Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas blogging

No promises but I think I will be blogging pretty much as usual right through the Christmas period.  Saturday is my Sabbath so, as usual, I won't be blogging then. I do however put something up every day on A WESTERN HEART so that will continue

The aluminium scare

I hold no brief for aluminium. Claims that molecules from aluminium pots and pans leak into food go back a long way so I have never liked aluminium cooking utensils. I have mostly used cast-iron, enamel and steel utensils instead. But the study below has been hyped and I wish to inject a note of caution.  

The main cautions concern the sample, its selection, its size  and the variability of the results.

Regarding the latter, I quote from the Results section of the paper:  "Aluminium was found in all 144 tissues and its concentration ranged from 0.01 to 35.65 μg/g dry wt."  That is a pretty big variation. It does not sound like a uniform process.

And the form of Alzheimers was a rare one.  Does it generalize to other forms?  Is the rarity due to something that also encourages aluminium concentrations? Might not more common forms of Alzheimers be less infested by aluminium?

And the sample is an available one, not a random one so its generalizability is inherently unknown.

And the sample size is risible.  You can get all sorts of odd and unreplicable results with such a small sample.

Finally, an important question is how many users of aluminium pots and pans have lived to a ripe old age?  Hundreds of millions, I would think.  Do we balance 12 cases supporting a conclusion agains millions not supporting it?

I accept that I may be wrong but my conclusion is that aluminium is unlikely to harm you

Aluminium in brain tissue in familial Alzheimer’s disease

Ambreen Mirzaa et al.

The genetic predispositions which describe a diagnosis of familial Alzheimer’s disease can be considered as cornerstones of the amyloid cascade hypothesis. Essentially they place the expression and metabolism of the amyloid precursor protein as the main tenet of disease aetiology. However, we do not know the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and environmental factors may yet be shown to contribute towards its onset and progression. One such environmental factor is human exposure to aluminium and aluminium has been shown to be present in brain tissue in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. We have made the first ever measurements of aluminium in brain tissue from 12 donors diagnosed with familial Alzheimer’s disease. The concentrations of aluminium were extremely high, for example, there were values in excess of 10 μg/g tissue dry wt. in 5 of the 12 individuals. Overall, the concentrations were higher than all previous measurements of brain aluminium except cases of known aluminium-induced encephalopathy. We have supported our quantitative analyses using a novel method of aluminium-selective fluorescence microscopy to visualise aluminium in all lobes of every brain investigated. The unique quantitative data and the stunning images of aluminium in familial Alzheimer’s disease brain tissue raise the spectre of aluminium’s role in this devastating disease.

Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology Volume 40, March 2017, Pages 30–36.


Who are really the stupid ones?

Some comments from a fellow blogger:

As hard as it might believe, I can be a pompous ass on occasions.  I had a friend who used to remind me of this, by very gently (and sometimes not so gently), reminding me: "I love it when you talk down to me", or "I love it when you talk to me as if I don't have a brain in my head."

Bill Clinton needs such a friend in constant attendance, it would seem, as of late.

Bill is at it again, reminding the deplorables that they are in fact deplorable and ignorant.  And, saying that Donald Trump got votes by exploiting our anger,  by taking advantage of our stupidity.

To my mind, this is simply saying the reverse, that Hillary Clinton had the God-given ability to make us so angry that we stayed away from her in droves.  After all, how smart do you have to be to antagonize the people you want to vote for you?

Ah, Bill.  Best to keep your mouth shut;  and, to stop calling people stupid because they did not vote for your dumpy wife.


Close Them Down!

John Stossel

Donald Trump is appointing good people -- Andy Puzder, for example, Trump's nominee for labor secretary.

When Puzder took over Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants, they were deep in debt. Four years later, they were profitable. I bet his 70,000 workers are happy about that.

"What did you do that your predecessor didn't?" I asked Puzder. His answer sounded a little like Trump.

"They were entrenched. ... My second memo as CEO was: Next person that answers a question with 'because we've always done it that way' will be fired."

Sounds ruthless. No wonder he opposes the minimum wage! But wait: He got his start scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.

"Minimum wage, dollar an hour... I learned about customer service, about inventory. That was a good start, a good step on that ladder."

Puzder painted houses and mowed lawns as a teenager, jobs that today's minimum wage and employment regulations sometimes make illegal. People think those rules are compassionate, but not Puzder.

"I have a 16-year-old son, and I really love him," he told me, but "there's no way in the world I'd pay that kid $12 an hour to do something. We're losing a generation of people because we've eliminated jobs that those people normally filled. How do you pay somebody $15 an hour to scoop ice cream? How good could you be at scooping ice cream? It's just not a job where you could compensate somebody like that."

The media hate businessmen who say things like that. A Washington Post headline: "Ayn Rand acolyte Donald Trump stacks his cabinet with fellow objectivists." This is absurd. Trump likes capitalism, but he's no objectivist. Objectivists have firm principles.

The Post article smears Puzder as a cruel Ayn Rand fan who "wants to automate fast-food jobs." But Puzder doesn't want to automate. He just states an obvious truth: A higher minimum wage leads employers to replace some workers with machines. Fast-food companies were already installing touch screens. A $15 minimum wage speeds that process.

If reporters were actually compassionate, they would oppose the endless regulations they routinely champion. People can't gain the experience needed to earn higher wages if they aren't allowed to be hired in the first place.

"We have restaurants in 33 countries and 45 states," says Puzder, describing how hard it is to get permits to open restaurants. "In Texas, it's 60 days. In LA, it takes 280. I can open a restaurant faster in Siberia than I can in California."

Remember when it was Russia that opposed capitalism?

"The permitting is ridiculous," says Puzder. "They make us put in stoplights and curb cuts and plant trees two blocks away. Everybody on the planet wants input. You've got to get approvals from the city, the county, the state, satisfy federal regulatory requirements."

As a result, "You can't grow, can't build restaurants, can't build a new Wal-Mart, that new office building if you can't use the land, if you can't get through the regulatory process."

Trump nominating someone who sees that problem is encouraging. I hope he surrounds himself with other people who love free markets, not just power.

Another possibly good Trump appointee is Linda McMahon, his nominee to head the Small Business Administration. McMahon almost defeated Connecticut's clueless socialist Sen. Richard Blumenthal in the 2010 Senate race. She calls herself a fiscal conservative, so I wish she'd won.

But I hesitate to support her, since I once sued her and her husband for allegedly telling one of their giant actors to beat me up because I pointed out that WWF wresting is fake. Really. Google "Stossel wrestler" and you'll see what I mean.

But my main objection to both nominations is that we don't need either agency! The SBA is wasteful cronyism. Federal bureaucrats have no clue which small businesses deserve funding.

Likewise, workers don't need a Department of Labor to set one-size-fits-all labor policies. Let competition set the rules. Employers and workers will make the choices and contracts that work best for each of them.

I hope Andy Puzder and Linda McMahon take over the SBA and Labor Department, then immediately shut them down.



Bored CBS Knocks Trump’s Cabinet Picks for Their Wealth

No mention that installing people who are already rich greatly reduces any temptation to corruption

With seemingly nothing else better to report with regards to U.S. politics Tuesday, CBS Evening News chose to whine about how President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet is comprised of millionaires and billionaires. “He's nearly finished with his cabinet, and outside national security, the billionaire president has surrounded himself with billionaires,” remarked Anchor Scott Pelley leading into Julianna Goldman’s report.

“As he traveled the cross the country on his thank you tour, President-Elect Donald Trump touted his choices for his cabinet and inner circle, a team historians say is the richest in U.S. history,” Goldman reported, as if it was somehow tainting Trump’s presidency.

“How rich? CBS news estimates seven of Mr. Trump's picks are worth a combined $11.5 billion,” she exclaimed, before rattling off the net worth of Trump’s selections:

Betsy DeVos, nominated for secretary of education, comes from a family worth more than $5 billion. Linda McMahon, picked small-business administrator, has family wealth worth $ 1.2 billion. And Vincent Viola, Mr. Trump's choice for army secretary, is worth $1.77 billion… Steve Mnuchin, Mr. Trump’s Treasury pick, has been estimated to be worth as much as $655 million.

Goldman leaned on Senator, and failed presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders to slam Trump. She played clips of Sanders on CBS’s Face the Nation where he chided Trump for their wealth and claimed he could not properly fight the political establishment with them on board. “Critics, like Senator Bernie Sanders, say Mr. Trump's choices fly in the face of his populist campaign message,” she argued.

The CBS reporter seemed to try to dismiss the idea that these wealthy people could care about the poor, “[Steve Mnuchin] and Commerce Secretary Nominee Wilbur Ross, worth $2.5 billion, recently said they were attuned to the plight of working Americans.” She then played a clip of Ross discussing how all jobs are not created equal, the set up painted the comments as somehow out of touch.

Wrapping up her report she noted that cabinet members do tend to be rich, but touted former presidents, saying, “Neither President Obama nor President George W. Bush had a single billionaire in their first cabinet.”

The left’s demonization of success and wealth originates from a false belief that the rich became so through underhanded and unethical means, especially those who associate with the right. It’s an extension of the belief expressed by President Barack Obama that “you didn’t build that.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, December 22, 2016

The crazy war on salt again

The FDA is a very risk averse agency, which can cause more deaths than it prevents.  And the received wisdom about salt is that the amount people currently consume is bad for you.  That has come under very powerful scientific challenge recently but the FDA are sticking by the old theory: Whether current average levels of salt consumption are dangerous is assumed rather than proven.  So they are at present proposinging guidelines on salt consumption that are unrealistically low. So the article below challenges them. The article has been followed by a rejoinder but the rejoinder is mainly bureacratic -- talking about what people say -- and not convincing.  The article below is "Reducing Sodium Intake in the Population" by David A. McCarron and  Michael H. Alderman.



Trump Admin Has Opportunity to Rebuild Military, Shrink Bloated Government

Washington D.C. is all about politics, policy and procedure. The Department of Defense receives plenty of political and policy attention, but few care to look at the procedures. It’s not sexy. It doesn’t raise campaign funds. But that is precisely what needs fixing. The incoming Trump administration needs to begin shifting the defense budget away from baseline budgeting to a zero-based budgeting model.

Defense advisors recently voiced plans to rebuild the military with reallocated funds earned by cutting bureaucracy and wasteful spending within the DoD. But American Enterprise Institute defense analyst Mackenzie Eaglen rightly calls this plan a fantasy. There is simply not enough fraud, waste and abuse to yield the $55 to $60 billion per year in new money needed for Trump’s ambitious reinvestment plans, she argues. This historically inadequate snark-hunt approach to the budget process too often defines how elected officials try to balance a budget.

Zero-based budgeting is an alternative system proven to decrease expenditures and improve efficiency within private sector companies and public institutions. This budget method identifies wasteful spending and helps purge unnecessary expenses by obligating each department to justify its proposed spending each and every year. This method automatically eliminates the practice of carrying over the budget from the previous year. And that’s important since the current baseline budgeting system requires the government to set the previous year’s spending as the starting point for the next year’s budget.

Under the current system, preparers assume all of the same programs and operating procedures, and only adjust the following year’s expenditures to account for actual spending in the current year, inflation and population growth. Since inflation and population growth are almost always positive, the budget almost always rises.

This automatic carryover of expenses under baseline budgeting actually encourages spending. Defense officials regularly exhaust their funds in a period known as “use it or lose it” so as to ensure they do not lose money in future budgets. Researchers found that federal procurement spending was five times higher in the last week of the fiscal year than the weekly average for the rest of the year, and the quality of the projects was scored well below average.

Zero-based budgeting, while initially time-consuming, has saved large corporations 10 percent to 25 percent, according to independent studies. And those savings are more sustainable over a longer period than traditional cost reduction methods, such as lower level workforce reduction and outsourcing. If the DoD achieved just a 10 percent savings over the entire organization, those savings would amount to $53 billion.

The zero-based budgeting model could be tested within the DoD by applying it first to the bloated bureaucracy. The growth in civilian and staff numbers continues to exceed what is necessary, while the number of general and flag officers positions has increased disproportionately to the personnel they oversee:

Roughly 2,000 GFOs oversaw 12 million military personnel in 1945.

Now, nearly 900 GFOs oversee 1.3 million active duty personnel.

In fact, over the past 30 years, the military’s end-strength deployable/fieldable forces has decreased 38 percent, but the ratio of four-star officers to the overall force has increased by 65 percent.

A 10 percent cut among general and flag officers and their staffs alone could save nearly $11.5 billion over 5 years.

Now critics will say that other sectors of government should be forced to adopt such a procedure. And we agree. But a successful annual or even biannual implementation in the DoD first would provide the bipartisan incentive necessary for officials to adopt the process elsewhere. After all, imagine the impact of a stringent budget process that required all government agencies to justify everything they spend. The annual requirement to defend each and every expenditure as necessary and worthwhile would cause an agency like the EPA to collapse under the weight of its own uselessness.

The traditional government budgeting system is simply not working. Zero-based budgeting could specifically help refocus defense priorities by ensuring money is spent in areas that promote readiness. A biannual application may also improve the outcome. Successful implementation in the DoD would encourage Congress to target other departments of government that would have a difficult time justifying their existence.



The Road to Better Infrastructure

Donald Trump’s promise to increase federal spending on infrastructure—an extra $1 trillion over ten years—may quickly set the tone for the incoming president’s relationship with Congress. Will it come to blows? Who will prevail: big spending “National Greatness” advocates or fiscal conservatives? Independent Institute Research Fellow Gabriel Roth argues there needn’t be a showdown, because infrastructure improvements don’t require tapping the federal till. Road improvements, for instance, could be funded via electronically collected tolls. In addition, the federal and state governments could rely on private financing, as Canada has done successfully for air traffic control.

Regarding surface roads, the case for greater reliance on the private sector is stronger than skeptics are willing to admit. If full privatization isn’t viable, then public roads could be operated by private firms that maintain government-set standards, “with compensation proportional to the volume of traffic, at rates to be determined by open bidding,” Roth writes. At rates of 2 or 3 cents per vehicle mile, this policy be an easier sell than policymakers had imagined. Roth also makes a case for adopting the “user pays” principle for funding transportation infrastructure.

“Those who feel that transportation users merit special treatment could campaign for ‘transportation stamps’—analogous to food stamps—so that service providers are not forced to pay,” he writes. In conclusion: “Trump could help deliver more effective, efficient infrastructure by enabling private and public providers to supply facilities for which beneficiaries choose to pay. It’s time for federal subsidies to reach the end of the road.”



Trump Orders Up a Fast-Food CEO for Labor Secretary

One of Donald Trump’s controversial picks for a cabinet post (but which one isn’t controversial?) is restaurant executive Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor. One virtue he can bring to the table—one sorely absent from most Labor secretaries—is a first-hand understanding of how federal regulations affect employment in fast food and other highly competitive industries.

“Puzder has the unconventional idea that government intervention in the labor market usually prevents labor and management from doing things that would be good for both,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman.

Head of the company that owns Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s (whose combined workforce is about 75,000 employees), Puzder is a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act. In three op-eds written for the Wall Street Journal, he has taken aim at Obamacare, including related statutes enforced by the Labor Department. “As a CEO, Mr. Puzder knows how harmful these rules are,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham. “As Labor Secretary, he can relieve many of them, even without full repeal of Obamacare.”



Trump Picks Fiscal Hawk to Lead Budget Office

America's debt is an issue Trump has not forgotten about and intends to tackle head on.

Now that the Electoral College has cast its votes securing the election victory of Donald Trump to become the next president of the United States, perhaps the media will turn its attention to the issues that propelled Trump to victory. Well, one can dream anyway.

One of several issues that has been off the radar for quite some time is our nation’s nearly $20 trillion debt, half of which is thanks to the spending policies of the federal government under Barack Obama. To be fair, the federal government has had a spending problem for several decades now, and the mountain of debt is so enormous that some people have quit paying attention. Life does continue, after all, and the sky hasn’t fallen.

Fortunately, Trump’s selection of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indicates that America’s debt is an issue that he has not forgotten about and one that he intends to tackle head on.

Speaking highly of Mulvaney, Trump stated, “We are going to do great things for the American people with Mick Mulvaney leading the Office of Management and Budget. Right now we are nearly $20 trillion in debt, but Mick is a very high-energy leader with deep convictions for how to responsibly manage our nation’s finances and save our country from drowning in red ink.”

Trump added, “With Mick at the head of OMB, my administration is going to make smart choices about America’s budget, bring new accountability to our federal government, and renew the American taxpayers' trust in how their money is spent.”

Trump has made a smart choice, and Mulvaney is yet another individual that conservatives, especially fiscal conservatives, can be happy to support.

Mulvaney’s responsibility as director of the OMB will be to guide Trump’s budget proposal negotiations. His performance in Congress is that of a solid fiscal conservative. Having been elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the first wave of Tea Party conservatives, he has a reputation for pushing for budget cuts and is an advocate for smaller limited government.

Mulvaney advocates shrinking the federal workforce and privatizing certain functions of the federal government. He’s also a proponent of shutting down the government instead of approving more spending for programs that the government has no business funding, such as Planned Parenthood’s gruesome abortion machine.

Josh Siegel of The Heritage Foundation notes that as the founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, the most conservative group in Congress, Mulvaney was a leading voice to push for cuts in both domestic and defense spending. The Freedom Caucus has a list of 232 regulations dealing with climate change, nutrition, immigration, labor and energy that it wants Trump to repeal, and with Mulvaney as the budget director, that should happen in short order.

Fighting the establishment is another thing Mulvaney is known for, which ought to please Trump supporters. He voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2011 despite the U.S. being on the brink of default and insisted that its passage be paired with “Cut, Cap and Balance,” a measure to slash federal spending and impose a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. In 2013, Mulvaney also led an effort to defund ObamaCare and later that same year declined to support the re-election of John Boehner.

On some issues, Mulvaney has been known to work with Republicans and Democrats, particularly on defense spending. Siegel notes, “He has opposed the use of a separate war funding account known as overseas contingency operations, which is a budgetary maneuver used to avoid spending caps to fund military and anti-terror operations abroad, such as the military campaign against ISIS.” The military is in serious need of any upgrade, but the Pentagon is also rife with waste, and Mulvaney knows it.

It will ultimately be Mulvaney’s task to figure out how that defense spending can occur without raising the debt even more. His reputation as a conservative “fiscal hawk” will be put to the test as he figures out what federal spending on wasteful programs will need to be cut in order to increase defense spending while simultaneously reducing the debt.

Fortunately, his track record shows that he is a solid pick to help the incoming Trump administration make America great again.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The latest attempt to "psychologize" conservatives

There could be few more Authoritarian, rigid and closed minded people than believers in Global Warming.  Their usual response to being shown evidence about the non-correlation between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels is, not to discuss the matter, but to appeal to authority. "97% of scientists say ..." is their typical response, with no awareness that they are misquoting.  They base their beliefs entirely on authority, not on the scientific facts.  They talk airily about "The Science" while showing an abject ignorance of any climate science whatsoever.

And Leftists generally are like that.  If a conservative mentions any fact that conflicts with Leftist gospel, the response of the Leftist is either to run away or shower the conservative with abuse  -- sometimes both. We conservative bloggers encounter it all the time.

So it is amusing that Leftist psychologists have been beavering away for over 60 years in an attempt to prove that it is CONSERVATIVES who are rigid, closed-minded and authoritarian.

But to get any result in line with their desires, they have to use very sloppy research methods, most particularly opinion inventories that lack predictive validity.  If they think that some opinion expression indicates conservatism, rigidity etc they conclude that it does without further ado.  I spent 20 years pointing out the flaws in their research methods but that seems to have had no influence whatsoever.  They liked their conclusions too much to examine the evidence closely.  I have given many examples of such pseudo "research" over the years but let me mention just a couple here.

A widely used measure of mental rigidity was the Budner scale of Intolerance of Ambiguity.  It contains both tolerant and intolerant opinion expressions.  And the two sorts of expressions are combined to produce a measure of overall rigidity.  So the two sorts of item should show a strong negative correlation between them. People who agree with the "tolerant" statements should disagree with the "intolerant" statements.  But they do not.  The two types of item are uncorrelated.  They clearly measure two unrelated things.  So which type of item measures "intolerance of ambiguity"?  Who knows?  Probably neither. But I have yet to read of any user of the Budner scale being bothered by its self contradictory nature.  They accept garbage as information.

And the means they use to assess conservatism are equally hilarious.  A very popular measuring instrument is the Altemeyer Right Wing Authoritarianism attitude inventory.  Yet its  author admitted that it gave very little prediction of vote at election time.  Roughly half of the alleged right wingers as detected by the inventory actually voted for Leftist parties.  A very strange measure of anything Right-wing!  To cap it off there was one group found who regularly did score highly on it:  Russian Communists.  But if they are Right-wing who is Left-wing?

But the "research" concerned goes on, scatterbrained definitions and all.  One of the most ardent workers in the vineyard is the  Belgian Psychologist Alain Van Hiel.  He still seems to think there is something in the research concerned.  I tried to disabuse him of that idea a few years back, but, as usual, I was pissing into the wind.  His latest paper is: "The Relationship Between Right-wing Attitudes and Cognitive Style: A Comparison of Self-report and Behavioural Measures of Rigidity and Intolerance of Ambiguity" -- appearing in the 2016 European Journal of Personality.

And Van Hiel has gone from bad to worse as far as conceptual confusion is concerned.  In his latest paper, he accepts just about anything as an index of conservatism, from the afore-mentioned "Right Wing Authoritarianism" inventory to the Rokeach Dogmatism scale, which was specifically constructed NOT to correlate with Left/Right orientation. So the numbers he gets out of his research are meaningless.  One wonders why he bothers.  He must have a great need to project Leftist failings onto conservatives


Wotta laugh!  Electoral college DEMOCRATS desert their candidate

"PRESIDENT TRUMP".  That sure sounds good! An end to Leftist tyranny.  Will the Left ever accept that they have no right to tell other people what to do?

At least five Democrats who had been committed to back Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Electoral College cast ballots for other people on Monday, the largest number of "faithless electors" seen in well over a century.

The 538 electors were voting across the country to confirm Republican Donald Trump as the next president. The event is normally a formality but took on extra prominence this year after some Democrats urged electors to revolt and switch to Clinton, who won the national popular vote on Nov. 8.

In the end, it was not Republicans breaking ranks. The Democratic dissidents - four from Washington state and one from Maine - underscored deep divisions within their party and effectively dashed long-shot hopes by some activists that Republicans pledged to Trump might back Clinton.

By late afternoon, no Republican elector was reported to have cast a ballot for anyone other than Trump, although one elector from Texas had written that he planned to do so.

The move by the five was a rare break from the tradition - and in many states a legal requirement - of casting an Electoral College ballot as directed by the outcome of that state's popular election.

Trump applauded his victory in front of the media. 'Today marks a historic electoral landslide victory in our nation's democracy,' he said in a statement to reporters. 'I thank the American people for their overwhelming vote to elect me as their next President of the United States.'

'The official votes cast by the Electoral College exceeded the 270 required to secure the presidency by a very large margin, far greater than ever anticipated by the media,' he added.

Congress will certify the Electoral College vote on January 6 and Trump will be sworn in on January 20.

With so few electors rebelling, that left a Harvard professor's claims that as many as 20 Republican electors could go faithless look like nonsense – and put Trump in cruise control to the White House.

It also left protests by die-hard anti-Trump activists taking place outside some state houses and capitols looking futile.

By 5:30 p.m., Trump's journey to the White House was complete.



Trump: it wasn’t Russia wot won it

It’s the Democrats who threaten to undermine American democracy.

Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. More than a month later, Democrats can’t accept that fact. Rather than face the reality that millions of voters rejected Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, they have embraced conspiracy theories to try to explain their loss. And in a serious threat to democracy, they are now relying on these half-baked notions to try to overturn the result.

Since the election, Democrats and liberal pundits have blamed Hillary’s defeat on a series of nefarious interventions and unjust set-ups: from FBI director James Comey’s letter to congress about new evidence regarding Clinton’s emails, to an avalanche of ‘fake news’ duping the voters, to an unfair electoral college and rigged vote counts. (In Wisconsin, a recount paid for by the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and backed by Clinton, saw Trump increase his vote tally.) The latest and maddest scheme was sparked by a Washington Post report claiming that the CIA has ‘high confidence’ that Russia hacked the Democratic Party’s emails with the aim of helping Trump to victory.

This story is far from a ‘bombshell’. But you’d never know it from the hysterical reaction. First, we don’t have the full story, and the Washington Post is basing its report on anonymous ‘senior administration officials’. There’s no new evidence. It was reported in October that Russia was suspected of hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails. What’s supposedly new is the CIA’s assessment of Russia’s motives, namely that it tried to tip the scales towards Trump. But it has also been reported that America’s other intelligence agency, the FBI, rejects this conclusion, and apparently not everyone within the CIA agrees either.

With such partial and inconclusive information, a wise response would be to remain calm and investigate further. But for Democrats and their supporters, it’s plenty evidence to shriek that the election was fixed by a foreign power. For New York Times op-ed writer Paul Krugman, the election is ‘tainted’ and Trump is ‘illegitimate’. To other liberal pundits, Comey and Republicans in Congress have committed ‘treasonous acts’ by allowing Russia to get away with its hacks.

These responses might be laughed off as just the screeches of sore losers, the grown-up versions of the campus crybabies who need counselling and Safe Spaces to cope with Trump’s win. But matters have taken a more serious turn. Yesterday, former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta announced his support for a ‘special intelligence briefing’ for the electoral college ‘electors’ before they vote on 19 December. Podesta’s and the Democrats’ hope is that these 538 electors, after viewing evidence of Russian hacking, will overturn the votes of millions of Americans and install Clinton. If it ever came to pass, such a move would represent a grave threat to democracy.

Let’s get some perspective. It would not be a shock if it was eventually proved that Russia was involved in hacking. As it happens, all major countries, including the US, engage in cyber-spying. Furthermore, it is rich for the US to get all self-righteous about interfering in elections, when it has a long history of meddling in the internal affairs, including the elections, of other countries. Moreover, it would also not be a surprise to learn that Vladimir Putin would prefer to have Trump in the White House, especially after Clinton, while secretary of state, called Russia’s 2011 elections fraudulent, and Putin accused her State Department of backing protests in Moscow. Clinton’s hardline, neo-Cold War stances during the election didn’t endear her to Putin either.

But while Russia may be behind the hacks of Democratic Party computers, and may have had a preference for Trump, it is far-fetched to claim that Russia swung the election result. Amid all of the issues raised during the election, the Wikileaks revelations were not a big deal. If anything, they only confirmed suspicions voters already had about Clinton’s lack of honesty. Putin didn’t force Clinton to use a private email server and take dodgy donations for the Clinton Foundation. He didn’t convince her to ignore the working-class voters of the Midwest, to play divisive identity politics, to rely on celebs like Lena Dunham, to flip-flop on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He didn’t magically turn her from a dynamic, inspiring candidate into the wooden ‘unlikeable’ we know.

Underneath all of the apologies that Democrats make for Clinton’s loss is a deeply patronising outlook: that voters are too dumb to sort through what they hear in the media. In this worldview, a typical voter who read about a Wikileaks revelation, Comey’s comments or came across a ‘fake news’ report must have then automatically voted for Trump. The elites can’t imagine that a voter weighed up the arguments, and, recognising the weaknesses of both candidates, decided to go with the anti-establishment one. The condescension embodied in the post-election explosion of excuses – which all, at root, evince a low opinion of the American voter – is in itself a big part of why Trump won.

The rationalisations put forward by Democrats have a single aim: to delegitimise Trump. They know that denying him the White House is a long shot, but at a minimum they want to cast a cloud over the presidency, without having to challenge his policies. This represents a continuation of the approach adopted by Clinton, who sought to depict Trump as abnormal and unfit for the role while avoiding engaging in substantive arguments. This wasn’t convincing during the campaign, and it still isn’t.

‘We now know that the CIA has determined Russia’s interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump’, wrote Podesta in his statement. ‘This should distress every American.’ What is truly distressing is the Democrats’ attempt to overturn the election result on the hyped-up charges of Russian shenanigans. Liberals like Paul Krugman like to say that Trump violates ‘democratic norms’. But there is nothing more anti-democratic than what the Democrats are doing now – denigrating voters’ choices and threatening to reverse the outcome of the election. Their deeply held belief that they know what’s best means they are willing to ditch democracy to get their way. We can’t let them get away with it.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

'I really believe that Russia is the leader of the free world right now'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has emerged as a hero of several prominent alt-right figures, raising new questions about the Kremlin's influence on the far-right, white nationalist movement that has asserted itself as a new force in American politics.

Whether Russia has played a direct role in awakening the American alt-right, whose resurgence as a crusade against establishment politics coincided with the rise of President-elect Donald Trump, is debatable.

But the extent to which the alt-right has found a natural ally in Russia's current zeitgeist -- which perceives the US as a globalist, imperialist power working on behalf of liberal elites -- is hard to overstate.

Self-described white nationalist Matthew Heimbach, who said he identifies as a member of the alt-right, has praised Putin's Russia as "the axis for nationalists."

"I really believe that Russia is the leader of the free world right now," Heimbach told Business Insider in a recent interview. "Putin is supporting nationalists around the world and building an anti-globalist alliance, while promoting traditional values and self-determination."

Heimbach described the US' current foreign policy as aggressive and imperialistic, and he criticised NATO's military buildup in eastern Europe as an example of how the US is trying to promote a "global conflict" with Russia.

And while he views Russia as a "model for civilisation" and "a beacon for nationalists," Heimbach emphasised that the movement goes beyond Russia and traditional left-right politics.

"This isn't just a European or a right-wing movement," he said. "We're trying to position ourselves to be a part of this worldwide movement of globalism versus nationalism. It's a new age."

Like Heimbach, alt-right leader Richard Spencer -- the head of the white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute -- has argued that the US should dispense with its globalist policies by pulling out of NATO, resetting its relationship with Russia, and courting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom he has described as "a civilised person" and "source of stability in this chaotic world."

Spencer's ties to Russia, which he has called the "sole white power in the world," go deeper. He was married until October to Russian writer and self-proclaimed "Kremlin troll leader" Nina Kouprianova, whose writing under the pen name Nina Byzantina regularly aligns with Kremlin talking points.

For example: Byzantina recently described reports that thousands of civilians in rebel-held east Aleppo, Syria, are under siege by the Russia-backed Syrian government as "fake news."

The webzine Spencer founded in 2010 -- called Alternative Right -- accepted contributor pieces from Aleksandr Dugin, the far-right, ultra-nationalist politician who encouraged Putin's incursion into Ukraine and whose work has been translated into English by Byzantina on her blog. (It does have a caveat: "The views of the original author do not necessarily reflect those of the translator.")

Dugin also recorded a speech titled "To My American Friends in Our Common Struggle" for a nationalist conference organised by Heimbach last year in California.

A right-wing conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, organised last year by Russia's nationalist Rodina, or Motherland, party offered a safe space for fringe thinkers -- including white supremacists and anti-Semites -- to gather and rail against the US-led status quo.

There, American "race realist" Jared Taylor called the US "the greatest enemy of tradition everywhere."

Klu Klux Klan attorney Sam Dickson also attended, and he joined Taylor in calling for the preservation of "[the white] race and civilisation."

Heimbach agreed that the US has "poisoned" traditional values, but he insisted that his brand of white nationalism is distinct from white supremacy.

"We work actively with other ethnic groups to support their right to self-determination," Heimbach said, listing black nationalism and the full autonomy of Native Americans as two causes that his party actively supports.

Still, white supremacy -- manifested frequently as anti-Semitism -- is inextricably linked to the worldview of many alt-right admirers of Putin's Russia.

David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has travelled to Russia several times to promote his book "The Ultimate Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question." The book has been sold openly in the main lobby of the State Duma (Congress) for the equivalent of about $2, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Preston Wiginton, a white supremacist from Texas who sublets Duke's Moscow apartment when he travels to Russia, has written that his "best friends" in Russia -- "the only nation that understands RAHOWA [Racial Holy War]" --  are "leading skinheads."

Last year, he invited the ultranationalist Dugin to speak at his alma mater, Texas A&M University. This year he invited Spencer, who spoke there on Tuesday.

Kevin MacDonald -- who gave a speech at Spencer's NPI in late November about how "Jews remade America in their interests ... to make white America comfortable with massive non-white immigration and its own dispossession" -- has written that the "demonisation of Russia in Western media and political circles" is a Jewish campaign to undermine Putin.

"Russia under Vladimir Putin," he wrote, "has proved to be far more nationalistic than is good for the Jews or for Israel."

Heimbach, whose Traditionalist Workers Party was deemed an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, pushed back against claims that he is anti-Semitic. But he said he believes "the organised Jewish community" is heavily involved in "supporting movements that want to destroy nationalism."

"We call out those who are doing things that are hurting our people and are hurting the planet," he said, including "Jewish conglomerates" who are "ruthless cosmopolitans" and "don't have a home anywhere."

The perception of Putin as a "lion of Christianity" is another prominent feature of the alt-right's affection for the Russian leader.

Christopher Stroop, a scholar whose work centres around modern Russian history, has characterised many of today's alt-right figures as 'Traditionalist International"  -- a movement centered around the supremacy and "shared blood" of white Christians inspired largely by Russia's religious, nationalist turn spearheaded by Putin at the start of his third term.

Putin has stirred up Russian nationalism by cultivating a closer relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church, which in turn has helped "project Russia as the natural ally of all those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalisation, multiculturalism and women's and gay rights," The New York Times' Andrew Higgins wrote in September.

In July, Putin outlawed religious proselytising in a crackdown on non-government-aligned churches. The Russian Orthodox Church was exempted from the ban.

"As the Russian Federation has drifted back to its Soviet roots more and more over the past 25 years, it has increasingly sought to harass, persecute, and destroy any religious organisation that it might consider competition to its own 'state church,'" said

Heimbach, who was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church with his wife two years ago, views Putin as fighting for the same values -- "faith, family, and folk" -- that guide his own party.

"To rebuild a nation, you have to be able to build up the people," Heimbach said. "And that requires having a strong moral foundation. Putin is fighting for faith, family, and folk. The fact that he's rebuilt tens of thousands of churches, allowed religious services to be broadcast on national television -- all of that has been crucial to rebuilding Russia."

It has also been crucial to exporting Russia's "Slavophile version of moral superiority to the world," Stroop said
, through figures like Alexsandr Dugin and institutions like the World Congress of Families (WCF).

The WCF, a US coalition that promotes right-wing Christian values, played a leading role in advocating for Russia's 2013 anti-LGBT law that makes it illegal to expose minors to LGBT "propaganda."

Larry Jacobs, WCF's managing director who first travelled to Russia in 2010 to attend a conference hosted by the Russian Sancity of Motherhood organisation, has said that "the Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world."

Former Fox News producer Jack Hanick, who serves on the WCF planning committee and spoke at the third Sanctity of Motherhood conference in Moscow in November 2013, was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church earlier this year along with his wife and son.

"Modern Russia has returned to its Christian roots," Hanick wrote in an article for the New York Observer last year.

"There is a revival in Russian Orthodoxy with over 25,000 new churches built in Russia after the fall of Communism," he said. "On any Sunday, the churches are packed. Over 70% of the population identifies themselves as Orthodox Christians. Combine this religious revival with renewed Nationalism and Russia is growing in self-confidence."

Stroop noted that Americans involved with the World Congress of Families "have been looking to Russia as having the potential to 'save' Western civilisation for a long time."

"Based on quotations from white nationalists and racists like Matthew Heimbach and [televangelist] Pat Buchanan," Stroop added, "I'd say they have certainly looked to Putin as the saviour of Christian civilisation."

For Heimbach, Putin's brand of orthodoxy, which opposes same-sex marriage, abortion, and globalism, "is the last institution standing for traditional values."

And he's happy to see Putin working hard to export those values, even if that may be perceived as meddlesome and globalist in its own right.

"Putin is supporting traditionalism and self-determination, so meddle away," Heimbach said, laughing. "He is giving nationalists an opportunity to fight for the best interests of their nations, which in my view is a positive thing for everyone."

Stroop said that while Putin's embrace of traditional values in his third term "may have been initially about turning to Russian populism, it's really hard to separate foreign from domestic policy in this context" -- something the Kremlin hasn't tried to do.

"Putinism is heavily influenced by the ideas of Dugin and that old Slavophlie/Pan-Slav Russian nationalist tradition at this point," Stroop said, pointing to the soft-power Russkiy Mir Foundation established by Putin in 2007. It was started, in cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church, to promote the idea of a "Russian World" of compatriots.

As of today, the foundation has a presence in 29 countries.



Anti-Trumpers show the effect of modern education


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, December 19, 2016

Do-gooders agree with Putin

Middle-Eastern realities are different

The head of a Scottish aid charity has condemned the UK’s “naive” intervention in Syria and suggested Bashar al-Assad, the country’s president, should be allowed to regain control so that stability — and ultimately peace — can be restored to the war-torn region.

Alistair Dutton, director of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (Sciaf), said British efforts to end fighting had backfired and served only to strengthen opposition forces and prolong the six-year conflict.

“British foreign policy in Syria is appalling,” said Dutton. “It is naive to the point of being totally unrealistic and everybody I speak to in the region says we have got it wrong, and we are only making the situation worse and prolonging the war.”



North Carolina GOP strips powers from incoming Democratic governor

North Carolina Republicans stripped the incoming Democratic governor of some of his authority on Friday and were on the cusp of an even greater power grab, an extraordinary move that critics said flies in the face of voters.

Just last week, it appeared Republicans were ready to finally accept Democrats’ narrow win in a contentious governor’s race. As it turns out, they weren’t done fighting. In a surprise special session in the dying days of the old administration, some say the Republican-dominated legislature has thrown the government into total disarray, approving two bills aimed at hamstringing incoming governor Roy Cooper’s administration. One of them was signed into law by the current governor.

Cooper, the current attorney general, has threatened to sue. And many in the state are accusing Republicans of letting sour grapes over losing the governor’s race turn into a legislative coup.

"This was a pure power grab," said retired school librarian Carolyn White, 62, a long-time demonstrator who was arrested as part of the "Moral Monday" protests against GOP-led legislative policies. "I got arrested two years ago. Did it make any difference? No. But just like the civil rights movement, it’s forward together. You just have to keep going forward."

The protesters were so loud that the Senate and House cleared the galleries — a highly unusual move. More than 50 people were arrested this week, and as demonstrators were led away from the Legislative Building, some chanted "all political power comes from the people." Those that remained could only watch the debate through windows or listen online.

Hundreds stomped their feet and yelled outside the gallery, causing several Republican lawmakers to note they were having trouble hearing during the debate. Democrats repeatedly stated their objections.

"The kindergartners are getting rowdy," GOP Representative Dana Bumgardner said. He said Democrats were "creating out of thin air a talking point for the next election."

Republican Governor Pat McCrory, who lost to Cooper by about 10,000 votes, quickly signed into law a bill that merges the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission into one board composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. The previous state elections board law would have allowed Cooper to put a majority of Democrats on the elections panel.

The law also makes elections for appellate court judgeships officially partisan again.

Another bill that received final legislative approval would force Cooper’s Cabinet choices to be subject to Senate confirmation. McCrory must decide whether to sign that law, passed by a General Assembly that has repeatedly tugged him to the right even though he campaigned as a moderate in 2012 as Charlotte’s former mayor.

Republicans insist the legislation is simply adjusting the constitutional powers already granted to the General Assembly. Many provisions had been debated for years but had either gotten blocked or the Democratic viewpoint previously won out.

Democrats said it was an attempt by the GOP to cling to power a week after the Republican incumbent conceded.

"I really fear that we have harmed our reputation and integrity this week," said Representative Billy Richardson, a Democrat.

Republicans gained power of both legislative chambers in 2010 for the first time in more than a century, and they have veto-proof majorities, holding 108 of 170 seats even though the state has been more closely divided in recent statewide and federal elections.

North Carolina is a presidential battleground state that Barack Obama won in 2008 by just over 14,000 votes. Four years later, Mitt Romney edged Obama by about 92,000 votes. Donald Trump won in November.

GOP legislators have been able to expand their majorities thanks to approving redistricting maps in 2011. But nearly 30 of those legislative districts were struck down last summer. A federal court has directed updated maps be approved by March 15.

Cooper ran on a platform of defeating Republicans’ agenda, saying he would work to repeal a law known as House Bill 2 that limits LGBT rights.

"Once more, the courts will have to clean up the mess the legislature made, but it won’t stop us from moving North Carolina forward," Cooper said in a statement late Friday.

Republicans pointed to past sessions of the General Assembly, when it was dominated by Democrats. Democrats stripped the powers of the first and only GOP lieutenant governor of the 20th century in the late 1980s. But Democrats said there’s been no such widespread effort to limit the power of an incoming executive before he took office in such a session.

Still, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said, "just because you disagree with something doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional."



Gingrich: 'Drop The Term News Media,' They Are The 'Propaganda Media'

In a speech about President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration,  former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) explained that Trump is a highly successful marketer, which the mainstream media -- what he called the "propaganda media" -- do not understand and will not understand until they accept that they are dealing with a very talented and intelligent person.

“This is not easy," said Gingrich on Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. "I’m just telling you, one of the great disgraces of the propaganda media we have -- all of us on the right should describe it the 'propaganda media,' drop the term ‘news media’ until they earn it --  and begin to realize that the propaganda media cannot come to grips with the level of talent that they’re dealing with.”

"People forget who Donald J. Trump is," said Gingrich. "[P]eople in the elites couldn’t figure out that this is a guy who’d made his entire living marketing to consumers. That he had thought every day, ‘How do I get you to come to my golf course? How do I get you to come to my hotel? How do I get you to come to my casino? How do I get you to buy my tie? How do I get you to watch my TV show?’"

"So, he has this intuition," said Gingrich.  "We were talking about debating one day and he said, ‘What is your advice?’ I said, ‘I don’t have any advice.’ I said, ‘You’re a better debater than I am.’ Because – and he’s a totally different debater than I am, I’m not denigrating myself, I’m okay – but he intuits the audience in a way I can’t do. I cannot get the rhythm the way he does."

"And so, you had low-energy Jeb, which, by the way, is totally untrue," siad the former House Speaker. "Jeb Bush is a perfectly fine guy, was a great governor of Florida, is a good friend of ours. But he [Trump] said it in such a way that it stuck. It stuck to such a degree that it got inside Jeb’s head. And Jeb ends up running around New Hampshire, literally running, to prove he’s not low energy."

Commenting further on Trump's debate style, Gingrich related, “I was asked one time, as part of this process, I was on Bill O’Reilly one night in the very heat of the primary season, and O’Reilly said to me, ‘Why don’t the Republican candidates attack Trump?  He’s clearly the frontrunner, they need to attack him.’  I said, ‘Bill, Donald Trump is the grizzly bear in The Revenant [movie].’  If you get his attention, he will get awake. When he gets awake, he will walk over, bite your face off and sit on you. The other candidates watch him do that and go, ‘not me, oh no, no, no. Let the bear eat. It’s okay. I don’t want to bother him.’ And that started with ‘low-energy Jeb’ [Bush]."

"All these people, the news media, and this is a major part of the watershed that we’re in the early stages of, and why I so much wanted to come here and share with you today," said Gingrich.  "This is a genuine watershed."

"There is an old world that’s much deeper than just liberalism," he said.  "And there is the post-Nov. 8 world, if we can make it real. I tell everybody the Trump rally has to be turned into the Trump reality. There’s a big gap in those two. It’s going to take a lot of work."



Britain to require loyalty oath for all public office holders

All holders of public office will have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values in an attempt to combat extremism. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, said it was not possible for people to play a “positive role” in public life unless they accepted such basic values as democracy, equality and freedom of speech.

He intervened after a damning report by Dame Louise Casey, the government’s community cohesion tsar, which warned that some Muslim communities were living in extreme isolation from the rest of society and some did not share British values such as tolerance.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Javid says he will enact Casey’s proposal that those in public office make a pledge of allegiance.



Israel's Ambassador Repudiates the Discredited SPLC

Last night, Israel's formidable Ambassdor to the United States Ron Dermer issued a clarion call to freedom loving people in this country and around the world to reject efforts aimed at suppressing our most fundamental liberty, our constitutional right to free speech.

Ambassador Dermer took specific and pointed aim at the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization once known for championing that and other freedoms, but now discredited as a political warfare arm of the Red-Green axis, radical leftists, and their Islamic supremacist allies.

The SPLC tried very hard to silence Ambassador Dermer as well, demanding that he not participate in the Center for Security Policy's Awards dinner last night. His address condemning such censorship, and the prime move behind it, was a profile in courage to be applauded and shared by all who cherish freedom.





For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Obama Plays the Russian Card

One thing is clear, Democrats still can’t come to grips with the fact that Hillary Clinton lost because she was a lousy candidate with a bad message. Hence the latest attempt to stamp the “illegitimate” tag on President-elect Donald Trump came from none other than Barack Obama himself. In the guise of concern over both national security and the “integrity of our elections,” Obama, in an interview on National Public Radio, blamed Vladimir Putin for hacking the DNC. He warned, “I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing.”

And yet he offered no actual evidence to support his claims. As we noted yesterday, Congress has yet to be briefed by the National Intelligence community on its findings. Without verification of the leaked intelligence, the Leftmedia and now Obama are asserting it as unquestionable truth.

Meanwhile, Obama Press Secretary Josh Earnest claimed Trump had prior knowledge of Russia’s hacking activity. As “evidence,” Earnest pointed to Trump’s mocking call for the Russians to release Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails. Earnest huffed, “I don’t think anybody at the White House thinks it’s funny that an adversary of the United States engaged in malicious cyber activity to destabilize our democracy. That’s not a joke.”

Evidently, the concept of contextualization is lost on Earnest. It wasn’t Trump who operated a private, unsecured email server that was open to hacking. But by all means, blame the Russians.

Fears of “destabilizing our democracy” are real, but it’s Democrats who are doing everything in their power to accomplish it. The American people have spoken, and Democrats are refusing to listen. Worse, it’s Democrats, along with the Leftmedia, who are actively seeking to instill distrust in the American electoral system and process, first by calling for the abolition  of the Electoral College, and second by seeking to convince electors to switch their votes on account of Russian election interference. Failing these things, they hope to at least convince Americans that Trump’s election victory is questionable or illegitimate. Allegations without cooperative evidence are merely hearsay bordering on conspiracy theory.



WHY would Putin favour Trump?

When a court of law is called on to assess the truth of a claim, motivation is one of the first things they look at

We are supposed to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump have a budding bromance, as it is called, because Trump made a few off-hand comments during the campaign. And so the trope now is that Putin so preferred Trump that he may have even helped hack a salutary election outcome? If you want to ask our intelligence agencies what’s going on, let’s try an intelligent question. What single thing matters the most to Russia? It is money, not rhetoric. To imagine that any Russian leader, never mind Putin, would be swayed more by the appearance of conversational bonhomie than by hard cash is, to put it kindly, silly.

Four facts illuminate the realities of where Russia’s preferences reside. All of the salient information emerges from petroleum domains.

First, the price of oil matters to Russia. Half of Russia’s gross domestic product and more than 70 percent of its export revenues come from selling oil and natural gas. That money not only powers the Russian economy, it is key to that nation’s ability to finance expensive foreign adventurism from the Middle East to Ukraine. Today’s low prices are depriving Russia of more than $150 billion every year; even in Washington, that’s real money. But in equivalent terms, that would be like wiping $1.5 trillion from the U.S. economy.

Second, America’s private-sector shale industry was the direct and indisputable trigger for the global petroleum price collapse. Thousands of small and mid-sized companies — it was not “big oil” that created the shale revolution — added more oil (and natural gas) to global markets in a shorter period than at any time in the past half century, anywhere. American frackers came out of nowhere — i.e., they emerged out of private-sector innovation on private land, not from government subsidies and preferences — to go from near-zero revenues to $150 billion per year in sales in just a half dozen years or so. To put that in perspective, the global smartphone industry, which emerged around the same time, went from zero to $70 billion per year of sales over the same period.

Third, candidate Hillary Clinton made clear, repeatedly, her plans to throttle the shale industry when she said: “So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.” Clinton promoted the focus-group-created phrase of becoming a “clean energy super power.” Got it: message received. But Putin is not afraid of American windmills and (Chinese) solar panels robbing him of cold hard cash. Trump, on the other hand, not only boisterously supported shale, but a recent leaked transition-team memo makes clear that policy changes are likely to follow the bluster.

Fourth, consider a relevant off-hand comment earlier this year from Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, who, most people know, was a vigorous Trump campaign supporter and advisor. Noting that frackers had single-handedly doubled America’s total oil production, Hamm said: “We can double it again.” This may be the single most frightening set of words Putin saw in 2016. There are no technical or resource constraints to doubling it again. Indeed, while little-noticed in the general media (you can bet Putin’s advisors know), progress in shale tech has doubled cost-efficiency and practically promises a shale 2.0 resurgence — provided regulators don’t stifle the industry. Imagine, quelle horreur, that our government might actually streamline procedures to accelerate a second boom. In this context, consider that Scott Pruitt is Trump’s nominee for chief of the Environmental Protection Agency. This prospect has alarmed extreme environmentalists since Pruitt, the shale-friendly attorney general of the great state of Oklahoma, is a fierce opponent of EPA overreach and exactly the kind of person that Russia’s oil oligarchs would prefer not to see in control of the regulatory brakes.

The geopolitical implications (never mind the domestic economic benefits) of expanding U.S. shale capabilities should be obvious. Not only would increasing shale output keep downward pressure on prices, but as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, earlier observed: “Many U.S. allies and trading partners are interested in purchasing American oil to diversify away from Russia, Iran, and other problematic sources.”

As my lawyer friends say, I rest my case.



Clinton’s People Not Russia Provided Hacked Email

And the intelligence agencies are not willing to explain or justify their Russia claims.  How suspicious is that?

It seems the bumbling Central Intelligence Agency, which recently leaked its “assessment” that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had been hacked by evil Russian boss Vlad Putin, neglected to do even a minimum of leg work around their explosive claim.

Because if they had, they might have found out that the leaks from Hillary’s doomed campaign were internal not Russian.

    "Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said in the report by the Daily Mail that he flew to Washington for a clandestine handoff with one of the email sources in September.

    He said he received a package in a wooded area near American University.   “Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,” Mr. Murray told the British newspaper. “The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.”

Despite the fact that Murray’s assertions exactly match the claims put forward by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the campaign, the CIA and other intelligence offices run by President Obama have tried to blame the hacks on Russia.

Now, these agencies are being called on to the carpet by Congress but while they were willing to run their mouths at length to the Washington Post and the New York Times, they have clammed up when it comes to testifying before Congress:

    "Meanwhile on Wednesday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence had to cancel a closed-door classified briefing on the issue of suspected Russian interference after U.S. intelligence agencies refused to cooperate.

    Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and committee chairman, requested that the FBI, CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and National Security Agency provide witnesses, in part in response to reports last week in The Washington Post and The New York Times that intelligence agencies think the Kremlin deliberately tried to push the election to Mr. Trump, something not supported by postelection testimony to the panel"

    But according to Fox News, “agencies refused to provide representatives for the session.”

    “It is unacceptable that the Intelligence Community directors would not fulfill the House Intelligence Committee’s request to be briefed tomorrow on the cyber-attacks that occurred during the presidential campaign,” Mr. Nunes said in a statement. “The Committee is deeply concerned that intransigence in sharing intelligence with Congress can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes.”

It looks increasingly likely that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have manufactured the entire Russia-influenced-the-election story out of whole cloth.  They were assisted in their endeavor by a compliant news media and by a politicized intelligence network.



Jill Stein’s Michigan recount exposes voter fraud in Democrat-controlled Detroit

Jill Stein and her puppet master Hillary Clinton’s effort to stop the certification of enough Trump delegates to disrupt the Electoral College has run aground in the most delightful way.

In Michigan, where Trump has been certified the winner in spite of Stein’s efforts, Wayne County (Detroit), where Clinton overwhelmingly won, has come under fire explicitly due to the recount.  Turns out in 37 percent of the Detroit precincts more votes were cast than the number of people who showed up to the polls to vote. No one would have noticed if not for the personal enrichment recall scheme of the former Green Party presidential candidate.

The Detroit News quotes Krista Haroutunian, the chairwoman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers as saying, “There’s always going to be small problems to some degree, but we didn’t expect the degree of problem we saw in Detroit. This isn’t normal.”

Now Wayne County officials will be subjected to an audit by the Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office, the exact kind of electoral proctology exam that every local official fears.

To make matters worse for Democrats in the state, Stein’s broad claims of voter fraud convinced the GOP majority in the state legislature to respond by passing voter identification legislation.  The exact type of legislation that the left has vehemently opposed.  Talk about open mouth, insert foot.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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