Hatred and Rage

When Trump was running against a dozen other Republicans for the nomination the press and the left were silent and hoping that he’d win. The press gave him a massive amount of exposure with nary a hint of criticism. They clearly thought he was the easiest for Hillary to beat and hoped he would win the GOP nomination. Then they’d get eight more years of far left/progressive politics and a two or three Supreme Court picks. That would lock in the progressive/socialist agenda for generations to come.

Once Trump got the nomination they turned on the attacks. Hillary figured she had it in the bag and the whole campaign was to tell everyone Trump was unqualified and attack him personally. As insurance the DNC and her campaign paid for concocted a phony dossier put together by a Russian who often worked for the FBI. That would finish Trump for sure.

But it didn’t. Trump won and the disbelief and disappointment were evident on the faces of the journalists covering election night. Some were even tearful as were the kids in colleges. The anguish and the horror of it all! The first woman president following the first black president was how it was ordained. Clearly, the election was stolen!

Right after the inauguration a 500,000 strong Woman’s March was held in Washington, DC. Also termed the Pussy Hat Project, the women wore pink knitted caps with small ears. The march supposedly represented every grievance group known to man and liberal film stars Ashley Judd, Scarlet Johansson and Madonna gave hateful and outrageous speeches. They were OK with men like Van Jones and Michael Moore but women with pro-life leanings were unwelcome.

This was the beginning of the Resistance Movement modeled after the resistance that took place in Wisconsin. The Democrats were going to vote against everything Trump was trying to do. They slow walked all the Presidential appointments. Protests organized and funded by rich liberals and socialists kept their hatred for Trump front and center while the Hollywood liberals pontificated and ridiculed. The mainstream news media dropped all pretense of fairness and openly displayed their distain for Trump.

The Swamp was fighting back. They wanted to perpetuate the leftist professional government and if they could do little with a Republican president, House and Senate the only way to slow things down was to use liberal federal judges.

The Left could not accept that Trump had beaten Hillary fair and square so he must have cheated. They concluded that the emails hacked from Hillary’s illegal server and those from the DNC were taken by the Russians and given to Wiki-leaks. Therefore, they reasoned, Trump must have colluded with the Russians. A special counsel was appointed and the “witch hunt” was on to get rid of Trump. That probe has gone on for 14 months with no signs of slowing down. The side benefit of this clown show was that the press and media could ignore the obvious illegal activity of the Clinton campaign.

Jack Minzey, Head of the Department of Education at Eastern Michigan writes that what the US is now experiencing is a civil war. When one side does not accept the results of an election and in the evenly divided US that is clearly what is going on. The Democrats did not accept the election of G.W. Bush either. Can anyone forget the absurd vote counting in Florida where teams of lawyers were searching for “hanging chads”?

The more successful the Trump administration, the more hysterical the Left becomes. I worry that this thing could erupt into mass violence. Of course, we already had the shootings at the GOP charity baseball practice where Rep. Steve Scalise was seriously injured. The shooter was a left wing activist as was the recent threats on the life of Rep. Lee Zelton and Trump. After anti-Trumpers harassed press sec-retary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family out of a restaurant and did the same to Sec. of Homeland Security Maxine Waters in a stupid rant encouraged people to do the same to any administration official. That sounds like inciting violence to me.
All this could end badly. If the Dems regain control of the House you can guarantee that not only will the Trump reform agenda stall out, they will move to impeach him. That’s a scary thought.

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Filed under Election, Hilary Clinton, Politics, Soviets, Trump

Russia Russia Russia

It is an article of faith among Democrats and the Media that Russia preferred Trump over Hillary. Nobody disputes it. To do so would get you curious stares like you had suddenly lost your mind. But it never made any sense to me. Trump promised to put the missiles back in Europe to dissuade Russian aggression. Hillary was never going to do that. Trump promised to build up the military. Hillary hates the military.

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But here’s the biggie….. Trump promised to unleash the oil and gas producers of the US, to approve the stalled pipelines and open up drilling in ANWR and other areas. Hillary surely would have done none of that. She came out against fracking to secure Bernie Sander’s endorsement and she would never cross the anti-oil environmental groups that form an essential part of her constituency. Russia gets half of its annual budget revenues and 70% of its export revenues from the sale of oil and gas to other countries. Does anyone seriously believe they would purposely try to put Trump in the White House knowing he would harm their business and indeed their very survival?

Now comes proof of just how far they are willing to go to frustrate drilling, fracking and pipeline building. As everyone knows (hopefully) New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia sit atop a massive natural gas deposit called the Marcellus Shale estimated to have somewhere between 141 to 400 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas by fracking. Pennsylvania and West Virginia allow fracking but New York does not which accounts for the disparity in prosperity between the counties in the gas producing states and those who do not.

It turns out that environmental groups opposed to fracking and pipelines received hundreds of millions of dollars from environmental foundations that get the money from a shell company in Bermuda, that got the money from (wait for it) the Russians. The exposure of this money-laundering scheme was exposed recently by Kevin Mooney, a Heritage Foundation investigative reporter and published an article in the “Daily Signal”, a Heritage publication on 4/22/18.

Mr. Mooney discovered that a shell company called Klein Ltd. was set up by a law firm called Wakefield Quinn and some Russian officials including Putin. The law firm runs Klein and a dozen other shell companies at the same address. The Russians give the money to Klein who in turn sends it to several environmental foundations like the Sea Change Foundation and the Energy Foundation. These groups then distribute the cash to activists groups like the Serria Club and the National Resources Defense Council and likely others including the anti-pipeline groups in Canada.

They have been effective. Activist groups have been able to derail the Mariner 2 East and Constitution gas pipelines that would have pumped natural gas from the huge Marcellus Shale deposit to the East Coast where it could both help out with gas customers but also be liquefied for shipment over seas. The Russians continue to sell natural gas to several coastal states and, of course, have a strangle hold on some Eastern European countries.

In Canada the environmental activists have been successful in preventing the building of the Energy East pipeline and the Northern Gateway pipeline. The former would carry natural gas from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the east coast where it would be liquefied and shipped.  The Northern Gateway would have carried crude from the oil sands of Alberta to the northern coast for shipment. The Russians definitely don’t want Canadian oil and gas getting dumped into the world market for energy. Prices would come down and they would have competition.

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There may be some unintended consequences from blocking these pipelines, particularly the gas pipelines. During the unusual cold spells of the last two winters, gas supplies were extremely tight in eastern NA because of limited pipeline capacity. Couple that with the wholesale conversion from coal to gas fired electricity generation and you have a formula for blackouts during extended cold snaps. I read reports that it nearly happened last winter.

Right now we are having a major war over the building of a second pipeline next to an existing one that terminates at the Fraser River near Vancouver. It’s called the Transmountain pipeline. It would bring oil and refined gasoline to people of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. There is currently a gas shortage here and gasoline costs $1.61 per liter. That’s $6.09 per gallon!

I’ve been curious as to how these protesters can spend weeks and months camped out obstructing the guys trying to build a pipeline. I ask myself, “How do they support themselves? How do they eat and pay the rent?” I guess the answer is….. from the Russians, indirectly. Unwitting stooges for Putin.

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Filed under Drilling, Environmentalism, Oil, Soviets

The Wall

All during the Trump campaign every speech included his promise to build a wall on the southern border. As President, he continues to vow to build it. Of course, the Democrats hate the idea and argue that it would not be effective and would cost too much.

The history of walls is long and rich. Perhaps the oldest are the walls of Jericho, but certainly the most famous is the Great Wall of China. Built beginning during the reign of Emperor Qin Shi Haung in 259 BC and continuing for centuries the wall spanned 5,500 miles. Originally conceived to keep out the marauding tribes from the north it also served to collect taxes and fees from the Silk Road trade.

Hadrian’s Wall was ordered by Roman emperor Hadrian in AD 122 and represented the furthest extreme of the Roman expansion in Europe.  It spanned the island from sea to sea some 60 miles south of the now
England/Scotland border. The purpose was to keep the crazy Picts from terrorizing the more civilized folks to the south.

Numerous examples of successful walls exist but a couple more include the wall around the Kremlin and the wall completely spanning Manhattan Island built by the Dutch to keep out the Native tribes. Guess where the name “Wall Street” came from?

Most walls are intended to keep the enemy out, but the Berlin Wall was intended to keep its citizens inside. The lure of the modern and prosperous West Germany served as a great motivator for the captives to escape the misery of East Germany. People risked their lives and often lost them in trying to escape.

North Korea also built a wall to keep its hapless citizens inside at the DMZ separating North and South Korea.

Two recent examples are the West Bank Barrier between Israel and the Palestinians on the West Bank. It has been very effective in nearly eliminating the terrorist attacks. More recently, the Hungarian Border Wall has been constructed to stop the flood of migrants from Syria and Africa that are inundating Europe and threatening the culture of European countries.

The argument that the wall would cost too much does not make much sense either when compared to the cost to society for all the costs of supporting the illegals like educating illegal youth, health care and welfare, not to mention crime. The Trump/GOP tax plan that was just enacted has prompted Apple to repatriate some $250 billion dollars. They are paying an additional $48 billion in taxes on that money. Part of that windfall would make a nice down payment on a wall.

We can never know how effective these ancient walls were in achieving their purpose but the modern examples; Berlin, West Bank and Hungarian were very effective. The Democrat argument that the wall will do nothing to retard the flow of illegals and drugs across our southern border is self-serving at best. The truth is Democrats cynically want illegals because they are counting on them to become loyal Democrat voters.

When your boat has a leak far from shore it makes sense to try to stop the leak before bailing. Otherwise, you fight a losing battle. The fact that some of these yahoos have been deported five, six or more times suggests that the leak is pretty serious. Build a wall to stop the leakage and then start bailing some of the undesirables out.

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Random Stuff

A new speech affectation has replaced the “Valley Girl Lift”; raising the voice inflection, usually at the end of sentences. This also added the annoyance of making every sentence sound like a question.

The new one is called “vocal fry”, a creaky voice guttural vibration. Science magazine calls it “glottalization” and others call it “laryngealization”. I think I’ll stick with vocal fry. Until I discovered the official name for this affectation I called it “the strangled voice”.  Apparently, this manner of talking is accomplished by constricting the vocal cords to such a degree that the sound comes out at the bottom end of the vocal register.

So why do so many young women affect this maddening manner of speech? Lots of theories, but who the hell knows? Why do styles and fads come and just as quickly burn out? Some theorize it’s a kind of tribalism thing between women. Others believe that making the voice deeper creates the impression of authority and competence.

One study estimates that fully two-thirds of US women are now using this method of talking and Bob Garfield believes it is particularly annoying to older white men. Being an older, white male I can attest to that belief. It drives me crazy.

Olga Kazen in an article in Atlantic magazine reports that studies at Duke University conclude that this manner of speech may actually hurt job prospects for young women. That’s not good, but certainly better than earlier reports that vocal fry would do permanent damage to vocal cords. Subsequent research has shown that to be untrue.

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Kneeling Update

Some NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem despite the ongoing deterioration of attendance at games and viewers on TV. LA Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch doubled the disrespect at a game played in Mexico. He knelt for the US anthem and then stood for the Mexican anthem. Having observed this asshole in Seattle for number of years, I was not surprised. Now the rest of the country knows what a jerk he is.

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The owners of these teams are understandably concerned about empty seats, reduced revenue from sales of team gear, and diminishing TV viewership. They are considering keeping the players in the locker room until the anthem is over. I seriously doubt that’s going to fool anyone. The TV networks have found a way not to show the protests and the fans in the stands booing the kneeling players: they all have decided not to broadcast the singing of the national anthem. I guess they figure if viewers don’t see it, then they will forget about it. Maybe that will work. I think the viewers will see through that ploy. Viewer-ship has continued to decline.

Frankly, I think the owners could have nipped this problem in the bud by simply telling the players who got this kneeling thing going, “Look, you are pissing people off. If you do it again you will be sent to the locker room and you will not get paid for that game.” Of course, if enough players did it the team would probably lose the game and piss off the fans. These guys are paid a lot per game. Missing a check would hurt.

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In midst of this bungled customer relations nightmare comes the debate over Roger Goodell’s contract. Roger the Dodger is, as all football fans know, the Commissioner of the NFL. He’s got a good gig going already. He made $31.7 million in 2015 and now he wants a new contract for $49.5 million/year, lifetime use of a private jet and lifetime health insurance for his family. True, under his tenure the NFL grew dramatically and the value of those franchises increased handsomely. Now with attendance and viewership declining alarmingly, ardor over Goodell might be cooling. Roger’s handling of the many domestic abuse issues with players, and his fumbling of the ball on this protest stuff may suggest some new blood might be in order. Someone with balls. How about Condoleezza Rice? She always wanted the job.

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Taxes

Much to my surprise the Republicans managed to get together and pass a tax cut plan. The Democrats, completely committed to their “resist” strategy, began to howl like scalded cats. Pelosi, as usual, was way over the top calling the plan “Armageddon”. Really? Cutting taxes is going to end the world as we know it?

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The Democrats rely heavily on the ignorance of the American voter. Schools don’t teach history or even basic economics anymore so the Dems confidently spew their misinformation in the hopes that the ignorant and the hyper-partisans will buy their bullshit. They blissfully pretend they don’t know what happened under the Reagan and GW Bush tax cuts. Jack Kemp (the Congressman from our home district outside of Buffalo) was the godfather of the Reagan tax strategy that brought about the great economic expansion of the 80s. But, say the liberals, “The tax cuts increased the deficit!” No, actually. As Thomas Sowell, the famous Stanford economist explains in his book, “The Vision of the Anointed,” the tax cuts greatly increased government revenues, but the Democrat controlled congress at that time, and they spent all that increase plus a lot more. I think the Trump White House (if they can maintain control of congress) plans to control spending and use the increased revenues for infrastructure, to rebuild the military and to reduce the deficit.

The Democrats standard howls of tax cuts for the rich and nothing for the middle class were momentarily muted when AT&T and Comcast immediately announced they would give every employee a $1,000 bonus. Together just those two companies employ 350,000 workers.  I suspect those folks will be very happy with an extra thousand bucks at Christmas time. A number of other companies also announced plans to expand, build new factories or otherwise improve things for workers. These announcements refuted the Dems claims even as they left their mouths.

The Democrats are betting the farm, their house and their first-born child on retaking control of congress on the November 2018. Their pipe dream of undoing the last election by drumming Trump from office via the Mueller investigation seems to be evaporating. First it was “collusion” with the Russians to steal the election. Then it became “obstruction of justice” until even Rachel Maddow couldn’t figure out a way to hang that one on Trump. Now, it has shifted to “sexual harassment” which has been weaponized to include everything from boorish behavior to rape and to attack opponents. Not that there have not been many men who crossed the line and taken advantage of their employees or junior associates. In Trump’s case the assertions are purely politically motivated and I doubt they are going anywhere.

In the deeply divided country, turn-out is everything and the Democrats are really motivated. There is nothing more dangerous than a cornered wild animal and if the Republicans do not do a better job of selling their accomplishments they could well get their asses handed to them next November.

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Social Justice

The protest during the playing of the national anthem violates a tradition at sporting events for as long as anyone can remember. It started, as everyone knows, with Colin Kaepernick. That did not sit well with many fans, and when he failed to get hired by any NFL football team, other players started to sit in solidarity with poor Colin. Once President Trump weighed in on the issue, it really caught on and whole teams were kneeling.

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Fans, believing that players were disrespecting the flag and the many military men and women who had died defending our freedoms, really got pissed. People started boycotting the games and burning their team gear. Viewership of televised games started falling off dramatically. The Sporting News reported that their surveys showed that fully 1/3 of adults said they were less likely to watch a game because of the protests. A JD Power poll showed that 26% stopped watching because of protests and 24% because of the players off-field behavior. (Note: The USA Today and their “NFL player arrests database” shows there have been 870 arrests of NFL players for everything from DUI and drug possession to assault, domestic violence and murder in the last 17 years.) The ratings for games that had been slipping in recent years are now deteriorating at even more alarming pace.

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The NFL is a huge business. TV broadcasters pay $4.6 billion annually to televise the games and they wouldn’t pay that unless they were making a fat profit from advertisers. The value of the average NFL team has grown to $2.4 billion and the average salary for players is $2.1 million with some of the star players getting $20 million or more.

I’ve always believed that it is not a good business strategy to piss off your customers. The fellows that own these teams did not get rich by being stupid so some of teams said “enough” and insisted players stand.  The TV networks started not televising the national anthem at the start of the games. That, I think, is a spineless approach but is nonetheless consistent with the way the major networks handle many news items. (If we don’t show it or talk about it, it didn’t happen.)

The players contend that their protests are not about disrespecting the flag and anthem but they are demanding “social justice”. I did not know what social justice is or how we would know when it had been achieved so that players could once again stand for the anthem. I found a number of definitions on the internet, most pretty vague. Two of them sounded intelligible. “Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunity and privileges within society.” OK, that sounds like socialism to me. The government and its bureaucrats decide what is fair and hands out equal slices of the pie to everyone. I wonder how the best players in the NFL would feel if everyone on their team got the same salary?

This second explanation from the Business Dictionary was: “The fair and proper administration of laws conforming to natural law that all persons irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions or race are treated equally without prejudice.” That definition defies an effort to either understand what is wanted or how to measure improvement.

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I believe that this whole thing is just an offshoot of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, a largely political anti-police organization. All the hysteria over the shooting of blacks by the police has had some negative impact of the lives of the innocents who live in the inner cities. Called “The Ferguson Effect” it intimated police into less aggressive policing and the result of that is an increase in black on black murders. Chicago saw a 32% increase in homicides in 2016 and is on track to top 700 murders again in 2017. The reality according to the NY Post is that police are 18.5 times more likely to be killed by black males than the other way around.

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The reality is that the inner cities where a lot of these players grew up are disaster zones of crime, dependency and drugs. 64% of the residents are on Federal assistance and 72% of all black births are to unmarried women. The inner city schools are a mess where according to a 2009 NYT piece the 50 largest cities have graduation rates of 53%.  Cleveland won the worst prize at 38%. Further studies in 2015 showed little to no improvement. Most of these fatherless young men grow up in hopelessness.

Except for those that win the genetics lottery and have exceptional athletic gifts. Those lucky few can parley those gifts into a free ride at a university where they are pampered, and if extremely fortunate, get drafted into the NFL. Even those that do not make it to the NFL have the opportunity to get a university education and escape the ghetto.

Some others may win the actual lottery and find places in charter schools like Harlem Success Academy. Those children have an improved chance of moving on to college or junior college and making their escape. For the rest…a short life is expected.

So how did the US cities become such a mess? I believe it all started with Lynden Johnson’s “Great Society” which is defined as “a set of programs designed to eliminate poverty and racial injustice”. So how did that work out after 53 years? Not great it seems. It did, however, work out just fine for Democrats. By turning many blacks into a dependent class they insured their loyalty at the ballot box. Blacks vote for the Democrat candidate about 90% of the time.

All major US cities have been controlled by Democrats for decades. Detroit last had a Republican mayor in 1957. For the arithmetic impaired that’s 60 years! Democrats have controlled in Chicago since 1927; St. Louis since 1949; and Philadelphia since 1952. Coupled with graft, cronyism and expensive deals with the public sector unions most of these cities accumulated massive debt. White flight from the cities and the migration of industry to non-union and low tax southern states caused jobs became scarce. Johnson’s dream exploded like an overfilled balloon.

If you ever get lost and accidentally drive through one of these inner city ghettos, you will see what an enormous task it would be to fix it. I have very little optimism it can be done. First, a lot of people like it just the way it is; the public sector unions, especially the teachers’ unions and the politicians. That means they will continue to elect the very same kind of people who created the mess. So waiting for the arrival of Social Justice will be like waiting for Godot.

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The Swamp

“When you’re up to your ass in alligators it’s difficult to remember that your original objective was to drain the swamp.”
Author unknown

Donald Trump came to Washington to “drain the swamp”. He’s finding it extraordinarily difficult to get it done. It turns out that the denizens of the swamp are fighting desperately to prevent it. And why not? It is one sweet deal for the swamp dwellers.

The four counties surrounding the White House are the wealthiest in the nation, surpassing LA and NYC. According to the NYT (5/12/17) there are 34 billionaires within a 25 mile radius of downtown and 2,049 residents worth more than 30 million, 45% of the workers earn more than $100,000 per year.

So who are these people and what do they do? According to Atlantic Monthly (12/18/13) they are lawyers, defense contractors, doctors and computer geeks. Mostly, they are lobbyists. In 2017 there are 34,700 registered lobbyists in Washington and among them 4,000 tax lobbyists.  They represent everything from large multi-national corporations to non-profits, unions and every manner of special interest groups.

Money is the lubricant that keeps the Washington machine running and there is lots of it devoted to lobbying. In the last decade corporations spent $14.4 billion and $2.4 billion on tax lobbying. The revolving door of government…. Retiring from government office and turning to lobbying your former colleagues can prove to be a very cushy retirement program indeed. Former Senators Breaux and Trent Lott put together a little lobbying team and netted $39.6 million in fees since 2008. The Podesta Group pulled in $32.3 million and former White House Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein a piddling $29.2 million.

Congress is the other major group that does not want their comfortable swamp existence disturbed. There are 53 members who have held office for more than 40 years. Democrats have the distinction of having the top 17 with the longest time in Congress and despite having an approval rating with the public that is consistently around 10%, most get re-elected at an unbelievable rate. In the Senate it’s generally 90% and the House in the high 90s with 98% not uncommon.

So why would these guys fight to stay in office for what seems like relatively modest pay ($174,000 per year)? Simple. It’s the other stuff.

First, they get 239 days off. (Yeah, I know. They are back in their districts serving their constituents or maybe servicing their interns.) They have a generous allowance to manage their office and pay their staff. House members all receive $944,671 per year for this while Senators have an average of about $3 million. It’s slightly less or more depending on the population of the state.

Of course, there are other perks such as free gym, free deluxe parking at Reagan International (annual cost to taxpayers $740,000), many free flights and subsidies of 72% for health care under ObamaCare. Ever wonder why they are not too enthusiastic about repeal?

Retirement program is pretty nice too. Members need at least five years of service and must be at least 62 years old to receive a pension or 50 years old with 20 years of service. Depending on the number of years it can be up to 80% of their base salary.

The biggie though in my opinion is the weakened insider trading rules for members of congress and their staffs. For years members could trade in stocks with inside knowledge. How do you think all these guys become millionaires? For example, a CEO is having lunch with a member of congress ostensibly discussing a certain tax break that would benefit his company. He “accidentally” lets it slip that he is going to announce the takeover of a rival company meaning the stock price of that company is going to go up. The Congressman quietly buys shares of the target company and bingo, quick profit. Same deal and even more lucrative in the case of initial public offerings.

In 2012, an election year, Peter Schweizer, who had authored a book called “Throw Them All Out” went on 60 Minutes and exposed this scam. An embarrassed Congress publicly passed the STOCK Act to prohibit this practice. After the election they secretly and very quietly pulled the teeth of the restrictions and it was back to business as usual.

I guess if you’re a member of congress that’s been around for 40 years and some bombastic businessman comes in a says he’s gonna drain the swamp you would probably just say “why?” If they had wanted it drained they’d have done it already. Of course the Democrats are not going to vote for anything proposed by Trump. They have been on an unbelievable losing streak for a long time now and with the same leadership cannot imagine doing anything differently. Also, they still cannot believe Hillary lost but bitterness is not a policy prescription.

Many Republicans are no different. They like things just fine the way they are and resent Trump’s boorish, arrogant style. He said some nasty things to several of the Senators during the presidential primary so there’s a bit of payback going on. In addition, if Trump’s agenda gets passed and is successful he might be re-elected and a few of these fellows still lust after the Presidency and they don’t want to wait seven more years for a go.

Trump has had no legislative successes. The GOP attempts to repeal and replace ObamaCare failed and the tax cut proposals will likely suffer the same fate. GOP defections are the problem. The only accomplishment was the confirmation of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The Democrats did not fight hard on that one because he was replacing a conservative. The next one will be a battle royal. All other successes for the new Trump administration have been by Executive Orders. He approved the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines; permitted fracking; allowed energy development on public lands and ended the war on coal by repealing the Obama Clean Power Plan.

In addition, Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Global Climate Change Green Fund and the Climate Investment Funds, all expensive sops for the global warming crowd. Trump’s EPA also voided the Waters of the US rule, an Obama-era power grab that essentially put every ditch and wet spot in the US under federal jurisdiction. Good riddance.

Government jobs outnumber manufacturing jobs. 9,890,000 people work for the government. So far in 2017 13,000 federal jobs have been eliminated but 7,000 state and local jobs added. Trump’s businessmen oriented cabinet has also been chopping away at the deadwood in the big government bureaucracies. Trump wants to cut $54 billion out of the government agencies. According to a Scientific American article (3/16/17) the Trump budget proposes cutting funding to the EPA by 31%, the Energy Department by 5.6%, Interior by 12% and the State Department by 28%. Former Exon CEO Tillerson and now Secretary of State is finishing up a reorganization plan for State that will seriously downsize this bloated agency.

As everyone can understand, anyone facing the ax from their cushy job is unhappy about what Trump is trying to do. It is no wonder that the Administration leaks like a rotten wooden boat.

It will be fascinating to see whether Trump or the alligators win this one. I’m betting on the alligators.

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The Big Lie

Victor Davis Hanson appeared last night on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox. Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a classics professor at Cal State, an author, historian, columnist and scholar. In other words, a pretty smart dude.

He made a very persuasive argument about something I have believed for some time. Namely that this whole thing about “the Russians interfered with the 2016 elections” is a big lie. As we know, often a big lie is believed quicker than a small one. He called it a “slow motion coup” orchestrated by the progressives in the media, Hollywood, the climate change true believers, and the Democrats. The hatred of Trump for his defeat of their heroine, Hillary Clinton, drives them nuts. Does anyone really believe that the “spontaneous” marches and protests are not organized and funded by the Progressives?

So what’s the purpose of this campaign? I think it has three main goals (other than the pure hatred of the man himself): First, they want to derail the Trump agenda. He campaigned on the promise to replace Obama Care, cut taxes, stop illegal immigration, rebuild the military and reverse the Obama climate change policies. He also promised that he was going to “drain the swamp”. That scared the crap out hundreds of thousands of government bureaucrats who did not want to lose their cushy deal. I suspect that explains all the leaks which may or may not be simply made up and planted with the media. The Democrats lost the House and Senate during the Obama years and they hope by delaying Trump and the GOP’s agenda they can run out the clock until the 2018 Congressional elections. They hope that by damaging Trump they win back the House and the Senate.

The second objective of this campaign is to scare the crap out of Republican congressmen where Trump won narrowly. The Democrats hope that the fear will cause these GOP congressmen to be squishy about supporting the Trump policies. Nothing is more important to the men and women in Congress as getting re-elected. Why not? They’ve got a Hell of a deal! Members of the House make a base salary of $174,000 per year but that’s just the beginning. They work on average three days per week, often leaving for home on Thursday and returning on Tuesday. They explain that they are working with the people in their own districts the rest of the time. Yeah, right. They get free parking at the Reagan International airport and free travel, mostly first class. They get the whole month of August for vacation and a week or two at major holidays. They do not have to sign up for Obama Care but have their own plan paid for by the government. If they serve at least 5 years or reach the age of 62 they can collect a generous pension plan in addition to Social Security.

OK, they have a well-paid cushy job. So, how do these guys all retire as millionaires? Well, they get cut in on stock deals from constituents to curry favor. Generous contributors to their elections offer perks, and likely some of that campaign cash slides into their pockets.

The third reason for this Russian uproar is deflect attention away from Hillary’s clearly illegal handling of classified documents and the corruption of the Clinton Foundation. Simple idea…. blame it on the Russians and Trump’s supposed collusion with them to defeat Hillary. On the face of that, it’s absurd. As I pointed out in a recent blog piece, “Excuses, Excuses,” the idea that Russia preferred Trump doesn’t make sense. Trump has promised to put back the missile defense systems in Europe that Obama took out, an idea that Putin hates, strengthen the military and take a more muscular stance on foreign policy. None of that could possibly please the Kremlin. Nobody is talking about how Hillary’s illegal server could have been hacked by anyone. The Russians are coming to steal our democracy!

Has everyone forgotten the “reset button” or Hillary’s role in selling 20% of the US uranium reserves to a Russian company in the Uranium One deal? The Clinton Foundation received $145 million from Russian uranium investors after Clinton’s State Department approved the deal. Frank Guistra, the founder or Uranium One gave $30 million. And let’s not forget shortly after the deal was approved, Bill got a $500,000 gig to give a one hour speech to Russian businessmen. What could Bill have to say that was worth half a million bucks? The specifics on this are spelled out in a 3/28/17 article in World Net Daily. The media has absolutely no interest in talking about this.

Nobody’s interested in investigating that smelly deal or Hill’s illegal handling of classified documents. The hypocrisy is laughable and patently obvious. And speaking of hypocrisy, what about the Comey firing? A couple of months ago the Democrats were in lock step demanding the FBI Director be canned. They claimed that Comey’s behavior was the reason for Hillary’s defeat. Now when Trump actually does it, they are screeching like scalded cats. He fired him, they say, because Comey was getting too close to uncovering the link of Trump and Putin to influence the election.

Unfortunately, the campaign is working. A special prosecutor has been appointed meaning that this phony scandal will drag out past the 2018 elections. The Democrats will still be pushing this narrative even though this is a big nothing burger. It’s raw partisan politics aided and abetted by the Progressive left and may well stop the efforts to correct the many things wrong with the political mess in Washington.

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Excuses, Excuses

The Democrats and Obama are finding all kinds of excuses as to why Hillary lost the election. Rather than examine why the people voted against the policies of this popular President, they are looking to outside forces to explain it. Of course, an ancillary benefit to this campaign is to discredit the Trump presidency so that they can shout for the next four years that the Donald was not legitimately elected just like they did after the Bush/Gore election.

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The widely touted explanation is that the Russians interfered with the US election, presumably because they preferred Trump over Clinton. The theory goes that the Russians hacked Clinton’s and the DNC emails and turned them over to Wikileaks who in turn, dribbled them out in the closing weeks of the campaign thereby harming Hillary.

I don’t buy it. Trump doesn’t either. In his news conference the other day he said,”Does anyone in this room actually believe Putin prefers me over Hillary?” That has been my question all along. Why would Putin favor the guy who is certainly tougher?

Image result for tillersonThe Democrats like this theory for a couple of reasons. First, this gives them another jab at Trump and his Sec of State nominee, Tillerson because they supposedly have ties to Putin. Second, and perhaps most importantly, it diverts attention away from someone who very likely did do it, and one that has a motive.

Then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (R) and kisses Suha Arafat, wife of Yasser ArafatThe left wing has always favored the Palestinians over Israel. Hillary was buddy-buddy with Arafat’s wife and Obama is about 46% Arab and, at the least, sympathetic to the Arabs. Obama and Netanyahu have never hit it off and Obama slighted him publicly on several occasions. But open warfare developed between the two when Obama was trying to get the nuclear deal with Iran.

Netanyahu thought the deal insured Iran would get nuclear weapons as a result of the deal and threaten the very existence of Israel. He was “invited” to address a joint session of Congress so he could plead for shit canning the deal. That infuriated Obama and he promised payback.

Image result for netanyahuThe opportunity came when Netanyahu ran for re-election in 2015. The Obama state department run by Clinton gave $350,000 to fund a left wing group called “One Voice” that had also been funded by international groups sympathetic to the Palestinians. The funds were used by One Voice to build campaign infrastructure, create data bases of potential voters and recruit and train activists all designed to defeat Netanyahu. This was exposed by a US Senate sub-committee on Investigations which also revealed that a letter was sent by the Israelis to Hillary complaining about the US meddling in their elections. The letter was never opened.

Obama also sent over his 2012 National Field Director, Jeremy Bird, to assist in the campaign. Bird’s strategy for Obama had been using data to target messaging to individual voting groups and a form of community organizing to get out the vote.

Netanyahu won despite the meddling of Obama. I would say that the Israeli leader might have been more than a little annoyed with Obama and Clinton.

The FBI has reported with 99% confidence that multiple foreign agencies hacked Clinton and the DNC’s emails…. at least five. Everyone knows the Israelis are very, very good at this sort of stuff and excellent at covering their tracks. Remember the Stuxnet virus that got planted in the Iranian nuclear centrifuges? It was widely believed that either Israel or the US did it. I’d bet on Israel. And, I bet they made it look like the Russians did it.

Both the Russians and Assange, the founder of Wikileaks deny that the Clinton and DNC emails came from the Russians. Assange joked that any fourteen year old could have hacked Podesta’s email. I don’t think the Obama administration believes the Russians did it either. Oh, the Russians likely were among the group who hacked into them but I think they suspect the Israelis gave it to Wikileaks. The Israelis actually have a motive. Obama meddled in their elections and so the Israelis paid him back.

All this sanctimonious prattle about a “foreign government interfering with our democratic institutions” is just frustrated journalist and politicians venting. Hell, the US has done it for years, most recently and openly in the Netanyahu contest. Obama got in the last punch though. He abstained in that UN vote to censure Israel over settlements, a landmine Trump will have a long job defusing.

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Climate and Fish

I can hear you saying, “Oh no, not another blog post on global warming!!” This is a piece about fish, something I know more than a little about. I majored in marine biology and ichthyology with courses in oceanography, marine ecology and nearly any science course you could imagine. Furthermore, I still study the fisheries issue.

So, you might conclude that when the “Province” newspaper came out with another junk science piece claiming this time that global warming is killing off fish stocks due to a warming ocean, I got a bit unglued.

Associate Professor William Cheung of the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries at UBC said his theory of preventing the collapse of fish stocks depended on everyone abiding by The Paris Agreement on climate change and thereby restrict the rise in air temperatures to 1.5 degrees C. Doing nothing, he said, would cause them to increase to 3 degrees C. Going to 3 degrees would warm the water and reduce fish catches by 40%, they concluded.

Let me ask you….. when you are going to heat up water for a cup of tea do you put the flame above the water or below? How long would it take to heat up the water with a temperature 3 degrees warmer than the room above the pan? I have no idea either but surely a long time. Associate Professor Cheung has a BS in biology and a masters degree in philosophy and apparently he’s going for his doctorate in that field. He works for the World Wildlife Fund. Doesn’t sound like he knows much about fisheries and the WWF is a notorious left wing, radical AGW outfit.

I grant you there are always, it seems, competing theories espoused by scientists in the area of climate science and we tend to believe the ones that reinforce our prejudices. In the case of warming oceans, I am inclined to believe the study sponsored by the Scripps Institute’s Argo program that has 3500 free drifting buoys all over the world. These buoys sample the temperature of the water every ten days and send it up to a satellite.  They have compared this accumulated data with that collected during the voyage of the HMS Challenger (1872-1876) and concluded that ocean temperatures have risen .33 degrees C since 1876. Most of that rise occurred during the first 50 years after 1876. It would seem that rising ocean temperatures are not a worrisome problem.

Ass. Professor Cheung’s contention that fish stocks have been declining because of rising water temperatures is merely an attempt to demonize Trump for threatening to pull out of the Paris Agreement. Man has been destroying fish stocks beginning in Roman times and over the course of our history. The list of species wiped out or nearly so is sobering. I won’t chronicle the entire butchers bill but will discuss a couple in detail. If this history of greed and stupidity interests you, pick up Callum Roberts book, “The Unnatural History of the Sea”.

The Romans developed a taste for the eggs and flesh of the mighty sturgeon and they spawn in rivers where they are relatively easy to catch. It was common to catch these monsters weighing 475 Kg and they had to be hauled out of the water with a team of oxen. Like many other species that have been driven to extinction or nearly so, when a species begins to be exploited, the larger fish are taken first and the average size of the fish caught falls. The collapse of the fishery begins when the size/age drops below the age where they become mature and can spawn. For example, the slow growing sturgeon does not spawn until they are 20 years old. This is precisely what happened to the Atlantic cod. More on that debacle later.

Russians developed a taste for caviar. Overfishing eventually led to a ban on the fishery in the Caspian Sea.

In Medieval Times, Europeans caught species that returned to the rivers to spawn such as salmon, whitefish, shad, eels and sturgeon using weirs, nets, spears, and hook and line.  At the time, forests were being cleared for crops and little attention paid to erosion. Soil washed into the rivers and streams destroying spawning grounds and smothering eggs. Dams also prevented migrating fish from reaching their spawning grounds. Populations plummeted. Atlantic salmon were prized and were soon nearly destroyed in the European countries.

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The Scandinavians discovered cod in the 11th century and found they could dry the huge fish that ran to 3 to 4 lbs. A trade in these dried cod flourished throughout Europe and soon became a target species for European fishermen. The results were predictable and soon their numbers and size shrank. The European fisherman using drift nets began pursuing other species and saw those numbers decline as well. The advent of trawlers, the dragging of heavy metal weighted nets over the bottom, soon finished the job on the eastern side of the Atlantic. Trawlers killed everything as they plowed the ocean floor, not only the fish they were seeking, but all manner of bottom life with the result that all species were swept up and the habitat was also destroyed.

The New World opened new fishing grounds. When the first white explorers came to North America they discovered an abundance in the sea that astounded them. Huge shoals of cod as long as your leg were so thick in number, you could not thrust a spear into the water without coming up with one. The rivers were choked with Atlantic salmon. Every manner of fish species and oysters clogged the shallow waters. Like the buffalo, passenger pigeon and the huge trees the early settlers could not imagine ever wiping them out.

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The steam trawler “Pelican”

Then the European and Russian trawlers showed up in their steam trawlers and with the advent of freezers proceeded to decimate the cod, halibut and haddock.  Then came the pollack, red fish and flounder. The scallop trawlers were even more destructive to the sea floor.

Extending the EEZ or “territorial limit” out to 200 nautical miles did help in keeping the foreign trawlers out but they were soon replaced by domestic trawlers that continued the over-fishing. The cod population collapsed. In a desperate attempt to save the cod fishery in 1992 the Canadian government put a two year ban of cod fishing and 40,000 people were out of work. That ban has been extended as the cod fishery struggles to recover.

The same sad story unfolded when men started settling in the Pacific Northwest. They found unimaginable riches in lumber, gold, furs and fish. The runs of salmon were massive and seemingly inexhaustible. All manner of fish in incredible numbers inhabited the sea. Salmon were especially important to the native tribes that inhabited this vast land.

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The various species of salmonids of the Oncorhynchus genus had been around since the Miocene period some 6 million years ago. They had survived the birth of mountains, glaciation and floods and seen cataclysmic climate change and continued to survive and thrive.

That is until the white man arrived and started killing them all and destroying their rivers. This history and the destruction is carefully documented in a book from a fisheries biologist from the University of Oregon, Jim Lichatowich called, “Salmon Without Rivers.” The usual suspects in habitat destruction were in play from logging, to mining to dam building. As the salmon runs started to decline, wrong-headed stocking programs were attempted and failed miserably. Of course, foreign fishing boats… factory ships…. continue to over-fish these amazingly resilient fish far at sea.

Warm water fish like groupers and sea bass have also been over-fished to dangerous levels. Sword fish and blue fin tuna are being fished to endangerment levels. The giant bluefin can weigh in at 400 kg and fetch as much as $100,000 at auction in Tokyo.  These fish are so valuable that they’re now using satellites to track these giant ocean wanderers. Soon these magnificent fish will be no more.

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So, what’s to be done about the elimination of one species after another? Eventually the problem takes care of itself. When all the fish are gone, it’s no longer practical to send fishing fleets thousands of miles. International agreements would help. It worked for whales. Perhaps limiting the killing of bluefin tuna could work, but I doubt you could change the taste of Japanese diners so the demand would remain. The Japanese have paid little attention to the ban on whale hunting.

One thing that might help is to ban trawling as a method of fishing. It not only kills everything in its path, but also destroys the habitat. Professor Roberts has sponsored the establishment of vast marine reserves where no fishing is allowed. This has shown great promise in allowing marine life to flourish and grow unmolested, and eventually repopulate surrounding seas.

Clearly, Cheung’s theory that a minor uptick in temperature, even if it happens, is not going to impact fish populations. And, his contention that warm water species are going to move to the Arctic is pure fantasy and disconnected from fish behavior. This is not science, it’s pure BS.

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Doubling Down on a Losing Hand

After the cry-ins dried up and the marches in the streets dwindled on the heels of very cold and unpleasant weather, the mourning began. Michelle Obama gave an interview to Oprah opined that while her hubby fostered hope, the US was now entering “a period of hopelessness.” Really? The stock market doesn’t reflect that.

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Meanwhile, Hillary emerged from her exile to meet with her major donors at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. The Christmas party had been planned as a victory celebration. I think most donors showed up to see what the hell happened to the $1.2 billion they raised for her campaign.

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Hillary in her speech to the assembled fat cats offered them her excuse… the Russians did it because they did not like her. She further explained that they meant to undermine the integrity of the US election. But last week, Obama in his final press conference prior to jetting off to Hawaii, said that the Russians did not compromise the voting process or effect the outcome.

Most, except the true believers in the Democrat Party, are clever enough to understand that the emails released by Wikileaks simply exposed how sloppy they were about electronic security. (Her campaign manager, Podesta apparently gave out his email password in a phishing scheme!) The emails showed how snaky they are and the disdain they held for the lesser humans out there. This was, of course, certified by her public comments about the “basket of deplorables” that supported Trump.

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This blame-the-Russians thing came after the recount effort fizzled. Jill Stein, the Green Party entry in the Presidential sweepstakes decided the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania should be recounted to ‘insure the integrity of the election’. She had received 1% of the votes so that seemed too public spirited to believe. She had collected about $3.5 million for her whole campaign but immediately raised $7.3 million for the recount effort. Naturally, the Clinton supporters wanted the recount, hoping to turn enough votes to reverse the results.

Here’s how it went:  in Wisconsin, Trump gained 316 votes. He had led originally by over 22,000 votes so it begs the question, why would Stein, et al. spend $3.5 million on this futile exercise?

In Michigan, the recount was stopped by the courts because Stein had “no standing” since she got less than 1% of the vote. The Hillary folks did not step forward to admit this was really about her.

In Pennsylvania, a sampling of the largest counties in and around the big cities found Clinton gaining only a handful of votes. It was not enough to order a statewide recount in a state where Trump’s lead was 46,000 votes. With that faint hope demolished, the Democrats settled on the Russia-did-it meme. Supposedly leaked by the CIA who refused to talk to anyone about it, sparked the new cause of intimidating the 538 electors with tons of letters, emails and threatening phone calls to get them to switch their Electoral votes to Hillary. They called for a delay of the vote scheduled for Monday so the CIA could brief the electors on the Russian involvement in a meeting prior to the vote. The CIA wanted nothing to do with it. Dan Henninger of the WSJ in a brilliant piece yesterday called “Steal this election” dubbed this latest ploy the “goofball gambit”. Tough to top that.

Hunters who get lost in the woods generally walk in circles. Sometimes clockwise and sometimes the other way. When they come across a set of tracks in the snow they often follow them, not realizing that they are their own. Democrats frequently act like lost hunters. When things get sticky they go left resulting in crushing defeats in the next election.

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Henninger recounts the history of these leftward lurches in his piece. After the ’68 election that saw Nixon defeat Humphrey, they decided to go left with McGovern in ’72 who got 17 electoral votes. Ouch.

After the Nixon impeachment, the Democrats could have run Howdy Doody and won.  Come to think of it they did run Howdy Doody….. Jimmy Carter. His colossal mess brought in Reagan and in response to his success, the Dems once again reverted to the leftward tack and brought in Mondale in ’84. He got his ass handed to him with a total of 13 electoral votes.

After the Trump victory and the shellacking by the GOP in the House, Senate and Governorships, the Democrats are instinctively going leftward again. They elected Pelosi as Minority Leader. The new darlings of the party are Lizzy (Pocahontas) Warren and Bernie (Socialism is great) Saunders. They are thinking about appointing Keith Ellison as DNC chairman. Ellison, a muslim, has been linked to supporters of ISIS and is a clear opponent of Israel. What could possibly go wrong with this team?

 

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I think it was Napoleon who suggested: “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

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