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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


In a desperate effort to support the indictment of Paul Manafort et al on charges that have absolutely nothing to do with Russian collusion (more on that in tomorrow's post), the trained hamsters in the media are now rehashing the Russian anti-Hillary Facebook ads. Talking hamster heads breathlessly promote the very questionable claim that these ads "reached" 127 million people. Not that the ads influenced those people or that the people even noticed them, but rather that they "reached" Facebook participants. That would be like saying that 20 million people fly over the Grand Canyon at 30,000 feet each year on cross-country flights, so therefore, all 20 million have visited the Grand Canyon. Idiocy.

To date and no matter the hard facts (e.g., Facebook idiocy, Mueller indictments on unrelated charges, meaningless meetings by low level functionaries that led to no meaningful action), the four constituencies have been unable to produce any evidence whatsoever that Trump worked with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. The latest idiocy is the contention that $100,000 in Facebook ads is the smoking gun that the four constituencies so desperately need. The trained hamsters in the mainstream media reported this as if the Russians had kidnapped Mark Zuckerberg and made him do a hostage video in which he shilled for Donald Trump. Since that gained little traction, they now their newest claim about "reach." Of course, they provide no context, no qualifiers and no proof, but why should that surprise anyone?

Mark Penn (who has been a pollster for the democrats) breaks all of this down:
The fake news about fake news is practically endless. Americans worried about Russia’s influence in the 2016 election have seized on a handful of Facebook ads—as though there weren’t also three 90-minute debates, two televised party conventions, and $2.4 billion spent on last year’s campaign. The danger is that bending facts to fit the Russia story line may nudge Washington into needlessly and recklessly regulating the internet and curtailing basic freedoms.

After an extensive review, Facebook has identified $100,000 of ads that came from accounts associated with Russia. Assume for the sake of argument that Vladimir Putin personally authorized this expenditure. Given its divisive nature, the campaign could be dubbed “From Russia, With Hate”—except it would make for a disappointing James Bond movie.

Analyzing the pattern of expenditures, and doing some back-of-the-envelope math, it’s clear this was no devilishly effective plot. Facebook says 56% of the ads ran after the election, reducing the tally that could have influenced the result to about $44,000. It also turns out the ads were not confined to swing states but also shown in places like New York, California and Texas. Supposing half the ads went to swing states brings the total down to $22,000.

Facebook also counted ads as early as June 2015. Assuming they were evenly spread and we want only those that ran the year of the election, that knocks it down to $13,000. Most of the ads did not solicit support for a candidate and carried messages on issues like racism, immigration and guns. The actual electioneering then amounts to about $6,500.
So ... in an election in which over 2 billion dollars were spent, $6,500 made all the difference. I recognize that far too many democrats appear to be innumerate, but even someone who is numerically challenged can probably understand that the Facebook ads represent 0.000003 of all money spent and that that infinitesmally small fraction couldn't possibly overcome the tsunami of free media (not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in ads) that favored Hillary by wide margins.

Tim Blair summarizes with tongue in cheek:
... all Hillary had at her disposal to counter these social media ads – did anyone actually see them? – was the combined might of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, USA Today, every major television network, all late-night comedy hosts, NPR, CNN, several Fox News presenters, Hollywood stars and music stars, plus tons of Facebook and Twitter content. The poor woman never stood a chance.

Yet we are to believe that somehow, some way, 0.000003 swayed the election. Idiocy!

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Cosmopolitan Magazine (certainly NOT a serious periodical dedicated to social commentary) has an article suggesting the children shouldn't dress up as Disney character Moana because that would cause them to appropriate Hawaiian culture. At first, I though the article was satire, but nope, it's serious.

"Cultural appropriation" is a new social justice meme defined (Wikipedia) as:
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of the elements of one culture by members of another culture. Cultural appropriation, often framed as cultural misappropriation, is sometimes portrayed as harmful and is claimed to be a violation of the collective intellectual property rights of the originating culture.
Obviously, using cultural elements that ridicule another culture is not a good idea, but how, exactly, does a Moana costume do any damage to Hawaiian culture? For that matter, how does wearing a Mexican sombrero insult Mexican culture or a Sari somehow damage Indian culture? Maybe dressing up as a witch might be an insult to the Wiccan religion.

Kurt Schlichter suggests that there's a relatively simple and effective response when social justice warriors (SJWs) make crazy demands like the no Moana costume rule—Just say no! In referring to SJWs and their dictates he writes:
... these idiots have no power if we just laugh at them and say “No.” That’s all it takes to stop all this stupidity cold. What are they going to do? Force us to conform? Unlikely – most of them couldn’t even do a push-up, especially the ones that identify as male. No, they seek to impose a Dictatorship of the Scoldatariat, clinging to power not through bayonets but by constant braying and badgering.

It’s so simple to resist them – we just have to start giggling and saying, “Yeah, no, I’m not going to do that.
But there's a bit more to it. SJWs never seem to be satisfied. If you comply with one of their demands, other demands follow in short order. Again, Schlichter identifies the underlying issue:
This endless series of new rules is supposed to keep you off-balance and constantly vulnerable to their correction and guidance. You will never, ever be right – there’s always some new infraction for which you must submit to further restrictions of your right to self-governance. And the rules don’t make sense. Remember how you thought it was important for girls to be empowered by play where they model themselves after strong girl characters like Moana? Wrong! You’ve failed again, because in attempting to comply with their gender dictates (and make no mistake – SJWs have just as firm ideas of gender roles as normal people, except their ideas are terrible) you will inevitably run afoul of some other dictate. It’s intersectional all right, like an intersection with no traffic lights where you’re going to end up in a wreck one way or the other.

You can’t win, so why do some people play this game instead of telling these buffoons where to get off?
Actually, you can win, but in order to do that you can't give in to the abject idiocy of demands that little kids shouldn't wear Moana Halloween costumes.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Tax Reform

Yesterday, congress passed a budget, setting the stage for tax reform that has been long overdue. The Democrats argue that their concern is now budget deficits (that's rich, given their profligate spending over the past eight years), coupled with their vacuous, yet predictable claim that the tax cuts will only benefit"the rich." They refuse to participate. Fine.

James Freeman comments:
Democrats are so frustrated at their inability to stop tax cuts that they have adopted a disturbing new message in their latest factually challenged attack on the Republican reform effort. The attack isn’t succeeding—the House adopted a budget Thursday that clears the way for $1.5 trillion in tax relief over 10 years. But the ugly turn in rhetoric provides a window into the stakes of this debate for the economic left.

The ironically titled Affordable Care Act is rightly seen as the signature policy of former President Barack Obama. But also at the heart of the Obama legacy are the eight years of historically slow growth that Americans endured while he occupied the White House.

In trying to persuade Americans that this was a record of success—rather than the failure it was by traditional metrics like GDP growth—Obama Administration veterans like Larry Summers and leftist pundits like Paul Krugman have argued that it’s very unlikely that the economy can grow as fast as it used to do. If pro-growth tax cuts now become law and the economy shifts into a higher gear, the Obama legacy will be tarnished even more and the slow-growth crowd will be discredited.
I have lamented the growing national debt on numerous occasions, but it appears that neither the GOP nor the Dems are either willing or able to make the necessary spending cuts or entitlement reforms. That leaves only one option, spur economic growth above the pathetic 2 percent level that blue governance has given us over the past eight years. That growth can only be achieved if more money remains in the pockets of small and large companies and individual citizens at all income levels. Ironically, a meaningful increase in growth (GDP) always results in increased government revenue—history proves that every single time.

The Dems continue to use the tired argument that tax cuts and reform benefit only "the rich." They demagogue this issue endlessly, even though the facts contradict their position at every turn. Economic research indicates that the middle class would, in fact, get two raises if the current effort at tax reform succeeds: (1) from the money that remains in their pockets after a direct tax cut, and (2) from a cut in corporate taxes. Kevin A. Hassett and Aparna Mathur, researchers who study economic tends, write:
In a 2007 paper Federal Reserve economist Alison Felix used data from the Luxembourg Income Study, which tracks individual incomes across 30 countries, to show that a 10% increase in corporate tax rates reduces wages by about 7%. In a 2009 paper Ms. Felix found similar patterns across the U.S., where states with higher corporate tax rates have significantly lower wages. In another 2009 paper, Ms. Felix and co-author James R. Hines of the University of Michigan discovered that the effects of lower tax rates are especially strong for union workers.

Confirmation has come in a number of additional settings. Harvard University economists Mihir Desai, Fritz Foley and Michigan’s James R. Hines have studied data from American multinational firms, finding that their foreign affiliates tend to pay significantly higher wages in countries with lower corporate tax rates. A study by Nadja Dwenger, Pia Rattenhuber and Viktor Steiner found similar patterns across German regions, and a study by Clemens Fuest, Andreas Peichl and Sebastian Siegloch found the same across German municipalities.

The most recent paper to find significant effects on wages was released in May and will soon be published by Canadian economists Kenneth McKenzie and Ergete Ferede. They found that wages in Canadian provinces drop by more than a dollar when corporate tax revenue is increased by a dollar. Similar patterns have been identified when Canadian economists have studied individual-level income data.

These studies and others convincingly demonstrate that higher wages are relatively easy to stimulate for a nation. One need only cut corporate tax rates. Left and right leaning countries have done this over the past two decades, including Japan, Canada and Germany. Yet in the U.S. we continue to undermine wage growth with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.
But the Dems refuse to accept this information because they fear that big government just might loose some influence if it doesn't control us via taxation. And for the Dems, it appears that Big Intrusive Government is all that really matters. So Chuck Schumer, Liz Warren et al tell us that high taxes are a good thing, even though (as usual) they hurt the very people who the Dems purport to care so much about.

The Democrats also dust off the "fair share" meme whenever tax reform is discussed. They mantra is that "the rich don't pay their fair share." Ari Fleischer comments:
The top ten percent of earners, those making more than $138,000 in 2015, made 47 percent of the nation’s income, but they paid 71 percent of the nation’s income tax. The top 1 percent, the people former President Obama decried the most, made 21 percent of the nation’s income in 2015, but they paid 39 percent of the nation’s income tax.

Not only are these people paying their fair share, they’re picking up other people’s shares as well.

Roughly half the taxpayers in the U.S. pay no income taxes. As a practical matter, most taxpayers need to make around $39,000 before they’re hit by the income tax. All taxpayers pay the payroll tax, but according to a recent study by the Urban Institute, when workers retire, Social Security and Medicare give taxpayers their money back. The less money you make, the more likely you are to get all your payroll taxes back, and then some.
So the "fair share" argument, like almost every other Democrat objection to tax reform, isn't based on fact or reason, but rather on an emotional demand that we redistribute income even more than we currently do.

Tax reform is not a done deal, but if it does occur, the country and the people who live in it will be far better off (literally and figuratively) than they have been over the past eight years.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Drip, Drip, Drip

Throughout her entire political career, Hillary Clinton left a trail of dishonesty, corruption and incompetence. Yet, she was protected by an army of Clinton soldiers (including many in the media) who would express indignation and outrage whenever facts were presented that highlighted her unsavory activities along the trail. Her soldiers would spin, obfuscate, misdirect and otherwise deflect, allowed her to believe that although she was often attacked, she was otherwise bulletproof.

Fusion GPS. It's now clear that Clinton campaign (and the DNC funded an oppo research project that funneled money directly to the Russians—yeah, that would be the same Russians that Hillary was oh-so upset about after Trump won the election. But that's not the important part. It appears that the dossier that resulted was leaked by Clintonistas to the media and the FBI and that the allegations in the dossier (since proven false) may have been used to justify government surveillance of the Trump campaign and its staff during the presidential campaign. One of the recent Democrat and GOP #nevertrump meme is that Donald trump is "a threat to Democracy." Gotta wonder what government spying on a presidential campaign with the intent of aided the other candidate might be.

Uranium One. Growing evidence indicates that the Clinton enriched themselves, and with the help of allies, subverted normal government oversight in order to allow fat cats to acquire a major stake in U.S. uranium production. The details remain murky but the players (including Russians) donated heavily to The Clinton Foundation and offered outrageously high speaking fees to Bill Clinton before government decisions were made. This smacks of bribery and corruption and is unquestionably unethical and more likely, criminal. One of the recent Democrat and GOP #nevertrump meme is that Donald Trump is "had business dealing in Russia" and that somehow was criminal. Gotta wonder how to interpret the payment of vast sums of Russian money to the Clintons (the Foundation is the Clintons) and then seeing government decisions beneficial to the Russians controlled in part by Hillary and the administration she worked for.

Hillary's genius throughout her career has been to remain just far enough away from the dishonesty and corruption she fosters that she can maintain deniability and at the same time argue that factual claims against her are part of a "vast right wing consiracy." Think: Whitewater, her private email server, Benghazi, and now Fusion GPS and Uranium One, as examples. She frowns, feigns outrage, calls hard facts "baloney," and her acolytes eat it up.

Since these latest scandals broke, the Clinton army has worked overtime to spin, obfuscate, misdirect, and otherwise deflect. Her trained hamsters in the media have worked hard to downplay the facts, either ignoring them in their entirety (so far, the norm), burying them on the back pages, or suggesting that all of this is nothing more than a partisan attempt to bring Hillary down—you know, the nefarious "right wing conspiracy."

I'm still not convinced that much will come of this. Hillary has the unique ability to slither away from scandal after scandal. But the drip, drip, drip of the emerging facts just might cause her to move out of the limelight. After all, that would allow her to retire and spend the tens of millions of dollars that she and Bill have acquired from activities not unlike Uranium One.


There's yet another element of these scandals that is as yet untouchable. Exactly what did the other members of the Obama administration have to do with all of this? Was the FBI weaponized against Trump during the campaign? Was the DoJ complicit in any of this? Were other government agencies encouraged to follow Clinton's lead in the Uranium One decision? Drip, drip, drip.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fair Game

Late yesterday, the vaunted Washington Post caved and decided to act like a real newspaper.* They (finally) reported blockbuster news that many of us have discussed for weeks. Uranium One and Fusion GPS (here, here, here, and here) are major scandals that point to dishonesty and corruption on the part of the Clintons, the Obama administration, and sadly, the FBI.

In their story, WaPo indicates that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC funded Fusion GPS and (get ready) indirectly colluded with the Russians to smear the candidate Donald Trump; that the Obama Justice department looked the other way, and that the FBI did little to report their knowledge that some of the principals were under investigation.

I, for one, thought that the mainstream media would bury these stories indefinitely, but it looks like the dishonesty and corruption were too significant even for the trained hamsters. Risking a Machiavellian interpretation, could it be that Hillary has fallen out of favor among the newly formed hard-left Dems who have put the word out that she's now fair game? Nah ... couldn't be, could it?


* It's worth mentioning that The New York Times didn't print this blockbuster story on page one today. They'll be dragged into it kicking and screaming, I suppose, but the trained hamsters at the NYT would rather focus on the #FakeNews associated with Trump-Russia collusion. Pathetic. Further update: The NYT did place a detailed story in the politics section of the paper, but that begs the question why NYT felt compelled to report every insignificant nuance of the phony Trump collusion claims on page one, but somehow felt this blockbuster scandal could be relegated to a less scanned section of their paper and site.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


The Democrats opened the door to an investigation of how the Ruskies' nefarious activities somehow caused Hillary Clinton to lose an election she should have won easily. Unfortunately, not a single shred of meaningful evidence has yet surfaced to indicate that Donald Trump colluded with Vlad Putin to defeat Hillary. Not. One. Shred.

How can I be so sure? Because if any evidence, no matter how far-fetched or meaningless, was uncovered it would have been leaked to the media by one of the four constituencies that would like nothing more than to destroy Trump presidency in its first year. Yet ... nothing.

Coincidentally, two real scandals—Uranium One and Fushion GPS—backed by facts, dates, people, monetary transactions, and nefarious activities have emerged, and the Dems ... well ... they are doing what they always do. With the help of their trained hamsters in the media, they are obfuscating when they can and burying the information when they must.

Investor's Business Daily comments:
As of Friday, we couldn't find a single mention of it [the Uranium One scandal] on the websites of ABC News, NBC News, CBS News or CNN or USA Today. MSNBC devoted a few minutes to the story on air on Thursday.

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post ran a perfunctory AP story that was focused not on The Hill's revelations, but on Trump's tweet about the lack of media coverage. The AP story contained a one paragraph summary of The Hill's new findings.

The Washington Post ran a separate piece, but it was aimed at dismissing the significance of what The Hill had uncovered, while complaining that conservatives were "jumping waaay ahead of the facts."

That complaint is amusing coming from the Washington Post, which has repeatedly jumped waaay ahead of the facts, to the point of repeatedly getting them wrong, on the wafer-thin Trump-Russia "collusion" story.
But something esle is going on as well.

For the past week, a congresswoman from Florida has become a national celebrity by castigating Donald Trump for the "tone" of a sympathy call Trump made to the wife of a special ops soldier who was killed in action in Niger. For days, the media discussed the story, then pivoted to attack former General John Kelly, a gold star parent, who held a meeting with the press on the matter. Now, the media have pivoted to the Niger attack itself, suggesting, without a single shred of evidence to support the claim, that Niger is "Trump's Benghazi."

But here's the thing. I believe that both stories are feints. Their timing was coincidental, to be sure, but the media hysteria over both is a purposeful feint that allows the trained hamsters to claim that their lack of coverage of real scandals (Uranium One and Fushion GPS) was due to the time required to cover the faux "scandals." The Democrat/Media playbook is to try to run out the clock, to obfuscate and stonewall, to misdirect (look, a squirrel!), to deny and accuse, and to use the media as a buffer against actual wrong doing and government corruption. And it works! Very well, in fact.


Victor Davis Hansen comments:
Despite having both an expansive budget and a large legal team, Special Investigator Robert Mueller likely will not find President Trump culpable for any Russian collusion—or at least no court or congressional vote would, even if Mueller recommends an indictment.

That likelihood becomes clearer as the Trump investigators—in Congress, in the Justice Department, and the legions in the media—begin to grow strangely silent about the entire collusion charge, as other scandals mount and crowd out the old empty story. This news boomerang poses the obvious question—was the zeal of the original accusers of felony behavior with the Russian collusion merely an attempt at deflection? Was it designed to protect themselves from being accused of serious crimes?
It's possible that VDH is correct, but I think it's more likely that the Democrats feel bullet proof where scandals are concerned. After the eight years of the Obama administration, it became obvious to them that the media (the primary arbiter of what becomes a scandal) would not thoroughly investigate the Dems because the media is them. Realistically, they're right. Sadly, I suspect that their arrogance will not be their undoing.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fusion GPS - Part 2

The Democrats just might rue the day they ginned up a phony "collusion scandal" in their unhinged efforts to somehow delegitimize or impeach an duly elected president. Their actions have opened to door to more in-depth investigation of the Russian connection and as a consequence, their recent candidate, Hillary Clinton, may swept up in a bribery and corruption scandal that just might require defense attorneys and court appearances. In two recent blog posts (here and here) I recount the current status of the a scandal involving Russian bribes and corruption related to the acquisition of Uranium resources. But that's just the beginning.

A few years after the "Uranium One" activities occurred, the Dems were in bed with a smear shop, Fusion GPS, that manufactured a fake dossier in an attempt to impugne Hillary Clinton's opponent, Donald Trump. Worse, a partisan FBI director (James Comey) and Obama Justice Department used the dossier to justify surveillance of Trump campaign officials during the campaign itself..

Kim Strassel discusses Fusion GPS:
Fusion is known as a ruthless firm that excels in smear jobs, but few have noticed the operation it’s conducting against the lawmakers investigating it. The false accusations against Mr. Nunes—that he’s acting unethically and extralegally, that he’s sabotaging the Russia probe—are classic.

This is a firm that in 2012 was paid to dig through the divorce records of a Mitt Romney donor. It’s a firm that human-rights activist Thor Halvorssen testified was hired to spread malicious rumors about him. It’s a firm that financier Bill Browder testified worked to delegitimize his efforts to get justice for Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer beaten to death in a Russian prison.

It’s the firm behind the infamous “dossier” accusing Donald Trump of not just unbecoming behavior but also colluding with Russia. Republicans are investigating whether the Fusion dossier was influenced by Russians, and whether American law enforcement relied on that disinformation for its own probe.

But Fusion’s secret weapon in its latest operation is the Democratic Party, whose most powerful members have made protecting Fusion’s secrets their highest priority. Senate Democrats invoked a parliamentary maneuver in July to block temporarily Mr. Browder’s public testimony. Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, has been engineering flaps to undercut and obstruct Mr. Nunes’s investigation. Democrats on the House Ethics Committee have deep-sixed what was meant to be a brief inquiry to clear Mr. Nunes so as to keep him sidelined.
Like all scumbag politicians, the Dems who have circled the wagons around Fusion GPS have done so to protect the party from yet another major scandal. They hyperventilate about phony "Russian collusion" but when potentially criminal activity swirls around their party and the Russians ...stonewalling and obfuscation are the words of the day.

After kicking and screaming for months, Fusion GPS was dragged before a House committee to testify. The spokesperson for Fusion took the Fifth. The trained hamsters in the media yawned and didn't even report on the events that followed. Strassel provides the details:
Florida Rep. Tom Rooney [Chair of the committee] put the Fusion attendees through a series of questions not out of spite but to clarify finally just what topics the firm is refusing to talk about. The Fifth Amendment doesn’t provide protection against answering all questions. It only protects against providing self-incriminating evidence. It is therefore revealing that Fusion took the Fifth on every topic—from its relationship with British spook Christopher Steele, to the history of its work, to its role in the dossier.

The untold story is the Democrats’ unprecedented behavior. Mr. Rooney had barely started when committee staffers for Mr. Schiff interrupted, accused him of badgering witnesses, and suggested he was acting unethically. Jaws dropped. Staff do not interrupt congressmen. They do not accuse them of misbehavior. And they certainly do not act as defense attorneys for witnesses. No Democratic lawmakers had bothered to come to the hearing to police this circus, and Mr. Rooney told me that he “won’t be doing any more interviews without a member from the minority present.”

Private-sector lawyers also tend not to accuse congressmen of unethical behavior, as Mr. Levy did in his letter to Mr. Nunes. But Fusion’s legal eagle must feel safe. He’s former general counsel to the Senate’s minority leader, Chuck Schumer. He has also, I’m told by people familiar with the committee’s activities, more than once possessed information that he would have had no earthly means of knowing, since it was secret committee business. Consider that: Democratic members of Congress or their staff providing sensitive details of an investigation to a company to which the committee has given subpoenas.
Gosh ... the Dems are being hyper-aggressive here, even for a party renowned for circling the wagons when dangerous information (about them) surfaces. Why is that? You'd almost think there's something just below the surface that they really, really don't want the public to learn. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Uranium One

It used to be that when a scandal got a simple name (e.g., Watergate, Iran Contra) the administration that was responsible was in trouble. The naming indicated that the mainstream media was focused, that investigations from the media would dig until serious wrongdoing was uncovered and the perpetrators were named. With the onslaught of bad press, the political class was forced to act.

Of course, that only occurred when a GOP administration was in power. During the Obama years there were many named scandals (e.g., Fast & Furious, Benghazi, the IRS Scandal), yet the trained hamsters of the main stream media looked the other way. After all, not a single trained hamster was willing to uncover evidence that might tarnish the god-like image they had created for Barack Obama.

But one Obama era scandal remained below the surface, and although it is no more serious than those already mentions, it just might be something that finally indicated the overall corruption of the past administration. It intangles not only Obama (who, of course, will deny any knowledge of the wrongdoing) but also a who's who of democratic players—Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Robert Mueller). And now it has a simple name—Uranium One.

I've already discussed Uranium One here and here. But despite media efforts to ignore the scandal, it has yet gone away. Andrew McCarthy comments:
Let’s put the Uranium One scandal in perspective: The cool half-million bucks the Putin regime funneled to Bill Clinton was five times the amount it spent on those Facebook ads — the ones the media-Democrat complex ludicrously suggests swung the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.

The Facebook-ad buy, which started in June 2015 — before Donald Trump entered the race — was more left-wing agitprop (ads pushing hysteria on racism, immigration, guns, etc.) than electioneering. The Clintons’ own long-time political strategist Mark Penn estimates that just $6,500 went to actual electioneering. (You read that right: 65 hundred dollars.) By contrast, the staggering $500,000 payday from a Kremlin-tied Russian bank for a single speech was part of a multi-million-dollar influence-peddling scheme to enrich the former president and his wife, then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton. At the time, Russia was plotting — successfully — to secure U.S. government approval for its acquisition of Uranium One, and with it, tens of billions of dollars in U.S. uranium reserves.

Here’s the kicker: The Uranium One scandal is not only, or even principally, a Clinton scandal. It is an Obama-administration scandal.

The Clintons were just doing what the Clintons do: cashing in on their “public service.” The Obama administration, with Secretary Clinton at the forefront but hardly alone, was knowingly compromising American national-security interests. The administration green-lighted the transfer of control over one-fifth of American uranium-mining capacity to Russia, a hostile regime — and specifically to Russia’s state-controlled nuclear-energy conglomerate, Rosatom. Worse, at the time the administration approved the transfer, it knew that Rosatom’s American subsidiary was engaged in a lucrative racketeering enterprise that had already committed felony extortion, fraud, and money-laundering offenses.
To paraphrase the blogger IowaHawk, the media will do everything possible to cover this scandal—with a pillow until it stops moving and dies. My guess is that like other named scandals involving their chosen One (and Hillary), Uranium One will be ignored and smothered as the Dems scream witch hunt and otherwise obfuscate, stonewall, and deflect.

If that happens, the Dems and their trained hamsters in the media will believe they've won still another victory, but by ignoring or burying corruption over and over again, they continue to dig a hole that may very well bury them.

Friday, October 20, 2017


Richard Fernandez is an impressive thinker whose unique assessment of the world stage is often spot on. But he is not an optimist. Consider this comment:
After several ominous rumbles outside the tower the individual creaks have finally merged into a continuous roar. Brexit, the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the crumbling of the Iran deal, America quitting UNESCO, Trump dismantling Obamacare, consular withdrawal from Cuba, the pullout from the Paris accord -- these have piled on so fast they've acquired the character of a single collective event. Now the fall of Hollywood has followed like the inevitable comedic boulder right on Wile E. Coyote's head at the bottom of the gulch. Are we still in Kansas anymore?

It's becoming increasingly hard to believe the world can return to the status quo ante, even if Trump is impeached. It's too far gone. A whole landscape has vanished seemingly overnight going from the post-Cold War to the post-post Cold War; from a post-Modernist culture to post-everything in the blink of an eye. Even the political scene is unrecognizable. The Republican party is in shambles; the Democrats in disarray.

It is as if a demolition crew has cleared a site leaving only a vacant lot. Some ask "when are the builders due?" Others more ominously ask "when are the zombies due?"
But Fernandez' list of "creaks" doesn't even touch the surface of the instability that we're witnessing:
  • Universities that suppress free speech, rather than promote a worthwhile debate about controversial ideas?
  • Groups that would rather see statues destroyed than maintaining them as reminders of of a history that might make us uneasy, but likewise, teaches important lessons.
  • Entire groups of people who take on the mantle of victims, suggesting that they have little responsibility for their own achievement or lack thereof.
  • Language and thought police who condemn those who question conventional wisdom and politically correct orthodoxy.
  • A sitting president who alternately picks fights with members of his own party and B-list comedians,
  • A recent presidential candidate who whines about her loss, creating the impression that our elections were rigged
  • A recent presidential candidate who may yet be indicted for federal crimes in a bribery and corruption scandal that is breaking at this time.
  • A past president whose administration was mired in so many serial scandals that they are still under investigation to this day
In an age when information is pervasive as well as intrusive, when social media like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter bombard almost everyone with news and Fake News, something has begun to happen. There was once the widespread illusion that we have competent national leadership, that an elite class knows best and generally does the right thing, that corruption in the United States was relatively minor, that academics who value knowledge and empirically-based evidence will report their findings honestly, that the mainstream media would report objectively and investigate political wrong-doing thoroughly, and that the political class has the country's best interests at heart. Today, across wide swaths of the general public, that illusion is gone. As a consequence, the status quo is crumbling, trust has vanished, and the long shadow of chaos has appeared around a dark corner.

And the Zombies? Well ... that's a discussion for another day.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Look! Another Squirrel

The trained hamsters have found a new squirrel—something about Donald Trump's interaction with Gold Star families. As always, there are allegations and counter-claims, but the bottom line is a game of gotcha. The hamsters want to make Trump look as venal as they possibly can; the Democrats want to characterize him as a monster who doesn't care about the military men and women who die in Combat with Islamic extremists; the deep state will offer mendacious leaks to back up those positions, and the GOP elites will cluck their tongues and pontificate about presidential tone and stature.

Meanwhile, in the a world were things do matter, a major scandal is breaking in slow motion. Alice Greene provides a worthwhile summary:
The controversial deal gave Russian company Rosatom control of Canadian mining company Uranium One, which controls 20% of America’s uranium deposits.

The deal required approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a 13-member group responsible for reviewing certain transactions that pose national security risks to the US.

The deal was unanimously approved by CFIUS, whose membership at the time included then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-Attorney General Eric Holder.

Fifteen months before CFIUS approved sale, the FBI began to investigate Rosatom officials suspected of bribery and racketeering. By 2010, the FBI had gathered enough evidence to prove that Rosatom officials were involved in a global bribery scheme. This information was not revealed until 2014.

In the meantime, the Uranium One deal went through and former President Bill Clinton collected millions in speech fees and charitable donations from Russia and other parties interested in the outcome of the deal.
The four constituencies would prefer to ignore these facts (possibly because they have actively participated in their development) so chasing gold star squirrels is a good distraction.

In yesterday's post, I wrote about this. It represents a level of corruption and government acquiescence that actually does threaten our democratic processes. It also—potentially—involves special counsel, Robert Meuller, who is now investigating the vacuous claims of Trump-Russian "collusion."

Roger Simon comments on all of this:
The collusion Trump & Co have been accused of is chickenfeed compared to twenty percent of U.S. uranium ending up in Putin's hands under the aegis of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, the latter two members of CFIUS (the inter-agency committee that reviews the transfer of U.S. companies to foreign entities and was then chaired by Timothy Geithner). We have heard disturbing allegations of this for some time, via "Clinton Cash" and even from the New York Times, but the new disclosure that a 2009 FBI investigation of this possible nuclear deal uncovered kickbacks, money laundering, and bribes from the Russian company involved (Rosatom) and yet it still was given the go-ahead by the Obama administration is -- I can think of no better word -- appalling. How could it have come to pass that this occurred? Why are we supposed to believe anyone now?

On Wednesday, Senator Grassley asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “What are you doing to find out how the Russian takeover of the American uranium was allowed to occur despite criminal conduct by the Russia company that the Obama administration approved the purchase?"

Evidently, not much. At least so far. In fact Sessions said that Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein, who led this long-hidden investigation, should "investigate himself."

No, Jeff. You may have properly recused yourself from the Russian investigation, despite Trump's criticism, but this one is your job ...
The media's latest squirrel is a purposeful faint, timed and intended, I believe, to redirect attention away from a major developing scandal. In fact, the conservative Media Research Center reports that "the network evening shows have only spent only 3 minutes and 1 second on the Clinton Foundation scandal in more than two years." That is as astounding as it is concerning.

This has been the modus operandi of the trained hamsters for the past decade and it has worked well for their masters in the Democratic party. We'll see if they succeed with it this time.


* The irony is that Clinton has recently been claiming that the Russians are a major threat and were in part responsible for her upset defeat to Donald Trump. If that's the case, why on earth did Clinton approve the sale of uranium to a company that was under federal investigation? More important, why did she accept 10s of millions in Russian donations to The Clinton Foundation immediately before and then after that approval occurred?


Gregg Jarrett of FoxNews provides us with an indication of the players involved in this growing scandal:
Eric Holder was the Attorney General when the FBI began uncovering the Russian corruption scheme in 2009. Since the FBI reports to him, he surely knew what the bureau had uncovered.

What’s more, Holder was a member of the “Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States” which approved the uranium sale to the Russians in 2010 [and a close confidante of Barack Obama]. Since the vote was unanimous, it appears Holder knowingly and deliberately countenanced a deal that was based on illegal activities and which gave Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium assets.

It gets worse. Robert Mueller was the FBI Director during the time of the Russian uranium probe, and so was his successor James Comey who took over in 2013 as the FBI was still developing the case. Rod Rosenstein, then-U.S. Attorney, was supervising the case. There is no indication that any of these men ever told Congress of all the incriminating evidence they had discovered and the connection to Clinton. The entire matter was kept secret from the American public.

It may be no coincidence that Mueller (now special counsel) and Rosenstein (now Deputy Attorney General) are the two top people currently investigating whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller reports to Rosenstein, while Comey is a key witness in the case.

It is not unreasonable to conclude that Mueller, Rosenstein and Comey may have covered up potential crimes involving Clinton and Russia, but are now determined to find some evidence that Trump “colluded” with Russia.

If this is true, Mueller and Rosenstein should immediately recuse themselves from the case. How can Americans have confidence in the outcome of the Trump-Russia matter if the integrity and impartiality of the lead investigators has been compromised by their suspected cover-up of the Clinton-Russia case?

And, if the evidence is as compelling as reported, a second special prosecutor should be appointed to determine whether Hillary Clinton and others should be indicted for crimes of corruption.
I suspect that most people would prefer to look the other way, swayed by the Democrat's mendacious claim that this (and every other scandal uncovered during the past administration) is a "partisan witch hunt."

But here's he thing: Unlike true witch hunts (think the wholly unsubstantiated Russian collusion allegations) that do not a have single shred of actual evidence, the principlals involved are on record approving the Rosatom uranium deal. The Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton were paid in the millions in the same time frame. And clear evidence of wrong-doing was NOT reported by the FBI (under both Mueller and Comey) at the time. That is NOT innuendo, it is a collection of cold, hard facts that indicate massive corruption at the very highest levels of government. If it's business as usual (and it very well might be), we are in far bigger trouble that Russian meddling in our elections.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Real Russian Scandal

There were far too many legitimate scandals during the Obama years (purposely ignored and or downplayed by the trained hamsters of the mainstream media) and even more instances of dishonesty, corruption, and general incompetence on the part of Hillary Clinton (purposely ignored or downplayed by the trained hamsters of the mainstream media) during that same time. I recognize that discussing them after the fact has become tedious, but that's exactly what Obama and Clinton hoped would happen as they lied, stonewalled, and otherwise obfuscated any attempt to uncover the truth contemporaneously.

For years, clear-eyed observers have noted that the Clintons accepted millions "donated" to the Clinton Foundation as quid pro quo for dirty dealings while Hillary was Secretary of State. There was also evidence that the Obama administration knew about those dirty dealings and did nothing. There were no investigative reports by the trained hamsters of the media because the findings would embarrass (or worse) their chosen president and his anointed successor.

Now, after lengthy litigation and FOI requests, one of those scandals is re-surfacing. The New York Post Editorial Board comments:
It turns out the Obama administration knew the Russians were engaged in bribery, kickbacks and extortion in order to gain control of US atomic resources — yet still OK’d that 2010 deal to give Moscow control of one-fifth of America’s uranium. This reeks.

Peter Schweizer got onto part of the scandal in his 2015 book, “Clinton Cash”: the gifts of $145 million to the Clinton Foundation, and the $500,000 fee to Bill for a single speech, by individuals involved in a deal that required Hillary Clinton’s approval.

The New York Times confirmed and followed up on Schweizer’s reporting — all of it denounced by Hillary as a partisan hit job.

But now The Hill reports that the FBI in 2009 had collected substantial evidence — eyewitnesses backed by documents — of money-laundering, blackmail and bribery by Russian nuclear officials, all aimed at growing “Vladimir Putin’s atomic-energy business inside the United States” in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The bureau even flagged the routing of millions from Russian nuclear officials to cutouts and on to Clinton Inc.

Hillary Clinton, again, sat on a key government body that had to approve the deal — though she now claims she had no role in a deal with profound national security implications, and during the campaign called the payments a coincidence.

The Obama administration — anxious to “reset” US-Russian relations — kept it all under wraps, refusing to tell even top congressional intelligence figures.
Where are the Democrats as all of this comes to light? After all, they're so, so worried about Russian "collusion" with Donald Trump, you'd think they might be equally worried when a President ignores Russian bribes and pay-offs associated with nuclear material (!!) orchestrated by his own Secretary of State. Nah ... crickets.

An even more interesting question is why the Trump DoJ and Jeff Sessions don't institute a criminal probe. Sure, like everything the Clinton mafia has done, there are convoluted arrangements, cut-outs that obscure the trail of money, and a patina of deniability. But under it all is corruption of the highest order.

The next time you hear a progressive suggest that if only Hillary Clinton were president all would be right with the world, ask yourself what dirty deals she might have already initiated. Even worse, ask yourself whether the trained hamsters in the media would call her on it.


It occurs to me that there is a still more interesting question about the Obama-Clinton-Russia scandal. Will Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, investigate it? After all, it's well within his purview of investigating ways in which Russia may have affected American politics, and there are certainly collusive elements to it. If Mueller punts, as I suspect he will, it only emphasize the hyper-partisan nature of his investigation and taint any findings that he ultimately reports.

The Baton

During the last administration, it appears that both Democrat and Republican elites in Congress were perfectly willing to allow Barack Obama to rule by Executive Order. Little substantive legislation was passed, no meaningful treaties or international agreements were approved by Congress. Obama entered into the Paris Climate Accords and the Iran Deal unilaterally, without approval of Congress. The pontificating and often sanctimonious elites of both parties loved it ... they blathered on about whatever, but never had to take a vote that would hold them accountable.

And now, they furrow their brows and frown when a new president asks them to perform their constitutional duty and pass legislation, enter into international agreements or sign treaties. Victor Davis Hansen comments:
Trump is not avoiding controversial or substantive issues, but often he is shrugging that the problem was not his—and thus may belong to others to solve. DACA was illegal; even honest Obama supporters concede that. Trump wants it reformed and clarified—but by the Congress that alone should have had the legal authority to pass or reject the law.

Trump did not make the Iran Deal, but he knows that it is a de facto treaty that was never ratified by the Senate and could not be today. If it is such a good deal, then the bipartisan Senate now can either reform and resubmit it, or ratify it as is or reject it. Ditto the Paris Climate Accord. Cannot Chuck Schumer introduce a bill to reclassify the accord properly as a treaty and see it passed by the Senate with a necessary two-thirds majority?

The same is true of Obamacare, the Korean nuclear crisis, and ISIS. Trump loudly announces he will solve the crises that others caused. But if he is prevented by legislative logjams and the courts, then nature will take its course: Obamacare will fall by its own weight, more quickly once its Obama-era illegal executive orders are removed; any sane country will eventually have to shoot down an incoming Korean missile and do what is necessary to protect its people; and as ISIS grew and immigration to the West exploded, Trump simply understood, when faced with the real threat of an ISIS caliphate, the Western world would drop its past insistence on Marquis of Queensbury rules of engagement.
If the children of illegal immigrants (DACA) should be granted legal residency in the United States (I think they should be given that privilege), then why is there any hesitancy by Democratic leaders to pass legislation to do so? If the Iran Deal is such a boon to world peace, why don't the Democrats and the few GOP elites who prefer to keep it in place band together a ratify it as a formal treaty? Or alternatively, legislate harsh new sanctions against Iran?
If the Democrats think that Climate Change is the existential threat they claim it is, then why not pass legislation that would commit the USA to participate in the Paris accords? And if Obamacare just needs a few simple tweeks to make it work as promised, why have the Dems worked so hard to ensure that none are made?

Of course, the answer to all of those questions is multipart:

1. It's much, much easier not to take a position, particularly if the outcome may not be good. Kicking the can down the road is SOP for Dem and GOP elites.
2. It's much, much easier to be doctrinaire, rather than negotiated with the other party and being held a traitor by an unhinged base.
3. It's much, much easier to pontificate and much, much harder to take action.

By passing the baton to the Congress, Donald Trump has done what the constitution mandates. The representatives of the people (yeah, I know that the Congress actually represents themselves and their donors, not the people, but whatever) have a responsibility to act. And they don't like it one bit.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Left Behind

Millions of words (including a few in this blog) have been written about Bo Bergdahl, the disgraced Army Sergeant who deserted his unit in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban, only to be given a hero's greeting by Barack Obama when he was exchanged for five Taliban commanders imprisoned in the West. He recently pleaded guilty and will be sentenced shortly.

Because the Bergdahl story makes Democrats uneasy, their narrative about the prisoner exchange relies on the notion that the United States leave no member of the military behind. I personally agree with that position, even if we had to release five Islamic terrorists.

A recent exchange on a talk show between a Democratic talking head (DTH) and a Republican talking head (RTH) went something like this (paraphrasing slightly):

RTH:  "I think it's disgraceful that Barack Obama exchanged Bergdahl, who was a deserter, for five Taliban commanders."

DTH (indignant): "I thought you'd be the first to argue that Barack Obama was right when he decided no warrior should be left behind in a war zone."

RTH (pausing for a beat): "Too bad he didn't think that during Benghazi."

Oh ... Snap!

Monday, October 16, 2017


During Barack Obama's presidency, Obamacare was propped up through a series of questionable legal maneuvers. Legislatively mandated taxes and penalties on those who did not join the program were postponed in direct contravention of the Affordable Care Act. Subsidies to insurance companies that were not approved by Congress were made and ruled unconstitutional by the courts. And all of the other problems associated with a poorly designed and even more poorly implemented health care program were kicked down the road so that voter anger was delayed. Now, the Trump administration, along with a do-nothing GOP congress is left to pick up the pieces.

The Democrats, of course, now promote the meme that it has been the GOP actions or inaction that has caused Obamacare to implode. That Trump is "sabotaging" Obamacare. That may very well be an effective political strategy among those who are not well informed, but it's mendacious politics (as if there was another kind).

Now that Donald Trump has rescinded what the courts have ruled as illegal subsidies to insurance companies, you'd think the world would has come to an end. The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment:
... The payments [subsidies] are illegal. The Affordable Care Act leaves the subsidies contingent on an annual appropriation, but since 2014 Congress has declined to dedicate the funding. The Obama Administration wrote the checks anyway, and the House of Representatives sued. Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer last year ruled that the Obama Administration had violated the Constitution, and an appeal is pending.

Mr. Trump continued the payments on the hope that Republican health-care reform would repeal ObamaCare and moot the subsidy dispute. That did not happen. Now the Administration has decided to follow the Constitution, and fidelity to the law should trump the policy merits or political risks.

The left is accusing Mr. Trump of—this is a partial list—sabotaging the Affordable Care Act; conspiring to harm the poor; sending a wrecking ball into the American health-care system; killing people. One frequent citation is a Congressional Budget Office report from August that predicted premiums would increase if the subsidies ended, which is true.

Yet CBO also noted that the added expense would be covered by subsidies for individuals that increase with premiums. The market would continue to be stable by CBO’s report, and the change won’t invite the ObamaCare death spiral that Democrats would love to pin on Republicans. More generous individual subsidies mean the insurers now predicting Armageddon will still get paid.
The reason that many, many voters are fed up with both parties is the level of outright dishonesty that has now pervaded two party politics. The Dems, who absolutely, positively created the mess that is now Obamacare, refuse to work with the GOP in any meaningful way to come up with a better alternative. The GOP is generally innocent in all of this, but might extend an olive branch to the Dems by losing the phrase "repeal and replace," and creating a new healthcare program with a far better cost profile and relatively few changes in coverage "for the poor," to retain the name Obamacare. By the way, a one-payer federal program is NOT even a remotely viable solution.

Sadly, the elites who run both parties care a lot about political advantage and the result is bad leadership and even worse progress toward health care the is driven by concern for our tax dollars and the people who need coverage.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Implicit Racial Bias

If we remove all of the political hysteria on both the Right and the Left surrounding the NFL-kneeling debate, it's fair to state that the complaint of those NFL players who choose to kneel is the following: there is implicit racial bias that pervades every aspect of life in our country. As a consequence, people of color have become victims who are not allowed to achieve the economic and social rewards that are so easily attained by Caucasians.

The Left often states that the actions of NFL players should start a "conversation" about the italicized contention in the preceding paragraph. But those same left-wingers suggest that when any countervailing facts or positions are offered, those arguments and the person making them are "racist." End of the conversation!

Heather McDonald is an outstanding researcher and journalist who specializes in racial disparities throughout the United States. Unlike the trained hamsters in most of the media, she spends the time it takes to look at the data, read the research, and draw conclusions based on fact, not on emotion. She writes:
Few academic ideas have been as eagerly absorbed into public discourse in recent years as “implicit bias.” Embraced by a president [Barack Obama], a would-be president [Hillary Clinton], and the nation’s top law-enforcement official [Eric Holder], the implicit-bias conceit has launched a movement to remove the concept of individual agency from the law and spawned a multimillion-dollar consulting industry. The statistical basis on which it rests is now crumbling, but don’t expect its influence to wane anytime soon.

Implicit bias purports to answer the question: Why do racial disparities persist in household income, job status, and incarceration rates, when explicit racism has, by all measures, greatly diminished over the last half-century? The reason, according to implicit-bias researchers, lies deep in our brains, outside the reach of conscious thought. We may consciously embrace racial equality, but almost all of us harbor unconscious biases favoring whites over blacks, the proponents claim. And those unconscious biases, which the implicit-bias project purports to measure scientifically, drive the discriminatory behavior that, in turn, results in racial inequality.

The need to plumb the unconscious to explain ongoing racial gaps arises for one reason: it is taboo in universities and mainstream society to acknowledge intergroup differences in interests, abilities, cultural values, or family structure that might produce socioeconomic disparities.
I suspect that Leftists would label McDonald's statement as "racist" out of hand. The reason? It hits a nerve by identifying the obvious. It's certainly possible that implicit bias exists, but it is not the only and exclusive parameter (difference) that might effect those who have not achieved the economic and social rewards that others may have achieved.

McDonald goes on to address the psychology experiments that form the "science" behind the implicit racial bias argument. It's well worth reading in its entirety. In summary, she writes:
The fractious debate around the IAT [an implicit association test used to examine bias] has been carried out exclusively at the micro-level, with hundreds of articles burrowing deep into complicated statistical models to assess minute differences in experimental reaction times. Meanwhile, outside the purview of these debates, two salient features of the world go unnoticed by the participants: the pervasiveness of racial preferences and the behavior that lies behind socioeconomic disparities.

One would have difficulty finding an elite institution today that does not pressure its managers to hire and promote as many blacks and Hispanics as possible. Nearly 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have some sort of diversity infrastructure, according to Howard Ross. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires every business with 100 or more employees to report the racial composition of its workforce. Employers know that empty boxes for blacks and other “underrepresented minorities” can trigger governmental review. Some companies tie manager compensation to the achievement of “diversity,” as Roger Clegg documented before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in 2006. “If people miss their diversity and inclusion goals, it hurts their bonuses,” the CEO of Abbott Laboratories said in a 2002 interview. Since then, the diversity pressure has only intensified. Google’s “objectives and key results” for managers include increased diversity. Walmart and other big corporations require law firms to put minority attorneys on the legal teams that represent them. “We are terminating a firm right now strictly because of their inability to grasp our diversity expectations,” Walmart’s general counsel announced in 2005. Any reporter seeking a surefire story idea can propose tallying up the minorities in a particular firm or profession; Silicon Valley has become the favorite subject of bean-counting “exposés,” though Hollywood and the entertainment industry are also targets of choice. Organizations will do everything possible to avoid such negative publicity.
Similar attempts to improve diversity are occurring every day at universities (for both faculty hiring and student admissions) and throughout the federal government.

When McDonald presents hard data about SAT scores and other knowledge-based metrics, she treads on very dangerous ground. Like psychologist Richard Herrnstein and political scientist Charles Murray, who wrote the infamous book, The Bell Curve, way back in the 1990s, she will be labelled a racist so that the core of her argument will be controversialized. It's easy to characterize significant differences in outcomes as driven by "implicit racial bias" but it's also dishonest to suggest that other parameters don't come into play. In fact, it just might be that those other parameters have a significantly greater effect than any implicit bias that does exist. If the NFL players and their supporters really do want to initiate a conversation, the data presented by Heather McDonald and other researchers might be a good place to start.


Progressives love the sound of the phrase "social justice." It provides a clear and obvious pathway for moral preening without providing pragmatic solutions to the problems (both real and imagined) that are identified. Social justice is demanded (by NFL player protesters and their supporters) in the case of "implicit racial bias." But what exactly is being proposed by those who make the demand. Eliminate bias? A good idea, but how exactly does that happen, and more important, how exactly will the elimination of implicit racial bias on its own address many of the other cultural, educational, and structural aspects that may affect achievement and economic outcomes? I suppose it could be argued that by eliminating bias all of the other aspects would disappear, but that's wishful thinking and completely unsupported by any empirical evidence.

Possibly, those who demand vague ideas like "social justice" might focus instead on targeted actions that would explicitly address the cultural, educational, and structural aspects that affect afflicted communities. I suspect that if real solutions were proposed and implemented successfully by the affected communities themselves, implicit racial bias would take care of itself.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Elites — Redux

Kurt Schlichter is a conservative firebrand who writes with an acid wit. He is best when he skewers the cultural and political elites in our country. Here's a sample:
To be a normal American is to constantly be scolded, to be lectured, to be treated as a morally bankrupt simpleton in need of the guidance and direction provided by an urban elite ruling class notable for its empty academic credentials, its track record of incompetence, and its idolization of people who erotically abuse the foliage.

If we are to have betters, is it so wrong for us to demand that they actually be better? Superiors should be distinguished by their superiority – if you presume to take charge shouldn’t you demonstrate tactical, technical, and moral mastery? So what has our ruling class mastered lately? What is the skill set that sets the smart set apart?

Are they our betters because of the degrees they hang on the walls of their over-priced, open-floor plan townhouses? Going to college used to mean something more than you had nowhere else to go after high school. It was a training ground for the leadership class. A college student was an invitee to an intellectual banquet where he could sample the best of Western civilization, of art and literature, of civics and philosophy. But today, it’s all gender studies and grade inflation, with whiny social justice warriors drowning out any voice that won’t sing in tune. It is steam table trays heaped with gray, fatty meat and limp asparagus - the Golden Corral of the mind.
For decades the Washington elites have emanated from Ivy league schools that claim to provide deep insight that allows them to lead in both domestic and foreign policy. But exactly what have they accomplished in the past four decades?. To illustrate this point, it was the elites of both parties who allowed the North Koreans to develop nukes while concurrently paying protection money to them. They appeared to be sage diplomats, when in fact, they were merely kicking the can down the road in an effort to make the NoKos someone else's problem. Now, those same elites tell us that a different approach (Trump's more forceful stance) is somehow dangerous? What incredible chutzpa!

Schlichter continues:
Where are the elite’s achievements? Our betters have been running things and yet they are the ones crying loudest about how awful things are. It’s another scam, of course. Things are awful, but not for them – do you think the Westside Los Angeles folks I dwell among are hurting? No, let the good times roll – on the backs of the people east of I-5. Things are hard out there in actual America (but improving under Donald Trump, the quintessential Anti-Better), and our ruling class is demanding action. That action is to direct more money and power to the ruling class. That’s the answer to every policy question. Yeah, they’ve failed, but if you reward them, well, then they’ll totally start succeeding.

Iraq, the 2008 financial meltdown, health care…the hits keep coming, and the answer for the last failure is always the same. Trust us, and double down. Accountability? That’s for us suckers.
The elites (on both the Left and the Right) stand in front of the camera in $2,000 suits, using soothing words and a calm tone to maintain their grasp on power. They invariably enrich themselves and provide benefits to their supporters at the expense of taxpayers. They have the polish and the demeanor that exudes confidence and competence, but it's all empty posturing—political theater to keep the masses in line. Note how the elites emphasize the need to "act" presidential. We just experienced eight years of that "act," and the results were less than outstanding.

Schlichter provides an example from this week's events:
Then the media ... starts talking about how Trump needs [Senator Bob] Corker’s vote for tax reform and how it was totally stupid and dumb and stupid for Trump to insult a guy whose vote he needs and … wait a minute. Did you detect a troubling premise within that line of reasoning? Did you notice how the media simply assumes that it’s just fine for Bob Corker to block critical reforms that will help normal Americans because his feelingz are hurted and he haz the sadz?

We normals are expected to tolerate a crushing tax system even longer because one of the elite is pouty, and that’s perfectly okay. Because us normals are not the priority. The elite is ...

So why should we normal Americans respect these people? Why should we submit to being constantly scolded, lectured, and treated as morally bankrupt simpletons anymore?

We shouldn’t, and we aren’t, not anymore.

They wonder why they got Trump.

They are why they got Trump.
Indeed, they are.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Up in the Air

I was once a road-warrior, a person who traveled the country at least 50 percent of the month, almost always on airlines. During that time, air-traffic delays were common. Many years later, they're still common. Attempts by the federal government to improve our air traffic control system (ATCS), its technology, and its human efficiency have wasted billions and accomplished relatively little.

There is currently a suggestion before the congress to privatise the ATCS. The Dems, who have never seen a move toward privatization that they could agree to, are naturally against it. They cite too much corporate control and covertly worry that their beloved public sector unions might be impacted. The GOP is waffling.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment:
One overwrought objection was that the bill would be a big business giveaway to major airlines, which would have had four representatives on the governing board. The revised bill grants airlines one seat and adds representation for cargo and regional airlines, as well as airports. Robert Poole, the intellectual force behind the idea who supported the first version, calls the new bill a “big improvement.”

Another concern is that rural airports will be closed or harmed, though the bill maintains subsidies for remote areas, which is lamentable if a political reality. A Reason Foundation report details how FAA after the 2013 budget showdown put a moratorium on new contract towers that can benefit small airports, which will never beat out JFK or San Francisco International for FAA dollars. Under a new arrangement, rural airports could explore technology like remote towers, which allow controllers to manage operations with sophisticated cameras and communication equipment.

Many of these complaints come from the unprotected class of Americans known as corporate-jet passengers ... If the proletariat sitting in steerage pays for air services, so should a CEO flying across the country for lunch. The irony is that corporate-jet users are the least price-sensitive passengers and put a high value on time. Wouldn’t many executives happily pay extra for a faster landing and shorter lines on the tarmac?

... All of this will be litigated in the Senate if the bill passes the House, where proponents are whipping support. But in the upper chamber the idea is opposed by Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, who wields a deciding vote on the committee that oversees transportation. Mr. Moran thinks he’s protecting his home state aviation lobby, though more efficient air space would benefit the entire industry.

Republicans should seize the moment because they have a President who wants reform as part of his infrastructure upgrade. Mr. Shuster is willing to negotiate, and the House has done the leg work. The biggest hurdle may be convincing appropriators to relinquish control over billions in air-travel tax revenue they now redistribute.
Privatization of the ATCS is long past due. Sure government oversight by the FAA for safety and quality can continue, but like the breakup of AT&T many years ago, privatization of the ATCS will lead to better technology, significant cost savings, and better service for beleaguered air travelers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Sharyl Attkisson notes that many are expressing surprise that a venerable media outlet renowned for social justice—The New York Times—would have spiked the Weinstein story when it was first proposed a decade or more ago. After all, isn't sexual abuse something we can all condemn? Isn't misogyny the accusation du jour since the recent presidential election?

But Attkisson provides important context when she writes:
Many people seem shocked by claims from a former New York Times reporter who says the newspaper sat on her 2004 information exposing alleged sexual misconduct by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. (The Times told Newsweek they would have only withheld information for good reason.)

The Weinstein question aside, I can tell you that every day, in newsrooms around the country, stories are killed because powerful people know how to get them killed.

Recently, a former managing editor of Time magazine said that the only bias reporters have is their bias to get a great story on the front page. That may be true of good journalists — and there are many. But good journalists’ intentions are impacted by managers and editors with authority to shape and censor; by managers and editors who are lobbied, enticed, pushed, pressed, cajoled and threatened by PR companies, crisis management specialists, global law firms, super PACs, advertisers, “nonprofits,” business interests, political figures, famous people, important people, wealthy people, and their own corporate bosses.

An entire industry has been built around companies and operatives that work to get stories placed, discredited or wiped. They obfuscate, confuse and attack. Their targets include ideas they oppose, whistleblowers and advocates who are exposing the truth, journalists uncovering the facts, and news outlets publishing the stories.

They deploy every tool imaginable: fake social media accounts, letters to the editor and editorials, journalists, nuisance lawsuits, bloggers, nonprofits, online comments, Wikipedia, paid “articles” written by for-hire “reporters.”

One operative matter-of-factly described his strategy to me: “You call the [news division’s] attorney, you call the general counsel, and you say ‘Do you understand what you’re doing?’ … We’ve killed several stories by using that method.”
Although both the Left and the Right use the tools Attkisson describes, the Left has been far more effective. Why? Because the mainstream media has a decided and often overwhelming left-wing bias. For that reason, they are often more than willing to work with the smear merchants who "obfuscate, confuse and attack" with "fake social media accounts, letters to the editor and editorials, journalists, nuisance lawsuits, bloggers, nonprofits, online comments, Wikipedia, paid “articles” written by for-hire 'reporters.' "

Fake News is not a new phenomenon, but it has gotten much, much worse in the months following Donald Trump's election. Its purveyors include the most elite members of the media community. Their intent is to promote a specific narrative and destroy any competing content or people who question that narrative.

Donald Trump may be wrong about some things. But he is not wrong when he bluntly suggests that "fake news" is a serious problem, particularly when it comes from media sources that were once trusted by us all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


It is a sure bet that the four anti-Trump constituencies will become apoplectic if (as expected) Donald Trump de-certifies the infamous "Iran Deal." You'll undoubtedly hear hysterical Democrats exclaim that Trump has enabled Iran as a future nuclear power (forgetting the hard fact that Barack Obama's "deal" already has done that.) The WaPo and/or the NYT will publish leaks from members of the deep state in which Trump is characterized as a warmonger or a "moron." The GOP elite will sagely straddle the fence, suggesting that Trump is too impetuous and that other (undefined) approaches might have been better. And the trained hamsters of the main stream media will collectively howl, telling us that Trump will lead us toward armageddon.

The Mullahs and Vlad Putin (you recall, the guy who they tell us Trump is in bed with) have already begun to make ominous threats. The "global community" is clutching its pearls, afraid that a clear indication that the Iran Deal is a progressive fantasy will upset lucrative business deals with the Mullahs.

Let's all take a deep breath. Iran was developing nukes prior to Obama's catastrophic capitulation in which he rewarded the fiction of nuclear cessation with $150 billion. Obama's deal has no teeth, no effective mechanism for determining whether Iran is actually violating its provisions (despite what the IAEA and deep state "diplomats contend), and astoundingly, allows Iran to build nukes in less than a decade.

Iran, on the other hand, has done NOTHING to convince the West that it is any less belligerent, any less hegemonic, or any less a state sponsor of Islamic terror. In fact, it has escalated its negative behavior in all three areas.

If the Iran deal disappeared tomorrow, nothing much would change, except that instead of kicking the can down the road, when Iran would be even more dangerous, we might have to deal with their treachery sooner. I suspect that a plurality of the Iranian people don't want this, but the Mullahs—a collection of brutal, dictatorial and hyper-ideological rulers—do. And it's the Mullahs we have to contend with.

Yet the elites tell us that we must maintain the fiction created by the Iran deal. We have to make believe that the "deal" in place today will somehow moderate Iran's behavior and make us all safe. That making believe that Iran is a non-threatening actor will somehow make it so. The deal is a sham that provides enormous benefits to the Mullahs, but essentially no verifiable or long-term benefit to the West.

For the past 30-plus years, Western elites have conducted the same deal-making with North Korea, and now the NoKos have nukes and the mechanism to deliver them. Over those decades there were multiple unenforceable "deals" (seasoned with billions is "aid") with the NoKos (analogous in many ways to Obama deal with Iran), all pushing the fiction that all was under control. Until it wasn't.

Now the elites have the chutzpa to suggest that a different Trumpian approach is somehow ill-advised?

Nice work, elites. Let's follow the NoKo model for Iran and see how it all works out. Oh ... wait ... we already know how it'll work out, and it isn't pretty.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Truth to Power

Harvey Weinstein is a scumbag, but a very powerful scumbag in Hollywood and Democratic circles. I suspect he is not unlike some other Hollywood moguls who parley their control over the fortunes of many of the glitterati into sexual predation. There is little shock in the fact that Weinstein did what he did, but it is rather shocking that many within the Hollywood (and Democratic party) community remained silent when his predation was widely known. After all, big movie stars and many other lessor entertainers, comedians, and artists now view themselves as social justice warriors. They're the first to call out what they perceive as misogyny or any of the other "isms" they identify.

So let's go back exactly one year and recall the universal outrage from Hollywood after Donald Trump's private conversation with Billy Bush was leaked. Trump was crude and inappropriate, but his words were just that—words. Sure, anger was justified, but mass marches with pussy hats, over-the-top tweets that expressed fire-hot rage were possibly a bit much, but maybe not.

Fast forward to today and the Weinstein case. Weinstein didn't say nasty things, he did nasty things. Even in our postmodern world, actions matter, and Weinstein's actions make him a sexual predator worthy of righteous indignation and heavy condemnation.

Julie Kelly provides a scathing commentary. She begins by recalling the Trump-Billy Bush scandal:
So, let’s take a little trip down Social Media Lane and see how our virtuous, high-minded celebs who wanted Trump charged with rape a year ago have reacted to the Weinstein story.

Do you hear the crickets? I sure do.

Come along then, and let us look at the Twitter timelines of some of Trump’s most indignant celebrity agitators such as Debra Messing, Chelsea Handler, Bette Midler and Lena Dunham to see if any are despairing over Weinstein’s vile behavior and the victims left in his wake. Messing? No. Handler? No. Midler? No, but she did [rightly in my view] tweet about “the deceit!! The hypocrisy! The nerve!!” of Republican Congressman Tim Murphy for asking his girlfriend to have an abortion. Lena Dunham? Oh yes, here’s something! Dunham applauds the Times reporter for breaking the story then says this about Weinstein’s victims: "The woman who chose to speak about their experience of harassment by Harvey Weinstein deserve our awe. It's not fun or easy. It's brave."
So it's crickets from most and then praise for the victims, but no direct mention of the deeds committed or condemnation of them. Kelly continues:
But surely our nation’s conscience, celebrity interviewer Jimmy Kimmel, has something to say about this. Hmmm, I don’t see anything on his Twitter page. Perhaps he mentioned it in his monologue last night? Nope, but he did rant on and on about Trump’s tweets on fake news. No tears, though.

And what to make of Ashley Judd? The actress was completely unhinged during her speech at the Women’s March in D.C. the day after the inauguration. She referred to herself as a nasty woman, despicably claiming Ivanka Trump was her father’s “favorite sex symbol, like your wet dreams infused with your own genes.” While she found time to vent about female celebrities getting paid less than their male counterparts, and questioned why tampons and maxi pads are still taxed, she failed to muster up the courage to tell the frenzied crowd about her encounters with Weinstein.

It's also worth noting that on Saturday, SNL's satirical "Weekend Update" made no mention of Weinstein, even though the jokes write themselves and his persona allows for comical caricature.

The point, I suppose, is that even Hollywood glitterati can be hypocrites. They're perfectly willing to "speak truth to power" when the power can't and won't hurt them, but when a different more localized power just might screw them and their careers ... well ... seems like moral preening is just too high a price to pay.

The New York Times deserves credit for breaking this story, particularly because Weinstein is a major donor for the newspaper's preferred political party. But The New York Post reports:
A former New York Times reporter claims the paper ordered up a story in 2004 about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct — but then “stripped” it of any reference to the accusations after being pressured by him to do so.

“After intense pressure from Weinstein … the story was gutted,” Sharon Waxman wrote Sunday in an article for The Wrap, a site that she founded in 2009.

“I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known,” Waxman added. “I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.”

The Times did not return a request for comment Sunday night.
I have to wonder whether the Times would have spiked the story in 2004 if Weinstein was a major GOP donor.


In a fascinating piece in the conservative Weekly Standard, Lee Smith explores the reasons why the NYT published this story. He writes:
Which brings us, finally, to the other reason the Weinstein story came out now: Because the court over which Bill Clinton once presided, a court in which Weinstein was one part jester, one part exchequer, and one part executioner, no longer exists.

A thought experiment: Would the Weinstein story have been published if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency? No, and not because he is a big Democratic fundraiser. It’s because if the story was published during the course of a Hillary Clinton presidency, it wouldn’t have really been about Harvey Weinstein. Harvey would have been seen as a proxy for the president’s husband and it would have embarrassed the president, the first [Democrat] female president.

Bill Clinton offered get-out-of-jail-free cards to a whole army of sleazeballs, from Jeffrey Epstein to Harvey Weinstein to the foreign donors to the Clinton Global Initiative. The deal was simple: Pay up, genuflect, and get on with your existence. It was like a papacy selling indulgences, at the same time that everyone knew that the cardinals were up to no good. The 2016 election demolished Clinton world once and for all, to be replaced by the cult of Obama, an austere sect designated by their tailored hair shirts with Nehru collars. “That is not who we are as Americans,” they chant, as Harvey Weinstein’s ashes are scattered in the wind.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Piling On

During the presidency of Barack Obama, the main stream media acted like the iconic statue of the three monkeys, covering their eyes, mouths and ears to anything that hinted of scandal, bad decision-making, or incompetence. The trained hamsters who arrogantly (and incorrectly) labeled themselves "journalists" were the praetorian guard for Obama, not only shilling for his administration's policies, but burying anything and anyone who might taint his legacy. The result, sadly, was a presidency that was unaccountable and therefore, unconstrained in its effort to reshape the policies, culture and foreign policy of the United States, even when those efforts were disastrous. The result, was broad-based dissatisfaction with government and ultimately, the election of Donald Trump.

Matthew Continetti provides a useful summary of the aftermath:
For years, reporters were content to obscure their ideological dogmas and partisan goals behind the pretense of objectivity and detachment. Though the Washington Post, New York Times, and CNN practiced combat journalism against conservatives and Republicans, they did so while aspiring to professional standards of facticity and fairness, and applying, every now and then, scrutiny to liberals and Democrats worthy of investigation.

Donald Trump changed that, of course. He is so unusual a figure, and his behavior so outlandish, that his rise precipitated a crisis in a profession already decimated by the collapse of print circulation and advertising dollars. The forces that brought Trump to power are alien to the experience of the men and women who populate newsrooms, his supporters unlike their colleagues, friends, and neighbors, his agenda anathema to the catechism of social liberalism, his career and business empire complex and murky and sensational. Little surprise that journalists reacted to his election with a combination of panic, fear, disgust, fascination, exhilaration, and the self-affirming belief that they remain the last line of defense against an emerging American autocracy. Who has time for dispassionate analysis, for methodical research and reporting, when the president's very being is an assault on one's conception of self, when nothing less than the future of the country is at stake? Especially when the depletion of veteran editors, the relative youth and inexperience of political and congressional reporters, and the proliferation of social media, with its hot takes and quips, its groupthink and instant gratification, makes the transition from inquiry to indignation all too easy.

There is still excellent journalism. I would point, for starters, to the work on charter flights that led to the resignation of Tom Price. But the overall tone of coverage of this president and his administration is somewhere between the hysterical and the lunatic. Journalists are trapped in a condition of perpetual outrage, seizing on every rumor of discontent and disagreement, reflexively denouncing Trump's every utterance and action, unable to distinguish between genuinely unusual behavior (the firing of Comey, the tenure of Anthony Scaramucci, the "fine people on both sides" quip after Charlottesville) and the elements of Trump's personality and program that voters have already, so to speak, "priced in." Supposedly authoritative news organizations have in one case taken up bizarre mottoes, like "Democracy Dies In Darkness," and in another acted passive-aggressively by filing Trump stories under "entertainment," only to re-categorize the material as news with the disclaimer (since dropped) that Trump is "a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, and birther." The mode of knee-jerk disgust not only prevents the mainstream media from distinguishing between the genuinely interesting stories and the false, partisan, and hackwork ones. It also has had the effect of further marginalizing print and broadcast journalists from middle America.
The trained hamsters of the mainstream media have become the propaganda arm of the Democratic party, and like the party that "journalists" overwhelmingly support, they are in a hole and just keep digging. Sure, the Dem base revels in the media's hysterical and often dishonest coverage of the Trump administration, but in the center of the country (both politically and geographically) there's different story to be told.

In order to validate their own ideological prejudices, the media, along with the other three anti-Trump constituencies (the dems, the GOP elites, and the deep state) are doing their best to destroy Trump (for his part, Donald Trump often provides them with an unintentional assist). They hope that his defeat in 2020 will be an "I told You So" moment. But that strategy just might be perceived as piling on, and the result the media so fervently desires might be more elusive than they think.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Wrong Approach

I, for one, am in favor of enhanced background checks for all purchases of both rifles and handguns. I'd go even further and suggest that each state should define its own testing protocol to ensure gun safety—sort of like a driving test. I'd be okay with outright bans on the sale of mechanical modifications that can convert a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon. All of that, in my view, does not violate the constitutional rights of gun owners and would seem reasonable and appropriate. By the way, existing law already does some of the things I've just noted.

But here's the thing: All of those steps will do little or nothing to address the horror of mass shootings like the one that occurred in Las Vegas. That doesn't make steps to be more stringent about gun ownership a bad idea, but we should be honest about what problem such steps might solve. The Left suggests that if only we had better "gun control" the problem of gun violence would be solved. On it's face, it seems like common sense—more control of guns, less gun violence. Right?

Sadly, the answer is not so much. Like most topics that the Left obsesses about, their positions are high on emotion and very weak on facts. In a recent article, Maggie Koerth-Baker of the data analysis firm 538, makes the following statement:
First, [Mass shootings are] rare, and the people doing the shooting are different. The majority of gun deaths in America aren’t even homicides, let alone caused by mass shootings. Two-thirds of the more than 33,000 gun deaths that take place in the U.S. every year are suicides ...
But everyday gun deaths, like the 500+ deaths recorded in Chicago each year, go under-reported and otherwise ignored by the media, often with a purpose. It's the mass shooting that garner attention, and the Left and it's trained hamsters in the media, true to form, never fail to politicize a national tragedy. (Think: The recent counter-factual attempts to demonize the Trump administration over hurricane response in Puerto Rico.)

The Editors of the Wall Street Journal comment:
... if Paddock [the Las Vegas mass murderer] had an automatic weapon, he probably obtained it illegally. Automatic weapons have been heavily regulated since the 1930s, and it has been illegal to buy a new automatic firearm since 1986. An automatic weapon made before 1986 must be registered, and only specific dealers may transfer them. Buyers must undergo a lengthy FBI check that includes fingerprints and photos, and local law enforcement is alerted.

Paddock also possessed several semi-automatic “assault” rifles, such as an AR-15. But what defines an assault weapon are its cosmetic features—not its caliber or velocity. That is why the Clinton-era ban on such rifles had no discernible effect on gun violence, and why the Department of Justice in 2004 found no purpose in renewing it.

Ah, but what about so-called bump stocks, which Paddock used to simulate quick, automatic-style fire? Outright modification of a firearm into an automatic is already a federal felony punishable by 10 years in prison. Congress could outlaw bump stocks, but how does it outlaw a technique? The practice of quickly “bumping” a trigger with one’s finger to engage in rapid fire long predates bump stocks or other accessories.

Congress could again try to ban certain types of rifles, but a 2015 Congressional Research Service report found that from 1999 to 2013 assault rifles were used in 27% of public mass shootings. The Virginia Tech shooter in 2007 killed 32 people with two handguns. FBI statistics show that of 15,070 homicides in 2016, 374 people or 3% were killed with rifles. Some 656 homicides were committed with “personal weapons” (hands, fists, feet) and 1,604 with knives.

Mass shootings are in more than half of all cases related to domestic or family violence. Another big chunk are crime-related, including gang violence. According to John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center, most mass shootings with 15 or more casualties since 1970 took place outside the U.S., including France and Norway that strictly regulate guns.

As for background checks, several Nevada gun shops have told the press that Paddock passed all requisite checks, and he appears to have no history that would have flagged him under a more stringent background system. He was able to buy his guns legally so he had no reason to use what is sometimes called the gun-show loophole.
As usual, the Left is trying to solve the right problem with the wrong approach.

If we truly want to move against mass shooting, the solution is not greater gun control, it is a scary combination of Big Data and Artificial intelligence. But it's also an massive government invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

Let me risk over-simplifying and summarize the approach: All purchases of weapons, ammunition, bomb making materials, etc. would be recorded in a central database. All prescriptions for anti-psychotic medication would be recorded and stored in a central database. All incidents of violence by individuals would be recorded in a central database. All visits to websites that advocate violence (e.g., terror organization websites) would be recorded in a central database. All communication between citizens and known threats would be recorded. All social media would be continuously scanned for appropriate markers. And on and on. These data would then be processed to uncover patterns that might be dangerous. Machine learning algorithms would be continuously adapted to refine the approach, until potential mass murders are identified. Note the word, "potential."

Would you want this level of scrutiny in the hands of big government? I do not.

And if most of us do not, it just might means that sadly, mass murder events present an intractable problem.