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

Saturday, September 30, 2017


For people who don't follow events closely, it's taken as conventional wisdom that: (1) the Russians inserted themselves into our election to the extent that they somehow swung the result in favor of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton, (2) that Trump and his campaign "colluded" with the Russians to accomplish this, and (3) that the Russians' actions and Trump's participation in all of it are a "threat to our democracy." After all, the trained hamsters of the main stream media have pushed the story for almost a year, the #nevertrump congress has conducting never-ending investigations, leaks from the FBI and DoJ abound, and a Special Prosecutor is turning over as many rocks as he and his team of pro-Clinton lawyers can find. But if you step back for a moment and consider the hard evidence and actual facts, the context, and the players—all of this is nonsense—evidence-free nonsense.

Like most narratives that are based on a foundation of big lies, the narrative's claims are dangerous because there are very small elements of truth in them. The Russkies do mischief and psyops all the time, including trying to foment hysteria and strife within the United States. (The media has helped them greatly in that regard.) Russian hackers are legendary for the mischief they create, and yes, people do meet with Russians all the time for a myriad of reasons. But the hysterical claims of collusion are supported only by innuendo—person X met with a Russian, AND the Russians might have hacked DNC computers (although that is highly debatable) AND the Russians purchased $150K work of ads on social media (take a breath and recognize that close to $1.5 billion was spent on this past election, making a $150K ad buy about 1/100th of 1 percent of total dollars spent, but never mind), THEREFORE, Trump is a Russian stooge!!

Glen Greenwald writes about a report from HHS that claimed that the Russians tried to hack into the election systems of 21 states in the run-up to the election. The trained hamsters reacted to the story by getting the vapors. Greenwals writes:
They [the media and some Democrats] were one small step away from demanding that the election results be nullified, indulging the sentiment expressed by #Resistance icon Carl Reiner the other day: “Is there anything more exciting that [sic] the possibility of Trump’s election being invalidated & Hillary rightfully installed as our President?”

So what was wrong with this story? Just one small thing: it was false. The story began to fall apart yesterday when Associated Press reported that Wisconsin – one of the states included in the original report that, for obvious reasons, caused the most excitement – did not, in fact, have its election systems targeted by Russian hackers.

The spokesman for Homeland Security then tried to walk back that reversal, insisting that there was still evidence that some computer networks had been targeted, but could not say that they had anything to do with elections or voting. And, as AP noted: “Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator, Michael Haas, had repeatedly said that Homeland Security assured the state it had not been targeted.”

Then the story collapsed completely last night. The Secretary of State for another one of the named states, California, issued a scathing statement repudiating the claimed report:

Sometimes stories end up debunked. There’s nothing particularly shocking about that. If this were an isolated incident, one could chalk it up to basic human error that has no broader meaning.

But this is no isolated incident. Quite the contrary: this has happened over and over and over again. Inflammatory claims about Russia get mindlessly hyped by media outlets, almost always based on nothing more than evidence-free claims from government officials, only to collapse under the slightest scrutiny, because they are entirely lacking in evidence.
There seems to be a pattern here. Outrageous claims drive hysteria by the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd, followed by actual evidence that the original claims were blatantly false, followed by a quick pivot by the #nevertrumpers to yet another false claim.

Greenwald asks a question in his article's title that seems wholly appropriate: "Is skepticism permissible yet?"

Friday, September 29, 2017

Big, Big, Big money

There's big, big, big money in basketball shoes. Just look at Nike and Adidas. Coincidently, there's big, big, big money in College Basketball. A sanctimonious and hypocritical NCAA, major colleges, and big-time coaches collectively make billions of dollars while the performers who bring in those billions—college basketball players—make nothing—nada.

Of course, that's not completely accurate. There is big money that is passed under the table—from recruiters, agents, and those big shoe companies to players' families and in many indirect ways, to the players themselves. Every once in a while, there's a scandal. In such cases, the media and the NCAA, the coaches and the colleges put on their shocked face and claim to be outraged by it all. What B.S.!

Jason Gay comments:
... you’ve heard the stunning news that our multibillion-dollar men’s collegiate basketball economy might not be completely on the up-and-up.

It’s true! The feds have swooped in and busted a high-ranking Adidas executive and a handful of college assistant coaches in what is alleged to be a wide-ranging series of bribery and fraud schemes designed to steer players to collegiate programs, and later onto financial advisers when they depart college and turn pro.
On cue, the officials within the NCAA will express shock and outrage, passing even more onerous rules that restrict players from making a dime from the sport that earns the NCAA billions. Coaches will be fired (Louisville Coach, Rick Patino, already has been), athletic departments will be re-organized, and life will go on as before. It's a sham and everybody knows it.

Gay comments:
Once more, a scandal shows the monetary value that young players have—a value that extends beyond the incentive of a college scholarship, which, in the case of a player who intends to only stay a season, is basically meaningless. It’s time to get real. Opening the market and compensating athletes may not square with the romantic ideal of college amateurism, but it would likely cut down on under-the-table nonsense. “The incentive goes down,” [economist Allen] Sanderson says.

I’m not holding my breath. Paying athletes in high-revenue sports like men’s basketball and football is an idea that remains controversial, and would necessitate major changes—reclassifying college athletes as employees, for example, which would allow schools to circumvent Title IX requirements. Sanderson thinks a more likely scenario is a pair of conferences—the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, for example—breaking off from the NCAA to create their own, compensated system. Intriguing! A real Rose Bowl, baby! But not happening tomorrow.
Players should be compensated, but that won't happen any time soon. After all, no one who currently makes big, big, big money wants to share it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Just Like You

Something fundamental is happening in the main stream media and the entertainment industry. In the past, both projected at least the appearance of mainstream thought. They avoided partisan politics, recognizing that it's far better to occupy the center, enabling as many people as possible to view their offering with appreciation and even admiration. Sure, most members of the media and the entertainment industry have always been progressives with a high affinity for left-wing thought, but they masked it to some extent. Today, as Trump Derangement Syndrome pervades the media and entertainment industries, the mask has fallen.

The conservative blogger, Ace of Spades, comments on all of this:
There's a reason the media and left-liberals-who-don't-wish-to-acknowledge-they're-left-liberals ... It's because people -- most normal people, anyway -- have a deep suspicion of politics and politically minded people.

If you can paint your opponent as political, while fighting him nail and tooth while pretending that you are yourself not political, you've taken a massive first step towards persuading an audience, because the first thing you need to do to persuade someone [you are] "relatable," and basically Just Like Them, and as they themselves like to believe they're non-political, you establish something more important than logic and reason can when you pretend to match their personality and emotional state.

You don't like politics? Why that's so funny-- I don't like politics either! Now that we've established that we both are kindred spirits who don't like politics, let me tell you about my plan to convert the US into a single-payer health care system!

The media, and Democrats, wage a remorseless war to paint anyone who isn't an extremist left-liberal -- as they are -- as being "political." ...

In other words: They relentlessly Otherize their political opponents.

This is why every protester at a left-liberal march is depicted as Just Like You. You know the drill -- "Grandmothers. Teachers. Firemen. Welders. Whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians. Most of them had never even thought of attending a political rally before, but [insert left-liberal political claim] had finally drawn them out to the streets to make their voices heard..."

They deliberately depict the left-liberal protesters as demographically broad as possible, so that as many readers as possible can look at the description and think: Oh, that's me. These people are Just Like Me. I should agree with them!

Meanwhile, ever protester at a conservative rally is depicted as weird, intensely political, heads all filled with bugaboos, hang-ups, and #FakeNews. The media also deliberately claims that these people are as demographically narrow as possible, to make sure the smallest possible segment of the audience sees any of themselves in the crowd. They always claim conservatives are entirely white, and will actively forge video to erase black people out of gun rights marches.
Think about this example: Most average people would agree that free speech is a good idea. But when the media and entertainment industry falsely characterizes every free speech rally as a gathering of "white supremacists" or "neo-nazi" sympathizers, the average person thinks, Hey, I don't like white supremacy, so free speech can't be a good idea, can it?

Today, the media and entertainment industries have dropped their 'you're just like me' pose and have become rabidly political. Their unhinged rants against Trump [think: the Emmy awards show a few weeks ago], and by extension, the 60-plus million people who voted for him, indicate that the average citizen isn't at all just like them.

Ace of Spades continues:
Propagandists ... ruthlessly paint their enemies as Not Like You, while presenting themselves as Just Like You.

And one very important factor in the Not Like You/Just Like You propaganda rush is to claim that The Other Side are Too Political, and therefore Not Like You, while Our Side isn't really political at all, we're all just rational folks who want what's best. You know -- Just Like You.

So here's the problem the left (and the NeverTrumper fringe, who are now in a strong alliance with the left) has: While for years they followed standard propaganda protocol and pretended they were almost entirely non-political, they have now decided that The Moment Is Too Vital to pretend any longer, and have decided to out themselves as ferociously, obsessively political ...

They're destroying themselves, and sabotaging their own propaganda operations, because they're just too crazy to think or care about such things any longer.

And I gotta tell you: I love it.

Destroying the media is a thing to be dearly wished for -- but watching them destroy themselves is tons better.

They're now Othering themselves, and I think that's just fine.
I do NOT agree that the destruction of the media is a good thing. An ethical, professional media is an important element of a functioning democracy. It keeps government waste, fraud, and abuse in line and outs the dishonest and venal politicians who populate the seats of power. But that's the ideal.

Sadly, the main stream media has now chosen sides, and as a consequence, can no longer be trusted to do their jobs. They have become partisan hacks who are largely untrustworthy and grossly unprofessional. So when they characterize the participants at an event they endorse as Just-Like-You, in reality they're very likely promoting #FakeNews.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Plame's Blame

Back when the Left really, really hated President George W. Bush (after all, Bush defeated the Left's candidate in a manner that supposedly delegitimized his presidency ... hmmm, sound familiar), they made a hero out of a CIA analyst named Valarie Plame-Wilson. James Kirchick recounts the bogus claims that surrounded the Plame:
...the George W. Bush administration “outed” her to Washington Post columnist Robert Novak as revenge after her husband – former Ambassador Joseph Wilson–publicly disputed intelligence that the president had cited in his case for war in Iraq. That the entire story ended up being a load of bunk didn’t stop the couple from becoming liberal media sweethearts, replete with a Vanity Fair spread and frequent appearances at gala events and fundraisers. Plame wrote a bestselling memoir that inspired a film starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, and, just a few months ago, a stage play produced here in Washington, D.C.

This week, Plame resurfaced with a tired (but nonetheless dangerous) Leftist anti-Israel, anti-Semetic trope. Kirchick explains:
Plame put her progressive fans in a difficult spot when, on Thursday, she tweeted out an article entitled “America’s Jews are driving America’s wars” to her 50,000 followers. Published on the website of Ron Unz, an eccentric paleoconservative businessman, and penned by Philip Giraldi, like Plame a former employee of the CIA, the article – illustrated with the requisite photo of a smirking William Kristol–was as anti-Semitic as its title implied. “Jewish groups and deep pocket individual donors not only control the politicians, they own and run the media and entertainment industries, meaning that no one will hear about or from the offending party ever again,” Giraldi began. Having goaded the United States into war with Iraq, “American Jews,” he continued, “have been very successful at faking the Iranian threat” and “constitute a cabal of sanctimonious chairborne warriors who prefer to do the heavy thinking while they let others do the fighting and dying.” To mitigate this cancer at the heart of the American body politic, Giraldi proposes that Jews be barred from assuming “national security positions involving the Middle East” and that “those American Jews who lack any shred of integrity” be publicly identified in all media appearances “kind-of-like a warning label on a bottle of rat poison” or, as were an earlier generation of problematic Jews, with a yellow star.

“We don’t need a war with Iran because Israel wants one and some rich and powerful American Jews are happy to deliver,” Giraldi concluded.
Although this anti-Semitic garbage is commonplace among denizens of the hard-left, it has now migrated into the polite society populated by the softer leftists of the progressive movement. The same social justice warriors who hyperventilate over "Islamophobia" seem to far less concerned about the overarching sentiment expressed by Plame (and Giraldi).

However, after a public uproar, some progressives did condemn Plame's comments. What else could they do? Their condemnation does not negate the fact that the Leftist ideology they embrace broadly has a virulent strain of anti-Israel, anti-Semite sentiment that cannot and will not be excised.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Taking a Knee-II

The main stream media, along with every sports channel and social media outlet is atwitter (pun intended) over Donald's Trump's trolling of the NFL player. Some players have decided that Xs and Os aren't nearly as important as their lame attempts at social justice. As I mentioned in my previous blog post on this subject, the players, coaches, and owners have every right to comment on the country and on politics in general. Trump was wrong when he suggested that the players be fired for doing so. But he was not wrong on the broader issue—sports is, if nothing else, part tradition. Overt social protest has its place, but tradition indicates that politics (especially disrepect of the country that hosts the game) should not be encountered in stadia or on the playing field. Therefore, on the broader issue, Trump is right.

Just consider for a moment, what would happen if a small group of professional athletes overtly supported something that the Left didn't like—say statuary of civil war generals—by carting a replica of such statuary onto the field before the game and saluting it. My, oh my, there would be wails from the progressives, calls to have the players fired or censured, arguments that the stadium is not a "safe place" for progressives, etc. etc. And the media would pile on, showing images of burned jerseys and fans screaming in opposition. Hmmm. Sound familiar.

Jason Whitlock comments:
Let’s remember: While Colin Kaepernick’s original protest was about police brutality and the black community, the anthem kneels have largely provoked conversations about disrespecting the flag and the now-unemployed quarterback’s career. The protest has evolved again, this time into a referendum on a disruptive president.

Not much has changed about the conversation surrounding policing and the black community. But as I wrote in these pages earlier this year, Mr. Kaepernick has shifted the way the NFL is perceived and discussed. Mr. Goodell, NFL ownership and the league’s television partners will no longer be allowed to present the game as an escape from America’s divisive political discourse. Mr. Kaepernick and his handlers cleverly dragged the league into America’s broader social-justice war.

Will the fans happily go along? Political and racial debates are multifaceted and dangerous. The NFL’s breast-cancer awareness month is noncontroversial. But a social-justice month, as some players have suggested? It might sound awesome on Twitter, but in the real world it’s likely divisive and poisonous for NFL TV ratings. Professional football’s core customers have more in common with our Twitter-addicted president than with sanctimonious athletes posturing for social-media approval.
Indeed, a one year wonder, Colin Kaepernick, has "cleverly dragged the league into America’s broader social-justice war." A minority of players decided to follow his lead, degrading themselves and the game they play (for very, very big money) in the process.

Whether they realize it or not, the protesting players and the progressive who mindlessly support them are on the wrong side of this issue. There is a fundamental difference between the right to do something, and doing what is right.

As I've said many times in the past 9 months, the Left and the people it uses as a cats paw, are in a hole, and they just keep digging.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Taking a Knee

In our country, everyone has the right (some would say, the obligation) to protest what they perceive as inequity or hypocrisy or wrong-doing-or blatant racism or a long laundry list of un-PC behavior or speech. Social justice warriors (SJWs) do this regularly and that is their right. With the election of Donald trump, everyone who opposed him has transitioned into a place that makes them (in their own minds) a SJW. For example, a growing number of NFL players have become SJWs with public protests at their place of work—NFL stadiums and the football games conducted within them. That is their right and no one should consider taking it from them.

Donald Trump has decided, as he often does, to enter the fray with tweets that are critical of those same NFL players. Although I think it's stupid to do this, that is Trump's right as an citizen—sort of a tweet-born counter protest.

The NFL players actions are highly controversial. Roger Simon summarizes the feeling of what I suspect are the majority of NFL fans (the customers who buy the NFL's business product):
...what the hell are black athletes who make upwards of ten million a year, far more than 99.999% of their fans of any color or shape, doing whining so ungratefully about opportunity for African-Americans in America? Where else could they have made fortunes anywhere near that size merely for playing a game? ... Whatever the case, Trump let them have it for their obvious hypocrisy and phony posturing that does nothing to help African-Americans or anybody else.

Morally narcissistic progressives (aka rich reactionaries) and their media flack/hacks are offended that Trump could call out these athletes for this pompous kneeling-during-the-national-anthemn virtue signaling, but I'd be amazed if the average citizen -- black, white, yellow or brown -- isn't quietly nodding his head in agreement. The NFL is already suffering for this behavior at the box office. The NBA is probably not far behind.
Like everything that becomes a cause celebre on the Left, this is all about symbolism. So since that's the case, maybe those of us who would prefer that players don't inject politics into their product would be better served by re-interpreting the symbolism involved in "taking a knee" during the national anthem.

In the mega hit HBO series, Game of Thrones, a core story line this past year was a demand by Daenerys Targaryen that story protagonist, John Snow, take a knee to evince his subservience and loyalty to the beautiful queen. John refused until he recognized that Daenerys was good and just leader with the best interests of the people at heart. He then took a knee.

Could it be that we might re-interpret the actions of some NFL players to represent their belief that the United States is overall a good and just country with the best interests of all of its people at heart, and that the symbolic gesture of taking a knee is actually John Snow-like? It represents their loyalty to a country that has provided them with unparalleled opportunity.

Why not?

UPDATE (9/25/2017):

The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment on the politicization of everything:
Healthy democracies have ample room for politics but leave a larger space for civil society and culture that unites more than divides. With the politicization of the National Football League and the national anthem, the Divided States of America are exhibiting a very unhealthy level of polarization and mistrust.

The progressive forces of identity politics started this poisoning of America’s favorite spectator sport last year by making a hero of Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games. They raised the stakes this year by turning him into a progressive martyr because no team had picked him up to play quarterback after he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

The NFL is a meritocracy, and maybe coaches and general managers thought he wasn’t good enough for the divisions he might cause in a locker room or among fans. But the left said it was all about race and class.

All of this is cultural catnip for Donald Trump, who pounced on Friday night at a rally and on the weekend on Twitter with his familiar combination of gut political instinct, rhetorical excess, and ignorance.
This morning, the trained hamsters in the main stream media are making this debacle Trump's fault. Surely, his typical ham-handed treatment of this (and many other) issue(s), exacerbated the situation, but it's the players, not Trump, who created this travesty. As I mentioned in the body of the post, the players do have every right to protest and Trump is wrong when he suggests they should be fired for doing so. But it would seem that the players would be far better served to write an op-ed, appear on a sports talk-show, get interviewed by a local TV station, or otherwise comment outside the playing field and without disrespecting the country that rewarded them so handsomely. By exhibiting an overt symbol of disrespect (in their view—note my somewhat facetious comments in the body of the post) they do themselves, their business, and their cause absolutely no good.

Friday, September 22, 2017


I'm no big fan of Julian Assange, but he does nail it when he tweets:
Trump: I was "wire tapped."
CNN: Haha. That idiot @realDonaldTrump thinks he was wiretapped.
..Six months later...
CNN: Trump was wiretapped
If you'll recall, the elites among the four constituencies were apoplectic over Donald Trump's then unsubstantiated claim that the Obama administration asked the intelligence community to "wire tap" his campaign. They parsed every one of his words, noting how ridiculous it all was. The smeared Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who suggested that surveillance had happened. They swore, under oath and in front of the Congress that no wire tapping occurred. They shrugged their shoulders and indicated that there was no "unmasking."

Obama's DNI, James Clapper; FBI Director, James Comey; National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, and CIA Director, John Brennan all lied ... repeated and blatantly.

Now, it seems that Trump was right—he and/or his people were "wire tapped" during a presidential campaign. It looks like the Obama administration not only weaponized the IRS (think: Lois Lerner et al) against their opponents but also weaponized the FBI, and possibly, the NSA against other political opponents. This level of corruption and illegality is dangerous, very dangerous. It's also corrupt, very corrupt. And it far surpasses anything that occurred during the two-bit burglary of DNC offices (known today as Watergate) that correctly brought down the Nixon presidency.

Sharyl Attkisson (one of few true journalists currently working in the media) writes:
Nobody wants our intel agencies to be used like the Stasi in East Germany; the secret police spying on its own citizens for political purposes. The prospect of our own NSA, CIA and FBI becoming politically weaponized has been shrouded by untruths, accusations and justifications.

You’ll recall DNI Clapper falsely assured Congress in 2013 that the NSA was not collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that.

There were also wiretaps on then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in 2011 under Obama. The same happened under President George W. Bush to former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.).

Journalists have been targeted, too.
Yet the trained hamsters who call themselves "journalists" seem notably uninterested. True, CNN recently broke the story, but I truly do believe they did so in the delusional view that it would make Trump look bad by extension, i.e., if Paul Manafort was being investigated, that makes Trump a bad guy.

Again from Attkisson, who writes about "wire tapping" directed at her:
... instead of getting the bigger story, some in the news media and quasi-news media published false and misleading narratives pushed by government interests. They implied the computer intrusions were the stuff of vivid imagination, conveniently dismissed forensic evidence from three independent examinations [of Attkisson's computers] that they didn’t review. All seemed happy enough to let news of the government’s alleged unlawful behavior fade away, rather than get to the bottom of it.

I have spent more than two years litigating against the Department of Justice for the computer intrusions. Forensics have revealed dates, times and methods of some of the illegal activities. The software used was proprietary to a federal intel agency. The intruders deployed a keystroke monitoring program, accessed the CBS News corporate computer system, listened in on my conversations by activating the computer’s microphone and used Skype to exfiltrate files.

We survived the government’s latest attempt to dismiss my lawsuit. There’s another hearing Friday. To date, the Trump Department of Justice — like the Obama Department of Justice — is fighting me in court and working to keep hidden the identities of those who accessed a government internet protocol address found in my computers.
There's a reason why those of us who are firm proponents of smaller government are so adamant about it, and why we think that the Democrats (and some GOP elites) love affair with Big Intrusive Government (BIG) is so dangerous. An oft quoted aphorism seems appropriate: "A government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have." That includes your privacy and ultimately, your very freedom.

Barack Obama and his administration were corrupt and dishonest in their use of BIG. It's highly unlikely that anyone from that administration will be held accountable, much less prosecuted. But the actions of the Obama administration should serve as a warning to every American who thinks that personal freedom and privacy trump the needs of BIG. The only solution is to "drain the swamp" (as hard as that is) and make BIG smaller—much smaller.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ellison's Analogy

Imagine for just a second the following scenario: A hypothetical co-chair of the Republican National Committee makes the following public and idiotic analogy:
"Africans who were in the holds of slave ships in the later 18th and early 19th centuries are really little different than European immigrants below decks in steerage on steam ships at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th century."
Imagine further that this hypothetical co-chair had a long and sordid history of anti-black rhetoric, was a member of an anti-black organization, and was an apologist for its racist leader.

All hell would break loose! Reaction would be instantaneous. The media would scream that he must resign, and then suggest that his remarks are but another indication of the "white supremacist" tendencies of the GOP. Democrats would call for a congressional investigation, and the leaders of the GOP would immediately move to condemn the remarks and distance themselves from the moron who made them.

Now, let's consider Keith Ellison, the actual, real-life co-chair of the Democratic party. Here's what Ellison said this week about sanctuary cities and illegal immigrants:
"I am one of the people who thinks you should give people sanctuary. And if you ask yourself,  What would I do if I was a gentile in 1941, if my Jewish neighbors were under attack by the Nazis? Would I give them sanctuary?"
Ellison is either too stupid or too anti-Semitic to recognize that his analogy is idiotic. In fact, it's flawed on so many levels that it's also breathtakingly notable. There is NO analogy between illegal immigrants and Jews in Nazi Germany—NONE! The Jews of 1941 were: (1) legal citizens of Germany, who (2) had every legal right stripped away; (3) had no recourse in the courts and no protection offered by the government, and (4) were destined to be sent to concentration camps and then murdered by the millions. Compare this to illegal immigrants to the United States who: (1) are here illegally; (2) when apprehended, are given due process under the law including the right to appeal; (3) are often allowed to stay if special circumstances exist, and (4) in the worst case, are sent back to their country of origin where they have every opportunity to lead long and productive lives.

Ellison makes this analogy not as an interested observer but as a man who is virulently anti-Israel and skates right on the edge of anti-Semitic behavior. See here and here for a few additional comments on Mr. Ellison.

As one commentator put it. When Ellison asks:
"And if you ask yourself What would I do if I was a gentile in 1941, if my Jewish neighbors were under attack by the Nazis? Would I give them sanctuary?"
he (Ellison) might very well answer
"I'd turn them over to my Nazi overlords 'cause that's what my Mentor Louis Farrakan would do!"

But back to the reaction to Ellison's remarks. Oh wait, with the exception of FoxNews, the reaction and news coverage so far has been minimal and muted. The trained hamsters of the media have decided to look the other way, and leading Dems (BTW, Ellison is a leading Dem) have not as yet commented. Disgusting? Of course. Surprising? Not at all.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

China and the NoKos

For the past three decades the diplomatic elites in Washinton have told us that China is the key to controlling the aggressive ambitions of North Korea. I accepted that conventional wisdom and have cited it in a number of posts over the years. But I'm beginning to think that the entire 'China-is-the-key-to-North Korea' meme is wrong—that the NoKos crazy behavior benefits China. Like many ideas emanating from our diplomatic elite, our reliance on China to control NoKo is doomed to failure.

In a fascinating article on this subject, Abram Shulsky and Lewis Libby write:
Three decades of failure should lead us at least to question the conventional wisdom [of the 'China is the key to North Korea'meme]. Perhaps the true Chinese attitude toward the North Korean nuclear program is more favorable than appears. It might do well to reflect on the phrase “barbarian handlers” – that is, Chinese official or unofficial representatives whose job it is to shape foreigners’ perceptions of China.

The conventional wisdom ignores the geo-strategic benefits that China derives from the North Korean nuclear program. The prospect of North Korean nuclear weapons has distracted U.S. attention in Asia since the Clinton Administration, and has rendered the U.S. a supplicant to China, soliciting its help.

This pays off for China in many ways. As we have seen, the Trump administration has withheld its fire on trade and financial issues as a result. The Bush and Obama Administrations welcomed Beijing convening leading nations in multi-party talks, thus enhancing China’s regional and diplomatic prestige. China may not unreasonably believe that all this gives it a freer hand to act aggressively in other arenas, such as China’s unlawful efforts to seize control of the South China Sea ...

If China truly wanted to press North Korea to end its nuclear program, such measures would be on its agenda. But there is no indication China is thinking along these lines.

If, on the other hand, China actually regards the North Korean nuclear program as geopolitically advantageous, then its current policy makes good sense. By keeping the U.S. hoping that the next set of sanctions will do the trick, China buys time for the other gains it reaps.

All this would suggest the U.S. adopt a course less tolerant of China’s role. Indeed, the Trump Administration has hinted at stronger measures.

None of this proves, of course, that America’s decades-long conventional wisdom is wrong. But if policies based on it have repeatedly fallen short, isn’t it at least time for the general Washington community to rethink basic assumptions and the policies toward both North Korea and China that flow from them?
I'm not sure there is any way we can force the Chinese to act. In fact, trade sanctions, although potentially a viable forcing function, would hurt us as much as they would hurt China. In fact, I'm not sure sanction that raise the price of goods and potentially create unemployment would be politically viable in this country.

But if China won't act in a manner that is effective, then what?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Rules

Maybe its just the era we live in, but it does seem that the rules of political correctness change not by the day, but by the hour. Obviously, those same rules are applied selectively—if a favored person (e.g., a liberal entertainer) violates the rules, there are giggles and smiles, but if a conservative violates the same rule in the same way, there is staged outrage. Jokes or satire by a conservative are never viewed with humor, but are taken literally as evil intent. The benefit of the doubt is never given to anyone who is not a member of a favored identity politics group.

To illustrate, consider the following reported by Heather McDonald:
To the list of forbidden ideas on American college campuses, add “bourgeois norms”—hard work, self-discipline, marriage and respect for authority. Last month, two law professors published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling for a revival of the “cultural script” that prevailed in the 1950s and still does among affluent Americans: “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. . . . Eschew substance abuse and crime.” The weakening of these traditional norms has contributed to today’s low rates of workforce participation, lagging educational levels and widespread opioid abuse, the professors argued.

The op-ed triggered an immediate uproar at the University of Pennsylvania, where one of its authors, Amy Wax, teaches. The dean of the Penn law school, Ted Ruger, published an op-ed in the student newspaper noting the “contemporaneous occurrence” of the op-ed and a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and suggesting that Ms. Wax’s views were “divisive, even noxious.” Half of Ms. Wax’s law-faculty colleagues signed an open letter denouncing her piece and calling on students to report any “bias or stereotype” they encounter “at Penn Law ” (e.g., in Ms. Wax’s classroom). Student and alumni petitions poured forth accusing Ms. Wax of white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia and demanding that she be banned from teaching first-year law classes.
This instance is typical of PC bullying (some would call it PC facism). Who knew that "hard work, self-discipline, marriage and respect for authority" would somehow be akin to "white supremacy?" The point is that the hard-left wants every writer and social commentator to toe the PC line and to be sure they do, the rules keep changing, keeping everyone who is worried about be called a "nazi" or a "bigot" off-balance.

Conservative firebrand Kurt Schlichter raises an interesting point:
... liberals leverage their ability to create new rules out of thin air as a means of asserting their power over us normals. What was A-OK yesterday is now forbidden, and what was forbidden yesterday is now mandatory. Their goal is to keep our heads spinning and paralyze us with fear, like nearsighted corporals caught in a minefield and terrified that if we take one wrong step we will detonate a concealed wrongthink booby-trap. They want us living in fear of their fussy wrath, and that is precisely why it is so important for us to keep abreast of pseudo-scandals like this [the ESPN "boob" interview] so we can nip these libfascists' schemes in the bud and deny them the ability to rack up yet another victory in the culture war.
But that's not easy. The PC outrage machine is daunting. The progressives' trained hamsters in the media pile on the minute a PC rule is violated. The resultant onslaught of outrage, coupled with cries for radical punishment of the offender, is so strong that few can stand up to it. Most whither under the smears, coupled with accusations of sexism or racism or nazism or any of the other tired epithets are hurled by the Left. It is awful—and at the same time, quite effective.

Schlichter, never one to mince words, goes on a classic rant:
Alinksy was right – we must hold our enemies to their own stupid standards, and that's especially true if it's a newly-invented standard designed only to silence and suppress us conservatives. We must take their new rules, roll them up real tight, and ram them down the left's collective collectivist throat, if not elsewhere.

They make it easy for us by being so ridiculous. Are women the strong, powerful equals of men, or fragile flowers who wilt at the mere mention of lady parts? It depends on which one is the most useful to the liberal narrative right then and there. Can you talk about lady parts? Apparently the new rule is that you can't, at least in the normal context of heterosexual men citing the parts that they like. But if you want to wear a gynecological sombrero on your pointy head, apparently that's muy bueno.

Part of the strategy behind the new rules is to not actually have any firm rules, to make you so uncertain and timid that you're unwilling to take any action because anything you do, at any time, can be a violation of a rule that didn't exist 30 seconds before. If you do talk about female body parts, you're wrong because you're insulting womyn, and if you don't talk about female body parts, you're wrong because you are invisibling womyn. Basically, if you don't have any female body parts, you're just wrong all of the time ...
Over the long haul, the rule makers are the ones who win, and progressives have taken the initiative to make the rules. The only thing that might defeat them is if they change the rules so rapidly that the general public begins to see these rules are arbitrary and ridiculous. In fact, the only thing that might work is ridicule. I hope that happens, but I'm not confident it will.


A commenter, "RWE3" at the Belmont Club wrote something intriguing that has an indirect bearing on those of us who push back against ever-changing and increasingly totalitarian PC rules: "Far more important than speaking truth to power is speaking truth to lies and stupidity."

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Middle Class

It looks as if political tone, an emphasis on a pro-business agenda, and a unrelenting focus on jobs, and an attempt, at least, to reduce taxes for all Americans have done more to improve the lot of the Middle Class, than all the words that have eminated from Washington, DC in the past decade. Robert Samuelson reports:
WASHINGTON -- The middle class is back -- or so it seems.

That's the message from the Census Bureau's latest report on "Income and Poverty in the United States." The news is mostly good. The income of the median household (the one exactly in the middle) rose to a record $59,039; the two-year increase was a strong 8.5 percent. Meanwhile, 2.5 million fewer Americans were living beneath the government's poverty line ($24,563 for a family of four). The poverty rate fell from 13.5 percent of the population in 2015 to 12.7 percent in 2016.

The Census report reinforces Gallup polls -- reported here a few weeks ago -- that Americans have re-embraced their middle-class identities. The Great Recession made people feel economically vulnerable and betrayed. Nearly half of Americans self-identified as belonging to the "working and lower classes" -- a huge shift from the nearly two-thirds that, before the recession, had classified themselves as "middle class." Now, Americans have reverted to tradition. Almost two-thirds again call themselves middle class, Gallup finds.
It is true that we are now nine years out form the great recession, and as a consequence, our capitalist, market driven economy is healing itself, despite the efforts of the past administration to reek havoc on jobs and economic growth. But tone matters, and the current administration is solidly and unashamedly pro-growth. Good on them!

As this recovery is going on, left-wing Democrats (the majority of all Dems in the Congress) are pushing for "Medicare for All," a socialized health insurance policy that will decimate good health coverage for the same middle class. Hatched by socialist Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All will singlehandedly undo the modest gains noted by Samuelson and will push this country ever closer to bankruptcy. Betsy McCaughey notes the experience of single payer medical coverage in the U.K.:
... Sanders’ bill imposes an annual hard-and-fast dollar limit on how much health care the country can consume. He makes it sound simple — Uncle Sam will negotiate lower prices with drug companies. Voilà. But driving a hard bargain with drug makers won’t make a dent in costs. Prescription drugs comprise only 10 percent of the nation’s health expenditures.

Limiting costs will mean also limiting how many mammograms, colonoscopies, hip replacements and other procedures Americans are allowed.

That’s how single-payer systems work. Britain’s National Health Service — the oldest single-payer system — is struggling to stay within its annual spending limit. Patients have to wait 18 weeks just for a referral to a specialist, and routinely wait 15 months for a cataract removal, according to a new Harvard Business Review report.

In Sanders’ scheme, regional health authorities will curb “overutilization” of care, just the way British local health authorities manage the skimping. British patients at high risk of colon cancer are waiting as long as 13 weeks for a colonoscopy. Heart patients who could benefit from angioplasty have to settle for “watchful waiting.”

This month, NHS doctors warned that “a record number of patients could lose their lives if waiting times and bed shortages remain as bad as they already are.”

At least in Britain, people are free to buy private insurance, and go outside the government system for care. That’s also true in most European and Scandinavian countries with universal coverage. But not the Sanders plan. It traps you.
If the Democrats are actually delusional and irresponsible enough to promote Sanders' plan, they will reinforce the notion that they talk plenty about the "middle class" and how much they care about them, but in reality, their only true care is to insert big intrusive government into every aspect of our lives. McCaughey continues:
The biggest losers are working people — including union workers enjoying their “Cadillac” coverage with its generous benefits. They’ll be sitting in line for care in crowded clinics next to guys on unemployment.

Progressives like Sanders used to boast they had workers’ backs. Now Sanders is bragging that his plan will free people from having to work at all. Literally, he says Medicare for All will enable people to “stay home with their children or leave jobs they don’t like knowing that they would still have health-care coverage.” So much for the dignity of work ...

People who work hard should have the freedom to spend their earnings on the best insurance for their family, if they want. Outlawing that is immoral.

The new leaders of the Democratic Party — including Sanders and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Cory Booker (NJ) — don’t see it that way. They’re letting leftist ideology crush the priorities of everyday people.
The middle class is slowly and painfully climbing out of a hole that was created by a financial crash fostered by irresponsible politicians (including many prominent Dems), banks, and Wall Street. Let's not let Bernie and his leftist hordes push them back to the bottom with lies masked as promises.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

If Only ...

In Venezuela, things have gotten so bad that people have begun to eat animals that are sometimes pets. A once vibrant economy has been wrecked by a marxist dictator (who, of course, claims he isn't a Marxist), shortages of everything from food to medicine, electric power to public services abound, and the country spirals downward toward failed state status. It's quite sad and wholly predictable. Just another example of the failed socialist model—in real life.

This week Bernie Sanders unleashes his "Medicare for ALL" plan—a prescription for socialized medicine. Many Democrats have already endorsed Bernie's ideas (some, thankfully, have not) but the leftward tilt of the Democrat party continues. With it the endorsement of leftist, even Marxist ideas, begins to accelerate in the media, in academia, in the entertainment industry, and the arts. Those constituencies have a profound influence on culture, and that could mean trouble in the long term.

Brad Torgersen comments on Marxism when he writes about claims that communism and marxism are anachronisms that cannot take root in the United States:
Yet another Orwellian restatement of the obvious: Marxism isn’t done. It’s alive and well. Every time it fails, it re-brands itself, peddles itself to the next generation of wishful thinkers, and wrecks another country. Venezuela is the most recent, glaring example. The U.S. may be wrecked in time, too, because the proselytizers of Marxism (under various types of shiny Christmas wrapping) infest our university system, the entertainment establishment, the news media, and government.

Think Marxism will never happen here? Upton Sinclair—the ardent socialist intellectual—said: the American people will never accept socialism when it’s labeled as socialism, but they *will* accept socialism under different names.

Which is why modern American Marxists will so hotly and adamantly deny that their brand of socialism, is in any way Marxist, or especially communist. Because they know Marxism and communism have a bad rap. They are depending on their ability to re-brand the same bad ideas (which “sound good” in the words of Thomas Sowell) in order to push those ideas forward.

In the end, every time socialism fails, the Marxists will claim it’s magically not socialism. We have had numerous examples of different interpretations of Marxist theory implemented at the national level, and those examples speak of unprecedented human suffering. Which somehow doesn’t count, we are told, because these countries weren’t doing it right.
Indeed. It seems that whenever the blue model fails, it's not because the underlying premise (i.e., that dependency on big government is somehow freeing) is flawed, but rather that proponents of the blue model simply weren't aggressive enough in making dependency the core element of our existence. If only they provided a guaranteed income, guaranteed "free" healthcare, guaranteed outcomes, regardless of effort. If only they could ban any idea that conflicts with the marxist/socialist ideal (by shouting down or criminalizing those ideas), if only they could rid the world of every "ism", if only ...

Friday, September 15, 2017


Hillary Clinton travels the talk show circuit submitting herself to softball interviews that promote her new book, What Happened. In each interview, Hillary blames everybody and everything possible for her loss. She "takes responsibility" but you kind of get the feeling that phrase is hollow. The reason Hillary lost is really quite simple—she was, throughout her political career, dishonest, unethical, and largely incompetent. She skated on the edge of criminality. She was stiff and lifeless as a candidate.

A real, not fawning, interview of Hillary Clinton would probe her dishonesty surrounding the events at Benghazi—why she lied to the public about the causes of the attack and countenanced the jailing of the maker of an anti-Muslim video (protected free speech) when she knew the video was NOT the cause of the attack. A real interview would probe all of the pay-for-play aspects of The Clinton Foundation, it's pathetic record of charity outlays (about 6 percent of the millions it took in), and the manner in which it was used as a money laundering scheme for her political ambitions. A real interview would examine her use of a private (and ethically questionable) email server, her lack of proper security for secret documents and, most important, her destruction of 33,000 emails after an investigation of her wrong-doing was initiated—that's obstruction of justice, folks. But the trained hamsters of the media don't do real interviews, not of Hillary and not of most Democrats.

Kim Strassel comments further:
Hillary spent eight years planning her first presidential bid, and the next eight warning Democrats not to get in the way of her second. The Clinton Foundation was erected to serve as bank and Rolodex, and to enable the Clintons to retain their grip over the party. And that party was committed to a Clinton coronation, right up to Mr. Sanders’s cheeky assault.

Mr. Obama aided Mrs. Clinton’s ambitions by decimating his party. By the time Barack Obama finished his eight years in office, his party held 65 fewer House seats, 14 fewer governorships and controlled 30 fewer state legislatures. It had turned a once-filibuster-proof Senate majority into minority status. The big-tent Democratic coalition shriveled to a coastal, progressive minority, wiping out a generation of Democratic politicians and most of the party’s political diversity.

And so the party nominated perhaps the only Democrat in the country who could rival Donald Trump in unpopularity—and beat him in untrustworthiness. Mr. Sanders refused to go after Mrs. Clinton on her ethical baggage, even though it was her biggest weakness and despite how glaringly obvious was the risk that her foundation and server scandals would hobble a general-election campaign. The parties gave the country a choice between two unpopular people, and the country disliked her more. The real question is how Democrats rebuild a party whose senior leaders in the House boast an average age of 72 and which has almost no young, experienced up-and-comers.
Rather than hyperventilated about "white supremacy" or Islamophobia, income inequality, misogyny (of course!) or universal healthcare, the Dems might be well-served to ask themselves why after Barack Obama's eight years in office, "his party held 65 fewer House seats, 14 fewer governorships and controlled 30 fewer state legislatures.

Then again, it looks like they've already answered that question by doubling down on potential candidates who want go even further left than Obama. And they claim that the GOP is stupid.

Cutting Off Your Nose

Karl Rove does a good job of describing the vagaries of getting tax reform legislation passed in a fractured congress. The legislative "process" combines arcane rules with duplicitous self-interest, with one party more interested in #Resistance than getting anything meaningful accomplished, and the other party more interested in "principle" and abstractions than moving the country forward. It's a mess.

Rove does, however, identify the small group that is most culpable:
The biggest obstacle is the House Freedom Caucus. This group of just over 30 Republican congressmen has already slowed up the process by threatening to vote with Democrats against the GOP budget resolution unless they can see and approve, in advance, every major provision of the tax-reform bill. The Freedom Caucus tried in late July to block the House Budget Committee’s passage of a resolution unless the border-adjustment tax was taken off the table—which it then was. Now the Freedom Caucus’s members say they’ll flake on the budget resolution if tax reform includes full, immediate expensing of business investment. But if that’s agreed to, they’ll have more demands.

These lawmakers say they want Congress to operate in “regular order,” with committees grinding away to write legislation instead of leadership handing it down. This is hypocritical bunk. What they want is for their caucus to dictate the details of tax bills to the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Republican majorities on both sides of Capitol Hill. Their approach is to make demands while threatening to join Nancy Pelosi in opposing the budget resolution unless they get their way.

If the Freedom Caucus acts on its threat, the budget resolution could be voted down, making tax reform impossible. No doubt, following their M.O., the group’s members would then blame the GOP leadership. Even if the resolution passes, the Freedom Caucus’s shenanigans may delay tax reform until 2018. These lawmakers are demonstrating once again that the freedom they most prize is freedom from the responsibility of governing.
There's an old aphorism about "cutting off your nose to spit your face." That's what the Freedom Caucus is doing. By sabotaging any attempt a tax reform, they are sabotaging the administration's attempt to spur economic growth. And in doing that, they're sabotaging the biggest driver (economic growth) of government revenue that might actually reduce the annual deficit and help control the ever rising debt.

The GOP Freedom Caucus is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Odd Alliance

The media and the GOP elites are apoplectic over Donald Trump's odd alliance with Democrats to create a short-term fix for the debt limit and consequent federal funding as well as move forward on immigration reform and DACA approval. Trump did this as a pragmatist—to remove the drama associated with the debt limit and government shutdown that would have pervaded Washington for the remainder of this month. He also did it to clear the way for an attempt at tax reform and to move the possibility immigration reform forward. It was possibly the best political move that Donald trump has made.

The GOP conservative wing do have a point when they emphasize when they note that the federal debt is very bad and getting worse and that there has been no real attempt at reigning in federal spending. But a point is all they have. It seems that GOP leadership and the elites of the party can pontificate about debt and spending, but can't accomplish anything tangible to reduce either. In essence, Trump just laid them off.

Maybe now the Congress can focus on tax reform and immigration reform, and later on crafting a health care approach that is not delusional. But the GOP seems unable to develop any legislation that is acceptable to all GOP members. With the continual opposition coming from the Dems, the GOP leadership is paralyzed. They tell us all how "hard" all of this is, but they've had years to develop a plan of action.

Although I am a strong proponent of bi-partisan legislation, the Trump administration must be careful. The Dems have never seen a big government program they didn't like; they are perfectly willing to bankrupt the country with ideas like universal healthcare (a.k.a., socialized medicine), and they demagogue any attempt at entitlement reform. Getting in bed with them may be pragmatic, but Donald Trump must be careful.

James Freeman comments:
Since Senate Republicans have proven unable to fulfill their signature campaign promise to reform the ObamaCare entitlement, it seems unlikely they would agree to reform any of the other entitlements that drive the federal budget, or to economize on discretionary items like hurricane response—unless they can gain more conservative colleagues in the 2018 elections. Reforming entitlements doesn’t seem to be a priority for Mr. Trump, either.

What’s certain is that the problem that concerns Mr. Barton isn’t going away. In its annual long-term budget outlook released in March, the Congressional Budget Office noted:

At 77 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), federal debt held by the public is now at its highest level since shortly after World War II. If current laws generally remained unchanged, the Congressional Budget Office projects, growing budget deficits would boost that debt sharply over the next 30 years; it would reach 150 percent of GDP in 2047.
This would be getting into Italy territory. A dysfunctional government carrying a debt load that heavy, on top of a slow-growing economy, would normally be cause to fear societal catastrophe. But thanks to the magic of modern government intervention, Italy isn’t yet serving as a cautionary tale.

In fact, flying in the face of all logic, the government of Italy now pays lower interest rates on the money it borrows than the U.S. Treasury. So do Spain and France and various other places that wish they had economies like ours.

How is this possible that investors demand more compensation to lend to the world’s superpower and leading economy than to the basket cases of Europe? The answer is that private investors aren’t really in charge. After the financial crisis, the European Central Bank didn’t start as quickly as our Federal Reserve in creating money to buy up government debt, but it has embraced the strategy with gusto. Governments around the world have managed to manipulate the price of credit and therefore the price of just about everything.
The Dem and GOP elites see nothing wrong with this approach—but it's a house of cards. At some point, the house will collapse and the damage will hurt the masses, not the political elites and their cronies who will have made moves to avoid the wreckage that the they themselves have created.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Universal Healthcare

Bernie Sanders is about to push his current version of universal healthcare. Sander's utopian dream of "free" healthcare for all, supported by significant tax increases on businesses, including small businesses, and on 47 percent of the adult population who do pay income taxes. The menagerie of early Democrat hopefuls for the 2020 presidential election have jumped on board, endorsing Bernie's plan.

Over the coming weeks, I'm certain we'll hear promises about keeping your doctor, improved health care, lower costs, fewer waits, blah, blah, and blah. Oh, wait! Those were the same "promises" that were offered by the previous administration when they sold Obamacare to a gullible public. The promises were lies, just as future claims about universal healthcare will also be purposeful lies.

Those of us who in 2010 warned that Obamacare would be a disaster, have been proved correct. It is a failing program, with rapidly escalating premium costs and reduced options for those who must use it.

I just hope this isn't a case of deja vu, where Democrat lies and posturing result in a system of healthcare that will provide bad care, longer waits, rationed coverage, less medical innovation, fewer new life-saving drugs, high costs to the taxpayer initially, shortages of both doctors and other healthcare professionals, with stratospheric costs longer term that just might bankrupt us all.

Sen. John Barrasso M.D. offers a little reality from the point of view of an actual physician, not a left wing politician:
Supporters of putting the federal government in charge of personal health care decisions often cite the United Kingdom as their model. Democrats in the U.S. are pushing this idea at the same time many in the U.K. see their system of nationalized health care entering an ObamaCare-like death spiral.

The number of patients [in the UK] left waiting 12 hours or more for emergency care has spiked this year. There has also been a jump in the number of people [in the UK] waiting 18 weeks or longer to start treatment for long-term conditions.

Democrats would import these wait times to American health care. Everyone will get to experience the kind of delays at the heart of the VA hospital scandal a few years ago.

Some patients will never get the care they need. When Washington pays all the bills, it will soon decide to exert tighter control over everybody’s care.

In Britain, the rationing of health care has meant prohibiting certain medications and limits on surgery for things like cataracts and knee and hip operations. Some medical boards have banned routine surgeries for patients who are obese or smokers.

The British have found rationing necessary partly because of the exorbitant cost of “free” medical care. Another reason is the shortage of professionals to provide this care. The number of general practitioners has fallen, and four out of 10 say they are unlikely to be practicing in five years. Just since March 2016 there’s been a drop of 5,000 nurses and midwives across the British health care system.

Many cite disillusionment with the quality of care provided to patients. It’s a legitimate concern. The U.K. ranks 20th out of 24 western countries for breast cancer survival. The U.S. is first. For ischemic stroke the U.K. is 25th out of 30 countries. The U.S. is fourth.

If that’s the kind of quality care Democrats are planning, they should know that it won’t come cheap. Democrats in the California state senate passed their own version of “single-payer” earlier this year. The plan was estimated to cost about $400 billion per year – more than double the entire state budget.
The GOP shares the blame for the coming debacle as Dems jettison reality and push the dream of universal healthcare. The GOP's inability to craft a reasonable repeal and replace for Obamacare has provided an opening for the far left (meaning the vast majority of all Dems in Congress) to demagogue this issue. If you think Obamacare was a failure, just wait until your healthcare is turned over to the same people who currently run the VA.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Scientific Method

As I write this, I'm living through Hurricane Irma, hunkered down in my house with outside wind speed howling at a sustained velocity of 65 mph (projected to go to 80 mph) with gusts of 85-100 miles per hour. Trees are down everywhere, power is out, and the howl of the wind is unrelenting. I do have cellular connectivity, and I noticed a tweet by one @michaelianblack who writes: "As a massive hurricane bears down on us, please remember that one political party literally does not believe in science."

As a PhD engineer with reasonably extensive training in mathematics, physics, and engineering; as the author of multiple textbooks for STEM students and industry professionals, and as an ex-professor, I think it's reasonable to suggest that I do have a true respect for the scientific method. Having said that, I literally chuckled when I read @michaelianblack's tweet. It is, to be blunt—ignorant to the max, not to mention really tedious.

Consider this. With terabytes of data collected in the past few days that defined every meteorological aspect of hurricane Irma (a killer Cat 4/5 storm) and with at least 10 different scientific models that are used to predict the path of the Hurricane, the forecasters got it wrong. Over a period of five days the consensus was that the storm would pass over the center of Florida, generally sparing the west coast and devastating the east coast of the state. In the last 36 hours, those forecasts and consensus changed as the path of Irma headed straight for the west coast of FL. So ...terabytes of data and the best meteorological models currently available could not accurately predict a single weather event. As more data was gathered, the consensus changed. That's perfectly okay, if a bit unsettling for those of us in Irma's path. After all, it's a really complex problem.

The implication of @michaelianblack's tweet is that those who question the accuracy and validity of climate models that attempt to predict climate not 5 days out, or 5 months out, or 5 years out, but 50 or 100 years into the future, are somehow "deniers" who don't "believe in science." The problem is really, really, really complex, and yet, many suggest that it is settled and solved. The hubris and outright idiocy of that implication is so obvious it is stunning, yet folks like Al Gore (a man with no scientific background whatsoever) make it regularly.

I, for one, care deeply about the environment, but that doesn't mean I should accept flawed models and cherry-picked data as a scientific standard. Like any true scientist, all of us should question every model, every claim, and every "consensus" conclusion, forcing those who build the models, make the claims, and form the "consensus" to defend their position on a regular basis. That is NOT a rejection of science. It is, instead, an embrace of the scientific method.

Friday, September 08, 2017


When the eye of a category 4 hurricane is bearing down on your location, the waiting can only be tempered with preparation. You prepare by checking on friends and neighbors who might need help to prepare. You prepare by protecting every window in your house with metal panels, kevlar sheeting (my choice), or for newer homes, hurricane glass—touted to be able to stand up to 150 mph winds. You prepare by making lists, outfitting a safe room, checking batteries and flashlights for the inevitable days without power. You prepare by charging every mobile device you own, hoping that cellular reception remains intact (not likely). You hope that large royal palms (as big around and a 50 year old oak tree, don't fall on your house. You stock gallons of water. You watch local TV meteorologists every few hours (hoping that the storm track will veer away (it has not). You worry about friends who are alone, and others who foolishly decide not to heed evacuation orders near the coast.

Hurricane Irma is 30 hours out. People wonder why we stay, rather than fleeing north. For some, the instinct is to flee—and that's absolutely okay. Hurricanes are scary and if you're in the wrong location, they can be deadly. For others, the choice is to stay, protect what's yours, even if there's not really much you can do once it starts. There are things you can do once it's over, if you're there to do them.

Friends who lived through Hurricane Andrew (Irma is bigger and badder) tell me that the sound is like a freight train immediately outside your window. Your house shakes noticeably and you can hear objects hitting the walls and the windows (if they're protected). The roar lasts, and lasts, and lasts while you wait for it stop. An hour inside a Category 4 hurricane seems like a day; four hours, like a week.

I suppose this is the price we pay for living in a beautiful place with a wonderful climate. For the next week, that price will be quite high.

I'll be back online once power and connectivity resume. For everyone in Irma's path—be safe.

Thursday, September 07, 2017


The last time I checked, the GOP has a majority in both the House and the Senate. And yet, they are caught up in intra-party fights in which a band of ideological conservatives have jettisoned pragmatism and compromise for what they claim is "principle." So called GOP moderates and the leaders of the Congress combine an inability to lead with a passive aggressive #NeverTrump resistance of a GOP president they dislike. The result is as simple as it is frustrating. Nothing gets accomplished.

On the Democrat side, #Resistance rules the day. The Dems are unified in their hatred of Trump and will do everything possible to impede and obstruct anything that might give him a victory.

And yet, Trump somehow achieves small victories. In an impressive political move, he has aligned with the Democrats to extend the debt limit briefly and get aid into Houston (and soon) Florida. He has sent a message to an intransigent GOP leadership that he can and will move forward without them. And maybe, just maybe, that's exactly the message that is needed.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment:
Part of the problem is that Congressional Republicans once again helped put themselves in this box. Congress can’t let the U.S. default on its debt, so the majority party has to raise the debt ceiling whether it likes it or not. The smart GOP play was to attach a long-term debt increase to some other must-pass legislation and get it over with. One and done.

In familiar self-defeating fashion, the usual House suspects refused, insisting that the debt ceiling get a stand-alone vote. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows and Republican Study Committee leader Mark Walker also claim to be miffed that the debt-limit increase won’t include spending cuts.

Yet most of these same Members won’t vote to raise the borrowing limit no matter what they’re offered. They find the actual work of governance beneath their dignity. Their mutiny means that Mr. Ryan lacked a GOP majority to raise the debt ceiling, which meant he had to go hat in hand to Mrs. Pelosi for Democratic votes. She and Mr. Schumer came up with their three-month gambit, which Mr. Ryan immediately labeled “ridiculous” and “unworkable,” only to be sandbagged by Mr. Trump.

This may all sound like inside baseball, but it’s politically relevant because it illustrates the Republican inability to govern. The Senate killed health-care reform. The House can’t pass a budget resolution that is essential for tax reform. Mr. Trump is sore that Republican leaders failed on health care, so he now undermines their fiscal strategy and all but hands the gavels to Democrats. Readers might take note and hold off on spending that tax cut.
The Democrats continue to be fiscally irresponsible, but that's their reality. The Republicans continue to be doctrinaire "conservatives" who can't get out of their own way, and that's their reality.

Here the reality—the United States needs a fiscally responsible budget with reduced spending in many areas, better healthcare that won't bankrupt the taxpayer, meaningful tax reform, a reconstructed infrastructure, and immigration reform. If the GOP can't lead in getting these things done, then they should get out of the way.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


Let's begin with what I hope is the obvious. A young child follows his or her parents in their life's journey. Children who crossed our border illegally are innocent of wrong doing. Often, those same children have lived in this country for many years, grew up and began to lead productive lives. They should not be considered illegal immigrants, even though they entered the United States illegally. They should be allowed to remain in the United States, given the appropriate documentation to do so, and even have a path toward citizenship. In my opinion, any other conclusion is ideologically driven, mean-spirited, and just plain wrong.

Rich Lowry provides some background:
Even in our divided politics, it should be a matter of consensus that the president of the United States can’t write laws on his own. That’s what President Barack Obama did twice when he unilaterally granted amnesties to swaths of the illegal-immigrant population. The courts blocked one of these measures, known as DAPA, and President Donald Trump has now begun the process of ending the other, DACA, on a delayed, rolling basis.

In a country with a firmer commitment to its Constitution and the rule of law, there’d be robust argument over how to deal with the DACA recipients — so-called DREAMers who were brought here by their illegal-immigrant parents as children — but no question that Congress is the appropriate body for considering the matter, not the executive branch.

Instead, President Trump is getting roundly denounced by all his usual critics for inviting Congress to work its will. Obama came out of his brief retirement to join the pile-on. In a Facebook post, the former president said it’s wrong “to target these young people,” and called Trump’s act “cruel” and “contrary to our spirit, and to common sense.”
Donald Trump has done the right thing. If, as our sanctimonious and hypocritical Democrat (and some GOP) members of congress continually tell us, the Dreamers are so, so important, then crafting a legislative package that protects them should be relatively easy. BUT ... it will require Democrats to accept the notion that our border should be protected in a more robust manner going forward, that using physical barriers (the "wall") along with other mechanisms to retard the flow of illegal immigrants will become part of a mini-immigration reform package. The GOP will have to accept the notion that Dreamers are not culpable for the actions of their parents and should be treated with compassion and fairness. That's what making legislation is all about—compromise.

Congress, sadly, can't get things done. But it's not the role of the president to do their job for them. It is the role of the people to vote these incompetents out of office and replace them with people who can get it done. I know that's idealistic, but it's the only viable way for a democracy to work.


On a related manner. The current media meme, fed by both sides of the aisle, is that Congress has "a lot on their plate" and can't possibly get it all done. After all, they tell us, "legislation is hard work."


Those of us in the private sector have lots on our plate, yet somehow, we do what we have to do to get it all done. We cancel days off and vacation, work 12 - 16 hours a day, and get the "hard work" done. Sometime we have to compromise, but we craft solutions that work. I expect nothing less from the blustering incompetents in Congress who whine about their work load and then, in passing, mention that they're working exactly 12 days in the month of September after taking the entire month of August off. Disgusting!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Old School Ideas

I'm involved in growing a small business that began (literally) in a garage four years ago. One of our major challenges is finding good employees and retaining them over time. Today's Wall Street Journal contains an interview with Bob Funk, CEO of a company that has placed 6.5 million people in jobs across small and medium size businesses. Funks comments are old school but worth repeating:
... Mr. Funk [has] some definite—and timely—notions about getting ahead in today’s America. Like everyone else, he talks about education and skills. But what he means by these words may be a little different from how they are used in the Harvard Business Review.

Start with skills. Hard skills and experience, he says, are only half the equation, and not the important half. He shares a small brochure his company puts out summarizing a recent survey of employers. “So many people do not realize how important the soft skills are to unlocking job opportunity,” he says.

In order, the survey found the top five traits employers look for are as follows: attitude, work ethic/integrity, communication, culture fit, critical thinking.

Drugs are a huge problem today, with many would-be employees putting themselves out of the running when they fail drug tests. A certified truck driver can start at $55,000 to $60,000 a year, for example, but no one’s going to hire you if you do drugs.

If all this sounds old-fashioned, it is—and Mr. Funk isn’t ashamed of it. So many people, he says, are unfamiliar with the fundamentals of work, from knowing how to dress and showing up on time to taking direction from a boss. At a time when employers are complaining they can’t find the people they need, Mr. Funk says being honest and having the right attitude will help you stand out from the pack.
If you talk with other small business owners, virtually every one notes that millennials are a special breed—and I don't mean that in a good way. Some certainly do exhibit the five traits noted by Funk, but many do not. And therein lies the problem.

Take little things like reliability and "on-time" behavior. Businesses rely on those simple attributes to get work done, to meet customer demands, and yes, to operate profitably. Yet many workers seem to think that multitasking is the most important core attribute, when in reality their definition of multitasking means: (1) doing a little work while spending far too much time on social media via their mobile devices, or (2) 'pinballing' from activity to activity without doing a solid job at any one of them. Sure, it the employer's job to train staff and to establish an effective approach to the work that must be done, but sometimes, it seems that you're fighting ingrained culture that pulls in the opposite direction.

And then there's the whole issue of education. Again from the WSJ:
And while education is vital, Mr. Funk says the most important thing for most people is the ability to be trained—which starts with basic competence in reading, writing and arithmetic.
Hmmm. Reading, writing and 'rithmetic." Sounds old fashioned for a touchy-feely education system that seems to seems to emphasize everything but.

Oh well, if our moral betters on the progressive left have their way, a "living wage" will be imposed on all small businesses. The result, if recent data from locales that have instituted a living wage is any indication, will be fewer entry level jobs and an increase in no wage automation. But never mind—it's far more important to do moral preening than it is to actually help young, entry-level workers move up the employment chain.

And the way to help them?

Encourage the old school personal characteristics—attitude, "work ethic/integrity, communication, culture fit, critical thinking." It's ironic that those simple ideas are in such short supply among the supposed leaders of our culture and country.

Friday, September 01, 2017

The IRS Scandal—1500+ Days Later

The myriad scandals of the Obama-era were serious. They provide clear evidence of a corrupt administration and what it can do when it tries to shape the actions of supposedly non-partisan government agencies.

None of the many Obama-era scandals were worse that an explicit attempt to weaponize the Internal Revenue Service against political opponents of the administration—what has become known as "The IRS Scandal." Unlike the evidence-free obsession with phony claims of "Russian collusion" against anyone or anything associated with Donald Trump, the IRS scandal had dozens, if not hundreds of clear cases of wrong doing; a high-level Washington administrator, Lois Lerner, who hid behind Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, rather than testifying in front of Congress; a DoJ that yawned, rather than investigate this egregious malfeasance; a string of IRS administrators whose arrogance in the face of wrong-doing was astonishing; an agency that outright refused to provide email threads and other important evidence, and an administration that lied repeated about the extent of the problem, it's cause, and its impact.

The trained hamsters in the media did nothing to investigate and worked tirelessly to claim (dishonestly) that there was nothing to the claims made by tea party groups who had been targeted by the IRS. The Democrats circled the wagons and worked to discredit any claims of wrong-doing.

The hope, of course, was to run out the clock for Obama. To allow the past president and his corrupt administration to skate. It seems that hope was achieved. No one was indicted, no one was fired, no one was held to account.

But it's not over, at least not yet. The editors of Investor's Business Daily write:
The IRS scandal seemingly has lain dormant now for months, all but forgotten amid the spate of recent anti-Trump media spasms, the ongoing violent antics of the antifa leftists and, now, Hurricane Harvey's devastation. But even if much of Washington has forgotten about it, a Washington judge hasn't.

As reported by the Washington Examiner, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the Washington, D.C., District Court last week revived legal attention to the scandal, telling the IRS it has to reveal the names of IRS employees who targeted conservative, libertarian and Tea Party groups.

But Walton didn't stop there. He also gave the IRS until Oct. 16 to find all the records in IRS databases from May 2009 to March 2015 that are relevant to the case and to explain just why these groups were targeted.

All of this is the result of a suit against the IRS brought in 2013 by True the Vote and 38 other groups. The groups have doggedly pursued the IRS for four years after the tax agency held up their tax-exempt status before and during the 2012 election year for what appear to be blatantly political reasons. In their search for justice, the groups have had little help from the mostly apathetic, left-leaning media that wish conservative groups would just go away.

Now, with Walton's order to the IRS, PJ Media's Rick Moran asks the provocative question: "Is the IRS Scandal about break wide open?"

The answer seems to be yes. And it's about time.
If, in fact, the IRS is finally forced to disclose information (they haven't already destroyed), I suspect nothing will happen. The media will do nothing to follow the evidence, frightened that they might tarnish Barack Obama's "legacy." They'll mention the case in passing, but then allow it to wither from lack of coverage.

At the very least, every IRS administrator and employee who knowingly participated in this malfeasance should be summarily fired, those within the Obama administration who planned it should go to jail, and reforms should be instituted to ensure it doesn't happen again. Of course, none of that will happen—the deep state protects its own.