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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The DNC Hack - Part II

It would be impossible to argue that Salon is anything but a Left-wing publication and website, and yet, like their compatriots at The Nation, they have had the courage to question the DNC "hack" story. In a follow-up article, entitled "What if the DNC Russian “hack” was really a leak after all? A new report raises questions Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media would rather ignore", Danielle Ryan writes:
Last week the respected left-liberal magazine The Nation published an explosive article that details in great depth the findings of a new report — authored in large part by former U.S. intelligence officers — which claims to present forensic evidence that the Democratic National Committee was not hacked by the Russians in July 2016. Instead, the report alleges, the DNC suffered an insider leak, conducted in the Eastern time zone of the United States by someone with physical access to a DNC computer.

This report also claims there is no apparent evidence that the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 — supposedly based in Romania — hacked the DNC on behalf of the Russian government. There is also no evidence, the report’s authors say, that Guccifer handed documents over to WikiLeaks. Instead, the report says that the evidence and timeline of events suggests that Guccifer may have been conjured up in an attempt to deflect from the embarrassing information about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that was released just before the Democratic National Convention. The investigators found that some of the “Guccifer” files had been deliberately altered by copying and pasting the text into a “Russianified” word-processing document with Russian-language settings.

If all this is true, these findings would constitute a massive embarrassment for not only the DNC itself but the media, which has breathlessly pushed the Russian hacking narrative for an entire year, almost without question but with little solid evidence to back it up.

You could easily be forgiven for not having heard about this latest development — because, perhaps to avoid potential embarrassment, the media has completely ignored it. Instead, to this point only a few right-wing sites have seen fit to publish follow-ups.
Excuse me for for being cynical, but in the 24-7 news cycle, you'd think that outlets like CNN or WaPo, the NYT and the alphabet networks would spend a little time looking into this. After all, they've elevated the Russian collusion fantasy to the major story of 2017, so it would seem reasonable to conclude ... Nah ... not gonna happen.

Ryan comments:
Instead of subjecting the various accounts of what happened last summer to rigorous scrutiny, the media instantly accepted the narrative promoted by the Clinton campaign and U.S. intelligence agencies. It has continued to do so ever since. Now, as new information comes to light, the media has largely acted as if it did not exist.

For the media and mainstream liberals to dismiss the information presented in Lawrence’s article as lacking in evidence would be breathtakingly ironic, given how little evidence they required to build a narrative to suit themselves and absolve Clinton of any responsibility for losing the election.
The fact that two prominent Left-wing media sources are questioning the prevailing DNC-hack narrative is something to note. Is it possible that this represents the first cracks in the wall of disinformation and lies that has been erected over the past year? Maybe ... but don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Divide

The editors of The Wall Street Journal identify the underlying issue that precipitated that hate crime that occurred in Charlottesville, VA. They write:
... The politics of white supremacy was a poison on the right for many decades, but the civil-rights movement rose to overcome it, and it finally did so in the mid-1960s with Martin Luther King Jr. ’s language of equal opportunity and color-blind justice.

That principle has since been abandoned, however, in favor of a new identity politics that again seeks to divide Americans by race, ethnicity, gender and even religion. “Diversity” is now the all-purpose justification for these divisions, and the irony is that America is more diverse and tolerant than ever.

The problem is that the identity obsessives want to boil down everything in American life to these categories. In practice this means allocating political power, contracts, jobs and now even salaries in the private economy based on the politics of skin color or gender rather than merit or performance. Down this road lies crude political tribalism, and James Damore’s recent Google dissent is best understood as a cri de coeur that we should aspire to something better. Yet he lost his job merely for raising the issue.

A politics fixated on indelible differences will inevitably lead to resentments that extremists can exploit in ugly ways on the right and left. The extremists were on the right in Charlottesville, but there have been examples on the left in Berkeley, Oakland and numerous college campuses. When Democratic politicians can’t even say “all lives matter” without being denounced as bigots, American politics has a problem.
As the party has mover further and further left, the Democrats have chosen to define themselves as champions of identity politics. They thrive on exploiting the notion that one group is the victim of another; that some narrowly-defined "privilege" causes some to suffer while others thrive; that solutions to "inequality" are not based on hard work, education, and merit, but instead on big government programs, set-asides, and quotas, either explicit or implicit; that anyone who questions the religion of "diversity" is a heretic and should be treated accordingly, and that division is a workable political strategy.

The identity politics of white supremacists is the distorted mirror image of the one described in the preceding paragraph. Neo-Nazi and KKK groups have a warped worldview that is based on their own perceived victimization. They scapegoat others who they believe have been accorded privilege that degrades their lives and that they are now unequal. To be sure, it is a delusional position, but it provides troubling echoes of the memes offered by antifa groups on the Left..

Richard Fernandez puts it rather eloquently when he writes:
The riots and death in Charlottesville are the physical manifestation of the idea of separateness. If the thought is the father of the deed, the children of hate, the offspring of "by any means necessary" and the scions of superiority so long in gestation, are finally being born. Donald Trump's plea for calm and his exhortation to remember "we are all Americans first" may find scant resonance among those for whom hyphens come first of all. The war of the hyphens has broken out, and for its combatants there is only one thought: how do I get back at the enemy hyphen? The long sought-after goal of diversity has been attained and it is not what many imagined.
The identity politics of white supremacists is delivered in the shadows by ugly fringe hate groups whose actual numbers are small. The Democrats' identity politics message is different and far less ominous, but it is delivered every day, often with much fanfare and pride by their anointed leaders and their trained hamsters in the media. Undoubtedly, the tone and focus coming from each group is not the same, but in many ways, the intent is — divide.

The irony is that identity politics on both the Right and the Left has been aggressively rejected by a majority of the American people. They correctly recognize that the politics of division will take us all on a journey toward hatred, totalitarianism, and decline.

UPDATE:
---------------------
In watching the nonstop media coverage of all of this (much of it bordering on outright hysteria), it occurs to me that Donald Trump, once again, demonstrates a political naivete that is remarkable and arguably, dangerous. Rather than moving quickly to condemn the right-wing hate groups, he waffled and provided an unnecessary opening that his enemies on both the Left and the Right exploited. But far more important, his continuing participation in this controversy provides a media victory for the alt-Right. They're getting the  notariety they crave.

The public should become aware of these alt-Right scum and understand that their ideology is reprehensible.. But it might be nice if the same media that correctly castigates the alt-Right did the same job with the same intensity on the alt-Left scum (e.g., Antifa) that also trades in violence and hate.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Team of 9s

The usual elites on both the Left and the Right keep telling us that there are no good options when North Korea is to be considered and/or confronted. They imply that the only viable strategy is to continue their failed approach, kicking the can down the road and hoping against hope that something will change for the better. Unfortunately, "Hope is not a strategy."

During the Obama administration, I derisively called his foreign policy people the Team of 2s. Led first by Hillary Clinton and then by (nincompoop) John Kerry, they did nothing right and many things wrong. Collectively, they damaged our position in the world, creating instability and chaos in many regions by applying a combination of very bad decisions and feckless "strategic patience."

For all of the derisive comments leveled at Donald Trump by the political and academic elites, he has assembled a foreign policy "Team of 9s." Rex Tillerson at State and 'Maddog' Mattis at DoD, along with Nikky Haley at the UN and an excellent supporting cast have actually begun doing some things right. To quote Tillerson, "the era of strategic patience is over."

Today, the primary foreign policy focus is North Korea. But our actions there are a harbinger of how we'll address the growing threat of a nuclear Iran. Barack Obama's "Iran Deal" was nothing more than kicking the can down the road (while transferring billions to the world's dominant sponsor of Islamic terror), a pathetically bad deal for the US and the Middle East region. It was what you'd expect from a Team of 2s.

But back to North Korea. Austin Bay provides an optimistic, but coherent view of Trump's efforts to reign in the NoKos:
The acronym for the four elements of geo-strategic power is DIME: “Diplomatic,” “Information,” “Military” and “Economic” power. Coordinating these elements creates a synergistic force whose sum is greater than its parts ...

Unfortunately, coordinating the elements of power is very difficult. The U.S. government’s civilian agencies don’t play well together—protecting their budgets and their political turf in the Washington swamp is their first priority. So in the field the military does it all ad hoc. Company, field grade and general officers become diplomats in helmets. Combat engineers are developmental aid experts.

Yet the Trump administration is using all elements of power in a coordinated effort to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Start with the D for Diplomacy. The U.S. has forged a solid alliance committed to Korean denuclearization. The U.S., Japan, South Korea and Australia are the principle front line nations, but western European nations and key members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) add economic and political weight. India is in the background. China is the man in middle, and it knows India is in the background ... U.S. diplomats have also succeeded in getting the UN to impose harsh economic and political sanctions on North Korea.

I for Information began in earnest with Tillerson’s declaration that the era of strategic patience with the Kim regime is over. Trump’s threats of fury and fire mock Kim Jong-un. Yes, Trump outraged the pearl-clutchers in the American foreign policy establishment. American presidents aren’t supposed to talk like that!

Except they do. Take Harry Truman for example.

The theater of threat is a key element in North Korea’s intimidation and extortion routine. Trump’s fiery threat pushed Kim Jong-un off center stage. Now Trump has the rhetorical threat initiative, not the fat kid.

Trump also has a track record for following through on a threat. In April, he punished Syrian President Bashir al-Assad for using chemical weapons. Trump isn’t seeking a legacy like Bill Clinton; he isn’t bogged down in Iraq like George Bush; and he isn’t a faculty lounge poseur like Barack Obama touting red lines then failing to back words with deeds. Trump has demonstrated that he will act. That’s important information from the bad cop ...

M for Military: The U.S. and its allies have massive and modern forces. They are full spectrum forces employing everything from the bayonet to ballistic missiles, anti-ballistic missiles and cyber weapons. South Korea’s ground forces are highly-trained and well led. Japan has quietly developed offensive strike capabilities. The allies have deployed a missile defense “thin shield” that is capable of shooting down a volley of North Korean IRBMs. Trump would use the entire arsenal if he had to, and China knows this.

E is for Economic, meaning sanctions and financial restrictions. However, the most pertinent policy tool can be summarized in a tweet. Recall that Trump indicated China would have a better trade deal if it helped curb North Korea.

How is the Trump team managing to pull it off? Here’s my guess: Trump and Tillerson aren’t from the D.C. swamp. Mattis was a combat soldier who also served as a diplomat with a helmet.
If the Trump Team of 9s can pull this off without war (and that remains a big if) it will be a foreign policy achievement that eclipses those of many past presidencies. Of course, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media won't acknowledge it, and the #Nevertrump GOP will downplay it, but it will be a significant achievement nonetheless.

Whether you like him or not, on the foreign policy front Trump has done what good managers do. He has hired excellent people who can execute his vision. It's an impressive team. We'll see if they can pull it off.

UPDATE:
---------------------
A small but very important symbolic victory was reported this morning. The Wall Street Journal notes:
SEOUL—North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has decided not to launch a threatened missile attack on Guam, Pyongyang’s state media reported on Tuesday, but warned that he could change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.”
Gee, maybe tough talk punctuated by behind-the-scenes sticks (and carrots) might actually be a viable strategy. Maybe Trump isn't quite as unhinged as the elites allege? Maybe strength trumps weakness every time? Maybe putting pressure on a bully is the right way to proceed? Maybe putting actual pressure on China (including the threat of trade sanctions) is a viable approach? Maybe a strong leader who projects that strength is better than a feckless leader who prefers kicking the can?

Yeah. Maybe.

Trump should keep the pressure on the Puppet Kingdom. They blinked. We didn't.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hate and Bigotry

Generalizations are always tricky, but it is fair to state that skinheads, white supremacists, and neo-nazis are low intelligence, low-achievement scum. They're angry at their lot in society and need scapegoats to blame. Blacks, Jews, gays and other immigrant groups have been their primary target. They trade in hate, bigotry, and racism. They are despicable, and are rightly shunned and roundly criticized by the vast majority of the population. When they commit crimes, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and where appropriate indicted under RICO and terror statutes and other relevant legislation.

The events in Charlottesville, VA underline all of this.

But skinheads, white supremacists and neo-nazis are not alone in their hatred of "the other." They are not alone in their extreme and often hateful language, nor are they alone in perpetrating violence against those that become the focus of their hatred. A few groups come to mind immediately. Islamists espouse hatred toward Jews, gay people, members of virtually every other religion and even their own co-religionists who do not believe exactly as they do. They are not averse to extreme violence. So-called "antifa" (ironically, self-termed anti-facist) groups want to shut down any semblance of free speech, are often anti-Semitic, frequently conduct violent demonstrations in which cars are burned, property is damaged, and often, police are injured or even killed. Black Lives Matter protesters express outright hatred of police and white people and have acted out violently. In fact, a BLM activist murdered five cops in Dallas. My point is NOT to create a moral equivalence among these hate groups, but rather to note that there is plenty of hate and bigotry to go around.

The Left and their trained hamsters in the media are using the tragic events in Charlottesville to continue their long standing canard that Donald Trump has sympathies for white supremacists. Trump correctly condemned hate and bigotry on all sides immediately after the events at Charlottesville, but apparently, that was not enough. Looking for even the tiniest opening, the Left and #Nevertrump Republicans demanded that he be more explicit, calling out neo-Nazi and white-supremacist groups by name (he has since, done exactly that). He could have, and probably should have, been more explicit earlier, but Trump is Trump and his intent was to call out every hate group, not just the hate group du jour. 

But to infer from his comments that he has neo-Nazi sympathies is a major league stretch.

Let's use an example. When crazies on the right accused Barack Obama of being a closet Muslim, progressives and their trained hamsters in the media got the vapors. Even though progressives emphasize that Islam is the 'religion of peace' and warn us all against Islamophobia, they reacted to the 'Obama-is-a Muslim' canard as if the world was coming to an end. They suggested that anyone who made that charge was a racist, a bigot, and an Islamopobe to boot. Hmmm.

It's fascinating to note that progressives and their trained hamsters in the media have no such reservations about suggesting that this president has sympathies with or is a white supremacist. They have no worries about hurling reprehensible accusations that have no foundation in fact, except in their through-the-looking-glass world view. Donald Trump may be many things, but he is no more a white supremacist or a neo-Nazi than Barack Obama was a Jihadist manchurian candidate.

Progressives can't have it both ways (although they often do). They cannot and should not make crazy claims about a president they despise, yet condemn crazy claims about a president they adored.

There is plenty of hypocrisy to go around in our current contentious political climate, but that reality is not an excuse for alleging that the sitting president is somehow closet KKK sympathizer.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Gorka

If you're a serious student of the evolution and growth of Islamic terrorism and the West's weak attempts to combat it while assiduously avoiding placing the onus on Islam to solve its own internal ideological war, you've heard of Sebastian Gorka. Gorka thinks more clearly that most about Islamist thought and immigration and its threat to the West. He is currently an advisor to the President.

Gorka avoids the fantasy that Islam is somehow blameless as Islamic terrorism grows, and for that heresy, progressives have labeled him as a "Islamophobe" and a "right wing bigot," among other tired epithets. After all, if you question politically correct orthodoxy, you are a primary target for the politics of personal destruction.

He has also been the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by the likes of Media Matters on the left (see Sharyl Attkisson's, The Smeara profoundly important book). A Left-wing smear campaign reinforces the epithets noted in a mendacious attempt to remove Gorka from the administration. All of its lies have been proven false, but that never stops the smear machine from trying and trying again. Recently, Rolling Stone, a publication quite friendly to the leftist smear machine, published yet another dishonest article (probably written for them by smear meisters, see Attkisson's book) that David Goldman thoroughly dissects. Goldman writes:
Most of the Rolling Stone article is made up of quotes from left-wing academics who attack Dr. Gorka out of a mix of professional jealousy and ideological enmity. The Establishment thinks he is being beastly to the jihadists. Typical is this spitball: "Paul Pillar, a former national intelligence officer for the Middle East, says Gorka is too dangerous to be allowed to remain in the White House: 'Gorka represents an intolerance that offends American values and is likely to gain the United States more enemies than friends.'" That is what one would expect from the "Have-you-hugged-a-Hamasnik?" types.

I've had the privilege to speak with Dr. Gorka on several occasions, and can report that has enormous range and breadth as a strategic thinker, with a deep political culture that comes from a British education, his Central European background, and an American outlook. He is a unique and irreplaceable contributor to American national security planning, and we are fortunate to have his service.
Attkisson would tell us that it is more than likely that all of those "quotes" were collected by the likes of an opposition research firm like Media Matters or some other left-wing smear meister, handed to a lazy, yet compliant "reporter/writer" at Rolling Stone, and then published as original content. It's actually garbage masquerading as journalism, but whatever ...

Goldman does an excellent job of debunking the specific smear, but it's Attkkison's in-depth investigative journalism that has unmasked the smear meisters and their media accomplices. It allows us to recognize a smear immediately and reject it as dishonest and manipulative.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The DNC "Hack"

Earlier this summer, many observers of the political scene (including your truly) noted (with appropriate qualifiers) that the Seth Rich murder and the Imran Awan IT scandal had dark undertones that could potentially be traced to the supposed DNC "Russian hack." If that were true, the entire Russian collusion story falls apart. Of course, as the Rich and Awan stories emerged, the Democratic Smear Machine labeling any suggestion of scandal as "insane" and the stuff of "conspiracy theory." They 'controversialized' the people who reported the story and suddenly, people who claimed to have information began to recant their testimony. Even Snopes.com got into the act, labeling the allegations "false" even though there was little evidence to support that claim.

Now, a shockingly in-depth report, entitled, "A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack," appearing in The Nation, a generally left-wing magazine and website, argues that "Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system."

The author of the piece, Patrick Lawrence, reviews the media frenzy to tie the leaks to Donald Trump and the Russians and then writes:
All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that “hack” and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.

There, are, our course, explanations of the embarrassing DNC email release that are considerably more plausible than a Russian "hack." Put simply, a low level staffer (possibly a Bernie Sanders supporter disenchanted with the DNC's pro-Hillary stance) copied the emails onto a thumb drive and transmitted them to the leakers. That is the essence of the Seth Rich scandal, and might also have something to do with Imran Awan. It's only fair to note that there is no hard evidence to support those suppositions, but then again, there is absolutely no hard evidence (except the unsubstantiated statements of selected government intelligence officials who have a history of bending the truth) that the Russian government was involved in the DNC hack.

Lawrence goes on to write:
Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak. But its certain results so far are two, simply stated, and freighted with implications:
There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.

Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.
This article is based on an examination of the documents these forensic experts and intelligence analysts have produced, notably the key papers written over the past several weeks, as well as detailed interviews with many of those conducting investigations and now drawing conclusions from them. Before proceeding into this material, several points bear noting.
Lawrence continues:
... there are many other allegations implicating Russians in the 2016 political process. The work I will now report upon does not purport to prove or disprove any of them. Who delivered documents to WikiLeaks? Who was responsible for the “phishing” operation penetrating John Podesta’s e-mail in March 2016? We do not know the answers to such questions. It is entirely possible, indeed, that the answers we deserve and must demand could turn out to be multiple: One thing happened in one case, another thing in another. The new work done on the mid-June and July 5 events bears upon all else in only one respect. We are now on notice: Given that we now stand face to face with very considerable cases of duplicity, it is imperative that all official accounts of these many events be subject to rigorously skeptical questioning. Do we even know that John Podesta’s e-mail was in fact “phished”? What evidence of this has been produced? Such rock-bottom questions as these must now be posed in all other cases.
Unless and until special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators answer these and many other pertinent questions about the events surrounding this and other leaks that supposedly crippled Hillary Clinton's campaign, their conclusions will be suspect.

Lawrences report is extremely detailed, citing little known intelligence analysts and sources. That doesn't make it suspect, but it does work directly into the hands of the Democratic Smear Machine, allowing them to claim conspiracy hysteria. A compliant media (The Nation excepted in this case) has done nothing to investigate these claims further.

Spend the time to read the entire report and then ask yourself—has this entire episode been a disinformation campaign conducted to smear Trump and deflect from Clinton's loss and DNC incompetence and bias? Worse, it is a true conspiracy involving elements of the intelligence community? Even worse still, will it be further smothered by the Mueller investigation?

The Nation and Patrick Lawrence should be commended for this work. To understand its impact, follow the response to it. If there are crickets, that's an important sign. If the author undergoes personal attacks on his credibility, that's still another. And if none of these issues is addressed as part of Mueller's probe, that ices it. Then the system is, as Donald Trump so famously noted, "rigged."

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

Mollie Hemingway discusses another story of biased and dishonest media coverage that has re-emerged over the past week—the meeting between Obama's AG, Loretta Lynch, and Bill Clinton, while his wife was being actively investigated during the 2016 campaign. She outlines how the trained hamsters in the mainstream media approach any hint of a scandal when Democrats are involved and compares it to their approach to the current Trump White House. But more important than the outright hint of corruption in the Lynch case, is her take on the meta-game that a dishonest and biased media plays. It's absolutely applicable to the emerging DNC hack scandal noted in the main body of this post. Here is Hemingway's take:
... the media’s problem is that everyone outside of the resistance — whether that’s the actual activists, the NeverTrump Republicans, or the media themselves — can see the unfairness in the media coverage of President Trump relative to the media coverage of President Obama and other Democrats. There is the flood-the-zone, histrionic-headline, up-the-ante, worst-construction approach versus the put-to-rest, boring-headline, wait-days-before-being-forced-to-cover, best-construction approach. People aren’t stupid. They can very clearly see the game that’s being played here.[emphasis mine]
But here's the thing: the fake news reported by once respected media sources has now jumped the shark. Their bias is so palpable, I honestly think it helps Donald Trump by making him the victim. When he criticizes "the failing NYT" as a fake news source, few, other than the #Resistance, would disagree. After all, a vote for Trump is a poke in the eye for "the failing NYT" and its many other Fake News bretheren. The media is either too blinded by ideological fervor or too stupid to understand that simple reality.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Of North Korea and Tigers' Tails

North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim Jong-un, literally starves his people as he lords over one of the most oppressive regimes on the planet. This same Kim Jong-un threatens the United States and its allies with extreme violence, including a threat to use ICBMs to deliver nuclear weapons to American cities.

It's ironic that the same elites who have been responsible for "negotiating" with North Korean over the past four or five decades are now wringing their hands as the current president changes the tone of the conversation. It's fair to note that these same elites were responsible for kicking the can down the road from president to president as they watched the NoKos get stronger and more threatening. It's also fair to note that other regimes (Iran comes to mind) have watched this farce and learned from it, waiting for the day when they're free to threaten their region with nukes.

Donald Trump responded to Kim Jong-un's escalating threats with a threat of his own—any action on the part of North Korea that harms the United States or its allies would be met with "fire and fury." Predictably, the four #NeverTrump constituencies got the vapors at such an aggressive response, worrying that it was ... uh ... unpresidential and impetuous. Although different words could have, and probably should have, been chosen (Trump is, after all, imprecise in his language and largely hyperbolic in this comments), the President's tone was pitch perfect.

The United States has been threatened repeatedly by a pissant dictator, who, because of repeated failures by past presidents, can now hold hostage the South Koreans in Seoul, along with Japan and other neighboring countries. And the four #NeverTrump constituencies want what exactly—more talks, more "tough sanctions," and more time for Kim Jong-un to become an even greater threat, moving from a dangerous pissant to something larger and more ominous. To its credit, the Trump administration has gotten unanimous approval for more UN sanctions. That's fine, but I think something more must be done.

Although it's appropriate to talk about "fire and fury," that tone must be followed by a terse discussion of the kind of response that will occur if the NoKos attack anyone or anything of value to the United States. They must understand that our response will not be "proportional" but rather, it will be massively disproportional.

For far too long, Western leaders have adopted the meme that an attack against the West should be met in kind—proportionately. But proportional response provides our adversaries with a significant advantage. They can attack, and as long as they conclude that they can absorb a proportional response—they achieve a propaganda victory. The proportional response is followed by overblown claims of civilian casualties and "crimes against humanity". With the help of a left-leaning media, the original aggressor is magically transformed into a victim. Better yet, the aggressor survives to fight another day.

If on the other hand, a small attack is met with a massive response, the pain suffered by the aggressor will be significant and possibly, terminal. Sure, they'll still wail about civilian casualties and "crimes against humanity," and a left-leaning media will still transform the aggressor into a victim. But one important thing changes—the aggressor's regime, its military infrastucture, and its people suffer "fire and fury." And that changes the entire dynamic of assymetric warfare.

There's a reason that you don't repeatedly pull the tail of a tiger. The tiger's response will most assuredly not be proportional. In fact, with one swipe of her claws she just might cut your throat and make you dead.

UPDATE (8-10-2017):
------------------------

Kicking the NoKo can down the road is what diplomatic elites have done for decades. Recently, we learned of intelligence estimates that indicate that North Korea has miniaturized nuke technology, potentially allowing them to deliver nukes using their ICBMs. But what's far worse is that it now appears that the Obama administration knew about this in 2013, but chose to do nothing. Debra Heine reports:
You can chalk this up as another example of President Obama employing his signature strategy for dealing with sticky national security issues: Ignore, discredit or downplay. If the foreign policy crisis was too big to ignore, he would was give a speech -- and kick the can down the road for another president to deal with.

In 2013, Obama not only downplayed the Defense Intelligence Agency's intelligence report about Korea's mini nukes -- He attempted to discredit it. The White House media echo-chamber was -- as always -- happy to go along with the ruse.

Via Fred Fleitz, senior vice president for policy and programs with the Center for Security Policy at Fox News:

Tuesday's bombshell Washington Post story that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has determined North Korea is capable of constructing miniaturized nuclear weapons that could be used as warheads for missiles – possibly ICBMs – left out a crucial fact: DIA actually concluded this in 2013. The Post also failed to mention that the Obama administration tried to downplay and discredit this report at the time.

During an April 11, 2013, House Armed Services Committee hearing, Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., inadvertently revealed several unclassified sentences from a DIA report that said DIA had determined with “moderate confidence” that North Korea has the capability to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be launched with a ballistic missile.

The Director of National Intelligence and Obama officials subsequently tried to dismiss Lamborn’s disclosure by claiming the DIA assessment was an outlier that did not reflect the views of the rest of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

All 16 remaining intel agencies, I'm sure.

The media could easily have turned this leak into a major front page story -- like it is today -- but after the Obama White house signaled to the echo chamber that the president didn't want to deal with it -- the story went away.
Of course it did. The same media that spends weeks scurrying around trying to gin up "evidence" of Russian collusion was curiously silent when their masters in the Obama White House gave them a stern look. After all, this wasn't a meeting with a meaningless Russian lawyer. This was only a potential nuclear threat against the United States of America. Let's keep things in perspective ... puleeze.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

STEM

I have worked in and around the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciples my entire adult life. I have been a practicing engineer and consultant specializing in computer and systems applications; I have managed STEM professionals; I have had the privilege of teaching STEM students at the university-level; I have written books intended to help STEM students better understand software engineering, and today, my job focuses on engineering design and product development. Given all of that, I think it's reasonable to conclude that I understand the STEM milieu better than most.

Today, there are many (myself included) who lament that relatively to few women decide on STEM careers. There are many reasons why more men than women enter into STEM—all open to honest debate and discussion—biological differences, cultural differences, lifestyle differences, and yes, oppositional differences in which some STEM institutions are biased against women in the field. There are also many programs designed to encourage women to consider a STEM career and more programs to help them achieve success once they enter the field. All of that is good.

But like all good ideas designed with the best of intentions, some individuals, institutions, and corporations have taken all of this and adopted the meme that a lack of women in STEM is solely a sign of male "oppression," that the solution is diversity programs that not only encourage women in the field but subtly discriminate against male members of the same field, and that brook no dissent from those who question the efficacy of said diversity programs.

A recent open letter, penned by an anonymous Google software engineer, explores the use of diversity programs for encouraging females in STEM. In actuality, the letter is a well-constructed 10-page essay that has been labeled an "anti-diversity screed" by those on the Left. The author dissects Google's diversity programs, addressing the reasons for differences in male/female STEM participation and suggesting that the corporate programs to remedy the differences may not be working. It's fair to state that the author's conclusions are open to debate, but his right to state them should be unquestioned and encouraged.

He begins his essay in this way:
At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices ...

Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies.
The second paragraph is at the core of his argument here and in many other situations in which PC orthodoxy is questioned. The Left and their trained hamsters in the media demand a "monoculture." Deviation is not only unacceptable, it is labeled "misogynist" (in this case), "racist," or any one of the other tired epithets that are intended to shut down debate and consideration of the points raised. The intent (too often successful in the second decade of the 21st century) is "shaming dissenters into silence."

But some will not be silenced. The Google software engineer should be praised for the courage to state his position, to define the problems as he sees them, to offer structured and cohesive arguments without name-calling, and to suggest potential solutions for the situation as he sees.

When I was teaching, I used to say to my students, "You have to understand the problem before you can craft a solution."

The Google engineer does that well, and I applaud him for it.

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

In a despicable move that is not the least bit surprising, The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has fired the software engineer who wrote the essay noted in the body of this post. After all, Google's left-leaning bias is well documented, it's leadership is uber-progressive, and as the software engineer noted, the Left will do almost anything to ensure that its narrative is unquestioned, including, it appears in the case of Google, firing an employee who expressed an honest opinion that in no way hurt the company, but did threaten PC thought. As the now unemployed engineer wrote, Google prefers to remove "any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies." Shame on Google's management!

UPDATE-2
---------------

Bre Payton presents irrefutable evidence of the length to which the trained hamsters of the media will go to be sure that those who question the progressive PC narrative are punished, discredited and shamed. Each of these publications presented blatantly incorrect and dishonest descriptions of the author of the Google essay, who we now know is James Damore, and his intent. They are sad examples of fake news: The Washington Post, CNN, Time Magazine, The Atlantic, Forbes, the Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, Slate and Gizmoto.

Here are just a few of their blatant lies and mischaracterizations:

Time: “Google Has Fired the Employee Who Wrote an Anti-Diversity Tirade, Report Says”. Anyone who read the calm, reasoned piece could not possible argue it was a tirade. It is, of course, possible that the trained hamster at Time doesn't know what a tirade is.

CNN (Tweet): "Google CEO cuts vacation short to address controversial memo that argued women aren't biologically fit for tech jobs" A flat out lie. The author NEVER claimed that women "aren't biologically fit" to work in Stem.

WaPo: "Google Engineer says that women are genetically unsuited for tech jobs." A flat out lie. He never said anything of the sort.

The Atlantic: "“The Googler’s complaints assume that all is well in the world of computing technology, such that any efforts to introduce different voices into the field only risk undermining its incontrovertible success and effectiveness.” A complete mischaracterization. The "Googler" expressed concern that the diversity programs weren't working. He expressly stated that he wanted more women in STEM.

I could go on, but what's the point? Fake news all the way down.




Monday, August 07, 2017

Vacation

Over my long career, I have on more than a few occasions postponed or completely foregone a planned trip or vacation because I had an important project to complete or a critical deadline to make. I wasn't happy about doing that, but it's what a responsible professional does when he or she has commitments that are time-sensitive.

We are being told that Congress faces critical deadlines for increasing the debt limit, establishing a budget, keeping the government funded, developing legislation for tax reform, and yes, saving a rapidly collapsing Obamacare program. Yet, Democrat and GOP members of Congress scurried out of Washington, DC to take a month long vacation. This action is, in a word, reprehensible.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle never fail to tell us how much they're dedicated to the best interests of the country. They tell us that all of their actions are designed to make the lives of "working people" better. B.S. If they actually did care, the congressional leadership would have kept Congress in Washington throughout August, established a working schedule to address each of the issues noted, and gotten something done.

And please, spare me the notion that members of congress have to return home to "listen to their constituents." The input of the 'little people' pales in comparison to the input of major donors and lobbyists (special interests) right in D.C.

You know, if you think about it for half a second, it's almost as if the political elites don't want to get anything done. For the Dems, it's all about ensuring that Trump looks like a failure, and that Washington's chaos is all his fault. For many within the the GOP, I suspect that the intent is identical, only slightly more passive/aggressive. In effect, the elites on both sides of the aisle want to punish the "deplorables" who didn't follow the rule book established by our so-called political leaders and elected someone they despise.

Glen Reynolds of Instapundit often writes (paraphrasing) that "I'll believe there's a crisis when people who tell me there's a crisis start acting like there's a crisis." Leaving town on vacation indicates to me that Congress doesn't believe there's a crisis—or maybe, it's just that they simply don't care.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Hyperloop

When it was first introduced, I read every word of Elon Musk's "Hyperloop" preliminary alpha specification (pdf at link). It was a bold idea—a new, energy efficient (zero emissions) transportation technology that would move passengers from major city to major city at speeds of up to 700 mph. Los Angeles to San Francisco in 20 - 30 minutes. Spectacular and technologically feasible with today's tech—no need to invent anything new.

But there is a problem, and it has little to do with tech—it's government regulations. Virginia Postrel comments:
... what makes Musk’s Hyperloop plan seem like fantasy isn’t the high-tech part. Shooting passengers along at more than 700 miles per hour seems simple -- engineers pushed 200 miles-per-hour in a test this week -- compared to building a tunnel from New York to Washington. And even digging that enormously long tunnel -- twice as long as the longest currently in existence -- seems straightforward compared to navigating the necessary regulatory approvals.

We live in a world where atoms are much harder to do anything with than bits -- and where atoms that require regulatory permission are the hardest of all. The eye-rolling comes less from the technical challenges than from the bureaucratic ones.

With his premature declaration [that "preliminary approval" had been achieved], Musk is doing public debate a favor. He’s reminding us of what the barriers to ambitious projects really are: not technology, not even money, but getting permission to try. “Permits harder than technology,” Musk tweeted after talking with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti about building a tunnel network. That’s true for the public sector as well as the private.

“For some urban context: a recently opened stretch of subway in New York cost $4.5 billion for less than 2 miles of rails. It was first proposed in 1919 and opened to the public in January 2017,” wrote Bloomberg’s Tom Randall, concluding drily. “These things take time.”

The Second Avenue subway is an extreme example of a general phenomenon. As I’ve previously written, a large infrastructure project may take three or four years of actual construction. But the work can’t even get started until there’s been a decade or more of planning and design. The bottleneck isn’t the actual construction, in other words. It’s the ever-more-detailed analyses, reviews and redesigns required -- and often litigated -- beforehand. (For New Deal nostalgics, this also explains why the stimulus bill passed in 2009 couldn’t easily include a full-blown Work Progress Administration-style jobs plan.)

“It took two years just to complete the geotechnical and environmental studies for the Chesapeake Bay tunnel project that's about to begin” in Virginia, wrote Randall. And that’s just one of the states Musk’s Hyperloop tunnel would have to pass through.
Democrats gasp as Donald Trump works to eliminate regulations that, among other things, act as a brake for innovative technologies that would benefit us all. The big question is this: Why are regulations immediately assumed to be good and necessary? Exactly the opposite assumption is appropriate. My guess is that 10 - 20 percent of regulations are counterproductive and harmful, another 10 - 20 percent are anachronistic artifacts of the 20th century, and another 10 - 20 percent are benign but completely unnecessary. That's around 50 percent!

Environmentalists (a.k.a. modern day luddites) use those regulations as the basis for "lawfare," tying up infrastructure projects in the courts for years and years, as the USA falls further behind the rest of the Western world in mass transit, new highways, new power plants, and the like. The reason infrastructure is so expensive—unnecessary regulations. The reason it takes so long—unnecessary regulations. The reason we can't create government and private sector partnerships to build new infrastructure—unnecessary regulations.

Since the Dems care so much about "working people," maybe they should consider teaming with Trump to reduce the regulatory burden on business and government so that our economy can flourish.

Nah. That won't happen. 'Cause if it did, government might have to get out of the way of the "makers," and that would mean less power for Democrats—the party of Big Intrusive Government.


Saturday, August 05, 2017

An Old Joke

There an old joke that goes like this:
A man is in bed with his wife's best friend when she arrives home, finding them naked and otherwise occupied.

She screams at her husband, "How could you ... and with my best friend!"

The husband grabs the bed sheet to cover up and calmly states, "It's not what you think. We weren't doing what you think we were doing."

The wife's friend, struggling to cover herself as well, sheepishly nods her head in agreement.

"But I saw you," yells the wife, "right in front of me with my own two eyes! I saw you!"

The husband looks offended, "Who do you believe? Me—or your lying eyes."
Over the past decade, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media play the role of the husband and his wife's best friend. When presented with damning evidence of a scandal involving one or more Democrats, the Dems exclaim, "Who do you believe, me—or your lying eyes." The trained hamsters play the role of the naked girlfriend and nod their heads in agreement.

This M.O. has played itself out yet again over the past few weeks in the Fusion GPS and Imran Awan cases. Kim Strassel summarizes the Awan case:
Imran Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport July 24, while attempting to board a flight to Pakistan. For more than a decade the congressional staffer had worked under top House Democrats, and he had just been accused by the FBI of bank fraud.

It was a dramatic moment in a saga that started in February, when Capitol Police confirmed an investigation into Mr. Awan and his family on separate accusations of government theft. The details are tantalizing: The family all worked for top Democrats, were paid huge sums, and had access to sensitive congressional data, even while having ties to Pakistan.

The media largely has ignored the affair, the ho-hum coverage summed up by a New York Times piece suggesting it may be nothing more than an “overblown Washington story, typical of midsummer.” But even without evidence of espionage or blackmail, this ought to be an enormous scandal.

Because based on what we already know, the Awan story is—at the very least—a tale of massive government incompetence that seemingly allowed a family of accused swindlers to bilk federal taxpayers out of millions and even put national secrets at risk. In a more accountable world, House Democrats would be forced to step down.
Unlike the evidence-free Russian collusion "scandal" that has absorbed 24/7 media coverage for many months, the Imran Awan scandal is real. Awan has been arrested and charged with bank fraud. The media yawns. There is clear evidence that he and his associates bilked 20 plus Democratic politicians out of significant taxpayer dollars, that he potentially had access to secret files, that he has connections to Pakistan and potentially, shadowy terrorist groups including Hezballah, and that he just might have information damaging to the DNC and its past chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. The media, acting like the wife's best friend, simple nods when Democrats ask us to believe them, rather than our lying eyes.

This approach is not new. It worked to perfection with the many serious scandals of the past administration. Evidence of wrong-doing was copious and public, and yet, we were asked to ignore it all by the husband and his girlfriend. They prevailed. Now, the same request is evident in the Awan (and Fusion GPS) case.

Strassel provides more information:
According to an analysis by the Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak, who has owned this story, the family has collected $5 million since 2003 and “appeared at one time or another on an estimated 80 House Democrats’ payrolls.” Yet Mr. Rosiak interviewed House staffers who claim most of the family were “ghost” employees and didn’t come to work. Only in government does nobody notice when staffers fail to show up.

The family was plenty busy elsewhere. A litany of court documents accuse them of bankruptcy fraud, life-insurance fraud, tax fraud and extortion. Abid Awan, a brother, ran up more than $1 million in debts on a failed car dealership he somehow operated while supposedly working full time on the Hill. One document ties the family to a loan from a man stripped of his Maryland medical license after false billing. Capitol Police are investigating allegations of procurement fraud and theft. The brothers filed false financial-disclosure forms, with Imran Awan claiming his wife had no income, even as she worked as a fellow House IT staffer ...

Yes, it is weird that Ms. Wasserman Schultz continued to shield Imran Awan to the end. Yes, the amounts of money, and the ties to Pakistan, are strange. Yes, it is alarming that emails show Imran Awan knew Ms. Wasserman Schultz’s iPad password, and that the family might have had wider access to the accounts of lawmakers on the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees.

Yet even if this never adds up to a spy thriller, it outranks most of the media’s other obsessions. The government, under the inattentive care of Democrats, may have been bilked for ages by a man the FBI has alleged to be a fraudster. That’s the same government Democrats say is qualified to run your health care, reform your children’s schools, and protect the environment. They should explain this first.
As a counterpoint, the trained hamsters have spent weeks investigating a simple meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer that had no actionable outcome, no follow-up, and no importance—none. But those same hamsters don't have the time or the interest to investigate and report a major story that actually does have evidence of significant wrong-doing, national security implications, and indications of massive political incompetence. Why? Because—Democrats are involved. So the train hamsters cover up their naked bias and nod their heads.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Pushback

In a really entertaining back and forth on Donald Trump's proposed legal immigration policy* between Jim Acosta of CNN and the administration's Stephen Miller, Acosta suggested that requiring some proficiency in English and a markable skill that might add value to our country was "against our values."

Really? What "values" exactly? I guess, according to Acosta, they're the values espoused in a 19th century Emma Lazarus poem about "huddled masses." In a way, that's kind of laughable. Acosta and his ilk would be the first to note that the 18th century Constitution of the United States is a living document that is open to broad interpretation so that it fits our modern times. But an 19th century poem—oh yeah, that's sacrosanct.

But there is a bigger issue here. Why is it that those on the Left (and Acosta, like most of the trained hamsters in the main stream media, is a denizen of the Left) have decided that they and they alone have a monopoly on "our values?" To be blunt, who appointed them as the sole arbiter of what American values are?

The inimitable Kurt Schlichter comments:
You want to know why you got Trump? This is why you got Trump. He was the only nominee not telling normal Americans “You’re stupid, so shut up and do what you're told.”

But the liberals don't see anything wrong with that. They do think you're stupid, and that you should shut up and let them tell you what to do. This arrogance is a result of the false premise underpinning America’s elite class. That false premise is that the prestigious educational credentials that confer elite status also confer competence. Nope.

Basically, 17-year-olds apply and get accepted to the right college and this itself is a sufficient achievement to enroll them in the elite. They don’t have to actually do anything once they are accepted because no one fails to graduate from the Harvards or Yales unless he chooses to drop out, or unless he's a male who gets jammed up by a kangaroo court because he broke up with some bitter chick who then carries a mattress around because of patriarchy or something. So basically, you get into the Ivy League and then you start school at 18 and then you're set. You're part of the elite, and everyone else should bow down and acknowledge your awesomeness.

These people imagine they attained their lofty positions as a result of their successful performance within a strict meritocracy, and that their cultural power is not just the result of their efforts but of their innate moral goodness. But here’s the thing about America’s meritocracy - is it really so much for us to expect that those occupying the heights of the meritocracy start showing some merit?

We keep hearing from them about how society is such a mess, that we are besieged by problems, and that our society is a disaster. Of course, the solution is always to shift more and more power and money from the normals to the elite. But this raises a question the elite never seems to ask: Who the hell has been in charge while all these crises were percolating?
And there is the rub. The elite media doesn't like it when people like Steven Miller, or for that matter, the President of the United States, push back. They really don't like it when they are accused of the things (e.g., racism) that they so blithely accuse others of.

The American people have observed the elites (both Dem and GOP) and their policies for many decades. The results of elite governance are very mixed. They are certainly not all good. The elites have created generation after generation of dependents who now demand rights that don't exist and free stuff from the government that isn't at all free.

It's long past time for some pushback, and the elites don't like that one bit.


FOOTNOTE:
-------------------
* As a practical matter, I disagree with some of the changes proposed by Trump. I believe that legal immigration is a net positive and that vetted immigrants should be allowed to enter our country in approximately the same numbers as the past. I also believe that English language skills are important, but not mandatory, if the person has other attributes that warrant admission. But all that's beside the point. Trump's comments represent a proposal that would be modified extensively by Congress before any legislation is passed and would likely be softened, as it should be. It is however, completely acceptable to follow the many countries (e.g., Canada, Australia) that do establish some requirements for legal immigrants, including establishing a requirement that those immigrants do not stress our social welfare system immediately upon arrival.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Threat to Our Democracy

Yascha Mounk writes a New York Times op-ed in which he hyperventilates about how Donald Trump is "destroying" our democracy. Although this is pablum for the typical NYT reader, it's worth deconstructing Mounk's hysteria. Here's the introduction to his piece:
America is on its way to a full-blown constitutional crisis.

Over just a few days last week, President Trump and his allies stepped up attacks on Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the campaign’s connections to Russia. They tried to push Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of office. They thought out loud about whether the president can pardon himself.

This all points to the same conclusion: Mr. Trump is willing to deal a major blow to the rule of law — and the American Republic — in order to end an independent investigation into his Russia ties.

It is tempting to picture the demise of democracy as a Manichaean drama in which the stakes are clear from the start and the main actors fully understand their roles: Would-be dictators rail against democracy, hire violent thugs to do their bidding and vow to destroy the opposition. When they demand expanded powers or attack independent institutions, their supporters and opponents alike realize that authoritarianism has arrived.

There have, in fact, been a few times and places when the villains were quite as villainous, and the heroes quite as heroic. (Think Germany in the 1930s.) But in most cases, the demise of democracy has been far more gradual and far easier to overlook.
So ... Trump objects to an investigation in which the supposedly "independent investigator" has appointed an all-Democratic legal team (some of whom were active Clinton supporters). By the way, the special counsel is the mentor and good friend of the accuser, James Comey. Trump has the temerity to suggest that there may be conflict of interest and more than a little bias. Wow! The real threat to the rule of law is the apparent lack of even-handedness by the special counsel and the significant chance that the "investigation" will become nothing more than a witch hunt. We'll see whether the special counsel addresses the connections between Fushion GPS, the Russians, and the Dems. If he does not, that's a clear tell that the entire investigation is biased.

Trump's attacks on Sessions, as classless and stupid as they were, are well within his right a president. Does Mounk believe that Sessions and Sessions alone is "the law"? Does he think that by eliminating Sessions or Comey or Mueller, for that matter, the gears of justice would grind to a halt? That's a pretty dark and profoundly ignorant view of how our legal system works.

Mounk continues [my rejoinder in italicized brackets]:
In recent weeks, he [Trump] has treated a gathering of Boy Scouts like a campaign rally.

[Gosh, the previous Democrat president never did anything analogous to that in front of young people at dozens of friendly college campuses, did he?)

He has asked soldiers for political support at a ceremonial event.

[The previous Democratic president created rules of engagement that got more than a few of our soldiers killed. I suspect Mounk was silent during that period].

He has implied that policemen should rough up suspects they arrest.

[The previous Democrat president implied that the police were racists and was largely silent when activists suggested that killing cops was a good idea. I'd be interested to hear Mounk expound on that.]

He has continued to feud with the country’s intelligence community.

[Yes ... a community that never pushed back when unethical 'unmarking' requests were made by the previous administration, and that has illegally leaked classified information in an effort to destroy the current president.]

And he has suggested he still wants Hillary Clinton prosecuted.

[I thought Mounk professed to be a champion of the rule of law. Hillary clearly obstructed justice when she destroyed 33,000 emails as an FBI investigation commenced. She potentially colluded with foreign powers and participated in pay-for-play when she accepted donations to The Clinton Foundation and exorbitant speaking fees. But it seems that Mounk believes that level of law breaking pales in comparison to the current, evidence free mirage of "Russian collusion."]
Mr. Mounk rambles on for many additional paragraphs, all suggesting that we're just a tiny step toward the dissolution of out democracy because—Trump. He furthers the #Resistance hysteria that Trump is "emulating the playbook of popularly elected strongmen who have done deep, lasting damage to their countries’ democratic institutions."

Hmmm. I wonder whether the serial dishonesty of the previous administration did any damage to our democracy? Or maybe the myriad serious scandals of the previous administration that had government agencies weaponized against American citizens? Or maybe the lies promulgated during the 2012 campaign to cover-up the actual events leading up to the death of four Americans (including a U.S. Ambassador) in Benghazi? Nah. I'm fairly certain that Mounk believes that none of that threatened our democracy because—the Democrats were responsible and their hearts are pure.

The shrill cries from #Resistance that our democracy is threatened indicate a complete lack of understanding of what our democracy is. In fact, the irony is that the hysteria surrounding Donald Trump indicates that progressives and Democrats refuse to accept the results of a legitimate democratic vote.

That's the real threat to our Democracy, but progressives like Mounk are too foolish to recognize that (paraphrasing the words of Pogo), "they've met the enemy, and it is them."

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Moral Imperative

In a show of unity that would make GOP senators blush, 45 Senate Democrats penned a letter in which they take the position that tax reform will work only if the vast majority of people who pay income taxes get absolutely, positively, unequivocally no tax cut. After all, following their tried and true class warfare mantra that the "rich don't pay their fair share", the Dems rely on soaking the rich to pay for the waste, fraud, abuse, and general inefficiency that is federal spending. Tax cuts imply spending cuts, and that is anathema to every Democrat.

Of course there are a few inconvenient facts that the Dems try to avoid. James Freeman describes them:
In February the Tax Foundation highlighted IRS data showing that the top one percent of income earners pay more than 39% of income taxes, and the top 5% pay nearly 60%.

The government has become so efficient at soaking the one percent—even as Democrats have become expert in stoking hatred against this hard-working group—that even a die-hard Sandernista would have to be impressed. The Tax Foundation explains:
In 2014, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid $543 billion, or 39.48 percent of all income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent paid $400 billion, or 29.12 percent of all income taxes.
You’d never know it from the standard harangues from Democrats about the rich paying their fair share, but the top quarter of income earners, which is perhaps a reasonable definition of the “upper class,” pay nearly 87% of federal income taxes. If the party’s most hysterical class warriors want to rule out relief for the top half of U.S. income earners, then they’re talking about the group paying more than 97% of income taxes.
Progressives would point out that income inequality is to blame. But again, they would omit the simple fact that such inequality got worse under eight years of Democratic governance. For just a moment, consider what income equality actually implies—that rewards for innovation, education, hard work, perseverance, risk taking, and a laundry list of other characteristics that lead to high income should have no bearing on financial outcomes. That a person willing to give up low, but safe wages in exchange for starting a small business that might have higher financial rewards is not worthy of those rewards. That soaking the rich with taxes will magically lead to equality of incomes. That's fantasy thinking, but predictably normal for progressives. But I digress.

In their letter, the Dems call for “real relief for working families” but absolutely refuse to even consider reductions in the rate of spending (much less actual spending cuts) to provide that relief. It's a wonderful sham—profess to want to help "working families" but do everything possible to stifle economic grow and the resultant jobs and small businesses it creates while at the same time refusing to provide relief to those who pay 87 percent of all income taxes collected.

After all, the Democrats know far better how to spend our hard-earned money that we do. It's their moral imperative to make government ever bigger, ever more intrusive, ever more wasteful, and ever more inefficient.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Smear—A Book Review

If there was ever any question about blatant left-leaning media bias, Sharyl Attkisson has put it to rest in her book, The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote. She combines a discussion of the shadowy denizens of "the swamp" who conduct opposition research to forward a left (or right)-wing narrative, along with how those denizens use a compliant media to promulgate and expand that narrative. She discusses the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent to perform these tasks and the manner in which they are used by political parties and corporations to shape public sentiment.

Attkisson, a professional who admits she leans slightly left, is one of a relatively few truly unbiased investigative journalists working in the United States, does an outstanding job of breaking down "the smear" and how it shapes the news we get, the prevailing attitudes we have, and the outright corruption and unprofessional conduct of a significant majority of mainstream media outlets.

She summarizes the current state of media affairs with this comment on the politics of 2016:
Not a day goes by without the voting public getting pummeled by countless narratives—some based on grains of truth; others wholly invented for the audience. Racist, Wall Street lackey, crooked, liar, cheat, white nationalist, socialist, womanizer, misogynist, corrupt, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, basket of deplorables, fraudster, loser, alt-right, delusional, dangerous, mentally ill, pay-for-player, and tax cheat. Assisted by ideologues, shady political operatives, and dark Internet outfits seeking moneymaking clicks, Campaign 2016 shatters all records in the smear department."
But the interesting issue is what lies behind all of this. Attkisson emphasizes the problem with a few quotes from the infamous Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebels, who wrote:
  • "A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”
  • "Not every item of news should be published."
  • "Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.”
  • “The truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
  • “It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.”
  • “Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred.”"
Spend a few seconds thinking about how the state of main stream media reporting over the past decade conforms almost exactly to the principles espoused in Goebel's quotes.

Attkisson creates a new term, "transactional journalism" and then defines it in this way:
Transactional journalism refers to the friendly, mutually beneficial relationships that have developed between reporters and those on whom they report. It’s when the relationships cross a line beyond chumminess and the players strike clandestine business deals, whether formally or implicitly, to report on people and topics a certain way. Reporters may offer favorable treatment in exchange for getting a “scoop.” They may agree to let an interview subject dictate terms when it comes to topic and timing of publication. They may promise to ask some questions and avoid others. They may carry on cozy relationships that allow their reporting to be influenced in ways they don’t disclose to the public. Usually reporters afford the most favorable treatment to those with whom they are ideologically in synch. All of this crosses an ethical line, in my opinion.

Transactional journalism results in a perverted dynamic. Public officials manipulate the press into competing to be first to receive government and political propaganda—self-serving rumors or press releases promoting agendas or smearing opponents. The reporter who’s first to publish these handouts gets a hearty pat on the back from colleagues. “Great get!” they say. In the news business a “great get” used to mean that you, as a reporter, got an exclusive story as a result of your ingenuity, shoe-leather journalism, and persistence. Today it simply means you’re the recipient of a White House or political party leak ...

Transactional journalism has become key to a smear artist’s ability to formulate a Truman Show–esque alternate existence all around us. As with astroturf, it’s a vehicle to create a smoke screen, making narratives appear to be organic, hard-nosed journalism when they’re the exact opposite.
For many years I have referred to the thousands of "journalists" that populate the generally left-leaning mainstream media as "trained hamsters". The trained hamsters are masters of transactional journalism. And it's not as if they participate unknowingly. Because of their obvious bias, they participate in the smear with enthusiasm and are rewarded by their peers and celebrated with media awards even though their professionalism and ethics are highly questionable. They are, in effect "democratic operatives with bylines." [Glen Reynolds]

Attkisson focuses on Media Matters and the dozens of affiliated groups as examples of how the smear industry works. The person behind Media Matters is David Brock, once a right-wing operative who transitioned himself into the left-wing advocate as the Clintons ascended to power. Media matters, often quoted as a legitimate source of news, is a corrupt and very often dishonest smear shop. It does opposition research, funded with tens of millions of dollars from Democratic fat cats, then passes that research on to enthusiastic pro-Democrat media who disseminate it as actual news. Attkisson sites dozens of instances where this has happened, follows the money from big donors all the way to political candidates and into the pockets of Brock and his associates, and provides case after case of clear, irrefutable evidence of the influence of Brock's smear empire.

But Media Matters does far more than interact with the trained hamsters. It creates boiler rooms of paid employees with the specific intent of shaping the conversation on social media. It uses hundreds or even thousands of dummy accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, with the objective of trolling in a manner that shuts down social media threads that don't serve the narrative preferred by its masters.

Attkisson then goes on to provide a template for how politicians (e.g., The Clintons) use Brock and others to muffle potential scandals before they can be reported fully or investigated. Examples abound from the Obama years: the Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, and many others. She details how the federal agent who was the whistleblower for Fast and Furious (Obama administration-sponsored gun-running across the Mexican border) was "controversialized" and ultimately almost destroyed by the smear shops. The intent, of course, was to negate his testimony and ultimately make the scandal go away. The train hamsters of the mainstream media we're only too happy to oblige. The smear shops succeeded. Today, the same smear shops are successfully blunting the impact of at least five major scandals, because each involves the Democrats.

Attkisson describes how specific media personalities collude with Democrat politicians to shape the news in favor of the Democratic Party. One example among dozens is the manner in which PBS and the Democrats coordinated Hillary Clinton's flip-flop on the TPC trade deal. Another is the manner in which John Harwood of CNN coordinated with contacts in the Democratic party to ensure that he asked the right questions during an interview with Jeb Bush. His activities were both unprofessional and unethical.

The Smear is a deeply troubling book. It describes the rot that has set in throughout the main stream media and the shadowy people behind the celebrity "journalists and commentators" who encourage the rot to spread and deepen.

Sharyl Attkisson's, The Smear, has revelations on almost every page; it breaks down the smear process so one can recognize it as it is happening; it names names; it cites clear and irrefutable evidence of media bias and collusion, and it follows the money. It is, in short, an full-blown indictment of the media landscape in 2017.