his missile/nuclear program.  Right now, Kim Jung Un doesn't have the means to launch nuclear armed missiles at Los Angeles or Seattle.  Trump and his spokesmen have made clear that the USA will not accept the NKs ever having that capacity.  Trump could have continued the Obama doctrine of "strategic patience" which is the diplomatic name for kicking the can down the road.  It would keep more harmony among the world's nations and decrease the possibility of war right now.  It would also, however, bring ever closer the day when the crazy man in Pyongyang could incinerate entire American cities with the push of a button.  America First requires action now.

Indeed, while we are at it, let's also make clear that the "expert" professor Miller obviously did not bother to consider Obama's supposed foreign policy before announcing that Trump is following it closely.  When Assad last used sarin gas during Obama's days in the White House, we got to see the Obama policy on that subject.  It consisted of three parts:  first we got dithering.  Obama couldn't decide whether or not to take action.  He didn't even limit himself to dithering in private; his indecision was on full display to the media.  Second, we got Obama running for cover.  He made a deal with Russia and Assad that was clearly designed only for cover.  At the time, any rational observer knew that Assad was going to cheat.  He would never give up all his chemical weapons.  Obama, however, just couldn't bring himself to act.  Third, we got the quintessential policy prescription of the Obama years:  lies and more lies.  Obama and his people told the USA over and over that Assad had given up all his chemical weapons.  For the last year of Obama's term, Assad dropped chlorine gas on civilians across Syria, but Obama and his people just ignored that and kept telling us that Assad had given up all his chemical weapons.  Clearly that was a lie.  Assad even had sarin gas which he used (and then got a real response from Trump.)  It is hard to image two policies more different from each other than Obama's and Trump's.  Inside the bubble, though, professor Miller is just baffled -- or maybe not.  It is possible that Miller understands the actual truth and is just telling lies to cover for his hero Barack.  It doesn't really matter which it is, though.  Miller's opinion is total nonsense. 

The Wall

During the 2016 campaign, one issue that Donald Trump made clear was that a vote for him was a vote for a border wall with Mexico.  In Washington, no one cared.  It was just another political promise of the sort that presidential candidates have violated year after year.  For Trump and the American voters, however, this was a central promise of the Trump candidacy.

Now we are at the point where that wall can actually be built.  Instead of moving ahead with it, however, the issue looks likely to be put on hold for the time being because the Democrats threatened to shut down the government rather than to allow any funds to be used for that wall.  There was an election which, if it showed anything, showed that America's voters wanted that wall built.  The Democrats lost the election and now hold the country hostage to their battle to prevent enforcement of the immigration laws.  This is not a case where Trump won, but the Democrats won the House or the Senate; they lost both.  No, this is a case in which the Democrat party is trying to take control for itself in order to thwart the will of the people from being obeyed.

It's a disgrace.

Another Outrage from the Democrats

The new Secretary of Agriculture was confirmed by the Senate yesterday in a vote of 87 to 11.  Got that?  It took until April 24 for Secretary Purdue to be approved by the Senate.  Obviously, there was no real opposition to his nomination; only eleven Democrats opposed it, while 35 voted in favor of the nomination.  Nevertheless, we are over three months into the Trump administration and the office is just getting filled.  This is the direct result of the never-ending obstruction by the Democrats to all of the Trump nominees.

One has to wonder what purpose was served by the opposition.  Not a single Trump nominee failed to win his or her confirmation vote.  The nominee for Labor Secretary did withdraw for his own reasons, but that had nothing to do with the delays by the Democrats.  Further, during each of the Bush, Obama and Clinton administrations, there were multiple nominees who were not approved but the total cabinet was in place much earlier than this.  So what the Democrats had was a long drawn-out failure to accomplish anything.  All that they did was to show their base that they were "resisting". 

Of course, the next question that has to be answered is whether or not the delay is good for the USA.  Is America well served if there is no Secretary of Agriculture for three months?  I think it is safe to say that the future of the nation was not at stake without a head of the USDA.  Nevertheless, how many issues affecting the American farmer were left without direction because there was no one in charge at the department?  How many items that needed attention were just ignored or sloughed off?  Each one of these items had the ability to hurt a great many people, but the Democrats seemed not to care.  I mean there were no issues raised against the nominee; the Democrats just delayed for no valid reason at all.

This is an outrage which will, no doubt, be completely ignored by the media.  Hopefully, however, the American voters did not miss the contempt shown for them by the Democrats.

The Latest BS on Flynn

The usual leftists and media people are going nuts on Twitter because of the response by the White House to a document request from Congress concerning the investigation of former national security adviser Mike Flynn.  The headlines all scream that the White House denied requests to produce documents on Flynn.  The headlines, however, are wrong.  Here's what actually happened.

1.  The House committee sent a letter about a week ago seeking a number of categories of documents regarding Flynn.

2.  The White House responded to each category.  A) For some categories, the response says that the documents are at the Defense Department and refers the committee to the appropriate persons there.  B) For other categories, the White House says it has no responsive document.  C) For one request, the White House takes issue with production.  This is a request by the committee for all records regarding communications between Flynn and any foreign country or citizen.  The White House says that it doesn't have any such communications prior to the inauguration.  Then it points out that after Flynn became the national security adviser, much of his job was to communicate with foreigners.  The vast bulk of those communications are classified or even compartmented documents.  These are the documents which the White House did not turn over.  It did not refuse, however, to turn over some documents if the request were more limited.  The congressional committee could easily draft a request that is limited to documents that might be relevant to the investigation rather than to ask for essentially all of the foreign policy classified documents held in the White House for that period.

No doubt, we will get the usual hysteria from the media on this stuff.  It's important to know the truth.

 

The Coming Vote In France

Okay, we know it will be Marine LePen against Emmanuel Macron in just under two weeks in France.  The received wisdom is that Macron has it locked up.  After all, the media says that LePen is a far right extremist and Macron is an independent centrist.  The French have to go with the media's candidate; don't they?  Most likely, it will turn out that way, but it is far from the sure thing the media portrays.

Let's look at a few facts. 

1.  The polls that put Macron against LePen prior to last Sunday's first round of voting gave Macron a lead on average of over 30%.  In the polls taken after the identity of the two candidates for the final round became clear Macron's lead is 20%.  That's a loss of one-third of the margin.  There is still a 20% lead for Macron, but a shift of that magnitude is something that ought to set off alarms all over France.  If that shift continues, LePen could actually win.

2.  Macron is not an independent centrist.  He is a long time Socialist which, even in France, does not make him a centrist.  Most of the French know this.  In addition, LePen is not an extremist.  She is certainly a French nationalist and she is also a right winger, but, unlike her father, LePen has stayed away from extremism.  Many in France know that too.  One has to wonder if the non-stop mischaracterization by the French media of these two will actually help LePen and hurt Macron. 

There may not be enough time for the French election results to shift to a LePen victory.  She does, however, have a real chance to win.

So What Has Changed?

On TV last night, there was a graphic that illustrates much of what is wrong with news coverage.  It was a chart categorizing the items that President Trump set as his goals for the first 100 days.  Eleven were listed as accomplished, 18 as "some progress", and about 25 as nothing done.  No information was given as to which items fell into particular categories.  That's just silly.

Consider this:  is it more important that Justice Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court or that Obamacare has not yet been repealed?  Is it more important that America's standing in the world has changed in a major way or that regulations of the Department of Labor have been rejected?  Each of these items are important, but some are clearly more important than others.  Accomplishing a quarter of your goals may be poor performance or wonderful performance based upon which goals are met.  The chart doesn't provide a clue about that.

So here's the real question that needs to be asked about Trump's 100 days (other than why does anyone care about it).  Has the direction of America been changed for the better?  If so, will that change last?  Everything else is window dressing.  The answer is also pretty clearly YES.  Just the Gorsuch appointment will change the USA for the better for multiple decades.  The next Supreme Court nomination will reinforce that change in a major way.  Trump has also made clear to the world that the Obama years of "not leading, not even from behind" are over.  America is back.  Large numbers of regulations have been dumped.  Enforcement of the law regarding immigration has restarted.  Things are moving in the right direct after eight years of drift and moves that hurt the country.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Super Secret Open Message

Tomorrow, the White House is holding a classified briefing for all 100 US Senators about the situation in the Korean peninsula.  If there are no surprises, the leaks of what gets said in that briefing should start within ten minutes after the conclusion of the briefing, and we may get to see video of the briefing in time for the evening news.  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that one senator or another will leak news of what gets said in the meeting.

One has to wonder why the White House would hold such a classified briefing.  In truth, the White House must understand that all that is said will leak.  Indeed, this is probably the plan.  The North Koreans and the rest of the world will hear about the views of President Trump without his having to say them overtly.  Trump can threaten action against the NKs while always being able to maintain that he has never actually made public threats of the sort.  It's a way to get the word out while maintaining diplomatic deniability.  It's a pretty cagey move.

Most likely, the senators will get told of the American assessment of where the NK nuclear/missile programs are.  There will also be some sort of possible plan of action discussed.  I can't wait to read all about it.

The Berkeley Lawsuit

With the impending speech in Berkeley by Ann Coulter and the response from the University of California which seems bent on blocking that event, a lawsuit was filed today against the university administrators.  The suit seeks an injunction to stop the administration from blocking the event and from denying students their First Amendment rights and also seeks damages for the costs imposed on those who invited conservative speakers to the campus.

This is a tack which has not been taken much in the past.  I have read the complaint which is posted online.  If the facts are as alleged, the plaintiffs should get the relief they are seeking.  According to the complaint, the administration is using an unwritten set of rules to stop certain speakers from appearing, namely those speakers who have conservative views.  No federal court, not even the Ninth Circuit, would uphold such actions by a public university.

It will be interesting to see the response from UC Berkeley.

The Media Machine Goes Into Overdrive

It's an amazing thing to watch.  The mainstream media machine has gone into overdrive to attack Sean Hannity.  A woman who was a guest twice on the old Hannity and Colmes program 15 years ago, told a radio interviewer that Sean made "uncomfortable" advances towards her while on assignment in Detroit.  Hannity responded to the statement by denying it completely and pointing out that this same woman had previously made false allegations about him with regard to his work raising money for the Freedom Alliance, a group that helps children of soldiers killed in action or severely wounded.  That charity itself put forth proof at the time that the charges leveled by the woman were false.  Now, the woman herself is walking back her claims.  She had said that Hannity kept her off of his program after the event, but that turned out not to be true.  In fact, even though she wasn't a Fox News Contributor (who are the frequent guests), she still was on Hannity and Colmes again some six months after the supposed event for her second appearance.  Today, she said that she wasn't accusing Hannity of sexual harassment and that he wasn't guilty of it.

So how has this been covered by the mainstream media?  After all, it is an allegation of something other than sexual harassment by a woman who has gotten caught telling lies about Hannity previously.  If you guess that the media is playing it up big as yet another Fox News host caught with problems with sexual harassment, you would be correct.  The story is all over the place.  Most coverage doesn't even mention all the facts such as the woman's other lies about Hannity or her problems with lies about others beside Hannity.

I'm not a big fan of litigation, but this is one time that I hope Sean Hannity sues.  This is not a mistake by this woman.  This is an intentional grab for media attention.  She should pay the price for slandering him.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Did You Hear Of This -- UPDATE

I just finished reviewing the articles in the mainstream media about polls that just came out.  Nearly every article focuses on Trump's approval rating and how it is lower than other presidents had when they had been in office for 100 days.  I could only find two article that even mentioned that the Washington Post poll had asked voters who they would select if they could redo the 2016 vote.  What a surprise! The mainstream media focuses just on the results that make Trump look bad and they skip the results that make him look good.

Just Curious -- Did You Hear Of This?

The latest Washington Post poll came out today.  One question it asked of people who voted in 2016 was who they would select if they got to vote all over again.  Did you hear the result?  According to this poll, voters who actually voted in 2016 would select Trump over Clinton and he would win the popular vote as well as the electoral vote.

The poll is meaningless since no one gets to vote again.  Nevertheless, it should be a warning to all those Democrats who have been excited by how strong the "resistance" has been.  All that the resistance has managed to do is to drive some people who voted for Hillary over to Trump.  If they keep using "just say no to everything" as the Democrat motto, that party is likely to extend its time in the political wilderness.

It's rare that you get to watch a political party make a major mistake by consensus, but that is what is happening.  The Dems should realize that by opposing everything Trump does, they will not win over any of his voters.  They also should realize that by doing that, they are driving some of the moderates away.  The net result is that they are lowering their votes not raising them.

I wonder when it will sink in.  Will it take until the election in 2018 is over?  I hope not; it's bad for the country.

We Will Soon See If the French Polls Are Any Better Than Ours

The exit polls in France are showing that the winners of the presidential election are Macron and LePen.  This lines up with the pre-election polls as well.  Of course, since the polling places have not even closed yet, this is far from a perfect analysis of the results.  Still, the media is heralding the "fact" that these two will be in a runoff election in two weeks, with the winner becoming president.

It's worth remembering that prior to the Brexit vote, the polls showed Remain would win by a few percent.  The exit polls then showed that it would be very close.  The actual results had the Leave people outpolling the other side comfortably.  In the USA, the polls prior to election day showed Hillary Clinton would win easily.  The exit polls still showed Clinton ahead.  The actual results gave Trump and easy win in the electoral college.

It won't be long now to see if the French polling is any better than that here in the USA.  Are there many people voting for LePen who would not admit that to the pollsters?  How about those voting for Melanchon; did they too vote but refuse to tell?  The exit polls are interesting, but it is only the real results that will matter.  We should learn those by this evening.

Following In Obama's Footsteps

Yesterday we saw a major demonstration of the Democrats trying to follow in the footsteps of president Obama.  For most of his presidency, Obama used convenient straw men to argue his positions.  Obama created phony positions for his opponents and argued against those rather than addressing the actual opposition position.  The media never questioned it.  For example, Obama pulled every American soldier out of Iraq and the resulting vacuum allowed ISIS to form.  When addressing criticism of that obvious mistake, Obama always presented the choice as one between keeping over 100,000 American troops in Iraq or withdrawing them.  The problem with that argument, of course, is that no one was advocating to keep such a huge force in Iraq.  The issue was whether the last 15 or 20 thousand troops should remain in that country until real peace had been established.  Obama argued for his actions by being dishonest about his opponents.

Yesterday brought the big March For Science by the left.  It wasn't that big, to be fair, but it was covered like a major event.  Here's the problem with that march and the coverage:  there are no large groups in this country who are against science.  In fact, being for science is the consensus position in America.  What the marchers were actually promoting was the supposed science of man made global warming.  That is more religion than science.  We know, after all, that for the last 18 years there has been a pause in the warming trend previously observed.  We also know that the analysis which supposedly disproved that pause turned out to be the result of fiddling with the numbers.  This phony analysis was presented to world leaders right before the Paris climate summit a few years ago, and the dishonesty was only recently uncovered.  We also know that that none of the models on which climate change theory relies have been able to predict the weather of the last two decades.  Despite non-stop predictions of a huge increase in severe weather events, the number and intensity of hurricanes have been at a long term low.  Simply put, the actual events, i.e., the observational data, have not agreed with the theory.  For someone who supports science, that should mean that the theory is wrong.  Yesterday's marchers, however, did not care about the actual data; they are true believers, not scientists.

Oh the Horror! Trump to Hold Rally in PA At Same Time as White House Correspondents' Dinner

The media and Twitter were apoplectic at the news that President Trump is going to hold a rally near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania next Saturday night.  That's the same night as the White House Correspondents' Dinner which Trump previously decided to skip.  It's one of the funnier moments recently.  Is there really anyone outside of the media and the Trump-can-do-no-right group who cares if there is an event which conflicts with the dinner?  I can't imagine who.  The media acts like the rest of the world has to stop so that they can have their event in DC.  Why is that?  I've seen pieces of these dinners.  They are mostly a bunch of not-so-funny jokes and quite a few tipsy reporters. 

I do wonder what will come next.  Will Andrea Mitchell of NBC protest if there is any event on her birthday which might interfere with her party? 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Will The Next Senator From PA Be a Republican?

One of the biggest stories out of the 2016 election was the swing of Pennsylvania to the GOP.  President Trump was the first Republican in two decades to carry the Keystone State.  Now, it sounds as if the Democrats may be throwing away their senate seat in that state as well.  Democrat Bob Casey is the current holder of that seat.  He's one of the few pro-life Democrats in the Senate.  Last night, at a rally in Las Vegas, the new chair of the DNC announced that the party would not support any candidate who was not pro-choice.  If that is actually going to be the policy of the DNC, it will deny Casey support for his re-election bid in 2018.

I wonder how much of that statement was honest.  Will the Dems really throw away a seat in the senate because the candidate doesn't support abortion?  I can't imagine it.  Of course, who thought the Dems would nominate the only candidate who could lose to Donald Trump.

Hopefully, the Dems will stick to their promise. 

How Low Can The AP Go?

Today, President Trump went to Walter Reed Hospital to visit with wounded soldiers.  While there, he awarded a purple heart to soldier who lost one of his legs to wounds suffered in Afghanistan.  It was a small ceremony with a pool reporter there for coverage.  It ought to have been covered as an honor for the wounded soldier given by the nation.

So how did AP cover it?  They told the facts, but complained that Trump had awarded the medal in public rather than in private the way Obama used to do it.  In AP's view, it must be better for the president to avoid being seen honoring our nation's wounded.  What a sick point of view.  Here is a brave soldier who made a major sacrifice for all of us, and the AP wants him hidden behind closed doors.

After that complaint, the AP then went on to point out in the article that there was a protest march in DC today to complain about cuts in federal support for science.  What does that have to do with giving a purple heart to a wounded vet?  Nothing.  Even worse, the AP treats the budget cuts as if they are final and in place.  Actually, until Congress decides what will get spent, we have no idea if there will be any such cuts.

I don't care if the AP has it in for President Trump.  It's stupid but I expect it.  Nevertheless, I find it abhorrent that a major news organization would demean a wounded vet just to try to make a rather idiotic political point.

One Truly Major Trump Change in Iraq

Ever since the inauguration, we've been told that despite his rhetoric, Donald Trump has really not changed anything in Iraq from the course followed by president Obama.  The mainstream media and the Democrats are trying like hell to make sure that any success in Mosul against ISIS and any move against the terror group elsewhere cannot be attributed to President Trump.  Unlike some of the Fake News pushed by the media, there is some validity in this storyline.  American forces are still supporting Iraqi and other forces near Mosul.  American planes are also being used to bash ISIS forces that are still holding out in that city.  There have, however, been some major changes in American policy in Iraq.  First, the rules of engagement have been relaxed with control of more missions being given back to the military commanders and taken away from White House control.  Obama tried to micromanage US forces in Iraq, and the result was that nothing could happen in a timely fashion.  Advantages materialized and then faded before US forces could move.  This modification of control has favorably changed the dynamic in the region for the USA and its allies.

A second, even more important change to policy has also been made by President Trump.  Our allies the Kurds are being given real assistance for the first time.  President Obama made a big show of announcing help for the Kurdish Peshmerga (as those forces are known).  Then the Obama Pentagon delivered all of this "assistance" to the Iraqi government in Baghdad.  Not surprisingly, Baghdad kept the military supplies and used them to reinforce the Shiite militias beholden to Iran rather than giving the weapons to the Sunni Kurds.  This position was taken by Obama in order to avoid upsetting the Iranians.  Trump has now changed this.  Jane's Defence Weekly reported yesterday the following:

The US Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) announced on 17 April that the State Department approved the sale of an equipment package to equip two Iraqi Kurdish light infantry brigades and two artillery battalions.

This is a major amount of weaponry going to our best friends inside Iraq.  For many years, the Kurds have held off and beaten back ISIS while having mostly old weapons left from World War II.  That will shortly be changing.  These weapons will give the Kurds the ability to hit ISIS harder and also to keep themselves free from Iranian domination once the ISIS threat is neutralized.  There are over thirty million Kurds who live in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria.  They are the only large ethnic group in the region without its own country.  After ISIS is defeated, it may well be that a new nation, Kurdistan, will be the best way to tamp down sectarian violence in the area. 

Without a doubt, the Turks and the Iranians must be very unhappy with this decision to arm the Kurds.  That is, however, of no moment.  Iran is unhappy with anything the USA does that might strengthen America or weaken Iran.  For Iran, that means essentially everything makes them unhappy.  Turkey has treated the Kurds as second class citizens even though they make up more than a fifth of the population of the country.  The Turks will have to either start treating the Kurds better or else accept the departure of those people from Turkey.  America cannot be held hostage, however, to the Turks desire to continue to be the masters of the Kurds.

Why Didn't Obama Do This?

Aya Hijazi is an America woman who was in prison in Egypt for the last three years.  It's not worth going through the history of her arrest and the court proceedings in Egypt.  The key point is that the arrest was questionable at best.  Hijazi was released after president Trump made a personal request to the Egyptian president when he visited the White House two weeks ago.  Hijazi is now back in the USA.

Here's the main question about all this:  why didn't Obama do anything about this woman for three years?  Without a doubt, a sincere request from Obama to the Egyptians would have secured her release.  All we got from Obama, however, was total silence. 

The answer for Obama's failure to act seems to be that he did not want to elevate the president of Egypt by dealing with him.  The current president came into office after a military coup overthrew Muhammad Morsi the president installed into office as the candidate of the Moslem Brotherhood.  Under Morsi's "leadership", Egypt instituted restrictions and limitations on non-Muslim Egyptians.  Churches were burned.  Sectarian violence rose.  Morsi was moving Egypt away from tolerance and towards Sharia law.  But Obama couldn't forgive the Egyptian people for rising up and ousting Morsi.  The result of this misguided policy was that a poor American woman had to stay in prison for years because Obama didn't want to deal with the current Egyptian government.

It's good to have someone with common sense back in the White House.

The French Election

With the terror attack in Paris still fresh in the minds of the French, tomorrow's first round presidential election should be extremely interesting.  The race has been close with Macron and LePen leading most polls.  The common view of pundits is that the terror attack will help shift votes to LePen, however.  We will have to wait and see.

One thing is certain, though, French politics has shifted in a major way.  It used to be that the race was always between the conservative and the socialist.  LePen is neither.  Similarly, Melanchon who is close behind the two leaders does not fit the usual pattern either.  It would not be totally unusual for there to be a runoff between LePen and Melanchon.  That would pit a right wing nationalist against a far left extremist.  It would also be a disaster for France.

The French nation is changing.  There are huge immigrant communities across that country, and they are not assimilating.  The question now is whether the Paris of the future will more resemble London or Teheran.  Such a choice creates major turmoil, something that will continue to be present in the current election and also in the future.

Friday, April 21, 2017

How Dumb Are The Russians -- or Reuters For That Matter?

Reuters is pumping a new report that says that a think tank in Moscow developed plans for Russia to influence the American election last year.  According to the report, the Russians wanted to swing the election from Clinton to Trump in order to get someone who would be easier on Russia than Obama had been.  Then in the fall, once it became clear that Clinton would win, the Russians decided to switch to discussions of voter fraud in order to undermine Americans' confidence in the results.

Let's stop here.  This is an old story in a new wrapping.  It is wholly unbelievable that Moscow wanted someone who would be easier on Russia than Obama; no one could be easier.  Putin started Obama's eight years by having Obama dismiss all the sanctions that had just been put on Russia for its invasion of neighboring Georgia.  It was Clinton and Obama who came up with the "reset" with Russia.  That move forgave Russia for all its transgressions with no lasting consequences.  Nothing could be easier on the Russians.  Then you have the reaction to the Russian conquest of Crimea and parts of Ukraine.  America did nothing under Obama.  We did not arm the Ukrainians.  We did not threaten action by NATO.  Obama just stood there and smiled.  What more could Putin want?  Then there's the Russian move into Syria.  Russia went from no forces in that country to having both a naval and an air base and thousands of soldiers.  Any American president other than Obama would have seen that as a direct threat to American national interests, but not Obama.  He welcomed the Russians into Syria to help fight ISIS -- even though they weren't fighting ISIS.  So, put all together, no Russian think tank in the real world could be looking for someone "easier" on Russia than Obama. 

It's also crazy to think that Clinton would have been harder on Russia than Trump.  Putin had already seen Hillary in action as Secretary of State.  In her entire term, she never once took a harsh position against the Russians.  Trump spoke of trying to have good relations with Putin, but he never said he would forgive or forget prior transgressions.  With Trump, everything was a negotiation.

On top of this, we have the silly idea that the Russians would undermine out democracy by raising questions about election fraud.  The only ones who went crazy on that score during the last election were the Democrats once they lost.

One piece of supposed evidence that Reuters sites is the success of some videos put out by Russian news organizations during the campaign.  According to Reuters, "Russia Today’s most popular Clinton video - “How 100% of the 2015 Clintons’ ‘charity’ went to ... themselves” - accumulated 9 millions views on social media."  There's a problem with that story line, however.  I haven't seen the video in question, but from the title, I can understand the contents.  This is not fake news; it's true.  In 2015, the entire charitable contribution of the Clintons went to --- you guessed it -- the Clinton foundation.  I've written about that many times right here at Connecticut Comments.  The Clintons used the foundation as a piggy bank for their own expenses.  They spent millions on their own travel costs.  Less than ten percent of the total expenditures of the foundation in 2015 went to actual grants to those in need.  Indeed, the administrative expenses run up by the foundation were so high that for a long time Charity Navigator (which rates charities) refused to give the Clinton foundation a rating because of its structure.  So a highly viewed video telling the truth about the Clinton foundation is supposedly proof that the Russians were trying to influence the election.  Would articles by British news organizations mean that the UK was trying to influence our elections? 

After all this time, there seems to nothing here.  Certainly, there is no proof of any sort yet that the Trump campaign colluded or cooperated with the Russians.  The reality is also that there is nothing that shows Russian meddling in our campaign.  Indeed, if you want an illustration of one nation meddling in the elections of another, just look at what president Obama and his people did to try to change the outcome in the Brexit vote (a total failure) or the elections in Israel (another total failure.) 

Still, the most amazing thing here is that Reuters expects people to be so dumb as to believe this.  The Russians wanted Trump cause he would be so easy on Russia.  That was idiotic since Trump has not been easy on Russia.  The Russians switched their plans because Clinton had wrapped up the election victory.  That too was idiotic given the outcome of the election.

The truth is that it is time to give this whole nonsensical story a decent burial.

Who Cares About 100 Days?

It's a strange thing to watch.  Day after day, we are seeing more and more press devoted to what President Trump accomplishes in his first 100 days.  Now I understand the focus on 100 days.  When Franklin Roosevelt became president in 1933, he moved quickly in the first 100 days to deal with the Depression in his own way.  Ever since then, the first 100 days has been looked at as some sort of seminal period.  But really, who cares if something passes in 99 days or 110?  Will it matter in the long run?  Of course it won't. 

Just now, I read a column by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post discussing how Democrats have all the leverage because they can keep Trump from getting anything passed during his 100 days.  That's so much a view from the Washington bubble.  Out here in America, people have watched the change in immigration policy.  They've watched Justice Gorsuch join the Supreme Court.  They've watch the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines move ahead.  They've seen one after another job killing regulation be repealed.  They've seen the USA withdraw from the dismal Trans-Pacific partnership.  They've seen a complete turn around in the way America projects national strength and deals with despots like Assad and Kim Jung Un.  They've seen US/Chinese relations grow much warmer as well as watching America confront Putin and Russia with a strength that was lacking when Obama was in the White House.  In other words, they know that Trump has done a lot during his 100 days whether or not the Obamacare repeal/replacement passes or not.  Not everything needs legislation.

Even more important than what the American people have seen is the fact that President Trump is not a prisoner to the 100 days baloney.  Sure, he'd like to get everything done in that time period.  He knows, however, that no matter what he does, the media will announce that it is just too little and inconsequential.  Trump could find a cure for cancer, but the media would then criticize him for not also curing heart disease.  He understands that, and it gives him the courage to continue on course.

 

The Looming Government Shutdowm

One of the funnier bits of news analysis over the last month is the repeated discussion of the possible government shut down that will occur if the Congress is unable to fund the government by the end of next week.  I say "funnier" because the media people using the argument do not realize what will happen if the federal government runs out of money.

Let's start with an explanation of the procedures in place.  If no funding is passed, the government doesn't all shut down.  The military stays on duty.  The FBI still fights crime.  In fact, there are two types of federal activities that continue:  1) The first group of activites that continue are those for which funding has already passed.  2) The second group of activities that continue are those which the president determines -- in his sole discretion -- are "essential".  Let's expand what that means.  If Congress has not yet passed the appropriations for an agency or department of the federal government for this fiscal year, the decision what stays open and what closes is up to President Trump.

It's important to note the big difference between the looming federal shutdown and the ones that took place during the Obama years.  That difference is President Trump instead of Obama.  In other words, if the Democrats want to shut down the government to protect funding for Planned Parenthood, Trump will just cut those funds off during the shutdown.  If the Democrats want to guarantee that there are no funds for the border wall, they can shut down the government, but President Trump can then decide that funds for programs like DACA that assist illegal aliens will stop flowing during the shutdown.  Trump could also stop all funding to PBS or the National Endowment for the Humanities or grants to university professors during the shutdown.  Trump can cut the funds from every one of the pet programs put in place by the liberals over the last ten years, and it will be the government shutdown that lets him do that.

My guess is that in the event there is a shutdown, we will see some variation of this play out in the media.  It will not be easy for the Democrats to explain why they are taking a position that stops 100 billion dollars from flowing to their favorite programs in order to stop 1.5 billion from going to the border wall.

In other words, the days when the words "government shutdown" were bad news for Republicans are over.  A shutdown is not good news, but it is likely much worse for the Democrats.

Someone Needs To Explain This

Arkansas executed a murderer last night after years of legal wrangling about his sentence.  This is part of the schedule of eight executions in eleven days that the state set forth.  The chemicals used for lethal injections by that state included one that is due to go beyond its expiration date at the end of the month, so the calendar got compressed to avoid the expense of buying more of this chemical, if it is even still available.  The first three executions were stopped by courts in more of the usual legal games associated with executions.  This is the first one that actually took place.

I don't want to rehash all of the arguments for and against the death penalty.  Rather, I want to focus on the strange argument being made by opponents to the effect that having so many executions in a short period is a bad policy.  I don't understand why.  Sure, I get that some people oppose the death penalty, but if the state has decided that it will use that penalty, why is there something wrong if there are multiple executions in a two week period?  Could it be possible that the Constitution does not bar the execution of a murderer but that it does bar the execution of multiple murderers in a short time?  Nope. 

There needs to be some coherent explanation (if there is one) put forward by the death penalty opponents for this issue.  Otherwise, it is just another unintelligible argument that will never carry the day.

A Country Unlike Most In South America

Venezuela is unusual for South America.  It is a country with natural wealth of such magnitude that it should be the richest, most successful place on the continent.  Instead, it is today a hellhole filled with starving, unhappy people, a collapsing economy, and a political crisis the outcome of which could shape South American politics for a long time.

Let's start with the wealth.  Venezuela has oil and more oil.  It has the ability to produce and sell enough oil to satisfy all of its needs.  For decades, that oil wealth helped produce a productive and growing economy which covered most people in that nation.  That all stopped more than a decade ago when Hugo Chavez got elected to lead the country.  Chavez was a Socialist who was strongly pro-Cuban and anti-American.  Chavez imposed all sorts of economic controls on the country and used the oil revenues to support his plans.  Chavez also took away the chance for most of the oil majors to make money in Venezuela.  As a result, the Venezuelan oil industry started to decline.  Wells were completed at a slower rate and production declined.  Then the world oil price fell a bit and Venezuela went into free fall.  Today, we have Chavez's successor who is basically Chavez without the charisma or the intelligence.  Venezuela is run by a Socialist thug.

The remedy of the current government to all problems is first to blame the USA, and then to impose more government control.  The problem is that the economy has reacted much the way the Soviet economy reacted in the 1980s:  production has fallen and inflation has become rampant.  People are starving.  Nothing is being imported because no one can pay for it.

Right now, there are daily riots and protests.  There will shortly be the final confrontation between the government and the people.  If the people win, Venezuela has a chance.  If Maduro and his thugs win, Venezuela will be a failed state for many years to come.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Unbelievable -- Coverage of The Senate Races of 2018

I just read an article on Real Clear Politics discussing the success/failure of Republicans with regard to recruiting candidates for senate seats in 2018.  It's hard not to laugh.  The authors go on at length about whether or not the approval numbers for President Trump are preventing GOP candidates from announcing for these senate seats.  Really?  Only inside the DC/Manhattan media bubble could that sort of argument be made.  Someone should tell these fools that it is just April of 2017 and the midterm elections are 19 months from now.  It's really quite early for someone to announce for a senate seat.  Even sillier than the date is the idea that a good politician would shy away from running in a midterm election because there is a downturn in the popularity of the President.  On top of that consider that Trump's popularity popped up since the Syrian missile strike and the use of MOAB in Afghanistan.  The latest numbers today show him at 49% approval, not a figure likely to discourage senate candidates. 

The real truth is that there's plenty of time for the 2018 elections to develop.  It would be best for the country is some of the media would just realize that and back off.

The Response from Assad

The Syrian regime of Assad has finally responded to the attack by US missiles on one of the regime's air bases.  President Trump ordered that strike after Assad ignored international laws and agreements and used chemical weapons against civilians in the northern part of the country.  Until now, there had just been words, words, words from Assad.  Now, he has acted.

It is being reported that the remaining planes in the Syria airforce have been moved to locations adjacent to the Russian air base in Syria.  More than 20% of all Syrian planes were destroyed by the American missile attack.  The planes that were left are key assets for Assad.  He has moved them to try to stop any future American attacks.  Most likely, Assad's thinking is that the USA would be loathe to fire upon the Syrian planes if the missiles could hit Russian planes or pilots.

There you have it.  After the attack, we got bravado and threats of retaliation from Assad.  Now we get a demonstration of cowardice.  Assad is hiding his plane behind the protective cover of the Russian air base.

One does have to wonder if this move will make any difference to the USA.  Remember, the cruise missiles are so precise that when a building is targeted, the question asked is "Through which window do you want the missile to enter?"  Unless the Syria planes are actually in the same building as the Russian ones, they may not be safe from attack.

We will have to see if this new deployment by the Syrians of their planes will cause them to resume chemical attacks.  Hopefully, Assad has learned his lesson and will not again use such WMDs.

The Message The Dems Don't Want To Hear

Doug Schoen is a long time Democrat operative with very close ties to the Clintons.  He's a centrist rather than a far left ideologue, so he is something of a rarity these days within the Democrat party.  I read his take on the special election in Georgia last Tuesday, and it is a message that I doubt the Democrats want to hear.  Schoen says that simply being the opposition to President Trump is not enough for Democrats.  They need to have a positive plan for the country.  There simply are not enough voters willing to make their selection out of anger at Trump for the Democrats to win.

The lack of any positive policy proposals from the Democrats is something that I have been discussing for a long, long time on this site.  We went through all of the 2016 election with Hillary Clinton running on a platform best described as "I am not Donald Trump."  The Democrats in Congress have followed that with "We oppose Trump in everything he does."  Thus, they slow walked Cabinet confirmations and refused to even discuss Obamacare replacement with the White House.  The Democrats, however, have no plan to rescue that failing healthcare law or to reform taxes or to modify anything else.  They remain the party of "no change" from the current mess, but they oppose Trump.

Time will tell if this view of the Democrats is correct.  Will the American people support pure opposition?  I don't think so, but hey, you never know.

The August Deadline For Tax Reform

I just read yet another article discussing whether or not Congress will meet the August deadline for tax reform.  It's another of those idiotic obsessions of the mainstream media.  There is no deadline in August.

Here's reality.  When tax reform passes, it will have an effective date on which the new tax structure commences.  It is all but certain that the effective date will be either January 1, 2017 or January 1, 2018.  It is just too complicated to start new taxes or to end old ones at any point other than the beginning of the year.  Further, since we are already in late April, it is very likely that the effective date will be the start of 2018.  That will give people a chance to prepare for the new tax structures. 

In that reality, here's the question to ponder:  is there any difference if the tax changes are passed in July, September or November?  The simple answer is no.  The only reason why there is an "August deadline" is that some in the House leadership said that was the goal they set for themselves.  In many respects it's like someone going on a diet and saying that he or she wants to lose 15 pounds in two months.  If that weight loss takes 3 months, does that make the diet a failure?  No.  Is it worth focusing on whether or not the two month goal will be met, or should the focus better be on how best to lose weight?

It's time for the media to get over its obsession with the non-existent August deadline.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You Decide

Consider this:  a person from another country enters the USA illegally.  Then while here, that person commits a felony and gets convicted and imprisoned.  When the prison term ends, that criminal is deported.

Here's the first question:  do you want that criminal coming back into the USA?  No sane person would want that.  Indeed, polls show that something like 90% of voters do not want a criminal who has already been deported to be allowed back into the USA.

Here's the second question:  should there be a penalty other than being deported again for that criminal should he or she come back into the USA illegally?  In other words, should American law be structured so that there is a deterrent to the re-entry of the previously deported criminal?

Kate's law is exactly that deterrent.  It provides a prison term for any illegal alien convicted of a felony and then deported who re-enters the USA illegally.  It seems like a reasonable law for Congress to pass.  After all, we don't want criminals re-entering the country.

I only ask these questions after reading an article about the departure of Bill O'Reilly from Fox News in which the reporter criticized O'Reilly for his campaign to get Kate's Law passed.  The reporter called Kate's Law "anti-immigrant".  How bizarre and how uneducated!  It's not anti-immigrant to keep previously deported felons out of the country.  No, it's pro-safety for American citizens.  It's pro-common sense. 

Laws that limit illegal entry into the USA are not anti-immigrant.  Immigrants come to this country LEGALLY. 

A PC Victory

Bill O'Reilly is out at Fox News.  O'Reilly has had the number one rated news show in cable news for more than a decade, but Fox dumped him over allegations of sexual harassment.  I read the allegations; they were shaky at best.  In fact, given things that the woman making the charges admitted, I doubt that her claim could have survived a summary judgment motion in court.  But, in the end, it did not matter.  Fox News caved to the pressure from the politically correct; O'Reilly was guilty even though the proof was nearly non-existent.

I don't care whether or not O'Reilly is on the TV.  I never watched the show, and I always thought that Bill was something of a pompous and obnoxious know-it-all.  It doesn't matter, however.  It is insane that Fox is caving in to charges brought many years after the events in question by a woman who claims that O'Reilly took revenge on her for failing to accept his advances but who also admits that O'Reilly kept her on his show for four or five months after the event in question and who also set her up with appearances on The View that made her book tour a success.  That hardly sounds like retribution (even if some of those ladies on The View are hard to take -- yes, I mean you Joy Behar).

It's worth contrasting what happened to Brian Williams at NBC News when he was caught making up lies and announcing them on the air as facts.  He was suspended for six months and is back on the air.  What is more important to a news organization than honest reporting?  The proper and only answer to that question is "Nothing!"  It can't be that unproven and unlikely claims of sexual harassment by a woman outweigh the abandonment of all journalistic standards by an anchor.  That, however, is what happened. 

This is nothing more or less than a total victory for the forces of political correctness.  It's sad.

A Not So Special Election

With the results of the special election in Georgia now clear, it may be worth taking a look at the supposed big swings that have been shown in the 17 races completed so far.  First, for those who don't know, the Georgia outcome is that the top two finishers are going to a run off in June.  Although the Democrat yesterday got about 48% of the vote, it is not at all clear that he will be able to win in June.  Total votes for Republicans still were higher than total votes for Democrats.  Turn out will be the key.  Also, for what it is worth, Trump won this district by 1% over Clinton last November, so the Republicans outperformed the President yesterday.  Of course, the long time congressman for the district, Dr. Tom Price did much better last November, and the Republicans underperformed his numbers.  All told, the results don't tell us much.

But let's get back to the special election trends.  The truth is that nothing much has changed despite all the media hype.  Of the 17 special elections to date in 2017, only one has resulted in a change of party.  That was a state legislative seat in Louisiana.  On average over the last four years, special elections end up switching parties for roughly three seats out of about 45 total elections.  That means that the flip of the one seat is right in line with prior norms.  Another way to put this is that there is no evidence of a big wave of anti-Trump feelings sweeping the country.  There are many with such feelings, but those are people who voted for Hillary anyway.  There's no evidence in the group of special elections that Trump voters are abandoning him despite media clamor to the contrary.

The next special election for Congress is a statewide race in Montana.  No doubt we will see big hype first, but my guess is that we will then see a new Republican member of Congress.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How Can This Be?

There's a special election today in Georgia that the Democrats have made into a big deal.  They are hoping that their candidate John Ossoff will get a majority and take the seat.  About ten days ago, that seemed like a possibility, if not likely.  Since then, the polls have moved in a GOP direction, so after all the hype, the most likely outcome is a runoff between the two top vote getters.

Here's the key question today, however:  Ossoff doesn't even live in the district.  How can he be running?  If it's legal for him to run in a district other than the one in which he lives, how could he possible hope to win?  I wonder how many of today's voters even know that Ossoff is a carpetbagger.  With this news getting more and more coverage, if Ossoff doesn't win outright today, his chances of winning in the runoff are looking pretty poor right now.

It Never Changes

A man shot multiple people at random, killing four, at the offices of Catholic Charities in Fresno, California.  The police chief of Fresno calls it a "random act of violence".  Then we hear from witnesses that the man shouted "Allahu Akbar" when he started shooting.  Next we learn that the suspect arrested is Kori Ali Muhammad.  The police, however, still label this a random act of violence.

Are they kidding?  Is it still so important in California to maintain a politically correct front that the police won't connect this to terrorism?

Let me put it this way:  the lives of people in California are being put at risk just so that some can follow the politically correct path.  It's terrible.

Looking at All Sides Now

It's worth taking a closer look at two key issues:  Obamacare and taxes.  President Trump and the GOP are still negotiating on the Obamacare bill since they had to pull it from a vote some three weeks ago.  We've seen the text of the last proposal, and we know some of the items which are being negotiated, but we haven't seen all the language.  The thing is, however, that we know Obamacare is failing.  Fewer and fewer people are signing up for insurance coverage, so the supposed big accomplishment of Obamacare is being whittled away.  Premiums are soaring, so people with incomes too high to qualify for subsidies but who still make less than even the national median income are being squeezed like never before.  Healthcare, as opposed to insurance, is becoming harder and harder to get for everyone because deductibles have risen so much that many people cannot afford to meet them.  Insurers are bailing out of the system.  Soon, tens of millions of people will no longer have any choices on the Obamacare exchanges.  We will have a super-expensive system that denies insurance to more people than the number for whom it provides insurance.  There's more, but no one could deny that something has to be done.

That brings us to the other side of the question regarding Obamacare.  What is the Democrat plan to "save" the law or to rescue the system?  The law has been failing for many years, first slowly and now rapidly.  What plan have the Democrats developed to fix it?  I've searched and searched to find any proposals from the Demcrats, but it seems that their only position is to oppose any plan put forward by Trump or the GOP.  The President said that he would meet with Democrats and discuss any proposal that they have, but the response was just silence.  How can the Democrats let so many millions of people suffer under Obamacare without offering any solution?

Then there's the issue of taxes.  There is no final proposal from the Trump team yet.  We have heard about ten different plans from various sources within the Republican party.  Hopefully, the White House will soon announce which proposal it favors.  Meanwhile, the Democrats are silent.  Do they have a view on reducing tax burdens?  If so, what is that view?  Opposition alone is not a realistic course of action if the goal is to help the country.

We need to demand that the Democrats come forward with their own proposals.  Then Congress can pick the best one.

Will Election Make The UK Stronger?

British PM May has called a snap election for Parliament for the first week of June.  As of now, her Conservative party is 21 percentage points ahead of the second place Labour party, so it is likely that they will win big.  Right now, the Tories have a small majority in Parliament.  If the election vastly increases the size of that majority, Britain will have a much more stable government that should likely last the full five years of its mandate.  What will this mean?

First, May is correct that this will strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations.  She will be able to come to the negotiations while knowing that her position in Westminster is secure.  It ought to let her take strong positions without worrying about sniping back in London.

Second, the British economy should also be helped.  UK businesses will know that the policies followed by May will most likely be in place for five years.  That allows better planning and should translate into more growth.

Third, it should be the end of the line for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.  His leadership has been a disaster for Labour.  It will be good to see him go.

Of course, May still has to win the upcoming election.  Remembering last November in the USA and the Brexit vote itself, quite often sure election results don't turn out that way.  We will see.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Let's Address That Problem

How many problems have been addressed by federal legislation?  How many of those supposed problems really needed to be addressed?  How many problems have been addressed by federal regulations?  How many of those supposed problems really needed to be addressed?

These are not questions that have easy answers, but they are questions that require answers.  Another way of putting this is by asking how much of what the Congress and the various regulatory bodies do is actually necessary.

Consider this:  for a while, privacy advocates wanted Congress to protect the privacy rights of all Americans.  This led to all sorts of nonsense.  A good example is HIPA, which is supposed to protect privacy for patients in medical situations.  Anyone who has gone to see a doctor knows that he or she will be required to sign an affidavit swearing that the doctor's privacy rules have been given to the patient and explained as well.  Normally, no one sees those rule, and certainly no one explains them.  All that happens is that the doctor's staff spends time and resources to collect forms in which patients swear that this has happened.  It protects nobody's privacy; it just adds costs and waste to the medical system.  HIPA is also responsible for some of the crazier practices at pharmacies across America.  Not long ago, I went to CVS to pick up a prescription which had been automatically refilled.  I asked the clerk which medicine the prescription was for and she told me that she was not allowed to say that out loud as some other customer might hear and that would violate my privacy.  I told her that I did not care, but she told me that my feelings on the subject did not matter.  CVS was going to protect my privacy no matter how much that inconvenience me.  So there you have it.  The privacy of Americans with regard to medical care has been "addressed", but it has made no difference except to drive up the cost of medical treatment and to make the system harder to navigate for the average person.

How many more areas are there where statutes got passed to deal with a supposed problem but which did nothing to help.  Why is it that these statutes just stay on the books once passed? 

Isn't it time to get rid of all that garbage that just makes thing worse?