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Sunday, August 20, 2017

So Why Did Debbie Do It?

A Pakistani-American IT staffer for congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, his wife and two others have been indicted by the federal government for bank fraud and a whole host of other charges.  These people were part of a group of Pakistani American guys who worked on the computer systems for a bunch of Democrats in congress.  As such, they had access to confidential and perhaps classified information.  About six months ago, the congressmen were warned that the FBI suspected that the computer guys were allegedly taking information from the computer systems and selling it to foreign intelligence agencies, most particularly the ISI (Pakistani intelligence).  All of the congressmen fired the IT workers in question except for Debbie Wasserman Schultz who kept them on the payroll until they were arrested this past week.  The charges do not include espionage, although there is talk in media stories that this may get added later.

So why did Debbie keep them on the payroll.  Why did she continue to give them access to her computer systems?  It's an interesting question.  The most common answer is that she did not want to fire them because they are Muslim and she did not want to look Islamophobic.  That's actually the "official" story that comes from Wasserman Schultz's office.  It's a total indictment of the congressman.  This is not a situation in which there was no reason to fire the guys.  The FBI said that it suspected wrongdoing by them.  How can a member of congress just let such a person have continuing access to Capitol Hill computer systems?  The explanation is the rough equivalent of someone saying that she got mugged by members of a gang of Muslim men but she didn't report it because she didn't want to look Islamophobic.

Another explanation that I have seen hinted at in the media is that Wasserman Schultz was allegedly romantically involved with the guy she kept on her payroll.  I don't believe that.  There is no evidence to support such a conclusion other than the non-firing itself.

I really can't understand any reason why Wasserman Schultz would keep the guy on the payroll.  It merits an investigation by Congress.


Last week Kim Jung Un of North Korea pulled back from his threats to send missiles to Guam.  Today, he issued new threats of war.  This time Kim is "upset" over the joint US-South Korean military exercises scheduled for this week.  Kim says that he will destroy the US and South Korea with his missiles and nukes given the provocation.  Those aren't his exact words, but who cares.  It is the meaning of his threat.  Truthfully, the whole thing is getting old fast.  There's a rhythm to the NK dance.  First, the South Koreans or the USA does something of a military nature.  It need not be anything different than events that have taken place for decades -- like this week's annual joint military exercises.  Next, the NK's announce that the whole thing is a dangerous provocation showing that the USA and South Korea are moving towards war.  Then Kim announces that North Korea will not tolerate this act but will smash the "aggressors" with the overwhelming military might of the NK state.  The normal fourth step is that the USA or South Korea announces that the event will go ahead as scheduled.  That brings us to the traditional fifth step:  nothing else happens.

The problem with this dance is that we don't always get each of the five steps that are expected.  In the past, we have seen North Korea shell South Korean troops on an off shore island.  We've seen the North Korean forces sink a South Korean patrol vessel.  Usually, whatever the NKs do is targeted at the troops of the South, not at US forces.  Most likely, the NKs understand that a direct attack on Americans might provoke a full scale American response, and they don't want that.  Now that the NKs have nuclear weapons, however, they may change their viewpoint.

One thing is certain:  Kim and his cronies are a danger to the peace of the world.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Some Good News

Missouri state senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal has been warned by the state's Lt. governor that she had better resign her seat by the next session of the legislature or she would be expelled.  Chappelle-Nadal is the idiot who called for the assassination of president Trump.  She has now been condemned by every major Republican in Missouri and by almost all the Democrats as well.  For example, senator McCaskill of Missouri has called upon Chappelle-Nadal to resign.

The state senator has said that she will not resign.  Hopefully, the senators will expel her from the chamber at their next session.  There's no place in the government for someone who calls for the death of the President.

Just Another Day In Boston

Today brought a big gathering in Boston to protest against a supposed Nazi rally.  There was a slight problem with the gathering, however, since no Nazis showed up.  No KKK members showed up either.  In fact, the only thugs who were there came as members of Antifa.  These winners threw bottles, rocks and balloons filled with urine at the Boston police who were charged with keeping order.  In other words, it was just another day in Boston.  There was no far right extremist activity; there really never is.  There were thousands who came out to be part of a liberal rally; again nothing new there.  Some far left thugs decided to attack police; that too is nothing unusual.

It's good that the Boston day has been mostly peaceful.  Principal credit for the peace goes to the Boston police department.  In Charlottesville, the local cops did nothing as fighting started and then escalated into a full skirmish.  In Boston, a show of force by police kept everyone (even the crazies from Antifa) calm and away from the shows of violence that blew up in Virginia.

How Badly Has President Trump Been Hurt by Charlottesville?

After a week of non-stop Trump-bashing by the mainstream media, Democrats and even some Republicans, we need to consider what effect this has had on his standing with the public.  Josh Kraushaar addresses this issue in a report in National Journal.  The key finding is that in polling done by Gallup and Quinnipiac (which consistently produce results worse for Trump than other pollsters), President Trump's job approval numbers have risen by 5 points following Charlottesville from where they were before all this happened.  He still has low numbers in both polls, but an increase of 5 points is a significant move.  On top of those results, other polls show that the public strongly agrees with the position that statues of civil war heroes of the South should not be removed.

Think about that.  President Trump said that the Antifa thugs in Charlottesville who charged the Nazi and KKK thugs were also to blame for what happened.  Trump didn't give Antifa a pass for breaking the law and assaulting the Nazis even if the Nazis and KKK were a vile group of scum.  The media and the political elites thought this position was immoral.  Political tumbleweeds like Mitt Romney condemned the President for example.  Still, Trump's position that bad people doing bad things are evil even if they are doing the bad things to other bad people, seems to have resonated with the American people. 

We will have to see how this all plays out.  Right now we have many "elites" virtue signaling by expressing disdain for Trump.  I wonder how many of those elites will find out later that common sense condemnation of all violence is the majority position of the American people.

More Important Than A Statue

In light of recent events, the focus of the media has been on whether or not America ought to tear down statues of Civil War era figures or others who were on the side of the Confederacy.  It's important, however, to keep an eye on something that is much more important for average Americans than ideological purity battles about events of 160 years ago.

That item is the accelerating growth rate of the economy.  During the first quarter of 2017, the economy grew at a rate of about 1.2% according to the latest government figures.  That quarter was the last fully Obama quarter.  While President Trump took office one-third of the way through that quarter, no president can change the trajectory of the economy in just two months, so Obama gets full credit for the quarter's results.  The second quarter of 2017 grew at a 2.8% rate according to the latest government figures.  President Trump gets more credit for that although he cannot lay total claim to the doubling of the growth rate for two reasons.  First, for the last few years, the first quarter has underperformed while the second quarter has over performed.  Something in the government's methodology for measuring economic growth has distorted the results for these two quarters each year, and 2017 may be no different.  Second, even after two months in office, it is difficult for a president to make a major change in the direction of the economy.  By the end of the second quarter, however, it is much more the Trump economy than the Obama economy.  That brings us to the third quarter of 2017 which is only a little more than half over.  The Atlanta Fed has a projection of economic growth for the quarter which is currently showing just under 4% growth rate.  The Atlanta Fed projection has been the most accurate tool for predicting the growth rate in recent years, so it's prediction of a rather high rate of growth is significant.  Sure, the prediction could change as we near the end of the quarter.  And, of course, the Atlanta Fed prediction could be wrong.  Nevertheless, it's been many years since we've seen a projection of growth this high for the US economy. 

It's important to remember that a whole slew of the economic "experts" have told us that 2% growth was the new normal and that we would need to get used to it.  These experts deride President Trump's goal of 3% growth as a pipedream; it just cannot happen -- or so they told us.  If we grow faster than 3% and if that growth continues, these "experts" will be shown to be totally wrong.  And remember, by growing and extra 1%, the economy adds about 180 billion dollars of activity each year.  Just think how many new jobs that produces.  Consider how much in additional government revenue that brings in.  Remember how much that added prosperity reduces the need for food stamps and other federal welfare payments.  Finally, consider how much faster the economy will grow once the corporate tax rates and structures are reconfigures to promote growth and investment rather than to retard it like now.


Do We Erase History?

The anti-statue anti-monument frenzy has reached a point of true craziness.  Since Charlottesville, a whole raft of cities, towns and states have decided to get rid of all manner of historical markers.  It doesn't matter why a statue is in a particular place, it just has to go according to the liberal frenzy.  For example, in a hall of fame in New York City, the busts of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were ordered removed by governor Cuomo despite the fact that placing those busts in that hall was done originally as a symbol of the healing of the nation after the Civil War.  Are we just erasing history now?

The point is that historical events cannot simply be erased.  Even if the events were terrible, they just cannot be erased.

Think about it.  Should we bury any mention of the Nazis?  It's hard to think of a worse group of people in modern times.  Still, if we erase them from history, future generations may not understand the full evil of what they did.  The Nazi philosophy captured millions in Europe 80 years ago.  It might exert that same appeal in a few decades if people are uneducated to its full horror.

What about Roman ruins.  The Romans had slaves everywhere.  Each time they captured a new region, they made most of the inhabitants into slaves.  Should we ask the Italian government to tear down the ruins in Rome so as to erase the memory of these slave holders?

What about the Egyptian pyramids.  Every year Jews celebrate Passover to commemorate their escape from slavery in Egypt.  Nevertheless, we know that slaves built the pyramids.  Do they have to come down?

There is no doubt that things change, social views change.  When that happens, the nature of monuments changes too.  But it's not just social views that change; people change too.  One thing that ought not change, however, is history.  History is not meant to be altered every time society's outlook transforms.  We need to know what actually happened rather than attempt to airbrush the unappealing parts away.  If George Washington owned slaves, that's part of his story.  It does not erase his enormous contribution to the founding of this country.  There is a history of America that actually happened.  It has proud moments and moments that are shameful.  We need to remember all those moments.  There's a famous quote that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.  It's something that needs to be kept in mind.

Right now, there are too many things to do about the current situation in the USA and the world to waste time fighting over monuments and statues.  We cannot erase history and we ought not try to do so.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Alt-Morons

It never ceases to amaze me.  Something happens and the reporters/pundits on TV immediately explain what is happening without having a clue as to the true facts.  And it just keeps getting worse.

I say that after watching some of the coverage today of the departure of Steve Bannon from the White House.  In the space of one half hour, I was told by those on the TV that Bannon was fired, that he had quite some weeks ago and that Bannon always intended to leave around Labor Day.  Next these geniuses of the airwaves told me that Bannon was about to start shooting at those in the White House who he did not like but not at the president, that Bannon was going to war with Trump himself, that Bannon would be an independent actor outside the White House attacking the President's enemies and that Bannon would be outside the White House but would still be a main adviser to the President.  When that ended, I heard that Bannon was an anti-Semite, a white supremacist, and a bigot.  Then I heard that he was a long time friend/supporter of Israel and not an anti-Semite.  Then someone said he had gotten a bad rap on the white supremacist story.

I guess the best way to describe the coverage right now is that it is changing by the hour and it depends on which station you watch.  On MSNBC, Bannon is a sinister figure.  On CNN, Bannon is the only person with a brain in the White House and his departure will leave Trump helpless.  On Fox, they do not seem sure how to describe Bannon.  The only similarity on each network is that the person reporting always acts as if he or she knows the inside story.  Clearly, most of these reporters are just revealing themselves to be morons. 

I think that because it may be an insult to morons everywhere to call the media people by that name we need to come up with a new description that shows that these are a different kind of moron.  From now on, we should call the media the "alt-morons".

They Got Him

According to a report from Spain's El Pais, the jerk who drove the van through the crowd in Barcelona was one of the terrorists killed in the second attempted van attack in a city outside that metropolis.  It's not a good thing to be happy about the death of another human being, but in this case, I just can't help it.  Congratulations to the Spanish police.

Bannon Leaving

I have now been asked seven times what I think of the departure of Steve Bannon from the White House today.  Maybe it's best if I just post my view:

I really do not care about his departure.  No one staff member has that much of an impact.  All the lies about Bannon being a racist or a white supremacist were a distraction, so it's good that they will now end.  Nevertheless, I do not expect much change from the White House.

This Should Teach The Finns Not To Threaten ISIS

There was a terror attack in Finland today when a knife wielding terrorist screamed Allahu Akhbar as he slashed people including a baby.  It's very soon after the attack, but the word from Finland right now is that this was an attack by a radical Islamic terrorist.

It's worth noting that Finland is a very telling place for a terror attack to happen.  It has no involvement in confronting ISIS.  Basically, the country is Switzerland, just further north.

If terrorists are attacking in Finland, it is proof that there is no reason behind the attacks.

The Truth of Lies

For 100 years after the Civil War, the American South was basically a one-party region.  Every state consistently voted Democrat and only Democrat.  It was Democrats in the state legislatures that passed Jim Crow laws.  It was Democrats in the state governments that prevented blacks from voting.  It was Democrats in local cities and towns that stood by as the Klan grew to power.  It was Democrats who watched lynchings.  It was Democrats who segregated the schools.  Whenever the Democrats got into power nationally, they brought their practices with them.  Woodrow Wilson was a progressive Democrat, but he was an unrepentant racist who segregated the US military and embraced the KKK.  Franklin Roosevelt was a liberal icon, but he ordered all people of Japanese background to be rounded up and put in camps during World War II.  Roosevelt didn't take any actions against immigrants from Germany or Italy, but children with a Japanese grandparent were put in camps.

Only after World War II ended was there any movement among Democrats to step away from their racist practices.  Harry Truman desegregated the armed forces, a move that so outraged racists in the Democrat party that they ran a Dixiecrat candidate against him in 1948 and almost cost him the election.  When Republican Eisenhower won in 1952, there was a push for civil rights by the Republicans that was joined by some of the northern Democrats.  The result was the civil rights act of 1957, the first major civil rights law.  Eisenhower also supported the first efforts at desegregation after the Supreme Court outlawed the practice in 1957.

In 1964 and 1965, another civil rights law was passed and the Voting Rights Act followed right after that.  The opposition to the passage of these laws came almost completely from Southern Democrats.  Republicans voted strongly in favor of passage.

After the 1960s, the allegiance of the South to the Democrats ended.  The national Democrats came up with a new plan:  they decided to reinvent history.  Suddenly, the Democrats portrayed themselves as the main supporters of civil rights and the Republicans were called racists.  When Reagan was elected, there was a constant campaign of vilification against him.  He was certainly no racist, but it didn't matter. 

The media joined in to support their party.  Nothing was as it really was.  Everything was "reinvented" through lies.  A good example is how Bill Clinton was portrayed.  Clinton got his start in politics working for Senator John McClellan of Arkansas.  McClellan had been one who tried to filibuster the civil rights laws and the voting rights laws.  He was a life-long segregationist, but Clinton jumped at the chance to work for him and considered him a mentor.  No one ever mentioned that inconvenient fact when Clinton was in office.  Instead, he was portrayed as "the first black president".  It was a lie.  Senator Byrd of West Virginia who had been a leader in the KKK was made the Senate leader by the Democrats.  His racist leanings were buried by the media.

In 2008, Barack Obama was elected.  After that, not only were the Republicans falsely portrayed by the Democrats and media as racists during election campaigns, but any opposition to an Obama program was now due to racism.  If Obama wanted taxes at X% and opponents want them at Y%, that argument was due to racism.  Everything was racism.  (Of course, it was just another lie, but that was the tactic the Democrats and media chose.)

The problems with the Democrats' tactic were twofold.  First, it didn't really work.  Just think how badly Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" remark wounded her campaign.  Even during the Obama years, it got to the point where calling someone or something racist became a joke.  Because everything was racist, nothing was really racist.  The second part of the problem is that many less observant people began to believe the lies.  If you opposed a position taken by the national Democrats you must be racist.  That makes you a bad person who needs to be crushed not just defeated.  In other words, it spread hatred.  And, of course, the biggest problem with hatred is that most people when exposed to hatred directed towards them respond in kind.  The gulf between the two sides got angrier and larger.

We cannot let America get dragged into this war of tribes.  Diversity is fine.  Tribalism is not.  All of the phony charges and lies have to end.  There are things that are more important than the political future of a few people; our country and our freedoms must be preserved.  Right now, they are in more danger than at any time in the recent past.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Losing All Perspective CNN Style

Last night I tuned in to CNN 11 times at random and found that every time that network was covering what President Trump had to say about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.  It seemed excessive to me, and I posted about it. 

Today brought some really important news stories from Spain.  First there was a major and horrible terror attack in Barcelona that killed many people and wounded more.  Then we learned that there had been a bomb which exploded last night in another town near Barcelona in what turned out to be a terrorist bomb factory.  Fortunately, that blast only killed terrorists (or so it seems at this point.)  Next there was a second terror attack in a city outside of Barcelona that was thwarted by police with four terrorists killed.  ISIS claimed authorship of this spate of terror attacks.  It was a major attack by ISIS in Western Europe.

Because of this major news about the ISIS attacks in Spain, I decided to pop in at random on CNN again this evening.  Between 7 and 10:15 pm, I tuned into CNN twelve times at random.  On eleven of those times, the CNN show of the moment was discussing only one aspect or another of what the President had to say about Charlottesville or something connected to it.  (One time, CNN was discussing the likelihood of the impeachment of the President and I am counting that among the eleven.)  One time, when I tuned in, the CNN panel was discussing Charlottesville, but they broke into that discussion for a special report that there had been a second terror attack thwarted with four terrorists killed by police.  The special report lasted about 90 seconds and then CNN returned to the discussion of what President Trump had to say about Charlottesville.

I have to say that I was amazed.  There was a major terror attack in Spain and it was being ignored.  How could this be?  I checked MSNBC to see how they were handling it.  I only tuned in twice, but each time they were covering events in Spain.  There was also major coverage of the attacks in Spain on Fox News.  How could CNN just ignore a story like that for repetitive coverage of an old story.

It reminded me of when that Malaysian airliner was lost and CNN had something like two weeks straight of non-stop coverage even though there was nothing new to say about it.  They seem to have lost all perspective about what is important at CNN.

Monumental Monuments

I live in a town in Fairfield County Connecticut that really doesn't have too many statues or monuments outside of the cemeteries.  There's a 9-11 monument commemorating the residents who died in the World Trade Center and on Flight 93 on that day.  There's a plaque outside the old post office in memory of those who fought and died in World War I.  There's a plaque dealing with the Revolutionary War and one for the Civil War.  Maybe there are more, but if so, I don't know where (and I've lived here for over 30 years.)  With the exception of the 9-11 memorial, I have no idea what any of these plaques and statues say.  I only know the 9-11 one because I knew some of the people listed on it.

The only point of my story is that I strongly believe that most people don't pay any attention to statues, plaques and monuments unless they were directly involved in what is being commemorated.  New York City is nearby.  As anyone who has ever been there can tell you, it is filled with statues and other commemorations of history.  I lived in Manhattan for many years and worked there for more than a quarter of a century.  As I think about it now, I cannot recall the details of a single statue in Manhattan except for the one of the dog in Central Park.  My guess is that most people are like me and have no idea who is being depicted in the statues.  (There is the Statue of Liberty, but that is not in Manhattan.)

Suddenly, the nation finds itself in the midst of a campaign by the media and some others to get rid of a large number of these statues, memorials, plaques, and the like.  Why?  Most people don't support the removal of the statues; a poll taken yesterday showed that a large majority of Americans want the statues left in place.  There's really no reason to get the country up in arms about things that are so meaningless.  All that is happening is that the media is trying to divide us all into those "good" people who want the statues gone and those "racists" who want no change.  It's a silly argument.  No one really cares.  If you were to stop 1000 people on the street in New York and ask them to identify any "offensive" statues in the city, most likely 999 couldn't even name one, and it might be 1000 out of 1000.  The media/leftist campaign is completely phony.  No one knows about the statues and, more important, no one cares about them.  We have so many problems as a country that we ought to focus our attention on solving those problems rather than on wasting time on statues.

Barcelona and CNN

A few hours ago, when the first news of the Barcelona terror attack came in, I made a joke that CNN had not yet blamed the attack on President Trump.  It was in poor taste, and I shouldn't have joked about such an awful event.  Nevertheless, my joke turned out to be prescient.  About a half hour after my post, CNN actually said on the air that Barcelona might be a "copy-cat" attack of Charlottesville.  No kidding.  CNN said that ISIS terrorists repeating the same sort of attack that they had used in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and elsewhere might just be copying the tactics used by the crazy thug in Charlottesville.  Unbelievable!

I wonder sometimes if the CNN people are just remarkably stupid or if they think the American public is totally witless.

PayPal Stops Payment Processing For Some "Hate" groups

The news is out today that PayPal will no longer process payments for certain groups described as "hate" groups.  So is that legal?  It's not a silly question, but rather a very serious one.

Let's start with the law.  Absent a special statute or regulation, a person is free to do business with or refuse to do business with anyone.  That's why prior to the Civil Rights laws in the 1960's, it was perfectly legal to refuse to sell a home to an African American or to refuse to hire a Jew or a Hispanic.  Congress passed a law that outlawed discrimination in many areas including discrimination in commerce based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  There are now further anti-discrimination laws which prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation, age, and other things in certain places.

How does that work?  Remember that pizza parlor that the media found that said it would not cater a gay wedding?  There was no applicable law that barred discrimination against gays, so the pizza parlor violated no law with the policy. 

But what about internet service providers like PayPal?  Can PayPal refuse service to a group whose politics it does not like?  Is there a law which bars such refusal of service?  That's a difficult question, even more difficult than the pizza parlor case.  After all, if a gay couple wanted to hold a wedding in a pizza place (which would be strange enough), there were many other such places where they could go.  On the other hand, if someone wants to process credit cards for internet transactions, PayPal is a necessary part of that effort.

I haven't done all the research to see if there are applicable laws which would bar PayPal's new position.  Certainly, there are arguments on both sides.  I just don't know the proper answer.  It does not seem to have ever been decided by a court.

There's a second question with which we need to deal, though.  Do we really want PayPal deciding who is and who is not a "hate" group?  What if Pay Pal decides that the local mosque is a hate group because some of the people who pray there were arrested on terrorism charges?  What if Pay Pal decides that a group called "Friends of the Islamic Republic of Iran" which sends food to the needy in that country is actually promoting terrorism and suspends dealing with the group?  What if Pay Pal decides that the Jewish National Fund which works on reforestation in Israel by planting trees there is helping the "occupation" and there constitutes a hate group?  What if Pay Pal decides that the ACLU provides help to criminals and terrorists and that such activities make it a hate group?  Do we really want PayPal deciding who is and who is not a hate group?

Don't get me wrong.  I would like to see the Nazis and the KKK stamped out once and for all.  I just think that we need to be more careful in allowing an organization like PayPal or Google to have the power to destroy a group just because it decides that the group is a hate group.  In today's world of heated rhetoric, being called a hate group is not what it used to be.  There are even organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center who seem to label everyone with whom they disagree a hate group of some sort.

Terror Attack In Barcelona

In a popular tourist site in Barcelona, Spain a van sped into a crowd of tourists and killed at least two.  The driver has apparently fled the scene and is being chased by police.  First reports call this an act of terrorism, just another in the long list of attacks across Europe in the past two years.

It's a good reminder that rather than worrying about what statues are in place in some city in Kentucky, we would all do better to concern ourselves with beating the people who want to kill us all and destroy our nation and the entire Western world.

In other news, CNN has not yet blamed the Barcelona attack on President Trump, but I am looking for the countdown clock the network will inevitably put up to measure the time until they do just that.

UPDATE:  There are now said to be 13 dead.  The attack took place outside a kosher restaurant in Barcelona, so the terrorists may have been hoping to kill Jews.  Two armed men are barricaded inside a bar nearby with hostages although it is not clear that these two include the driver of the van or if the events are related.  It certainly seems likely that they are related, however.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The End Of Any Pretense

This evening between 6 and 11 o'clock, I checked in eleven different times, at random, on CNN.  Each time I checked, someone on that network was busy denouncing President Trump as a racist, white supremacist or worse.  One guy on CNN was reporting that Trump has racial hatred "in his soul".  It was a disgusting display of completely Fake News.  After all, President Trump has address the events in Charlottesville three times, and each time he has denounced violence, racism and bigotry.  Nevertheless, CNN promotes the lie that Trump is a racist because he says that those on the left like Antifa were also to blame for the rioting in Charlottesville.  He made clear that the Nazis, KKK and white suprmacists were to blame and he denounced them by name, but the President had the temerity to point out that Antifa thugs who beat people with clubs were also at fault, and for CNN that means he's a racist.

There is no way that we can survive as America if the news media pumps out hatred, division and anger on a phony basis.  Eventually, too many people will get upset and it will make things worse.  No one ought to watch CNN ever.  They can say what they want; it is their right.  It is also the right of all Americans not to watch their garbage.

Fantasy Mainland

I just read a column on the CNN website by Frida Ghittis which begins with these words:

President Donald Trump's combative defense of far-right protesters packs a nausea-inducing punch when you listen to it in Europe

CNN wouldn't take a Trump political ad today because it said that the opinions in the ad were inaccurate.  Nevertheless, it publishes an article on the same day in which the facts are outright false.  There was no defense by Trump of far-right protesters.  I know; I listened to each of Trump's statements/news conferences.  Then I read the transcripts to make sure I did not miss any of what he said.  Trump condemned the far-right protesters as vile and unacceptable.  He denounced them.  That's not an inaccurate opinion; it's just the facts.  So when Frida Ghittis talks about a "combative defense" of these far-right protesters by Trump, she is not telling the truth.  To be less judgmental, Ghittis is completely wrong factually in what she says.

So why is it that CNN is living in a land of pure fantasy.  It's not that Trump failed to condemn the far-right protesters that's the problem; rather, it's that Trump also denounced the far left counter-protesters who used Charlottesville as a place to commit physical violence against the "far-right protesters."  That is an intolerable sin in the fantasy land inhabited by the mainstream media.  In the real world, however, we have to deal with actual facts, not facts the way we want them to be.

For eight years under Obama, actual facts were not much in vogue.  ISIS was the jayvee team until their strength could no longer be denied.  Syrian use of chemical weapons was a red-line, so the first 16 documented uses of those weapons by Assad were just denied by the White House until video of the victims writhing in agony as they died leaked out after the 17th attack.  Benghazi was the result of a youtube video seen by fewer than 100 people even when Obama and Clinton knew in real time that it was actually a preplanned terrorist attack.  Obamacare would lower premiums by $2500 per family and would let people keep their plans and doctors if they wanted.  Democrats made no attempt to change the immigration laws when they had overwhelming and unstoppable control of Congress in 2009-2010, but it was due to Republican obstruction.  Obama wanted to lower federal spending and fought to do so repeatedly (except that never happened.)  These were all fantasies.  Okay, let's be more honest:  These were all lies told by the Democrats/media and Obama because the lies fit the narrative that helped the Democrats politically.  The actual facts were just too harsh for the Democrats to deal with and the mainstream media fully complied in the effort.

Our country was harmed in many ways by the refusal to deal with the real world.  Right now, the media is still carrying out the propaganda effort rather than reporting the true facts.  Just think of the non-stop criticism that President Trump got when he warned North Korea in no uncertain terms of terrible retaliation if the NK's were to attack Guam as threatened.  Kim Jung Un has now walked back that threat; he wilted in the face of American resolve and possible counter-attack.  The mainstream media won't even report on that. 

No one knows the future.  It is filled with problems that will need to be solved.  One thing is certain, however, we will never solve our problems if we follow the lead of the media and the Democrats and just lie about what they truly are.  There's too much at stake; the lying has to stop.

When Do Facts Matter?

Do facts matter?  If they do, when does that happen?

These may sound like silly questions, but they have to be raised after watching the over the top reaction to events in Charlottesville and afterwards as well as to President Trump's comments.  Do the facts regarding Charlottesville matter?  They certainly should, but they really do not seem to.  Yesterday, at his news conference, President Trump mentioned that there were left-wing thugs who started the melee in Virginia by charging into the crowd swinging clubs.  That's not an opinion; it is a fact.  One network seemed so surprised that Trump would mention this fact, that they did a "fact check" on their evening news and concluded to their surprise that Trump was actually correct in his statement.  Then the same network went on to express outrage at Trump's comments.  For the media, it seems, facts don't really matter.

So when would facts matter?  After the San Bernardino terror attack, the media kept telling us that there was no clear evidence of any direct tie between the husband and wife terrorists and ISIS or al Qaeda.  They may have planned an attack; they may have been listening to lectures by ISIS clerics; they may have attacked innocent people at a Christmas party, but absent some direct tie between ISIS and the terrorists couple, it wasn't really a terror attack for certain.  In that case, the media made facts hyper important.  They ignored the bulk of the facts and focused on one missing ingredient.  When it later turned out that evidence of a direct tie was uncovered, few in the media announced the story that the couple had indeed carried out a terror attack.  When the antifa nearly burned down downtown Portland Oregon in a violent protest, the media did not focus on the violence as improper.  After all, these were left wing protesters, so they must have been "driven" to violence.  The facts were ignored.  When there was zero evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the media focused on suppositions and assumption rather than facts.  So when have facts actually mattered?

It seems sadly that facts don't matter at all to the mainstream media.

To be clear, this is not a justification of the white supremacist groups in Charlottesville.  They are hateful and repugnant to everything that America stands for.  The point, however, is that those counter protesters who came to Charlottesville to carry out violent acts are no better.  We have laws that tell us when people can march and what they can say.  Then we have methods for resolving disputes like whether or not to keep statues in place.  No one, for any reason, gets to take the law into his or her own hands.

In 1977, the American Nazi party organized a march through the town of Skokie, Illinois, an area outside Chicago that was home to thousands of Holocaust survivors.  The town denied them the right to march.  The case was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court which held that even the Nazis have the right to be heard under our Constitution.  Skokie was order to grant a march permit.

The point of the Skokie ruling was not that the Supreme Court favored Nazis.  It was that the essence of America that sets us apart from so many other countries is that as Americans we have freedom.  That includes the freedom of speech and of assembly.  Throughout our history over a million soldiers have died to preserve those freedoms.  We ought not decide now that politics is going to intervene and let one group silence another.  The Nazis and the KKK, yes even them, have the right to say what they want, no matter how odious.  On the other side, the antifa and other far leftists have the right to say what they want, no matter how odious.  Neither side, however, has the right to use violence to silence the other.  As a country, we have to make sure that people who want to speak can do so.  The very essence of our country is at stake.

CNN Could Have Problems

In the next step in their anti-Trump crusade, CNN refused to carry an ad put out by the Trump campaign that featured the accomplishments of the President.  CNN said it was "inaccurate".

This give rise to 2 questions:

1.  Why in the world is there a Trump campaign putting out ads already?

2.  How can CNN refuse a political ad based upon their own opinion of "accuracy"?

The answer is much the same to the two questions.  The Trump ad says that it is listing accomplishments because the media doesn't want the American people to know the truth.  At that point of referring to "the media" there is a couple of pictures of CNN anchors.  The Trump ad is meant to cut through media bias to get Trump's version of the "truth" to the people, and CNN is insulted that it is accused of intentionally concealing that "truth".

There's a problem here for CNN, however.  The ad statement about the media is clearly a political opinion.  A network like CNN cannot legally refuse a political ad because it does not like the opinion expressed so long as the opinion is not advocating violence or other criminal activity.  CNN could easily have legal problems from this refusal to run the ad. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

They're Just Statues

We're back to the drive by the left to remove "offensive" statues and memorials.  It's another of those meaningless symbolic moves that are so important to the left and so ridiculous in reality.  Tell me, does it matter that a statue of Robert E. Lee is standing on a pedestal somewhere in North Carolina?  Whose life does it change?  And who is helped by go to the trouble of pulling it down?  The upset reminds me of what ISIS did in Syria and Iraq.  In those countries, ISIS captured cities or towns that had ancient buildings left from 2500 years ago.  Since these Assyrian or Babylonian ruins had statues of ancient gods or kings, ISIS had them destroyed as sacrilegious.  A 2500 year old statue of an Assyrian king, a wondrous example of ancient history, was destroyed by ISIS because they thought it offensive to their views.  About 15 years earlier, the Taliban in Afghanistan blew up enormous Buddhist monuments that had survived over 1000 years.  Those monuments too were deemed offensive to the Taliban.

And now we're back to deciding whether statues of Confederate leaders must be taken down.  Also, memorials to Confederate war dead are on the chopping block.  Can't we accept that the people depicted in these memorials lived in a different age?  These are not inherently evil people; rather, they are people who lived at a time when societal views were quite different.  Let me put it this way:  there's a big difference between a memorial depicting Adolph Hitler and one in memory of Germans who died in World War II.  Hitler was the epitome of evil and ought not be honored.  The soldiers, however, gave their lives for their country.  It's just not the same.  If the survivors wanted to honor their fallen family members, it would be terrible to pull down such monuments.  That is true whether or not there are people who suffered or whose families suffered at the hands of the Germans.  The Confederacy is no different.  The men who died for the South are just Americans who fought on the wrong side; they are not monsters.  Remembering them is not an affront to anyone else.

The truly saddest thing in this debate is that there really seem to be people who think that by erasing history, it changes history.  It doesn't.  The Civil War is long over.  We know what happened.  Every American knows what happened.  That ought not change.  A maniacal push to remove the history of that era is just insane.  We need to focus instead on what is happening today.

Why Is This Being Hidden?

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal today, the North Koreans have "decided" not to launch missiles aimed at Guam.  For the last two weeks or so, Kim Jung Un and the crazy crew in North Korea have been announcing that they were "considering" and "planning for" an attack on Guam.  Guam, of course, is part of the USA and there are nearly 200,000 US citizens who live there as well as being home to major military bases.  President Trump warned the NKs and Kim Jung Un that if they actually threatened Guam or any of the USA, there would be a swift and horrible response that make the NKs regret their actions.  After a lot of shouting and screaming, however, it looks like Kim Jung Un has blinked and the NKs are backing down.

What happened is that the President made clear in no uncertain terms that North Korea would be destroyed if it attacked Guam.  That's a first in recent years.  President Obama believed in what he called "strategic patience" and everyone else called "doing nothing".  His motto was "speak softly and leave your stick at home."  The North Koreans ignored him.  President Bush was not much better on this account.  He tried to negotiate with the NKs but got nothing at all from them.  Things could change quickly, but so far, the Trump policy seems to be the only one that is having any effect on North Korea.  This is a major success for President Trump, perhaps the biggest success he has had in office so far.

So why is there almost no media coverage of North Korea backing down.  The USA wins big and most people don't even know that it happened.  How can it be?  The answer is that it is more important to the mainstream media to injure or defeat President Trump than it is to report the news accurately or to even tell America of this big success.  It's disgusting that big news like this doesn't make its way to most people because it doesn't fit the media's chosen narrative.

The Smoking Gun

After all the media attention to the death in Charlottesville when a crazy neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd, this was a message tweeted on Twitter:

"Meanwhile: 39 shootings in Chicago this weekend, 9 deaths. No national media outrage. Why is that? "

How does that tweet strike you?  Is it racist?  Clearly not since the majority of those 39 shootings in Chicago were of African Americans and the tweet asks why the media doesn't seem to care about those victims.  Is it white supremacist?  No, I don't see how you could twist it into that.

Nevertheless, the media says that this is a smoking gun when it comes to showing that President Trump does not really denounce Nazis and the KKK or any white supremacist group.  Seriously, that is the spin they put on the tweet.  Why, you may ask.  The answer is that the tweet came from a guy associated with the group they call the alt-right and the President (gasp) retweeted it.  For those who do not know, retweeting just means sending something you see on Twitter to the people who follow you on that medium.  It's important to note that retweeting is not either an endorsement or a denunciation of what gets sent.  Trump saw the tweet (which was all over the place) and sent it off to his followers.  For some in the media, that's unforgiveable.

The truth is that this whole mess has just gone too far.  It's getting ridiculous.  Retweeting a tweet that says something we should all agree upon is hardly racism.  Indeed, attacking the President for doing just that is delusional.  But the delusions don't stop there.  I just read that the Democrat congressmen who lead the congressional Black, Hispanic and Asian caucuses asked the President to fire his adviser Stephen Miller and others to show that there are no neo-Nazis in the White House.  Miller is Jewish.  The idea that these congressional morons would indicate that Miller is a Nazi is one of the worst things I've ever heard.  But it's one of those days when the media and the Democrats are in full feeding frenzy mode.  They want to smear anyone and everything associated with the President.

There's no smoking gun. (and that's not the result of gun control.)  There are no neo-Nazis in the White House.  There's only the constant hatred and over-reaction from the Democrat/media complex towards Trump.  At some point, that group is going to have to realize that they lost the election.  America is not going to change its mind next time on the basis of non-stop hate.  They are marching to oblivion and they don't even realize it.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Only in Germany

Today's exercise in the bizarre comes from the German city of Saarbrucken.  A Syrian refugee in that city was found guilty after a trial of attempting to defraud ISIS out of about $180,000.  The refugee told ISIS that he would use the money to buy explosives so as to carry out terror attacks in Germany.  The refugee was also charged with attempted terrorism, but the court acquitted him on those charges since it believed his story that he had no intention of ever carrying out any attack.

Think about that.  ISIS is recognized, even in Germany, as the worst (or at least one of the worst) terrorist groups in the world.  Nevertheless, the German authorities stepped in an prosecuted a Syrian refugee because he tried to get cash from ISIS under false pretenses.

This is the rough equivalent of some drug dealer suing in federal court because one of his customers had failed to pay for the drugs that he got.

It's amazing that a court would ever get involved in such a ridiculous situation. 

Some Very Good News

According to reports today, congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana will be back at work in the House of Representatives after the current recess is over.  Scalise was shot in a terror attack while he was at a baseball practice (for a charity event) in Virginia last Spring with other House Republicans.  The shooter/terrorist was a left-wing nut job who came to DC looking for Republicans to kill (he had a list of targets found when his body was searched.)

It's great that Scalise has recovered to the point where he can resume his duties.  For a long time it was touch and go as to whether or not he would survive the attack.  Let's thank God for his recovery.

On a related subject, do any of you recall any Democrat leader condemning far left groups because this crazy guy attach the congressmen?  I'm not talking about condemning the attack and the violence.  I mean how many Democrat leaders do you remember condemning radical leftists by group name after the shooting?  I don't recall that happening.  Instead, they said something fairly similar to what President Trump said in his first response to the Charlottesville attack.  Indeed, some of the same Democrats who couldn't bring themselves to condemn the groups on the left are now apoplectic because Trump didn't condemn specific groups that carried out Saturday's attack. 

A Test

I just got a phone call from a computer.  The call wasn't identified as being automated.  Instead, when I answered it said "Susie?"  (Actually, it used the name of my eldest daughter, but I thought I should leave her out of this.)

I responded by saying "No."

The voice laughed after a pause and said, "that's ok, I can talk to either of you."

At that point, I got a pitch to give to a charity that was unknown to me.  I decided to do a test.  I waited until the machine stopped so that I could respond to the next question.  At that point, is said to the machine in Russian something that translates roughly into "if you are afraid of wolves, don't go into the forest."  It's an old Russian proverb, but it confused the machine.  I got a reply saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that.  Could you say that again?"

I repeated the Russian saying and the machine then told me, "That's great.  Can I send you a pledge envelope?"

I just hung up.

Now I know that you are probably wondering one of two things:  1) why did I waste the time to speak to the computer? or 2) If I speak Russian, does that mean that I colluded with regard to the 2016 election?

The answer to the second question is easy:  NO.
The answer to the first is more difficult.  Basically, I just wanted to see how the computer system would handle a completely non-responsive and unintelligible response.


Time For A Little Soviet Nostalgia?

In what has to be one of the most misguided articles ever, Ryan Cooper writes in The Week about what happened 100 years ago in the October revolution in Russia that gave rise to the Soviet Union and one of the greatest killing machines ever known to man.  Cooper argues that there was nothing inherent in Marxism that caused the authoritarian nightmare of the Soviet state.  No, the philosophy was basically decent at its core but got perverted by outside influences.  I assume next week, Cooper will write about how Hitler and the Nazis were also just misguided people trying to get by in a troubled world.

It amazes me that this kind of garbage can get written and PUBLISHED in a large media outlet.  The USA had to fight for nearly 50 years to defeat the tyranny of Soviet Communism which enslaved millions around the world.  People across Eastern Europe and a big swath of Asia lost their freedom, both economic and political.  Millions were murdered.  In the 1930's Stalin intentionally caused a famine in Ukraine that led to the death of nearly ten million people by starvation.  At one time, there were more political prisoners in the Soviet gulags than the population of some of the smaller countries in Europe.  This was not a good idea that went slightly astray; it was a murderous ideology that stood for total control by a single leader and his party with death being the consequence for opposition, even imagined opposition. 

So why would a progressive media outlet like The Week push this na├»ve, indeed dishonest view of Communism?  I blame our education system.  During the Cold War, there were constant reminders of the evils of Communism.  The Cold War ended, however, nearly 30 years ago.  That means that essentially every American under the age of 40 (and many older than that) has no first hand experience with the true nature of Communism.  Our schools stopped teaching the truth about this totalitarian ideology.  Instead, a few of the old "true believers" like Bernie Sanders and many young people who only know the propaganda about socialism/communism have come to accept an imaginary view of history.

There are some who think that history is not worth knowing.  That view is both idiotic and dangerous.  We know (or we would know if we paid attention to history) that communism and socialism do not work.  Each time these systems have been tried, they have failed.  Sometimes the failures have been more spectacular than other times, but they have been failures nevertheless.  Even today, a country like China which is nominally communist, is actually successful only because that communist economic system has been jettisoned in favor or a market based economic system.  Only the authoritarian rule of the Party has been kept in China.  That gives the Chinese a free market but absolutely no political freedom.

We cannot stand by and watch the fools and the propagandists spread nonsense.  Too many people do not know the truth.  Too many people are gullible.  Silence on this point is just a contribution to societal danger.

Watching The Narrative Today

I was struck by two stories today that seemed like excerpts from the mainstream media/Democrat narrative.

The first is a column written by Juan Williams in which he says that President Trump should be thanking president Obama for leaving him such a strong economy.  This story comes under the Democrat talking point that says that "Trump gets no credit for anything good." 

There is obviously some truth to what Williams has to say.  A new president does not walk into the Oval Office and change the economy in five minutes.  Still, it has now been almost seven months, and it is fair now to say that President Trump gets credit now for where the economy is, not 100%, but much credit.  And President Trump did turn the economy in two major ways.  First, he changed expectations which are now much better and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The best proof of this is the stock market.  It has gone way up starting on the day after election day last November.  After all those predictions about how electing Trump would tank the economy, the market spoke and expressed overwhelming happiness that Trump won.  It has continued to go up ever since.  Trump's second, and often overlooked, big help to the economy has been the removal of all sorts of needless regulations.  Since taking office, the President has prevented or gotten rid of regulations that were stopping domestic energy development, slowing agricultural development and much, much more.  This too has helped move the economy.

The second story from the narrative is about the resignation of the CEO of drug company Merck from the President's Business Advisory Council.  Merck's CEO supposedly resigned because he did not like Trump's response to what happened in Charlottesville.  That's insane.  Trump denounced hatred and bigotry that led to violence.  He didn't call out the Nazis by name.  That omission has led to all manner of criticism.  Nevertheless, what the Merck CEO did is to act as if the President endorsed the hatred, something he clearly did not do.  And why is that?  It's part of the Democrat talking point that says that "Trump is a racist".  That was a refrain often heard during the campaign even though it is not even remotely true.  Somehow, it never stops though.

We need to live in the real world if we are to succeed.  I wish everyone understood this.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Polls Melt Down Again

A few months ago, the spread among the polls when it came to President Trump was -- to use a favorite word of the President's -- HUGE.  Some polls had a majority approving of Trump's performance while others had big majorities disapproving.  Then for the last month or two, most of that gap disappeared.  Well, it's back, and in a big way. 

In the latest Gallup poll, voters disapprove of Trump's job performance by 23 points.  In the latest Rasmussen poll, voters disapprove by a margin of 8 points.  That difference of 15 percentage points is much more than statistical error.  The margin of error in these polls is about +/-3.5%.  That accounts for only 7 of the 15 points at most (and likely much less).

So what is the difference?  Some, if not all of it is sampling error.  Rasmussen adjusts its results to get a sample group composed of the same mix of voters who actually cast a vote last November.  To be clear, Rasmussen is guided by the self-identification of the voting public in 2016.  Just because a Republican voted for Clinton, he or she is still counted as a Republican.  Similarly, if a person calls themselves a Democrat but then voted for Trump, that person is counted as a Democrat.  Gallup, on the other hand, does not adjust its numbers.  That means that if it happens to oversample Democrats, there is nothing done to correct that mistake.  Similarly, if Gallup gets responses from a disproportionate number of Republicans, no correction is made.  These different methods used by the pollsters may account for much of the difference in the numbers.

Given the different methodology used, which of the two polls is more accurate?  That boils down to a simple question:  has party identification changed much since November of 2016?  In other words, has there been a tidal movement from one party to another?  If not, then the Rasmussen method seems more accurate.  If so, however, then Gallup may have picked up a swing that Rasmussen missed.

How can we judge changes in party identification?  One way is to look at actual voter registration.  Across the USA, there has been a relative increase in the number of registered Republicans in 2017 compared to Democrats.  There may be a lot of publicity from the #Resistance, but the voters actually registering or changing their party ID have been moving towards the GOP not the Dems. 

Given that the only concrete measure of party ID has gone in favor of the GOP, it seems highly unlikely that the Gallup poll numbers are accurate. 

Where Did they Get The Money?

Iran's parliament voted today for a major increase in the country's spending on developing missiles and nuclear "research" (which is Iran's way of saying development of nuclear weapons.)  Just a few years ago, Iran was hurting.  Its economy was sputtering and it had little spare cash to spend on anything.  Now, the Islamic Republic is rolling in money, or so it seems.  If you wonder where they got the money for all these new weapon systems, the answer is simple.  The USA gave it to the Iranians after Iran signed the agreement negotiated by president Obama.  Iran supposedly is no longer building nukes, but that does make one wonder why they need all this new spending if they are no longer working on the project.

Just as an aside, it's worth noting that during the voting in Teheran today, members of the Parliament were chanting "death to America!"

Boy was Obama a bad president.

This Is Not Supposed To Be A Political Rally

It has been a bad weekend.  First we had the morons at the White Power rally in Virginia marching by torchlight Friday night.  I assume they hoped to look like one of those torch-lit Nazi rallies in the Germany of the 1930's.  Instead, they managed to achieve the disdain of nearly everyone in America.  Saturday, things got worse.  There was another scheduled rally by the White Power crew and their neo-Nazi friends which brought out the crazies on the other side as well.  There was some violence and the governor ordered the rally cancelled.  Then some bozo decided to use his car to run into a crowd of people.  He killed one and injured many others.  Fortunately, the apparent culprit was caught and is under arrest.  To make things worse, a police helicopter crashed and two were killed.  So, in Charlottesville, we saw the extremists show themselves for what they truly are:  angry, violent haters.

That was bad enough.  But then it got worse.  Now we have the media and the politicians going nuts over condemning all or some of those who did these violent acts (fine) and then condemning each other over the amount of condemnation stated by other politicians.  Really?  Do we have to go there?

Consider this:

1.  When two Islamic terrorists shot and killed all those people in San Bernardino, California, many in the media and the political classes rushed to tell America that this mass murder was not an act by all Muslims, but rather the work of two "lone wolves"; it was the work of individuals.  These same people then condemned others for even calling the mass murder Islamic terrorism.  It's just Islamophobia, they told us.  Now we have a young guy from Ohio who has been arrested for using his car for murder yesterday, and many of the same people are condemning not just him, but also President Trump and even all Republicans for what happened.  Why was yesterday also not the work of individuals?

2.  President Trump condemned the violence and hatred demonstrated in the Virginia attack.  The media and some politicians immediately criticized him for not saying the right thing.  Seriously, my own senator, Richard Blumenthal, condemned the President for not specifically condemning the groups at the rally.  The worst thing about it is that Blumenthal didn't even know who had committed the car attack when he made his statement.

Can't we just, for once, stop the politics.  I think it's safe to say that more than 90% of this nation thinks what happened yesterday was repulsive.  There's no real audience for the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, or antifas.  The violent extremists on both sides are abhorred by essentially everyone.  The only way for these groups to strengthen, however, is for them to sow the seeds of hatred among their fellow Americans.  We need to stop that.  We need to respect each other.  We need to do that now!

And to be clear, this is not a call for the end of political discourse.  We can keep the rough and tumble of our usual politics.  The anger, however, has to go.  That also means that the false accusations that one's opponents are "haters" must go as well. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

ISIS University

It now seems pretty clear that the events in Charlottesville today where a driver plowed his car into a crowd with the result of one dead and a great many wounded was no accident.  We haven't had an adjudication from a court, but the video and witnesses report that the car sped up prior to impact in order to cause the greatest damage possible to those in its path.  ISIS should be proud today; it has taught its gruesome tactics to a new group of terrorists.

The tactic of weaponizing vehicles is a relatively new terror tactic.  It was perfected by ISIS with the best example of it being the massacre in France on Bastille Day when a truck killed over 80 people.

The terrorists in Virginia, be they Nazis or Antifas, seemed to have learned the lesson well from ISIS.  There's no need for guns or bombs; cars and trucks will do just fine.

I wonder what's coming next.  Will the neo-Nazis start holding public beheadings?  Will the Antifas begin throwing those with whom it disagrees off buildings?

All of these people are disgusting and horrible human beings.  They need to stop.  If not, they need to be stopped by the rest of us.

What's Really Happening In Charlottesville

I've seen some pictures of the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.  I'm really not sure what is happening there, and there seems to be no source for good information available yet.

Here's a good example.  There are pictures online of a few Nazi flags being carried at the protest.  I cannot tell from the pictures who the morons are who are actually carrying a Nazi flag.  No self-respecting American should ever associate him or herself with such a symbol of hatred and mass murder.  The problem is that I'm not sure if these are protesters promoting a pro-Nazi viewpoint or counter-protesters claiming that the protesters are Nazis. 

The weirdest thing about both the protesters and the counter-protesters is that they all seem like extremist nuts.  That may be harsh, but again there is little coverage of what is actually happening which omits the hysteria of the extremists. 

Simply put, there is nothing wrong with a group of people protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.  Lee may have fought for the Confederacy, but he was undeniably a great general and an honorable man of his day.  No one ought be condemned for living in a world where slavery was commonplace.  We should celebrate those who moved us past that evil rather than condemn those who did not. 

Nor is there anything wrong with a group of people launching a counter-protest to support the removal of the Lee statue.  Their voices ought be heard as well.

The key, however, is that there should be no violence by anyone.  We know two people were injured today, but we still do not know by whom or why this happened.

Probably the best thing would be if everyone just calmed down and tried to behave rationally.

Cuttihg Through The Ignorance

When it comes to economics, it's surprising how little many in the media understand.  It's even more surprising how many in Congress don't understand.

Let's look at a simple issue:  what causes faster economic growth.

1.  In the last few years, we've heard a number of items proposed to increase economic growth.  President Obama once had an economic program that consisted of increasing the minimum wage, starting universal pre-K for children and increasing environmental regulations.  The current Democrat plan for a "Better Deal" is not much different from that although they throw in a major government infrastructure program.  President Trump is pushing tax reductions, especially for business, as well as major cuts in regulation, a huge infrastructure construction program and promotion of domestic energy production.  None of these are guaranteed to work, but without a doubt, the Obama plan was guaranteed NOT to work and the current Democrat plan also has little chance for success.

2.  The most important driver of economic growth is business investment.  This is not a political position, but a statement of economic certainty.  If you think about it, it should make sense to you.  If a business invests a million dollars in a new facility, it will provide jobs and new economic activity not only from the construction but also from the ongoing use of that facility after it is completed.  The profits made from the new facility will also provide cash for additional investments in the future.  Raising the minimum wage, at best, means that a small portion of the population will have some additional cash to spend each week.  That will help the economy, but at the same time the employer will have less to spend and invest.  These tend to balance out.  On top of this, the higher price put on labor makes the business less competitive and drive the employer to try to automate to reduce the need for labor.  For the economy as a whole, it is a bust.  Infrastructure construction by the government provides a one-time boost to the economy.  Unlike business investment, however, it does not provide ongoing profit improvements to continue to help in the future.  Consider the effect of rebuilding a bridge as an example.  The traffic flowed over the bridge before the repair and after that work as well.  It doesn't change the costs of nearby businesses.

3.  The best way to get more business investment is to give those businesses an incentive to make such investments.  The only things that do that are tax reductions or investment tax credits and the like.  Cutting tax rates mean that the after tax return earned on an investment is increased, thereby making that investment more appealing.

4.  Ending regulations that increase the cost of doing business also will bring more investments.  First, the extra money left with the businesses when the regs are removed will be available for investment.  Second, the absence of certain regs means that the total cost of the investment will be lowered and the investment again will be made more appealing.

Without a doubt, the program of reducing taxes and regulations on business is most likely to produce increased economic growth.  The analysis does not stop there.  We need to look also at why faster economic growth is important.

What are the benefits of increasing the rate of growth in the USA from under 2% to 3.5%?  Some Democrats say that the only folks who benefit from that are the rich, but that just shows how little they understand the issue.  Let's start with something near and dear to the Democrats, government spending.  An extra 1.5% growth in the US economy means that during the first year, there will be about an additional quarter of a trillion dollars of goods and services produced in the USA.  Since the government generally receives in revenue about 20% of GDP, this means an additional 50 billion dollars for the government.  Then in the second year, there will be more additional growth, so the federal government will have an additional 100 billion in income.  This will continue over time.

It's not just the federal government that benefits, however.  The extra quarter of a trillion dollars in the first year will need labor in order to be produced.  Think how many extra jobs will be created just to produce this extra bit of goods and services.  Then think how many people will get raises because their employers are now more profitable.  Then think how many people will see their investments pay more dividends as the companies earn more.  Since more than half the country owns stock either directly or through their retirement plans, this will affect a great many people.

Then there's the increase in the overall strength of the American economy.  For the last 100 years, the USA has been a world power because our economy has been so strong.  Additional growth will maintain that strength.

None of this is rocket science; it ought to be rather apparent to anyone who carefully considers the subject.  Nevertheless, the amount of misinformation and ignorance on the subject of economics is appalling.

We all need to make sure that our congressmen and senators understand that we are expecting them to enact a tax measure that will above all else promote economic growth.

How Did We Get There In Afghanistan?

Within a few days after the 9-11 attacks in 2001, the war in Afghanistan began.  At first, the Northern Alliance took on the Taliban with the help of some American special forces troops and some US airpower.  It didn't take long for the Northern Alliance to occupy Kabul and to take all of the country's major cities.  The Taliban retreated into the countryside.  At that point, the war was basically won.  The USA could have withdrawn all of its forces (which really weren't many) and left the Afghans to control their own destiny.  We didn't do that, however, because Osama bin Laden was thought to be still holed up in Tora Bora along the Afghan/Pakistani border.  Nevertheless, we had a small force in Afghanistan and America was not engaged in much fighting in that country.

Then came the 2008 election.  Candidate Obama was running against the Iraq War.  Since he did not want to seem like too much of a pacifist, he announced his view that Afghanistan was the "good war" while Iraq was the "bad war".  Obama said that if elected, he would get out of Iraq but send many more troops to win the Afghan struggle once and for all.  It was a stupid position then, and it remains a stupid position now.  Iraq with its oil reserves and location in the heart of the Middle East's other oil powers has great strategic value.  Afghanistan has a much lower strategic value.  By election day in 2008, the USA had already essentially won in Iraq, so the task for the new president was to maintain that victory.  In Afghanistan, there was not much fighting, but the tribal differences made a true victory there much more difficult.  Nevertheless, after Obama won, he pulled the USA out of Iraq and announced a surge of forces into Afghanistan.  Not long after Obama took office, America's troop levels in Afghanistan were over 100,000.

The Obama surge in Afghanistan was a total failure.  Casualties soared.  Fighting did not end.  Bin Laden was killed, but not in Afghanistan.  Obama did not give his surge time to work; he announced the pull out of forces at the same time he announced the surge, so the Taliban knew all they had to do was wait.  And that is what they did. 

Obama took US troop levels in Afghanistan down to under 10,000.  At the same time, Taliban military strikes soared and much of the country went back under Taliban rule.  Obama could have just announced a total pull out of US forces, but instead he continued to dwindle the number of soldiers and watched the military situation unravel.  Obama was kicking the can down the road so that whoever followed him in office would have to deal with it.

Now we have President Trump who has been in the midst of rethinking the nature of US involvement in Afghanistan.  For the first time in a decade, there is a review in Washington of America's goals with regard to Afghanistan.  We could just pull out.  We could send more troops.  Without question, it was time for a new look at a problem that clearly baffled Obama.

I write all this because the new media line is that Trump is "losing" Afghanistan.  That's silly.  If anyone "lost" Afghanistan it was Obama.  Indeed, hopefully President Trump will not feel compelled to keep US forces in that country because he might be labeled a "loser" by the media.  There should be a final decision soon.

The Official Media Take on Using the Military in Venezuela

Reuters has put out a summary article about the meaning of President Trump's comments yesterday that there could be a military option in Venezuela.  It's like a list of talking points for the mainstream media.  Here's a summary:

1.  Trump's comments were a major mistake that will only help Venezuelan dictator Maduro.  Maduro can now position himself as the victim of US aggression.  (Funny to think how he would do that, since the USA hasn't done anything yet.)

2.  Congress hasn't authorized any action, and according to senator Sasse of Nebraska, it won't.

3.  Trump took everyone by surprise with the comment since it was just a shoot from the hip moment.  Of course, it was interesting to see the faces of the Secretary of State, UN Ambassador and National Security Adviser who were standing next to Trump when he made the "surprise" announcement.  None of them had any facial reaction to this big "surprise".

4.  America doesn't intervene in South America any more.  We haven't done so since 1995.  (Reuters doesn't say it, but that last intervention was ordered by Bill Clinton who sent troops to take down the Hatian government in a surprise move, not authorized by Congress, that the media loved.)

5.  The President ignored how thinly stretched the US military already is.

6.  Venezuela is prepared for a US invasion.

Now imagine that Hillary had won the election and had said the same thing about Venezuela.  Think how many of the six points made above would be said about Hillary's statement.  Does the number ZERO sound about right?  It does to me.

Look, there is hardly anyone advocating for any major involvement by American troops in Venezuela.  Still, we are watching that country melting down and moving towards civil war.  In Syria, the civil war has killed half a million, wounded more and made nearly ten million homeless.  All that could have been avoided had president Obama taken strong action at the start of the fighting.  He chose not to act -- SURPRISE!  If words and action by President Trump can prevent a similar cataclysm in Venezuela, shouldn't we discuss this on something other than a purely political basis?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Another Press Conference

President Trump just had a short press conference after meeting with Rex Tillerson, Nikki Haley and general McMaster in New Jersey.  It's the President's third press availability in two days.  It's given President Trump the ability to send his message to the people directly in a way that cannot be distorted much by the media.  There's going to be a major formal press conference early next week as well.

The President had much to say about the North Korean situation.  Basically, he just repeated his position.  In addition, however, the President addressed the problem of Venezuela and even said that there were military options for that country.  It was funny to see the reactions to that statement.  On Fox News, a reporter said that what President Trump said was not meant to indicate American troops being involved but rather possible American support for military action by the armed forces of Colombia and Brazil.  On MSNBC, the statement was dismissed as crazed war-mongering by the President.  On CNN, they brought in a former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to say that he had not heard anything about military action in Venezuela previously but that it was a bad idea.  It was odd to hear him first say he knew nothing about what this would entail and then to opine that it would not work.  One might validly ask, "what would not work."

Forgetting the media reactions, there was not all that much news in the press conference.  We just have to wait to see how everything develops going forward.

You Have To Read This

The Nation is a far left media outlet that is anything but a supporter of President Trump.  That is why the new report in The Nation makes such a compelling read.  According to the reporter, forensic examination done in connection with the hack of the DNC and the John Podesta email account in 2016 shows that it was NOT the Russians who hacked the system but rather someone on the inside who leaked the documents which were then formatted to give the appearance of a Russian hack. 

Think about that.  We are in the second year of the Trump/Russia collusion investigations which are all based upon the supposed Russian hacking of the DNC.  If there was no Russian hack of the DNC computers, then there surely wasn't any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  The whole edifice of the investigation of nothing would come crashing down.

The article in The Nation is long but worth reading if you have time.  If not, here are two paragraphs that pretty much sum it all up.

  • There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.
    • Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.
    If this report turns out to be correct, then the country should stop watching the mainstream media and run all the Democrats out of office for participating in this massive fraud.

    Their Slip (Blue) Is Showing

    Most people have no idea what a "blue slip" is.  Here's a hint:  it's not a piece of clothing.  The blue slip is a form sent to two senators when someone is nominated to be a federal judge.  The home state senators get the form, and it is customary not to proceed with consideration of the nomination until both blue slips are returned to the judiciary committee marked approved.  In other words, if President Trump appoints a new judge to the district court in Pennsylvania, the Senate will not consider the nominee until both senator Casey and Tomey send back approval via the blue slip.  In practice, this is a quiet way for some senators to block judicial appointments.

    Blue slips are not required by law.  They are not even part of the Senate rules, but rather are just a tradition.  They did not even exist for the first 140 years of the USA.  Moreover, since this practice first began 100 years ago, it has only been followed part of the time.

    The reason to look at blue slips now is that some of the Democrats in the Senate are trying to use this tradition to prevent approval of judges appointed by President Trump.  For example, in Minnesota, the President appointed a judge who is currently on the Minnesota Supreme Court and who is widely perceived to be a first rate jurist.  Senators Klobuchar and Franken, however, are not returning the blue slip so as to delay the approval of yet another Trump nominee.  Since this is not an isolate example, we are quickly getting to the point where the Senate may stop considering the blue slips.

    Four years ago, the Senate Democrats overturned centuries of practice when they threw out the ability for there to be a filibuster of judicial nominees.  Now that the Democrats are in the minority, they have lost their ability to stop nominations in that way.  They should not be allowed to use the blue slips to replace the filibuster that they destroyed.

    Can't We Stop The Nonsense?

    President Trump issued a warning to the North Koreans with regard to their aggressive actions.  By now you've surely heard it.  In fact, you're likely to also have heard Trump's second message that the US military is "locked and loaded" to respond if the NK's launch an attack.  This raises a major question, though.  Why is the mainstream media focusing on the wisdom of what Trump said and using these warnings as a basis to attack the President?  Why isn't more being said about what North Korea is doing?

    These are not idle questions.  I've studied the Cuban Missile Crisis.  There was major coverage of the confrontation, but almost none of that coverage dealt with the language that president Kennedy used in discussing US intentions.  I've studied the coverage of the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.  President Bush said that the invasion "will not stand".  In other words, Bush told the Iraqis the USA was going to push them out of Kuwait.  There was essentially no media criticism of Bush's statements.  After 9-11, there was also essentially no media criticism of what the second president Bush had to say about the Islamic terrorists.  So why is it that today the bulk of the coverage regarding Korea deals with the language used by President Trump?

    The confrontation with North Korea is a life or death situation for enormous numbers of people.  Shouldn't the American people be kept informed as to what is happening rather than spending most of the time criticizing the language used by President Trump?  How can it be that the media is just spending each day ignoring Kim Jung Un and worrying instead about Trump's words?  It's time to stop the nonsense and focus on what is important.

    Retroactive Tax Cuts

    There's a series of articles in the last few days discussing whether or not the tax reforms about to be taken up by Congress ought to be made retroactive to the start of 2017.  It would be nice to think that we could have tax cuts going back to last January, but it's far from the most important issue.  I would prefer if the details of the proposed tax cuts were to be debated instead.  Will there be a corporate tax cut and by how much?  What corporate tax loopholes will be closed?  Will there be a cut in capital gains taxes?  What will happen to personal income tax deductions?  There's more, but these, not the effective date, are the important matters on which to decide.

    Hopefully, there is an effort being made right now to get some of the Democrats on board for the tax reform bill.  Even if the Democrats oppose the final bill by a margin of 90%-10%, that would be enough to assure passage.  The USA strongly needs this tax bill.  Let's hope that this time the GOP is focusing on getting it done and not on peripheral matters.

    CNN Gets Rid Of Jeffrey Lord

    In a rather bizarre move, CNN fired Jeffry Lord because of a tweet.  For those of you who don't watch CNN, (I know that's essentially everyone), Lord is a strong Trump supporter who CNN trots out on eight or twelve person panels.  Usually, Lord is the only person on the panel who states the administration viewpoint.  When I've seen him -- which is admittedly not often -- he has done pretty well in these discussions.  My guess is that it embarrassed the management at CNN to have one guy make the other seven or eleven look foolish.  So now they got rid of Lord and can bring in someone else.

    In any event, Lord was fired because he tweeted "Sieg Heil" in response to a tweet from the head of the David Brock created group of ultra-liberal loons, Media Matters For America.  For the last few days, Lord had been criticizing Media Matters as being fascist or Nazi in trying to organize a boycott of Fox News.  Lord denounced Media Matters for fighting against free speech.  CNN apparently had no problem with Media Matters being called Nazis or fascist.  How could it?  One has to wonder how many times President Trump has been called a Nazi or a fascist on CNN; it's certainly something that has happened often.  Obviously, the couldn't fire Lord for saying what they often say themselves on the air.  No, CNN waited for Lord to tweet a Nazi salute back to Media Matters.  The meaning is obvious; Lord was calling the head of Media Matters a Nazi.  So why is this any worse than just calling him a Nazi?

    It seems to me that CNN has embarrassed itself yet again.  If the network wants to ban people from calling political opponents Nazis, that's fine.  It seems rather stupid, but it is still fine.  That rule, however, has to apply to everyone.  It cannot be acceptable for the left to call President Trump a Nazi but not acceptable for someone on the right to call the head of Media Matters a Nazi.  That's just stupid.