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TGIF – April 20, 2018

Rules.

Rules are supposed to apply to everyone.

Everyone that is, except minorities. Of course this refers to the latest flap about the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks store.

Starbucks has (had?) a rule that only paying customers could “loiter” in the store and use the restrooms.

At least 20 stores and a half-dozen restaurants in my town alone have similar rules.

And yes, it does seem petty at first glance, even counter-productive for building good customer relations.

Stores think they have good reasons for this, primarily that they provide and pay for tables and toilets as a convenience for their customers, not the general public, and certainly not to provide a free conference room for businessmen.

That’s not really the point though.  The point is that the rule applies to everyone.

There’s an easy way around the rule.  Buy something,  wait for your friend outside, or go to an establishment that doesn’t have this rule.

From news stories it appears that when the manager, allegedly following company policy, told the two men essentially that, they immediately made it about racism and refused to either leave or make a purchase.

At that point the manager called the cops, and we all know where it went from there.

This is getting tiresome.

There shouldn’t be two standards, one for whites and another for everyone else. That’s supposed to be the underpinning of equality.

Granted, Starbucks is expensive, but how hard would it have been to buy one and split the cost when it became an issue?

It’s amazing how much better we get along when everyone just follows the rules.

One parent’s take.

As this is being written we have yet another school walkout over school safety and yes, gun control.

One mom is damned unpopular with her two high school age daughters over said demonstration.

When notified that her daughters, aged 15 and 16 would be out of school, Mom told both them and the school in no uncertain terms that they were to stay in class.

The teachers for the girls’ classes responded by saying that they wouldn’t be teaching anyway, since the classroom would be empty.

The girls responded with howls of indignation, telling Mom that they had to walk out because “everyone will be doing it.”

Mom  in turn asked why they couldn’t have the demonstration on a weekend, when they wouldn’t be truant.

Seems there is a rule in that household.  For every hour you are truant or cut class, you will be grounded for a day. She says she will enforce the rule.

I pay a lot of money to have my children educated, not just in taxes but in all the things the school doesn’t pay for, like cheer club, field trips, sports uniforms, etc. The least I should be able to expect is that they will be in the classroom during normal school hours.” she said.

She also noted that when told the school would start locking the doors from 10 minutes after classes begin to the time the school day ends, there was such an uproar from the kids that the school scrapped the plan.  Seems they wanted to be able to leave campus for lunch or go to their cars during school hours.

Leaving Mom to ask exactly who runs the schools, the staff or the kids? “I am certainly mindful of the reason for the walkout.  I too want safe schools. But the threats are coming from other students, not the NRA. Why is it so hard for the kids to see that?

She isn’t the only one asking.

The other FBI question.

With former FBI director James Comey sucking up to the media to promote his book, the deeper questions about the agency seem to be in danger of being overlooked.

One panel member on one of the daytime talk shows opined that “…J. Edgar Hoover must be spinning in his grave…” over Comey publishing a book that overlaps a series of ongoing investigations.

If J. Edgar is still paying attention, he is far more likely to be incensed that Comey wasn’t smart enough to conceal his questionable actions and decisions.

The FBI has a long history of being a pawn for special interests.

Let us not forget that after his death, Hoover was exposed to have been using the FBI to collect dirt on a wide variety of politicians primarily for his own use. To call it what it was, he was using the information to extract favors and bend politicians to his will.

The question at hand isn’t whether either man was a first-class louse, but why it is so easy for the agency to be weaponized.

As the de facto equivalent of a national police force,  the FBI has tremendous power.

On the good side, it isn’t hamstrung by jurisdictional barriers when pursuing criminals or criminal groups like organized crime.

On the bad side, there are apparently no effective checks and balances on that power, other than the inspector general for that agency.

Judging by the difficulties encountered by the Congressional oversight committees in prying loose documents related to the 2016 election, the Horowitz investigation isn’t  moving fast enough to either prevent or confirm  further problems.

Although technically the Bureau answers to the Department of Justice and more broadly to the executive branch, in practice that obviously doesn’t effectively compel them to act ethically.

In order to protect us from the likes of groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda or drug cartels it is necessary that the FBI have the power to conduct surveillance on individual people, both citizens and non-citizens. After all, investigation is part of their name for a reason.

How extensively and ethically they utilize that power has been the subject of numerous books, like The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger, published  in 2014.or Ronald Kessler’s 2011 tome, Secrets of the FBI.

Both books suggest that Hoover wasn’t above using those files to keep people in government and business under his thumb, sometimes for very personal reasons.

With the advent of the internet, the country has been privy to exactly how that works in real time, as in the cases of Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and now, the President’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Was the FBI weaponized against one candidate or political ideology for the benefit of the other one, and if so, by whom and to achieve what ends?

Throughout the uproar over the 2016 election, everyone has been careful to try to separate the agents in the field from the agency bureaucracy, but recent instances of what appears to be gross negligence by one or more of those field agencies and offices, as in the Parkland school shooting, calls into question the entire culture of the agency as a whole.

Which leads us back to the central question.  How much can we the people trust the FBI?

One thing seems crystal clear. The myth of the Elliot Ness FBI, is just that…a myth.

A voice from the dark side.

In yet another illustration of California’s institutional tolerance for and cultivation of the subversive left wing operating in the U.S., California’s Fresno State University is revealed to have been employing and perhaps nurturing yet another subversive propagandist to teach your children.

Specifically one Randa Jarrar, a tenured professor, who by her own admission is using her tenured status to vomit her hatred of the Bush family via what is described as a now private Twitter account.

Specifically, she is almost literally dancing on the grave of former First Lady Barbara Bush while passionately hoping for the death of the rest of the Bush family.

The professor is right about one thing; if she were to disrespect the current or former leaders of some Middle East countries within their borders, she wouldn’t last long enough for the words to make it to print.

Here however, she can look forward to dying of old age.

Much as her hate-filled rant may disgust people, she is entitled by law to rant as much as she wants.

Actually that isn’t the real point.

The point is that she is teaching your kids, and Fresno State is apparently just fine with that.

She’s right in the main that it is very hard to fire a teacher with tenure, i.e. a guarantee of lifetime employment, regardless of suitability or competence.

However, that exalted status does not protect her school from  being exposed as a link in the national chain of liberal schools being used to build an army to destroy America.

At least at the time this all is taking place, Fresno State has simply tried to distance itself from her by saying that her views were not the view of the school.

C’mon, who are they kidding?

While many are calling for the Federal government to stop funding these schools the reality is that the only way that could happen is to stop funding all schools. Singling out one or a group of schools for their political bias would not survive a Supreme Court challenge.

It appears that many California cities and counties have finally reached the saturation point in their ability to absorb the poison being dispensed from Sacramento.

Yesterday, San Diego County  joined that group, voting to join the Federal lawsuit to contest SB 54, the so-called sanctuary state law.

That’s all well and good, but it’s kind of abstract, and fails to get at the actual root of the problem.

Bubblehead Brown and the Professor Farrars of the country are no more than symptoms of a large and far more lethal political and cultural pandemic spreading within our borders.

That doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do.

The only way these re-education facilities can be controlled  is to stop sending them recruits. They get paid by the head, or more correctly by student attendance days.

No students, no money.

Theoretically that means every parent has the means to stop being the host for these lethal parasites.

Think about it.

Barbara Bush, 1925-2018.   R.I.P

Has Comey helped the GOP close the gap?

Several national polls indicate that Democrats might be less likely than previously suspected to have a so-called “wave election” this year.

The problem for political parties in midterm elections is lack of voter participation by whichever party won the presidential election.

The losing party has the advantage of being the underdog and using that status to motivate its voters.

The winning party on the other hand usually suffers from “pat ourselves on the back” syndrome.

The midterms are mostly about local politics, even in congressional races. People don’t seem to connect the local candidate to the success of the person they just elected.

That’s what is different about this year.

To most Trump voters the wonder is how the President has managed to accomplish anything positive in the last 16 months.

The left’s constant attacks on anyone who didn’t favor and vote for Hillary Clinton isn’t going unnoticed.

Identity politics isn’t so much working for Democrats as it is keeping right-leaning voters in the game.

The former FBI director may be helping to provide the spark needed to jolt independents and Republicans out of their complacency.

Comey’s interview may have been watched by 12 million people, but his sickening arrogance, self-important moralizations and obvious abuse of his agency’s power wasn’t lost on many of those viewers.

This is one guy that instills a deep need to shower after you listen to him for a while, and almost perfectly typifies the attitude of Democrats toward not just President Trump, but anyone else connected to the President even by nothing more than their vote.

From the New Yorker Magazine’s anti-Christian attack on Chick-fil-A’s “pervasive  Christian traditionalism” to California’s deep disregard for the rule of law to the ridiculous hyperbole of  this or that special interest leftist group or candidate suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome Disorder (TDSD), it isn’t hard to see where we are going if the GOP loses control of the House and Senate in the midterms.

That’s not say that the GOP is putting up a particularly good fight.

By fielding less-than-stellar local candidates, sometimes relying far too heavily on the Trump coattails, and not being able to find a common voice among themselves, they have seemed up to now to be pretty much conceding the election to the law of averages.

Even the President doesn’t always seem to understand that he can’t drag his party over the finish line by himself just by making the whole thing about the attacks on him.

Making everything about him actually results in people feeling that his Twitter feuds have nothing to do with their lot in life.

That doesn’t mean that he should never defend himself against patently false accusations, but there has to be more to it than that.

Comey may be a self-righteous slug who seems to suffer from a Messiah complex, but what voters want to know is how that’s any of their business. All they can do about him is not buy his book.

Luckily, more people are beginning to check out their local candidates and ask themselves how electing this one or that one will have an effect on their bottom line or their wages, or even whether electing someone will result in losing more freedoms, ultimately putting them right back into bondage to the Federal government.

2016 was the just the first quarter of the game.

2018 will decide whether the right goes into the half trailing by too many points to make up.

Russia needs a new script.

In his U.N. speech, Russian ambassador Nebenzya seems to have gone to the archives for some of his talking points.

Neo-colonialism? Imperialistic? How very 1960’s.

You could close your eyes and imagine watching him on a black-and-white Philco, and everything he said sounded like Nikita Krushchev or his predecessors. He did however keep his shoes on.

Congress on the other hand, sounded very 2018.

Nancy Pelosi, who has not been shy about calling the President a bully and a loose cannon over his dealings with North Korea, not to mention a Russian operative, now says he “needs to tell Congress his strategy.”

Right.  Why not just send it to the NYT first hand? It would save Ms. Pelosi the trouble of finding someone who would leak it.

At this point, Congress has no one but itself to blame if the President doesn’t find it necessary to get their blessing every time he sneezes. Apparently his “strategy” was good enough for France and Britain.

First of all, Congress had a chance when President Obama was in office to create a new AUMF. They did not do so, because they don’t appear to want the responsibility.

Second, no “strategy” Trump would come up with would ever be approved.

Some of the President’s most conservative base is upset that he seems to be reneging on his promise not to nation-build.

Nothing that happened over the weekend suggests that he is nation-building. He can still pull our military out of Syria, or restrict the troops already there to catching and killing any ISIS members they find.

It is worth noting that if the U.N. and NATO had acted to enforce the WWI era-restrictions on chemical warfare the President’s action wouldn’t have been needed.

Having said that, there is some validity to concerns that he may be being forced by events to keep the military in places where they are clearly not changing much of anything. Case in point, Afghanistan, where Bush’s goal was clearly to install a democratic government.

In some ways he is exactly where Lyndon Johnson was when he inherited Viet Nam from Kennedy.

Johnson desperately wanted to get out, but the meme of that time was that we had to stay because it would protect us from Communism taking over the world. Damned if he pulled out, damned if he didn’t.

Perhaps with that historical hindsight, Trump can find a way pull it off.

For instance, we might be better off to fashion our military response to threats that directly affect us more like a SWAT team. Identify the bad guys, go in and eliminate them quickly and completely, but then get out unless the country itself attacks us.

Yes, that’s whack-a-mole, but then we humans have never managed to make moles extinct either. That doesn’t mean we don’t still try to eliminate them from our property.

It would also give us time to rebuild our military so we could fight a real war when it becomes necessary.

In the meantime, Russia is doing what Russia does.  This is the Cold War of the 1970’s and ’80s all over again.

The only difference between then and now is that in the 1970’s Americans knew which side they were on.  Today, not so much.

TGIF – April 13, 2018

Should Congress “fire” Mueller?

No matter your political views, it’s probably time to ask what exactly we are getting for our tax dollars from the Special Counsel’s investigation.

Numerous media reported in December 2017 that the investigation had cost up to $6.7 million up to that point, i.e. over seven months at the time.

It is now April of 2018. At close to a million dollars a month, what is the taxpayers ROI?

It appears that the investigation is still in search of a crime that would prove that the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russia to rig the election.

Failing that, the Special Counsel seems quite willing to settle for any crime by anyone, as long as it has some tie to Donald Trump.

Along the way Mueller’s dream team has managed to stretch far afield from the central premise to harass and charge people even very marginally associated with the campaign with totally unrelated crimes, the latest of whom  is the President’s personal attorney.

Attorney Michael Cohen’s alleged crime (bank fraud) was so far removed from the investigation that Mueller had to go to an outside agency just to obtain a search warrant.

If news reports are to be believed, the object of the search was to obtain evidence of whether Cohen illegally obtained funds related to the President’s alleged affair with an aging porn star that took place nine years before his candidacy, thus possibly making an unreported “in kind” campaign contribution.

Other “news” reports say that all they really wanted was the Access Hollywood tape.  Does the phrase sex, lies and video tapes come to mind?

So far unasked or at least unreported, is whether the $130,000 payment  was, shall we say, suggested by Stormy herself.

OK, we get it. The left is really pissed off that Trump is the President instead of their chosen stooge. They are slowly but surely working their way toward the President, even if the only result will be to attempt to invalidate him by reason of his associations with all these terrible felons.

But when should the taxpayers have the right to refuse to keep funding their obsession?

It seems like that moment is right about now.

The U.N. fails, again.

Once again the United Nations has proved its utter irrelevancy.

The entire world is aghast over the now verified gassing of people in the Syrian town of Douma, a clear violation of international law.

The U.N. exists to provide a means short of armed conflict to settle questions like this. However ineffective its resolutions might be, it is supposed to provide some standard for holding rogue nations accountable for misdeeds.

Since any single member can refuse to support a resolution, very little to nothing ever comes from its existence.

This should have resulted in a referral to an international criminal court.

Instead we seem to have the whole world expecting the United States to exact retribution for the deaths of little children and pregnant women, presumably at the hands of their own government,  using our munitions, our equipment and our citizens’ lives.

This brings up once again the question of why the U.S. pays a single dime to support such an ineffectual group of blowhards.

If the world wants to rent our armed forces, maybe they should pay us 2% of their GDP instead of wasting it on the U.N.

Hurray for (some of) California.

Apparently some communities in the Golden State aren’t drinking Governor Bubblehead’s kool-aid anymore.

They have even had the temerity to suggest their towns are not safer and more prosperous in a sanctuary state.

Good job folks!  Maybe someday no one will have to apologize for having the misfortune of being  born there.

In the meantime however you have your fearless leader pontificating that he won’t “allow” the National Guard to do what they are already prohibited by Federal law from doing.

Honestly, where did you get this guy?

No wait, I already know. Berkeley.  He could have only come from Berkeley and he did, graduating from that former  bastion of free speech, free love and LSD before going on to Yale.

But that’s mean. True, but mean.

And, it takes away from the point of this segment, which is that it is nice to know there are at least a few city governments who can think for themselves.

Good on ya!   Keep up the good work.

 

The flip side of the Facebook hearings.

Yesterday we were critical of some Facebook  business model flaws and practices as related to data scraping, privacy and censorship.

Here are some other takeaways from that exercise. It wasn’t just the FB founder who revealed some flaws.

Clearly, it seems to be the intent of Congress to co-opt Facebook and similar platforms to police the entire online global population, a practice many find both dangerous and naïve.

It is the function of the U.S. government to protect us, and that includes cyber security.

Time after time you heard Mr. Zuckerberg being asked one on hand to make the internet safe from fake news, “hate speech” and government bad actors, and on the other hand being excoriated for  practicing censorship and political favoritism.

No private platform can do the first without employing the second to one degree or another. What the hearings didn’t do was provide any sense of direction to that process.

As an example, Mr. Zuckerberg has said repeatedly that the platform seeks to take down sites that are “hurtful.”

Hurtful to whom, and in what way?

Is it the dainty little co-ed at Berkeley who is triggered by a Trump T-shirt?

Is it a left-wing Silicon Valley worker who has been systematically schooled into developing a pathological dread of white men, Christians, gun owners, and conservative bloggers?

Is it the increasingly large number of young people who believe the only people with the right of  free speech is when it is their speech?

What about the millions of NRA members who have  been labeled en masse by the left as kill-crazy psychopaths?

Or the 31% of the U.S. population who are Caucasian males?

Without defining the terms used to develop the algorithms, that would seem to almost invite the company to employ censorship and invasive monitoring as a tool.

Congress often seems intent on fobbing off its Constitutional responsibilities onto private enterprise.

There were also some nuggets to be collected from Mr. Zuckerberg’s answers.

For instance, he mentioned the company’s commitment to bring affordable internet access to rural or underserved areas worldwide.

The goal is laudable, but the mechanics may deserve some scrutiny. There is also the question whether that access should be solely owned by private firms, and thus subject to the whims of a founder or board of directors.

He mentioned using airplanes as broadband carriers.  There are at least three companies already investing in that field, although how much financial or technological backing they may be getting from Facebook, if any at all,  is unknown.

That seems like a technology that is imminently vulnerable to hacking or even the creation of fake networks by both private and government bad actors, not to mention the vagaries of weather.

Is it Facebook’s responsibility to provide broadband capacity? If so, given that because of sheer volume it can’t control everything on its own pages now, how would it guarantee that airborne capacity would be free of bias or undue criminal influence?

These questions and many more of a similarly substantive nature were barely touched upon in the hearings.

Musings submits that like many of these Congressional inquisition panels, Mr. Zuckerberg and his company were used unabashedly to score political points ahead of an election.

For instance, many of the questions seemed to presume that Zuckerberg should know and control the most minute details of his company. That was evident as he was asked if he knew the political leanings of his employees, a question that flies in the face of fair hiring practices as they are now written.

Imagine if John Q. Business Owner  were to ask applicants that question and then based hiring decisions on hiring only Republicans or only Democrats? It would take the ACLU about 1/10 of a New York minute to file suit against that policy.

Does Facebook have some stinky business practices?

Absolutely, but no one forces you to have a Facebook account, or a Twitter account or indeed to keep those you do have, although if you close your FB account it takes 90 days or so, and they will keep at least some of the data they have scraped.

By the same token, sloughing off the government’s responsibilities and scapegoating Facebook for political purposes smells just as bad.