Category Archives: politics

Facebook hearings presenting noisy misdirection

171031153500-facebook-twitter-google-testify-2-1280x720Lawmakers painted a frightful picture of last year’s campaign during Senate hearings in October; witnesses told tales of Facebook users being confronted by 80,000 posts linked to a Russian troll farm that could have reached 126 million Americans. The same Kremlin-linked group sent more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and posted roughly 1,000 videos on YouTube. Democrats were indignant. Delaware senator Chris Coons described one post by a user named “Heart of Texas” condemning Hillary Clinton as “nothing short” of direct Russian interference in “our elections.” As general counsel for the social media giant, Colin Stretch told Coons “that advertisement has no place on Facebook,” and assured the senator he would not allow “that sort of behavior” again. What sort of behavior? A cursory review of the content presented on Capitol Hill reveals pages named “Donald Trump America” and “Army of Jesus” promoting the former developer as well as others for “Black Matters” and “United Muslims,” which urged visitors to support Clinton and thus “save American Muslims.” Continue reading

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November 8, 2017 · 9:36 pm

Second Amendment repeal not to be taken lightly

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Bret Stephens is not the first person to question the utility of a Constitutional Amendment — when prohibition was still in force it was routinely assailed, and eventually repealed with another Amendment. The First, Fourth, and Fourteenth have been sidestepped, undermined, and critiqued by college administrators, NSA spooks, and a certain presidential candidate. Yet nobody has suggested one of the first ten should be repealed. Until now. Presumably, the New York Times editorialist would make his case by pointing to Las Vegas and citing the number of Americans who use a gun to kill themselves or their countrymen. He argued that Democrats make their case “in bad faith,” then illustrated the rhetoric’s relationship with reality. First up was the infamous “loophole” that allows people to sell private property, like a gun, without securing a license. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe charged that 40 percent of buyers use it to evade a background check; a 2015 survey carried out by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard reviewed 4,000 cases and put the total at 22 percent. Continue reading

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October 12, 2017 · 9:09 pm

Healthcare battle continues as October looms

1-139_186538In any other environment, Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill would be greeted the way Republican attempts to defund or dismantle Obamacare once were — a spirited effort by the minority party to stir its base ahead of the next campaign. The cranky Vermont senator is more true believer than opportunist, every bit an ideological counterweight to Ted Cruz, but there was something missing from the plan he presented, something a salesman would overlook. It certainly wasn’t benefits, controls, or high-minded rhetoric. As it stands, “Berniecare” is very generous: it would cover hospital visits, laboratory services, medical devices, maternity care, prescription drugs, vision, and dental. Consumers would be virtually free from out-of-pocket expenses as Sanders’ plan would effectively bar or disband public and private competition. The missing element from a drive to finish what Sanders called a “long and difficult struggle” to end an “international disgrace” is how he intends to pay for it. Continue reading

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September 29, 2017 · 9:14 pm

Torch-lit march ignited stress-test of American society

170812-charlottesville-car-crash-graphic-ew-413p_e44f0fc9685f46fbb60af1f6a2963c17-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000There was something surreal about watching footage of “Unite the Right” demonstrators marching across the University of Virginia campus chanting “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us.” Reports of “scuffles” with counterprotesters were in the news by Saturday. Nobody could have known just what a storm they were unleashing, one that would rattle the White House and cause aftershocks that reached Southern California’s Hollywood Forever cemetery. Another demonstration followed on Saturday to protest the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It was disrupted by police just after Noon when a group organized by local activists was met by counterprotesters; the two sides regrouped and faced off again later in the day as police reportedly stood by, unable or unwilling to keep the two factions apart. The crowd of rivals is the one a twenty-year-old drove his Dodge coupe into before fleeing the scene. Continue reading

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August 22, 2017 · 9:59 pm

Hackers still prowling, no Firewall in sight

russiaThere were no clocks on CNN counting down to Jeh Jonson’s appearance in front of the House Intelligence Committee in June. The former Homeland Security (DHS) chief’s testimony did not draw curious and committed spectators to pubs and coffeehouses serving spiked java or “Im-PEACH-mints” so they could watch a heavyweight showdown like the one between a sitting president and the FBI director he fired. Johnson met those low expectations while contributing little to the discussion about alleged collusion and obstruction aimed at the Trump campaign and a rookie president. He was on Capitol Hill to talk about another president who is under fire for ordering an “influence campaign” to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and defuse a related assertion. In the process Johnson reintroduced another aspect of this alleged attempt to assist the former Celebrity Apprentice host that has been relegated to the undercard of public interest by cloak-and-dagger intrigue. Continue reading

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July 20, 2017 · 8:27 pm

What does victory in the War on Terror look like?

5th-ariana-grande-concert-bombin-1024x576The ringing tones that echoed from Manchester last month were all too familiar: another concert bombed, another group of innocents killed by an aspiring martyr, another round of prayers, condemnations, and public mourning. It was like something out of a nightmare, and that was before survivors and observers learned how this guided missile eluded security by attacking as concertgoers were leaving the arena. His timing couldn’t have been better — the Manchester bomber struck while his ideological brethren were making headlines in the Philippines and Egypt. The army that wears no uniform and does not represent a nation seems to be on the march all over the world, but something else echoed from the blast that doesn’t involve TNT or homemade shrapnel. Continue reading

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June 14, 2017 · 10:54 pm

Trump makes bizarre decision to fire James Comey

FBI Director James Comey speaks at the Boston Conference on Cyber Security at Boston College in BostonIt would be nice to believe a president who presided over rallies where crowds chanted “Lock her up” and recently labeled FBI Director James Comey the “best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton” discovered a genuine interest in the Bureau’s reputation and credibility. But that would require the will to forget how much the former Director’s public pronouncements in July helped candidate Trump. After months of rumor-mongering and speculation, Comey explained to a national audience how the former Secretary of State had been “extremely careless” with classified material on her personal email server. The billionaire developer suddenly had a credible, nonpartisan figure who confirmed what Republican candidates and cable news hosts had been asserting for over a year. When that credible figure refused to charge the Democrat nominee it played into Trump’s claim that the game was rigged in Clinton’s favor, something he took full advantage of. Continue reading

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May 17, 2017 · 11:11 pm