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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?

More Fake Punditry in Action

Fareed Zakaria is back with some new idiocy to add to his prior Fake Punditry.  Today, Zakaria tells us all that two unnamed high Obama officials said that president Obama would have done the same thing in Syria that President Trump just did.  In other words, they were sure that Obama would have ordered a cruise missile strike after the poison gas attack by the Assad forces.

When I read that, I started to laugh.  It's ridiculous.  Zakaria tells us this garbage as if it is valid and true.  Obama would have ordered a strike, therefore it is no big deal that Trump did it.  Here's the problem with that phony narrative:  the poison gas attack to which Trump responded was not the first since Syria supposedly gave up all of its chemical weapons.  For more than a year, the Assad forces were firing weapons filled with chlorine gas at civilians.  That gas may not be as deadly as sarin, but it is a chemical weapon of the sort that Assad had promised not to use, not to make and not to stockpile.  Obama's response was not even to acknowledge those gas attacks.  In that way, Obama was able to ignore having to respond in any way.  Once Trump took office, there were no chlorine attacks; Assad instead used the sarin gas and got 59 cruise missiles from the USA in exchange.  Obama did nothing, but Trump acted to stop the chemical attacks.  Any claim that Obama would have done the same thing is laughable.

To be fair, there is another possible angle to what Zakaria said.  He referenced "high Obama officials".  Maybe these people were high when they said this garbage.  That's the only way it make sense.

Nothing Changes

I just read the detailed analysis that 538 Blog has done on the likely outcome of the special election for the 6th Congressional seat of Georgia.  That seat is vacant because Tom Price resigned to become Secretary of HHS.  Nate Silver uses detailed mathematical calculations to decide who will win this race.  It's all based upon a bunch of poll of the district.  It's the same sort of analysis that Nate used to tell us last November that Hillary Clinton had a lock on the presidency, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't understand why Silver wastes his time doing this sort of analysis for a special election.  Turnout will be quite low; it always is in a special election.  Further, there has been a late surge in Republicans voting early, something that may or may not carry over to those who vote in person on election day.  Then there's the weird structure for the election.  If anyone gets over 50% of the vote, then he or she will be elected.  Otherwise, there will be a runoff in June between the top two finishers.  There's something like 15 different candidates at the moment which makes the polls even less reliable.

You would think that after November's fiasco, analysts like Silver would be a bit more cautious especially when facing an election for which there are no accurate polls.  That seems, however, not to be the case.  Why do they bother?

This Dogma Won't Hunt

Now that president Obama is no longer in office, the Democrat/media "experts" are back in force with their dogma denouncing any use of American military power.  I was reminded of that by an article in the Boston Globe written by professor Jeffrey Sachs denouncing America's "wars of choice."  According to Sachs, conflicts like World War I, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq have been disasters created by choice.  Only World War II was acceptable.  Sachs offered no opinion on the Civil War or the Gulf War.  Most likely, he accepts the former and abhors the latter.  Now, Sachs is denouncing President Trump for entering a war in Syria and inciting another war with North Korea.  Sometimes, I wonder what world people like Sachs inhabit. 

Let's start with the idea that the wars that Sachs opposes are "wars of choice".  In other words, did the USA have a choice whether or not to engage in these wars?  The clearest example is the war in Afghanistan.  America entered that conflict after 9-11 to destroy the bases in Afghanistan from which al Qaeda launched that horrific terror attack.  Sure, we could have chosen to ignore the 9-11 attacks if we were suicidal.  Calling Afghanistan a war of choice is like calling eating a choice.  A person can choose not to eat, but the end result is death.  So how about wars like World War I or Korea.  In 1917, the shipping of the USA was the target of unrestricted attack by German submarines and we also discovered that Germany was trying to entice Mexico into attacking the USA.  It was far from a choice to enter that war.  In 1950, tens of thousands of North Koreans attacked South Korea without provocation.  The United Nations stepped in an organized a defense for the South Koreans in which the USA participated.  It is true that the UN acted only because the Soviet Union had been boycotting the UN at that time.  Nevertheless, a war sanctioned by the world community ought to be the archetype of liberal dogma for an acceptable war.  It was not a war of choice, at least not of our choice.

Further, the idea that President Trump has America entering the war against Assad in Syria is silly.  Trump launched a missile attack on a base from which chemical weapons were deployed in violation of international treaties which prohibit their use.  That's all.  There are no more American troops in Syria than there were under Obama.  We have not expanded the target list beyond ISIS for airstrikes.  It was a one off attack.  As for North Korea, there is no war.  There is, however, a much more muscular diplomacy.  After all, nothing inspires a crazy like Kim Jung Un to reconsider his actions than a carrier battle group deployed a few hundred miles from his shores. 

 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Is Fisher an Anagram For Foolish?

Ever hear of Max Fisher?  He has written for the NY Times, The Washington Post and Vox.  He's someone that is in the inner circle of the mainstream media.  His topic is normally international relations.  And yet here is a tweet he sent today

Every pres has this arc:
1. Let’s get tough on China!
2. Oh, we need help on DPRK [North Korea]
3. Oh, they cant fix it either
4. Let’s manage status quo!
 
It's amazing!  Here's a reporter who supposedly knows what is going on saying something this idiotic.
 
Let's start with his first point, getting tough on China.  Do you remember when president Obama got tough on China?  It never happened.  There is nothing that Obama did that China would have even noticed and interpreted as "getting tough".  And how about George W. Bush?  Did he get tough on China?  Nope.  In fact, who is the last president to get tough on China?
 
Then there's point 2, needing help from China to deal with North Korea.  Every president from Clinton forward has certainly sought China's help in this regard.  On this point, Fisher is correct.
 
How about point 3, China can't fix things with North Korea.  That's completely unknown.  When Clinton, Bush and Obama sought Chinese help, they got none.  It's not that China expressly said no, but rather that the Chinese did nothing.  This time, with President Trump, however, the Chinese are taking action.  They cut off the coal exports from North Korea to China, thereby eliminating about half of all North Korean exports.  They also threatened to stop oil deliveries to the North Korean, something that would likely topple the government of Kim Jung Un.  On top of this, the Chinese have moved close to 200,000 troops to the area near their border with North Korea.  The Chinese are making clear to the NKs that if there is chaos in that country, China will not accept refugees over the border into China.
 
Point 4, managing the status quo is also not something that Obama did.  He chose to ignore the truth and just kick the can down the road.  Obviously for Trump, it is too soon to know how things will turn out.
 
So here we have a mainstream media journalist who writes about foreign affairs but who has no idea what has actually happened on a very important issue in that area for the last twenty years.  Sad!

Police Watch As Trump Rally Attacked in Berkeley

For the third time this year, a pro-Trump rally was attack in Berkeley.  For the third time, the local police did essentially nothing to stop the fighting. 

Think about this.  The rally to support the President was announced a few weeks ago.  That led the very fascist group which surprisingly claims to be anti-fascist to organize to disrupt the rally.  The Antifa (for anti-fascist) disrupters came, as usual, clad all in black with black masks that cover the whole head with holes for the eyes.  They periodically attacked people attending the rally and the result was a melee.  The police, however, did not break up the fights.

It was a strange event.  Prior to the rally, one Antifa posted on social media that the goal for the rally was the "scalps" of 100 pro-Trump "Nazis".  No one could have mistaken what that meant, especially not the local government or the police.  Then, when the Antifa group came to the rally, they found that there was a group among that rally that was ready for them.  Here is a picture posted on line on the Twitter account of Journalism Is Dead @TheDailyBail



Once again, any policeman would understand that the guys shown in the picture were ready to fight the Antifa group when their attack came.  The police, however, stayed back according to reports.

Needless to say, there was a big fight and blood in the streets.  At least no one was killed.

During the Obama administration, the Department of Justice moved in whenever there was a claim that a policeman shot a minority youth without just cause.  No matter the facts of the case, the "investigation" usually ended with a consent decree being entered which gave the feds significant control over the local police.  The actions of the police in this latest street fight indicate pretty clearly that the Berkeley police are engaging in discrimination against those who would gather to express political views contrary to the ones held by the local city government.  Maybe it's time for the DOJ to start an investigation of the Berkeley police department.

More Fear and War Mongering From the Media

The Sun newspaper in Britain is reporting in blaring headlines that the explosion of the North Korean missile upon launch Sunday morning was likely the result of American cyber warfare.  If you read the article (don't waste your time), you would learn that the basis for that story is a British official from 20 years ago who says that the USA likely has the capability to do that.  He has no knowledge that it actually happened.  He doesn't even know for certain that America could have done it.  Nevertheless, anyone reading the article would now believe that America blew up the NK missile.

I don't expect much from the media, but spread fear and discussing suspicions of attacks as if they actually happened goes way too far.  Kim Jung Un is a crazy man; no one really disagrees with that.  If he thinks that he has been attacked by the USA in a cyber war, he very well could retaliate.  Remember, when the missile blew up, Kim could have blamed his scientists and engineers.  He could have executed a few of them to save face.  On the other hand, if he believes this was an American attack, he may feel compelled to strike back at the USA, something that could lead to an actual shooting war and hundreds of thousands of people dead.

Simply put, the morons in the media should limit themselves to facts.  I realize that often the media disputes what the actual facts are; nevertheless, when the media knows (as here) that the facts are unclear at best, it should just shut up for once.

Leaving Connecticut

As a state, Connecticut has been a relative failure for the last decade at least.  The state has fewer people as workers flee to lower taxed areas and older folks move to warmer climates.  After each big tax increase pushed through during the Malloy years, there has been a big move out.  Not only are the tax increases pushing people away, they are also pushing businesses out.  Job growth in Connecticut is among the lowest among the states.

It's worth remembering what happened in the last fifty years.  In the 1960s, nearly a third of the country's largest companies had their headquarters in New York City.  City taxes were high, and state taxes in New York were higher still.  Meanwhile, in Connecticut there was no income tax.  As a result, companies started moving out of New York.  Some move far away, but many more just moved to the suburbs.  The city of Stamford in Connecticut started gaining major corporations as they fled the high taxes of NY.  by the 1980s, Fairfield County (where Stamford is located) had the third highest concentration of Fortune 500 firms in the country.  Connecticut grew both in population and wealth.  Then the state passed an income tax at the urging of independent governor Lowell Weicker.  It was low at first, nothing like the rates paid in the surrounding states on New York and Massachusetts.  Then, of course, the Democrat legislators did what they do everywhere:  they spent more and more and they taxed more and more.  The in-migration of companies slowed, stopped and then reversed.  In the last six years under Dan Malloy we have had the two biggest tax increases ever.  Now, there is an exodus of companies and jobs from the state.

I was reminded of all of this today when I read about the latest move out of the state.  The local cable TV company Altice has decided to move the news operations from Connecticut to New Jersey.  This used to be Cablevision until Altice bought that company last year.  Every Altice cable system in Connecticut has a station with non-stop local news and what they call "hyper local weather".  They have reporters out in the field gathering local news too.  With the move, even the local news reporters for Connecticut will be making their reports from another state.  If nothing is done soon, will there be anyone left here?

Confirmation of Reality

Here's a tweet from President Trump from a few minutes ago that ought to confirm reality for numerous pundits and other so called experts:

Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!

For the last week or so, the talking head have been discussing the "flip-flop" by Trump that had "enraged" his base:  he was no longer calling China a "currency manipulator".  Now it was obvious that essentially no one in Trump's base was enraged by this.  In fact, the average American doesn't care which countries are labeled currency manipulators.  That part of the opinion of the pundits was pure BS.  The issue of whether or not this was a "flip-flop", however, merits discussion.

During the campaign, President Trump often discussed how China was unfairly trading with the USA because it pushed the value of its currency down to make Chinese goods less expensive and American goods more expensive.  Trump said that he would end that, mainly by labeling China a currency manipulator which would put countervailing duties on Chinese products so as to make competition fairer.  Then a funny thing happened:  the value of the Chinese currency started to rise about a week after Trump won the election.  It has been going up by roughly 1% a month since then.  That may not sound like much, but for a major national currency, that is a big move.  It seems as if the Chinese heard Trump and then decided to end the manipulation (at least in part) on their own.  Clearly, China was worried about the possibility of being named a currency manipulator.

Then came the nut job in North Korea with his missile tests and nuclear weapons.  We are now no more than a few years away from that crazy guy having the ability to nuke the USA.  Unlike Obama who just yawned and watched, President Trump decided that America can not allow that to happen.  As with every president before him in the recent past, Trump recognized that the only country with any real leverage over North Korea is China.  Clinton, Bush and (to a small extent) Obama all tried with no success to get help from China with NKs.  With Trump, however, it has been different.  First the Chinese cut off coal imports from North Korea, a major economic blow.  Then China sent back the coal already delivered.  Now China is threatening to cut off oil deliveries.  Remember, China is the main source of petroleum to North Korea, so a cessation of deliveries by Beijing would be a body blow to North Korea.  Not only would it cause major problems for civilians (which wouldn't bother the government there), but it would also be a calamity for the North Korean armed forces.  If the army is threatened, so too is the regime of Kim Jung Un. 

We do not yet know if the moves by China will rein in the crazy man in North Korea.  We do know, however, that China has now been helping the USA in that attempt.

It seems pretty clear that when President Trump and President Xi of China met in Florida last week, the made a deal in which China helps with North Korea and the USA does not name China a currency manipulator.  There are surely other parts to the deal, but those are the key ones. 

That is not a flip-flop.  It is a trade off to achieve a very important policy goal.  Especially since China has let its currency rise since the election, the pressure to name it a manipulator has lessened.  Getting help from Beijing to stop the North Korean threat has been a major goal of the USA.  The deal is negotiated diplomacy at its best:  both sides get something they really want.  Trump confirms all this in his tweet.

Will this stop the pundits from talking about Trump's flip-flops?  I doubt it; most mainstream media pundits don't care much about facts or reality.  Nevertheless, getting China to help with the NKs is a big win for the USA and the President.  Let's hope it continues.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Who Could Possibly Care?

Maxine Waters is a Congresswoman with a big mouth and a tiny brain.  In just the last few months, she's talked about how the Russians under Putin invaded Korea (something which never happened.)  She frequently mentions positions that are at best outlandish and, more likely, just plain crazy.  Today, she told a crowd at a rally that she does not respect President Trump and that he should be impeached.  Of course, she had no basis for the impeachment other than that she doesn't like Trump, but for moron Maxine, that doesn't matter.

Think about this woman for a moment.  A few weeks ago, Bill O'reilly said that he hair made her look like James Brown.  That was denounced as sexist and racist by the left.  Today, however, she issues a baseless call to impeach the President, something that will not be happening, and the same people cheer.  The reality is that America should not focus on Ms. Waters hair, but on her intelligence (or lack of it.) 

The Wasn't Time To Shoot It Down

North Korea launched a missile on Sunday morning.  Despite speculation that the USA was planning to shoot down the missile, that did not happen.  In fact, the missile blew up within a few seconds of being launched.  It never made it to the altitude needed in order to shoot it down.  Of course, the stories that America was planning to shoot down the missile being tested were just media speculation.  There's no way to know if there is any validity to them.  Given the media track record on North Korea, the stories are most likely wrong.

Wasting Time On a Massive Scale

Today, there are "marches" in cities across America where people are demanding that President Trump release his tax returns.  The only proper response to that effort is a yawn.  Someone needs to tell these people that the election is over, and their candidate lost.  All the phony stories about how Trump pays no taxes were disproven when Rachel Maddow got a copy of and old Trump return and released it with great fanfare.  She showed that Trump paid nearly forty million dollars in taxes in 2005.  Further, the demonstrators today obviously do not understand what a tax return would show.  They scream that the want to know from whom the President has loans; tax returns don't show that information.  They want to know who the President's partners are; tax returns won't show that information.  Really, the only other thing that tax returns would show is how much Trump gave to charity.  That's about it.

It never fails to amaze me just how ill informed most of these people really are.  Maybe they've all been listening to the mainstream media.

Making sense of the Special Elections

Last Tuesday, there was a special election to fill a congressional seat in the 4th district of Kansas.  The GOP candidate won by 7%.  That has led to a ton of analysis and a great deal of predictions about what this means for 2018.  Finally, though, the real understanding of the election is possible because we have final numbers.  Here's the key.  Last Tuesday 120,000 voters cast ballots.  In November of 2016, there were 275,000 voters in the same district.  That means that turnout was down by over 50%.

Let's stop there for now.  More than half of the people who voted in November did not bother to come out and vote this time.  That is not unusual for a special election.  Those elections often pass by unnoticed by many voters.  The low turnout, though, also means that it is impossible to draw conclusions about the future moves of the electorate from a special election unless is it a major upset (like when Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's senate seat in MA).  Even then, these special elections mean little for the future.

On Tuesday, there will be another special election, this time in Georgia.  Despite cheerleading by the media for one Democrat, the likely result will be that the top two finishers among the 15 or so people running will go into a runoff in a few months.  That result too will mean little.

Does NK Stand For No Knowledge?

The nonsense that is floating around in the media regarding North Korea is astounding.  The truth is that most reporters and pundits do not know what is happening or what those events mean.  Instead, they seem to be trying to make the situation more inflamed and to stoke fear in the minds of most Americans.

Here are just a few examples:

1.  Self proclaimed North Korea "expert" Gordon Chang told CBS News that the missiles paraded through the North Korean capital today looked like they were ICBMs with MIRVs.  A MIRV is a missile with multiple warheads each of which hits a different target.  That would mean, according to Chang, that the NKs could threaten major nuclear destruction in the USA.  There are a few problems with that statement, however.  1) That NKs have never successfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile.  If the missile in the parade looked like an ICBM, there is no reason to think it works.  2) The NKs have never tested any MIRV system.  MIRVs are not easy to build.  Since the NKs have never even tested such a system, there is no reason to believe that they have it.  3) It is relatively difficult for someone watching a missile roll by on a truck to tell what is inside that missile.  Observations of "experts" may be more informative, but even they don't have x-ray vision.  4) Chang's track record is less than stellar.  He used to be an "expert" on the Chinese economy.  He has been announcing for the last 15 years that China would imminently suffer a major economic downturn.  He's been wrong for the last 15 years.  Why should anyone believe him now?

2.  The MOAB which was dropped in Afghanistan on ISIS was actually meant to be a signal to the North Korean leader.  Really?   President Trump said that sort of "signal" was not considered.   Personally, I thought it was an attack on an ISIS complex located in a remote area that was perfect for that weapon.  There were no civilians nearby and the blast was strong enough to penetrate the caves.  As Freud supposedly said, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

3.  The USA is about to launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.  That nonsense started with NBC and then CBS jumped on the bandwagon.  As a result, the White House had to announce that the report was nonsense and no such attack was planned even if the NKs test a nuclear weapon underground or launch a missile.  Of course, that announcement by the White House also severely undermined the deterrent effect of the uncertainty of US intentions.

There's other examples, but these are sufficient to illustrate the point.  Is it impossible for the media and "experts" to say we really don't know?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Now They Think They Get to Pick The Truth

Truth is not a multiple choice question.  Some things are true and others are false, no matter which one you choose.  I was reminded of that just now when I heard an interview on CBS with Peter Baker, a White House correspondent for the New York Times.  Baker was asked about people in the Trump administration who go in and out of favor.  Baker said that it was absolutely something that happens.  He cited how Steve Bannon is going, how Sean Spicer was going, How Reince Priebus was going, and how Kellyane Conway was going.  No one but Trump's family is safe, it seems (at least according to Baker.)

Think about that.  When stories were stuck into the mainstream media that Spicer was going, the White House denied them and Spicer is still there.  When similar stories were reported regarding Conway and Priebus leaving, there were similar denials and both are still there.  Now we hear Bannon is going, but guess what, he's still there.  In other words, all the "proof" from the New York Times reporter was nothing more than mainstream media stories that turned out to be wrong.  Indeed, if it were just one story, I would assume it was a mistake.  Since it is the umpteenth story about "chaos" in the Trump campaign, transition team and White House, it is Fake News.  For all the supposed chaos in the campaign, Trump won and the super-organized juggernaut that was the Clinton campaign lost.  The supposedly chaotic transition team got Trump into the White House with fine selections for his cabinet.  The now "chaotic" White House staff has managed to help Trump carry out a raft of campaign promises.  The hold ups have come when Congress has gotten involved, and that will get ironed out.

Just because a person works for the New York Times, he doesn't get to make up his own "truth".  The late senator Moynihan of New York famously said that a person can choose his political positions, but he cannot choose the facts.  Someone ought to get that news to the New York Times.

Watching A Very Slow Suicide In New York

New York state is going to run out of power in a few years.  That may be something of an overstatement, but not by much.  In an interesting article in the NY Post, Jonathan Lesser explains in detail what will happen when the Indian Point nuclear power plant shuts down in three years.  Because Indian Point is in the far northern suburbs of New York City, governor Cuomo conducted a campaign to get it to close.  It did not matter that the plant produced the bulk of the power used in the New York metro area with no pollution and at a reasonable cost.  Cuomo wanted it shut down, and after years of trying, he got his way. 

The problem is that New York does not have another source of power at a reasonable price to replace Indian Point.  There are two natural gas plants planned or under construction, but the state is delaying approvals that would allow natural gas pipelines to be built to deliver the fuel for those plants.  Renewable will provide some power, but only at high prices and in small quantities.  Power can be purchased from Canada, but that will be very expensive.  The likely result is that once the Indian Point plant shuts down, the cost of electricity will skyrocket.

New York already has an unfriendly business environment.  The remaining facilities that require high power usage will become uncompetitive.  Thousands or hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost.  More people will leave the state.  It's a slow march to economic suicide.  And governor Cuomo?  He's busy getting ready to run for president so he can do for the country what he has done for NY.

Nothing Seems To Matter To The Net Libs

If you ever use Twitter, you surely have seen the army of people who spout propaganda.  There are plenty of crazies who tell us about this conspiracy theory or that one, and they come in all political persuasions.  As a group, the crazies don't seem to care about facts; often, they "know" that the facts are "lies".  Some of the stuff is really ridiculous, but most of it is far worse. 

Today, I saw a new line of tweets from the Net Libs, those on the far left who spend hours denouncing the USA and/or President Trump on the net.  There's a group of people who are denouncing the use of the MOAB in Afghanistan as a "war crime".  MOAB is the huge bomb that was dropped over the cave complex where ISIS fighters were hiding in a remote region in Northeast Afghanistan.  Why, you may ask, is dropping a big bomb a "war crime"?  The answer on Twitter, at least, is the huge numbers of civilian casualties which result from using that bomb.  Of course, there is one major problem with that analysis:  there were no civilian casualties.

Think about this for a moment.  The MOAB was used on a cave complex which was miles from the nearest village.  There are not even any farms or grazing areas for animals near the mountainous site of the caves.  The only people who were there were ISIS fighters.  Current reports state that about 40 of those ISIS terrorists were killed.  Given the estimate that ISIS has between 600 and 800 fighters in all of Afghanistan, this one bomb blast killed 5% or more of ISIS' forces in that country.  So no civilian casualties occurred but maximum damage to ISIS resulted.  That's not a war crime; it's a victory.

Is it possible that the Net Libs know this?  Certainly, they should, if they are going to discuss the effect of the MOAB.  They tweet about civilian casualties due to the MOAB and then attach pictures of such casualties from the Vietnam War.  That was 45 years ago, long before the MOAB was even invented. 

The truth is that these Net Libs are most upset because the MOAB has been used under President Trump.  Apparently, killing ISIS terrorists is bad policy if Trump is president, but fine if Obama were still in office.  It's just sad.

This Doesn't Help -- NBC Goes Crazy

Here's a question to consider:  if you were the United States, would you launch a missile attack on a North Korean nuclear test site if you thought that the NKs were about to test an underground nuclear weapon for the sixth time?  According to NBC News, that's the plan of the Trump Administration.  To be clear, we are not talking about the NKs launching an attack on another country; NBC News says that the Pentagon will strike the NKs just to prevent an underground blast which would have the effect of reducing the North Korean stockpile of nuke from an estimated six bombs to five.

Let me be clear; I don't believe the report for a minute.  An attack on the nuclear test site would be an existential threat to the North Korean regime.  We little Kim to fail to respond, he would likely be overthrown by his military.  That means that the North Koreans would, at a minimum, launch some sort of retaliatory strike on American servicemen in South Korea and on the South Koreans as well.  While the nuclear test site is highly restricted and casualties of an American strike would be very low, a couterstrike by the NKs could literally kill hundreds of thousands of people in South Korea just in the initial artillery blasts.  If the North Koreans go all out, we could see nuclear strikes on Seoul, Tokyo, or even Honolulu.  With a little advance planning, the North Koreans could even strike Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle with nukes.

No American president is going to risk that result just to stop a nuclear test.  NBC may not like President Trump, but it is irresponsible for the network to report idiocy like this latest story.  After all, while I think it is just a crazy scare story designed to make Trump look bad, the North Koreans may think it is real.  That could lead North Korea to decide to strike first.  To say the least, the non-stop NBC campaign against President Trump is not helpful for keeping the peace.

 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Massive Ordnance Air Blast

Something new in Afghanistan:  the USA used a Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or as it's also known, the "Mother of All Bombs."  This was dropped on a cave complex used by terrorists for sanctuary.  The bomb is so large that it likely collapsed the caves and buried hit the terrorists hiding inside.  Even if the caves did not collapse, the concussive strength of the blast is so great that it could kill terrorists inside the caves.  It is the biggest bomb in the US arsenal which is non-nuclear.

So what has the reaction been to the use of this weapon?  Basically, it has been just what you would expect.  A great many on the left are denouncing the use of the weapon as overkill and unnecessary.  Apparently, the libs like it better when the air force drops bombs that are ineffective.  The reality, however, is something different.  America now has a weapon that allows the destruction of previously sheltered terrorist hideouts.  As with the Tomahawk missiles used in Syria, today's blast shows that the USA is now prepared to use its military might to achieve its aims on the battlefield.

It's just so nice to have a president who is not afraid of using the power of the USA to fight evil. 

The Supreme Court is Broken; Oh No!

I "learned" this morning that the United States Supreme Court is broken.  Linda Greenhouse, the reporter who covers the Court for the New York Times, tells us so in an article today.  Oh, the horror!

According to Greenhouse, the Court was broken when the Republicans refused to vote on the nomination by president Obama of judge Garland for the vacancy created when Justice Antonin Scalia died last Spring.  Greenhouse, you see, didn't like that, and she's the Times' reporter most involved with the story.  That gives her the right to tell us that the entire Court is now broken.

Perhaps a better way to say all this is that once again, a pompous self-important liberal reporter in the mainstream media has been disappointed by a political development and has described the outcome in apocalyptic terms.  It's not that Justice Gorsuch is now on the bench; no, it's that the Court has been "broken".  When the Trump tax cuts get passed, it won't be that a strong move to pump up the economy has been made; no, it will be that the Republicans have sent billions to rich people in order to hurt the poor.  When the Trump administration made clear that it was enforcing the immigration laws on the books and focusing that effort on convicted criminals who are illegal aliens (something that Obama claimed to be doing), it wasn't that the rule of law was being returned to the process; no, it was that President Trump is following a racist and anti-immigrant policy that will destroy America.

It's not just the policies that get this treatment.  Think of the statement by Sean Spicer this week that it was terrible and unacceptable that president Assad of Syria had his forces use sarin gas on innocent civilians (a war crime) and that even the despicable Adolf Hitler had not done that.  Spicer explained that he was talking about the fact that the Nazis never dropped chemical weapons from planes, something which was feared from the very first day of WW II.  Nope, Spicer was labeled a "holocaust denier" and a bevy of idiots called for him to resign or be fired. 

Someone should try to explain to Linda Greenhouse that the Supreme Court was politicized nearly 60 years ago when the Warren Court decided to start legislating from the bench.  That awoke opposition to the Court's practice in that regard which grew much larger when the decision in Roe v. Wade  came down.  One may like the outcome in that case or think it totally wrong.  No one with an understanding of the Constitution, however, would ever argue that the right to an abortion is established in the Constitution.  That decision led to the ongoing battle about the Supreme Court.  When the Democrats found themselves on the losing end of that battle, they created a new tactic to try for success.  It was called "Borking" a nominee; it was named after Robert Bork, the nominee of president Reagan who was hit with a tidal wave of false attacks by the Democrats in a move that successfully kept Bork off the bench.  They tried that same move again against Justice Thomas when they trotted out Anita Hill to make phony charges against him.  They even tried to use the practice against judge Gorsuch, but it didn't work.  The politicizing of the Supreme Court is now the accepted practice of both parties.  Greenhouse was fine with it when only the Democrats did it; when the GOP responded, she announces that they broke the Court.

The truth is that the only thing that is broken is Greenhouse's perception of reality.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Endless Nature Of Moral Superiority

On Twitter, I follow the account of Sean Spicier.  As the name indicates, it is a parody account that purports to be written by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.  Like clockwork, the parody account tweets something out and some liberal or another condemns it as if it were really from Sean Spicer.  Here's a tweet from today:

Sean Spicier@sean_spicier        2 hours ago
The President's joint presser with NATO went about as well as you'd expect from an obsolete bunch of freeloaders.
 
In response there were howls of outrage from the libs including condemnation of the President for naming such an flippant man as his spokesperson.
 
The responses are usually funnier than the original tweets.  It amazes me that these fools don't bother to look to see the name of the person to whom they are responding.

Let's Take a Closer Look At the FISA Warrant for Carter Paige

There's a story today that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant during the Summer of 2016 in order to conduct surveillance of Carter Paige.  Paige was for a short time a minor foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign for president.  The news is not surprising; we have heard for many months that the Obama administration had sought a FISA warrant for people connected to the Trump campaign and that, after a few false starts, such a warrant was granted.  In fact, this was the commonly reported fact by the mainstream media in the days after the election until about a month ago.  Then President Trump tweeted that Obamacrats had wiretapped Trump Tower.  That caused a firestorm of a response.  The main thing that the media did was to reverse its prior mantra about how there had been a FISA warrant and that the conversations obtained might show Trump/Russia collusion.  The new mantra was that there had never been any investigation of Trump or his campaign.  Also, there was no FISA warrant.  Trump's tweet was clearly without foundation was also something the media repeated ad nauseum

Today's story about Carter Paige changes that yet again.  There was, in fact, a FISA warrant for someone affiliated with the Trump campaign.  That means the media was wrong.  It also calls into question the statement of the Obama Director of National Intelligence, Mr. Clapper.  Clapper to interviewers that he would surely know if a FISA warrant had been issued and that he knew of no such warrant.  Clapper, like Susan Rice, had been caught in lies (even under oath) in the past.  It seems that being out of office did not suddenly make him honest.

It has not taken long for the new story to get an anti-Trump spin.  The reality is that the existence of the warrant proves that Trump's tweet about Trump Tower being wiretapped is likely true.  That alone must be sending the media into a panic.  The media response, however, has been to say that the issuance of the FISA warrant shows that there must have been coordination between Trump and Russia or there would never have been any warrant approved.

This new slant on the FISA warrant shows that the people discussing the warrant do not understand the nature of these warrants.  FISA warrants are not law enforcement documents; they are national security documents.  To get a law enforcement warrant, the government has to demonstrate to a judge that there is a reasonable basis to believe that a crime was committed and that the subject of the warrant has evidence needed to prove who committed that crime.  A national security warrant from the FISA court only requires proof to the court that the target of the warrant may be working as a representative or agent of a foreign country.  There is no need for any crime or suspicion of criminal activity in order to get the warrant.  Paige had worked in Moscow some years back and had investments in Russian companies.  That, apparently, was the "proof" that was given to the FISA court to get the warrant.  Nothing was shown to the court that indicated any collusion or cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The key takeaways from this latest story are 1) the denials from Obama era intelligence leaders that there was a FISA warrant for anyone Trump-related were lies; 2) the Trump tweets about his campaign being wiretapped by the Obama administration are not baseless; and 3) despite the FISA warrants and the surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team, there is still no proof of any coordination or collusion between Trump and Russia.  If any such proof existed, it should have been uncovered by now.

 

A New Congressman But An Old Story

There was a special election yesterday in Kansas to fill the seat in Congress vacated by Mike Pompeo who took over as director of the CIA after the inauguration.  The Republican candidate won by 8% with a majority of the vote in a three way race.  That is no surprise since the district is a consistently Republican one.  If you read the news coverage, however, the real story is that the Democrat did so well.  He got, after all just about 45% of the vote.  This means, according to the media, that the nation is rejecting President Trump.  The only problem with this storyline is that it is, as usual, Fake News.

Here's the truth regarding the Kansas race.  The winner is a Republican who had run statewide twice and won.  His problem, however, is that he ran on the team of the governor, and that governor is unpopular in the district.  The Democrats tried hard to tie the two together.  Any weakness in the GOP vote was due to the governor.  Further, since this was a special election, it was easier for the Democrat to run a dishonest campaign.  His campaign ads portrayed him as a non-partisan moderate, something he is not.  It was not until the end of the campaign that there was any focus on the Democrat's actual positions.  After that, he fell quickly in the polls.  (Of course, polls in a special election like this are nearly meaningless.)  All that matters is that the people voted and Congressman Estes, a Republican, will take his seat in the next few days.