Friday, June 30, 2017

Last outpost of crazy: Mars child trafficking

Alex Jones may be the most despicable person in the US. He has his "Sandy Hook hoax" nonsense, which inspires his followers to harass bereaved families. He had his Pizzagate nonsense. Some of his latest nonsense is the idea that children are being kidnapped, sent to Mars, put into slavery, frightened to produce adrenaline, slaughtered, and dismembered for their body parts.

To be fair, this isn't Alex Jones' theory. Just the theory of one of his guests, and Jones can't be held responsible for giving this nutjob bandwidth... are can he?

Jones contributes to the idea. Jones mentions blackouts of probes whenever they go close to Mars. NASA has lots of secrets, etc. But Jones also says "I'm not sure about ...." as though that inoculates him. The scumbag newscaster and his scumbag crazy stories have forced NASA to waste time in denials of this ludicrous fairy tale. Of course, some fools will go on believing it, and nothing will dissuade them, ever. Thank you, Alex Jones, for another false story that will never die.

Image: johndenugent.com

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. More updates 7/16/17. Report that the United Arab Emirates probably hacked Qatar and placed false information to start this action. Trump doesn't understand this and isn't listening to the smarter cabinet secretaries. Secret alliance documents. Interesting, but the news story is somewhat muddy. Analysis that the Saudis are overplaying their hand.

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