The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's a War

In the aftermath of yet another Islamic terror atrocity in Manchester, England, we again experience deja vu. It doesn't much matter whether the Islamists spray a crowd with an semi-automatic weapon, use a suicide bomber to murder dozens at a public event, drive a truck into a crowded street gathering, knife people on a public street or hijack planes to kill thousands, they are at war within our borders, and we are not. The Left will warn us to avoid Islamophobia, worried more about the sensibilities of the broader Muslim community than they are about the deadly threat that always seems to come out of that community.

Roger Simon comments:
It's not just "Manchester England." If you think what happened in Blighty can't happen here -- 19 killed, 59 injured [the numbers are now, 22 and over 100]-- you'll have to excuse me if I say "You're out of your bloomin' mind." Did you already forget 9/11/2001? Or the Boston Marathon? Or San Bernardino? Or the Orlando gay bar attack less than a year ago that killed 49?

Oh, yeah. Seems so long ago, doesn't it, even that last one? The "new normal." We put these things out of our minds the week after to deal with the next trivial Washington scandal or go about our petty lives. Our culture lives in a self-destructive willful blindness, refusing to see the obvious even though it happens again and again across the globe. Radical Islam, Islamism, or whatever you want to call it has been at war with us since the Twin Towers came down and even well before. And they have no intention whatsoever of stopping.

Nevertheless we respond in the most perfunctory manner, nattering on about how Islam is a"religion of peace," criticizing ourselves and others for "Islamophbia," or dismissing it all as a police matter.
Donald Trump took a step in the right direction by addressing the matter directly at the Conference of 50 Arab states in Saudi Arabia. He called upon Islam to develop it's own chemotherapy to address the cancer that has metastacized within it. But what about the West? Reacting after a terror attack, no matter how quickly and how effectively, does little to bring back the dead, salve the broken hearts of families, and calm a public that forgets quickly (part of the problem) but nonetheless, has a deeply buried and unconscious feeling of unease. That's what the Muslim terrorists want to achieve.

The Leftist mantra "What if they held a war and no one showed up" is an epic in moral preening. Too bad the Islamists show up, every time. Too bad too many of us refuse to recognize it's a war.


UPDATE-1:
----------------------

Richard Fernandez always seems to be able to get at the core of an issue. He writes:
The Independent offers predictable advice to the British public after a terror bombing attack on a concert for teenage girls in Manchester that left more than 20 killed and 3 score mutilated and crippled for life. The writers confidently assert that "there's only one way Britain should respond to attacks such as Manchester. That is by carrying on exactly as before."

They themselves may do so if they wish but there may be a scarcity of followers. The latest in a line of phrases like "we can't let hatred change us; this is not who we are etc" sound like the pleadings of a cult leader to the faithful after the Mothership failed to arrive. The faithful are heading for the door. In fact the pixels were hardly dry on the computer monitors when the Independent itself reported panic as hundreds ran from real or imagined peril inside a Manchester shopping mall.

Terror has already changed us in ways ranging from the gradual collapse of the Schengen area [EU open border policies], intrusive inflight security including a ban on electronic devices in flight to the inevitable tightening of security at all future concerts and exhibitions. If there's one thing Ariana Grande will have at future concerts it's security grande ...
Fernandez argues that trust is being shaken. He writes:
You can't operate without trust.

If we are to prevent a new medievalism [tribe killing tribe] finding the right balance between an open society and maintaining loyalty and allegiance is necessary. It is a difficult task under any circumstances. But rarely has anyone failed more dismally at it than the leaders of our multi-culti world. By stigmatizing calls for reasonable loyalty as bigotry they have climbed out on a limb and sawed themselves off; by their dogmatic insistence on mindless inclusion they've foreclosed all attempts to bring things back to even keel. They have reduced themselves to the level of hapless bystanders, unable to either prevent or explain an onslaught they themselves -- were they honest enough to admit it -- should have foreseen.
When you're in a war—and we are in a slow motion war within our own borders—political correctness is the enemy's most potent weapon. It stifles what needs to be said and what needs to be done. It cripples efforts at finding and eliminating the threats we face before they become actual events, labeling such efforts with a stigma that precludes their use. It has already and will again get people killed.

UPDATE-2:
--------------

Brendan O'Neill comments on what Richard Fernandez calls "the leaders of our multi-culti world" want from its citizens:
After the terror, the platitudes. And the hashtags. And the candlelit vigils. And they always have the same message: ‘Be unified. Feel love. Don’t give in to hate.’ The banalities roll off the national tongue. Vapidity abounds. A shallow fetishisation of ‘togetherness’ takes the place of any articulation of what we should be together for – and against. And so it has been after the barbarism in Manchester. In response to the deaths of more than 20 people at an Ariana Grande gig, in response to the massacre of children enjoying pop music, people effectively say: ‘All you need is love.’ The disparity between these horrors and our response to them, between what happened and what we say, is vast. This has to change.

It is becoming clear that the top-down promotion of a hollow ‘togetherness’ in response to terrorism is about cultivating passivity. It is about suppressing strong public feeling. It’s about reducing us to a line of mourners whose only job is to weep for our fellow citizens, not ask why they died, or rage against their dying. The great fear of both officialdom and the media class in the wake of terror attacks is that the volatile masses will turn wild and hateful. This is why every attack is followed by warnings of an ‘Islamophobic backlash’ and heightened policing of speech on Twitter and gatherings in public: because what they fundamentally fear is public passion, our passion. They want us passive, empathetic, upset, not angry, active, questioning. They prefer us as a lonely crowd of dutiful, disconnected mourners rather than a real collective of citizens demanding to know why our fellow citizens died and how we might prevent others from dying. We should stop playing the role they’ve allotted us.
The irony of all of this is that by cultivating public "passivity" today, the elites are planting the seeds for a "medieval" reaction down the road.

At some point, the Islamists will conduct a mass casualty attack that crosses a line that should never be crossed. When that happens, and it will happen given our current trajectory, all the PC gibberish in the world will do nothing to stop a reaction that will be ferocious, and possibly, violent. Civil rights will go out the window, every Muslim will become suspect, and no Muslim will be granted entry to the West. Tribes will emerge and trust will be defined by the tribe one belongs to.

No one wants this, but the seeds that will yield that toxic fruit are being planted after every heinous Islamic terror event with every condescending warning for us not to be Islamophobic, for us to accept this new reality and be ever vigilant, but never angry. In the main body of this post, I noted that PC "has already and will again get people killed." Down the road, I fear that many of those people will be Muslims.

UPDATE-3
-----------------
Rod Liddle provides an angry summary of the PC drivel that has become standard in the immediate aftermath of yet another islamic terror incident. This from the British media post-Manchester:
"We must all come together. Hope, not hate. Nothing to do with Islam. Nothing to do with Muslims. Just a rogue individual, possibly in the employ of some mysterious foreign agency. Just terrorism, bad people. Unaligned wickedness. Nothing to do with religion. We must all come together. And show love. And solidarity. Hope not hate."
It occurs to me that the same Western leaders who tell us we must guard against Islamophobia, that the authorities cannot profile, that they cannot under any circumstances violate the civil rights of known Islamists on a terror watchlist are really telling us that they value the rights of known enemies of the West more than they value the lives of their own innocent men, woman, and children who die when the known Islamist kills.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The World Stage

As I sit and write this post, Donald Trump is in Israel giving the most supportive, pro-Israeli speech I have ever heard uttered by an American President. His talk is being presented only hours after a horrific Islamic terror attack in Manchester, England. The cowardly bomb attack killed 22 (many young children and teenagers) and injured over 50. Trump noted the attack as he expressed support for a strong Israel. As important, he identified Hamas and Hezballah for what they are—terror groups under the thrall of Iran. Trump talked peace, but expressed a realistic understanding of the neighborhood. It was impressive and after eight long years of passive-aggressive behavior toward Israel, long past due.

Two days earlier in Saudi Arabia, Trump emphasized that the battle between the West and groups like al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas and Hezballah is a battle of good vs. evil. The West experienced another installment of evil last night. It will not be the last that originates in a warped expression of Islam.

With the backdrop of yet another Islamic terror attack, the trained hamsters in the main stream media have cover as they ignore the rather significant success that Trump has already achieved in his first international trip. They'll cover the trip (they have no choice) but try to bury it amid the anguish of the aftermath in Manchester.

Rather than recounting the elements of Trump's success in both Saudi Arabia and Israel, it's worth considering the broader picture. James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal Opinion blog comments:
President Donald Trump’s Sunday address in Saudi Arabia was bound to inspire comparisons to the speech Barack Obama delivered in Cairo, Egypt at a similar point in his young presidency. And just like his predecessor, Mr. Trump expressed gratitude and respect for his hosts. But the 45th U.S. President quickly made clear that he did not fly to the Middle East on his first overseas trip in order to explain what’s wrong with America.

It would be a crude overstatement to say that the message has gone from America worst to America first in one presidency. Mr. Obama did speak favorably of his country several times during his Cairo address. But the difference between Barack Obama’s speech in 2009 and the Trump remarks on Sunday in Riyadh is striking.
In 2009, Barack Obama noted all of the reasons why Muslims might distrust Americans. His travels through the Middle East (he did not visit Israel) was aptly labeled the "apology tour."

Donald Trump was Obama's polar opposite—and I mean that as a complement. Again from Freeman:
In Riyadh on Sunday, President Trump spent no time blaming America or making excuses for our adversaries. But he did note the possibilities available to a Middle East that rejects terror:
The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.

But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence.

There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.
Mr. Trump added that “no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete” without mentioning the government that gives terrorists “safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.” And he left no ambiguity about who was responsible:
The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror. Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.
If I'm not mistaken, that would be the same Iran that Obama and his Democratic supporters rewarded with over 150 billion dollars in sanctions relief in a pathetic effort to establish "a nuclear non-proliferation deal" that will accomplish nothing in the long term.

In his speech this morning, Donald trump expressed admiration for the State of Israel and its leader, Bibi Netanyahu. That would be the same Israeli prime minister that Barack Obama repeatedly dissed. The same politician who Obama tried to defeat by funneling money and expertise to help Bibi's electoral opponents.

It was both amusing and fitting that Obama, who presiding over historic loses for his political party and whose legacy was rejected by American voters, is now a private citizen/"activist" lecturing us all on his view of "American values" while Bibi remains a force on the word stage. While Obama fades into the back pages of history books, it is Bibi Netayahu and Donald Trump who are the strongest, clearest voices against the Islamist atrocities perpetrated last night in Manchester.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Conversation

Over many years, I have suggested that it was long past the time that Western leaders speak frankly with Muslim leaders, suggesting that they have more than a little responsibility for the rise of Islamist groups and that it is up to them to both reform Islam and to eradicate groups like al Qaeda, ISIS, al Nusra and may more. George W. Bush was advised to take a more sanguine approach and foolishly, he followed that path. Islamist influence in the Muslim world grew. Barack Obama couldn't even utter the phrase "radical Islamic terror, much less speak frankly with the Muslim world. His perceived (actual?) weakness, coupled with his feckless approach to both allies and enemies in the Middle East, caused the Islamist threat to spread widely and grow by many multiples. His lack of action during the early days of the Syrian civil war was a contributing cause to the most significant refugee flow and humanitarian disaster in recent decades.

Along comes Donald Trump, who despite a partial blackout of his trip by the trained hamster of the mainstream media, is meeting with leaders of 50 Muslim countries. The hamsters stress the irony of this meeting noting that Trump, fearing Islamist sympathizers in the immigration flows, wanted to postpone unvetted immigration from a relatively small percentage of Muslim countries. What these hamster geniuses don't mention, is that Muslim leaders gave Donald Trump an impressive welcome and were perfectly willing to listen to his words at their meeting.

Say what you will about Trump, he's the first American president to have the courage to speak clearly to the Muslim world. To have what many of his opponents call "a conversation." A few snippets from his keynote address to the Muslim leadership:
"Drive Extremists Out Of Your Lands And Your Holy Places; "Drive Them Out!"

"When A Terrorist Falsely Invokes The Name Of God, It Should Be An Insult... To All That Is Holy"

"This Region Should Not Be A Place From Which Refugees Flee, But To Which Newcomers Flock"

"War Against Terrorism [is] "A Battle Between Good And Evil"

"Good and evil." OMG, that's oh so un-PC. After all, post-modern progressive ideology tries not to think about good and evil—it's so yesterday. After all, beheadings, immolation, or the kidnapping of young girls followed by horrific sexual abuse must have some underlying social justice cause.

Unfortunately, Trump didn't call for a Muslim reformation, but he most certainly did speak frankly, something that should be widely applauded in the West.

Of course, Trump Derangement Syndrome leads far too many members of the four constituencies to believe that unhinged allegations of "Russian collusion" are at least as serious as any atrocity committed by "violent extremists." And that the suggestion that maybe some unvetted Muslims should be barred entry across our borders is an unforgivable violation of social justice.

But wait! It appears that the leaders of 50 Muslim nations don't agree. They are honoring the man who suggested it, allowing him to provide a keynote address to a major gathering and otherwise interact with each leader. But what do they know? The anti-Trump forces within the four constituencies tell us it's all bad. Because the leaders of 50 Islamic countries don't seem to agree, you might be led to conclude that they're just know-nothing "deplorables."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Four Constituencies

In my last few posts (here and here), I've referred to the "four constituencies" that are working tirelessly to conduct a quasi-coup of a democratically-elected president. To reprise my first use of the term:
Over the first 140-plus days of his presidency, Donald Trump has been under vicious, unrelenting attack from: (1) Democrats who seeth over his upset victory and his un-PC, uncouth persona; (2) the Republican elites who are angry that he humiliated, insulted, and ultimately beat their chosen candidates; (3) the so-called "deep state"—government employees who are more than a little threatened when a politician has the guts to suggest that the swamp of mismanagement, waste, and corruption they have created might need to be drained, and of course, (4) a mainstream media whose left-leaning bias is so palpable that they truly have become what Glen Reynolds calls "Democratic operatives with bylines."

These four constituencies tell us that their attacks on Trump are driven by alarm over the Russian connection—the unhinged, evidence-free meme that Trump and/or his people worked with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. If nothing else, these past 140-plus days demonstrate the infamous statement of Nazi-propagandist Joseph Goebbels—"a lie repeated enough times becomes the truth." At this point, I have no doubt that countless members of each of the four constituencies actually believes the meme and becomes more hysterical about it with each passing day.
Let's consider each constituency in a little more detail:

The Media. Left wing writers have the unmitigated gall to suggest that the media is not biased to the left. Heatstreet reports on a recent study at Harvard University (certainly not a bastion of conservative thought):
A major new study out of Harvard University has revealed the true extent of the mainstream media’s bias against Donald Trump.

Academics at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzed coverage from Trump’s first 100 days in office across 10 major TV and print outlets.

It found that the tone of some outlets was negative in as many as 98% of reports, significantly more hostile than the first 100 days of the three previous administrations.
98 percent! That the media is an adjunct to the Democratic party is a given. That it is virulently anti-Trump is a fact. But here's the thing—there's no point in Trump continuously lamenting the media's animus. Better to consider it a constraint, to moderate and limit his words to give them less to pick apart; to uncover leakers and, when appropriate, prosecute them, and to avoid any comment on the on-going Special Counsel investigation. When the media becomes particularly vicious or biased (a frequent occurrence), they should be called out, but not by Trump himself).

The Deep State. There's a reason why zip codes in VA and MD are among the wealthiest in the nation. The deep state feeds the "beltway bandits" with billions of taxpayer dollars for what are often unnecessary and wasteful projects. When members of the deep state leave government, they double-dip with oerly generous pensions and then transition directly into the beltway bandit world and become rich themselves. When Trump says he wants to "drain the swamp," he threatens the gravy train, not to mention individual power centers and influence. He's a threat, and the deep state reacts by (1) leaking and/or (2) sabotaging lawful policies and orders that come from the administration.

The administration should work to remove known partisans by firing them (not easy) or 'promoting' them into dead end jobs where they have no access to information and can do no damage. I know that's wasteful, but there is no choice.

The Republican Elites. Donald Trump stupidly burned a lot of bridges and wounded a lot of fragile (and big) egos during the GOP primaries. He also represents much of the same threat to GOP (and Democrat) elites as he does to the deep state. The reaction of GOP elites to Trump is passive–aggressive. In this case, couples counseling is in order. Trump must react out, give a little (or maybe a lot); let the fragile egos (think McCain, Graham, etc.) know that he will give them sway over some policy directions and legislation. It will not be easy, but keeping his enemies close is the only rational approach.

The Democrats. Because they lost an election they were certain they would win, the Dems have become unhinged. There is nothing—nothing—that Trump can do to assuage their rage or their obsession with destroying his presidency. They should therefore be given no input into governance, and their continuous obstruction should be taken as a constraint, not as an insult. In a book I wrote on technology transition many years ago, I said this (paraphrasing):
"A transition to a new way of doing things will be resisted, sometimes passively but often aggressively. Try hard to convince the resisters to join in the transition, but if they refuse, work around or through them, staying focused on your goals. They many not be happy, but you can't please all of the people all of the time." 
Following this philosophy whenever possible, Trump and the GOP should act without the Democratic #Resistance. When necessary, the Dems should be called out in starkly political terms.

Donald Trump has many, many flaws. As I've noted over these first months of his presidency, his seems to be his own worst enemy. But he has been in office for just five months—10 percent of his presidency. If the four constituencies do not succeed in their quasi-coup, he has 90 percent of his first term to accomplish a few things that might actually benefit our country.

But the four constituencies don't want to give him a chance—they want him gone. We'll see how all of this plays out over the coming months.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Kill

Like vultures circling a wounded prey, the four constituencies I noted in my last post, are descending and moving ever closer for the kill. The media, now nothing more than an adjunct to the Democratic party, are unsatisfied to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller to do his investigative job. So-called "journalists" hyperventilate about every small discrepancy in "time lines," every inconsistency between what administration spokespeople say and what Trump (inadvisedly) later tweets, and every connection between Trump and Russians (no matter how far fetched, far removed and insignificant). The "Russian Collusion" meme will be served and to the obvious glee of the other three constituencies, the media will make sure it never, ever goes away.

Much of this feeding frenzy is Trump's fault. His imprecision, his seeming inability to use political common sense, much less political discipline, is astounding. Coupled with a combative personality, a coarse affect, and an inability to moderate his timing or his behavior, along with a seemingly superficial understanding of his circumstances, he makes political mistake after political mistake, destabilizing his administration and giving the four constituencies daily ammunition to bring him down.

Sadly, it seems that the Congress can only do one thing at a time, and right now, that thing is circling Trump for the kill. Meaningful and necessary reform to a broken healthcare system and a ridiculously complex and anti-growth tax system are unlikely because the vultures can only circle. A federal budget that can and should reduce the size of the federal government is DOA because any political capital that Trump had is now gone. Draining the swamp ... not a chance. Immigration reform ... never.

One can only wonder whether, given the same unhinged accusations from the four constituencies, Trump had moderated his behavior on January 20th. Instead of non-stop tweeting (often inaccurate, always imprecise, and rarely illuminating), he became more politically astute. Rather than whining about a witch hunt by the four constituencies (accurate, but beside the point) he acted like a leader, brushing off his opponents like insects and proceeding with his agenda. Rather than contradicting his spokespeople, he had the political acumen to back them up with a consistent story. Rather than picking fights with a series of lightweights, he realized that as president, those fights are beneath his office. Rather than worrying about crowd size or the polls, he did his job.

But of course none of that happened. Trump is Trump—a man with solid core policy ideas (e.g., grow the economy, secure the borders, stand firm with our enemies, support our allies, improve the lives of working people) who simply can't get out of his own way. As a consequence those ideas are unlikely to be fulfilled. Behind closed doors, the four constituencies shake their heads in amazement and quietly celebrate.

Can Trump recover and be a successful president? The chance of that happening becomes smaller by the week. It would be truly remarkable if he did. But then again it was truly remarkable that he upset Hillary Clinton, derailed the progressive juggernaut, and in so doing, made the heads of each of the four constituencies explode.

Maybe that's why an unprecedented level of vicious opposition is being leveled by the four constituencies. Deep down they remember the upset and they can't let it happen again. They're working every day feeding the memes that will allow them to get close enough for the kill.

UPDATE-1:
---------------

Let's take just one of the latest parts of the Russian collusion meme. Two days ago, the trained hamsters in the media, along with the other three constituencies discussed in my last post, hyperventilated about the claim, by unnamed sources, that Trump divulged something important to the Russians when he held a public meeting with them. Kurt Schlichter enumerates the things we'd have to believe to accept the validity of their hyperventilation:
[The strategy of the four constituencies] is brazen. It’s bold. It’s insulting to our intelligence. They aren’t even trying to hide their lies anymore. Truth is irrelevant; this is a choreographed dance routine and everyone has his moves. Call it Breakin’ 2: Electric Leakaroo, except instead of trying to save the community center they’re trying to save their power and prestige.

To buy the media narrative on this latest Russian nonsense, you must believe:

1. That whatever was revealed was super-secret, though we don’t know exactly what it was. When in doubt, assume it’s on par with the nuclear codes!

2. That there was no good reason to share this info with Russia, like coordinating our fight against our joint enemy or to prevent another Russian airliner massacre. Because why would we want another power fighting ISIS or civilians not to be blown out of the sky?

3. That LTG McMaster, who literally wrote the book on soldiers standing up to misbehaving civilian leaders and displayed immense personal courage in battle, turned chicken and sat there silently as Trump monologued about this unknown mystery info of doomsday-level import.

4. That LTG McMaster lied on camera. Twice. And that Secretary of State Tillerson lied too.

5. That random anonymous sources in an intelligence community that hates Trump with a burning passion must be believed without question, though we don’t know their identities or their motives.

6. That these anonymous randos must be believed, even though they were not actually in the room to, you know, actually hear what happened. The traditional bar on hearsay is apparently now just a bourgeois conceit.

7. That when the Washington Post and the rest of the media publishes classified stuff (including intelligence provided by allies) leaked by anyone not named “Donald Trump,” it’s awesome.

8. That the Washington Post and the rest of the media, which has been wrong over and over again in their reporting, are not wrong again.

9. That the Washington Post and the rest of the media are objective and have no anti-Trump bias, even though they are literally cheering the hits on the president.

10. That there are unicorns.
What!? Unicorns don't exist? Gosh ... here I thought that fantasy was the new progressive reality.

UPDATE-2:
---------------

Peggy Noonan comments on the machinations of the four constituencies:
Mr. Trump’s longtime foes, especially Democrats and progressives, are in the throes of a kind of obsessive delight. Every new blunder, every suggestion of an illegality, gives them pleasure. “He’ll be gone by autumn.”

But he was duly and legally elected by tens of millions of Americans who had legitimate reasons to support him, who knew they were throwing the long ball, and who, polls suggest, continue to support him. They believe the press is trying to kill him. “He’s new, not a politician, give him a chance.” What would it do to them, what would it say to them, to have him brusquely removed by his enemies after so little time? Would it tell them democracy is a con, the swamp always wins, you nobodies can make your little choices but we’re in control? What will that do to their faith in our institutions, in democracy itself?

These are wrenching questions.
The "obsessive delight" that we see as the media and politicians conduct an quasi-coup is like nothing I've seen in my lifetime. It goes beyond partisan politics and moves to the edge of sedition. Even those who question Trump's policies or his ability to lead effectively should be disgusted by the 'gotcha' tone the pervades the media, the unhinged and often hysterical reaction to even the most minor blunders, and the leaks that indicate that the deep state is more interested in protecting itself than the welfare of the nation.

If the media and political coup succeeds—and it might—there will be unintended collateral damage. I can only hope that that damage rains heavily on the constituencies that are cheering the coup on.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Toxic Brew

Over the first 140-plus days of his presidency, Donald Trump has been under vicious, unrelenting attack from: (1) Democrats who seeth over his upset victory and his un-PC, uncouth persona; (2) the Republican elites who are angry that he humiliated, insulted, and ultimately beat their chosen candidates; (3) the so-called "deep state"—government employees who are more than a little threatened when a politician has the guts to suggest that the swamp of mismanagement, waste, and corruption they have created might need to be drained, and of course, (4) the media whose left-leaning bias is so palpable that they truly have become what Glen Reynolds calls "Democratic operatives with bylines."

These four constituencies tell us that their attacks on Trump are driven by alarm over the Russian connection—the unhinged, evidence-free meme that Trump and/or his people worked with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. If nothing else, these past 140-plus days demonstrate the infamous statement of Nazi-propagandist Joseph Goebbels—"a lie repeated enough times becomes the truth." At this point, I have no doubt that countless members of each of the four constituencies actually believes the meme and becomes more hysterical about it with each passing day.

This hysteria coupled with venal partisan politics is a powerful, if toxic, brew. It has worked its magic. A special counsel, Robert Mueller, has been appointed to conduct an investigation of all things "Russian" and, as special counsels are wont to do, all "related matters." The four constituencies have won a significant victory. Trump is under siege, his agenda in tatters and his very presidency on the line.

The Dems, the GOP elites, the deep state, and the media are popping figurative bottles of champaign and congratulating themselves for bringing down the monster Trump. The economy is threatened, the stock market has reacted negatively, healthcare is at risk as Obamacare implodes, international threats abound, but the four constituencies don't care a whit—it's all about taking down Trump. The rest is acceptable collateral damage.

Everyone is singing the praises of Robert Mueller—a man with impeccable credentials and a history of high ethics. The right thing to do is to back off and let him conduct his investigation. But the four constituencies won't back off, prefering instead to add more poison to their toxic brew.

And what if Mueller finds (as I suspect he will) that "Russian collusion" is a mirage, that at very best, a few peripheral people had suspect financial dealings (with no direct connection to the presidential election) with the Russians that were far less egregious and potentially illegal than the quid pro quo payments made by Russians to the now defunct Clinton Foundation. What if he states that Trump and his people did NOT collude with the Russians. Will the four constituencies accept his findings or will they pick them apart? Will they find the one or two comments, buried deep in his report that connects a peripheral person to a Russian business deal and scream "impeachment?" We both know the answer to those questions.

So as the four constituencies congratulate themselves for this impressive exercise in power, regaining the power lost when their candidate was badly beaten in November, they should keep one thing in mind. In the swamps of Washington today, power is fleeting. The four constituencies should keep something else in mind as well. By conducting a political and media coup again this president, they have implicitly attacked the "deplorables"—the 60 million plus Trump voters. If they succeed in toppling Trump and nullifying a democratic vote, there will be a lot of angry people out there. That just might create a different toxic brew that will poison the the waters for a generation.

UPDATE:
------------------

The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment on the role of a special counsel:
The problem with special counsels, as we’ve learned time and again, is that they are by definition all but politically unaccountable. While technically Mr. Rosenstein [senior DoJ official who appointed Mueller) could fire Mr. Mueller if he goes too far, the manner of his appointment and the subject he’s investigating make him de facto untouchable even if he becomes an abusive Javert like Patrick Fitzgerald during the George W. Bush Administration.

What the country really needs is a full accounting of how the Russians tried to influence the election and whether any Americans assisted them. That is fundamentally a counterintelligence investigation, but Mr. Mueller will be under pressure to bring criminal indictments of some kind to justify his existence. He’ll also no doubt bring on young attorneys who will savor the opportunity to make their reputation on such a high-profile investigation.

Mr. Mueller has experience in counterintelligence and at 72 years old has nothing to prove. But he is also a long-time Washington player close to the FBI whose director was recently fired, and he is highly attuned to the political winds. As they say in Washington, lawyer up.
This is exactly what the four constituencies want and why they have achieved a great victory for themselves. Kudos for them. Sympathy for a country that needs to get meaningful things done.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Invisible

If a conspiracy theory supports the prevailing left-wing narrative, the trained hamsters in the main stream media will pursue with a vengeance. They've enabled the "Russian collusion" meme for many months, even though it was created by Democrats and has absolutely no evidence to support it. Try as they might, not a single major media organization has been able to break a bombshell story substantiating it. Because ... it's B.S.

Since conspiracies seem to be the rule of the day, let's think back about a year. Wikileaks released DNC emails that were extremely embarrassing to the Democrats. The emails indicated that the fix was in, and the DNC was not playing fair with Bernie Sanders. The leaks were attributed to "the Russians," a claim that was denied by Wikileaks. This was the beginning of the current "Russian collusion" meme—a false narrative that has been pushed 24-7 for almost a year.

At about the same time, a young DNC staffer, Seth Rich, was murdered in what DC police claim was a botched robbery. Maybe ... but nothing was stolen. Deborah Heine reports:
A private investigator is now claiming that police sources have told him that there is evidence on Rich's laptop that shows he was emailing WikiLeaks prior to his death. The sources also say that they were told to "stand down" on investigating the crime.
Marina Marraco provides details:
Rod Wheeler, a private investigator hired by the Rich family, suggests there is tangible evidence on Rich's laptop that confirms he was communicating with WikiLeaks prior to his death.

Now, questions have been raised on why D.C. police, the lead agency on this murder investigation for the past ten months, have insisted this was a robbery gone bad when there appears to be no evidence to suggest that.

Wheeler, a former D.C. police homicide detective, is running a parallel investigation into Rich’s murder. He said he believes there is a cover-up and the police department has been told to back down from the investigation.

"The police department nor the FBI have been forthcoming,” said Wheeler. “They haven't been cooperating at all. I believe that the answer to solving his death lies on that computer, which I believe is either at the police department or either at the FBI. I have been told both.”

When we asked Wheeler if his sources have told him there is information that links Rich to Wikileaks, he said, “Absolutely. Yeah. That's confirmed."
And yesterday, reporting by FoxNews provides an actual bombshell:
The federal investigator, who requested anonymity, said 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments between Democratic National Committee leaders, spanning from January 2015 through late May 2016, were transferred from Rich to [Gavin] MacFadyen [a now-deceased American investigative reporter, documentary filmmaker, and director of WikiLeaks who was living in London at the time] before May 21.

On July 22, just 12 days after Rich was killed, WikiLeaks published internal DNC emails that appeared to show top party officials conspired to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont from becoming the party’s presidential nominee. That controversy resulted in Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigning as DNC chairperson. A number of Sanders supporters refused to back party nominee Hillary Clinton, and some subsequently formed groups to work against Clinton and the party.
Interesting that the trained hamsters in the mainstream media have so little interest in this. After all, there has been a murder (fact) of a DNC staffer (fact); in Washington, DC (fact); there was a hack of the DNC (fact); the murdered DNC staffer did have a laptop computer (fact); the DC police did investigate (fact), yet no public discussion of its contents or who he communicated those contents to (fact). Now there's a leak (you know, the thing that the mainstream media truly does love when they're directed at the sitting president) providing actual email counts and destination, all implying that the murdered DNC staffer was behind the DNC "hack." You'd think WaPo would assign 10 reporters to ferret out the truth. That the alphabet networks would be all over this. That CNN and MSNBC would be outraged that there may be a coverup of the murder of a young innocent Democrat. Of course, if the Fox Report is accurate, the Russian collusion meme takes a hit ... so eyes are quickly averted.

And where's Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer? You know, the guy who keeps calling for a "special counsel" to "get to the bottom of Russian collusion. My goodness, you'd think a special counsel would be absolutely de rigour to "get to the bottom of this" cover-up of the DNC hack. His own party was violated, but Chuck doesn't seem to care.

Nah ... nothing to see here, move along. After all, evidence and fact-free conspiracy theories that make the GOP look bad are BIG news. But fact-based scandals and cover-ups that have the potential to make Democrats look bad are—invisible.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cynicism

Still another media leak (more on the probable leakers later) from The Washington Post alleges that Donald Trump divulged top secret information in a meeting with the Russians. Before going any further, let me stipulate that Trump's undisciplined bravado may very well be in play here, that he may have inadvertently said something that was off-script and that may have compromised some intelligence operation. That's unfortunate, but it's not a threat to our democracy or an error so egregious that it justifies the unhinged histrionics by all Democrats and the #Nevertrump GOP elites.

How do we know that the same thing hasn't happened dozens or even hundreds of times with past presidents—both Dem and GOP? Because during their terms in office, the intelligence community wasn't compromised with as many partisans that care only about crippling a president they clearly don't like.

As an example, on May 25, 2014, the same WaPo had this story on page one: “White House mistakenly identifies CIA chief in Afghanistan,” and just last year, the same WaPo had this story, “U.S. Offers to share Syrian intelligence on terrorist with Russia.” The Obama administration inadvertently leaked classified information and actively shared such information with the Russians. The world didn't come to an end, and the media hamsters spent little time on the stories.

So let's apply a little perspective. Every person in the room with Trump during the meeting with the Russian ambassador states that no compromising information was divulged. That includes people of substance who have served this country with distinction for decades. Are they liars? At least they have the cojones to put their names behind their statements—unlike the anonymous leakers who cannot be confronted and whose motivations are suspect at best.

Of course, it's more fun to believe WaPo and the anonymous leakers in the intelligence community who were not there but when briefed on the meeting rushed to leak the information. By the way, we're learning about this "blockbuster" leak from the same Washington Post that last week falsely reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had threatened to resign after the Comey memo (denied by Rosenstein himself). And the WaPo sources? Current and former Intelligence agency officials.

Charlie Martin comments:
Apparently, the Trump people did report to the NSA and CIA what they talked about with the Russians, and that some of it was highly classified. Following that, the story was leaked by "current and former U.S. officials," speaking anonymously, of course.

One thing we know -- since we know exactly who was in the meeting -- is that these "current and former officials" were not in the meeting. The second thing we know is that -- well, let's work backward a bit. "Current officials" work for the current administration. "Former officials" must have worked for some previous administration. Those would be the Obama administration, the Bush administration, the Clinton administration, and the previous Bush administration. Of course, of that list, only Obama administration officials are likely to still be cleared for anything like this, so it's a fair guess "former officials" means "former Obama administration officials."

So, rewriting the lede with this, we have: "President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, as reported by unnamed sources who are current officials, or who were Obama administration officials, and who were not present at the meeting."

Let's go further. Later in the story, it's reported:
Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

Okay, remember the emphasized part, and let's move to the next paragraph:
The Washington Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.

So, now what we know is that these anonymous sources were so alarmed about what Trump told the Russians that they immediately got in touch with Washington Post reporters and ... revealed the same information to them?

Okay, so now I'm getting a little bit suspicious.
Yeah, I think suspicion of the sources and of the reporting is justified. That doesn't mean the story is necessarily false, but it does mean that there's a clear agenda in the leaking and in the reporting. A little cynicism is in order.

AN ADDITIONALCOMMENT:
----------------

The #Nevertrumpers (many within the GOP elite) and #Resistance (pretty much all Democrats) are trying to conduct a slow motion coup in which they topple a duly elected president because they are offended by his style, his positions, and his actions. Aided and abetted by a media that despises Trump, they become hysterical about every leak, every tweet, and every action, suggesting that this president is a Russian puppet, the new incarnation of a fascist dictator, or an incompetent fool—maybe all three.

They are driven by media stories containing unattributed leaks that have become pervasive in the first months of Trump's presidency. The media has now jettisoned all semblance of objectivity and fairness and is at war with Trump. Every story is spun negative and anything positive is either not reported or buried on the figurative back pages.

The #Nevertrumpers and #Resistance are winning this battle, but they may very well lose the war. Because their hysteria is so pronounced, because their bias is so obvious, and because their innuendo and assertions are so ridiculous, they have already lost a significant segment of the public. They are, in an odd way, in a hole, and they are digging ever deeper.

The results of the past election were a giant middle finger targeted at the political and media elites who want to control our government, our culture, our economy, and our lives. Polls may not show this (just as they didn't show Trump's strength during the presidential campaign), but the coup that is being attempted may backfire.

Americans have an innate sense of fairness, empathy for an underdog (which Trump, amazingly, has become) and a common sense way of looking at opposition politicians and the claims they make. Voters in the center and the right may decide that a middle finger isn't enough, and react by voting out the Democrats who want the coup to happen. Heads exploded in 2016. If this despicable behavior continues (and that is a near certainty). those same heads may vaporize in 2018 and 2020.

UPDATE (5/17/2017):
------------------------

Molly Hemingway helps us understand just how inaccurate the WaPo has been in its rush to destroy the sitting president:
Previous Washington Post stories sourced to anonymous “officials” have fallen apart, including Josh Rogin’s January 26 report claiming that “the State Department’s entire senior management team just resigned” as “part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”

The story went viral before the truth caught up. As per procedure, the Obama administration had, in coordination with the incoming Trump administration, asked for the resignations of all political appointees. While it would have been traditional to let them stay for a few months, the Trump team let them know that their services wouldn’t be necessary. The entire story was wrong.

Rogin also had the false story that Steve Bannon had personally confronted Department of Homeland Security’s Gen. John F. Kelly to pressure him not to weaken an immigration ban. . . .

Each of these stories were explosive breaking news that served an anti-Trump narrative but later turned out to be false.

This week, the Washington Post reported that President Trump threatened national security during his meeting with Russians last week. The story was based on anonymous leaks regarding a real meeting that took place. The report was immediately slapped down as false by multiple high-level Trump officials who were present in the meeting.
Always consider the source. If an anonymous leak comes from the trained hamsters in the mainstream media, there's a non-trivial likelihood that it's fake news.

Special

In a continuation of the unhinged, nutty behavior being exhibited by almost every Democratic leader and a significant majority of the party's base, we now enter into a new realm. Best to consider their lunacy stepwise:
  1. The Dems have repeated their unsubstantiated, evidence-free allegations that someone, somewhere in the Trump campaign "colluded" with the Russians for many months.
  2. Now, they actually believe their own B.S.
  3. As a consequence of that wild-eyed belief, Senate leaders are demanding a "special counsel" to investigate allegations that only they have made—no crime, no evidence, no kidding.
  4. In essence, the Democrat Senate leaders are telling us that they have no faith in themselves or their colleagues, since the Senate has a bipartisan committee investigating the Russian connection.
  5. In addition, the Democrat Senate leaders are telling us they have no faith in the FBI, who is conducting the investigation of the allegations.
  6. But ... the Senate leaders are telling us they do have faith in their own allegations, even though they have no faith in their ability to investigate them.
It a lot like an Escher painting. Then again, no one every accused this crew of logical consistency.

The Dems want a "special counsel" because they really, really want this debacle to stretch into 2018 and beyond, crippling the Trump presidency and giving them an electoral advantage in the mid-terms. The editors of The Washington Examiner comment:
[Senate Minority Leader, Chuck] Schumer says he will try to block a new director of the FBI until Trump appoints a special counsel to investigate Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

It's obvious what Schumer sees to gain from this effort. It pleases the liberal base and serves Schumer's broader purpose of crippling an administration, making it ineffective, and then reaping the electoral rewards of complaining against a president who can get nothing done.

The Left pompously describes its truculence, conspiracy theorizing, and obstruction as "resistance," which conveniently carries an echo of anti-Nazi activities during the Second World War, and thus tarnishes Trump just a little bit more.
It's a great political strategy—cynical, dishonest, and venal—but in its own way, it does work—just not for the country.

UPDATE:
-------------

A rather harsh, but in my view 100 percent accurate assessment of all of this is offered by Patricia McCarthy:
The national media and the Democratic Party have gone stark raving mad over President Trump's election victory; they refuse to accept it. Their paroxysms of fury are evident all day long on every network and cable news outlet and every mainstream newspaper. Since Nov. 8, they have leapt like a swarm of remoras onto a whale proclaiming every little thing that they think might take the man down. Hillary's team concocted the "Russia collusion" hoax within twenty-four hours of her defeat. Everyone knows this! Hillary is the one with all the Russia connections; lots of them, all financially benefitting her personal foundation. They, the media, have come up with numerous other schemes with which to attack Trump: taxes, emoluments, tweets, family, even his ice cream servings.

The Democrats in Congress dutifully follow suit like Pavlov's dogs. They care not a whit whether their charges are based in fact. Hence, "fake news." The mainstream media folk invented it, this "resistance," and they are running with it, day after day after day. They devised the game plan, and they are sanctimonious in their defense of it. Like the Russia meme they keep peddling, they go at it from every angle in the pitiable belief that they can convince the American people that they elected the wrong person.
As I said at the conclusion of my post: "It's a great political strategy—cynical, dishonest, and venal—but in its own way, it does work—just not for the country."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Disinformation

You read it here first ... The Democratic party has colluded with the Russians to undermine the political process in the United States and at the same time, erode trust in government and our electoral process.

What? Wait! The Democrats?? For the past five months we've been told that Donald Trump and his minions have "colluded with the Russians" and that's the reason Hillary Clinton lost the election. The bright lights in the Democratic party and their trained hamsters in the media keep hammering this meme until it has become accepted wisdom. So, how can I make the assertion in the first paragraph.

Since the 1960s, the Russians have conducted what many call a "disinformation campaign" focused on Western institutions. Wikipedia explains:
Historically the word "disinformation" has been reserved for a body of false information propagated at the state and state secret services level but in recent times it has a looser meaning in English relating to propaganda, fake news or a body of lies by any organisation and possibly any individual.

Based on clear and compelling historical evidence, Russian attempts to interfere in our institutions, including elections, is nothing new. In fact, it's absolutely predictable. What is new is the unhinged meme, developed with absolutely no evidence to support it, that Donald Trump and his campaign worked with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton.

A Trump campaign operative works with the Russians 10 years ago—it's collusion!! A appointee meets with a Russian representative to prepare for the transition of power in the U.S, it's collusion!! A supporter of Trump does business in Russia—it's collusion!! What is is ... is nuts.

But not for the Dems and not for their trained hamsters in the media. Although there is no evidence of any crime, the Dems take their nutty (but effective) meme and advance it every day. Andrew McCarthy writes:
“We know [former FBI] Director Comey was leading an investigation in [sic] whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, a serious offense.” So inveighed Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D. N.Y.), according to a report by PJ Media’s Bridget Johnson. Senator Schumer added, “If there was ever a time when circumstances warranted a special prosecutor, it is now.”

No, it’s not ...

You don’t need a prosecutor unless you first have a crime.

If the point of the exercise is to explore threats posed by Russia, that’s not a job for a prosecutor; it is a job for the president, the intelligence agencies, and Congress. We have prosecutors to prosecute crime; absent crime, there is no place for them. And special prosecutors only come into the picture when the suspects are people (generally, executive branch officials) as to whom the Justice Department has a conflict of interest. But those suspects must be suspects in a crime – not just in some untoward or sleazy form of behavior.

So what is the crime? What is the federal criminal offense that could be proved in a court of law under governing law and evidentiary rules?

“Collusion” – the word so tirelessly invoked – is not a crime. It is used pejoratively, but it is just a word to describe concerted activity. Concerted activity can be (and usually is) completely legal. Lots of unsavory activity in which people jointly participate is legal, even if we frown on it. In order to be illegal, concerted activity must rise to the level of conspiracy.

A conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime. Not to do something indecorous or slimey; it must be something that is actually against the law, something that violates a penal statute. In the crim-law biz, the crime that conspirators agree to try to accomplish is known as “the object of the conspiracy.” If the object is not against the law, there is no conspiracy – no matter how much “collusion” there is.

So, in the ballyhooed “Russia investigation,” what is the object of the purported conspiracy? Notice that although Senator Schumer casually asserts that “a serious offense” has been committed, he does not tell us what that offense is.

That’s because there isn’t one.
But let's return to the first paragraph of this post. By wailing about "collusion" and suggesting the high crimes have been committed, the Democrats have been truly successful in eroding support for Trump and stopping his agenda from being instituted. I'm sure they celebrate their success in private, laughing (as Obamacare consultant Jonathan Gruber once did) that the public is "stupid" enough to believe their lies. That's politics.

But there has been collateral damage. By pushing this unhinged meme, the Dems have also succeeded in eroding trust in government and creating mistrust of those who have been elected to serve. The Dems are happy about that, thinking that when they are re-elected they will ride in on their white hourse and save the day.

It doesn't work like that. Once trust is gone, once cynicism becomes ingrained, once the media can no longer be counted on the winnow out political nonsense, the country is in trouble.

The Dems and their media hamsters are doing the Russians' job for them—doubling down on the idea that disinformation is a worthwhile strategy as long as it serves their needs. Whether they realize it or not, the Dems are colluding with the Russians, and the Russian are laughing are their naive stupidity.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Abominable

Like its sister countries in Scandinavia, Denmark is classically liberal. It has opened its doors to immigrants from many countries and in the recent past, has allowed hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants to make their home in Denmark. Of the close to 300,000 Muslims that live in Denmark (representing about 5 percent of the population), about 40 percent have been and are asylum seekers. It's also worth mentioning that during World War II, Denmark worked hard to protect Jews who were being systematically exterminated by the Nazis. For the record, Jews represent less that 1/10th of 1 percent of the Danish population.

Progressives in the USA (and I suspect, in Denmark) tell us repeatedly that Islamism and all of its tenets—terrorism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, etc.—have "nothing to do with Islam." That astounding contention represents a worldview based on fantasy.

Yahoo News (AFP) reports:
Copenhagen (AFP) - Denmark's Jewish community has filed a complaint over an imam accused of calling for the murder of Jews in a case sparking political opprobrium, it emerged Thursday.

Imam Mundhir Abdallah preaches in the working class Copenhagen suburb of Norrebro at the Masjid Al-Faruq mosque, which media have previously linked to radical Islam.

He stands accused of citing a hadith or koranic narrative on March 31 calling for Muslims to rise up against Jews.

"Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them," begins Abdallah's address in footage on YouTube, according to a transcript of the original Arabic provided by US organisation the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, the head of the Jewish community in Denmark, urged police to open an investigation into a possible case of incitement to racial hatred.

"We fear that weak and easily-influenced persons could interpret this kind of preaching as an appeal to visit acts of violence or terror on Jews," Asmussen told the Politiken daily.

Minister of immigration and integration, Inger Stojberg, described the imam's address as "horrible, anti-democratic and abominable".
Imagine for just a moment what would happen if, say, an Israeli Rabbi suggested that Jews go out and kill Muslims living in Israel (yes ... unlike Muslim countries throughout the Middle East, Muslims do live in peace in Israel). The international Left would be crazed, demanding (to use their disgusting terminology) that the "aparteid state" be boycotted, divested, and sanctioned. BTW, it's worth mentioning the Christians and Jews are fleeing* predominantly Mulsim countries in the Middle East.

But on this story coming out of Demark, not a peep—crickets. After all, Islam is the religion of peace, so what's to worry about?

When the Left looks the other way as many within Islam and more than a few of its religious and political leaders advocate the extermination of Jews, not to mention the defeat of all infidels, and the subjugation of woman and gays, we see a level of hypocrisy that isn't surprising, given the source, but is quite dangerous. That, as much as the Danish Imam's comments is "horrible, anti-democratic and abominable."

FOOTNOTE:
-----------------

* Maria Abi-Habib reports from Egypt:
TANTA, Egypt—Like the Jews before them, Christians are fleeing the Middle East, emptying what was once one of the world’s most-diverse regions of its ancient religions.

They’re being driven away not only by Islamic State, but by governments the U.S. counts as allies in the fight against extremism.

When suicide bomb attacks ripped through two separate Palm Sunday services in Egypt last month, parishioners responded with rage at Islamic State, which claimed the blasts, and at Egyptian state security...

By 2025, Christians are expected to represent just over 3% of the Mideast’s population, down from 4.2% in 2010, according to Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass. A century before, in 1910, the figure was 13.6%. The accelerating decline stems mostly from emigration, Mr. Johnson says, though higher Muslim birthrates also contribute ...

The exodus leaves the Middle East overwhelmingly dominated by Islam, whose rival sects often clash, raising the prospect that radicalism in the region will deepen. Conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have erupted across the Middle East, squeezing out Christians in places such as Iraq and Syria and forcing them to carve out new lives abroad, in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.

“The disappearance of such minorities sets the stage for more radical groups to dominate in society,” said Mr. Johnson of the loss of Christians and Jews in the Middle East. “Religious minorities, at the very least, have a moderating effect.”
Gosh, you'd think that the Social Justice Warriors of the Left who are oh-so concerned about Islamophobia in the USA might express just a teeny bit of concern for Muslim religious bigotry that may very well lead to an essentially Jew- and Christian-free Middle East. Nah ... nothing to see there, move along.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Drain the Swamp

Like most things that Donald Trump says, his mantra "Drain the Swamp" is notably imprecise. Does he mean that he wants to rid the government of corrupt, overpaid officials, or does he mean that he wants to help the taxpayers in eliminating massive fraud and abuse that pervade most government agencies and federal programs, or does he mean that he wants to downsize the federal government, eliminating many unnecessary positions (by not filling them when they are vacated via resignation or retirement), or does he mean he wants to eliminate entire federal agencies that have outlived their usefulness, are redundant, or simply waste the taxpayers' money? I hope the answer to my very long, multipart question is: YES.

Big Intrusive Government (BIG), the ideological cornerstone of the Democratic party, is the "swamp." It needs to be drained in many ways.

No matter who is in power, BIG grows, increasing the national debt, intruding on our liberties, getting in the way of innovation, and generally acting as a nanny when citizens should rely on themselves, their friends, associates, and family. BIG officials and the politicians that control them give out freebies for votes. And the bureaucracy grows bigger and richer every day.

Norman Leahy reports on the current compensation for federal employees:
A new report from the Congressional Budget Office translates [overall employee compensation] into dollars and cents. While federal employees tend to receive lower salaries than their counterparts in the private sector, they enjoy far more generous benefits. As a result, the CBO reports that federal workers receive “17 percent more in total compensation.”

For the government’s 2.2 million civilian workers, that added up to $215 billion in fiscal year 2016, an average of more than $97,000 per person in wages and benefits. In comparison, a December 2016 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated average compensation for private sector workers: $68,141 per year.

No college degree? No big deal. The CBO reports that federal employees with a high school education or less earn 53 percent more than their private sector peers. Even those federal workers with more education, up to a bachelor’s degree, receive 21 percent more in total compensation.

It is only at the highest education levels – those with graduate degrees – that private sector workers fare better than civil servants. For this group, total private sector compensation is 18 percent higher than it is for federal employees.
But of course, the service we get from our federal employees is so, so good that they deserve better pay, even more job stability, and amazing that us poor slobs in the private sector can only imagine. After all, federal employees are measured carefully on customer service, on productivity, and on the direct benefit they provide to their organization. They work super hard to reduce spending and improve the bottom line for their organization. They never adopt a spend-it-or-lose-it attitude toward budgets. They ... wait ...

All of that happens in the private sector. In the public sector, almost no one cares about budgetary restraint, redundancy, suboptimal performance, incompetence, or anything else that really matters. Instead far too many federal managers worry instead about growing their fiefdom and enhancing their power, while line employees may have the right intent, but recognize that they are immune from any real accountability or discipline.

There is something wrong with this picture and even a half-hearted attempt at "draining the swamp" should be applauded.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Politically Questionable

In a way, I feel sorry for James Comey, the past Director of the FBI who yesterday was summarily fired by Donald Trump. Comey appears to have been a decent and ethical man who was put in an untenable situation by a Loretta Lynch, Barack Obama's Attorney General. Lynch met surreptitiously with Bill Clinton, the husband of a woman who was under FBI investigation. After recusing herself from the Clinton email investigation, Comey thought he was the guy who had to step forward to communicate with the public. In so doing, he exceeded his role, infuriated both Dems by (correctly) castigating Clinton for wrong doing, and then infuriating the GOP by not referring her case for criminal prosecution. This occurring under the cloud of a bitter presidential campaign.

If Barack Obama was a better, more competent president he would have fired Loretta Lynch immediately and replaced her with someone within DoJ who could properly communicate with the public. Instead, it appears that Obama allowed Comey to be a fall guy.

The editors of The Wall Street Journal comment:
President Trump fired James Comey late Tuesday, and better now than never. These columns opposed Mr. Comey’s nomination by Barack Obama, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director has committed more than enough mistakes in the last year to be dismissed for cause.

Mr. Trump sacked Mr. Comey on the advice of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a former U.S. Attorney with a straight-up-the-middle reputation who was only recently confirmed by the Senate. In a memo to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Mr. Rosenstein cited Mr. Comey’s multiple breaches of Justice Department protocol in his criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material.

The FBI isn’t supposed even to confirm or deny ongoing investigations, but in July 2016 Mr. Comey publicly exonerated Mrs. Clinton in the probe of her private email server on his own legal judgment and political afflatus. That should have been the AG’s responsibility, and Loretta Lynch had never recused herself.

“It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote. “The Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.”

Mr. Rosenstein added that at his July 5 press appearance Mr. Comey “laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

Then, 11 days before the election, Mr. Comey told Congress he had reopened the inquiry. His public appearances since have become a self-exoneration tour to defend his job and political standing, not least to Democrats who blame a “Comey effect” for Mrs. Clinton’s defeat. Last week Mr. Comey dropped more innuendo about the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia in testimony to Congress, while also exaggerating the new evidence that led his agents to reopen the Clinton file.

For all of these reasons and more, we advised Mr. Trump to sack Mr. Comey immediately upon taking office. The President will now pay a larger political price for waiting, as critics question the timing of his action amid the FBI’s probe of his campaign’s alleged Russia ties. Democrats are already portraying Mr. Comey as a liberal martyr, though last October they accused him of partisan betrayal.
Predictably, the trained hamsters in the media took no time to accuse Trump of Nixonian maneuvers immediately after the firing. But what else is new?

Sadly, accusations of Russian collusion don't need to be fact-based (and they are not). The Democrat base clings to this fantasy in order to somehow justify the party's stunning loss to a man whom they despise. They now have still another incident to use as justification for their unhinged accusations of collusion and "cover-up. For that reason alone, Trump's move in firing Comey was politically questionable.

UPDATE:
----------------

Chris Stirewalt gets it just about right when he criticizes Donald Trump's handling of the Comey firing. He writes:
One thing that is not in doubt is that the managerial and leadership efforts on display [by Trump] in the past day were dreadful:

- The letter Trump sent undercutting his own rationale for firing Comey by mentioning the Russia probe.

- The comically bad timing of firing Comey the evening before Trump was to meet with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S.

- The lack of coherent message or available messengers after the news broke.

- The failure to adequately brief senior Republicans and members of key committees about the move.

- And, maybe most of all, the petty, vengeful-seeming way in which Comey was notified.

Again, Trump had every right and reason to cashier Comey. Even if doing so was in contradiction to Trump’s prior praise to the celebrity-law man for having hobbled Clinton’s presidency, it was still within bounds.
In this case, the clown show is the Trump administration.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Clown Show

For the moment at least, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates (she served in that capacity for eight days) is the Wonder Woman of the democratic left. Her testimony before Congress was clear and concise, believable, and well structured. And for that, she deserves credit for honesty and balance.

But what Yates told the Senate subcommittee was already well-known. Although every Democrat inquisitor made dark allusions to the truly unhinged meme that Trump and the Russians colluded to defeat Hillary Clinton, there wasn't one scintilla of evidence offered to support their position. Neither she nor former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper could confirm their veiled accusations of collusion.

The editors of the New York Post summarize:
Clapper did say that the Russians have been trying to interfere with US elections since the ’60s and now “must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations.” But he offered zero evidence that Russian meddling had actually shifted any votes.

And he admitted that Moscow launched cyber attacks “against both political parties.” Yes, he claimed that no “Republican-related data” was released, but in fact the leaks of Democratic e-mails included the party’s “opposition research” file on Trump.
Does any thinking person actually believe that if there was evidence of collusion it would not have been leaked in the past 100 days, or for that matter in the 100 days leading up to the election. The white-hot hatred of Trump within Democratic ranks is so pronounced that someone, someplace within the government would have taken the risk and leaked the smoking gun.

The problem for Democrats is that there is no smoking gun. In fact, it appears that there is no evidence of collusion whatsoever ... because ... it appears there was no collusion. Of course, that really doesn't matter. Keeping "the Russian" connection in the news (the trained hamsters in the media lap it up) allows the Dems to hurt the credibility of this administration, focus public attention away from important issues (like the on-going collapse of Obamacare), and hope to erode any support that Trump may have. It actually might work.

And Michael Flynn? Yes, it does appear he did some unethical things, but did he collude with the Russians to unseat Hillary? Not one piece of evidence indicates anything of the sort. You'd think that the now disgraced Flynn had worked within the Trump administration for three years as opposed for three weeks (before he was fired). You'd think that he negotiated the catastrophically bad Iran deal in 'collusion' with the Mullahs (oops, sorry that was John Kerry under the direction of national security advisor Susan Rice) or decided to topple Mohamar Kaddaffi in Libya and create a failed state (oops, that was done in 'collusion' with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) or advise the past president that ISIS represented no significant threat to the US referring to them as "the JV team," (nuts, that doesn't work either). Comically, Flynn worked for Obama for a far longer time than he worked for Trump.

Heh. What a clown show!

Monday, May 08, 2017

Cuba

Venezuela has descended into a nightmare landscape that commonly results when a once prosperous and vital country becomes a socialist state. In Venezuela, socialist Nicholas Maduro (Chezar Chavez' successor) has ruined the economy, allowed infrastructure to crumble, oppressed anyone who opposed him. With recent news of massive unrest and chaos, Venezuela has become a failed state, but many progressives refuse to reflect honestly on the reasons why and continue to promote the idea of a socialist utopia.

But Venezuela in not alone in our part of the world. Consider Cuba. The Cuban revolution is close to 60 years old and is therefore yet another valid test of the notion of a socialist utopia. Many believed that Fidel Castro's death would lead to profound change, but his brother, Raul, tightened the grip of the communist government and life remains the same—shortages of virtually everything from food to gasoline to medical goods; corruption at the government level and a thriving black market that allows Cubans to survive at a human level; Annika Hernroth-Rothstein recently visited Cuba and reports:
One thing that sets Cuba apart from other totalitarian regimes is the romance that surrounds it, still, despite the thousands of extrajudicial executions and arbitrary imprisonments, a ruined national economy, and denial of basic freedoms of association, religion, movement, and speech having taken place in the past 58 years. Even those who do not hold an ideological torch for the communist revolution are still enchanted with the country's beauty, charm, and lust for life, making it easier to disregard the daily crimes committed against its people and quell the international community's instinct to intervene.

Cuba is truly magical, and yes, it is full of life, but once you step outside of the lush hotel garden you see that it is life on the brink of death, magic existing in a state of suspended animation.

There are several shadow-societies existing side by side in Cuba, and through these the population has come to function and survive, with very limited resources and freedoms.

This is made possible by the geographical and cultural proximity to the U.S., loosening of sanctions and the idea of Cuba being kept alive through and by the booming Cuban tourism industry. This process is quietly supported by the regime itself because, ironically, the only way for the communist revolution to survive is by covert capitalism, keeping the population from starvation, and turning a blind eye to this keeps the oppressive communist regime from having to admit defeat.
Living and working in South Florida, I come into contact with Cubans every day. They are the very best of what immigrant generations bring to our country—industrious, enthusiastic, and over time, successful at what they do. They have kept their culture and traditions, but effectively integrated into America. They are a net positive for all of us.

I have to believe that someday, the Cuban people will break free of the socialistas who have forced them into poverty and corruption. Cuba won't become like the USA, but its people will create a political/economic system that rewards individual initiative, allowing them to keep the fruits of their labor, reducing the corruption that is now so common, and continuing to allow them and us to be "enchanted with the country's beauty, charm, and lust for life."

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The Game Plan

Why is it, I wonder, that the "journalists" in the main stream media never—and I mean never—question the current leaders of the Democratic party on the devolving situation in Venezuela. After all, the current hard-left leadership—Bernie Sanders, Liz Warren, Keith Ellison, Tom Perez, among many others—has and continues to advocate policies for the United States that are eerily similar to early policies that were originally proposed by Hugo Chavez, the socialist who led Venezuela along a path to economic and social destruction. Here's what Chavez' game plan was:
  1. Demonize "the rich," telling everyone else that it's all their fault.
  2. Tax "the rich" at rates that become confiscatory.
  3. When the rich begin to leave, tax the next level of earners; rename them, "The Rich."
  4. Claim that a redistribution of income will help the poor.
  5. Provide giveaways to the poorest to buy their support, but do nothing that actually change their situation.
  6. As money begins to run out, allow infrastructure to crumble.
  7. As money continues to run out, raise taxes even more.
  8. As money continues to run out, cut services for the poor as well as everyone else.
  9. Regulate all industry, thereby crippling productivity.
  10. When that doesn't work, suggest that the government can do a better job than the private sector.
  11. As things go to hell, nationalize private industry.
  12. As things get even worse, manipulate the currency and institute price controls.
  13. As critics begin to question failing policies, weaponize the government against them.
  14. As riots begin, brutalize your opponents and even kill them.
And it only get worse from there.

It would be interesting to hear Sanders or Warren try to explain how the socialist experiment in Venezuela went wrong, but the trained hamsters in the media never ask. In fact, they work very hard to avoid any mention of our South American neighbor, afraid that at least some of their readers/viewers might connect the dots on their own.

Juan Forero reports:
YARE, Venezuela— Jean Pierre Planchart, a year old, has the drawn face of an old man and a cry that is little more than a whimper. His ribs show through his skin. He weighs just 11 pounds.

His mother, Maria Planchart, tried to feed him what she could find combing through the trash—scraps of chicken or potato. She finally took him to a hospital in Caracas, where she prays a rice-milk concoction keeps her son alive.

“I watched him sleep and sleep, getting weaker, all the time losing weight,” said Ms. Planchart, 34 years old. “I never thought I’d see Venezuela like this.”

Her country was once Latin America’s richest, producing food for export. Venezuela now can’t grow enough to feed its own people in an economy hobbled by the nationalization of private farms, and price and currency controls.
As readers of this Blog know, I revisit the Venezuelan catastrophe regularly. Sadly, it keeps getting worse. That's a lesson that the current collection of bright lights (dim bulbs?) of the Democratic party can't seem to learn.

UPDATE (5/8/17):
------------------------
Even thought the main stream media has to report on the collapse of Venezuela, many of the trained hamsters assidulously avoid any mention of the reason why the collapse has occurred. Tom Bumer reports:
NBC News's 1,600-word report by Peter Cahill and Laura Saravia Saturday morning was supposed to be an explainer ("Venezuela Protests and Economic Crisis: What Is Going On?"). Unfortunately, it mostly reads like a dispatch from two people who haven't followed the country's news at all since the turn of the century who are desperately, and ineffectively, trying to play catch-up.

Despite their claim that their report "breaks down what led to the turmoil, what could come next, and why it matters to America," readers only see a recitation of Venezuela's recent woes, and barely get any legitimate clue as to their origin. Here are the pair's first three paragraphs, followed by a later one:
Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering from a deep recession and hyper-inflation. Prices rose by 800 percent in 2016, with the International Monetary Fund predicting inflation could hit 2,200 percent by the end of 2017. Meanwhile, the economy shrunk by 18.6 last year, according to Reuters.

At the same time, food and medicine shortages are creating a humanitarian emergency. Shoppers, forced to wait in long lines to buy basic supplies, are often met by empty grocery shelves. Hospitals are suffering from acute shortfalls of everything from antibiotics, to basic sanitation equipment like medical gloves and soap.

The current protests were triggered by a Supreme Court decision to strip power from the National Assembly, the opposition-held Congress — a move widely thought to be aimed at concentrating power in the hands of Maduro's increasingly unpopular government.

... Gustavo Arnavat, senior advisor at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, told NBC News that these conditions "have produced a political and constitutional crisis that are precipitating the complete collapse of the state."
Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering from a deep recession and hyper-inflation. Prices rose by 800 percent in 2016, with the International Monetary Fund predicting inflation could hit 2,200 percent by the end of 2017. Meanwhile, the economy shrunk by 18.6 last year, according to Reuters.

At the same time, food and medicine shortages are creating a humanitarian emergency. Shoppers, forced to wait in long lines to buy basic supplies, are often met by empty grocery shelves. Hospitals are suffering from acute shortfalls of everything from antibiotics, to basic sanitation equipment like medical gloves and soap.

The current protests were triggered by a Supreme Court decision to strip power from the National Assembly, the opposition-held Congress — a move widely thought to be aimed at concentrating power in the hands of Maduro's increasingly unpopular government.

... Gustavo Arnavat, senior advisor at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, told NBC News that these conditions "have produced a political and constitutional crisis that are precipitating the complete collapse of the state."
As I explained in my post, "The Meta-characteristics of Fake News," fake news is more than posting stories that are false. Those are relatively easy to debunk. Much more insidious is the fake news that omits key facts that would help members of the public better understand context. Invariably, the trained hamsters do this when key facts might lead the news consumer to come to a conclusion that runs counter to their left-wing narrative. In the case of Venezuela, that means spiking any reference to the underlying cause—a corrupt socialist ideology—that has destroyed a once vibrant country.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Stumbling Forward

Progressives and their trained hamsters in the media continually tell us of their extreme concern for: (1) people with pre-existing conditions, (2) the millions that will "lose" insurance if Obamacare is ultimately repealed, (3) the threat to medicaid holders, (4) an attempt to provide more state control of healthcare, and (5) the "heartlessness" of the evil GOP and its attempt to develop a healthcare bill that is actually workable over the long term.

But here's the thing. Just this week, Aetna announced that it is leaving the Virginia health insurance marketplace, leaving its policy holders scrambling to find coverage from a dwindling number of high-cost insurers. Aetna follows dozens of other insurance companies that have lost hundreds of millions of dollars under Obamacare (even with government subsidies) and are now opting out of the system.

So here's the thing: Why are the same progressives who get the vapors over any attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare not expressing the same concern for the same people with pre-existing conditions, (2) the millions that actually will "lose" insurance, the real threat to medicaid recipients, and the extreme stress put on state budgets when Obamacare inevitably fails. If there's no insurance to be had in Iowa, or Virginia, or other states with dwindling Obamacare coverage, tens of millions will lose their insurance. No. Matter. What.

But the Democrats seem unconcerned. It seems that they'd rather fight to sustain broken healthcare legislation that is failing (even Dems admit this covertly when they say we need to "fix" Obamacare's problems) than work with the GOP and Donald Trump. #Resistance will make the moral preening crowd feel good about itself, but it won't do much for the single mother in Iowa whose health insurance company just informed her it's leaving the state.

The Wall Street Journal comments:
That status quo [Obamacare] is deteriorating as this week’s decision by Aetna to withdraw from Virginia’s health exchanges shows. Republicans need to act within weeks to clarify the rules of the individual insurance market for 2018. The lobby for the insurance industry issued a generally supportive statement on House passage, which offers some hope that congressional action can forestall a market collapse. Republicans will be blamed for that collapse whether or not they pass repeal and replace.

A word about the legislative process and political hypocrisy. Democrats and the media are howling that Republicans passed their bill before the Congressional Budget Office issued its final score of the budget and insurance impact. They have a point, but anyone voting Thursday had ample time to understand the policy choices.

As for CBO’s score, really? We don’t recall the same media concern for budget exactitude when Democrats rammed through ObamaCare on a partisan vote with more gimmicks than a traveling carnival. Remember the Class Act on long-term care that gilded the deficit numbers until it was quickly repealed? And don’t forget the government takeover of the student-loan market that was packaged with ObamaCare because CBO said it would save taxpayers money. Now loan defaults are bleeding red ink.
After eight year of profligate spending that doubled the national debt under the past administration, it is truly amusing to watch Democrats suddenly expressing concern for the debt and demanding CBO scoring for every action taken by a GOP-controlled congress. Just wait until tax reform moves forward.

The House vote yesterday does not create new legislation. Obamacare is the law of the land and will remain so as it stumbles forward. The Senate should take its time and make appropriate modifications to the House bill. The House-Senate conference should do likewise. In the meantime, #Resistance damn well better hope that Obamacare doesn't fully implode—leaving millions with no insurance and few options.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Puerto Rico

As a quasi-media representative of the Democratic party, The New York Times shills for bigger and bigger spending policies, attacks the GOP when it tries, often in vain, to make budget cuts, calls Republicans "heartless" when they try to reduce the massive taxpayer costs associated with Obamacare subsidies, and on and on. Today, the NYT reports:
With its creditors at its heels and its coffers depleted, Puerto Rico sought what is essentially bankruptcy relief in federal court on Wednesday, the first time in history that an American state or territory had taken the extraordinary measure.

The action sent Puerto Rico, whose approximately $123 billion in debt and pension obligations far exceeds the $18 billion bankruptcy filed by Detroit in 2013, to uncharted ground.

While the court proceedings could eventually make the island solvent for the first time in decades, the more immediate repercussions will likely be grim: Government workers will forgo pension money, public health and infrastructure projects will go wanting, and the “brain drain” the island has been suffering as professionals move to the mainland could intensify.

Puerto Rico is “unable to provide its citizens effective services” because of the crushing weight of its debt, according to a filing on Wednesday by the federal board that has supervised the island’s financial affairs since last year.
Puerto Rico has been reliably Blue for decades. The U.S. territory spent freely and without concern for the consequences; it's Democratic leaders acquiesced as public sector unions demanded higher pensions, kicking the can down the road (does any of this sound familiar?)

Now, small, family owned businesses who contracted to the Puerto Rican government will be stiffed; bond-holders will be screwed, and pension holders will get the shaft. I'd say that's pretty "heartless" and its all a consequence of irresponsible Democratic governance, blindly supported by citizens who believed empty promises made by elected officials.

It is amusing to have the NYT write that Puerto Rico is “unable to provide its citizens effective services because of the crushing weight of its debt" while contemporaneously condemning any attempt to save states and federal government from the same fate down the road. I'm also certain that the Times will lobby to have taxpayers bail out Puerto Rico. I hope that the Congress refuses to do. There must be moral hazard in this case. It will serve as a warning to states like IL, CT, and CA, among others.

But then again, consistency, critical thinking, and fiscally responsible governance are not a big part of the progressive playbook.