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Friday, June 23, 2017

Hard To Imagine This

Saudi security forces cornered a suicide bomber who was attempting to blow himself up in the Grand Mosque in Mecca.  That is the single most important holy place in all of Islam.  Sunnis, Shiites and all other Muslims hold it to be holy, and yet, an Islamic terrorist was trying to blow it up.  That's like a group claiming to be religious Catholics trying to blow up the Vatican or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  It just makes no sense.

Perhaps the hope of the terrorists was that by destroying the Grand Mosque, the Muslim population of the world could be roused into action of some sort.  It's a bizarre sort of logic, however; it relies on there being no proof of who carried out the attack and acceptance that the attack came from elsewhere.

It is truly hard to imagine that this has happened.

Time For A Repeat Of an Old Trump Smear By the Media

It must be a slow Friday.  The Hill had to resort to repeating an old chestnut in order to get in today's smear of President Trump and his administration.  According to The Hill, chief of staff Reince Priebus is most in danger of losing his job at the White House because President Trump doesn't like the total chaos he sees in his administration.  The story is not meant to be funny, but it is a joke.

Think of it this way:

1.  This is at least the fifth time in the last six months we have been told that Reince Priebus is about to be fired.  Each time, the story is attributed to unnamed sources.  Somehow, it never has happened.

2.  Over the last six months, we have seen stories in the mainstream media about the imminent firing of Steve Bannon, the expected imminent departure of Kellyanne Conway, and the firing of Sean Spicer.  None of those happened.  Instead, Spicer is in the process of being promoted.

3.  The mainstream media has pushed the idea of chaos in the Trump camp repeatedly.  First we were told that the Trump primary campaign was in chaos.  Trump then won the primaries.  Next the GOP convention preparations were in chaos.  The convention went off without a hitch.  During the campaign against Hillary Clinton, it was a mantra of the mainstream media that the Trump campaign was in total chaos.  Hillary's campaign, on the other hand, was supposedly organized and running perfectly.  Then Trump won the election, and the post election books revealed that the Clinton campaign was a total mess.  That brought us to the chaos the media told us about in the transition team.  That process, however, went smoothly.  Since the inauguration, we keep being told that the White House is in chaos.  Nevertheless, the President has taken a lengthy series of actions to fulfill his campaign promises.  There seems to be no chaos.  The media also told us how the entire Republican party was in chaos; yet somehow, the GOP has managed to win every contested seat up for a special election.

Let's put it this way:  there is no chaos.  There is no reason to think that Priebus is on his way out.  This is just total nonsense pushed by the media because they've run out of other negative things to discuss about the President.  In short, it's Fake News. 

Who Are These Ghouls?

The assistant director of the Democrat party in Nebraska was fired yesterday when audio surfaced of him saying that he was glad the congressman Steve Scalise had been shot and he hoped Scalise had died. 

I'm not going to go into the details of this; they are too ghoulish to repeat.  What sort of political leader hopes for the assassination of his opponents?  The guy may be a Democrat, but he surely does not believe in democracy.

The chair of the Nebraska party fired the guy after audio of his comments was made public.  I wonder if she had previously heard what had been said but kept him on because there was not yet any proof of the statement.  It wouldn't surprise me.  Democrats are the party that tolerates an incredible amount of hate from their people.  The media plays it the other way, always blaming the GOP for hate, but the hate itself comes mostly from Democrats.

The Dishonest Assault on Healthcare; Why Do Dems Have No Solution?

The Republicans in the senate unveiled their healthcare bill yesterday.  Within minutes, we were told by Democrat after Democrat that the bill is "mean", that it would "leave people to die", that it would "kill people" and that it was designed "to give tax breaks to the rich."  Those comments came too soon for any of the senators who made them to have even bothered to read the proposal.  It was nasty criticism without knowledge.

Why is it that the Democrats just attacked the motives of the GOP without even addressing the content of the bill's specific provisions?  Why didn't the Dems tell us who would be left to die and why?  There's a simple answer to this:  they have no viable alternative.  They don't even argue that Obamacare is working; the new Democrat strategy is to blame the failure on the Republicans.  That's pretty funny and totally wrong.  Obamacare was passed by the Dems and hasn't been changed since then.  Their plan has failed, so they blame the GOP.  The Dems have no fix, so they impugn the motives of the GOP which is trying to correct this mess.

One of the biggest parts of Obamacare was the expansion of Medicaid which provides medical coverage for the poor.  Under the GOP plan, coverage under Medicaid stays unchanged for another three years and then the requirements for coverage are modified for only NEW enrollees into the program.  In other words, everyone on Medicaid now stays on Medicaid into the future.  The Dems say that this will leave people to die.  That's a knowing lie.  But consider this:  the GOP plan also allows states more flexibility to control the Medicaid program for that state.  If a state wants to check eligibility every three months, it will be able to do so.  Now it can only check once per year.  If the state wants to start a program to bring down the costs of the program by promoting some pro-health program, it can do so.  Right now, the only way states have to bring down costs is to pay doctors less.  As a result, and here's the shocker, people who have Medicaid coverage have no better health outcomes than people who are uninsured.

Let me say that again:  the USA is spending billions each year to provide Medicaid coverage for the poor, but those with the coverage do no better healthwise than those who stay uninsured.  MEDICAID DOES NOT WORK!!!  This is a national disgrace, and it is a particular disgrace for the Democrats.  They ignore that the program has failed and just fight with lies to preserve it.

The new healthcare bill is complicated; that's for sure.  I have actually read the bill, and it requires a lot of time just to figure out the full meaning.  I'm not going to tell you that everything in there is good; I don't know that -- it's just too complicated to make such a snap judgment.  I do know, however, that the Democrats' response is dishonest and despicable.  They don't have a clue what's in the bill.  They are fighting to preserve the rotting corpse of Obamacare, a program that died last year.  The end result of that fight may help them politically, but it will be at the expense of the American people.  They have no solution, so they are just trying to make the problem worse.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Time To Call

Do you live in Texas, Wisconsin, Utah or Kentucky?  If so, it is time to call senators Cruz, Johnson, Lee and Paul to tell them to vote for the Obamacare repeal/replace bill in the Senate.  These are the four senators who say that they are currently voting against the bill in its present form.  You need to tell these senators that if the bill fails because of their vote, we will be left with the disaster of Obamacare.  Millions will lose coverage as insurance companies withdraw from the market and costs skyrocket.  Make clear to these senators that they were sent to Washington to change Obamacare, not to perpetuate it.  You need to call today.

Senator Blumenthal Is Just Telling Lies Again

Like every other state, Connecticut has two senators.  One is a complete moron; that's Chris Murphy.  The other is intelligent and quite knowledgeable about the law.  Senator Blumenthal was the Attorney General of the state for an extremely long time before he was elected to the Senate.  That knowledge of the law, however, is something that requires Blumenthal to be honest in his public statements.  Unlike Murphy who sometimes says idiotic things because he just doesn't understand, Blumenthal knows better.  That makes statements like the one today into total lies.  Let me explain:

President Trump said today that he knows of no tapes of his conversation with Jim Comey the former FBI director.  Blumenthal rushed to the nearest microphone to claim that the President's effort to shape Comey's testimony by talking about possible tapes is "obstruction of justice".

Think about that.  Trump didn't ever say that there were tapes; only that Comey better be concerned that there could be tapes.  So what effect does that have?  It makes Comey wonder if there are tapes or not.  Comey was about to testify under oath to Congress, and he had to be concerned that there might be tapes that could show his testimony to be false if he made stuff up.  The only protection Comey had from a possible charge of perjury, would be to tell the truth.  After all, if Coney told the truth, he wouldn't have to worry about tapes; they would just confirm what he said.  In other words, what President Trump said put pressure on Coney to tell the truth. 

Senator Blumenthal well knows that pressing someone to tell the truth is not obstruction of justice; in fact, it is exactly the opposite.  Obstruction is present only when someone seeks to interfere with an investigation or to prevent the truth from coming out. 

So we have senator Blumenthal -- who well knows what constitutes obstruction -- telling a lie on that subject.  Sure, Blumenthal is not under oath, so his lie is not criminal.  Nevertheless, Blumenthal's lie is morally repugnant.  Blumenthal has to learn that the American people deserve the honest facts even if they are not going to provide a political benefit for Blumenthal and his party.

The "Secret" Plan

The GOP majority in the Senate is supposed to release a summary of its plans for the healthcare bill today.  It is an outline of the full bill that is just about complete and which will be released by Monday.

For the last month, the Democrats' battle plan in opposing the bill has been to denounce that it is being drafted "in secret".  We are told that it is undemocratic to draft a bill in secret.  Of course, Obamacare was drafted in secret, but that was by Democrats, so it doesn't count.  Of course, the House bill to which the Senate GOP is responding is fully public and has been so for months, but that's not worth discussing because it's not secret.  Supposedly, not a single Democrat has been able to learn what is in the GOP bill.

In the last few days, however, the Democrats have been shifting from the "secrecy" of the bill to denouncing its content.  For example, yesterday, the senators from my state of Connecticut both made detailed statements about how one feature of the GOP Senate bill or another will cause problems and be terrible.  It's not worth reviewing those statements; that's not my point.  No, I want to focus on one question that this shift in tactics reveals.

If the Senate GOP bill is really being developed in secret and the Democrats are unable to know what is in it, that means that the current shift to denouncing the content of that bill is dishonest.  After all, if the Democrats don't know what is in the bill, how can they denounce specific provisions?  On the other hand, if the Democrats do know what is in the Senate GOP bill and are actually speaking about real provisions in that bill, then they have been telling lies for weeks about how the bill is being developed in a way that keeps them in the dark.  In short, it is impossible for both of these to be true.

It's just more lies.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Democrats Do It Again

The two special elections are over.  In South Carolina, the GOP candidate won election to Congress.  In Georgia, the GOP candidate won election to Congress.  They're still counting votes in Georgia, but the Republican has a major lead with around 80% of the vote counted.  For the Democrat to pull out a victory, he would have to get more than 60% of the remaining vote and the areas where votes remain to be counted will not produce that kind of result.

Think about that.  The Democrats spent over thirty million dollars in this campaign.  It's an extraordinary amount.  They outspent the GOP by at least 50%.  This is a district that President Trump only carried by just over 1% and tonight the GOP seems to be winning by a much larger margin.  No amount of money brings triumph to Democrats when they have no plans and just offer negative campaigning.

Without a doubt, the story of this election will disappear from the mainstream media which will go back to all Trump bashing all the time.  Nevertheless, there is a lesson to be learned here even if the Democrats and the media ignore it.  The supposed dislike of the American people for President Trump may exist inside the liberal bubble.  In the rest of the country, however, not so much.  The GOP in Washington better realize this and get to work on the Obamacare repeal and tax reform.

Emoluments or Imagination?

You may have heard that a large group of Democrats in Congress are suing President Trump for his supposed violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.  I heard this discussed on cable TV panels, but half the time those taking part in the discussion cannot even pronounce "emoluments" let alone explain what the clause means.  Here's a short explanation:

First let's start with what the Constitution actually says:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

The Constitution prohibits an American from getting a title of nobility from our government.  That was a way to prevent the creation of a permanent ruling class like the ones in Europe.  Then the Constitution prohibits any government employee or office holder from taking a gift of any sort from a foreign country unless Congress approves.  No cash, no article, no title, no office can be received from a foreign government.

Second, let's consider why it was that the clause is in the Constitution.  Remember that after the Revolution and before the Constitution, the United States was governed under a document called the Articles of Confederation.  During the five years or so that this was the governing document, there were foreign powers who were making gifts to American statesmen.  For example, the King of France gave all manner of gifts to people with whom he dealt.  Benjamin Franklin got a diamond covered gold snuff box, for example.  Others got pensions or offices from the king.  The members of the Constitutional Convention wanted to end that practice.  They wanted to make sure that no one working for the government or holding office would succumb to bribes disguised as gifts.  That brought about the Emoluments Clause.

Third, let's look at how this has been interpreted in the past.  The Supreme Court has never ruled on this provision of the Constitution.  Congress has passed an act that regulates how and when federal officials can accept gifts from foreign governments.  For example, it is customary for visiting foreign leaders to give gifts to the President.  Items of this sort are held by the government as government property, although the sitting president is allowed to use them.  You may recall that when Bill Clinton left office, he tried to take some of the gifts he received with him, but he had to return them.

Fourth, let's look at the Democrats' argument.  They contend that the Constitution requires President Trump to get approval from Congress before any of his various properties can accept business from foreign governments.  In other words, the Democrats are not trying to stop gifts from a foreign country like Saudi Arabia to Trump; instead, they want to prevent the Trump hotel in DC from letting Saudi diplomats stay at that hotel.  This is a laughable argument.  The clause in the Constitution is designed to prevent bribed disguised as gifts.  It is not intended to prevent all business transactions between an American federal employee and foreign governments.  Consider this example:  suppose a member of Congress owned a vineyard where she and her husband grew grapes and made wine.  Suppose further that those grapes or wine were sold to a Chinese company owned by the government or to an embassy in Washington or a consulate in Los Angeles.  That's not an imaginary situation; instead, it is exactly the situation of Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat leader of the House and one of the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit.  Has Pelosi violated the Constitution by failing to check out exactly who is buying the grapes and wine from her vineyard?  Has she violated the Constitution if she knowingly is selling grapes to a company owned by a foreign government?  Of course not.  A business she owns is engaging in normal commerce, just like the Trump hotel in DC engages in normal commerce.  Anyone can come to the hotel and rent a room or hold a function.  The hotel does not have to investigate whether or not the person staying there is having his bill paid by a foreign government.

How about another example:  let's suppose that a president had written a few books, something like Dreams of My Father by president Obama.  President Obama got royalties from every purchase of that book by anyone.  If the government of Kenya decided to buy 2000 copies to give to government employees before Obama made his visit to that country, is that a violation by Obama of the Constitution?  The Democrats would argue that since a foreign government did business that put cash into Obama's pocket it must be a violation.  That, however, is laughable too.

The real point is this:  the Constitution wanted to prevent bribes disguised in the form of gifts.  It had no intention to prevent normal commerce.  The suit by the Democrats is nothing but a way to waste more time in court while screaming about it on TV.

Why The Left Doesn't Understand Liberty

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled UNANIMOUSLY that it was unconstitutional for the government to refuse to issue trademarks because the wording was derogatory.  The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech without government interference; the right to censor trademarks is government interference with speech.  I wrote about this yesterday at some length.  Today, however, I want to focus on the reaction from the liberal media to the decision.

USA Today ran an article calling the outcome a victory for "government sponsored bigotry."  Instead of the denunciation of the Court's finding in favor of free speech, USA Today could have just as easily run an article headlined "Why Political Correctness Should Beat Freedom of Speech".

The entire concept of free speech is that the government is not allowed to interfere with what people can say with only a very few exceptions.  You cannot call for the violent overthrow of the US government.  You cannot say things that are designed to cause injury or violence; it's the old "you cannot shout 'fire' in a crowded theater."  Free speech will not protect you if you participate in a criminal act.  It's not free speech to go into a bank and say "this is a robbery; give me the money."  That's about it for major exceptions.

You would think that the fact the ruling was unanimous would clue in the fools at USA Today.  It hasn't.  They are still living in the PC bubble.

What's The Strategy In Syria?

We got a typical "report" from the mainstream media, this time from The Hill, which discusses how the US role in Syria could "escalate" in the near future.  The reporter points to recent confrontations between US and Assad regime forces during which US planes shot down an Assad bomber that was attacking local American allies who were fighting ISIS, US planes shot at Assad ground troop who were also attacking those allies, US forces shot down a drone of Assad or Iranian ownership that had fired on US led forces, and, of course, the major missile attack that took out about a quarter of the Assad air force after Assad used chemical weapons again in the conflict against civilians.  Because this is more confrontation with Assad than took place during the entire eight years of the Obama administration, it is viewed as a sign of imminent escalation.  It's hard even for the media to criticize using missiles to stop attacks on civilians with sarin gas or using planes to for self defense or the defense of allies.  As a result, the "report" says that these "may" have been good things, but it then complains that we have no "strategy" in Syria.  Reading this article, you would think that our involvement in Syria is something like a haphazard military version of total chaos; we're in Syria, but no one knows why.  President Trump, we are told, just has no strategy.

It's rather disgusting that the mainstream media cannot be bothered to tell the truth.  The President has made it clear what US forces are doing in Syria.  Let's consider actual reality:

1.  American forces were introduced to Syria by president Obama, not by President Trump.  Obama ordered US air power to attack sites in Syria and then he sent special operations forces to assist and train local Syrians who were fighting ISIS.  Today, the only major addition by President Trump to these forces came when he ordered the cruise missile strike in response to the use of sarin gas by Assad.

2.  President Trump announced a clear goal in both Syria and Iraq:  it is US policy to see to it that ISIS is "destroyed".  It has also been announced as US policy that we seek no fight with Russian, Iranian or Assad regime forces but that we will use force in self defense or in defense of our allies if they are attacked.

3.  Obama had announced that America's goal was that "Assad must go" but then Obama backed off and negotiated deals which abandoned that goal.  Trump has not reimposed regime change as an American goal.  Trump, however, has not run away from taking steps that diminish the Assad regime when it does things that violate international law or attack our allies.

4.  Trump said a few months ago that the future government in Syria is up to the Syrian people.  That has not been changed by the White House.

This means that there is a clear strategic outline for the USA in Syria.  The idea that there is no strategy is ridiculous.

To be fair to the reporter for The Hill, it is possible that they expect President Trump to outline American tactics in Syria.  After all, Obama used to tell our enemies in advance what we would be doing and when we would be doing it.  President Trump has made clear for a long time that he would never discuss tactics.  That does not mean, however, that we have no plan, just that we don't intend to tell it to the enemy in advance.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Otto Warmbier Has Died

The American student who was released by the North Koreans thanks to the efforts of President Trump, Otto Warmbier, has died.  The NKs returned Warmbier a few days ago, but he was in a vegetative state after having suffered massive brain damage while in North Korean custody.  No one outside of North Korea knows what happened to Warmbier; we do know however, that the North Korean explanation that he had botulism is not true.  Anything is possible from injuries due to constant beatings to almost anything else.

It is still disgraceful that the NKs did not return Warmbier sooner once it was clear he would never recover.  It is also disgraceful that president Obama never lifted a finger to try to gain Warmbier's freedom.

It is a very sad story.

A Victory For Free Speech Over Political Correctness

The Supreme Court gave free speech a major win today.  It came in a case dealing with the granting of trademarks by the Patent Office.  A rock group called The Slants was denied a trademark on the ground that the name disparaged others and was offensive.  The group fought the ruling and has now won.  The Court ruled that the government cannot limit the speech of the trademark applicants on the basis that it considers the trademark to disparage others.  And make no mistake about it; this was not a close decision.  The court ruled unanimously by a vote of 8-0 (Justice Gorsuch did not take part in the case which was argued before he was sworn in.)

The biggest impact of this decision is the major blow that it strikes against the PC police who want to censor everything from t-shirts to team names.  Remember, in 2014, the Obama administration rejected the trademarks for the Washington Redskins on the basis of the same law which has now been rejected by the Supreme Court.  The Redskins ought to have clear trademarks for that name again in short order.  If I want to trademark "Crooked Hillary", "The Orange Oopa-Loompa", the "Loony Left", "Fascists for Trump", "Secular Christians" or even "Radical Islamic Terrorists", there will no longer be any problem from the Trademark and Patent Office.  Offensive speech cannot be stopped by the government.  That's an important part of free speech.

It would be nice to think that some of the campus liberal fascists who try to squelch free speech will hear this decision and change their ways.  I doubt it will happen, but it certainly ought to.

Now A Terror Attack in Paris

A terrorist with a car containing a bomb rammed a van filled with Paris police on the Champs Elysee in Paris this morning.  The car exploded on impact and the drive was killed.  First reports indicate that none of the police were killed but some suffered injuries.  The terrorist had an AK-47 and some other weapons in the car, but fortunately he never got to use them.

We are now hearing that the dead terrorist was on a watch list kept by the French authorities of terror suspects.

This attack comes on the heels of the van attack in London in which pedestrians were mowed down as they left a local mosque.

It has gotten to the point that there is really nothing more to say about these terror attacks.  We all just need to redouble our resolve to see that the purveyors of evil like ISIS and al Qaeda are destroyed.  We also have to make sure that Americans do not reach the point of getting triggered.  It will never be acceptable for there to be retribution against anyone other than the terror groups themselves.

More Syria News -- It Just Gets Worse

Here's the latest breaking news from the AP

BREAKING: Russia says it will treat US-led coalition planes in Syria, west of the Euphrates, as targets after US downed Syrian jet.

So what does this mean?  Will the Russians actually shoot at American planes?  If they do, will the American planes shoot at the ground anti-aircraft installations of the Russians?  I doubt it will get to that, but it does seem as if a major game of chicken is being started over the skies in Syria. 

This seems to be a test by the Russians of American resolve.  It is a typical move by Putin.  Yesterday, the USA acted very un-Obamalike and shot down a Syrian plane that was bombing US allies on the ground.  Now Putin is testing our willingness to continue to defend our allies.  This is the point at which Obama would have cut and run (if he ever had gotten this far.)  I don't expect that from President Trump.  If the Russians are met with strength rather than weakness, they will stop pushing.

Hopefully this can be smoothed over before things get worse. 

So How Special Will The Georgia Special Election Be?

I just read a piece from the Daily Beast about the special election in the sixth district in Georgia.  The author is telling us in advance that any victory by the Democrat will spell doom for the GOP and President Trump.  While this is both premature and ridiculous, it still didn't stop the author from doing all she could to slant the piece beyond that.  For example, she tells us that this is the most expensive race for a House seat in history, but she neglects to say that the Democrat has outspent the Republican by about two and a half times.  Both sides got their message out, but the level of overkill by the Democrat is important.  In fact, if the Democrat loses after an avalanche of spending like that, it is the Democrats who ought to be worried that they will never win again. 

More important than all the rest, however, is the misleading discussion of the importance of this race to Trump.  Last November, the President won this district by one percent over Hillary Clinton.  That hardly makes it a surprise that the race would be close now.  We already knew that these are voters who don't buy into the Trump message and persona.  On top of that, the Republican candidate does not have the advantage of running against someone as disliked as Hillary Clinton.  Nevertheless, if the Democrats finally win one of these special elections, we will surely hear about it for weeks or months even though it really won't mean much.

Of course, the early voting statistics seem to favor the Republican, a fact which the Daily Beast chose to ignore.  If Karen Handel, the GOP candidate, wins the election, we will quickly be told that this is just a Republican district and the results are meaningless.  After that, the media will never mention it again.

The real truth is that special elections don't really mean much.  So far in 2017 through all the races across the nation in special elections, there has been a net of one state legislative seat that switched parties.  It's hardly a noticeable move.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Another Attack In London

Tonight, a van drove into a crowd of worshippers leaving a mosque in London after the end of Ramadan prayers.  There were many injuries and possibly some deaths.  After the van stopped, one of the passengers jumped out.  The attacker was taken down by the crowd and held until police got there.  He is in custody, although his identity has not yet been released.

It seems rather certain that this is yet another terror attack in London. 

We don't know yet if this is an attack on moderate Muslims by yet another crazy Islamic terrorist or if it is a revenge attack by a non-Muslim as a result of the other recent Islamic terror attacks.  In either event, it is the move of madmen.

Correction:  An earlier version of this post said that the attacker had tried to stab people nearby after hitting them with the van.  Although reported by the media, this detail now seems wrong and has been deleted.
 

More News Out of Syria

US fighters shot down a Syrian air force bomber about an hour ago.  The bomber had just attacked coalition forces involved in the attack to drive ISIS out of Raqqa.  The forces hit were America's Syrian allies.  The Assad air force strike was being followed by a land attack from the Assad forces on those same American allies.  That attack by the Assad forces was stopped in its tracks by American air power which menaced the Assad ground forces until they pulled back.

The US command issued a statement saying that it would defend American allies engaged in the fight against ISIS.  This sends a clear message to Assad, Iran and Russia about the limits beyond which the USA will not allow them to go.

Hopefully, once the ISIS forces are wiped out, there will not be a follow on battle between the Assad forces and America's allies on the ground.  Still, the action by the USA today is completely different from the usual response during the Obama years which was to do nothing and then to protest to Moscow.  Obama might have even sent John Kerry to Moscow to chide the Russians about the misconduct by the Assad forces. 

What a difference it makes to have a leader who is not afraid in the White House.

Iran Launches Missile Attack on Syrian Base

According to a report by the French news agency AFP, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard announced that it had fired medium range missiles at ISIS targets in northeastern Syria, specifically at the ISIS post in Deir Ezzor.  The IRG said that the attacks were in retaliation for the terrorist attacks in Teheran earlier this month.  This is an major development for a whole host of reasons.

1.  The target supposedly hit by the missiles is over 1000 miles from their launch site.  We don't know how precise the targeting was, but if the missiles were on target, this is much longer range than Iran's missiles previously were known to have.   It may well be that Iran just launched the missiles at the town rather than at the ISIS headquarters there.  The Iranians have never cared much about civilian casualties, and they would not mind killing scores or more of Syrian Sunni civilians who are, in Iranian eyes, infidels.  We will have to wait to see if the missile story is even true and what damage was done by them if the story is true.  An accurate missile with a 1000 mile range, however, would be a major accomplishment for Iran and bad news for the world as a whole.

2.  Iran blamed the Saudis when the terror attacks struck Teheran; they denied that ISIS was involved.  Now Iran has struck back against ISIS.  This makes clear that the Iranians were just lying when they blamed the Saudis.  It should inform the rest of the world about Iranian dishonesty.

3.  The site hit by Iran is one of those that stands in the way of there being a land road between Iran and Lebanon through Iraq and Syria.  Iran desires control of these roads in order to send large supplies of weapons to both the Assad regime and to Hezbollah without having to resort to subterfuge.  If the attack at Deir Ezzor is followed with a ground assault in Syria by Assad/Iranian forces, we will know that the missile attack was actually part of a bigger plan and had nothing to do with the terror attack in Teheran.

4.  The attack should raise alarms in Israel and Washington.  For Israel, the existence of accurate Iranian missiles puts the entirety of Israel in the cross hairs of Iran.  Fortunately the Iron Dome system should be able to shoot down such missiles, but a sustained large volley of them would likely result in some getting through nevertheless.  For the Iranians, it would be enough to hit Tel Aviv no matter what site the missiles destroyed.  In Teheran, it would be seen as a victory if they just killed 40 people in an apartment complex.  For Washington, these missiles would indicate that Iran is close to creating intercontinental ballistic missiles which could hit the USA.  Alternatively, Iran could put nuclear armed missiles like those launched today on cargo ships and then launch them from 1000 miles offshore.

All in all, this is not a good development.

Steve Scalise

Congressman Steve Scalise who was shot at the baseball field in Alexandria just a few days ago, has now had his condition upgraded to "serious" from "critical".  This is great news.  The congressman is going to be in the hospital for some time as he recovers from his wounds and the multiple surgeries that saved his life.  According to the doctors, though, he will be walking and even running soon.

We should all give thanks for the progress so far and pray for Scalise's continuing recovery.

 

The HIV Walkout

Six members of the President's advisory council on HIV/AIDS quit this week.  They claimed in an article in Newsweek that President Trump just doesn't care about the disease.

There's a major problem with this story, however.  None of the people who quit were appointed by Trump.  They are left over Obama activists.  The council moved to holding sporadic meetings a long time ago.  In fact, the chair called only one meeting since Trump took office.  The lack of meetings was not something mandated by the White House; it was just a sign that the council had stopped doing anything much.  So now we get the big walk out to protest how President Trump supposedly just doesn't care about AIDS.

Oh, and there's one more thing that you need to know about the council.  The members do not get paid; they are not government employees.  They are advisors only, so by quitting they give nothing up.

I have no idea what President Trump thinks of AIDS and how to deal with it.  I do know, however, what a political stunt looks like, and this is certainly one of those.

An Insight That Most Miss

This morning I read a column by Selena Zito in the New York Post that ought to be required reading in Washington and in the newsrooms across America.  Zito discusses the opening of a new coal mine in Pennsylvania and what that means for the local community.  Simply put, the new mine is a major engine of economic growth for the area which has been under economic decline for decades.  The only comments from our nation's capital have been cheers from President Trump and complaints from liberal Democrats.  Coal is outmoded as a source of energy has been their cry.  Of course, the problem is that the coal which will be obtained from the new mine is intended to be used for steel-making, an endeavor that still requires coal.  The Democrats are so quick to condemn the mine on ecological grounds that they don't even bother to find out the details of what the mine actually is.  Their simple equation is written like this:  "COAL = BAD".

I grew up in Pennsylvania.  One thing was a given in the politics of the Keystone State; it was that miners and mining communities would vote for the Democrats no matter who they ran.  This changed briefly at times, and it changed in a major way when Ronald Reagan ran in the 1980s.  Since then, however, the Democrats still had a majority of the miners supporting them until the last decade.  The Obama attack on coal mining started a trickle of Democrat support which grew into an avalanche after Hillary Clinton admitted that she would put the coal miners out of work in one of her worst lines of 2016.  To win in Pennsylvania, the Democrats have to get back the support of the miners and mining communities.  The anti-coal outbursts that came in response to the new mine opening is likely to push even more people over to the Republicans and to President Trump in particular.

It's not often that you can watch a party throw away its chances in a vital swing state like Pennsylvania (as well as in Ohio and West Virginia).  It seems that 2016 did not teach the Democrats anything.

I strongly recommend reading Zito's column.  The link is in the first line of this post.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Final on Early Voting in the GA Sixth District

Early voting is now over in the sixth district of Georgia special election.  There were over 140,000 votes cast.  Compared to early voting in 2016, that's over 40,000 fewer votes, but it's a very high number for a special election.  We don't know how the vote split, but we do know who voted.  First, even with about 23% fewer votes cast than in 2016, the number of Republicans who voted was higher than the number of Democrats who voted by a larger margin than in 2016.  This is a very good sign for the GOP candidate.  Second, the age mix of those who voted early this year was not very different from the last election with one major exception:  the number of young voters (under 30) who cast a ballot decreased dramatically as a percentage of all the votes.  Third, the biggest group of those voting were neither Democrats or Republicans.  This was true in 2016 as well.  Last, the number of women voting was higher than the number of men, but the margin for women was much lower than it was in 2016.

Taken together, it would seem that the early voters in this special election are more likely to vote Republican than the early voters in 2016.  In 2016, Donald Trump carried the district by just 1% over Hillary Clinton.  In that same election, the GOP candidate for Congress, Dr. Tom Price (who left to become secretary of HHS) won by about 20% over his Democrat opponent.

After election day brings the rest of the vote, it may or may not be that the wave of opposition to President Trump which the Democrats keep trumpeting will materialize.  We will have to wait and see.  We already know, however, that the early voting did not see any evidence of the Trump opposition bringing people to the polls.

Cosby Mistrial

The trial of Bill Cosby for indecent assault has ended in a mistrial.  I was told that I should comment, so here goes:

1.  The DA of Montgomery County, PA has already announced that his office will retry the case.  This is silly.  I would think that the DA might want to speak to the jurors to find out what the logjam in their deliberations really was.  If there was one holdout who wanted to convict while all the others were in favor of acquittal, that is very different from one holdout who wanted to acquit while all the others wanted a conviction.  The DA, however, is in such a rush for some publicity to lessen the embarrassment of his office, that he ignores doing his job properly.

2.  It's not surprising that this was the result.  No matter what else gets said, there had to be a rational explanation for why all these women waited for 10 or 20 years to come forward to complain.  The alleged victim in this trial almost missed the statute of limitations by waiting for nine years and nine months before coming forward.  To say the least, it is very difficult to explain away a delay like that.  It's not impossible, but it does raise doubts, and doubts are all that are needed for acquittal.

3.  I sincerely, doubt that the retrial will end any differently.

4.  Finally, with all that being said, I can say that Cosby is really not a good person.  He admits that he gave the drugs in question to women, but claims it was consensual.  It's possible that his excuse is true, but it doesn't make him a good person.  Quite the contrary is true in my opinion.

The World Spins On

Do you ever feel like nothing changes while everything changes?  It sure seems that way today.  The controversy surrounding the performance of Julius Caesar in New York really illustrates this.  For as long as I can remember, the Shakespeare in the Park performances have been a part of Summer in New York.  These free, outdoor performances draw huge crowds.  They have always been free of politics; they were just tragedy or comedy on a grand scale.  This year, of course, it all changed.

The current performance of Julius Caesar outfitted Caesar as President Trump.  In that way, Act III brings the stylized murder of Trump in the Senate.  Critics of this move have come out of the woodwork.  Presenting the murder of the President as entertainment is an appalling bit of public theater.  An immediate controversy arose.  Two large corporate sponsors of the performance withdrew their support when the content became known.  On the other hand, Time Warner (which owns HBO and CNN among other things) actually increased it support to pick up the slack left when the others pulled out.  America was told this was just free speech.  We have to have free speech was the mantra.  When a crazy leftist with a rifle decided to take out a bunch of GOP congressmen, no change was made to the performance.  The players did not decide to tone down their violent depiction.  Again, it was free speech.

At last night's performance, a few protesters rushed the stage and started berating the performers and the audience for the nature of what was being shown.  This too was free speech, but you would never think so from the media/left reaction.  Nope, they thought it was an attack on free speech.  The protesters were cleared from the stage, and the play could have been finished at that point, but the message of the protesters had been given.  Is this protest which disrupted a play any different from a protest march down a major highway that disrupts traffic?  Not really; they're both free speech.  Of course, the police don't usually remove the marching protesters, something they did at the play last night.

I personally think it is usually wrong to disrupt the speech of others.  There needs to be a civil dialogue not a fascist monologue.  Nevertheless, it is hypocritical for the media to be upset about interrupting a play while saying nothing about protests that stop people from speaking on campuses.  It just becomes another manifestation of the inability of the media to see that not everyone shares their view of the world.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Financial Disclosures/Tax Returns for President Trump

The President released his yearly financial disclosure form a short while ago.  It is a 99 page list of assets, income, liabilities and partnership-type entities for Mr. Trump and his family.  In this case the family is just Melania and Baron; adult children are not included.

After a year of screaming and gnashing of teeth from the left about Trump's tax returns, I figured that I would look carefully at what had been released.  From this form, one can tell every investment that the President has.  You can see every loan he has taken.  You can see the location of each of his projects (none are in Russia).  It tells you loads of information about the President's finances.

It started me thinking.  Was there something that might be in the tax returns that could not be gleaned from the financial disclosure form?  The answer is that on the disclosure form, the value of assets are put into categories.  For example, a building might be listed as worth 5 to 25 million dollars.  There might be more exact numbers on the tax returns, but that would not tell you anything material.  In fact, much of the information on the disclosure forms would not be shown on the tax return.  From the financial disclosure form, you cannot tell who the other investors are in each of the Trump properties, but that information would not be on the tax return either.  There really is nothing much that would be on the tax return that isn't on the financial disclosure with one exception.  The tax return would tell you what deductions Trump had taken.  For example, we would get to see how much the President and his wife had donated to charity for the relevant year, something that is not addressed on the financial disclosure form.  That's about it, however.

For anyone who really is curious about the Trump tax returns or who thinks it is critical that those returns be released, I suggest you look through the financial disclosure form by clicking on the link in the first sentence above.  If you look at the issue fairly, you will see that it is actually a non-issue.

What the Hell Is Wrong With These People?

James Devine, a Democrat campaign strategist from New Jersey, created a Twitter hashtag yesterday called #HuntRepublicanCongressmen.

There's not much more that can be said about this disgusting guy other than that he was high up in the leadership of the New Jersey Democrat party and that he organized Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992 in NJ. 

When he was challenged on his outrageous behavior on Twitter, he doubled down on it.

People like this ought are not just deranged; they quite dangerous.

The Bogus Charges of Sexism

I just read another of those articles lamenting the "sexism" displayed again California Democrat senator Kamala Harris as she questioned witnesses at the hearings before the Senate intelligence committee.  While questioning the deputy attorney general and then attorney general Jeff Sessions, Harris was directed by the chair to let the witness answer the questions she was asking.  Supposedly, according to various media sources, these directions were just manifestation of sexism and possibly racism towards Harris who is both female and mixed race.

I decided that to understand this issue, I would need to watch the events in question.  I've been a trial attorney for many years and know a great deal about questioning a witness.  I understand that a committee hearing is not the same thing as a trial; at hearings witnesses are given great latitude.  We've all heard witnesses before Congress who answer a different question than the one they are asked.  We've also all heard witnesses who said that they could not answer for this or that reason.  With all this in mind, I watched Harris question both Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions.

Senator Harris questioned the witness in much the way one might try in court.  She asked a question and before the response was completed, she cut the witness off to ask another question.  In a court, the opposing counsel might object and ask the court to direct that the witness be able to finish his answer.  In the senate, their is no judge and no opposing counsel.  Instead, there is a custom of usually letting a witness finish his answer.  Senator Harris did not do this just once.  When she questioned the Attorney General, she cut him off at least six times in a row.  And to be clear, she cut Jeff Sessions off when he was answering the question in a completely straightforward and responsive way.  It seemed as if senator Harris just did not like the answer she was getting.

The direction to senator Harris came from the chair of the committee.  Senator Burr directed Harris to please give the witness the courtesy of allowing him to finish his answer.

I did not see all the questioning of these two witnesses, so I cannot state that no other senator cut the witness off to the same extent that Harris did.  I did see much of the testimony, and Harris was by far the worst offender when it came to interrupting the witnesses and preventing them from answering.  It seems to me that the direction given to her to stop interrupting and to let the witness answer was completely appropriate.

Simply put, this was not sexism or racism.  If anything, what we were seeing was a trial attorney who was questioning a witness as if she were in court rather than in the senate.  Harris is a freshman senator who probably hasn't gotten used to the different standard used in the Senate, so it is understandable why she was being so rude.  No matter what, however, this was not sexism or racism. 

We're Back to Nowhere With Polling

Two polls came out today about President Trump's job approval; they were the Gallup poll and the Rasmussen poll.  According to Gallup the voters disapprove of the President's performance in office by a vote of 57 to 39 %.  According to Rasmussen, the voters are split 50% to 50% on Trump's job performance.

What does this tell us?  The answer is simple:  the polls are meaningless.  During the 2016 election, Gallup did not poll the race between the President and Hillary Clinton.  Rasmussen was the second most accurate of the polls in that election.  Nevertheless, that does not mean that the Rasmussen poll is correct while Gallup is not.  And, to be sure, this is not just a quirk in the polling.  The statistical analysis of these results show that the difference between a 19% margin for disapproval and a tie in the two polls is much farther apart than any mere error in the sampling.

There is one difference that might help explain some of the difference.  Rasmussen adjusts its results to have the sample group conform to the levels of voter turnout in the 2016 election. In other words, if that election had x% of Republican voters and y% of Democrats, then Rasmussen adjusts its figures to meet that percentage.  Gallup does no such adjustment.  That means that if Democrats answer the pollsters more often than Repubicans, then the anti-Trump numbers will be pumped up.  The opposite is also true.

Right now, there's no way to know who will turn out in the next election, let alone who will be running for office.  This makes the adjustments or lack of adjustments critical to the outcome.  In fact, it may be that some people who support Trump won't tell the pollster because they don't want that information known.

If we put all this together, we can generalize about the results as follows:  based upon scientific polling, President Trump either has very low approval numbers or he has rather good approval numbers or somewhere in between

Why do they bother doing these polls anyway?

I realize that perhaps I should also ask why do I bother writing about them?

The Government Reorganization

Here's a bit of news that essentially nobody has seen:  the Office of Management and Budget directed all federal agencies to conduct a process of self review asking for items, tasks or regulations that can be cut to make the government more efficient, less costly, and more responsive.  This means that programs that don't work can be selected for diminution or termination.  It means that reporting requirements that are duplicative or unnecessary can be dumped.  It means that areas that could be coordinated with other agencies might actually be made better.  In short, it means that for the first time in a great many years, the federal government will actually look at carrying out its current missions in a better and more efficient way rather than just adding new programs and requirements to the items already being done.

No doubt, we will shortly hear the horrified screams from the Democrats about how cutting this or that program will leave people to die or how letting agencies recommend which programs should survive or be changed is a victory for lobbyists, but that really is nothing but pure nonsense.

Consider these few points:

1.  There are enormous numbers of duplicative federal programs and requirements.  For example, before entering into a new contract above a certain size, a federal agency has to write a memorandum with the details to OMB, a memo containing slightly different information to Congress, and a few additional reports as well.  By combining all those reports/memoranda into one unified report sent to each place, literally millions of manhours could be saved with no loss of information.  That move alone could save over a hundred million dollars per year.  As another example, there are currently more than 100 federal job training programs whose coverage overlaps in many places.  By combining these programs into four or five programs that target separate groups, the costs incurred could be greatly reduced and the savings could either be used to reduce the deficit or to increase the number of people being trained.

2.  No one knows better than the agencies themselves which requirements are the most unnecessary and onerous.  Hiring a consultant to come in and render a report might identify some items, but an outsider will not have the day to day experience of the agency personnel to guide them in identifying superfluous regulations.

3.  There are many government programs that just don't work or whose purpose went away long ago.  The best example of all time was the mohair subsidies paid by the feds to ranchers who raised animals that provide that mohair.  The production was needed during World War II so that there would be adequate domestic supplies for certain types of uniforms, and after foreign sources had been cut off.  Once the war ended in 1945, the need for the subsidies was over since the foreign sources were once again available.  Nevertheless, it took over another 30 years before Congress finally noticed the millions being spent on this program and ended it.  There are literally scores of programs of this sort that could be jettisoned at great savings for the USA.

The process started by OMB is scheduled to continue over the next year and is then to be followed by actual reorganization.  It's an amazing difference from the Obama years.  Under Obama, no one paid attention to the competence of the federal government in doing its work or the cost of doing that work.  That indifference to results led to messes like the Obamacare exchange websites that still, to this day, do not work as originally intended.  It has taken President Trump just five months to put results and competence back into the lexicon of the federal government.  It is a major positive change.

The Ultimate Indictment of Obama's Leadership

Otto Warmbier is the young American student who was just released by the North Koreans.  He had been arrested by the NKs for allegedly taking a poster from his hotel.  His sentence was 15 years at hard labor for espionage.  That was about a year and a half ago.  About 15 months ago, Warmbier slipped into a coma according to the NKs, but no one in the USA knew of this -- at least that is what we are being told.  Certainly, Warmbier's family was unaware of his dire medical condition.

With Warmbier in the NK prison for at most the pettiest of petty theft, the Obama administration did nothing to try to gain his release.  Clearly, Obama could not be bothered with trying to free this American.  That is bad, but even worse is what we have now learned about how Obama treated Warmbier's family.  The Obamacrats did all they could to discourage the family from speaking out or otherwise publicizing their son's predicament.  The Obamacrats even told the Warmbier family to discourage people from putting ribbons on trees in his hometown to show support for Otto.  According to Obama, putting up ribbons might offend the North Koreans.  North Korea uses phony charges of espionage to stick an American in prison; they mistreat him until he ends up in a coma; and then Obama worries about offending them by having people in the USA raise the issue of his release.

This report tells you all you would even need to know why American foreign policy was in such shambles during the Obama years.  All Obama seemed to care about was appearances, not reality.  Otto Warmbier could rot in an NK prison so long as the issue of his captivity was not visible and public.  After all, raising this issue might make Obama himself look bad, and he couldn't have that.

For the last year or two I have heard non-stop attacks on Donald Trump because he would run an administration where the most important issue would always be how any event would affect Trump himself.  He is, we are told repeatedly, a narcissist.  But Trump is the one who raised the Warmbier issue with the NKs.  He could have failed to gain the release of Otto Warmbier, but President Trump tried because it was the right thing to do.  Trump put his personal prestige on the line to get this poor guy released from the hellhole that is North Korea's prison system.  Obama, the true narcissist, wouldn't risk his image by making the attempt to get Warmbier's release.

This is the ultimate indictment of president Obama.

Time To Stop Amazon

This hour brings the news that Amazon.com is buying Whole Foods for nearly 14 billion dollars.  It's a move that requires the government to step in under the anti-trust laws.  In fact, it really is time for Amazon to be broken up or at least taken to task for its monopolizing behavior.

For the last two decades, Amazon has grown larger and larger.  During most of that time, Amazon did not make much in the way of profits.  It kept plowing its funds back into improving and enlarging its online business.  That was fine and perfectly legal, but then it changed.  Amazon got to the point where it sold a large part of all of the online sales in the USA.  Then it started to use the profits it earned on that quasi-monopoly to enter new businesses.  Amazon has moved into new areas and sold products at extremely low prices in order to beat out the competition.  It certainly seems as if Amazon has been selling certain types of products below cost in order to force competitors out of business.

Lately, Amazon has been trying to move into groceries.  This move has been based upon low prices which Amazon can support because of the profit it earns on other businesses where it has a monopoly.  A move by Amazon to buy the nation's largest purveyor of organic foods, Whole Foods Markets, would just be another step in expanding Amazon's monopolies.

This has really reached a point where the FTC and the DOJ need to oppose the merger and move to break up Amazon's monopoly.  There really is no other choice.

This Is The New Racism

I just read the third article of the day describing an action taken by President Trump as racist.  It's worth exploring, particularly since that word "racist" gets tossed around so much by the left.

What the President did was to cancel the Obama era Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program.  This program, also called DAPA for short, allowed the parents of American citizens to stay in the country without fear of deportation.  In other words, if a couple came to the USA illegally and then had a child here, that child (who is an American citizen) provided safety from deportation for both parents. 

The critics of this move say that it is directed at mostly Hispanics and it is racist.  There's a big problem with this argument, however.  DAPA never went into effect.  It was stopped by an order from a federal court that determined the program was an illegal act beyond the power of president Obama to create on his own.  It required an act of Congress to set up such a program.  So what President Trump did was to rescind the presidential order which had already been ruled improper and illegal.  It affected nobody.  It was not directed at anyone.  It surely was not racist except in the minds of those who hate the President and automatically think whatever he does must be racist.

The facts say otherwise, but that seems to be having no effect on the crazies in the mainstream media.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Early Voting in Georgia -- What Does It Mean?

As of yesterday, the number of early voters in the special election in the sixth district of Georgia is 119,500.  This is an extraordinarily heavy vote for a special election.  In the first round/primary for the seat in April the total of all votes cast was just over 190,000.  There are two more days of early voting to go, and then there's election day.  Barring some strange turn of events, there may be over a quarter of a million votes cast.  Total turnout could even exceed 50% of the registered voters.  While that may sound low, keep in mind that during a midterm election, turnout in this district is normally in the high 30's percentage.

So what does this mean?  Most people think that a higher turnout favors the GOP candidate because so many in this district normally vote Republican.  That, however, may be wrong.  Maybe the Democrats are correct that a surge of anti-Trump fervor will bring all manner of new voters to the polls which will help the Democrat.  After all, that Democrat has already spent more on this election than any other candidate for congress in history.  Of course, since over 95% of the Democrat's money comes from outside the state, the huge amount of spending could actually hurt his prospects.

We do have some information about the breakdown of the early vote.  Normally, early voting finds the Democrats getting out more of their voters with Republicans tending to vote more on election day.  Among the first 25,000 early voters, however, the Republicans tallied votes from almost 50% more voters than the Democrats did.  We also know that among that same group of early voters, the turnout among older voters (above 50) was substantially higher than it was among younger voters.  This too should mean a Republican leaning vote.  The polls on this race show the Republican winning handily among older voters with the Democrat leading among younger voters.

Now, we've had a further development which could lead to even higher voting levels.  The Republican candidate was the recipient of threatening letters accompanied by a package containing a suspicious substance.  Given the armed attack on the congressional GOP baseball practice yesterday, this latest threat could bolster the resolve of GOP voters to go out and show their support.  It may be that the attacker has unwittingly given the victory to the GOP.

We'll know the answer in just a few days. 

Even Now The Media Can't Seem To Stop

About a half hour ago, I was watching Special Report on Fox News.  It is by far the best pure news show on any network, and that is combined with a rather insightful panel discussion during the last third of the hour during which there is usually a calm, rational and almost non-partisan analysis of the days major news stories.  The panelists disagree, but most nights there are multiple viewpoints presented in a way that informs the viewer about events rather than about the partisan view of events.  The top story today remained the attack yesterday in Alexandria, Virginia on the GOP congressmen practicing for tonight's congressional charity baseball game.

As the show started, I decided to see what MSNBC and CNN were covering.  On MSNBC, Greta VanSusteran was playing.  Greta is constantly being barraged by the left for being too conservative for MSNBC, so she's not the usual far left MSNBC host.  Even so, Greta's show began with a discussion about the investigation into obstruction which the Washington Post now claims is underway by the special counsel Robert Mueller.  During the hour, I flipped back to Greta's show three other times.  Each time she was either hearing a report or holding a panel discussion about the same story. 

I also checked CNN to see what it was covering.  It was the same story as MSNBC.  It was all about Mueller's investigation.  One time, CNN was discussing President Trump's tweets about the investigation and the panel was actually laughing at those tweets.  Nevertheless, the investigation was the only story I saw CNN cover.

Obviously, I did not watch any of the three cable networks straight through for the hour, and I spent the majority of my time watching Fox News.  Still, it was striking, indeed amazing, that MSNBC and CNN found no time to cover the armed attack on the congressmen or other big stories like the return of the American who had been held prisoner by the North Koreans.

One of the main reasons for the attack on the congressmen is that the media cannot seem to control itself when it comes to President Trump.  Much of the media (like CNN or MSNBC) are in permanent combat mode.  It is always essential to the survival of the USA that they bring down President Trump.  It doesn't matter that they have no proof; it doesn't matter that much of what they have previously reported has been revealed to be false; all that matters to them is for them to succeed.

Here's a good example.  Tonight on CNN, I heard Lone Wolf Blitzer and some panelists describe the firing of James Comey as being an attempt by President Trump to interfere with the investigation of his collusion with the Russians.  Think about that.  Comey confirmed to Congress last week that he personally told President Trump three different times that Trump was not the subject of the investigation.  Indeed Comey told Trump that he was not a suspect.  So when Trump fired Comey a month later, what was the investigation which Trump sought to impede?  If Trump had been assured that there was no investigation of him, how does firing Comey affect the non-existent investigation regarding Trump.  Only the Washington Post, NY Times and Congressional Democrats said that there was such an investigation, and we all now know that was a lie.

Yesterday, people were shot because the media and the Democrats kept inciting violence among the Democrat base, at least with the crazies.  Couldn't the media people take off just a few days from the non-stop BS?  Don't they owe that to the American people?

But The Media Was So Sure

The jury in the Bill Cosby case told the judge today that it is deadlocked.  The judge sent them back to try again, but the most likely outcome will be a hung jury.

How can that be?  For months and months and months we heard from nearly every media outlet that Bill Cosby had drugged and molested a long list of women.  It was unanimous in the mainstream media; Cosby was a criminal.  Then came the trial.  Cosby's trial team presented no defense; it just relied on the insufficiency of the evidence presented.  In between discussions about how President Trump colluded with the Russians, CNN told its viewers that in the closing argument, the lawyer for Cosby seemed to just give up.  Coverage on some of the other mainstream media outlets was similar.  So how could this jury just be unable to come to a verdict?

Normally, the mainstream media would tell us that this was racism in action.  Of course, the problem is that Cosby is black and the jury is almost completely white.  Under the normal paradigm for racism according to the mainstream media, the white jury would wrongfully convict the black man.  Here, we have the reverse.  Maybe it's sexism.  The jury is siding with the man against the woman because they hate women.  It's hard to even write that nonsense, but no doubt we will hear it from the mainstream media if Cosby is not convicted.

Look, I don't know if Bill Cosby is innocent or guilty, but that's not the point.  The real point is that the mainstream media which convicted Cosby repeatedly in its reports also does not know if Cosby is innocent or guilty.  We will learn the answer to that soon from the jury.

A News Story I Missed Because No One Covered It

Last week, President Trump announced that the federal government is going to set up a one-stop process for granting approvals for infrastructure projects.  This would end the current process under which a project has to be approved by up to 16 different agencies which operate under different rules and according to different standards.  It is a wonderful move that could reduce the time needed to get approval for a project by 90% without reducing the government's ability to make sure that the project meets necessary requirements.  Such a move would speed up all manner of projects and would result in a drastic reduction in the costs to complete them.

Here are two examples of this problem (one very public and one very personal):

1.  The Dakota Access Pipeline project was the subject of innumerable protests and lawsuits.  It had to pass all of the approvals of both the state and federal governments and, at the last minute, president Obama decided that it would not get a permit for the final piece of the pipeline that had yet to be built.  As a result an enormously expensive project was left incomplete and useless even though it had received all but one approval.  Even that last approval was recommended, but then denied when political pressure grew in opposition.  President Trump changed Obama's decision shortly after he took office.  Because so little of the pipeline remained to complete, the work has already been finished and the pipeline is now in use.  But back to the approvals.  Opponents of the pipeline had brought two lawsuits regarding those approvals which the pipeline operator fought and won.  It also won the appeals from those victories.  There was also a third suit which was won at the trial level.  Yesterday, the Court of Appeals reversed that decision in part and affirmed in part.  For all you non-lawyers out there, what the court did was to send the matter back to the Corps of Engineers to reconsider a small part of the environmental impact of the project which the court felt had not been fully and properly considered.  But the pipeline is already operating; does this mean it must shut down?  NO.  It continues to operate unless a court decides that it must shut or the Corps of Engineers decides that the permit was wrongly issued.  In other words, all that happens is that litigation continues, the government spends many millions more to review environmental impacts, the cost of the project continues to rise, with there being no real change in outcome.  Simply put, this is legalistic madness of the sort that only makes lawyers happy.  (There is nothing like more legal fees to make a lawyer happy.)

2.  Some years ago, I was the head of a construction project at a local independent school.  We were building an extension onto the existing main building that would allow the school to handle a larger student body.  Let's just focus on the water systems for the school to explain the kind of sclerotic and chaotic government requirements that drive the price of public or quasi-public projects up unnecessarily.  Let me start by saying that there was no opposition to the school construction.  The building was on a large school property and the neighbors were fine with construction of the addition.  Because the number of students at the school would rise to over 300 once construction was complete, the state of Connecticut required that the school could only be built if it also built a sewage treatment facility to hand the waste water from the building.  Previously, the school had utilized a septic field for waste water.  The sewage treatment facility increased the cost of the project by over 25% and the approvals for that facility took over a year to obtain.  When the project was put in use, all of the waste water from the building went to that plant.  The water which came from that plant after processing was recycled into the toilets in the building.  It reduced the need for water in the new building by well over 50%.

 Despite the lower need for water, the state of Connecticut also insisted that the school dig a new and larger well system which required a new water purification system as well.  It was a different organization within the state government that set this requirement.  When we told them that we needed less, not more water, they were unimpressed.  We were told that we had to have sufficient water for the building ignoring the recycling of water to the toilets.  This new water system added another 3% to the cost of the project. 

That brought us to the septic field.  Yet another state agency required that we install a new septic field at the school to handle the "increased" needs.  We explained that the amount of flow into the septic field would be less than 50% compared to the old buildings because so much would go to the sewage treatment plant and would then be recycled.  The state did not care; it required a new and much larger septic field.  This increased the cost of the project by around 10%.

As a result of all this, the school had to raise millions of dollars to pay for the extra 40% costs that the state inflicted upon the project.  At that point, it occurred to me that there were two other buildings on adjoining properties that might like to join in the use of our sewage treatment plant and thereby reduce potential pollution.  There was a public school next door and a church across the street that ran a nursery school.  We had already spent millions to build the plant, but the annual operating costs were about $60,000.  It seemed to me that the local school board and/or the church might like to tie into our sewage treatment plant and agree to share the operating costs on an equitable basis.  It seemed like a win for everyone.  The problem was that the state would not agree.  We were told that if we shared our treatment plant with the adjoining school, we would become a public utility.  That would require meeting a whole new set of regulations, getting a new batch of permits and undertaking another round of costs.  The estimate was that it would cost something like half a million dollars to do all this.  In other words, the state and its regulations made it impossible for us to share the use of our treatment plant.

I realize that this story is about Connecticut and not the federal government.  Nevertheless, it is the same problem that a great many projects face.  There is no coordination between agencies; that's why we had to build a treatment plant, well system, and septic system each of which were way too large and mostly unnecessary.  Each agency did not care at all about the requirements of the others and, indeed, would not even discuss them.  The feds are just the same.

Let's hope that President Trump is able to get this change made.  It's time to have a government that helps get infrastructure projects built rather than a sclerotic bunch of bureaucrats who earn a living by impeding such construction.

Some Actual Big New -- 2

Two days ago, I wrote about the reported change in the policy of the Palestinian Authority regarding its paying pensions to the surviving family of suicide bombers and other terrorists killed during attacks.  Supposedly, the PA was changing the policy.  I was doubtful about the report since it seemed hard to believe that the Palestinians would actually make that change.  It turns out that my doubts were well founded.  We now know that a change is "under discussion".

It's worth noting that peace in the Middle East has been under discussion for the last 70 years at least, and we still have no peace.  My guess is that support by the Palestinian Authority for terrorists and terrorism could be "discussed" for that long as well with no change.

Hopefully, Congress will pass the Taylor Force Act which cuts off American aid from being used for paying pensions or bonuses to terrorists.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Polling Excuses

Nate Silver at 538 is the ultimate supporter of public opinion polling.  He reports polls, analyzes polls, adjusts polls and pretty much thinks polls are the answer to all questions.  I read his latest article today in which he decides that President Trump is the explanation for why the nationalist parties of the right have been doing more poorly in European elections since the US election last November.  It's a rather amusing bit of fluff.  Here's what we actually know: 

1.  In a whole series of countries across Europe, the nationalist parties have polled below the level predicted by the pollsters.  These include, among others,  elections in Austria, France, the Netherlands and the UK.  Silver also says that even when there is no right wing nationalist party, whatever party has a better relationship with President Trump has done worse than expected.

2.  There's no way to know why the pollsters across Europe have gotten their numbers so wrong.  We just know that the polls were frequently off.

It's funny that Silver would never think to blame the failure of the polls on the people taking the polls.  No, somehow the results gotten by the pollsters were wrong because of Trump.  It's a joke.  If voters were moving to one party or another because of Trump, the pollsters should have picked that move up.  Surely Silver is not contending that European voters lied to the pollsters.  If he is, then there's no way for the polls to have a predictable relationship with reality.  On the other hand, if the voters did not lie to the pollsters, then Silver's explanation is pure nonsense.  The pollsters should have detected the move to a particular party.

The real truth is that in Europe, as was the case in the USA, the public opinion polls have proven to be extremely unreliable.

People Devoid of Reason

This may seem hard to believe, but here's something that I've just seen.

First, as most of you know, there was an attack this morning on a group of Republican congressmen by a shooter who was shot and killed by the Capitol Police guarding the congressmen.  The shooter has been identified as a strident supporter of Bernie Sanders and a major hater of Donald Trump and the GOP.  This was a terrible event.

Second, within an hour or two, I've been seeing discussions regarding whether or not this attack will change the position of NBC regarding the airing of Megyn Kelly's interview with Alex Jones this coming Sunday.  They're even supposedly discussing at NBC whether or not the attack on the congressmen will help or hurt the ratings for Megyn's show.

I hope that none of this supposed response regarding Megyn Kelly and her show is true.  It's really too soon for us to know the truth on this point.  Nevertheless, if the response at NBC to multiple counts of attempted murder for political reasons is just to consider how it will affect ratings, then there is something very, very wrong at that network.

Well Now We Know

The shooter who attacked a group of Republican congressmen and their aides at a ball field in Alexandria has been identified.  He's a self-styled supporter of Bernie Sanders who wrote in social media of "taking out" President Trump and his people.

It seems the initial suspicions that this was an attack by a left winger on the GOP were correct.

It's disgusting that our nation has come to this.  Once again, the Democrats have got to stop their hateful attacks on Republicans.  Otherwise, we are going to see the crazies on the other side try to retaliate.  They have to stop.  They have to return to civil discourse rather than all hate all the time.

The Shootings in Alexandria -- Can the Democrats Stop With the Hate Finally?

This morning a guy with a rifle attacked a group of Congressmen and their aides who were at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia practicing for the upcoming annual charity game in which the GOP members play baseball against the Democrat members.  Fortunately, because one of those present, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, is majority whip, he has a security detail from the Capitol Police who were there.  The security people were armed and returned fire once the gunman opened up on those on the field.  According to reports, between 50 an 100 shots were fired.  At least one congressman was shot along with and aide and two of the Capitol Police.  The attacker is also said to have been shot.  According to the latest reports, all of the victims are in stable condition.

We don't know the identity yet of the shooter.  We do know that one congressman who was leaving the field early to go to a meeting met the gunman as he departed and the gunman asked, "Are those Democrats or Republicans on the field?"  That seems to indicate that the goal of the shooter was to hit GOP members of Congress.

Why would someone decide to shoot Republican members of Congress?  The answer, sadly enough, comes right out of the rhetoric used by the Democrats.  Republicans and Democrats don't disagree on policy according to the Democrats.  No, Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic according to the Democrats.  Republicans aren't trying to improve healthcare according to Democrats; they're willing to let millions die in order to give a tax break to the rich.  Republicans aren't trying to get the economy moving according to Democrats; they're trying to destroy the environment just to help the wealthy.  So much of the Democrats' rhetoric is aimed squarely at the supposed moral depravity of the GOP.  In the last election, the only real position that the Democrats took was that President Trump was sub-human.

The problem with all this is that it is a lie.  I know it.  Most of the Democrats who spout this hate know it.  But many people across America don't know it.  They think that these lies are real.  That's why a crazy like today's shooter could make a decision to try to kill Republican members of Congress.

It's too early to know for sure what happened today or why.  It's not too early for the Democrats to stop their hateful rhetoric and to calm down.  The path we are on right now will surely lead to some crazies who want to take retaliation for today.  Can't you hear them?  "They shot at our congressmen; we need to take out some of theirs."  It's bringing out the worst in people.  It needs to stop before someone actually gets killed.  Let's hope sensible people can prevail.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Once Again, The Polls Got It Wrong

There was a primary today in Virginia.  According to the polls, there was an extremely close race among the Democrats while Republican Ed Gillespie had the GOP primary locked up.  So what happened?  In the Democrat race, it wasn't even close.  The candidate backed by the party machine won easily over the candidate of the left who was backed by Bernie Sanders and the like.  The Republican race was extremely close and is still not decided as I write this.

You may wonder how the pollsters got this election so wrong.  Most likely, those pollsters are wondering the same thing. 

What none of this tells us is who is the likely winner in November.  Oh, we've seen the match ups that the pollsters ran among various combinations of candidates, but those are the same polls that got the primary results so wrong.  Surely, as November approaches we may get poll results that tell us something.  On the other hand, if things go as they have been for the last few years, we won't have any idea who is going to win this race until the last vote is counted in November.

A Moron for the Ages

Periodically, I write about senator Chris Murphy from my state of Connecticut.  Murphy, a Democrat, is in the running for the dumbest member of the Senate.  Today shows why.

There was a vote today on a resolution pushed by Murphy to block the sale of precision munitions to Saudi Arabia.  This is part of the arms deal that President Trump put in place during his recent visit to Riyadh.  Murphy wanted to block the sale because he said that these weapons would be used by the Saudis in the fighting in Yemen.  But there's more, much more.  Senator Murphy's big problem with the Saudi involvement in the fighting in Yemen is that the Saudis supposedly are hitting too many civilian targets.  This supposedly is causing too many civilian casualties.

Think about that for a moment.  Murphy didn't try to block the entire arms agreement, just the sale of precision munitions.  That's another name for smart bombs.  You remember smart bombs; they are the bombs that can precisely hit targets; they are highly accurate.  In fact, smart bombs are the best way for an air force to prevent needless civilian casualties.  So Murphy, the genius, is upset about civilian casualties (or so he claims.)  In order to protest against civilian casualties and prevent them, Murphy attacks the one part of the arms deal that would allow the Saudis to reduce or prevent civilian casualties.

Maybe next week Murphy can introduce a measure to fight against cancer by ordering the destruction of medicines in the USA that fight cancer.  It would make about as much sense as today's move.

Needless to say, the Senate rejected Murphy's resolution.

He truly is a moron for the ages.

Some Actual Big News

It's being reported today that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to stop making monthly pension payments to the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists who murdered innocent victims in terror attacks.  While I don't doubt that the Palestinian Authority has told the State Department of this change in policy, I still want to wait to see the policy actually change before I believe any of this.

In just the last four years, the Palestinian Authority has paid out over one billion dollars to the families of terrorists.  This is money that came, in large part, from American aid.  We even have the crazy situation that the family of terrorists who killed Americans are getting pensions from the American taxpayers.  It is an abomination, and both President Trump and secretary of state Tillerson have pushed the Palestinian Authority hard to stop the practice.  Of course, during the last four years under Obama, the USA did not even protest these subsidies going to the survivors of terrorists.

If it turns out that this is truly a change being made by the Palestinian Authority, it is a most welcome one.

Tthe Sessions Testimony So Far

Jeff Sessions is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee as I write this.  So far we had a statement from the chairman, the ranking member and Attorney General Sessions.  That was followed by questioning as well.  Despite the articles in the mainstream media that talked about Sessions' future "hanging in the balance", the testimony has been a big nothing so far.  That is no surprise.  Like every other big moment in the so called investigation, it produced nothing indicating any wrongdoing by President Trump or his campaign.  In essence, here's what Sessions has to say:

1.  From the day after he was sworn in, he started the process to determine if he needed to recuse himself from the investigation.  Ultimately, he decided that a Department of Justice regulation that barred department personnel from investigating those with whom they have a personal relationship including especially investigations of a political campaign in which one was personally involved, required him to recuse himself.  Sessions then did that.  Sessions also was never briefed about the Russia investigation before he recused himself.

2.  Regarding the firing of Comey, Sessions says that recusing himself from a particular investigation did not require him to avoid acting as the head of the Justice Department when it came to staffing or similar matters.  He accepted the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General when it came to Comey.  Sessions also said that prior to his being sworn in, he had spoken to Rod Rosenstein, now Deputy Attorney General, and they agreed that it would be best to get a clean start with the leadership at the FBI.

3.  Sessions also said that the supposed third meeting he had with the Russians at the Mayflower hotel in April of 2016 was a meeting he does not recall.  He attended a foreign policy speech given by the President that day at the hotel.  Before the speech, he was at a reception with about 40 other people.  He does not remember the Russian ambassador being there, but he has seen video of people coming into the room where the speech was given and the Russian ambassador is seen on the tape.

That's it.  Those are the big "bombshells" about which the mainstream media has been hyperventilating.  Beyond that, the whole thing meaningless.

Who knows, maybe one of the last few senators will find a question of importance, although that is doubtful.  Right now, the big headline being pushed by the media is that Sessions has confidence in the special counsel, Mr. Mueller.  That's a dishonest report, however.  Sessions said that he did not know anything about what Mueller is doing since he has not been briefed on the subject.  Sessions then went on to say that he had worked with Mueller in the past and thought he had done a good job.

Of course, there is one final point that needs to be explained.  Mueller is working for the DOJ and reporting to the Deputy Attorney General.  Most likely that makes Mueller subject to the same regulations that led Sessions to recuse himself.  We also know that Mueller has a very close personal relationship with Jim Comey whose personal honesty and integrity are now a central issue in the investigation.  Shouldn't the DOJ regulations require Mueller to recuse himself just as they required Sessions to do so?

More Fake News

The Warriors won the NBA title.  That's true.  The Warriors decided to decline the invitation to visit the White House to celebrate their triumph.  That's not true, but it didn't stop the media from reporting all about the supposed decision.  The reports are not limited to strange web sites run by conspiracy theorist .   Places like NBC reported the supposed decision.

But there's a big problem here.  The Warriors just announced that no decision had been made regarding a White House visit.  The team further announced that no invitation had been received from the White House either, and no consideration had been undertaken by anyone on the team about such an invitation should it be received.  That's a very nice way for the Warriors to say, "the reports on this subject are just FAKE NEWS"

Why is it that even in sports the mainstream media can't resist publishing Fake News stories if they attack President Trump?