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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Media Takes Itself Too Seriously

Last night President Trump sent out a tweet that read, "Despite the negative press covfefe".

A number of hours later, the tweet was deleted and replaced with one in which President Trump asked who could figure out what "covfefe" means.

For the media, it was as if aliens had landed on the mall in DC.  What did this tweet signify?  What could it mean?  Was it a signal to the Russians?

At today's press briefing, Sean Spicer was immediately asked about the tweet.  Did it mean anything?  Spicer said that, of course, the tweet had meaning, but just to a select small group of people.  Some of the reporters laughed, but many more were incredulous or --the old standby -- outraged by the answer.

The media needs to get over themselves.  Trump sent a tweet with a mistake which looks like it went out by accident.  When the White House realized the mistake, they turned the whole thing into a joke.  The press is just too damn serious to laugh.  All I can say about it can be summed up in one word:  COVFEFE!!!!!


Al Franken, the Democrat senator from Minnesota just said on TV that he planned to appear with Kathy Griffin at an event in July.

There was a lot else said, but the bottom line is that a US senator is ready still to appear with this disgusting woman who ought to be shunned by all decent people.

Keep this in mind Minnesota the next time Franken runs for re-election.

The Last Time We Saw Paris

The big news this morning is the flash that the President has decided to pull the USA out of the Paris climate accords.  It's not confirmed yet, but the media has all picked up the story as if it is a sure thing.  The hysteria is growing; you would think that this move by Trump dooms us all.  The truth, however, is that the coverage would do just as well if the reporters just screamed "the sky is falling" and fainted.

The reality is that the Paris agreements are totally unimportant for a number of reasons.

1.  The Paris agreements place no obligations on any country to do anything.  That may sound like an overstatement; these are an international agreement after all.  But it's no overstatement.  The Paris agreements have no enforcement provisions.  The agreements just announce what each country will do, but in reality they are closer to New Year's resolutions than an agreement.

2.  Even aside from the ridiculously weak nature of the Paris agreements, they do not address the world's biggest polluter, China.  If there really is anything to the need to reduce humanity's carbon footprint, then China has to be part of that effort.  Without participation by China and India (another major polluter), the agreements are meaningless.

3.  There never was American agreement in the first place to the Paris agreements.  President Obama signed them, but he never even bothered to submit them to the Senate for approval.  That means that these agreements have as much legal weight as the bill that the House passed recently to repeal and replace Obamacare.  They mean nothing.

It's important to keep in mind that since 1990, the country in the world that has reduced its carbon emissions by the greatest percentage is the USA.  Much of that reduction is the result of switching the generation of electricity from coal to natural gas.  Of course, the same people who are most apoplectic about withdrawing from the Paris agreements are also the ones who oppose fracking which is the reason that the switch from coal to natural gas became feasible.


Chris Murphy Should Be Ashamed

There have always been people who are best described as unendingly partisan.  You know the type; these are people for whom every event is only seen for the partisan political advantage that one can wring from it.  Most people have partisan leanings; some are stronger than others.  Nevertheless, there ought to be times when the good of our country takes precedence over what is good for the party.  At least that is what one would expect to be the case even with most politicians.

I write this because I was astounded to see a tweet from senator Chris Murphy today in which he called President Trump's recent trip to the Middle East an "epic failure" because of what happened in Saudi Arabia.  Murphy is a Democrat senator from Connecticut who is not the brightest man alive.  Still, his take on the Saudi portion of the trip is monumentally wrong and even Murphy should understand that.  The main event in Saudi Arabia was a conference of the heads of state of 50 Muslim majority nations that came together to condemn ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups.  For the first time since 9-11 we actually saw nearly all of the leaders of the Sunni Muslims (from which both al-Qaeda and ISIS come) stand in public and say that the terrorists must be condemned.  This is anything but a failure; it is a great success for America.

So why would Murphy call this a failure?  Murphy contends that the trip gave the Saudis the leadership in the Middle East.  The real reason, however, is that Murphy calls everything Trump does a failure.  It doesn't matter what the President does.  For Murphy, the only issue is what will help the Democrats and himself.  He doesn't mind undermining America to achieve that end either.

Murphy really needs to go at the next election.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Nice to Post Good News

The Pentagon announced that the test today of the system designed to defend the USA against ICBMs was successful.  This is the first time that an ICBM has ever been shot down.

The system is not fully deployed, and it would be foolish to assume that it could stop a massive attack (like the ones the Russians or Chinese would launch); however, this system could shoot down a small number of missiles launched by Iran or North Korea should they acquire nuclear armed ICBMs.  It's a terrible blow to the crazies in North Korea to see this successful test.  It means they still won't have the ability to blackmail the USA with a nuclear missile aimed at the USA. 

It would be great if the next step in our continental defense could be a laser system that could shoot down missiles while they are still in space.  It could also be used against enemy satellites. 

If you're old enough, think back to the first proposal for a system of this sort, Ronald Reagans so called strategic defense initiative (which the media called Star Wars.)  The "experts" laughed at Reagan.  Then Patriot missiles were developed which could shoot down short and medium range missiles.  That was followed by a host of other systems which got better and better.  In the last war between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system shot down something like 250 out of 251 missiles aimed as population centers in Israel.  When it comes to nuclear ICBMs, of course, 250 out of 251 still leaves one city or military base obliterated, but it could also save hundreds of millions of lives.

This is a great achievement by the USA, an achievement that is only used for defense, not offense.

Garbage on Twitter -- So What Else Is New

There were two tweets I saw today that shocked me.  It's hard to shock me on Twitter; there's so much nonsense advanced and hatred spewed on an ordinary day.  Still, I get shocked when there is total idiocy put forth by  people with a great many followers who surely should know better.

The first tweet came from the senior senator from my state, Richard Blumenthal.  Blumenthal is a Democrat and, unlike our other senator Chris Murphy, Blumenthal is reasonably intelligent.  Nevertheless, this morning, he tweeted this:

"Only someone with secrets would want a secret and private line w/ Putin.  Kushner owes America an immediate explanation."

Think about that.  The mainstream media story is that President Trump and the Russians were setting up a back channel communication  method.  Okay, that's nothing unusual.  Blumenthal says, however, that only someone with secrets would want to do that.  Just imagine that!  The President of the United States has secrets!  Oh, the horror!  Seriously, of course the president has secrets.  We have an entire system called classified documents meant to maintain those secrets.  Indeed, the problem in recent months has been that those secrets have been leaked to the media.  Conversations with the leaders of Australia, Mexico, Germany, Israel, and other countries have been replayed in the press.  Those are secret conversations meant to be kept confidential.  The truth is that Blumenthal is actually making the case for why a back channel was needed.  The president has secrets, our government has secrets, and the secrets are supposed to stay secret.

The second tweet came from Chuck Woolery, a game show host with about 250,000 followers.  Here's what this guy had to say:

FDR's first vice was a communist.  He even ran for President on the Communist ticket.  Inconvenient maybe, but a fact.  Check your history.

This tweet was so bizarre and so wrong that I checked to make sure that it was not coming from a parody account.  (It wasn't).  The first vice president under FDR was John Nance Garner, a conservative Democrat from Texas.  He held the position from 1933 to 1941.  He was not a Communist and never ran for president on any ticket.  This was so off base, that Woolery could have just tweeted that he is a moron and accomplished as much.

So many people spend so much time on twitter.  I wonder how many of them understand just how much nonsense is spewed there.

The Media Doesn't Understand -- Trump's Foreign Policy Is Working

This morning brought more "analysis" from the mainstream media about President Trump's just completed trip and its effects abroad.  A good example is an article in USA Today breathlessly announcing that European leaders are "distancing themselves" from Trump.  It's a good example of the inability of the mainstream media to recognize reality.  Let me explain:

The biggest move of so called distancing came when Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said that Europeans have to rely more on themselves "in friendship with the United States".  Merkel's message has been interpreted as Eurocentric; she wants Europeans to decide how Europe will be run, defended, etc.  Merkel is not advocating a break with the USA, but rather she is recognizing that Europe cannot simply rely on the USA for its defense.

If you think about what President Trump's position was at NATO and at the G-7, Merkel was essentially agreeing with him.  The President says that it is unfair to put all the burdens of defending NATO on the USA and the American taxpayer.  Trump wants Europe to do more; he wants Europe to actually meet the standards set by the NATO treaty.  Under that treaty, each member of NATO is supposed to devote 2% of its GDP to defense.  Only 5 out of 28 countries do that; the rest are - to some extent - freeloading on the USA.  Merkel's call for Europeans, especially Germans, to rely more on themselves is another way of saying that they will have to take care of themselves more.  She's not advocating a break with the USA, not even a bit. 

Look, for fifty years after World War II, the idea of a strong Germany was unacceptable to most of the rest of Europe.  In two world wars, that continent had suffered as a result of German expansionism and nationalism.  It was a common goal to keep Germany militarily weak.  Today, that is no longer an imperative.  The generations that fought the wars are gone or about to disappear.  We may see strange currents in the German political scene from time to time, but that is no more than what is seen in the rest of Europe.  We are at a point where Germany can participate in its own defense in a major way.

The same thing has been true in Japan.  After the second world war, the USA demilitarized Japan and institutionalized that in the Japanese constitution.  Recently, with the rising threats from North Korea and even China, Japan has taken steps towards rearming itself. 

Bringing both Germany and Japan back into the real world in which the countries must defend themselves is a good thing.  America never undertook the obligation in perpetuity to provide a defense for those countries.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Thing Get Out of Hand In the Texas Legislature

Time for another entry in the bizarre file.  A Republican state rep in Texas was assaulted on the floor of the legislature by a Democrat rep.  Here's what's being reported so far:

1.  There was a protest in the gallery of the legislature by people who held signs saying that they were illegals and they opposed the law that bars cities or counties from being Sanctuary Cities, etc.

2.  Matt Rinaldi, a GOP representative says that he called ICE to report these illegal aliens.

3.  It's unclear if the call by Rinaldi had anything to do with this, but police came and arrested the protesters in the gallery.  They would have been arrested with or without a call because they were disrupting the session.

4.  Rinaldi says he told a Democrat on the floor of the chamber that he had been the one to call ICE.  According to Rinaldi, the Democrat pushed him but was then restrained by his fellow legislators.

5.  At that point, Rinaldi says that two Democrats threatened him with violence once he left the chamber.  "I'll get you in the parking lot" was one threat.  Rinaldi says that he answered with"I'll shoot you in self-defense."  (You really have to love Texas; such drama!)

6.  One Democrat says that he heard Rinaldi threaten to shoot one of the Democrats.

I'm leaving out the names of the Democrats, because they have not gone on record yet as far as I can tell, and it's hard to get a clear picture of what exactly happened.

There is no doubt, however, that Rinaldi, the Republican, was assaulted by one of the Democrats.

After the non-stop coverage of the Montana Republican candidate who hit the reporter a few days ago, I'm wondering if this will get much coverage at all.  After all, it's a Democrat hitting a Republican rather than vice versa.  I doubt you'll see this on the front page of the NY Times.

What An Outrage

The Israeli government chose today to announce a major plan to upgrade the sewage and sanitary facilities in the eastern sections of Jerusalem.  The sewer system in the eastern half of the city will finally be fully tied into the overall municipal system, something that should greatly improve the functionality of the system in this area.

What an outrage.  The areas being improved are in many instances inhabited by Palestinians.  Instead of settlements on the surface, there will be underground integration of the region.  It will be just one more Israeli effort to expropriate land being occupied, this time for sanitary sewers.

Okay, so it's not an outrage.  It is, rather, just an expansion of municipal services in Jerusalem to the benefit of the entire city, but especially of those in the region where the improvements will be built.  The Israeli government is improving the area with an Arab majority.

So how does this figure into the caricature that much of the left paints of the evil Israelis who keep the poor Palestinians downtrodden?  It doesn't.  That's why you won't hear about this announcement anywhere in the mainstream media.

When a new apartment building goes up in eastern Jerusalem; it is not designated as a residence for Israelis or Palestinians.  It's just an apartment building.  For much of the world and the media, however, it is a "settlement".  Even if two-thirds of the people who live in the building are Palestinians, it is still a settlement according to the media.  By this reasoning, the new sewage lines are just underground extensions of settlements.

At some point, there has to be a return to facts and common sense if any progress is ever to be made settling the Arab-Israeli conflict.

That Didn't Take Long

This morning, I predicted that the NBC reporter who said he felt uncomfortable with a Japanese winner of the Indy 500 race would shortly be fired or at least suspended.  Now, just five hours later, it happened.  NBC announced that the reporter was fired.

I'd like to think I have great insight into the way our society works, especially when it comes to politically correct bastions like NBC, but in truth any idiot who paid attention could have predicted this.  Now consider what would have happened had the driver been:

1.  an American Muslim,
2.  an American Catholic,
3.  an American Jew,
4.  a Syrian refugee, or
5.  a Canadian.

In how many of those cases would the reporter have been fired?  I'm reasonably certain that the correct answer is not five.  So ask yourself, what's wrong with this picture?  Either the reporter's sentiments were wrong and demanded his firing no matter what the ethnicity of nationality or religion of the driver, or they weren't.  We shouldn't pick and choose who is to be protected from discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnicity.

Here's Something Real That Should Concern the Democrats

So far this year, we've seen a series of special elections made into major events by the Democrats and media ahead of time because they were going to show how President Trump was destroying the Republican party.  In each election, the Democrat lost and the story was immediately buried.  Today, however, there is a story out that ought to give Democrats great concern about actual trends in the American electorate.

There's a poll being publicized that shows that only about a third of voters in Pennsylvania give the Democrat governor of that state a favorable job performance rating.  That sure sounds like something minor until you think about it for a moment.  In 2016, the most surprising results were that President Trump won three states that almost everyone had predicted to go for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.  Those states were Wisconsin, Michigan and, the big one, Pennsylvania.  Wisconsin and Michigan had trended towards the GOP in recent years.  Both elected Republican governors, and the GOP did well in other races as well.  In Pennsylvania, however, the voters had ousted an incumbent Republican governor in favor of Democrat.  During the 2016 election, it was the movement of broad swaths of voters outside the Philadelphia metro area that pushed the state into the Trump column. 

Given the media/Democrat spin on the current political situation, one would expect that a Democrat governor running for re-election in a major state like PA would be a shoo-in in 2018.  This poll makes clear that will not likely be the case.

The poll goes further, however.  According to the results, when Democrats learn that the governor is pushing to force local schools on the issue of transgender students, the governor's approval ratings drop among Democrats by over six points.  If the governor goes ahead with his plans on this issue, he may never recover.   

Sometimes, It's Hard To Understand The Rules

There's a kerfuffle of complaints because a reporter for a Denver paper tweeted that he was "uncomfortable" with the winner of the Indy 500 race being Japanese.  The tweet was immediately denounced as racially insensitive or even racist.  The reporter apologized.  If things go the usual way, the reporter will be fired soon or at least suspended for a while.  I understand all this.  Anyone who enters the race and wins should be the winner.  The national background, etc. of the winner doesn't matter.

But here's the question:  The Indy 500 is something that is clearly part of American culture.  If the winner is Japanese, is he guilty of cultural appropriation?  Is this any different than the two white American women who were crushed out of business when they opened a taco truck in Portland, Oregon.  How dare Anglos sell Mexican food!  It's cultural appropriation.  So why aren't the same people now shouting about a Japanese man who is taking a victory lap in a quintessentially American race?

The answer, of course, is that the idea of opposing cultural appropriation is complete nonsense.  The entire existence of humans on earth has been one of growth through cultural appropriation.  Think about it.  We can start almost anywhere.  When the Greeks developed their civilization, they thrived for a while until the Romans conquered them.  Rome took large chunks of Greek culture, however; it was a massive cultural appropriation.  It also spread Greek culture throughout much of the world.  Roman culture was also spread through the empire.  When Rome was overrun by various tribes hundreds of years later, those same tribes adopted some of the Roman culture.  The best example is that nearly all of them became Christians.  Until Rome fell, essentially all Christians lived in the Roman empire.  During the Middle Ages, culture brought from China was adopted in Europe.  Trade sprang up in that time and ideas moved from one area to another as cultural appropriation continued.  The ideas that formed the basis for the American Revolution were not just those of British colonials; some had been appropriated from French or other European cultures.  The USA, of course, is the world's best example of ongoing cultural appropriation.  Waves of immigrants brought their own cultures to this country and big chunks of those cultures were adopted by other Americans.  Americans gloried in the "melting pot" that was American culture. 

In the recent past, the only group which took seriously the idea that culture was static were the Nazis and their Aryan culture (which they proclaimed superior to all others.)  They famously derided the USA because of its mix of peoples and cultures.  They also destroyed those whose cultures were too different in their view from their own.  The truth is that cultural appropriation is just another word for enforced tribalism.  It emphasizes differences, something that is particularly offensive and dangerous especially in a country built on bringing people of different races, religions and ethnicity together.  If Mexicans want to make Chinese food, that's great and vice versa.  If Japanese want to play baseball or basketball which are the product of American culture, that's great.  Why would anyone care?  There is no valid reason to fight this. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What Does "Slashing" Mean To You?

I came across another article this morning headlined that President Trump had "slashed" the budget for something.  Today it was education, as in "Trump Slashes Education Budget".  It made me start to think about what most people think it means to "slash" the budget.

I looked up the definition of slash.  It came back as "to cut with a violent sweeping stroke or by striking violently and at random"

Think about that.  A slash is a major and violent cut which could be at random.  It sounds like a crazy person with a knife, a "mad slasher" if you will.

So is that what has happened to the Department of Education budget in the administration proposal?  Were programs chosen at random attacked with a figurative knife in order to chop off parts of the spending plan?

My prediction is that there is essentially no one in Washington or around the country who could honestly answer that question without first doing substantial research.  Certainly, the reporters in the mainstream media who wrote the articles announcing that Trump had proposed slashing the budget for Education could not answer the question honestly.  I doubt that any of them even know more than a few items funded by the Department of Education.

I only ask these questions, because what has happened in the President's budget proposal is a reordering of priorities.  Some programs funded by the Ed Department get increased, some stay the same (that really the same, not Washington's version of the same) and some get cut.  There are even a few small ones that get eliminated under the Trump budget.  Indeed, if you look at the budget proposal, it appears that a great deal of thought went into it.  This is no random cutting, it is a thoughtful exercise in making our spending more realistic.

The real problem when it comes to budgets is that the Democrats always oppose any cut suggested by the Republicans, and they do so with dishonesty and fear.  If President Trump wants to stop making a particular type of training grant for teachers which amounted to fifty million dollars last year, then the Democrats claim that the President is directly attacking every teacher across the country in the hope of driving the good ones out.  It's too bad that all those children currently being taught by good teachers are sure to lose them (or so the Democrats claim.)

It cannot be that once a program is passed or an expenditure made, that it can never be changed or even slowed in its growth.  That is a prescription for disaster, but that is the mindset that the Democrats bring to Congress and elsewhere.  The idea that once a program is passed, it need not be managed further is a Washington disease that attacks nearly every Democrat in DC.  Just think of the Obamacare Exchanges and how poorly they functioned when rolled out a few years back.  No one in the Obama White House had to manage that program; after all, the program was passed and would just go on by itself. 

In the latest budget for the Department of Education, there are a number of programs which the President wants to be kept the same.  If fifty million was spent on the program this year, he wants fifty million spent on it again next year.  Here too, we get lectured by the media that Trump is slashing the program.  In Washington, there are automatic budget increases of roughly 7% in each program.  Originally, this was designed to account for inflation, but we haven't had inflation approaching 7% or even 3% for any year during the last decade.  This actual spending freeze is derided as a major budget cut just because there is no large increase.

President Trump promised to drain the swamp.  There's no way that will happen unless and until there's at least some honesty and reality put back into discussions of the budget.  That could start with people at least using honest language about the battle.

The Meaning of Special Elections

It's been a few days since the Montana special election results came in with Greg Gianforte, the GOP candidate, prevailing by 7%.  So does this show anything about the nation as a whole?  Do any of the special elections held so far this year show anything about the nation as a whole? 

The answer to this question changes depending on whom you ask.  Over at Vox, they ran an article about how the Montana results were great news for Democrats.  The Democrats, of course, lost, but the reporter at Vox said that they came closer than usual.  On the other hand, I read an article at Town Hall that points out how the Democrat/media endless attack on President Trump has not switched any of these congressional seats decided so far this year.  That means that the GOP must be doing well according to the article.  The actual truth is something different and here it is:  so far, the special elections really haven't show that anything has changed since November.  Since the GOP won last November, that's good news for them.  The problem with claiming it as good news though is that the special elections are distorted moments in time in single districts that result in much lower turnout than a general election.  As a result, we really cannot tell what would happen in a general election were it held today.

The reality that there is no demonstrable trend of change in the special elections has not stopped the Democrats from claiming that there is a trend in their favor.  The other night, I actually saw someone billed as a "Democrat strategist" who claimed a nationwide trend because the Dems picked up a seat in the New Hampshire legislature.  This would be ridiculous if the seat were in any other state, but in New Hampshire, the claim is worse than ridiculous.  There are about 1.3 million people in New Hampshire but they have the largest state legislative body in the nation.  There are 400 seats in the lower house (for which the election took place.)  That means that the average district has 3250 people and maybe 2000 voters at most.  That is such a small district that a change in party in just one is meaningless.

It is worth noting that so far in 2017, none of the Congressional races have changed party in special elections.  In state races, there was one GOP pick up in Louisiana and two by the Dems, one each in NY and NH.

There may be a trend that becomes evident at some point, but right now, it seems nothing has changed since last November.

Understanding the News

On the Sunday New York Times, there is an article at the top of the front page that says that the White House is facing a "growing crisis" over Russia ties.  This may sound strange, but the article is a sign that the media attack on President Trump is running out of steam.  First of all, while the story is in its mandatory position on the front page, it is only one column wide and is dwarfed by other stories on that page.  Second, the "growing crisis" motif is second only to the "Trump something or other in chaos" when the media have nothing to write but still have to slam the President.  We all remember how the Trump primary campaign, the Trump convention plans, the Trump general election campaign, the Trump transition team and the Trump White House were and, in some cases, still are described as being "in chaos."  At the same time, the "crisis" regarding a non-existent problem with Russia has been a recurring motif in media reports since the election.  Third, the last "big news" flash thrown out there by the media, the supposed dealings by Jared Kushner with the Russians was a major dud and it has become harder for the media to continue to milk that one.  We all knew for many months that Kushner had met with the Russians last December.  The media problem is that they have nothing at all suspicious about anything that Kushner did or said.  Given the deluge of leaks from the intelligence community and State Department, no one honestly thinks it unusual if Kushner actually wanted to set up a back channel of communications with the Kremlin.  On top of that, Kushner has said all along that he would gladly testify before any congressional committee investigating this subject, so he seems to have nothing to hid.  Indeed, there is so little to discuss regarding Kushner that all the attack articles had to add paragraphs that no one alleges that Kushner did anything wrong and that he is not the target of any investigation.

Maybe the Times went light on its story because it is Memorial Day weekend, but I doubt that.  It seems as if things may be quieting down even in the media. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Montana's New Congressman

Here's a question worth considering:  Should the House refuse to seat the newly elected representative from Montana because he allegedly body-slammed a reporter on the night before the election?

The guy got elected by the people of Montana, but the media and the Democrats now want him barred from taking the seat to which he was duly elected.  Does that make sense to anyone other than the partisan hacks?

Speaker Ryan has already said that no action would be taken to bar the representative.  As Ryan put it, "the people of Montana have spoken, and the choice is theirs."

One thing the Democrats might consider:  if the new Republican from Montana is barred, should Democrats who have done the same thing be expelled?  I'm speaking of course about Minnesota Democrat Al Franken who body-slammed demonstrator trying to speak at rally for Howard Dean some years back.  Here's the link to the story.

The Insidious Media Methods

This morning, I got another demonstration of just how the mainstream media works it attack on President Trump.  I was talking to a person with some degree of insight when it comes to news stories, and he told me that President Trump's lawyers had told the President to stop tweeting.  I had seen the headline that announced that advice being given by Trump's lawyer but ignored it as bogus.  Here, however, was someone who had been taken in by a phony story designed to make Trump look like he is out of control and needs to be reined in by his lawyers.

Let's explore this story a bit.  The lawyers who supposedly gave President Trump this advice are the lawyers he hired to handle the investigation by Robert Mueller.  These are outside lawyers, not government employees.  The announcement of their hiring was just made a few days ago.

One thing is certain about any meetings or phone calls between President Trump and these lawyers:  no one else was in the room.  These are experienced high-powered lawyers who would never conduct confidential attorney/client communications with anyone else able the hear what was being said.  The presence of anyone else would prevent the assertion of attorney/client privilege.  It would open these conversations up to inquiry by investigators.  It would, in other words, be complete malpractice by the lawyers.  It's the kind of mistake that even a first year lawyer would not make, and these lawyers surely would not let it happen.  No one but the President and his lawyers was in the room.

So where did the information for the story come from?  It's safe to assume that President Trump did not leak it.  It's also a safe bet that the lawyers didn't leak it either.  Indeed, if it turned out that these lawyers were leaking advice they gave to their client, the President, they would be disbarred at a minimum. For a lawyer, it would be a cardinal sin.

Putting that together, we find that the only people in the room where the advice was supposedly given were the President and his lawyers, and it is extremely unlikely that any of them were the source of the information.  In other words, the story is just more Fake News.

My point is not that the media is filled with Fake News.  That is Old News.  My point, rather, is that seemingly intelligent people see a headline which reports a phony point, that sinks into their consciousness and then they repeat it as if it were true.

It's important to keep this process in mind when you hear people tell you about what is happening.  You cannot just accept what the media says; it's often false.  You also cannot accept what others tell you because they too may have been fooled by a phony story -- just like my friend.

It Certainly Made Sense

Today brings yet another baseless assault on President Trump, this time through his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.  The Washington Post reported late yesterday in the daily attack piece that during the campaign Kushner sought to set up a secure channel to communicate with the Russians that could not be intercepted by others.  And how does the WaPo know this?  Easy, the US intelligence agencies intercepted the communications and now unnamed sources are leaking that information to the anti-Trump media.  At least that is the claim of the WaPo.  It's stories based on unnamed sources have been correct about 50% of the time in recent weeks.

So it this a big deal?  Nope. Let's take it at face value as if it is totally true.  What do we know so far?

1.  During the campaign, the intelligence agencies listened in on a great many conversations involving Americans including those involved in the Trump campaign.

2.  Despite laws to the contrary, Obama administration officials like Susan Rice among others ordered the unmasking of people from the Trump campaign or Trump associates and then spread that intelligence to multiple agencies.  This is possibly a criminal offense.

3.  Just as the agencies have leaked their anti-Trump items, it is possible that someone leaked those anti-Trump activities to the Trump campaign.  We don't know, but certainly General Flynn had all the needed connections to have some friend who gave him a heads up.

4.  Establishing a communications channel separate from the normal State Department routine is not a new thing.  During the Cuban Missile Crisis, just such a back door communications channel was used for sending messages between the White House and the Kremlin.

5.  Establishing a separate communications channel is perfectly legal.  There is no law that requires the President-Elect or the President to communicate with any foreign leader in a particular way.

6.  This very story shows the wisdom of having a separate and secure communications channel.  After all, people in the intelligence community who leak this information got access through surveillance to the discussion.

Put this all together and what do we have?  Simply put, there is nothing wrong with setting up a back door communications channel with Russia; in fact it is a good idea.  We don't know for sure if any of the WaPo story is true, but despite all the hype, it's a big nothing.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Why Can't They Be Honest?

Ever hear of  Amul R. Thapar?  He's not exactly a household name, but yet he's a person of importance.  Mr. Thapar has been a District Court judge in the federal court in Kentucky.  He was nominated by President Trump recently to an open seat on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Yesterday, the Senate voted on his nomination and approved it by a vote of 52 to 44.  All Republicans voted in favor and all Democrats voted against the nomination.

It doesn't sound like much, does it?  The Democrats opposed yet another Trump nominee.  There is, however, much more going on here.  First of all, every Democrat voted against judge Thapar.  Why is that?  If the sides were reversed, the Democrats would, no doubt, claim it was racism since the judge appears to be of south Asian heritage.  While it is true that the Democrats, who hate a great many things, tend to reserve the biggest hatred for minority individuals who are conservatives.  Still, there is only one reason that every Democrat in the senate would vote against the nomination.  Judge Thapar is on the list of people that President Trump released during the campaign as possible nominees to the Supreme Court.  Yesterday's opposition is just to position the Democrats for a future battle over a Thapar nomination to the high court.

Remember when Justice Gorsuch was under consideration for SCOTUS?  How many times did we hear someone point out that the Senate had unanimously confirmed Justice Gorsuch just a few years earlier for a seat on the Court of Appeals?  That was embarrassing to people like Chuck Schumer who voted for Gorsuch the first time and who then had to lead the charge against his nomination.  Schumer and his fellow Democrats don't want to face that argument again, so they all voted against Judge Thapar.

The truth, though, is that Judge Thapar is a great addition to the federal judiciary.  He has both a stellar academic and judicial record.  He was also the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky before going on the bench.  He clerked for two different federal judges as well.

It is offensive that the Democrats are so caught up in their political battles that they won't even give fair consideration the nominee for an important judicial seat.

Even with a Flawed Republican, Montana Won't Pick The Democrat

The special election in Montana is over.  The Republican won the House seat easily.  That happened even though that candidate got into a scuffle with a reporter on the night before the election.

Think how this must make the Democrats feel.  They had an open seat in a state that often votes Democrat.  Sure, it has been more Republican than Democrat over the last few decades, but it is not a solid Republican state.  Open seats give the out party (in this case the Democrats) their best chance to pick up a victory; all the power that comes with incumbency does not get into play in these elections.  The Democrats also had a well funded effort.  Something like five million dollars came into the state for the Democrat.  That is a huge amount to spend on a Montana election to Congress (or any other congressional race for that matter.)  The Republican actually spent a bit more, but there was a major campaign for the Democrat.  On top of this, the Democrats were able to tie the Republican to President Trump.  In fact, that was a joint effort; the Democrats tied the GOP candidate to the President, but so did the Republican who ran in outspoken support of the Trump agenda.  If there really is national revulsion of the President (as the media and Democrats would have you believe), this should have been a landslide for the Democrat.  Throw in the fight with the reporter which resulted in the filing of criminal charges against the Republican, and we should have seen a major win by the Democrat.  Even with all this going for them, however, the Democrats lost big.

The Democrats must be losing it today.  It just goes to show you though, Americans on the whole won't vote for a party whose only platform is hate and scorn for their opponents.  There has to be a positive and realistic message in order to win. 

Character Assassination Kushner Style

It's everywhere yesterday and today:  Jared Kushner is a "person of interest" or a "focus" in the investigation of the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  I'm sure you've seen the reports which are based upon statements of unnamed "government sources".  Now ask yourself this question:  what does it mean to be a "person of interest" in this sort of investigation?

Have you reached an answer?  If so, you are pretty good.  There is no such thing as a "person of interest" in that context.  There are two kinds of FBI investigations. First we have the more ordinary criminal investigation.  Then we have a "national security investigation" which is what the FBI has called the Trump/Russia investigation.  A criminal investigation would have a "target" who is the person or persons whose behavior is being examined for possible commission of a crime.  No one, not even the anonymous sources in the media says or even suggests that Kushner is the target of such an investigation.  There are witnesses who get interviewed in both types of investigations.  The FBI, however, never talks about a person of interest and it certainly never speaks of a person as a "focus".

So what is the news actually all about?  If you have followed this story since the beginning, you know that last December the media reported (gasp) that Kushner had spoken to some Russians.  That is something that Kushner himself has confirmed; he spoke to and even met some Russians on occasion.  It had nothing to do with the Trump election campaign, however.  The investigators are going to speak to Kushner to confirm this.  Indeed, Kushner himself offered to come and speak to the congressional committees doing investigations to tell them about the contacts in question.  In the last few days, however, the media and the leakers have repackaged this old news to make it sound ominous.  Kushner is a "person of interest".  We're now supposed to take that to mean that Kushner is a Russian spy or something approaching that.

The truth is that this is character assassination, plain and simple.  Anonymous sources repackaging old stories is not news.  Nevertheless, the story is everywhere.  I just saw it in my local paper next to a story on a disciplinary problem at the local high school.  It gives the media the chance to take a dishonest shot at the President's son-in-law.  It's really bad stuff.

We have an investigation of something that only exists in the imagination of the media/Democrat complex.  There has never been any evidence of collusion or cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia.  Now we have the attempted destruction of the good name of Kushner on the basis of nothing but repackaged old news.  It's disgusting.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What Are the Folks At the CBO Taking?

The CBO report on the healthcare bill passed by the House came out earlier this week.  It's a complicated document that seems to have been written in Fantasyland.  Charles Darwin based his theory of evolution on Natural Selection.  It seems that the CBO based its analysis of the healthcare law on something best called Illogical Selection.  Let me explain.

1.  When Obamacare was passed, the CBO predicted a marked increase in the number of American who had health insurance.  By 2017, we were supposed to see about 23 million people with policies purchased on the Obamacare exchanges.  The actual number has turned out to be just under 11 million people with such policies.

2.  That number of 11 million people with Obamacare policies is important, because in this week's exercise in bizarre thought, The CBO is predicting that ten years from now 23 million fewer people will have health insurance policies if the bill passed by the House becomes law.  This is a strange prediction since the CBO also predicts that the premiums for insurance policies will be lower if the bill becomes law, so it won't be increased cost that will drive people away from insurance.

3.  You may wonder how it is possible with only 11 million Obamacare insurance policies for the total number insured to decline by 23 million.  The answer from the CBO is that people on Medicaid will no longer be insured.  That's ridiculous, however.  Medicaid is free; no one would drop it since it has no cost.  What is more, anyone who is on Medicaid now is assured of staying on that program into the future so long as they meet the current requirements of that program.  Now there will surely be some people who progress in life and get better jobs and higher incomes.  If these people have a high enough income to exceed the requirements for Medicaid, that is a good thing.  It means people who were living in poverty have pulled themselves out of poverty.  Many of this group will get health insurance through their jobs, and only a small number will have to buy insurance individually.  There will never be enough to get to one million people needing insurance.  Certainly, there will not be enough to make up an extra 12 million people needed to get to the CBO prediction of 23 million.

4.  The truth is that there really is no rationale how CBO could come up with its 23 million person estimate. Most people with Obamacare policies will still buy policies under the new law.  Essentially everyone on Medicaid will keep that coverage or get coverage from their employment.  The only other place from which CBO could find people who might lose coverage is among people who get their coverage through their jobs.  CBO can argue that by removing the employer's mandate which requires large employers to provide health insurance for workers, millions of employees will be left without coverage as businesses drop insurance coverage.  That might make sense if the original passage of Obamacare with its employer's mandate had brought a wave of new employees getting health insurance.  The government's own statistics, however, show that there was essentially no change in the number of people getting insurance through their jobs.  If enacting the employer's mandate did not add people to coverage, it is hard to argue that rescinding that mandate will result in something like ten million people losing coverage.

The reality is that the CBO estimate is nonsense.  (And that's putting it nicely.)

It's No Surprise, But It Won't Stand

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in the case to enjoin the Executive Order issued by President Trump instituting a ban on travel to the USA from six countries that have major terrorism problems but which also cannot provide adequate background information to the USA on entrants from their countries.  The Court ruled to continue the temporary restraining order which prevents the Executive Order from being enforced.

I've spent decades following court decisions, most of that time as a practicing attorney.  I've seen some crazy results come from court.  More of the bad decisions came from state rather than federal courts.  Within the federal courts, more of the bizarre results came from trial level courts rather than appeals courts.  That means that today's decision should have been pretty straightforward and it should have followed the law.  That being said, this is perhaps the worst decision I've seen in the last twenty years.  We have a Federal appeals court which has taken the established law and thrown it out so that they could make their substitute their own political decision.

It's worth reading the first paragraph of the decision, which is as follows:

"GREGORY, Chief Judge
1: The question for this Court, distilled to its essential form, is whether the Constitution, as the Supreme Court declared in
 Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2, 120 (1866), remains “a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace.” And if so, whether it protects Plaintiffs’ right to challenge an Executive Order that in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination. Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding  principles—that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another. Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation. Therefore, for the reasons that follow, we affirm in substantial part the district court’s issuance of a nationwide preliminary injunction as to Section 2(c) of the challenged Executive Order. " (Emphasis added)
It's an amazing decision.  There is no point more well established in law than that a court must look only at the words of a statute, regulation or Executive Order if they are clear.  The court does not get the right to look beyond the clear meaning of the text.   This is an essential part of the rule of law.  It means that each judge has to apply the law in the same way for each person who appears in that court.  Legislative authority in the USA is in the hands of Congress, not the court.  Executive authority is in the hands of the President, not the court.  With this decision, the court usurps both of those powers.  Congress gave the President the power to determine if any class of people must be barred from entry into the country.  The President made that determination.  Now, the court decides that its own views have to be followed rather than the law established by the duly elected authorities.  The court even realizes what it is doing.  It admits that the Executive Order speaks in terms of national security, but then the Court looks beyond the clear words of the order to announce that it can tell the true meaning which "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination."  Strange, isn't it, that the order sets up no religious test.  Christians from Sudan are barred just as are Moslems from that country.  Yazidis from Syria are barred as are Moslems.  There is no religious test.  And as for discrimination, there is, of course, a singling out of potential entrants from six countries.  That is not, however, religious discrimination.  The almost 90% of Moslems who live in countries that do not present national security threats are not barred, but that makes no difference to the court.  It claims that no matter what the words say, it will decide what is truly meant.
This case will almost surely get to the Supreme Court.   It will be reversed.  The result will most likely not be one of those 5-4 decisions either.  The Justices of the Supreme Court will not change the established law which the Fourth Circuit has decided to ignore.
It's a sad day for the quality of the federal judiciary.

The Dust up in Montana

There's a special election for Congress in Montana today and to put it mildly all hell is breaking loose.

First, last night, the GOP candidate was in an altercation with a reporter for The Guardian.  The reporter said that the candidate attacked him for no apparent reason.  The candidate said that the reporter would not back away when asked and got pushed out of the way.  The only real witness to what happened is a reporter for Fox News who initially back the reporter's story but has since changed her statement in ways that call into question what she actually saw.

To say the least, this was a stupid move by the GOP candidate.  The election is today, so the guy just had to keep his cool for one more day and he did not.  Nevertheless, the reaction has been amazing in the media.  After all, this is not the biggest of news.  Nevertheless, there has been constant coverage of this story.  This morning there were multiple media reports that people were swamping the Montana Secretary of State's office trying to get permission to change the votes that they had cast in early voting.  An hour ago, however, the story came out that there had been just a few calls when the office opened and even those calls ended quickly.  In other words, not more than a dozen people called to see if they could change their votes, but the media called it an avalanche of disgruntled voters upset about the fight the night before.

I don't know who will win today's election.  If the GOP candidate loses, he will have no one but himself to blame.  On the other hand, if the GOP candidate wins, it will be hard for the Dems to spin this one as anything other than a crushing loss.

NATO Nonsense

It just never seems to end.  The mainstream media just twists and lies and so do the Democrats.  Everything Trump is bad in their book, even if they have to make it up as they go along to justify things.

Today's episode of the ongoing media soap opera, "Trump is Always Wrong" starts in Brussels where the President gave a speech to the members of NATO.  President Trump said in his speech that the USA is strongly committed to NATO.  This horrified some in the media and among Democrats, but not for the reason you might suspect.  They are upset because President Trump did not specifically state that he accepts Article 5 of the NATO treaty which states that an attack on one NATO member is considered to be an attack on all NATO members.  According to these "experts", Trump questioned that provision during the campaign, so by failing to make the statement in Brussels that he now accepts that article of the treaty, he is implicitly rejecting it.

It's hard even to right the explanation of the media criticism with a straight face.  It's just another moronic episode of media bias and general dishonesty.  Think about it.  NATO is not a country or an ethnic group.  NATO exists only as a result of the NATO treaty.  President Trump said today that America is strongly committed to NATO.  Needless to say, that means the USA is strongly committed to the NATO treaty.  These morons, however, are trying to twist a statement of support for NATO into a rejection of the NATO treaty.  That makes about as much sense as arguing that if someone says "I love and support the United States of America" it really means that the person is rejecting the Constitution which is the document under which the USA exists.  I don't think so.  Even the crazies on the left have to be embarrassed at this nonsense.


It Was Inevitable

The leakers at the CIA, FBI and NSA who have been breaking the law with their non-stop flood of secrets to the media just got the sort of result that was inevitable.  The UK stopped sharing information of certain kinds with the American intelligence agencies.  The final straw came when the Brits told US intelligence about the identity of the Manchester bomber and related information on the crime.  The US intelligence leakers gave the info to the NY Times and it was published.  The key here is that the name of the bomber was in the Times before it was even announced by the police in the UK.  It was too much for the British to take.

If you think this is an overreaction by the Brits to a free press, think again.  Since the bombing, the Brits have rounded up eight suspected members of the cell that helped plan the bombing.  We don't know how many more there are or how many have gone into hiding.  One thing is certain, however:  once the name of the bomber was released, the other members of the cell knew that it was only a matter of time before the police found them.  By publishing the name before it was released by the police, the leakers and the Times gave warning and a head start to the other terrorists involved in the Manchester slaughter.

I hope that there is some way to find out who leaked this info and to prosecute him or her to the fullest extent possible.  The leaks have to be stopped.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What Will It Take To Get Their Attention?

Two nights ago, we all saw the horror of the terror attack in Manchester UK focused on young girls.  In response to the attack we got the inevitable crazy responses.  One woman who is a Democrat running for Congress in Massachusetts denounced the attack as sexist.  Seriously, more than 20 dead and over 50 wounded and she is worried about sexism.  One commentator on CNN said that the attack was actually carried out by right wing organizations to stoke anger at Muslims around the world.  I guess this "expert" missed the part where ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.  Today, I read columns with people attacking President Trump for calling the terrorists "losers".  There's major murder and their concern is what gets said.  It's the old Obama plan in action; it doesn't matter what you do if you say the right thing.  When the attack happened, CNN and MSNBC didn't even cover it for hours because they didn't want to interrupt the coverage of the phony Trump/Russia story.

Some people will no doubt look at this mess and tell us that the attack was in England, so it doesn't have the same impact here.  But what about this other story from a few days ago:

In Minnesota, a man saw two guys sitting in a car on his street when they threw the wrappings from food they were eating out of the car window.  The fellow went up to the car and told the guys inside to pick up the mess they had made.  The two got out of the car and threatened the fellow with violence.  Since these two guys made clear that they had guns, the fellow beat a hasty retreat and called the police.  Shortly after the 911 call, scores of police showed up.  The two guys in the car, Abdullah Alrifahe and Majid Alrifahe, were arrested when police approached the vehicle and found guns, rifles, magazines, hand grenades and material for making bombs inside the car.

It sounds like the Minneapolis police luckily prevented something major.  But here's where it gets really amazing.  First, Abdullah was charged with carrying a gun in public without a permit.  (Apparently, he decided not to follow the Minnesota gun control laws.  Surprise!)  Abdullah was convicted five months ago on the same charge.  This means that a judge in Minneapolis presided over the trial of this guy on a weapons charge and did not send him to prison (at least not for more than a month or two.)  But it gets worse.  The other guy arrested, Majid, is now out on bail.  Two guys get arrested with an arsenal of weapons and bomb making paraphernalia on the streets of the city.  The judge hearing the case grants bail to one of them so that he's back on the streets.  It's just crazy.  One final note is necessary, though.  The local TV reporters tried to go to get comment from Majid on the matter and went to the address that he gave to the police.  There was no one at that address by that name.  So Majid is not only out on the streets, but the police don't even know where to go to pick him back up.

We all know that Minneapolis is a super liberal city.  What will it take to get the attention of the people living there?  Will we have to witness a terror attack like the one in the UK?  Will that even be enough?  I just don't get these people.

Here's The Real Bizarre Story

Ever since the election, the mainstream media and the Democrats have been claiming-- without any supporting evidence -- that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to 'steal" the election from Hillary Clinton.  It's bizarre that a claim devoid of any supporting evidence could just go on and on and on.  There now, however, is something even more bizarre which needs to be explained to the American people.  Here are the salient points:

1.  According to the man who lead the CIA through 2016, John Brennan, American intelligence agencies were very concerned about the Russians interfering in our elections.
2.  Brennan told his Russian counterpart to stop interfering.  This happened in the July or August of 2016.
3.  President Obama told the Russians to "cut it out" at roughly the same time.

That's the whole thing except for this:  besides telling the Russians to stop, consider what else the Obama administration did to make the Russians end their efforts.  The answer is THEY DID NOTHING.  That's right; NOTHING!!!

Former CIA director Michael Morell confirmed this on CBS today.  President Obama raised the issue with the Russians but then sat by and did nothing at all to make the Russians stop their attempts at interference.

Someone needs to explain this.  Obviously, the White House was not unaware of what the Russians were doing.  This can't be brushed off as one of those things that Obama only learned about when it appeared in the media.  By his own admission, Obama raised the subject with the Russians.  Why then, if there was all this supposed Russian interference did the President of the United States just sit there and do nothing?  Why did the CIA do nothing?  Why did the FBI and the NSA and all the other alphabet agencies do nothing?

There is only one possible explanation:  Obama knew that the Russians weren't really doing much of anything.  There was no need to take active steps because there was nothing to stop.  Nothing else makes sense. 

It's bizarre that it has taken until now for this whole story to play out.  I know that the media focus has always been on the supposed contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but it is not that difficult to consider what the US government was doing during this time.  Someone in the media should have focused on this aspect prior to now.

The truth is that Obama's failure to have America take any action on the supposed Russian activities when they were supposedly happening shows just how phony that story really is.

Are They Plugging The Leaks?

There are news stories on a few sites and more rumors that the Trump administration has identified at least three people who have been leaking classified information to the media.  Supposedly, these people will be fired and possibly prosecuted when the President returns from his trip abroad.

If this is true, it is wonderful news.  Most of the stories from anonymous sources are what one can expect from the media.  Many are false, but some are accurate.  For the most part, though, the stories do not deal with classified information.  On the other hand, stories about what the President said to this or the other world leader are something quite different.  The leak of Trump's phone conversation with the leaders of Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, or Australia are both dangerous and extremely detrimental to national security.  The government cannot function to protect our national security if it cannot keep communications with other governments confidential.  Foreign leaders will not be able to trust that what they tell the President will stay secret. 

If people are indicted for the leaks, the media will no doubt scream.  Of course, these days the media would scream if people are not indicted.  I hope there really is action to plug the leaks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's Truly Embarrassing

Anyone who reads this blog understands that I have a rather low opinion of senator Chris Murphy from my state of Connecticut.  Murphy is not the brightest of men (to put it mildly).  Actually, he's like a list of talking points with a mouth.  That does not make him unique in Washington.  In fact, may of the politicians there normally speak in talking points.  For Murphy, however, that is all he ever seems to do.

I was reminded of that again today when Murphy made another of his idiotic statements, this time about the Manchester terror attack.  Fortunately, Murphy was on CNN at the time, so almost no one saw it.  Murphy actually said that he worries about President Trump's rhetoric because it could cause a terror attack like the one in the UK to take place here in America.

Think about that for a minute.  The thugs of ISIS attack teenaged girls with a bomb and kill over twenty while maiming many more.  ISIS acted in the UK as part of its worldwide assault on those it considers infidels.  It was a disgusting and cowardly act by people that President Trump properly calls losers.  ISIS has been mounting terror attacks around the world for the last four years.  Some have even been in the USA.  During almost all of those attacks, the man in the White House was president Obama.  Murphy liked his rhetoric, but the attacks went on.  Now that President Trump is in the White House, Murphy announces that it is Trump's rhetoric that will cause an attack in the USA.  That's right; Murphy is blaming any ISIS attack in advance on President Trump.  Maybe by tomorrow, Murphy will blame the 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino on Trump's rhetoric.  By next week we may hear from Murphy that Trump's rhetoric caused 9-11.  If we wait longer, we may learn from Murphy that Trump's rhetoric caused the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Civil War and even the Black Death in medieval Europe.

It's truly embarrassing that my state chose a moron like Murphy as our senator.

What's the Big Story Today?

What's the biggest story in the news today?  There's a lot to pick from:

1.  The terrorist attack in Manchester, UK.

2.  The President's trip to the Middle East and Rome.

3.  The budget proposal sent by the White House to Congress.

4.  The testimony today of the DNI and the former head of the CIA before congressional committees.

There's other stories floating around, but one of the above is definitely the top story.

I only ask because I checked to see what cable news was covering at various times during the evening.  I did a lot of channel flipping and sampled each of these channels six times during prime time.  It's far from a complete study, but it does give a pretty good picture.  Here's what I found:

Fox News spent most time on the terrorist attack in Britain and its ramifications for the USA.  Four out of six times that I checked, that was the subject being discussed.  Once it was the budget and once it was the President's trip.

MSNBC was covering the terror attack on two occasions.  It also was covering the testimony by the DNI three times and once it was speaking about the President's trip and how it was being affected by events in Washington regarding the Russia investigation.

CNN was covering the terror attack once.  It was discussing the testimony in congress today five times.

One last note about the CNN coverage.  I watched Anderson Cooper interview someone who knows former FBI Director Jim Comey and ask the fellow if he knew if Comey had actually told President Trump three times that Trump was not under investigation.  The response was priceless.  This guy said that he had no knowledge of what Comey said or did not say to the President; then he went on to state that he was sure that Comey had never said any such thing to Trump.  I actually started laughing out loud at the absurdity of it all.  He doesn't know but yet he's sure.  Anderson Cooper never challenged the nonsense at all.

The Left's New Economic Slogan: "NO WE CAN"T"

After eight years of mindless chanting of "yes we can" while Obama was president, the left has now come up with a new slogan to chant when it comes to the growth of the US economy.  That chant is "No we can't".

Okay, it's not really a chant they use, but it is now the default position of the left.  The USA is going to experience declining rates of economic growth over the next few decades and it's all due to demographics.  If you'd like to see a summary of this position from the leftwing point of view, I suggest that you read this article at Vox.  The amazing thing to me is not that the left views 3% economic growth for the American economy as unobtainable.  Nope, the amazing thing is that these people actually seem to believe this nonsense.

Let's look at the record for a moment.

First of all, 3% growth is less than the average growth of the economy during the 20th century as a whole.  This is real growth, so it's not colored by inflation.  The century included the worst decade ever for the American economy, the 1930s, but even with the Depression in the mix, we still averaged over 3.0%.  Now, the left calls a return to 3% growth a pipedream.  Since World War II, the average annual real growth rate until Obama took office was 3.5%.  That period just ended less than ten years ago, but now we have to abandon all hope of ever getting back there (or so we are told.)

Second, the reason we are given for the woeful rate of growth is that the population is aging, so there are fewer people to work in the economy.  The funny thing about that is what you find if you look back at the two biggest periods of economic growth since World War II.  Both of those growth spurts were the result of major tax cuts:  one by Kennedy and one by Reagan.  During both periods, the labor force grew significantly.  That growth was not happening because of immigration or a higher birth rate.  No, the big growth came because the percentage of people working rose quickly.  Higher economic growth pulled many more people from the ranks of the non-employed to the crowd looking for jobs.  All through the Obama years, we have watched millions of people give up hope of finding work and stop looking for a job.  That decline in the labor force was how Obama was able to talk about lowering the unemployment rate.  Once people stop looking for work, they are no longer counted as unemployed.  Right now, there are tens of millions of people who could easily rejoin the labor force; that is more than enough to fuel economic growth.

Third,  the dour preachers of economic malaise on the left ignore what has always been the main driver of the American economy:  innovation.  Sixty years ago,  no one would have expected such a large percentage of our economy to depend on computers and related items.  Fifty years ago, the idea of cell phones was something from science fiction, not the basis for millions of jobs and a large part of economic activity.  Forty years ago, who would have expected people to shop on the internet where a big chunk of all economic activity now occurs?  Thirty years ago, how many of today's drugs and medical treatments were expected imminently?  Twenty years ago, did people expect hybrid or electric cars in large numbers across the country?  Ten years ago, how many of these same economists and leftists now predicting stagnation told us that we had passed "peak oil" or the point at which the earth and especially the USA was starting to run out of fossil fuels?  The point is that all of these discoveries/inventions have resulted in major increases in economic activity.  There is no reason to think that innovation will end.  We are not at "peak invention".  We will never be at "peak invention".

Fourth, demographics is not always what the left claims it to be.  Remember it was only eight years ago when the received wisdom on the left (and throughout the media) was that the Democrats would never again be challenged by the Republicans in American elections.  That view was based upon demographics that made Democrat victories inevitable.  The same leftists who now spout about the inevitability of stagnant growth told us that their hold on power would be eternal; demography was destiny -- or so they told us.  Since then, the Democrats have lost the state legislatures, the governorships, the US House, the US Senate and the White House.  They have the ability to contest elections mostly only on the coasts.  What happened to demography?

One last point must be discussed.  In predicting inevitably slow growth, the "experts" on the left conveniently leave out the results of repatriation of the corporate cash now parked overseas due to onerous US taxes.  If the law is changed and only half of that cash returns to the USA, it would mean something on the order of an increase to GDP of roughly 2.5%-3.0%.  By itself, that's enough to bring us well over the supposedly unreachable target of three percent growth.

It's sad that we have a whole party preaching pessimism.  The Democrats/media/left better change their tune soon.  Americans don't like being told "No we can't."

Just a Bit Of Testimony

Here's a bit of important testimony today by the former head of the CIA to congress.  It speaks for itself.

It must be so disappointing to someone like Adam Schiff to hear this.

The Meaning Of "Moderate"

In USA Today, there's a column in which a former correspondent for the NY Times assails President Trump for his statements made in Riyadh about the behavior of Iran.  After all, says columnist David Andelman, Iran just re-elected a "moderate" as president ("Rouhani").

The column got me to thinking about what the meaning of the word "moderate" actually is.  In a land ruled by murderous thugs who seek regional hegemony and religious control, is someone a moderate if he seeks those same things but at a slower, more moderate, pace?  I don't think so.  When Rouhani supported the Houthi rebels in Yemen and sent them massive aid so that they could fight a massive civil war that has killed thousands, was he a moderate because he didn't send the Houthi rebels any chemical weapons (at least as far as we know)?  I don't think so.  Fomenting major fighting that put the nation of Yemen into total chaos isn't "moderate" even if one says nice things while doing it.  Is it 'moderate" to give major support, including tens of thousands of troops, many tons of weapons and tons more of ammunition to the Assad forces in Syria even as those forces kill close to half a million civilians with every weapon imaginable (including poison gas).  Rouhani has done that, but USA Today still calls him a "moderate".  Was it moderate to enter into a deal with the USA that guarantees Iran a nuclear weapon in a few years and gives it hundreds of billions of dollars now?  Not really! 

So why would USA today call Rouhani "moderate"?  The answer is very simple, and it harkens back to standard operating procedure for the media during the Obama years.  Rouhani is a "moderate" in the eyes of the media because he made a deal with president Obama.  It doesn't matter that the deal was one-sided in favor of Iran; Obama was involved.  It doesn't matter that Iran under Rouhani started violating restrictions on missile development and testing almost the day after the deal was signed; Obama was involved, so it cannot be questioned.  It doesn't matter that Rouhani still chants "Death to America" along with others in Teheran.  USA Today knows that he's a moderate -- he may want to kill us but surely will do so in a humane and more moderate fashion.

Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.  Iran is the principal back of the murderous Assad regime in Syria.  Iran is the principal backer of the terrorist group Hezbollah.  Iran has supported Shiite militias in Iraq which have killed Iraqis who happen to be Sunnis after liberating them from ISIS control.  Iran is consistently violating UN Security Council resolutions that ban missile testing.  Iran threatens harm to the USA and Israel (not to mention the Sunni Arab countries in the region).  All of this is happening while Rouhani is president of Iran.  He is NOT a moderate.

It's a sad thing that the mainstream media takes for granted that this man is a moderate without looking at his actions.  It is not enough to make a deal with Obama.  It is not enough to say the right thing while committing murder.

I wonder if the mainstream media will ever understand reality.

The Budget Myths

It's not the big news of the day, but the Trump administration released the President's budget for 2018 yesterday.  Every spring, there is an event when the White House releases its budget.  That is usually followed by Congress rejecting that budget.  One year, president Obama's budget was put up for vote in Congress and got zero support.  That's not an overstatement; not a single Democrat or Republican voted in favor of the Obama budget.  So it's safe to assume that Trump's budget will also be dead on arrival.

Why then is it worth discussing this budget?  That's because the budget as a whole won't pass, but the priorities and proposals in the Trump budget will affect the final product.  The media has decided that the big story from the budget is that President Trump wants to cut food stamps and some other welfare programs.  On article I saw denounced Trump for wanting to impose a work requirement on those receiving food stamps.  Oh, the horror!  It's amazing how reporters from the mainstream media seem to know nothing of history.  The food stamp program was passed decades ago.  It contained a provision that required able-bodied people who sought food stamps to work if possible.  The idea of the program was to help those who needed help but also to get these people back on their own feet if possible.  Obviously, children and the elderly weren't required to work.  Those with injuries or illnesses weren't required to work.  Those who could not find a job weren't required to work.  This last group, however, was required to take work if it could be found or lose their benefits.  Americans don't mind helping those in need; we want to do it.  The majority of people, however, do not want to be forced to support those who are too lazy to work if able to support themselves.  This was from the start part of the food stamp program.

Eight years ago, president Obama decided that he would waive the work requirement.  We were in the midst of a major recession and Obama didn't want any limit on food stamps.  Instead, he did all he could to promote the program and doubled those receiving food stamp assistance.  Unemployment was around 10% and millions more dropped out of the labor force.  That's not where we are anymore, however.  President Trump just wants to put back into the food stamp program the requirement that those who are able to support themselves must make an effort to do so.  Remember, going to work doesn't necessarily deprive someone of food stamps.  In other words, taking a low paying job if that is all that is available still allows a person to get food stamps.  The days of those who do nothing but still get food stamps should end quickly.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nail Bombs And A Concert

The attack in Manchester, England that hit a crowd leaving a concert by Ariana Grande is really a new low by the terrorists.  The normal demographic at one of these concerts is comprised of teenaged girls.  This is the latest target for the terrorist cowards who claim to be doing God's work.

OK.  I know that I'm calling it a terrorist attack without five police commissions, two government ministers and seven religious leaders who get together to officially proclaim the attack to be a terror attack, so maybe I'm jumping to conclusions.  No, I'm not. This was an attack by low-life cowardly scum who seek only to kill young women who they don't even know.

I'm tired of this stuff.  I'm tired that we see more and more places subjected to this craziness.  I'm sickened by the idea that we still have people in this country who think that keeping potential terrorists out of the country is a bad thing because it is being proposed by the President who they hate.  I'm angry that the focus of our politics and media is investigating a non-existent Russian connection even though there's no evidence that any such thing exists after a full year of investigation.  We need to be focused on reality, a reality in which we face a very real threat.   I'm angry at the fools who criticize President Trump for calling the terrorists "evil" and then claim Trump's lack of sophistication will undermine the fight against terrorism.  Excuse me, they won't even say "terrorism", it's the fight against violent extremism.  Just two days ago, we saw the President tell the Islamic world that it has to clean up its own mess.  It has to tear the evil terrorists out completely and destroy them and their evil ideology of death.

Sorry to seem so wound up, but it's not every evening that one gets to hear about 20 or so people slaughtered at a concert by these monsters.