Sunday, June 18, 2017

Catching up on even more links

Russian operations. This article states the case that there is some evidence, a bit of evidence, of collusion. So the claim that there's nothing, that this is all a witch hunt, that's not true. As for what Russia has been doing, and the worrisome things Trump has said regarding Russia, here's a round-up.

American political shooter. Here's some background on the man who shot at the Republicans from Congress as they practiced baseball. He fell for propaganda that Trump is destroying the country. Luckily, I haven't seen anyone proclaiming that the shooting was a good thing.

GOP talking points. It's been clear from the political threads I follow that there is a new set of talking points. Comey is a leaker and maybe the leaker. Mueller is no longer a good, honest, decent guy well-respected by both Dems and Repubs. Now he's a chum of the disgraced Comey, a partisan, and shouldn't be allowed to investigate anything. We didn't hear this a month ago when he was appointed, but now it's imperative to bash him. The funniest thing--you can read the talking points!

Image: daybydaycartoon.com

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Great Kansas Experiment ended

The great experiment in cutting taxes to spur growth has ended. Kansas governor Sam Brownback massively cut taxes in 2012. The state legislature just raised them back up over his veto.

Many GOP elected officials realized what Brownback refused to acknowledge--the experiment failed. Even though Republicans are still the majority in Kansas (and Kansas is by tradition is a Republican state through the decades), they overrode the governor to raise taxes to pay for services and stop piling up debt.

Cutting taxes isn't like cutting wheat.
Image:farmfutures.com

Monday, June 12, 2017

Spin cycle

There is lots of spin in news. Any impeachment speculation that doesn't include a huge dose of "it's not going to happen with the GOP in charge of the House" is spin and completely unrealistic.

This example of spin I normally wouldn't have seen, but I was reading an article with an interesting headline, but that ended up with almost zero content. (Arrggghhh, the horribly low standards for news writing and reporting.) Here is what caught my eye:

Image: insider.foxnews.com

So I'll deconstruct this.

10A - A very important issue of diplomacy going south among the Gulf states. Real news.

2P - Reasonable to cover and analyze Comey's testimony.

8P - Fake news flogging of the trumped up Fast + Furious scandal.

9P - Spin to make conservatives feel superior.

Notice what makes the prime time. Thank you Fox News!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More links - even more interesting

Unmasking unmasking. Republicans are trying to shift the attention on Russian election interference to the unmasking of names in intelligence documents. It turns out that the House Intelligence Committee asked for some unmasking itself. Perhaps unmasking names isn't as bad as they're pretending it is.

Clinton Emails. I had an argument with another Bloomberg commenter on whether we should assume Hillary's server was hacked, even in the absence of leaks of her emails. The commenter provided a link to a video clip of a former intelligence officials saying that he'd have no respect for foreign intelligence agencies if they hadn't hacked her emails. (Sorry, I can't find the link. It was a respectable news channel.) I don't think this is compelling enough evidence to say the realistic people must assume her emails were hacked. Fox News (not a respectable organization) claimed that it received info about known hacks. But I guess they backed down on that. This New York Times article discusses some reasons to strongly suspect it happened.

But a final bit of speculation: it was a very close election. If foreign intelligence agencies has hacked her server and had emails, and didn't want to see Clinton as president, isn't it likely that they would have leaked the emails before the election? Consider whether some not-so-Clinton-friendly countries like Russia, Israel, or Saudi Arabia had those emails. Would they not have tried to tip the election? If indeed she'd been hacked, I'm rather surprised that information hasn't clearly surfaced.

Trump is trying to hire... but will people serve? That's a good question tackled by this must-read article. There's a telling anecdote of an interview for a high position.

Unwarranted suspicion. The investigation of contacts between Trump advisers and Russians was started because of malice on the part of John Brennan, the former CIA director. The investigation was totally fake. Don't you believe me????? (I often don't believe the Washington Times.)

Trump war room. With Trump's return from his first foreign visits, he may be setting up a war room to fight back against the mounting Russia news blizzard. How they might fight back: Deny Russian contacts happened. Then claim what did happen is perfectly fine. Or get the supposedly recused chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to jump back in and run interference again. Or coordinate/non-coordinate with a group to run commercials attacking former FBI directory Comey.

Unfortunately, I doubt that they'll decide to be transparent on all Russia contacts. Cover-up and obfuscation seem to be the go-to strategies of politicians -- see Hillary and her email server. Also, a very readable speculation on Trump's mood and how it permeates everything.

Impeachment. A conservative gets that impeachment would be a fiasco. For the record, I don't see impeachment happening, due to the prez being a Republican and Republican control of the House. Duh! How the hell would it happen?

Don't cry for Robert E. Lee. The Atlantic has an illuminating article on the myth of Lee versus the reality. He wasn't exactly the reluctant defender of slavery. A good read as statues are being removed.

Paris climate accords. Trump, true to his rhetoric, pulled the US out of the non-binding accords. The effect is to make the US look greedy and rather irresponsible, and everyone else look more like grown-ups. Go, team, go!

Signs of more instability in the Mideast? Several major Mideast countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. What's going on? Even more infighting in that region, it appears. There are Muslims fighting the West, Sunnis and Shia fighting, Kurds being suppressed, and maybe now Sunnis fighting other Sunnis. What a mess. Here's a reflection: perhaps Obama was partly successfully in controlling the chaos. But he's gone now, and Trump's policies will give rein to more chaos.Update 6/12/17. An article explaining the Qatar situation. Another good article.

Former libertarian turns supporter of welfare state. I guess he stopped fighting the wave and started communing and learning how the wave thinks. The wave wants the welfare state that
is embodied by Social Security and Medicare. However, most GOP lawmakers haven't read between the lines, or won't be saying out loud that entitlements have won, even in the GOP. Because of this, legislative paralysis wins.

How to get caught leaking. Interesting background on the first leaker arrested in the very leaky start of the Trump administration. Possibly memorable trivia, but maybe throw-away trivia.

Rhetoric games. A National Review columnist notices one of the most common rhetorical tricks: 'Hey, what about this [outrage/blunder/hypocrisy]?'

The Swamp
Image: tulane,edu

Sunday, May 21, 2017

So many links

I have too many links to do justice to each of them, so I'll just blast out a post and save them for posterity.

The obligation to listen. Great story by Andrew Sullivan reminding us that we need to consider all opinions. Each opinion tells us something important. I firmly believe it's wrong to summarily dismiss the heartfelt beliefs of other people.

Not repealed yet. In March it looked like the GOP wouldn't figure out how to compromise and pass a replacement for Obamacare. This article reminds us that the Senate still has to work on it. I think they will get it done, and I suspect it will follow the House model.

Fired by Trump. Lawfare is an excellent resource. One article on Sally Yates testimony about warning about Michael Flynn. Two companion articles about the relationship of Trump and the fired FBI director James Comey. One from the New York Times, the other from Lawfare. The Times article is the easier read.

Oh, the irony of Trump calling anyone else a 'nutjob.' Even more irony that he's saying it to visiting Russian ministers. It's amazing that Trump believed he could make the Russia investigation go away. What a fool he is.

Report on Russian hacking. I'll be reading the unclassified version of the report about the Russians hacking the DNC. It's on my list and pinned to my browser tab. I'll get to it, I promise.

Questionable intelligence. I'm not sure I believe this claim: "We just got a huge sign that the US intelligence community believes the Trump dossier." Saving it just in case it's true. I'm still very dubious.

Russian Good Times. Finally, I just have to laugh about the Russian Times complaining about the journalism of anyone else. I'm saving a closer read for later, but I just had to check if there is a comments section. Yes, there is, and what a window into hell it is. I'm sharing it below.

Image: rt.com


Friday, May 5, 2017

Horrendous media transgressions--not

I've read so many people claim that it was just terrible how the MSM favored Clinton, and flagrantly colluded with her campaign.

I'm not naive enough to claim that the MSM is fair and unbiased. I frequently see a liberal bias there. But I wondered about charges of collusion, with journalists breaking ethical rules to help Clinton. The only example I heard about before the election was Donna Brazile providing Hillary with a heads-up on one question at one campaign event. Yes, it was unethical, but there's no way it was a huge deal and a huge advantage.

So how bad was all the other collusion? Did it amount to an unfair advantage?

Finally, I found a list. From Breitbart:

WIKILEAKS REVEALS LONG LIST OF MEDIA CANOODLING WITH HILLARY CLINTON

It lists nine incidents, including the leak of the question. It includes of couple of instances when a reporter emailed ad ideas to the campaign or its advertising agency.

Really, all of NINE instances.

This is pigeon feed next to the bias of the MSM, and next to the bias of the conservative media. It's so incredibly ironic that Breitbart thinks this is horrible, while their lack of critique of Trump's numerous insults, ludicrous boasts, history of cons and bankruptcy is not an issue of ethics.

If we're going to talk about unethical and biased behavior by the media, let's talk about what really happens on practically a daily basis. Let's not pretend a list that doesn't even reach a couple dozen cases makes an ant's worth of difference compared to the daily skewed news of hundreds of media outlets.

Free from bias, free from ethics
Image: breitbart.com

Extras. Here's a list of damaging info about the DNC related to Bernie Sanders. It may be a partial list because document dumps were ongoing. Again, mostly small stuff, nothing like stuffing the ballot box, buying votes, or violently assaulting opponents.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Short: Is a shutdown looming?

The US federal government runs out of borrowing authority on April 29. The GOP, now that they have the House, Senate, and presidency should be able to avoid a shutdown, and they probably will. However, it's a possibility that a shutdown will still happen because of doctrinaire GOPers who refuse to compromise, and the Dems and main GOP group not reaching a compromise either.

The GOP was almost always terrible at extracting concessions from the Dems in these shutdown showdowns. They didn't know what to ask for, bumbled, fumbled, and waited to the last minute, with predictable results (bad--from their viewpoint).

It seems that the Dems are doing better. They want something specific--the continued funding of an important part of ACA. We'll see how it works out. Here's a fairly short readable article about the issues.

Image: washingtonpost.com