April 5, 2017 – PUTIN

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Hillsdale College’s Imprimis has a great issue this month on “how to think about Putin.” It is a transcript of a talk by Christopher Caldwell at the College’s Leadership Seminar held in Phoenix two months ago. 

… Let me stress at the outset that this is not going to be a talk about what to think about Putin, which is something you are all capable of making up your minds on, but rather how to think about him. And on this, there is one basic truth to remember, although it is often forgotten. Our globalist leaders may have deprecated sovereignty since the end of the Cold War, but that does not mean it has ceased for an instant to be the primary subject of politics. … 

While Caldwell doesn’t address this directly, his efforts contain a realization of the problems of geography that have dogged Russia throughout its history. To wit, this is a country which is situated on the Great Northern European Plain which stretches from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains and which has provided the country with no natural barriers that could constitute a defensive position. 

… if we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the pre-eminent statesman of our time. On the world stage, who can vie with him? Only perhaps Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.

When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that. In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Atatürk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he rescued a nation-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country. …

 

Wikipedia lists 156 wars that have involved Russia since the fledgling KievianState began to take shape in 830. That means every seven and a half years during the history of Russia there has been some type of armed conflict; mostly with immediate neighbors. There were 21 wars with Turkey or Byzantium, ten with Sweden, seventeen with Poland, and so on. Is it any wonder Russians value a strong central state? 

Our political and philosophical forbearers had different concerns because they inhabited more secure lands with effective barriers against invasion. Great Britain was safe enough to have given much more thought to controlling a strong central state. So the Magna Carta, placing limits on the power of the rulers was created in England. It is impossible to imagine such a document making an appearance in Russia which faced existential threats every decade.

… Putin did not come out of nowhere. Russian people not only tolerate him, they revere him. You can get a better idea of why he has ruled for 17 years if you remember that, within a few years of Communism’s fall, average life expectancy in Russia had fallen below that of Bangladesh. That is an ignominy that falls on Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin’s reckless opportunism made him an indispensable foe of Communism in the late 1980s. But it made him an inadequate founding father for a modern state. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose writings about Communism give him some claim to be considered the greatest man of the twentieth century, believed the post-Communist leaders had made the country even worse. In the year 2000 Solzhenitsyn wrote: “As a result of the Yeltsin era, all the fundamental sectors of our political, economic, cultural, and moral life have been destroyed or looted. Will we continue looting and destroying Russia until nothing is left?” That was the year Putin came to power. He was the answer to Solzhenitsyn’s question.

There are two things Putin did that cemented the loyalty of Solzhenitsyn and other Russians—he restrained the billionaires who were looting the country, and he restored Russia’s standing abroad. Let us take them in turn. …

 

 

 

When last we posted, we closed with an article on the great tragedy that took place in 100 years ago in Russian when the fledgling democratic government was overthrown by Lenin and his bloodthirsty leftists. The circumstances of Lenin arriving in St’ Petersburg one month after the czar abdicated are the subject of a book reviewed by The WSJ

Of all the weapons deployed in World War I, among the most lethal may have been a train that left Zurich on April 9, 1917. Thirty-two of its passengers—a ragbag of revolutionaries and their family members—were on their way to Russia. At their head was Vladimir Lenin. The czar had just been overthrown, and a new democracy was struggling to be born. But the change in government was less of a revolution than Lenin had in mind. He had been in exile for years, most recently in Switzerland. To put things right, he had to return home.

Switzerland and Russia are not exactly neighbors. Much of the territory lying between them was controlled by states with which Russia was at war, states that wouldn’t be expected to offer free passage to someone who was not only an enemy national but also an individual dedicated to the destruction of their own social systems.

Lenin, however, had cut a deal with the kaiser’s Germany. In “Lenin on the Train,” Catherine Merridale, a distinguished historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, describes Lenin’s journey, the reasons it came about and the events it set in motion. Berlin had realized, she tells us, that supporting foreign insurgents could help destabilize Germany’s enemies from within. With democratic Russia set on continuing the war Lenin opposed, it seemed sensible to transport the veteran revolutionary like (in Winston Churchill’s words) a “plague bacillus” in a “sealed truck” and release him to infect his fragile homeland. And so on that April day began a ride across Europe that led, within months, to catastrophe and, over time, to the loss of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then millions, of lives. …

 

 

 

Rounding out today’s post on Russian subjects, Craig Pirrong reacts to the Susan Rice news of the past few days.

Some 200 theaters around the world are screening 1984 to warn about the dark descending night of fascism under Donald Trump. The timing of this could not be more ironic, given that all the news of late makes it abundantly clear that the former administration, not the current one, deserves to be known as Big Brother.

In particular, after a steady trickle of news about surveillance and unmasking of Trump campaign and transition personnel by the US intelligence community, yesterday the story broke that ex-National Security Advisor and noted f-bomber* Susan Rice–yes, that paragon of honesty, Madam Benghazi Talking Points–had requested the unmasking of numerous Trump personnel picked up in reports of surveillance on foreigners (incidentally, of course! Trust them on this!).

Last month, Ms. Rice played dumb (not a stretch!) by claiming that she had no idea what Devin Nunes was on about. Yesterday, Susie F was unavailable for comment, although one of the Obama creatures working for CNN (but I repeat myself) tweeted: “Just in: ‘The idea that Ambassador Rice improperly sought the identities of Americans is false.’ – person close to Rice tells me.”

Note the presence of the weasel modifier “improperly.” Not a categorical denial of unmasking. I therefore consider this an admission that unmasking did occur. …

 

Nice group of cartoons today.

March 23, 2017

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Pickerhead spends a lot of time in Naples, FL. So it was interesting to read that Smithsonian Magazine says it is the happiest city in the country. Perhaps it is happy because it is the butt of many jokes. It is said that all the old people in Florida live in Sarasota - and their parents live in Naples. True enough. And when a car is heard starting while you are walking through a parking lot in Naples, it is wise to locate that vehicle before continuing because you never know when some seasoned citizen might attempt some hitherto unforeseeable driving or parking maneuver.

 

Even though many residents of Naples are quite old, they are keeping up with the youthful trend of tattoos. The most popular is to have their arms inked with their names and addresses. The same set has come up with a new line at the local saloons – “Hi there. Do I come here often?”

 

Switzerland may be the best country in the world (or so says U.S. News & World Report), but there is plenty of happiness to be found here in the USA—and particularly in Florida, according to the latest data from Gallup-Healthways.  For the second year in a row, Naples and the nearby communities of Immokalee and Marco Island have ranked first in their ”American well-being” Index, A. Pawlowski reports for Today. 

The 2016 Community Well-Being Index is based on Gallup interviews with more than 350,000 people. Researchers analyzed these conversations to measure how residents feel about their physical, emotional, financial, community and social health. 

Naples performed well in all categories. The city “had the country’s highest number of residents thriving in community well-being, highest rates of healthy eating, lowest rates of daily stress, and lowest lifetimes diagnoses of depression,” the authors of the report write. …

… And through it all, the people of Naples were persistently mellow. The city is home to the least-stressed residents of the country—and this despite the persistent antics of the Florida man.

  

 

Speaking of Florida Man, here’s the NY Times piece.

Dangling into the sea like America’s last-ditch lifeline, the state of Florida beckons. Hustlers and fugitives, million-dollar hucksters and harebrained thieves, Armani-wearing drug traffickers and hapless dope dealers all congregate, scheme and revel in the SunshineState. It’s easy to get in, get out or get lost.

For decades, this cast of characters provided a diffuse, luckless counternarrative to the salt-and-sun-kissed Florida that tourists spy from their beach towels. But recently there arrived a digital-era prototype, @_FloridaMan, a composite of Florida’s nuttiness unspooled, tweet by tweet, to the world at large. With pithy headlines and links to real news stories, @_FloridaMan offers up the “real-life stories of the world’s worst super hero,” as his Twitter bio proclaims.

Florida Man Tries to Convince Woman to Buy, Cook, Eat Iguanas Duct-Taped to His Bike http://t.co/8lOo4ML3AY

— Florida Man (@_FloridaMan) March 20, 2015  … 

… “There is always an extra twist of weirdness at the end of the Florida story,” Mr. Hiaasen said. “Weird stories happen everywhere, but they usually come to a logical conclusion. There is always one more shoe that drops in Florida.”

And there is so much more of it in Florida, he added. “It’s not just shooting fish in a barrel,” Mr. Hiaasen said, “but shooting mutated, deranged, slow-moving fish.” 

He cited the car thief who had been caught by the police in the parking lot of the Miccosukee Tribe’s casino on the edge of the Everglades. The thief had the bad sense to try to escape by plunging into a pond behind the casino. 

“As soon as he hits the water, he gets eaten by an alligator,” Mr. Hiaasen said. “This is the way things must be here.”

Mr. Hiaasen, chagrined at the authorities, added: “They kill the alligator. They should have given him a Crime Stoppers award. Does this happen in Arkansas? I don’t know.” …

 

 

Another sometime Naples resident, the Florida Panther, was featured in an article in The Atlantic. This piece was hard to format, so to read it all, please follow the hyperlink.

On a clear evening this past June, in rural Collier County, Florida, an endangered panther crossed a street and was hit by a man driving home. The driver, making out a tawny, crumpled form, called a hotline. The job of retrieving the animal fell to Mark Lotz, a panther biologist with the state Fish and Wildlife Commission. Lotz called me to see if I wanted to come.

I had flown into Fort Lauderdale at the beginning of the week, renting a car and heading west across the state through what remains of primordial wetlands. Tall metal fences flanked the road, like a dull, gray hermetic seal meant to keep human traffic in and wildlife out. The fences are just one of many measures to protect fewer than 180 Florida panthers alive today, all of them in the state’s southern tip. …

 

Fifteen miles Northeast of Naples is the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. A visitor filmed a panther there last year. Click on this link.

 

 

We do have something serious today because Wednesday a week ago marked the 100th anniversary of the abdication of Czar Nicholas. The Reds did not gain power immediately. First there was a fledgling democracy led by Alexander Kerensky, who died at his home in New York City in 1970. Before 1917 was over, Lenin overthrew the provisional government setting into motion the bloodiest century in history as perhaps hundreds of millions went to early graves. Max Boot writes in Commentary.

… Can you imagine what would have happened if Kerensky had been able to stay in power? The mind boggles to think how many tens of millions of people might have died in their beds rather than suffering a gruesome and premature end. There certainly would not have been any Stalinist terror or any mass famine in Ukraine. There may not have been any World War II, for a democratic Russia would not have connived in Hitler’s rise as the Soviet Union did. The Soviets not only helped Germany to rebuild its military in the 1920s but in 1939 Stalin agreed to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that set the stage for the invasion of Poland, with Soviet forces coming from the East as the Nazis invaded from the West. In a broader sense, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact made possible World War II, a conflict that inflicted unimaginable suffering on the Soviet Union, but ultimately left Moscow in command of Eastern Europe and eager to expand its domain even farther. Mao Zedong’s revolution in China probably would not have succeeded if not for Russian assistance, which was forthcoming from Stalin but would not have come from a democratic prime minister.

Simply to have avoided the rule of Stalin and Mao would have spared tens of millions from an early grave. From the American perspective, it would have avoided the costly and dispiriting wars in North Korea and Vietnam and the near-miss of a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Just think of how different the world would look today if Russia were a vibrant democracy. There is no inherent reason why Russia should be at odds with the West; indeed if Russia were democratic, it would be part of the West. Imagine the European Union extending from London to Moscow, and a Europe wholly free.

That, of course, is an impossible dream, and there is no guarantee that even a democratic Russia would have avoided all conflicts with its neighbors; other democracies, ours included, have certainly acted in a belligerent fashion. (Just ask the Mexicans!) But there is little doubt that the whole history of the last hundred years would have been changed immeasurably, and for the better, if Russia had had only one revolution, rather than two, in 1917.

March 8, 2017 – IRREPLACABLE

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Whatever you may think of President Trump, it is an unalloyed pleasure to have someone in the Oval Office who does not hide his thoughts. We can hope his tweets never get staff sanitized. Think back to his passive aggressive predecessor who tried to disguise his animus towards Israel until the very end of his term. And likewise his dislike of Great Britain, which while never spoken, was obvious if you were willing to look beyond the smiling face. The latter displayed his faculty lounge ignorance of the historic contributions of the British anti-slavery movement led by William Wilberforce at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. For thousands of years of human history slavery was ubiquitous worldwide. And yet in 40 years, history’s proverbial blink of an eye, it was halted in the large part of the world touched by British power.

 

Today’s post examines the unprecedented attacks on the country’s president; including calls for his assassination. Donald Trump looks like he has the courage and cojones to withstand this withering fire from the Left.  Since Pickings trashed Trump early on in the campaign it is startling to realize he has become the irreplaceable president because no other politician in recent memory could withstand this unrestrained, and at times, unhinged aggression. Victor Davis Hanson provides an overview of the assault on Trump.  

… Oddly, in early January, Senator Charles Schumer had essentially warned Trump that he would pay for his criticism of career intelligence officials. In an astounding shot across his bow, which was followed up by an onslaught in February, Schumer said: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. . . . So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

Schumer was evidently not disturbed about rogue intelligence agencies conspiring to destroy a shared political enemy — the president of the United States. What surprised him was how naïve Trump was in not assessing the anti-constitutional forces arrayed against him.

Trump-Removal Chic

The elite efforts to emasculate the president have sometimes taken on an eerie turn. The publisher-editor of the German weekly magazine Zeit raised the topic on German television of killing Trump to end the “Trump catastrophe.” So did British Sunday Times columnist India Knight, who tweeted, “The assassination is taking such a long time.” A former Obama Pentagon official, Rosa Brooks, recently mused about theoretical ways to remove Trump, including a military coup, should other avenues such as impeachment or medically forced removal fail: “The fourth possibility is one that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders.” …

… Nor is the Trump family immune from constant attack. Daughter Ivanka Trump was recently cornered on an airline flight, while traveling with her three young children three days before Christmas, and bullied by a screaming activist passenger. Her private fashion business is the target of a national progressive-orchestrated boycott. Celebrities and writers have attacked Trump’s eleven-year-old son Barron as a sociopath-to-be or as a boy trapped in an autistic bubble. First Lady Melania Trump sued the Daily Mail after it trafficked in reports that she had once been a paid escort — a lie that was recently recirculated by a New York Times reporter. 

Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka are routinely smeared as anti-Semites and fascists. One Trump critic berated Gorka as a Nazi sympathizer for wearing a commemorative medal once awarded his father for his role in the resistance to the Communist takeover of Hungary. …

… Compared with Obama in 2009, at the same point in his young administration, Trump has issued about the same number of executive orders. For all his war on the press, Trump has so far not ordered wiretaps on any reporter on the grounds that he is a “criminal co-conspirator,” nor has he gone after the phone records of the Associated Press — Barack Obama’s Justice Department did both, to little notice in the media.

Trump’s edicts are mostly common-sense and non-controversial: green-lighting the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, freezing federal hiring, resuming work on a previously approved wall along the Mexican border, prohibiting retiring federal officials from lobbying activity for five years, and pruning away regulations. …

… Trump has had fewer Cabinet appointees bow out than did Barack Obama. Most believe that the vast majority of his selections are inspired. The nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch was a widely praised move. The defense secretary, retired general James Mattis has echoed Trump’s earlier calls for European NATO members to step up and meet their contracted obligations to the alliance.

Clearly in empirical terms, nothing that Trump in his first month in office has done seems to have justified calls for violence against his person or his removal from office. What then accounts for the unprecedented venom? …

 

 

For a good example of media bias, Matthew Continetti writes on the coverage of the opposition to Betsy DeVos. The fact that politicians against DeVos were bought and paid for by teacher’s unions is barely mentioned.

… The atrocious coverage of DeVos troubled education blogger Alexander Russo, who wrote an item for the Phi Delta Kappan lamenting the fact that established publications “have cherry-picked storylines that put DeVos in a negative light and written about DeVos’s ideas and efforts using fraught, charged language.” This development surprised Russo, because “right after the presidential election, mainstream journalism went through an intense period of self-reflection and decided—among many things—that reporters and editors should try to check their liberal biases at the door and do a better job of covering people who weren’t like them.” Clearly Russo was hallucinating when he wrote those words, because the only period of intense self-reflection journalists went through after the election is when they decided to be even more antagonistic and hysterical in their treatment of Donald Trump.

Even I, your humble Mediacracy columnist, am occasionally surprised at the one-sidedness of media coverage. On the day DeVos was confirmed, I clicked on a story in the Washington Post with the headline, “The DeVos vote is a bad case study for the power of campaign contributions.” The headline struck me as completely backward—if anything, the vote is a classic case study of the power of campaign contributions, since all of the senators opposing DeVos, including the two Republicans, are on the take from the unions. But, incredibly, Philip Bump’s article did not contain a single mention of the word “union,” and instead focused solely on DeVos’s contributions to Republican senators. I thought the omission absurd, an example of horrible journalism, and said so on Twitter.

“Dude,” replied a colleague. “It’s the Post.”

  

 

Washington Examiner with another example of fake news.

Reporters have done it again.

The latest media misfire on the Trump administration involves Ibtihaj Muhammad, a New Jersey native who made headlines last year when she became the first female Muslim-American to win an Olympic medal for the United States.

Muhammad, a lifelong American citizen, claimed in an interview last week that she was detained “just a few weeks ago” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. She said she was held for two hours without explanation.

Her remarks on Feb. 7 earned her an entire news cycle, as several journalists ran with reports suggesting, and alleging outright, that the American Olympian had been ensnared in the president’s executive order temporarily barring immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries. 

But Muhammad has since clarified crucial parts of her story, including the date on which she was detained. A Customs official with direct knowledge of the incident has also disputed much of how she characterized what happened. …

… The problem with this particular news cycle is that Muhammad was detained in 2016, weeks before Trump had even been sworn in as America’s 45th president. …

… Before we go, a few points bear further discussion, and none of them reflect well on Muhammad or the press.

First, it’s mind-boggling that no one in that room on Feb. 7 thought to ask her for the exact date on which she was detained. It’s a basic duty of journalism to get the who, what, where, when, why and how to every story. That Muhammad’s interviewers didn’t think to pursue the “when” is astounding.

Secondly, Muhammad isn’t blameless in all of this. A less-than-charitable person would suspect her of being intentionally vague and imprecise. She was asked a simple “yes or no” question about the president’s immigration order. Instead of giving a simple answer, she provided an anecdote involving the very misleading use of “just a few weeks ago.” …

  

 

WSJ OpEd says Eric Hoffer saw Trump coming almost 50 years ago. 

“Scratch an intellectual, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the sound and the smell of common folk.” Those words might have been written last year, as an explanation for Donald Trump’s rise or a rejoinder to Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of “deplorables.”

In fact they were published in November 1970 and written by Eric Hoffer, the “longshoreman philosopher,” who was best known for his slender 1951 classic, “The True Believer: Thoughts on the nature of Mass Movements.” The 1970 essay, under the headline “Whose Country Is America?,” eerily anticipated not only the political events of 2016 but the tone and language of last year’s campaign and the anti-Trump hysteria since Election Day.

Hoffer started his analysis with “the conspicuousness of the young”—that is, the baby boomers. “They have become more flamboyant, more demanding, more violent, more knowledgeable and more experienced,” he wrote. “The general impression is that nowadays the young act like the spoiled children of the rich.”

He attributed those developments to the “ordeal of affluence,” which threatened social stability. Wealth without work “creates a climate of disintegrating values with its fallout of anarchy.” Among the poor this takes the form of street crime; among the affluent, of “insolence on the campus”—both “sick forms of adolescent self-assertion.” …

  

 

We opened today with Victor Davis Hanson and he will be the close as he writes on the laws of unintended consequences.

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

“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?

Thank the Left, because suddenly the term “fake news” is becoming a common description of the media’s effort to suggest that Trump once went to Moscow to frolic with prostitutes, that his lawyer met Russians in Prague, that he removed Martin Luther King’s bust from the Oval Office, that he was going to employ “100,000” guardsmen to enforce immigration law, or that he wished to invade Mexico.

The once liberal invention of the term “fake news” now mostly refers to media efforts by leftists to warp the Trump presidency; to progressive media celebrities who have been caught lying, colluding, or plagiarizing; and to the cohort of unapologetically left-wing journalists who, in the words of Obama White House operative Ben Rhodes, “know nothing” and thus are easily manipulated by their progressive political puppeteers. …

 

March 4, 2017 – GELERNTER

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For a weekend’s thought provoking post, we have Conor Friedersdorf’s Atlantic Monthly interview with David Gelernter. The interview breaks for five days while Gelernter provides 20 thoughts.

Last month, David Gelernter, the pioneering Yale University computer scientist, met with Donald Trump to discuss the possibility of joining the White House staff. An article about the meeting in The Washington Post was headlined, “David Gelernter, fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist, is being eyed for Trump’s science adviser.”

It is hard to imagine a more misleading treatment. …

Friedersdorf: One of the few newspaper columns that has stuck with me for years is Charles Krauthammer’s meditation on Fermi’s Paradox and what he calls “the high probability that advanced civilizations destroy themselves.” This is a fear Baby Boomers associate with nuclear weapons. How do those products of  the World War II era compare to other advances in technology that stoke existential worries? …

Gelernter: Charles Krauthammer runs to pessimism, and I think he has this wrong—in fact backwards. The striking thing is that Stalin had the bomb and Mao had the bomb and neither ever used it. If both of those mass-murdering thug-tyrants were able to restrain themselves, it’s not too surprising that their successors did too. You worry that “advances in science and technology are always outpacing our ability or inclination to guard against them,” but it seems to me that this is exactly what hasn’t happened.

The U.S. and our allies have escaped nuclear, chemical, and bio attacks not because of the humane ideals of our enemies, but because we devote huge energy and effort to defense, and to our own mass-destruction weapons. Of course terrorists would love to murder huge numbers of westerners, and chemical weapons and perhaps some kinds of bio-weapons are easier to acquire and handle than nuclear weapons; and terrorists don’t have hostage states and populations like a Stalin or Mao. But we have to assume that the terrorists have been trying this sort of attack since at least October 2001.

What’s amazing isn’t that they nearly always fail but that occasionally, on a small but tragic scale, they succeed. If you think about it, they have men willing to die for the cause but so do we—every American infantryman, every front-line soldier of the U.S. and our allies has put his life on the line; and our police, FBI and their allies do it routinely, too.  We don’t call them suicide fighters, we call them brave, patriotic, big-hearted Americans—or British, French, Israelis—but that doesn’t change the facts.  

And our soldiers are about 1,000 years further along in technology, much better-trained and equipped, and fighting for their homes and families, and freedom, which are better causes than medieval tyranny, the annihilation of Jews and Christians, and the enslavement of women—not the most inspiring ideas to fight and die for. …

 

Here’s Gelernter’s 1st Thought;

Letting toxic partisanship heal.  Everyone knows that we live in politically superheated times; partisanship feels more bitter and more personal than it ever has in my lifetime.  

There are many reasons, but here is one: we all know that faith in the Judeo-Christian religions is dramatically weaker than it used to be. But human beings are religious animals, and most will find an alternative if the conventional choices are gone.  

The readiest replacement nowadays for lost traditional religion is political ideology. But a citizen with faith in a political position, instead of rational belief, is a potential disaster for democracy. A religious believer can rarely be argued out of his faith in any ordinary conversational give-and-take. His personality is more likely to be wrapped up with his religion than with any mere political program. When a person’s religion is attacked, he’s more likely to take it personally and dislike (or even hate) the attacker than he is in the case of mere political attacks or arguments. Thus, the collapse of traditional religion within important parts of the population is one cause of our increasingly poisoned politics. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way.

Turn back to the generation after the Second World War. The collapse of religion is well underway, but there is another alternate religion at hand: art. …

 

And the 4th;

It used to be that nearly all American children were reared as Christians or Jews. In the process they were given comprehensive ethical views, centering on the Ten Commandments and the “golden rule,” and God’s requirements as spelled out by the prophet Micah: “Only to do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

As a result American were not paragons; but they had a place to start.  Today many or most children in the intellectual or left-wing part of the nation are no longer reared as Christians or Jews. What ethical laws are they taught? Many on the left say “none, and it doesn’t matter”—a recipe for one of the riskiest experiments in history.  

The left, and my colleagues in the intelligentsia, need to come to terms with this issue. Rear your children to be atheists or agnostics—fine. But turning them loose on the world with no concept of right and wrong is unacceptable. …

  

They’ve nothing to do with today’s topic, but some of the ‘toons are laugh out loud funny.

 

 

March 3, 2017 – AG SESSIONS

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Not so long ago a US Senator colluded with the Soviets to try to prevent the success of the opposing party. Only it wasn’t a few months ago. It was in 1983. And it was senator Ted Kennedy who offered a trade to Yuri Andropov. And Kennedy suggested help for his effort to defeat Ronald Reagan would also come from the media.  This story supported by Soviet archives research by a reporter from the London Times, makes this session with Sessions very tiresome.

 

J. Christian Adams who worked at the Department of Justice, tells the story.

Yes, a United States senator really did collude with the Russians to influence the outcome of a presidential election.  His name was Ted Kennedy.

While Sen. Al Franken (D-Ringling Bros.) and other Democrats have the vapors over a truthful, complete, and correct answer Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave in his confirmation hearing, it’s worth remembering the reprehensible behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy in 1984.

This reprehensible behavior didn’t involve launching an Oldsmobile Delmont 88 into a tidal channel while drunk.  This reprehensible behavior was collusion with America’s most deadly enemy in an effort to defeat Ronald Reagan’s reelection.

You won’t hear much about that from CNN and the clown from Minnesota.

To recap, from Forbes:

“Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.” …

 

John Hinderaker posts in Powerline about the Adams piece.

The Democrats’ allegations against Jeff Sessions, one of the most upright men in Washington, are ludicrous. I don’t understand how anyone can think they amount to anything. But if the Democrats want to talk about collusion with the Russians, by all means let’s have that conversation.

Chris Adams takes us on a walk down memory lane. In 1983, Ted Kennedy–the “liberal lion of the Senate”–tried to enlist the Soviet Union, our most bitter enemy, in the Democrats’ effort to defeat President Ronald Reagan’s re-election. …

… Selling out America to benefit the Democratic Party? It happens. Sometimes, Democrats sell out America just because they think it is the right thing to do. If someone is going to investigate the executive branch’s relationship with Russia, he should start with Barack Obama’s pledge to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would sell out the United States in his second term.

You think that is too strong? What do you think Obama meant when he said he would have more “flexibility” after the election? That he would have more latitude to advance American interests by opposing Russian actions in, say, Crimea and Ukraine? No, I don’t think that is what he meant, either.

I have thought for quite a while that the Democratic Party is shameless, but the Democrats have taken shamelessness to a whole new level.

  

More on the campaign to undermine the Trump administration comes from Noah Rothman.

For a president who has a uniquely hostile relationship with the press, positive news cycles are both rare and fleeting. The Trump team displayed remarkable discipline by refusing to step on the president’s well-received address to a joint session of Congress. A lot of good discipline did them. Just 24 hours after Trump’s address, a series of troubling reports involving links among those in Trump’s orbit to Russian officials reset the national discourse. Those stories make for a trend, though, that has little to do with Trump and a lot to do with his predecessor. The Obama administration’s foreign-policy team seems to be campaigning to rehabilitate itself one leak at a time, and the press is helping. …

 

 

February 27, 2017 – CA’s MAGICAL THINKING

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Two weeks ago we witnessed a near catastrophe as the Oroville, CA dam was near collapse. For today’s short post, we have four items that illustrate the shear stupidity, and more, that brought California to this point. First we learn from Instapundit that one month ago the state provided the feds with a wish list $100 billion of infrastructure improvements. Was the Oroville dam on the list? Of course not! 

Then we learn from David Cole of the CA government’s opinion that rain was not in their future. The drought was forever and there was no need to repair a dam that would be holding back very little water. 

Then from Legal Insurrection we learn it was not just stupidity. Evil intent can be seen in the allocation of the 2009 stimulus to DEM voting areas of the state at the expense of GOP areas. 

Finally, if you really want to lose your lunch, we have a four year old item from Ron Hart in the Orange County Register that tracked the 2009 stimulus money throughout the country to DEM constituencies.

In Instapundit, Ed Driscoll posts on California’s Magical Thinking.

“Reinforcing the Oroville Dam was not included on Mr. Brown’s $100 billion wish list of projects prepared last month at the request of the National Governors Association in response to Mr. Trump’s call for $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements, CNBC reported.

One project that did make the list: California high-speed rail, a pet project of Mr. Brown’s with an estimated price tag of $100 billion that has become for state Republicans a symbol of out-of-control government spending.”

During their flight from reality in the post-Clinton years, elite California lefties bragged they were “dam busters”; in the early days of Obama’s administration, his then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Deanna Archuleta, promised the enviro-faithful, “You will never see another federal dam” — and maintenance on state-run projects was apparently out as well. Like the famous Monty Python architectural sketch, Sacramento seemed to consider magical thinking as sufficient to prop them up.

  

In a Jeremiad in Taki Magazine, David Cole takes on more magical thinking of both the right and the left. Follow the link for Mr. Cole’s complete rant.

… If spending is the equivalent of prayer to a leftist, “climate change” is the equivalent of Christian “end-time” cultism. Let me share with you a very recent, and very relevant, example. Over the past week, we here in sunny insane California have faced the prospect of a major calamity as three merciless months of near-nonstop rainfall have led to the possibility of a massive failure at the tallest dam in the U.S., in Oroville, near Sacramento. It’s a big deal; 188,000 people have been evacuated. Concerns about how the aging Oroville Dam would fare in the face of record rainfall were raised years ago, but the state and the feds ignored them.

The story has been amply reported locally and nationally. But what the press conveniently leaves out of its coverage is the underlining theory behind the dam inaction: climate-change apocalyptics had convinced the Silly Putty-brained California powers-that-be that rain was never returning to the state. Quite literally, new dams, and improvements on old ones, were rejected because a doomsday cult had convinced politicians that water was “over,” that the drought that began in 2012 was not a passing thing but an “era,” something that would last decades if not a century. And why build new dams if there’ll be no water for them to hold? Why refurbish old ones if there’s no chance they’ll ever be filled again? …

… Witch doctors in white coats who study tree stumps like gypsies read tea leaves told The San Jose Mercury News in 2014 that the drought might last over one hundred, maybe even one thousand, years. If you Google “California,” “drought,” and “will last” or “may last,” you’ll see endless links to left-certified “scientific” snake-handlers who claimed, right up until a few months ago, that the drought may last hundreds of years, or thousands of years, or “forever.”

Yet here we are in February 2017, with the drought completely over in Northern Cal and close to being over in the South. The rainfall of the past few months has shattered all records. The last “abnormal” California winter, 1982/1983, saw rainfall that was 88% higher than the 30-year average. Winter 2016/2017? 120% higher. Cities like Long Beach have seen rainfall at levels never before recorded. …

… Expect more superstitious nonsense from leftists in the years to come, because if leftists have demon-haunted minds, Trump is the ghost rattling around inside, clouding all judgment and giving rise to visions and fever dreams. Undeservedly famous leftist comedians are seeing signs and wonders. Sarah Silverman’s phantom pavement swastikas were nothing more than the leftist-Jewish version of seeing Jesus in a tortilla.

Silverman’s response after being told that her “swastikas” were simple construction markers boiled down to “I’ve been driven to lunacy by Trump’s anti-Semitism.” In other words, she’s possessed; a demon made her do it.

These days, the left has no moral high ground over the religious right. In fact, I’d take a conservative Christian over a demon-haunted leftist any day, because at least conservative Christians admit that their beliefs are faith-based. They don’t go around screaming “science! science! science!” while drinking sacrificial goats’ blood Santeria-style because the rain gods are angry.

I have nothing against people of faith. But hypocrites? They piss me off like a sonofabitch.

  

Leslie Eastman of Legal Insurrection shows where the CA money went.

… Legal Insurrection readers recall that I noted that Oroville Dam lays in a deep red part of California. Despite the fact that issues with the structure were noted 12 years ago, Obama’s Stimulus Package monies for infrastructure were never sent for the needed repairs and enhancements.

However, one California dam get see several million Stimulus dollars, though it was in much better condition.

Over $22 million in stimulus funds did go toward safety improvements to the Folsom Dam, which was described as in “good shape” at the time the grant was awarded in 2009.

“The dam is in good shape but is starting to show its age,” a Bureau of Reclamation spokesperson said of the Folsom Dam at the time.

The stimulus was intended to “shore up the nation’s aging infrastructure,” said Rep. Mike Thompson, a Democrat who served California’s 1st District before being redistricted to the 5th.

The fact that the dam was in a “blue” county may have been a contributing factor. …

… Mahatma Ghandi once noted that action expresses priorities. …

  

Ron Hart follows the 2009 stimulus funds in a article in March 26, 2013 Orange County Register. Follow the link for more details.

… Of the money spent in swing state Wisconsin, 80 percent went to public sector unions – those with already locked-in jobs. In fact, right-to-work states got $266 less per person in stimulus money than heavily unionized states. Where Democrats had a vast majority of representatives, their states got $460 per person more.

When Obama signed the stimulus bill in 2009, he promised it would provide “help for those hardest hit by our economic crisis.” Clearly, it did not. The states hurt the most, the ones with more foreclosures, unemployment and bankruptcy, got less money than richer states closer to power. Washington, D.C. got the most stimulus money: $7,602 per capita.

The stimulus was a huge political slush fund with little accountability. …

February 18, 2017 – TOLD YOU SO – TWO

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After our post on the Bureau of Labor Standard’s unemployment reports, a reader and good friend wrote; “You need more than what you wrote to credibly attack the BLS. Have you any thing more?” In fact there is much more but it is poorly organized and hard to understand. We have selected three items that address how the BLS reports are produced  

You will learn something about how the reports are created, and you will also learn the numbers are very easy to manipulate. The key thing to remember is the manipulation always favor one political party. It is important to know the labor reports are a product of 60,000 interviews conducted by the Census Bureau every month in contract for the Dept. of Labor. 

 

We have a NY Post article contemporaneous (November 18, 2012) to the 2012 ”miracle” when the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8%. The article was titled Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report.

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy. …

… I hope the next stop will be Congress, since manipulation of data like this not only gives voters the wrong impression of the economy but also leads lawmakers, the Federal Reserve and companies to make uninformed decisions.

To cite just one instance, the Fed is targeting the curtailment of its so-called quantitative easing money-printing/bond-buying fiasco to the unemployment rate for which Census provided the false information.

So falsifying this would, in essence, have dire consequences for the country.

  

 

On the same day as the NY Post article above and working with it, Zero Hedge’s Tyler Durden posted on the BLS report.

On Friday October 5, 2012, the BLS released what was arguably the most important report of Obama’s first term: the final jobs number, and unemployment rate before the November 2012 presidential election. As so many predicted, it “plunged” from 8.1% to 7.8% allowing the president to conduct countless teleprompted speeches praising the success of his economic recovery. It also served as the basis for the infamous Jack Welch tweet: “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers” and prompted the pro-Obama media to quickly brand all those who questioned it as conspiracy theorists. …

  

 

Four years later in October 2016, Tyler Durden takes exception to the retiring president’s star turn on job creation. This suffers from the lack of an editor, but there are many nuggets of information here. However, you will come to understand why this was not included originally. 

Bismarck’s dictum “mankind should not see how laws and sausages are made” will ring true as you read this. But remember when we started we saw how the BLS produced reports that were always favoring the Democrat party.

… So, before President Obama takes his final victory lap with claims of creating the most robust employment recovery since the 1990’s, the data clearly suggests otherwise.

Of course, if you ask the 37% that are no longer counted as part of the labor force, they will tell you the same thing. …

 

 

In a similar vein, Matthew Continetti addresses the issue of who is going to run the government. He starts with Gen. Flynn’s troubles and then shows how, what some have called the ‘deep state,’ is trying to wrest control of the government from the people we elected.

… Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year’s election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.

How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and antidemocratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. “I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this,” a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured. …

… The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution—its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.

The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the “least dangerous branch,” now presume to think they know more about America’s national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.

For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended. The two systems are now in competition. And the contest is all the more vicious and frightening because more than offices are at stake. This fight is not about policy. It is about wealth, status, the privileges of an exclusive class. …

February 12, 2017 – TOLD YOU SO

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In a particularly prescient Pickings post (January 4, 2017) we suggested the least of President Trump’s problems would be hostile media. More danger would come from the federal bureaucracy which would obstruct him whenever possible. For example, we said, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would find a way to accomplish “the reappearance of the disappeared.” Here’s that from a month ago;

“The media will be the least of Trump’s problems. Wait until the federal bureaucrats get into action. They will be on President Trump’s agenda like white on rice. During the last eight years the Bureau of Labor Statistics statistically disappeared 15 million people. They have increased the number of people “not in the labor force” to 95 million from 80 million. This created favorable unemployment rates for the current administration. Pickerhead predicts the reappearance of the disappeared. … 

Guess what? The BLS started the very first month. Here’s a report from Washington Free Beacon;

The number of Americans not participating in the labor force declined to 94,366,000 in January, according to the latest numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More Americans joined the labor force this month, leading to an uptick in the labor force participation rate and a decline in the number of Americans who are out of the labor force.

The number of Americans not in the labor force hit a record-high of 95,102,000 in December. This month, that number declined by 736,000 individuals.

The bureau counts those not in the labor force as people who do not have a job and did not actively seek one in the past four weeks. … 

There is a website for the BLS. Exploring there produced a two interesting charts. The first is a monthly chart for 10 years of the raw numbers for those not in the labor force. It is below. The only one found is for the unadjusted numbers which show a drop of 368,000 not the 736,000 indicated by the Free Beacon above. Presumably the difference comes from seasonal adjustments, but that could not be confirmed. Spend a lot of time on the BLS site and your hair starts to hurt. Is BLS an acronym for bullshit? One thing that stands out in the numbers, is that the January report, the first in the Trump administration, was the first time in 7 years the ‘not in the labor force’ number dropped from December to January. Coincidence? 

The next chart is 10 years of the monthly unemployment rate we’re all familiar with. Something interesting is here. Going back six years of a settled economy we track the year-to-year drop in unemployment from October to October. In three of those years the drop averaged 1.23%. In the other three the drop averaged .63%. The years with the largest drop in unemployment rates were 2012, 2014, and 2016. Why October you ask? Because that’s the last report issued before nationwide elections. And what do the three best unemployment reporting years have in common? Why they’re election years dummy! Coincidence? 

Here’s another item, this from the chart of unemployment rates. In September 2012 the rate went through the 8% level to 7.8 which carried forward to October. In fact, the September rate was revised to that level in the October report, so the October report was the first to reach the magic 7 percent level. Trouble is, it was over done and the December rate moved up to 7.9% and January was 8.0%. Would you be surprised to learn that was the only time in the six years we’re covering there was a sustained (4 months) increase in the unemployment rate? But the job was done. A Democrat president was reelected. Coincidence?

 

Over the six years covered in the charts below, there were four anomalies. First was the large January 2017 decrease in citizens “not in the labor force.” Next, for the first time in seven years those not in the labor force decreased from December to January. Third we see the large drops in unemployment occurred in election years. And fourth, the rate of unemployment rose for only one four month period; the one following the reelection of a Democrat president. What are the chances that all four of those anomalies would benefit one political party? These are the people who lay in wait for Donald Trump. 

It was Mark Twain who popularized the phrase “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” which Twain attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister. From the January 4th post also; “Fooling with statistics is how you get a paragraph like this from Aaron MacLean of the Free Beacon.

… For years, Americans were told that after the financial panic in 2008, the president’s policies had put us on a steady course to a strong economy. But in much of the country, people looked around them and thought, That just doesn’t seem right. Especially in those parts of the country hit the hardest by the transition from the Industrial Era to the Information Age, people asked a number of questions. If the economy is doing so great, why are my adult children not moving out? If the unemployment rate is declining, why are so many prime-age males not working? And doesn’t it matter that the quality of jobs for non-college graduates is so obviously worse than it was a generation ago? Why, instead of working, are so many people dependent on public benefits and falling prey to addiction? …”

So out of nowhere, Trump is elected and the bien pensants on the coasts can’t understand why. It is partly because they believe the lies of simple servants and the subsequent applause of the media. The media, by the way, that should have been drilling into the numbers, but never has.

 

 

A broader look at federal bureaucrats written by Tevi Troy, was in Commentary. The title of his article is “Will There be an Internal Revolt Against Trump?” To which we ask, “Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear poop in the forest? etc. etc.

My first face-to-face encounter with the federal bureaucracy came on January 22, 2001. I was the deputy director of a “parachute team” for incoming president George W. Bush, and our job was to “secure the beachhead” at the Department of Labor on the first day of the new administration. (The political realm loves to borrow military metaphors.) That meant stopping the department from issuing guidance, rules, and statements that reflected the views of the departing Clinton administration. The most important tactical objective in this mission, we were told, was this: Secure the fax machine! (It was 2001, after all.) At that time, there was one specially designated fax machine used to send new regulatory language to the Federal Register, which publishes all newly minted regulations. There was a bureaucrat I’ll call Mitchell Sykes whose job it was to man that fax machine. We were to find Sykes and stop him from doing anything. …

 

… There were indications of bureaucratic resistance to the legitimately elected president during the transition period. In one Politico piece, career officials at HHS were disturbingly candid about their disdain for President-elect Trump, while at the same time protecting themselves in the veil of anonymity. One told reporter Dan Diamond that “it’s tough from the career staff side,” before asking, “Do you stay and try and be the internal saboteur?” Another called the Trump win “obviously shocking and upsetting,” a third “soul crushing.” One of the staffers quoted paid lip service to the fact that they “respect the need to have a peaceful transition of power,” but added that “it’s just frustrating to calmly hand over the keys when you know they’ll wreck the car.” Politico’s Blake Hounsell quoted one anonymous, presumably career, official lamenting the appointment of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at the State Department: “I’ve been resisting the urge to drink since 7 a.m., when I read the news.” 

Diamond noted in his story that the older, more senior career HHS officials he spoke to were “more sanguine,” having seen transitions in the past. It’s possible, therefore, to say that the less judicious individuals were just venting and will come into line come the inauguration. But it’s also possible that these younger staffers may represent the new face of a more partisan career bureaucracy. First, the overtness of the career officials cited was alarming, especially given how careful they typically are. Second, Diamond points out that there are 1,000 HHS officials who “can trace their jobs back to Obamacare.” Presumably, these individuals will be most resistant to repealing and replacing Obamacare, the stated policy of the new president. And finally, the open speculation from a career official, even if anonymous, about serving as an “internal saboteur” should raise alarm bells among not only incoming political officials but also career employees, whose jobs are directly tied to their ability to work with, and generate the trust of, political appointees. …

  

Yes, we did find some humor.

February 8, 2017 SUPER – HEH!

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A short post that grew out of the Super Bowl and the way it was reported.

 

 

Boston Globe had a Dewey Wins/Chicago Tribune moment and Howie Carr caught it.

NOT OVER TILL IT’S OVER: An early Super Bowl edition of yesterday’s Boston Globe hastily used the front-page headline, ‘A Bitter End,’ above, before the Patriots historic comeback.

There’s fake news and then there’s FAKE NEWS!

Today’s early edition Boston Globe made a historic blunder with its Super Bowl coverage, running the headline: A BITTER END.

Above it is “Super Bowl LI.” LI meaning “51” in Roman numerals, but now it has another meaning, wouldn’t you say? You can’t have a LIE without LI. 

These fake-news collectors’ items are on sale all over Florida. If you’re reading this in at least some parts of the SunshineState, you can probably still buy one at your local Publix supermarket. (Not in Palm Beach – my neighbor just bought all five copies for me.)

Given its squalid past as a purveyor of fake news, the Globe just began a new PR campaign about how “The truth matters.”

This morning the Globe’s Truth Matters campaign came to … A BITTER END. …

… The tradition continues.

Let me quote from the Globe’s truth-matters statement. The headline is: “Our mission. Why we do what we do.”

It begins: “The truth matters. At the end of the day it may be the only thing that matters.”

Which is why the Globe doesn’t – matter, that is.

What little remained of the Globe’s credibility has come to, dare I say it, an end, A BITTER END.

 

 

 

John Hinderaker has another feel good moment from the Super Bowl at the expense of a creepy lefty.

It wasn’t the Atlanta Falcons, or Matt Ryan, or Dan Quinn, or even the bettor who put down $1 million on the Falcons not long before game time. No, the Super Bowl’s biggest loser was Touré. If, like most people, you haven’t heard of Touré, he is a far-left commentator on MSNBC. Here, for your entertainment, are some of Touré’s tweets during the Super Bowl, in chronological order:

 

Trump is sinking the Pats the same way he’s sinking America.

— Touré (@Toure) February 6, 2017

 

With Gaga romping and the Pats getting killed it feels like the good guys are winning for once.

— Touré (@Toure) February 6, 2017

 

Tom Brady out there looking for help from the Electoral College. #SuperBowl

— TruthBeTold (@Big6domino) February 6, 2017

 

 

Yes, there’s some cartoons too and you’ll probably guess who is featured in a few.

February 5, 2017 – WAR IS POLITICS, BUT WITH HONOR

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Our title for today’s post, War is Politics, but With Honor tweaks a phrase by Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian general, in his 1832 book On War. Here’s how he wrote in the book. “We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means.” Here’s the variant translation that is most commonly used; “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means.” 

So the long version of our title could be; “war is merely the continuation of politics, but conducted by honorable means.” An example of war making’s honorable means might be The Geneva Conventions. And conversely, it is obvious there is no Geneva Convention in our presently poisoned politics.  

Of course, what we want to explore today is the dishonorable conduct of America’s political left. Salon provides the first example of the left’s deplorable dishonorable acts reporting the Senate vote confirming Rex Tillerson’s appointment as Secretary of State.

… The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, on a largely party-line vote of 56-43. Three Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Warner of Virginia — and independent Angus King of Maine joined Republicans in backing the choice. … 

… The Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s choice of John Kerry 94-3 and Hillary Clinton 94-2. President George W. Bush’s nominee Condoleezza Rice easily won confirmation 85-13. Colin Powell was confirmed for the job by voice vote.

 

 

From Townhall we get the back story for another outrage; this time by the media.

They say that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has the chance to put its shoes on. In this case, a lie went viral, was one of the top stories on Reddit, and was used to slander a president before the truth came out.

The backstory: Mike Hager, a U.S. citizen, said that his mother was stuck in Iraq due to President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration and visa holders from certain countries. Hager claimed his mother, Naimma, who was very sick, was not allowed to travel to the U.S. on Friday despite having a green card. She then passed away in Iraq the next day. …

… As it turns out, the real reason why Hager’s mother wasn’t permitted to fly to the United States on Friday was because she had been dead for five days.

Hager’s Imam confirmed on Wednesday that the original story was not accurate and that Naimma had passed away on January 22. Fox 2 was able to confirm the date of death as well. …

  

 

From the Hill, Asra Nomani writes on the dishonorable events at UC Berkeley.

On Wednesday night, an Afghan-American software engineer and self-described “global geek girl” videotaped her friend Kiara Robles as a local TV reporter interviewed Robles about the raucous protests at University of California Berkeley that canceled a speech by controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Robles wore the trademark red hat of the Trump presidential campaign, only with the message, “Make BitCoin Great Again,” her straight, long blond hair sweeping out from under the cap.

Suddenly, a masked attacker in a leather jacket lunged at Robles and doused her face in stinging pepper spray. “My friend was giving an interview when some coward peppersprayed her,” Robles’s friend wrote on Twitter, posting the video. She was maced, too. (She said the attacker was a woman.) …

… protesters slammed Robles and her friends against a barricade. Unable to breathe or see from the pepper spray, rioters surrounded her, some of her friends getting stomped on. “I thought I was going to die,” Robles, who is gay, told me. …

… In fact, while the Trump administration must of, course, lead from a place of compassion and moderation, intolerant tolerance-loving people are threatening the very safety of Americans, fomented by irresponsible Democratic Party leaders who refuse to accept the election results of 2016, (and) fear-mongering “social justice warriors” who behave as if they are on the set of the “Hunger Games,” … 

  

 

From Twitchy we learn the pepper spray trick was used at NYU too.

It wasn’t quite a repeat of the UC Berkeley riots Wednesday night, but so-called anti-fascist protesters clashed with police outside New YorkUniversity, where Gavin McInnes was invited to speak by the NYU College Republicans. McInnes confirmed other reports that he was pepper-sprayed at the event.

Thanks for asking if I’m OK guys. I was sprayed with pepper spray but being called a Nazi burned way more. 

 — Gavin McInnes (@Gavin_McInnes) February 3, 2017

There were reports of punches thrown by both protesters and supporters as well, but police were out in force.

  

 

A calmer look comes from Matthew Continetti.

“What happened to the honeymoon?” Charles Krauthammer asked last month. The opposition has long granted presidents time to form their administrations, to announce their signature initiatives. Donald Trump’s honeymoon lasted all of 10 days—from his surprise November 8 election to the rude treatment of his vice president at a performance of Hamilton on November 18. After that, divorce.

The same forces that opposed Trump during the Republican primary and general election are trying to break his presidency before it is a month old. At issue is the philosophy of nation-state populism that drove his insurgent campaign. It is so at variance with the ideologies of conservatism and liberalism predominant in the capital that Washington is experiencing something like an allergic reaction. Nation-state populism diverges from Beltway conservatism on trade, immigration, entitlements, and infrastructure, and from liberalism on sovereignty, nationalism, identity politics, and political correctness. Its combative style and heightened rhetoric offend the sensibilities of career-minded Washingtonians of both parties, who are schooled in deference, diplomacy, being nice to teacher, and the ancient arts of CYA.

The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. …

… So unlikely did the election of Donald Trump seem to Washington and its denizens that the reality of it still has not sunk in. All of the city’s worst traits—the self-regard, the group think, the obsessions with trivia, the worship of credentials, the virtue signaling, the imperiousness, the ignorance of perspectives and people from outside major metropolitan centers and college towns—not only persist. They have been magnified with Trump’s arrival. There is so much negative energy coursing through the city that circuits are overloaded. That the president still draws support from the coalition that brought him to office, that a fair number of people see his policies as commonsensical, seems not to affect any of Trump’s critics in the least. They will press on until Trump behaves like they want him to behave.

Which means the war between the president and the Washington establishment may last a very, very long time.

  

 

The women marching after the inaugural had some strange bedmaidens.

On “The First 100 Days” tonight, women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali reacted to a recently resurfaced tweet written by an organizer for last month’s Women’s March, which disparaged Ali and another activist.

Linda Sarsour, of the Arab American Association of New York, tweeted in 2011 that Ali and Brigitte Gabriel should be assaulted and that she wished she could remove their private parts because they “don’t deserve to be women.”

Ali, a victim of genital mutilation while living in Somalia, blasted Sarsour as a “fake feminist” who is not interested in universal human rights.

“She is a defender of Sharia law,” Ali said, “No principle degrades and dehumanizes women more than Sharia law.”

Ali said Sarsour hates her and Gabriel because they speak out against Sharia.

She suggested that instead of protesting in Washington, Sarsour should have organized a march for Yazidi women kidnapped by ISIS, “mass rape” incidents in Europe, or Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for “blasphemy.”

  

 

Piers Morgan, no friend of the GOP, has some interesting views of Trump in The Daily Mail, UK. 

… The popular global narrative just ten days into Donald Trump’s tenure as President of the United States of America is that he is a monster. But a new poll has revealed that 49% of Americans support Trump’s travel ban, as opposed to 41% who are against it

For example, there’s one video that’s gone viral of a large rally in Brighton, on the UK’s south coast, where thousands of people simply chant ‘Donald Trump, you’re a c**t!’ at the top of their voices.

This just about sums up the ridiculous Trump-bashing hysteria that has enveloped the world since his inauguration.

People are literally losing their minds over the mere thought of him sitting in the Oval Office.

A mental faculty failure that is driven, I fear, by sore loser syndrome. …

… A Reuters poll last night revealed that 49% of Americans support Trump’s travel ban, as opposed to 41% who are against it.

And in the UK, a YouGov poll today revealed 49% of Britons are in favour of President Trump’s state visit going ahead, compared to just 36% who are against it.

So despite all the howling, marches, social media onslaughts and foul-mouthed chants, more people in America and Britain appear to be behind Trump than against him. 

And as we saw with the US election and Brexit, these polls are probably understating that support.

Perhaps the reason for this is that the further away you get from the hysterical liberal elite conclaves of places like New York, Los Angeles and London, the more calmer common sense prevails.

Those people see a travel ban portrayed as a ‘racist Muslim ban’, then work out for themselves that 85% of the world’s Muslims aren’t actually banned, and shrug their shoulders.

They know President Obama had a shockingly poor record on admitting Syrian refugees, and let many of them die by not engaging with Assad when he crossed the fabled ‘red line’, so can’t get too worked up about Trump not letting any in.

They remember Bill Clinton had ‘sexual relations’ with interns inside the Oval Office, so can’t get too wildly outraged by Trump saying women throw themselves at celebrities either.

Just as they know Bill’s wife Hillary voted for war with anything that moved, so they rather like Trump not instantly nuking Russia but instead making friendly overtures to Putin.

And so on.

In short, they don’t over-react. …

  

 

Don Surber posts on Orrin Hatch becoming a Trumpster. How come? Because the Dems dishonorable deplorables disgust him.

… Hatch heads the finance committee which needed to vote on Steve Mnuchin before the Senate can vote to confirm him as Secretary of Treasury, and on Tom Price as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cheered on by a complacently liberal media, Democrats boycotted the meeting, in an effort to avoid confirmation. Committee rules require at least one Democrat be present before a vote occurs.

Hatch had his committee waive the rule.

“This is all approved by the Parliamentarian,” Hatch said. “I wouldn’t have done it if it hadn’t been.”

He could have sent the Senate’s sergeant at arms to force Democrats to attend the hearing. He did not.

From CNN:

Hatch chuckled when confronted by questions from reporters about the little notice that the public received about Wednesday’s meeting. “You were scrambling? Well, you know, that’s neither here nor there,” he said.

The chairman also said that he had not yet spoken with the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden, Wednesday morning. “I don’t feel a bit sorry for them,” Hatch said.

This is a refreshing new attitude, long overdue. …