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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Candles and Fires

In an all to common occurrence, yet another "lone wolf" attack by a Muslim extremist occurred in London this past week, killing five and injuring many more, some critically. Local politicians get in front of the camera with brave words, Western leaders voice muted concern, intelligence agencies describe the problem with  'needles in haystacks' metaphors. But there is no outrage, there are no calls for Islam to reform itself, for local Islamic communities to identify and isolate extremists in mosques and community centers before they take the last step toward mass violence.

Richard Fernandez comments on the Muslim "lone wolves" and our reaction to them:
 In some respect the Lone Wolves are more accurately likened to the U-Boat wolfpacks of WW2 notoriety than to werewolves who mysteriously arise at random in the depths of the forest. The Wolfsrudel, like the Lone Wolves, were only loosely coordinated and "could attack as they saw fit ... If their number were sufficiently high compared to the expected threat of the escorts, they would attack."

And attack they do, surprisingly yet unsurprisingly. It is Western leadership that is more deserving of criticism for turning in such a poor defensive performance despite their vast resource superiority. Obsessed with looking good, timid to the point of inactivity, determined at all costs to proclaim their own virtue, the Western elites have proved singularly incapable of combating their vastly weaker foes. The ritualualistic candle-lighting, trite speeches, frightened processions and self-congratulation of the political class are completely ineffective against laser-like menace of their foes. They haven't noticed but the voting audience is starting to.
It is long past the time to stop worrying about offending Islam by suggesting, without equivocation, that it has at least some culpability for the lone wolves. After all, the lone wolves may be crazy and suicidal but they are devout Muslims who believe they are following the dictates of their holy books. It is long past the time to recognize that the battle isn't with ISIS alone (although they truly are barbarians). It is with Islamist thought throughout the Muslim world.  The only way Islamist thought can be eradicated is for Islam to eradicate it (fatwas from major clerics would be a good start, but major clerics are oddly silent on radicalism), and we must demand that they do just that. If Islam refuses, there will come a time when Donald Trump's "Muslim Ban" will look like a friendly gesture. It is long past the time to jettison the notion that if we act "virtuously" (and therefore meekly) it will somehow influence Islamic radicals to modify their behavior. It will not.

It's terribly un-PC to note that those who are sympathetic to the call for worldwide domination and Sharia law are NOT an infinitesmal percentage of all Muslims. They represent tens of millions of people, a small percentage of whom will become fully radicalized and therefore dangerous to the Western cultures that have absorbed them. The wolf pack will grow,

If we continue to light candles to mourn while Islamists light fires to kill, we're in far more trouble than we can begin to imagine.

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

 After the terror attack in her home city,  Katie Hopkins writes this in London Daily Mail:
No anger for me this time. No rage like I’ve felt before. No desperate urge to get out there and scream at the idiots who refused to see this coming.

Not even a nod for the glib idiots who say this will not defeat us, that we will never be broken, that cowardice and terror will not get the better of Britain.

Because, as loyal as I am, as patriotic as I am, as much as my whole younger life was about joining the British military and fighting for my country — I fear we are broken ...

London is a city so desperate to be seen as tolerant, no news of the injured was released. No clue about who was safe or not.

Liberals convince themselves multiculturalism works because we all die together, too.

An entire city of monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Blind. Deaf. And dumb.
Western elites are truly blind to threat. Deaf to the warnings. And dumb as rocks.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Defeat

In a situation where everybody was a little right and everybody was a little wrong, Donald Trump's attempt at a repeal and replace measure for the collapsing legislation that is called Obamacare went down to defeat this afternoon. In my view, that's a good thing.

The proposed ACHA legislation did little to improve healthcare for Americans. It did save some money for the taxpayer, but did little to reduce premiums and even less to alter the course of what has become a collapsing entitlement. The Democrats will crow that Trump has suffered a major defeat, but did he really?

No one much liked the Trump/Ryan legislation, it polled very poorly, and it truly was Obamacare Lite. Few will remember the defeat of the bill in 3 months, but if it had passed, we'd be reminded of it's failings for the remainder of Trump's first term.

The Democrats seem perfectly comfortable continuing forward with Obamacare. Their willful blindness of its many, many failings will put the continuing health insurance of millions at risk. The Dems own Obamacare, and they should have been first in line to try and get it fixed. They were AWOL.

Although the Dems are smiling with bravdo now, the passage of the ACHA would also have gotten them off the hook for Obamacare. Deep down, there must be some worry in Dem ranks.

When outright collapse begins, it will be difficult, even for the Dems' trained hamsters in the media (who in their typically unhinged manner are now predicting that the Trump presidency is over) to avoid the fallout as millions begin to lose their insurance. Anger will be focused on both Democrats who created this monstrosity and the GOP, who failed to have the courage or patience to properly replace it. Maybe then, the public will demand that Dems and the GOP work together to craft legislation that is less an entitlement and more an effective approach to health for all Americans. It will not be free, it will not be comprehensive, it will not be without flaws, it will not cover everyone on day one, but if properly done, it would be hard for it not to be an improvement on Obamacare.

In admitting defeat, Donald Trump showed some class by inviting the Dems to help in the next round. We'll see whether their hatred of this president is more important than their professed concern about insuring millions.

Self-Reliance

In an article entitled, "The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death," Jia Tolentino, writing in the left-wing New Yorker, laments the manner in which gig workers (e.g., people who work for Lyft or Fiverr) work so hard as independent contractors, rather than paid employees with the usual pension, healthcare, and other employee benefits (e.g., maternity leave). Tolentino writes that gig companies that celebrate their contractors dedication and hard work are somehow morally bankrupt and that the reason is, well, read on:
At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear. Human-interest stories about the beauty of some person standing up to the punishments of late capitalism are regular features in the news, too. I’ve come to detest the local-news set piece about the man who walks ten or eleven or twelve miles to work—a story that’s been filed from Oxford, Alabama; from Detroit, Michigan; from Plano, Texas. The story is always written as a tearjerker, with praise for the person’s uncomplaining attitude; a car is usually donated to the subject in the end. Never mentioned or even implied is the shamefulness of a job that doesn’t permit a worker to afford his own commute.
Phew. It's all about the evils of capitalism and about the horrors of worker exploitation.

It is interesting that Ms. Tolentino doesn't ask a fundamental questions: Why has a gig economy boomed over the past eight years?

Could it be that under the executive edicts and deficit spending of a left-wing president and the inaction of a stalemated Congress:
  • taxes grew higher and higher, depressing business investment?
  • regulations grew at a rapid pace, depressing the creation of small businesses—a primary employer of the kinds of people now doing gigs?
  • mandatory healthcare edict kept moderate size business from growing? 
  • "living wage" mandates (think: $15/hr) in many blue cities have caused entry level jobs to dry up?
Maybe that's why there are fewer and fewer hourly and salaried jobs with benefits and why so many young people have to make their way with gigs. And maybe, just maybe, the gigs might lead to something better ... but no, it's all about exploitation, isn't it?
    Based on her CV, I would venture to guess that Ms. Tolentino has never run any business that created anything but words, has never had to meet an actual payroll, has never had to navigate through a forest of regulations that forces many tiny businesses to shutter their doors, has never had to work long, long hours at no pay for a start-up in the hope that the infant business would grow and become profitable. Oh wait—profitable!! That's a bad thing, right?

    Better for "the government" to control the economy, mandating a "living wage," placing price controls on products to be sure that everyone is treated "fairly." Better for left-wing intelligencia like Tolentino to ridicule the story of a man who walks to work, shows up every day, rejects the welfare state, and tries hard to support himself and his family.

    Last week I posted on the smug style of far too many progressives. Tolentino's piece is just another example of the arrogant condescension that exemplifies the attitude of many social justice warriors.

    For them, "America's obsession with self-reliance" is the problem. After all, if we'd just go all-in as a socialist country, we could achieve the utopian social justice that has been achieved in places like, say, Venezuela or Cuba. Yeah ... that's the ticket!

    Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Sanctuary Cities

    In my post on the Meta-Characteristics of Fake News,  the first two characteristics of many are:
    • Promoting one ideological narrative to the exclusion of other competing narratives.
    • Emphasizing stories that support one ideological narrative (the progressive narrative) and burying or completely omitting stories that conflict with that ideological narrative.
    We'll return to these characteristics later in this post, but first let's explore an important narrative. For the trained hamsters of the mainstream media, sanctuary cities are the epitome in virtue. Blue cities (e.g., New York, SF, LA) flaunt their violation of federal law, refusing to work with immigration officials to deport illegal aliens who commit crimes. This, of course, signals their contempt for Donald Trump's suggestion that it might be a good idea to remove dangerous illegal aliens from our country. More and more Democratically run cities are joining the sanctuary city movement in an epic display of moral preening. One of those cities is Rockville, MD, who city council proposed it become a sanctuary city just last week.

    And now, our story begins: Tragically, two older teenager boys, one an illegal alien and one whose status is uncertain, raped a 14 year-old girl in their high school bathroom in Rockville, MD a few days ago. The 18-year old illegal alien was stopped at the border a number of months back, but was released by ICE under order from the Obama administration. He was then resituated in Rockville, MD. The city is now aghast, it's democratic majority suffering from the cynical but accurate adage that "a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged."  There are angry parents worried about the safety of their children in school and angrier citizens who are now livid over the suggestion the people like the 18-year old rapist shouldn't be deported.

    But here's the thing. Although this story is many days old, as of yesterday, not one mainstream media outlet has covered it—not one. Not NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, the LAT .... (a few have covered the story at their web-sites, but not in their flagship news programs or publications). That may change as time passes, but the omission is a glaring as it is biased. The trained hamsters unfailingly exhibit the meta-characteristics I noted at the beginning of this post.

    The problem, of course, is that this legitimate news story conflicts with the prevailing narrative—about illegals, about sanctuary cities, about the past administration's overly lenient treatment of illegal aliens detained at our borders, and even about "dreamers." The story demands that the reader or viewer consider the impact of decisions made by leaders of the sanctuary city movement. The story notes that like any population of people, there are bad actors among the illegal aliens who currently reside in our country and those bad actors should be removed without equivocation. But the left-leaning media would rather not have their viewership consider any of this.

    So therefore, the story is buried or omitted in it's entirely because it doesn't promote the politically correct narrative. Fake News!

    Circumstantial Evidence

    The Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media keep telling us that there was "collusion" between the Russians and the Trump campaign during 2016. They (the Dems and the media ... but I repeat myself) have more reporters investigating this unsubstantiated charge than they had investigating all of the myriad serious scandals that actually did occur under the previous administration put together. After all, weaponizing the IRS to attack private citizens—no big deal, nothing to see there, move along. Politicizing and terror attack in Libya and then lying about its cause, no big deal, nothing to see there, move along. Hillary and Bill Clinton taking millions from foreign governments while Clinton was Secretary of State, no big deal, nothing to see there, move along. The Dems and their trained hamsters imply that the "Russian collusion" resulted in Hillary Clinton's upset lose. After all, how could a progressive agenda possibly be rejected by the America people?

    But for just a moment, let's take these specious allegations at face value. Here are a few simple (but embarrassing) questions:
    1. All of the Russian (and Chinese and Iranian and NoKo) hacking occurred under the previous Democrat administration. Did that administration drop the ball by not doing more to stop it? Were they even aware of it? What were our diplomatic actions against perpetrators during mid-2016 in this regard?
    2. All of the embarrassing leaks (at DNC and from other sources) focused on Dem's email. Were the Dems irresponsible for not better protecting their private communications?
    3. If there was collusion between Trump and the Russians, why didn't the Obama administration initiate surveillance on the evil operatives who worked for Trump, or for that matter Trump himself? The past administration claims they didn't surveil Trump, why not?
    4. And if there was even a whiff of Russian collusion, why didn't the authorities move in, arrest Trump and save the country from his election? Where were the Justice Department and the FBI, and why didn't they act?
    In fact, if Trump was as nefarious as the Dems claim, wouldn't they proudly note that surveillance was on-going throughout the election?* After all, as Adam Schiff tells us in the grand style of Joseph McCarthy, there's lots of "circumstantial evidence," isn't there?

    FOOTNOTE:
    --------------------------
    * Yesterday, we learned that, in fact, surveillance was on-going at Trump tower, although now the claim seems to be that it was "only incidental" that Trump campaign officials (and possibly Trump himself) were caught up in it. The surveillance was touted as perfectly legal, but the fact that people like Mike Flynn were "unmasked" (a felony) as a consequence of the surveillance is certainly worthy of investigation. The Dems, of course, scurried to negate the news of surveillance arguing that Trump's tweet about "wire tapping" continues to be a lie. Maybe so, but it's a lot less of a lie this morning than it was 24 hours ago. Heh.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Homeland

    In its early seasons, the Showtime series, Homeland, was critically acclaimed. It provided an unvarnished view of CIA operations (with all their warts) and honestly depicted the clear and present threat of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and worldwide. The writers were brave, penning plot lines that were complex and often unpleasant. Their writing was not politically correct.

    The series was criticized by the pro-Hezballah advocacy group, CAIR, for encouraging "Islamophobia," (absolute nonsense!) but the producers held their ground. That was then.

    This is now. Although I can't know for sure, my best bet is that the show's writers have been replaced by a more "evolved" crew. Written and filmed before last year's election, the writers sort of assumed a different election result and therefore a different political viewpoint emanating from Washington. They tailored this season's story line to be sure it was P.C., to define the correct bad guys (from the left-wing point of view), and to suggest that a continuation the past administration's disastrous soft power approach is the only way forward.

    In this year's Homeland story line, a female president-elect, we'll call her "Hillary," is grappling with her desire to make nicey-nice with Iran, reign in the CIA and the U.S. military, and otherwise peacefully control the unpleasantness in the Middle East. She's anti-interventionist, very suspicious of the military and our intelligence services, hard-nosed (of course), and a true leader (double of course). The story revolves around a evil CIA-Israeli plot to convince "Hillary" that Iran is violating her ptedecessor's Iran deal. Of course, Iran is pure as the wind-driven snow and would never violate any deal—ever! BTW, there no mention in the script of the tens of billions of dollars that her predecessor gave to the Iranians to buy weapons and foment Islamic terrorism around the globe, but that's inconvenient information for both the story's "Hillary" and the screen writers.

    The show's female lead, Cary Matheson, is ex-CIA operative who (in the last season) thwarted a vicious Islamic terrorist attack in Berlin. The attack was intended to use WMD nerve gas to kill thousands. But now Cary inexplicably has decided to join an activist group in New York. The group defends American Muslims from unfair persecution (this is, after all, Hollywood). Within the CIA Cary has an ex-colleague, Sol Berenson, a complex character who believes that the Iran deal is being upheld by Iran (in the real world, I suspect he would be the only person at Langley who believes this, but this is Hollywood, where Iran never cheats or lies and is just misunderstood when its leaders chant "Death To America).

    The plot thickens when the Israeli intelligence service (the Hollywood bad guy to Iran's misunderstood regime) plots with a truly sinister CIA operative, Dar Dahl, to convince "Hillary" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons in violation of the deal. Of course, in the fevered minds of the Hollywood writers who have hijacked Homeland, Iran would never do this because Barack Obama and John Kerry told us they wouldn't. So evil are the CIA and the Israelis that they stage a terrorist attack in NYC that kills dozens—all to convince Hillary that she must be more aggressive toward Iran.

    I could go on, but nausea would follow.

    Homeland has made the transition from a thoughtful, textured treatment of the real-world challenges Western intelligence services face to formulaic, grossly biased, intelligence-insulting Hollywood garbage.

    Too bad.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Only Progressives

    Today, we'll listen to political theater as only the Democrats can deliver it. We'll hear them ask accusatory questions that indict Neil Gorsuch for judicial rulings that followed the law ... but, came into conflict with the notion, particular to Dems, that the law should favor one group over another.* We'll hear mindless accusations that Gorsuch is "out-of-the mainstream," even though 98 percent of his rulings were in line with the majority of the federal court on which he served. We'll hear pontification and hypocrisy, whining about the fate of Merrick Garland, and a variety of other unrelated nonsense. We'll listen to statements that imply that the progressive way is the only way, all intended to provide some measure of solace to the Democrat base.

    And where is the Democratic base? I ran across a prescient essay on American liberalism written in April, 2016 by Emmett Rensin at Vox, a generally left-leaning on-line media source. Rensin's words are particularly appropriate, given the events that led to Donald Trump's upset victory in the presidential election and in the unhinged response to his victory by the America left. Whether it's urban hipsters, social justice warriors, the glitterati, or any of the other subcategories and groups that define American progressive thought, Rensin nails it when he writes:
    There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what's good for them.

    In 2016, the smug style has found expression in media and in policy, in the attitudes of liberals both visible and private, providing a foundational set of assumptions above which a great number of liberals comport their understanding of the world.

    It has led an American ideology hitherto responsible for a great share of the good accomplished over the past century of our political life to a posture of reaction and disrespect: a condescending, defensive sneer toward any person or movement outside of its consensus, dressed up as a monopoly on reason.
    Condescension may be the single most important reason that the Democrats are out in the wilderness. Those who don't agree with every progressive shibboleth are viewed by many within the progressive movement as flawed, uninformed, unintelligent, or otherwise "deplorable."

    This progressive condescension has grown in both depth and breadth in the months following the election. Nothing Trump says or does—no policy, no appointee (think: Gorsuch), no position—is acceptable, and anyone who suggests otherwise is beneath contempt.

    Here's an example of progressive condescension from an article by Conor Lynch in hard-left Salon. Lynch actually references Rensin's piece:
    Sure enough, many liberals have seemingly doubled down on this smug style, which tends to come out in full force whenever the president screws over his dumb, country-bumpkin supporters. But this attitude has also been challenged by those on the left who argue that the Democratic Party has to offer a more populist vision and break out of its technocratic bubble in order to start winning elections again. This tends to offend many liberals, who respond by reminding everyone that the Democrats ran on the “most progressive platform in party history,” yet still failed to persuade uninformed blue-collar Americans who credulously fell for the countless lies and false promises of Trump.

    Both sides have a point, of course, and it is hardly smug to point out that American voters are overwhelmingly ignorant and uninformed about politics and government, or that Trump supporters are particularly misinformed. Nor is it smug to correct someone when they state an obvious falsehood, or to challenge the nonsensical rhetoric of a demagogue like Trump. The truth is, it can be hard not to come across as smug when you have to repeatedly debunk the endless falsehoods and conspiracy theories that come out of the president’s mouth (and when so many of his supporters seem unwilling to listen to reason).
    Lynch does exactly what Rensin describes when he states: " ... it is hardly smug to point out that American voters are overwhelmingly ignorant and uninformed about politics and government, or that Trump supporters are particularly misinformed." Really? Only progressives are "informed" and sophisticated in their election choices? Only progressives have defined the right path for the country? Only progressives understand healthcare, or free speech, or the proper approach to immigration, or climate change, or school choice, or the role of government in the every day lives of citizens? Only progressives should be appointed to the Supreme court?

    Yeah ... only progressives.

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

    * As if on cue, CT Senator Richard Blumenthal demanded that Gorsuch answer questions on how he would vote in specific future cases. That is, of course, an absolute violation for any judge, but Blumenthal is too dishonest or too political to acknowledge that. By the way, Blumenthal was State Attorney General in CT. The Wall Street Journal documents the utter hypocrisy of this position:
    That’s [requiring any Supreme Court nominee to answer questions about future rulings] wildly inappropriate since Judge Gorsuch can’t know the facts or the law of future cases that would come before the Court. If he were to speak out extensively on any case at the confirmation hearing, his comments could require his recusal.

    Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor didn’t have to meet this open-kimono standard. Neither did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said at the time of her confirmation hearings in 1993 that “[a] judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints; for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process.”

    Mr. Leahy told nominee Ginsburg at the time that he “certainly” did not want her “to have to lay out a test here in the abstract which might determine what your vote or your test would be in a case you have yet to see that may well come before the Supreme Court.” At the 1967 hearings for Thurgood Marshall, then Senator Edward Kennedy called it a “sound legal precedent” that “any nominee to the Supreme Court would have to defer any comments on any matters which are either before the court or very likely to appear before the court.”
    Ahhh. We return to the "smug style" of Democrat Senators, defining one set of rules for conservative nominees and a completely different set of rules for progressives. Why? ... only progressives need apply.

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Political Theater

    After almost 60 days of mass protests, pussy hats, hysteria on subjects ranging from healthcare to cutting funding for the EPA or the UN, and unhinged claims that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to cause the defeat of the sainted Hillary Clinton, more political theater begins today. The Senate begins its confirmation hearings on Neil Gorsuch for a seat on the Supreme Court. The editors of The Wall Street Journal comment:
    The Senate begins confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch Monday, and the image to keep in mind is professional wrestling. Democrats have dug up so little on the supremely qualified Supreme Court nominee that they’ll be huffing and puffing and pretending to body slam the judge around the hearing room. It’s mostly political theater.

    Progressives frustrated at the judge’s stellar record are pressuring Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to turn the hearings into the next show of political resistance to President Trump. In a recent letter to Democratic Senators, groups including abortion activists, MoveOn.org and the Service Employees International Union called Judge Gorsuch an “unacceptable nominee” and demanded the nomination meet a 60-vote threshold.

    “Democrats have failed to demonstrate a strong, unified resistance to this nominee despite the fact that he is an ultra-conservative jurist who will undermine our basic freedoms and threaten the independence of the federal judiciary,” the groups wrote. By “basic freedoms” they must not mean free speech, religious liberty or gun rights that Judge Gorsuch has upheld.

    Mr. Schumer has responded by posing with flexed muscles, but he makes a lousy CM Punk. Mr. Gorsuch “may act like a neutral, calm judge” and “he expresses a lot of empathy and sympathy for the less powerful,” the Democratic leader said last week, but in reality the judge “harbors a right-wing, pro-corporate, special-interest agenda.”
    Oh my. In the fantasy world of Chuck Schumer and many other Dems, it's perfectly okay for a judge to be left-wing, anti-corporate, and side with special interests that have the Left's stamp of approval. But intellectual consistency is not a hallmark of the opposition party in 2017.

    Gorsuch is eminently qualified for the Supreme Court. He fills a "conservative" seat, so his appointment would not be a loss for the Dems. They would be far better served to keep their powder dry and save the real fight for the replacement of, say, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But that's not how they roll. Because—#resistance.

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

    Carrie Severino comments on Gorsuch's legal opinions:
    Democrats also complain that Judge Gorsuch’s textualist approach to the law, by which he interprets laws according to their plain meaning as written, makes him a judicial radical. In fact, Judge Gorsuch clearly swims in the mainstream of American jurisprudence. According to one study, 98% of the opinions he wrote for the Tenth Circuit have been unanimous, even though that court tilts to the left. Seven out of twelve of its active judges were appointed by Democrats.

    What’s more, his opinions have been unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court four times. These numbers show that he’s a consensus builder, which is why the Senate confirmed him to the federal bench by voice vote in 2006. It’s why his nomination has received support from many liberals, including a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration. And it’s why the American Bar Association has twice given him its highest rating.
    Last time I checked, the ABA leans decidedly left, so rating Gorsuch so highly indicates that he is an exceptional judge and intellect.

    But no matter, a great legal mind from Harvard violently opposes him.

    This morning, Elizabeth Warren wrote an anti-Gorsuch screed in The Boston Globe that makes her sound like what she is—a broken record (sorry for the anachronistic reference). Rather than making an substantive argument against Gorsuch she writes:
    Over the past three decades — as the rich have gotten richer and middle-class families have been left behind — the scales of justice have been weighted further and further in favor of the wealthy and the powerful. That tilt is not an accident. It’s the result of a deliberate strategy by powerful interests to turn our courts over to the highest bidder.

    Its effects have been devastating. Recent court decisions have let giant corporations that cheated their consumers off the hook, unleashed a flood of secret money into the political process, and made it easier for businesses to abuse and discriminate against their employees.
    Of course, Warren's tired "solution" to this is to give centralized government intrusive power to control "big business," and in so doing, to wreck our once robust economy. She advocates judges who ignore laws they do not agree with or interpret laws in a way that stacks the deck again one litigant over another. Actually, the same socialist sentiment was espoused by Hugo Chavez and Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela. How has that worked out for the people of that country?

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Lawfare

    When the Left encounters a government decision (policy or law) that it doesn't like, a common strategy is to conduct "lawfare"—bring a lawsuit in front of a friendly court (i.e., a court with predictably liberal judges) and convince that court to issue an injunction. This tactic works well, delaying or scuttling government actions effectively.

    As long as the judge bases his or her ruling on the law and on past legal precedent, lawfare, although frustrating and often maddening, is part of our legal system and must be tolerated. But when a judge completely disregards the law and instead bases an opinion on what he or she thinks the author of the decision intended, we move into a very dangerous area.

    That's what happened in the recent ruling against Donald Trump's decision to limit immigration (temporarily) from six mostly Muslim countries. Mollie Hemingway comments:
    Throughout the ruling, Judge Watson [of Hawaii] concedes there’s nothing about the executive order that would be problematic if not for his interpretation of Trump’s statements made in the months and years prior to issuing it. He repeatedly states his feeling that Trump had a bad motive in issuing the order.

    Judges using campaign rhetoric to infer intent instead of plainly evaluating the law as written is a dangerous development. Also because the public can witness the selective use of this trick, it undermines confidence in the judiciary at a time when the judiciary can’t afford too much erosion of trust.

    Imagine, for instance, if [conservative] judges ruled that the Obama-era Health and Human Services mandate forcing nuns to pay for birth control and abortifacients against their religious will was motivated by President Barack Obama’s religious animus, since he had made derogatory comments during his campaign about people bitterly clinging to God. Judges have ruled against powerful mandates such as that one for much better reasons than a parsing of Obama’s campaign rhetoric or political speeches.

    Or remember when the Supreme Court saved Obamacare by ruling it constitutional because the individual mandate — the penalty people had to pay for not buying health insurance — could be considered a tax? They ruled that way despite the fact that President Obama repeatedly maintained that the mandate was not a tax.
    Judges should rule on the letter of the law and, if you want to go one step further, on any affects implied by the actual words in the written law. They should not try to read the author's mind; they should not look back at comments made by the author in months or years past, and they should follow the constitution and well-established precedent. When they don't so this, judges erode the respect that all American's should have for our legal system. That's beginning to happen with ruling like the one offered by Judge Derrick Watson.

    Friday, March 17, 2017

    A Little Demon

    For most Democrats, Donald Trump is the devil, and new EPA Director, Scott Pruitt, is his assistant—a little demon. After all, Pruitt has the temerity to expect an unbiased scientific approach to the threat of climate change. That's unacceptable to absolutists who state that all scientific debate is over (that, in itself, is unscientific, but never mind), and that anyone who disagrees with the Left's alarmist orthodoxy on climate change is a "denier."

    Joe Kernen of CNBC asked Pruitt the following question during a recent interview: “Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate?”

    Pruitt answered the question calmly, "“No. I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So no — I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

    That's a reasonable answer. In fact, it's the answer that any unbiased scientist would provide—there is yet plenty of study that must be done, because climate is a complex, multi-variable system that is exceptionally difficult to model with any degree of accuracy. That's why every long-range climate model is notoriously inaccurate. Given that, it's odd that many Democrats and more than a few Republicans want to base major national (and worldwide) policy on unsettled science and inaccurate models. But whatever.

    Of course, the climate does change. Always has, always will. No one, and I mean no one, suggests that climate is static. The big question is what the anthropogenic affects are. Stated simply, what quantitative affect does human activity have on climate and climate change? The simple answer is that not one scientist (even the biased ones) can provide an accurate quantitative indication of what that affect might be. Is it 0.1%, 1%, 10%? That's two orders of magnitude, and no one knows what the right number is. The reason is the complexity of the problem, lots of different variables are known to affect climate.

    Jeff Jacoby provides an excellent discussion of the modeling problem:
    The list of variables that shape climate includes cloud formation, topography, altitude, proximity to the equator, plate tectonics, sunspot cycles, volcanic activity, expansion or contraction of sea ice, conversion of land to agriculture, deforestation, reforestation, direction of winds, soil quality, El Niño and La Niña ocean cycles, prevalence of aerosols (airborne soot, dust, and salt) — and, of course, atmospheric greenhouse gases, both natural and man made. A comprehensive list would run to hundreds, if not thousands, of elements, none of which scientists would claim to understand with absolute precision.

    But for the sake of argument, say there are merely 15 variables involved in predicting global climate change, and assume that climatologists have mastered each one to a near-perfect accuracy of 95 percent. What are the odds that a climate model built on a system that simple would be reliable? Less than 50/50. (Multiplying .95 by itself 15 times yields 46.3 percent.) Is it any surprise that climate-change predictions in the real world — where the complexities are exponentially greater and the exactitude of knowledge much less — have such a poor track record?

    Pruitt got it right: Measuring human impacts on climate is indeed “very challenging.” The science is far from settled. That is why calls to radically reduce carbon emissions are so irresponsible — and why dire warnings of what will happen if we don’t are little better than reckless fearmongering.
    Oh, my. That's heresy among those who treat climate change as a religion rather than a worthwhile area of scientific study. It's just possible that Scott Pruitt can move the EPA away from a religious experience and closer to a scientific one. If he did that, the little demon might actually be an angel is disguise.

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    A Mother in NC

    As I drive into work every morning at about 7:30am, I listen to the MSNBC TV feed on Sirius radio—"Morning Joe," to be specific. On this morning's show, the always left-wing panel was interviewing, Mark Meadows, a right-wing member of the Congressional Freedom Caucus from North Carolina. The topic was Obamacare (the ACA) and its replacement. To their credit, the panelists were civil but aggressive in questioning the wisdom of repealing the ACA. Meadows indicated that the current repeal and replace plan is flawed (I agree) and needs to be amended.

    After much discussion, one panelist asked the following question: "Congressman, you have 550,000 people in your state covered by Obamacare. If you repeal it, can you guarantee that all 550,000 will maintain health coverage?"

    Congressman Meadows filibustered for a bit and then said that (1) there would be a transition period and (2) every person would have "access" to coverage. The panelists leaped on that and in typical fashion one asked: "A mother that looses her Obamacare coverage has a child who gets sick . What is she to do if she loses her coverage once Obamacare is repealed?"

    The Congressman answered in political speak, but it occurred to me that he had an opportunity to turn the question around. Here's what I would have said:
    Obamacare is collapsing. Premiums in NC are rising at 30 percent a year. Major insurance companies are pulling out because they're losing money and currently, many NC counties have one insurance option—and that option is threatening to leave. Exactly what is the poor mother to do if Obamacare collapses under it own weight in the next 18 months. You all seem so concerned about the mother and millions like her. She'll lose her coverage if Obamacare collapses, as will all 550,000 of my constituents in NC. Is that somehow a better option than repealing and replacing a structurally unsound healthcare program, so that that mother won't lose her coverage down the road.
    Obamacare is like a poorly constructed building on a rotten foundation, rife with termites in its structural members, with a leaking roof and a maintenance bill that is growing by the year. The Democrats are suggesting that a new coat of paint and a little wallpaper will make the building whole and at the same time reduce maintenance expenses. It's a fantasy.

    The best approach is to tear down the building and start afresh. But to agree to that would require the Democrats to admit that their hyperpartisan approach to healthcare was flawed from the beginning. That the 'promises" made by a Democrat president were not promises at all. That a new program created under a new GOP president they despise just might be better than an old program that is disintegrating before our eyes. They won't do that and certainly won't work with the GOP to help make it happen. Let the mother in NC with the sick child be damned.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    The 2005 Tax Return

    The Left had a quasi-comical Dan Rather moment least night when MSNBC's social justice warrior in-residence announced that she had come upon Donald Trump's 2005 tax return. The Wall Street Journal tells the tale:
    Opinions differ on whether President Donald Trump is a great businessman, but when it comes to tax avoidance he’s not even in the same league with Warren Buffett. Contrary to political myth, it turns out that Mr. Trump paid more federal taxes in one year than all but a relative handful of Americans will pay in their entire lifetimes.

    Last night, just before a heavily promoted MSNBC report on the subject, the White House disclosed that in 2005 Mr. Trump paid $38 million in federal taxes on $153 million in income.

    Across social media, Americans of all creeds and colors are joining together to laugh at Rachel Maddow. But they should give the MSNBC host a break. So what if her Tuesday segment revealing Mr. Trump’s 2005 tax return was over-advertised and under-produced? Night-time cable news tends to be a mixture of entertainment and information, and is often criticized for featuring too much of the former. If Ms. Maddow’s show failed as entertainment, it certainly seems like news when the television headquarters of the anti-Trump resistance reports that Mr. Trump has paid a ton of taxes.

    And did he ever pay. The Journal reports that because of losses in previous years, Mr. Trump’s adjusted gross income in 2005 was just $48.6 million. MSNBC may have just produced the greatest argument ever against the Alternative Minimum Tax. Does anyone this side of Bernie Sanders—or come to think of it, Rachel Maddow—think that the Internal Revenue Service should confiscate 78% of someone’s adjusted gross income?

    We learned last night that Hillary Clinton’s claims about Mr. Trump’s taxes were off target. But another person who should be feeling at least a little embarrassed is the American media’s most beloved billionaire, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett. In the heat of the campaign last year Mr. Buffett [a Hilary Clinton supporter and recently, a darling of some on the Left], a Democratic donor, released his 2015 tax returns and challenged Mr. Trump to do the same.

    Mr. Buffett is estimated by Forbes to be worth around $78 billion, or roughly eight times Mr. Trump’s most optimistic assumptions about his own wealth. Yet in October Mr. Buffett revealed that he paid just $1.8 million in federal taxes in 2015, less than 5% of what Mr. Trump had paid a decade earlier, not even adjusted for inflation. Of course this is just one year of tax data on Mr. Trump and as a businessman who’s had his share of failures, he may have paid little or nothing in other years. But $38 million is a big tax bill for anybody, at any time.
    The New York Times stayed true to form by headlining this story, "Trump Wrote Off $100 Million in Losses in 2005, Leaked Forms Show." In the story the NYT grudgingly admits that Trump paid $38 million in taxes, but true leftists never think that any amount paid is a "fair share" or that Donald Trump is anything but a monster, so the NYT story in largely negative.

    As usual, unhinged positions regarding Trump often are proven wrong—making people like Rachel Maddow look kind of foolish. I suspect that the same will hold true for the unhinged contention that Trump and his people were working with the Russians to tilt the election in their favor. But critical thinking is generally not a strong attribute among far too many of the Left, so claims that Trump never paid income taxes or is a Russian stooge become a prevailing narrative—until the narrative is shown to be as ridiculous as it sounds.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2017

    Bharara

    Poor, poor Preet Bharara, the U.S Attorney for the Southern District of NY. If you listen to the preponderance of media reports (fake news), you'd think that Bharara was batman, single-handedly conducting important investigations—that he's interviewing every witness, pounding the streets looking for wrong-doing, running off to meetings with junior FBI agents who are doggedly collecting evidence.

    In fact, Bharara is a political appointee with a large staff of lawyers, investigators, and law enforcement people who do almost all the work associated with the investigations. The staff are civil servants and they will remain in place. Yes, Bharara is the point man, but that doesn't mean that everything stops when he's on vacation or ... when he's fired because (as part of a blatant political stunt) he refused to follow long-standing precedent and resign. Every president replaces the political appointees of his predecessor and Donald Trump is no different.

    The faux outrage over Bharara's firing manufactured by the Democrats' trained hamsters in the media is as laughable as it was predictable. In fact, if you believed the reports coming from the hamsters, Bharara's departure will lead to lawlessness and chaos on Wall Street. Besides, they whine, Trump said he'd allow Bharara to remain in his position. He. Changed. His. Mind.

    Glen Reynolds comments:
    There’s been a lot of faux outrage about this decision of Trump’s, but it’s all bogus. And Bharara’s refusal to resign was childish, an effort to score anti-Trump points with Democrats that, all by itself, demonstrated why Bharara was unfit for office and why Trump was right to let him go.

    Here’s the thing to understand: United States attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. The prosecution of crimes, including the decision of which crimes to prosecute and which crimes not to prosecute, is at the discretion of the executive branch, which ultimately means the discretion of the president. U.S. attorneys work for the president in that capacity. And if the president thinks someone else would be better, he’s free to fire them and replace them.

    And there’s nothing whatsoever unusual or improper about doing so, something the press has no trouble remembering when the incoming administration is run by Democrats. When Barack Obama took office, he dismissed a bunch of U.S. attorneys. Attorney General Eric Holder explained that “Elections matter — it is our intention to have the U.S. attorneys that are selected by President Obama in place as quickly as they can.”
    Ahhh ... the ubiquitous double standard at work. A Democrat president "replaces" political appointees—not a peep from the hamsters in the media. A new GOP president "ousts" or "fires" or "axes" appointees in the exact same position, and the hamsters get the vapors, whine about the cruelty of the action, and suggest that it's just another example of an uncaring, lawless, clueless administration. Fake news.

    Monday, March 13, 2017

    MOOCs

    Programs, regulations, and policies established by Democrats and often driven by the Left are often established with the best of intentions. They are nominally designed to help those in need or otherwise mitigate an actual or perceived social injustice. At the beginning they sometimes work quite well, but because they give power to centralized government, it doesn't take very long for the original good intent to be expanded dramatically by politicians and bureaucrats. Simple regulations and policies become hundreds or even thousands of pages long. Enforcement, once benign, is extended to an army of enforcers, backed by an even bigger army of government functionaries and lawyers, driven by a grievance industry that does everything possible to extend and expand the original intent. The end result is Big Intrusive Government (B.I.G.) regulations that jettison common sense and replace it with offensive  government powers.

    A recent case in point is illustrative. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was originally created with the very best of intentions. After all, who didn't want to provide common sense accommodations for those who are truly disabled.? Andrew Ferguson comments on a law that started out well and morphed into a monstrosity:
    ... The ADA gave the federal bureaucracy the authority to muscle its way into the interactions of private citizens as never before. For the first time, a civil servant in Washington could reach across the country to demand, for example, that a store owner in Spittoon, Kansas, build his grocery shelves to whatever height the bureaucrat chose. For good measure the grocer could be fined if his water fountain spouted water at the incorrect angle.

    The ADA spread a feast for plaintiffs' lawyers. Its provisions are so comprehensively intrusive that no business could hope to be in perfect compliance. One federal manual, covering the single topic of "accessible design," comes to more than 275 pages. Walter Olson, author of The Litigation Explosion, has tracked many of the tens of thousands of lawsuits—from the deaf patient awarded $400,000 because his rheumatologist failed to provide a sign language interpreter, to the police dispatcher who won a settlement for discrimination after she was fired. Her disability was narcolepsy.
    Ferguson goes on to tell a story about UC Berkeley travails with the ACA. Berkeley, a bastion of left-wing thought and political correctness is, despite this, an outstanding academic institution. Ferguson writes:
    Since 2012, UC Berkeley (among many other schools) has offered video and audio recordings of many of its courses to the general public, via YouTube and iTunes U. The Seussian acronym is MOOCs, for massive open online courses. Over the years Berkeley's catalogue of MOOCs has grown to more than 40,000 hours of high-end pedagogy. There are introductory courses in economics, European history, statistics, physics, geography, and pretty much everything else. More advanced courses range from "Scientific Approaches to Consciousness" and "Game Theory" to "The Planets" and "Philosophy of Language," this last taught by John Searle, the country's, and maybe the world's, greatest living philosopher.
    MOOCs are a wonderful thing—all free, enhancing the knowledge of every person who desires to learn. They really do represent the best of the Internet. In many cases, the MOOCs are simply a video of classroom lectures, populated by Powerpoint slides, and in some cases, but not all, closed captioning.

    Enter the ADA. A single deaf person complained to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) that the MOOC course she wanted did not have closed captioning. It should be noted that Berkeley has widespread guidelines for "accessibility" for those student and faculty who are disabled. But doesn't applyb them for free MOOCs because—cost. Ferguson continues:
    NAD went straight to the white-hot center of the American grievance industry, the federal government's Department of Justice. The organization filed a complaint with DoJ on behalf of Nowak and a Gallaudet colleague as "aggrieved individuals." The government lawyers got to work.

    ...None of this impressed the Justice Department or the aggrieved individuals or the activist organization of which they are a part. Note that the accommodations listed above are for students and faculty only. But Berkeley opened its MOOCs to the general public. Among the videos, the intrepid DoJ investigators discovered some without captions, thus discriminating against members of the general public who are deaf. Some "contain[ed] text [that] had poor color contrast," thus discriminating against Americans with visual impairments. Others contained graphs and charts in which "information was sometimes conveyed using one color alone," thus discriminating against the color-blind.

    In August, Rebecca Bond, chief of DoJ's Disability Rights Section, sent a letter to UC Berkeley administrators demanding that these acts of discrimination be corrected. In addition, the school would have to "pay compensatory damages to aggrieved individuals for injuries caused by UC Berkeley's failure to comply" with the ADA.
    The cost associated with correcting these "acts of discrimination" for all MOOCs as demanded by DoJ would be in the millions of dollars. Ferguson describes what happened next:
    The easiest course, administrators concluded, was simply to pull all the MOOCs from the Internet, so that disabled members of the general public will no longer have to be subjected to such discriminatory offenses—and, also, so that the federal government won't sue UC Berkeley. Last week Vice Chancellor Cathy Koshland announced that beginning March 15, Berkeley's vast library of online courses would no longer be publicly available. If they couldn't be accessible to a member of NAD, they won't be accessible to anyone.
    So, because a deaf person might not be able to participate in one free MOOC out of hundreds; because a few visually impaired people can't read text or graphics in MOOCs whose contrast isn't up to regulatory dictate, everyone must loose an educational resource. That. Is. Insane.

    Recall that these courses are provided for free, are not required for anything other than the love of learning, and can be replaced by different educational content specifically designed for those with disabilities. But B.I.G. will have its way. The regulatory state prevailed and the vast majority of the rest of us lost.

    Donald Trump and his administration has committed to reduce regulation and chip away at B.I.G. I wish him the best in this endeavor, but honestly, it's probably futile. B.I.G. fights hard to maintain its power, supported by many Democrats and a few Republicans who believe that centralized power is the only power, even when it tramples the rights of most of us. Berkeley MOOCs are only one of thousands of examples of B.I.G. regulatory over-reach. It should be stopped, but I doubt that will happen.

    Thursday, March 09, 2017

    Healthcare and the Pig

    There's an old adage—putting lipstick on a pig doesn't change the fact that it's still a pig. For many reasons including the fact that the entire program is collapsing before our eyes, Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) is a pig. Those of us who opposed it from the beginning stated that it would be exorbitantly expensive, would raise, not lower, the costs of medical insurance, would limit health care options (remember: "you can keep your doctor"), would harm small businesses and stifle the growth of those businesses, would be managed incompetently, would be rejected by large segments of the public, and would irreparably harm a private health care system that for all its faults, actually worked pretty well. The Democrats, driven by their ideological zeal to create yet another entitlement on the road toward "universal health care" didn't listen. A pig was born.

    Now as Obamacare literally collapses (e.g., very expensive coverage with $8,000 deductibles, some countries with one or no insurers, major insurers dropping out of the program, 20 million people opting for a tax penalty rather than participation, the young and healthy bailing while the old and sick drain the system of resources), the GOP jumps in with lipstick.

    It's reasonable to ask why, after 7 years to think about it, the GOP hasn't come up with a workable and innovative plan to replace the pig. Instead, it appears that they've opted for lipstick. There are certainly procedural, policy and political issues that may have forced them to roll out a plan (phase 1) that nobody seems to like, but come on man!

    Ed Morrissey comments:
    One challenge facing Republican leadership is the reconciliation process in the Senate. Harry Reid famously used that budgetary exception to pass Obamacare on a majority vote, eliminating the use of the filibuster. However, only legislation with a specific impact on the federal budget can cite reconciliation to avoid the filibuster. That limits what the repeal bill can do and still be passed on a majority vote. The AHCA necessarily only addresses those portions which qualify under Senate rules.

    The next complicating factor is Donald Trump’s promise to ensure that Americans don’t get abandoned in the process. That’s almost certainly why the AHCA does not eliminate the Medicaid expansion immediately, as House conservatives had hoped, and why this plan continues the practice of subsidies for health-insurance purchases. The need to extend both of those for the next few years stems from the difficulty of getting a full replacement program through the Senate; Republicans clearly hope to have a filibuster-proof majority after the 2018 midterms, but need to leave some measures in place before then.

    That doesn’t necessarily make the AHCA the best bill that can pass under these circumstances, but it does explain why Republican leadership may have refrained from producing a final, full-scale repeal-and-replace bill in favor of a transition plan. And the White House has responded to criticism of the plan by offering to negotiate amendments through the legislative process. Tom Price, former chair of the RSC and now Secretary of Health and Human Services, made that explicit on Tuesday.
    This phased approach is dictated by political realities. So phase One sucks. What about the follow-on phases 2 and 3.

    Both sides of the ideological spectrum are—as is often the case—wrong on medical care. The Right wants a purely market-driven approach that sounds good but isn't workable after an entitlement (free stuff) has been created for millions. Removing the entitlement will be demagogued to death by the Dems (the current operative word is "mean!"). The Left dreams of universal coverage, and will accept nothing short of it. They live in a fantasy world ithat rejects the notion that the enormous medical costs for a country of 320 million people wouldn't result in scarcity of coverage, bankruptcy for the treasury, and inferior care for the most vulnerable among us.

    What to do?

    There are no easy solutions, but a good start would be comprised of the following elements:
    1. Catastrophic health care coverage for all Americans —premiums means-tested based on income, and where necessary, paid for by the taxpayers. This would preclude the Democrat claim that people are uninsured and that many are bankrupted by major hospital stays.
    2. Two doctor visits per year for all Americans—premiums means-tested based on income, and where necessary, paid for by the taxpayers. . This would allow physical exams to be conducted so that small problems are found before they become big ones.
    3. The right to maintain insurance once sick, if and only if the policy holder had insurance and lost it. If, however, the citizen voluntarily dropped coverage, then got sick, he/she has no right to pre-existing conditions coverage. Decisions have consequences, and bad decisions often have bad consequences. 
    4. The instantiation of tax deductible Health Saving Accounts to replace any attempt at universal dollar one coverage. No tax credits, no subsidies, but an individual's money used for rainy day medical protection.
    5. An open private sector medical insurance market for remaining coverages with a wide array of policies and coverages tuned to the buyer's needs. Policies could be purchased nationally.
    6. Tort reform to eliminate the enormous costs associated with malpractice suits and unnecessary tests as CYA measures among doctors.
    7. Reform of FDA regulations that allow drug approval in 25 percent of the current time and 25 percent of the current cost with commensurate (and significant) reduction in prescription drug costs.
    8. Allow states to control medicaid costs and even create specialized clinics that provide care to in indigent at reduced cost.
    The elements listed represent the core of a healthcare plan that might not be a runway model, but it certainly isn't a pig either.

    Wednesday, March 08, 2017

    Trust

    The word "trust" now surfaces repeatedly in discussions of the media and the politics (and politicians) of the United States. In actuality, it's a lack of trust. Victor Davis Hansen, a historian and classicist, comments on all of this:
    The classical idea of a divine Nemesis (“reckoning” or “downfall”) that brings unforeseen retribution for hubris (insolence and arrogance) was a recognition that there are certain laws of the universe that operated independently of human concerns.

    Call Nemesis a goddess. But it was also simply an empirical observation about collective and predictable human behavior: Excess invites unexpected correction.

    Something like hubris incurring Nemesis is now following the frenzied progressive effort to nullify the Trump presidency.

    “Fake news” was a term the Left invented to describe the ancient practice of propaganda (updated in the Internet age to drive Web traffic). They applied it to the supposed Russian habit of planting international news stories to affect Western elections, and in particular Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency and his tendencies to exaggerate and massage the truth. But once the term caught on in our faddish age, who were the more appropriate media fakers? Fake news now serves as a sort of linguistic canary to remind the public that it is customarily saturated with a lethal gas of media disinformation.

    Thus “fake news” seemed a proper if belated summation and clarification of years of liberal bias in the media that were supposed to be our custodian of the truth. Were NBC anchor Brian Williams’s fantasies fake news? Were Dan Rather’s “fake but accurate” Rathergate memos? How about the party line circulated in JournoList or the Washington and New York reporters who colluded to massage the news to favor the Clinton campaign, as revealed in the Podesta WikiLeaks trove? Was jailing a video maker part of an Obama-administration fake-news attempt to blame Benghazi deaths on a spontaneous riot? Was the Iran Deal’s “echo chamber,” about which Ben Rhodes later bragged, the epitome of fake news?
    For those of us who populate the center or right of center, trust in our leadership, the administration that they lead, and the media who reports on that leadership began to erode during the past administration. With the near hysterical reaction to the new president, trust continues to erode.

    Of course, #NeverTrumpers on both the Left and the Right argue that all of this is precipitated by Donald Trump, His outrageous tweets are almost always imprecise, often muddled, sometimes unsubstantiated, and predictably juvenile and/or outrageous. That's legitimate criticism. Trump is not a good archetype for President of the United States.

    But what the #NeverTrumpers refuse to recognize is that at their core, Trump's crazy tweets often have elements of truth. Hansen continues:
    The media and the anti-Trump Republicans decried Trump’s reckless and juvenile antics as unbefitting a president. Perhaps, but they may have forgotten Trump’s animal cunning and instincts: Each time Trump impulsively raises controversial issues in sloppy fashion — some illegal aliens harm American citizens as they enjoy sanctuary-city status, NATO European partners welch on their promised defense contributions, Sweden is a powder-keg of unvetted and unassimilated immigrants from the war-torn Middle East — the news cycle follows and confirms the essence of Trump’s otherwise rash warnings. We are learning that Trump is inexact and clumsy but often prescient; his opponents, usually deliberate and precise but disingenuous.
    Trump's opponents expect the public to trust them and accept their sometimes unhinged criticism of Trump. But here's the thing—in the weeks following one outrageous Trump tweet or comment or another, the news cycle often proves Trump right on the essence and his opponent's are proven wrong. So who does one trust?

    Finally, on the latest allegations of wiretapping, Hanson writes:
    “Obama officials have written contorted denials that by their very Byzantine wording suggest there is some truth to the thrust of Trump’s accusations. . . . At best, the public is learning that intelligence agencies and the Obama Justice Department deliberately monitored Trump’s campaign effort (and leaked its findings), acts that fit a larger pattern of seeking to oppose his 2016 campaign.”
    Because Trump is so egregiously imprecise, it's easy for his enemies to narrowly interpret his words and react with outrage. They do it all the time.

    Did Trump actually mean that Barack Obama personally ordered a wire tap on Trump's personal phone, maybe even set the tap himself? Of course not! What he tried to express in his signature crude and sloppy style, I think, is that surveillance was requested by some government agency at the request of some Obama administration entity against some elements of the Trump campaign. The anti-Trump leaks that sunk Trump's national security advisor already bear that out.

    If the media was trustworthy and non-partisan (it is not), the question they would ask: Was surveillance requested by some government agency at the request of some Obama administration entity against some elements of the Trump campaign? My guess is that the ant-Trump trained hamsters really doesn't want an answer to that question because they fear what the answer might be.

    Tuesday, March 07, 2017

    Questions

    The trained hamsters in the mainstream media continue to escalate their "outrage" over Donald Trump's as yet unsubstantiated accusation that the Obama administration obtained a court-ordered wiretap. BTW, they, of course, interpret Trump's ridiculous tweets literally, making the argument that evidence must now show that Obama himself signed the order.; otherwise, Trump lied! That is misleading and disingenuous.. Obama didn't have the power to order the taps (if they did occur). But his administration? That's a different story.

    There are so many variables in this story, it's extremely difficult to process. For example, when past agency heads say "there was no tap on Trump headquarters," be careful. There could have been a tap on a specific network switch that processed communications traffic that flowed in and out of Trump campaign headquarters. When Democrats claim that if there was a FISA order to tap, it must have been justified because evidence was presented. Again, be careful. It is entirely possible that an administration-friendly judge approved the request on flimsy evidence.

    Given all of these variables, it's very important to move cautiously. There may be nothing to this except Trump's bluster or this may be  scandal that makes Watergate look tame by comparison. But as Glen Reynold of Instapundit states:
    With Obama’s record of promiscuous spying and politicized bureaucracy, it’s entirely believable that he was spying on Trump. But just because it’s believable doesn’t prove that it happened. To determine that, we probably need a special prosecutor — whose brief, honestly, should be expanded to cover all political spying in the Obama Administration, not just spying on Trump.
    And there's still another odd element to all of this. Donald Trump is the President. He could demand information from the Intelligence services and get any records from the Justice Department that might shed light on this issue. He should do this, and the fact that he hasn't yet done it is troubling. However, even if he does, it's entirely possible that records have gone missing (think: the IRS scandal) and the bureaucracy (seeded with Obama loyalists) will work to subvert his request (think: recent leaks of recorded phone calls that ultimately forced Michael Flynn to resign).

    It's very important to note that Obama's people are being rather equivocal about all of this. Kevin Lewis, an Obama spokesperson said in a prepared comment: "Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U. S. citizen." Hmmm. Of course he didn't order a wiretap—he can't. But did his administration ask for one? That's the big question.

    Roger Simon poses a few others [bullets mine]:
    • Would an attorney general (in this case Loretta Lynch) normally inform the White House of a decision to go to a FISA court for approval of the tapping of a political presidential opponent?
    • Did Ms. Lynch so inform the White House?
    • Was there any discussion of this decision between the WH and the DOJ?
    • Why did the Justice Department decide to go back to the FISA court in October for a second try at approval?
    • Whose idea was that?
    • Did they did have additional information? What was that?
    • Was Trump's name included in the brief the first time but omitted in the second? Why?
    • If none of this happened, who made it up and why? That makes no sense, considering how easy it would be to disprove. Unless, of course, although it's not supposed to happen, the NSA just regularly taps everything and everybody, including presidential candidates, the president elect, and the president himself
    • But why then on Jan 12 of this year, again according to the New York Times, did the Obama administration suddenly broadly extend the powers of the NSA?
    Since the election of Donald Trump, the Dems and their trained hamsters in the media seem oh-so-interested in investigating stuff, even when there is no evidence to support an investigation (think: the Russian hysteria). Fine.

    So if there is "no evidence" to substantiate Trump's wire tap claim, as they contend, that shouldn't be an obstacle. Maybe the NYT, WaPo and CNN should create their own reportorial task force to investigate Simon's rather reasonable questions. But that's about as likely to occur as snow in Miami.

    Monday, March 06, 2017

    Debt

    Even in the best of circumstances (and these are definitely not the best of circumstances), Donald Trump faces major domestic budgetary challenges. During the previous administration, the national debt doubled due to profligate spending by Democrats who now (in what can only be characterized as massive hypocrisy) tell us they're concerned about how Trump will pay for, say, an infrastructure stimulus.

    In addition, a massive healthcare entitlement, Obamacare, is self-destructing and must be replaced. The problem is that any replacement will add to the debt (1) because the original entitlement was sold with lies and deception, and (2) once an entitlement is in place, it is politically difficult (or impossible) to discard it (once people get free stuff, they believe the giveaway morphs into an inalienable right, and they get very angry when you take it away). Political courage is not something that you find in Washington, DC.

    The Wall Street Journal published this CBO budget projection using conservative economic growth data:



    Debt service in 30 years will account for one federal dollar in five, over three times higher than it is today. What pro-spending big government types should pay attention to is the area in grey. Money for all other big government programs will decrease from 45% to 26% of the federal budget. Unless we default on our debt, there will be massive cuts to the programs that progressives cherish, and the people who suffer most will be the very people that Democrats purport to care so much about.

    There is a tendency among many on the left to be innumerate—to dismiss numbers, charts and graphs and rely instead on belief and fantasy income distribution schemes. Millennials and their children should be concerned about the preceding graph, but it should come as no surprise. Those of us who have warned that debt is dangerous have been dismissed by politicians who would prefer to kick the can down the road and continue kicking until a crisis occurs. We're not there yet, but it is coming. It won't be pretty.

    Sunday, March 05, 2017

    Wiretap

    An explosive allegation by Donald trump, as yet not fully substantiated, that the Obama administration tried and ultimately succeeded in wiretapping the campaign offices at Trump Tower has created chaos in Washington.

    On the left, the Democrats are apoplectic, scrambling to suggest that the Trump claims are without merit and that there is no evidence to support them. It's amusing to see the same people who want resignations and independent investigations because of contact with Russian entities but no evidence of wrong-doing, now take exactly the opposite position in a situation in which there is some evidence to indicate suspicious actions (see below). It's even more amusing to watch the media hamsters falling over themselves to protect the past president. John Hinderacker reports on the AP response:
    After President Trump accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones during the election campaign, the Associated Press hurried into print a defense of the former president:

    President Donald Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of having Trump Tower telephones “wire tapped” during last year’s election, a claim that an Obama spokesman said was false.

    Trump did not offer any evidence or details, or say what prompted him to make the allegation.

    No one fits a lot of details into a tweet, but there is no doubt that Obama’s Justice Department–the most corrupt and politicized Department of Justice in modern American history–obtained a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump associates, and possibly Trump himself, in the heat of the presidential campaign. The Associated Press apparently didn’t know this.
    I wonder how many reporters at the AP, NYT, and WaPO will be assigned to what could be (if evidence is forthcoming) the most compelling political scandal in the past 100 years—Watergate included. If there is a FISA warrant, I wonder why it hasn't been leaked to the AP, NYT, WaPo, or CNN? Then again, maybe it has, but the hamsters have decided to bury it.

    Here a summary of what is known at this point in time from a well-researched post by Scott Johnson (links to sources in the original):
    ...in the weeks prior to June 2016, the FBI did a preliminary investigation, apparently based on concerns about a server at Trump Tower that allegedly had some connection to Russian financial institutions. Even if there were such a connection, it is not a crime to do business with Russian banks — lots of Americans do. It should come as no surprise, then, that the FBI found no impropriety and did not proceed with a criminal investigation. [Emphasis mine]

    What is surprising, though, is that the case was not closed down.

    Instead, the Obama Justice Department decided to pursue the matter as a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In June, it sought the FISA court’s permission to conduct surveillance on a number of Trump associates — and perhaps even Trump himself. It has been reported that Trump was “named” in the application, but it is not publicly known whether he (a) was named as a proposed wiretap target, or (b) was just mentioned in passing in the application.

    Understand the significance of this: Only the Justice Department litigates before the FISA court; this was not some rogue investigators; this was a high level of Obama’s Justice Department — the same institution that, at that very moment, was whitewashing the Clinton e-mail scandal. And when Justice seeks FISA surveillance authority, it is essentially telling that court that there is probable cause to believe that the targets have acted as agents of a foreign power — that’s the only basis for getting a FISA warrant.
    It's too early to come to a definitive conclusion, but waffling has already begun. Obama spokespeople are choosing their words very carefully as they respond to the allegation. From an AP account:
    Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said a “cardinal rule” of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered in any Justice Department investigations, which are supposed to be conducted free of political influence.

    “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” Lewis said, adding that “any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
    Hmmm. Weasel words to the max. "... no White House official ever interfered..." does not mean that the justice department wasn't tapping Trumps phones. "... neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen" is meaningless and very misleading. Obama and/or the White House can't do that, but the justice department (demonstrably under Obama's thumb at the time) can go to court and have a judge order a wiretap.

    Sit back and get some popcorn. The Dems punched hard with the Russian allegations and had Trump on the ropes. But it looks like Trump counterpunched with deadly force and if early evidence holds, with far more substance.

    We'll see what happens.

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

    In the long tradition of Benghazi and the IRS scandal, the media cover-up begins. The New York Times can't avoid a story of this magnitude, but they entitle their lead article: "Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones." Now you'd think that the NYT might have the investigative firepower to determine whether any evidence of the allegation exists—leaks maybe? But instead they begin a whitewash attacking the allegation. Odd, they don't do that when vacuous allegations of nefarious Russian connections to Trump are leveled by Democrats.

    In any event, buried deep in the NYT article is this:
    After The Washington Post reported that Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, had discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had just imposed on Russia, Mr. Flynn was pushed out of his post by the White House because he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the calls.
    Hmmm. How, exactly, did the WaPo get definitive information about Flynn's phone conversations? That is a pivotal question that the NYT doesn't seem to feel is worth posing. If his phone was tapped, by whom and for what reason? If it wasn't, how did the WaPO learn the content of his conversation (which by the way, was innocuous). Who authorized the tap? What court approved it? And even more important, was that wire tap part of a much broader and politically motivated wiretapping attack on the Trump campaign authorized by the Obama Justice Department that had already proven it was the most partisan in history?

    Bad stuff went on, but the NYT like all of the other trained hamsters in the media, will work as hard as they can to minimize the impact. Who would have though that the media would have to cover for Obama after he left office? Amazing.

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

    And this from a post from Craig Pirrong:
    I won’t comment in detail on the substance of today’s latest outbreak of our fevered politics: Trump’s accusation that Obama ordered wiretapping of Trump Tower and the Trump campaign. I will just mention one fact that strongly supports the veracity of Trump’s allegation: namely, the very narrow–and lawyerly–“denials” emanating from the Obama camp.

    Obama and his surrogates–notably the slug (or is he a cockroach?) Ben Rhodes–harrumph that Obama could not unilaterally order electronic surveillance. Well, yes, it is the case that Obama did not personally issue the order: the FISA court did so. But even if that is literally correct, it is also true that the FISA court would not unilaterally issue such an order: it would only do so in response to a request from the executive branch. Thus, Obama is clearly implicated even if he did not issue the order. He could have ordered his subordinates to make the request to the court, or could have approved a subordinate’s request to seek an order. Maybe he merely hinted, a la Henry II–“will no one rid me of this turbulent candidate?” (And “turbulent” is a good adjective to apply to Trump.) But regardless, there is no way that such a request to the court in such a fraught and weighty matter would have proceeded without Obama’s acquiescence.

    I therefore consider that the substance of Trump’s charge–that he was surveilled at behest of Obama has been admitted by the principals.

    This episode illustrates a broader point that is definitely useful to keep in mind. What Obama and his minions (and the Democrats and many in the media) say is likely to be correct, strictly speaking, but fundamentally misleading. In contrast, what Trump says is often incorrect, strictly speaking, but captures the fundamental truth. I would wager that is the case here.

    The lawyer word games are not limited to this episode. The entire Sessions imbroglio smacks of scumbag lawyer tactics. The Unfunny Clown, Senator Al Franken, asked (in a convoluted way) a very narrow question (which was related to an even narrower written question in a set of interrogatories) about Session’s interactions with the Russians. Sessions answered the question–which was not an unconditional query about contacts with the Russians, but which related to very specific types of contacts and discussions. Franken and the Democrats then accused Sessions of perjury because the Senator (and then-Attorney General designate) had met with the Russian ambassador to the US on two occasions. Asking a narrow question, and then claiming the answer was a false response to a broader question (that was not asked) is a sleazy lawyer trick (and one that has been tried on me, BTW).

    One last thing. Why did Trump push this button today? I can think of offensive and defensive reasons. Offensively, he might want to gain the initiative in the war against Obama and the intelligence community. Defensively, this could be an excellent way of derailing the Russia hysteria, and the calls for an investigation. If it turns out that there was an FBI investigation, and it turned up nothing, then there is no justification for further investigation, whether by Congress or law enforcement. So it could actually help Trump if the FBI and the intelligence community were forced to acknowledge that they had investigated, to no avail. By raising the issue, Trump is pressuring the FBI to put up or shut up.
    The Democrats have never encountered anyone like Trump. Their sanctimonious viciousness, backed by their many media allies, usually cripples their GOP opponent. They're not used to an even more vicious counterattack. Heh.

    Middlebury

    In an all too common occurrence at American colleges and universities, a mob of leftist students and a few outside agitators shouted down Charles Murray, a well-respected researcher who used solid science to draw conclusions that conflicted with their ideological beliefs but the students couldn't refute. Intellectually incapable of debating Murray in a civil setting, the mob forced Murray out and injured a professor during the melee. As an aside, why is it that right-wing student organizations don't this with the frequency and fervor of the leftist students? Oh, well.

    The tuition at Middlebury College is $66,000 per year. The student population is generally white, progressive, and elite. Liberal writer Myron Magnet, an ex-English professor at Middlebury, comments on the Middlebury students:
    ... their very privilege should make these students want to pay close attention to what Murray has to say, since his most recent book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, has much to report about them and the part they played in a presidential election that may change the American political landscape for a long time to come. White Americans have fractured into two distinct classes, Murray argues. There are the Middlebury kids and their ilk: moneyed, well-credentialed (if ill-educated), and brought up by parents who arranged their playdates, soccer games, SAT tutors, summer “enrichment” travel programs, and résumé-building community “service” activities. These kids belong to a culture that values career, hard work at your job (if not much creativity at it), finding a mate with the same background and staying married to her or him, and bringing up your children with equal care. By contrast, there are the high-school grads or dropouts, whose low-skilled jobs have vanished, who either never marry or get divorced—producing carelessly brought-up broods of children in either case—who have gotten hooked by the millions on prescription pain-killers, whose health is poor, and whose lives are short.

    This latter group forms a significant portion of the Trump electorate. And one of the things they voted against is the smug self-righteousness of the Middlebury grads and their Ivy League-bred cousins. Never Trumpers like to talk about the insufferable tone of the man from Queens: his barroom crudity, his Twitter-brief utterances, his personal vituperation, his contempt for the mainstream press, his hyperbole and boastfulness, his exaggeration, his anti-globalism, his ignorance. How divisive! say the critics. But how do you think the group of less-privileged white Americans whom Murray identifies would hear the self-cherishing, Ivy League snobbery of a Barack Obama, with his contempt for those benighted Americans pathetically clinging to their God and their guns, as the arc of history sweeps them away? And how do you think they feel about the politically correct shibboleths that make the Middlebury kids and their ilk feel they don’t have to listen to anything that doesn’t allow them to revel in their moral superiority to the unenlightened multitudes—and that justifies their privilege?
    There is an moral arrogance on the Left that has already resulted in backlash from many in this country. Nothing exemplified that more than Hillary Clinton's characterization of supporters of her opponents as "deplorables." In my view and with hindsight, she lost the election when she uttered that word. The Russians had nothing to do with it.

    But what of the "deplorables"? They do not fit nicely into Myron Magnet's construction of low-education ne're-do-wells. A significant percentage are successful members of society—some individualists, others more group-oriented; some college-educated, others not; some corporate people, others in the trades—all trying to raise good kids; most accepting of a broad range of social constructs, and all concerned about the direction of this country.

    One thing unites them—they don't like being lectured to about what is moral and what is not, what will "save the planet" and what won't, what groups threaten us and which are our friends. They instinctively believe that big, centralized government creates more problems than it solves. They don't have the time or the inclination for virtue signaling (a.k.a., moral preening), and they recognize the rank hypocrisy associated with it.

    Push back by the deplorables has so far has been gentle. I hope that continues. It may not.

    Saturday, March 04, 2017

    Blame

    A few days ago, I posted the following comments about the spate of anti-Semitic incidents of late:
    There has been the clear implication by hamsters in the media that the [anti-Semitic] incidents in the USA were perpetrated by right-wing groups sympathetic to Trump, although there is yet no evidence to support that contention. But no matter, the hamsters suggest that these incidents occurred because—Trump. I haven't heard a single commentator at CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, WaPo, LAT, NBC ... suggest that this accusation is a "slur" and should be abandoned.

    Over the past few weeks I wrote two rather uncomplimentary posts (here and here) about Keith Ellison, you know, the guy who garnered 46 percent of the vote for Chair of the DNC and is now co-chair or some such title. According to David Weigel of WaPo, that makes me one of many who have "slurred" poor Keith ...

    In fact, I suppose it could be argued that by giving a pass to a person like Ellison, a true anti-Semite, the Democrats may have inadvertently encouraged hard-left activists or (heaven forbid!) radical Muslims, to act out against Jews. But those possibilities are never considered -- NEVER! And might it possibly be the eight years of veiled anti-Israel rhetoric coming out of the previous administration? Nah, after all, when was there ever an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Democrat. Oh wait ... Ellison.
    Yesterday, we learned of the first arrest associated with anti-Semitic incidents. A man named Juan M. Thompson was alleged to have called in threats to a number of Jewish entities.

    This grudging report from The New York Times:
    A former reporter for a news website was charged on Friday with making more than a half-dozen bomb threats against Jewish community centers, schools and a Jewish history museum, federal authorities said.

    The man, Juan Thompson, 31, of St. Louis, made some of the threats using his own name and others implicating a former girlfriend as part of an effort to intimidate her, the authorities said in a federal complaint unsealed on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

    In one threat, made on Feb. 1 against a Jewish school in Farmington Hills, Mich., the complaint says, Mr. Thompson claimed he had placed two bombs in the school and was “eager for Jewish newtown,” an apparent reference to the 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 20 students and six school employees.
    Try as hard as they might, the trained hamsters in the media can't seem to connect Thompson to Trump. Maybe that's because Thompson is a person of color and a left-wing writer (with plenty of content to prove it) who abhors Trump, his deplorables, and the "racist" policies of the United States. But the media is covering Thomson in an odd way. His politics are not thoroughly covered and there is never, ever the connect-the-dots approach that is always in play when right wing crazies do something awful. In this case Thompson is "disgraced" or "a jilted lover," or a "dishonest reporter" but never, ever an anti-Trump, left-winger.

    Unlike far too many on the left, I will not suggest that progressives or Democrats somehow spurred this unhinged man to do what he did. But the fact that he is not a media's caricature of an anti-Semite, that is, a white-bread, low-IQ, right-wing, gun carrying deplorable, should give those on the left reason to pause. It won't, of course, but it should.

    It's also reasonable to conclude that the truly unhinged non-stop, anti-Trump rhetoric on the Left, including the canard that Trump and his people are anti-Semitic, may spur some unbalanced left-wingers to create anti-Semitic incidents to prove that the prevailing meme is true. Crazy? Yes. But certainly as plausible as the as yet unsubstantiated "slurs" that Trump supporters are to blame.

    Friday, March 03, 2017

    The Russian Connection

    In the fevered imaginations of many progressives and a majority of Democrats, the Russians colluded with the Donald Trump campaign, and through their nefarious actions, they, and they alone, are responsible for the defeat of "sure-thing" Hillary Clinton. Although not one shred of evidence supports this fantasy, although a formal report by our intelligence agencies notes that the hacking of embarrassing DNC emails had no effect on election results, although every investigation done so far indicates that the hacks were NOT aimed at the actual vote tally, the Left is relentless in their obsession.

    At some level this is all quite amusing. Recall that Democrat icon, Barack Obama, poo-pooed any concern about the Russians during a 2012 campaign debate with Mitt Romney, derisively suggesting "The 1980s Are calling, they want their foreign policy back." Looks like the Dems have decided that the cold war looks pretty attractive right now and that demonizing the Russians (who admittedly are adversaries, not friends) is an excellent way to deflect attention from their precipitous election losses and their slide toward the hard left.

    The editors of The Wall Street Journal comment:
    The story about the connection between Russia and the Donald Trump presidential campaign is either the most elaborate cover-up of all time, or the dumbest. More evidence for the dumb theory arrives with the news that during his confirmation hearings Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn’t tell Senators about two 2016 meetings with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
    According to the Democrats, these meetings—held in public—indicate spy-thriller level collusion to topple Clinton. Never mind that Sessions was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time or that meetings with foreign official happen all the time in Washington. It's a plot! -- An act of war! -- Sessions must resign!

    The Democrats aren't good at governance (the last eight years demonstrate that) but they are very good at political theater—and that's what this is. Their trained hamsters in the media follow suit, hoping to keep the "Russian Connection" alive for a significant portion of Trump's presidency.

    I have Democrat friends who argue this is no different that Benghazi or the IRS scandal. They are wrong. In both Obama-era scandals, there was actual evidence of wrong-doing. In one case four people died, an obvious cover-up ensued, and then, with the help of the media, stonewalling succeeded. In the other case, American citizen were intimidated by a government agency, a corrupt justice department decided to look the other way, and then, with the help of the media, stonewalling succeeded. It's been reported that The Washington Post alone has 10 reporters currently investigating the "Russian connection." I wonder how many WaPo assigned to Benghazi and the IRS scandals.

    The WSJ editors continue:
    If Mr. Sessions was trying to cover up some dark Russian secret, he’s the Jim Carrey of cover-up artists. Surely he knew someone would discover a meeting in his Senate office, which isn’t exactly a drop-site in the Virginia suburbs, and the meeting in Cleveland had multiple witnesses. Like former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn not telling Vice President Mike Pence about his meeting with the ambassador, this is a case of dumb and dumber.

    The most important fact so far about the larger Trump-Russia collusion story is that there are so few salient facts. The Russian hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta were embarrassing but had little bearing on the election. The dossier of supposed contacts between Trumpians and Russians published by BuzzFeed has never been corroborated.

    Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees investigating the ties have reported nothing of substance. What we have on the evidence so far is a hapless cover-up without an underlying scandal.
    The Democrats found themselves in a deep hole after the Obama years, significant election losses due to their weak governance at the state and federal levels have decimated their bench. The election of hard-left leaders of the DNC (one an anti-Semite) indicates a precipitous slide to the left. With the current  hysteria over the Russian connection, the Dems continue to dig the hole—at least in the eyes of almost everyone except their base. Anyone have a bigger shovel?

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

    For decades, the Democrats have decried the tactics of the infamous Joe McCarthy and his Communist/Russia baiting tactics. The New York Post comments:
    Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from any investigation involving last fall’s election is prudent — but it won’t satisfy the Democrats now channeling the ghost of Sen. Joe McCarthy.

    Back in the ’50s, the Wisconsin senator was famously accused of seeing a Russian under every bed. And now Democrats seem to be conducting the same kind of “witch hunt” as his investigations of Soviet infiltration of the US government.

    Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and others are demanding Sessions’ resignation over the news that he met twice with Moscow’s ambassador last year.

    Some Democrats say the meetings themselves compromised Sessions — even though senators meet with foreign ambassadors all the time, and Sessions was a member of the Armed Services Committee to boot ...

    Driving it all is the fevered far-left theory that a Russia/Trump-campaign conspiracy stole the election from Hillary Clinton — though few Democrats admit that as they rail over the supposed horrors of any association with the Russians.
    It's funny, now that Dems tell us that the Russians are Threat # 1 and that GOP senators shouldn't even be talking to them, it's odd that not-a-one has suggested that just maybe Barack Obama was wrong in his pronouncement (that the Russians were no threat) during the 2012 presidential debates. My oh my, how times have changed.