Thursday, December 21, 2017

Signs of hope in North Korea

The number of soldiers who have defected across the highly militarized and defended DMZ has shot up by a factor of three to 15 this year.   It's not an avalanche, but the dreamer in me wonders if the time will come soon for our President to do this. 

And then maybe at Club Gitmo and Caracas, too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


If there is a better case for defunding Amtrak than the recent crash in Washington state, I don't know what is.  The first run of the new route, which should have had some excitement about it, had 13 cars (max capacity 500-1000 people most likely) with 80 people on board, and the engineer ignored two speed limit signs to blaze through a 30mph curve at 80mph, killing several people.  Plus, the new line cost $180 million, which is quite a lot per rider, to put it mildly.

 I don't know what led to this, but part of the issue might simply be that driving a locomotive is probably far less engaging than driving a car or flying a plane, and boredom simply overcomes the signaling.  Either that, or Amtrak neglected proper signaling on the line.

It suggests as well that there are limits to the effectiveness of error proofing unless we want the machines to take over completely.  As a guy who still drives a truck with a clutch, I've got to say no, thank you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The real issue with the Mueller investigation... not that he's hired a bunch of people who contributed to Hilliary's campaign or are otherwise obviously biased towards the left, but rather that key people in his investigation are spending large amounts of work time on politics, indicating that they are not only biased, but are also incapable of addressing allegations and evidence fairly. 

Which suggests that not only Peter Strzok and Lisa Page ought to be under scrutiny, but also Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein.  To ignore obvious conflicts of interest like this is something taught, really, in the first year of law school--and does not need to be taught to many even before they enter law school.  Time to drain the swamp.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Why politics is so brutal these days

The Alabama Senate race provides an excellent picture.  Prior to the allegations against Roy Moore, he was up by about ten points....after they came out, his opponent was up by about the same....but a few weeks later, Moore was again up by about ten points....and apparently now, for reasons I do not entirely understand, Doug Jones is up by the same margin again.

Whatever you think of either candidate, the simple fact is that if voters are that fickle and easily manipulated, the political process will feature a lot of manipulation along the lines of what we've seen.  And you know what?  We deserve it if we won't critically evaluate allegations in light of their sources, timing, and other verification or refutation.  Sad to say, it's biting the whole country on the rear, and it's exactly how "the swamp" appears to be holding its own.

A bit of a side note

I am not one to compliment Chicago much these days, with corrupt government and inept sports teams and the like, but having spent last Saturday there with the family at the Christkindlmarkt , two blocks west of the Marshall Field's flagship store, and having enjoyed lunch at Geno's, I must confess that no other city I've been in does winter style like Chicago--bright scarves, etc..

To make up for that, I got to spend about an hour in scenic downtown Gary due to mechanical problems on the South Shore Line.  Oh well, the more things change.....and it gave me time to digest my pizza on the way home, too.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

How to destroy a man

I got to thinking about the case of Peter Strzok, an FBI employee who is at the center of both the Hilliary Clinton email scandals and the Robert Mueller special investigation, and beyond this excellent set of questions and links from Powerline, it strikes me that James Comey and Robert Mueller have conspired to destroy the man.

Not that Strzok escapes guilt for his own part in these actions, of course, but let's walk through his recent career.  Apparently a prominent counterintelligence expert, he was put on what appears to most observers to be an open and shut case against Hilliary Clinton, and that with the caveat that one could not come to the obvious conclusion that Mrs. Clinton had destroyed 30,000 government records (or more) and stored classified data wrongly hundreds of times.

In the Mueller investigation, he was put on the case not to investigate links of the Trump campaign with the Russians--there apparently are none of interest--but rather to put Trump associates through a full body cavity exam and drain their financial lifeblood one billable hour at a time until a Mickey Mouse conviction or two could be obtained.

Now even though Strzok appears to be quite the partisan, I'm guessing that he was suffering from a crisis of conscience and quite frankly a lot of boredom, and couldn't talk with his own wife about this.

Enter Lisa Page, with whom he can talk, because she works in the same office.

Yes, Strzok is responsible for his own actions, but at the same time, Jim Comey and Bob Mueller share some blame for making him vulnerable to this kind of temptation.

Update: apparently it gets weirder.  Apparently not only did Strzok himself conclude that Michael Flynn's testimony was truthful, but he and Page also apparently exchanged over 10,000 messages.    It boggles the mind that he got anything done, and it may be that Strzok did indeed have a conscience and was trying to cope. 

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

A time for gratitude

It strikes me that just as "fact check" abuses and the like indicate clearly that a great portion of the media has been weaponized on behalf of the left, abuses at the FBI like the case of Keyser Strzok detailed by Mr. D. indicate that vast portions of the federal bureaucracy have also been weaponized on behalf of the left.

Why gratitude?  Because the first thing that is necessary in war is to know your enemy.  As Mr. D.'s post illustrates, the rot necessarily goes a lot past Keyser Strzok to the people who signed off on his writing, including James Comey and Robert Mueller. 

The big thing that comes to mind is that the traditional method of investigating these things seems to be to spend a whole lot of time investigating the out of things when we already have clear, yet minor, offenses committed by many.  It strikes me that instead of holding off for months or years waiting for big offenses to be determined, just start with the little stuff and see what people mention when their feet are held to the fire.  The worst you can get is for people like Huma Abedin to be unemployable in government circles again, which is in itself a win.

Monday, December 04, 2017


To do a little bit of more serious thought regarding the planned Senate and House tax cut plans, I figure I ought to link to an article about them, and evaluate the plans in light of a few principles.

The principles are simple.  First, a man ought not be taxed on money he needs to support his family, including pending actuarial cataclysms with Socialist Insecurity, Mediscare, Medicaid, and the Health Insurance Deform Act.  Second, tax cuts ought to be balanced with spending cuts, particularly on the many things government does that really don't help (e.g. hybrid car subsidies, windmills, subsidies for daycare, etc..).  Third, they ought to be permanent to create a sense of economic continuity and planning.  Fourth, they ought to simplify the tax code, since our current system has hundreds of billions of dollars in compliance costs. 

OK, so how does the plan do by these criteria?  The first item, the doubling of the standard deduction does make taxes simpler (few would itemize) and does reduce taxation of money people need to live.  Unfortunately, that is largely undone by the elimination of the dependent exemption, which could be critical to avoid seniors dying on a diet of dog food in a puddle of their own waste when SS and Medicare/Medicaid collapse.  The elimination of the dependent exemption is that further complicated by family tax credits and an expanded, two part tax credit.  What the GOP is doing here, really, is eliminating lines on the 1040 that lack forms and replacing them with lines that require multiple forms.  Not good on complexity there at all, and definitely not good for people supporting disabled and aged relatives, or for people with kids in college.

The damage is compounded with modifications of the estate tax and medical deductions, where the GOP missed a golden opportunity to make HIDA/Obamacare irrelevant by making either all health care costs deductible or none of them. 

To wrap things up, many of the cuts are temporary or delayed, hindering economic planning, and none of the cuts are balanced by spending cuts that desperately need to be made.  Come on, the GOP can't make the case that the kid flipping burgers ought not be required to help a lawyer pay for his )(*&)(&)( Tesla?  Or that the kid sweeping floors at McNeilus Steel ought not be paying for the owner's windmills?  Seriously?

I'm as conservative as they come, but I really think the GOP needs to go back to the drawing board on this one.

Friday, December 01, 2017

The District of Columbia, translated

Perhaps the best way of understanding the plea bargain of Michael Flynn, in my view, is that because information that was illegally released suggests Flynn did not tell the whole truth to the FBI when the FBI, without clear cause, used that illegally released information to start their investigation, the entire Trump administration is in danger because they, having won the election, were doing their job and talking with foreign diplomats.

And people wonder why we're cynical about our government.  Crikey.  We have a herd of people in our intelligence agencies and the FBI feloniously leaking information, people in Mueller's investigation feloniously leaking information, and a former FBI director feloniously sharing his notes with a judge, and it's Flynn that gets punished?