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A top priority
As a candidate, Donald Trump made improving the Department of Veterans Affairs a top priority. As President, he’s attempted reforms and even donated part of his own salary to the VA, but fixing it has been an uphill battle. Reforming entrenched Washington bureaucracies is like cleaning out the Augean Stables, and the VA was even more filled with manure than the original. Providing the very best of care to our veterans should be Washington’s job one, but a near tragedy in Atlanta illustrates how far we still have to go.
A 58-year-old Air Force veteran, apparently trying to draw attention to the failures of the VA system, doused himself with a flammable liquid near the Capitol and set himself on fire. Fortunately, a state trooper happened to be driving by and saw it. He rushed up with a fire extinguisher and got the vet to a hospital. He’ll survive, but he has burns covering up to 90% of his body.
Click the link for more details on this horrific story, the problems with the VA in general, and especially to access the phone number for the Veterans’ Crisis Line, if any veteran you know is having suicidal thoughts.
Nancy Pelosi's delusion
Nancy Pelosi is trying to convince Americans that the huge upset win of a 28-year-old avowed socialist over a ten-term incumbent in a New York Democratic primary is just a one-district fluke, and not an indicator of the far-left tilt of the Party that it obviously is. It takes an act of almost willful ignorance to believe at this late date that socialism is still the cure for raising up the poor, when the shocking news from socialist Venezuela gets worse by the day. Meanwhile, a new study found that thanks to spreading capitalism, the number of people in the world who live in extreme poverty has plummeted from 94% to 9.6%. The only thing socialism can raise up is that second number.
Just to prove that economics isn’t the only topic on which the new generation of "progressive" Democrats is dangerously misinformed, their new media star is also calling on fellow Democrats to have the “moral courage” to denounce Israel for using deadly force in dealing with Palestinian protesters.
She actually compares the Israeli troops’ dealing with Hamas-backed rioters to a hypothetical police massacre of striking teachers in West Virginia. She also claims the Palestinians were killed while merely “engaging in political expression.” I happened to be in Israel during those riots, which were ginned up to draw attention during the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. The Palestinians were rushing the border fence, attacking Israeli soldiers with various makeshift weapons, and even shoving their own children to the front, trying to get Israeli troops to shoot them so they could be labeled child killers. Is that sick practice something you’ve ever seen at a teachers’ strike? It was an extremely dangerous situation, and the Israeli troops showed incredible restraint, considering the level of provocation they were facing.
On the other hand, considering the way the far-left in America has been behaving lately, maybe they really do think that what the Palestinian protesters were doing in Israel was just “engaging in political expression.”
In case you missed this on my Twitter feed, here’s a good restaurant, obviously with a smart owner. Or definitely smarter than some restaurant owners.
In his closed-door testimony, Peter Strzok is "full of it"
Wouldn’t you know it? I go to all the trouble of suggesting 20 questions for the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees to ask FBI agent Peter Strzok in his much-anticipated closed-door hearing on Wednesday, and he hardly answers anything. Sure, mine were mostly tongue-in-cheek, but come on. I’m sure the committees had plenty of extremely important questions for him, and he was essentially non-responsive over the course of several hours.
At least that’s the impression given in the brief reports that followed the testimony of the anti-Trump crusader. Committee members were not buying. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said, “Unfortunately, FBI counsel ordered Mr. Strzok not to answer many of the legitimate questions he was asked. We intend to hold a public hearing soon.”
Strzok was supposed to be there to address the obvious political bias in his texts with FBI colleague and extramarital squeeze Lisa Page, clarify his role in the Trump/Russia investigation and shed light on the exoneration of Hillary over her clearly illegal use of a private server while Secretary of State and her clearly illegal destruction of subpoenaed evidence. But not much light was shed. According to Freedom Caucus member Ron DeSantis of Florida, “It was a waste --- Strzok is full of it and kept hiding behind [the] classified information excuse.”
Gee, that seems odd, because it was his lawyer who insisted just the other day that Strzok was eager to testify, to set the record straight on what he considers to be a mischaracterization –- even a caricature –- of him. For someone so eager to testify, he really was not forthcoming at all. The committees got the runaround.
Sorry, this is classified. The investigation is ongoing. My lawyer advises me, blah blah blah. Sorry, Mr. Strzok, that dog won’t hunt. The people in the room had security clearances, not to mention the constitutional duty to oversee the FBI, and they are sick and tired of getting the Readers Digest version of critical documents. The same goes for your heavily edited and self-serving testimony.
My understanding is that Strzok wasn’t even testifying under oath. If that is true, why wasn’t he sworn in? And why should he get to decide which questions he will and will not answer? Who does he think he is, Hillary Clinton?
Incidentally, I thought Strzok really might “pull a Bill Clinton” when I saw the video of him walking down the hall to the hearing. It was not my imagination –- he actually did have that same little self-satisfied, cat-that-ate-the-canary half-smile that we saw on Bill when he hid behind the meaning of the word “is.” He must have known in advance that he’d be able to cover his behind, at least for one more day.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz is still working on a report that will examine Strzok’s role in the Trump/Russia investigation, including the use of the FISA court to get warrants to target (SPY ON) Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. Word from the hearing was that Strzok claimed he’d had nothing to do with the warrant on Carter Page. Really? Strzok was the lead investigator! There is no way something like that would have been done without his knowledge and consent. Again: committee members, not buying.
According to Catherine Herridge for FOX News, Republicans on the committees “remain convinced” that Strzok’s anti-Trump bias “infected the FBI investigations.”
The Judiciary Committee had said the hearing would involve both classified and unclassified information to “sort through” before a public hearing took place. “A public hearing will be held!” they assured us. So perhaps we should just look at this closed-door hearing as a preliminary step --- a run-through to give the committees a chance to determine what to cover in the public hearing and how they’re going to handle Strzok. My first suggestion: SWEAR HIM IN.
It’s the public hearing that will tell the tale. And, hey, maybe they’ll throw in a few of my 20 questions! But I get the impression his lawyer might object.
For those who like to handicap horse races, here are some of the highly-credentialed jurists who are the top contenders for Trump to appoint to the Supreme Court and to soon be characterized in the media as sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic Nazis.
Frivolous lawsuit dismissed
As long as we’re wrapping up all these historic court decisions, I should also mention Monday’s ruling by Federal Judge William Allsup, dismissing San Francisco and Oakland, California’s, lawsuit against major oil companies that seeks to hold them responsible for climate change. They wanted massive damages from the oil companies to pay for the cities to deal with the threat. Nobody even disputed the manmade climate change claims, which the judge accepted, but he said this was a complicated issue best dealt with by coordinated actions involving governments and corporations, not by nuisance lawsuits.
Liberal officials in Oakland and San Francisco are considering an appeal, since they are famous for not backing down from being a nuisance without a fight. Also because I'm sure that if they win, they'll use all that sweet free money for all sorts of things that you never realized had anything to do with climate change (and we know how creative they can be in that area.) As far as I'm concerned, they are more than welcome to appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court, particularly since it will land there after Trump appoints his second Justice.
In the meantime, I’d just like to know how many of those officials who sued the oil companies for being the problem traveled from their air-conditioned mansions to the court in gas-guzzling limousines instead of on bicycles. Or for the ones from San Francisco, unicycles.
Welfare state pipe dreams
A P.S. on my primary election roundup: I mentioned that voters in the Bronx and Queens would face a choice of forcing themselves to side with sanity and elect a Republican or send an aggressive, outspoken socialist to Congress to challenge Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters as the face of the Democratic Party in Republican campaign ads. But there is a third alternative: Party leaders could decline to back her, while the longtime incumbent, Rep. Joe Crowley, could run as an Independent (and if it’s too late to get onto the ballot, as a write-in candidate). With his name recognition and tons of money to back him, he could win among general election voters who, one hopes, are not quite as enamored with the wonders of socialism as Democratic primary voters. Then he could caucus with the Democrats or just change his party affiliation back to Democrat. It would be a sneaky end-run, but hardly unprecedented.
But it would create one big problem for Democrats, as it would underscore the charge that the party establishment will do anything to thwart the far-left Bernie Sanders types who are the rising tide of their constituents. They’re facing a Hobson’s choice of trying to hold down the openly crazy socialist wave and risk losing their votes, or embracing them and risk alienating the vast majority of voters who prefer living in America to living in Venezuela.
By the way, I know the Bernie types prefer that we not mention the rapidly swirling toilet bowl (sans toilet paper) that Venezuela has become under socialism. They prefer to point to the Nordic “socialist lite” utopias such as Sweden, where the government tax bite of GDP is about twice what it is here, but they have cradle-to-grave “social services.” Well, I hate to shatter their illusions, but even Swedes are getting fed up with sky-high-and-rising taxes, open borders and deteriorating social services. Turns out “socialism lite” just means that your country swirls down the toilet a little slower and it takes a few more flushes, like one of those Al Gore low-flow eco-toilets.
Is anyone surprised that a writer for a major media corporation is now condoning liberals targeting conservatives with bombs?…
Too civil to respond
Or that a writer for alleged “comedian” Samantha Bee declared that “civility is a tool of white supremacy”?
I’d tell you what I really think of these braindead no-talents, but I’m just too darn civil.
Okay, everyone: Take out your big, ever-expanding book of “Forbidden Offensive Phrases” and add, “You’re out of your cotton-pickin’ mind.” As best I can ascertain, it’s still safe to say you “cotton to” something, but check back with me tomorrow to be on the safe side.
First Amendment woes
White House reporters get very snippy, to borrow an adjective from Al Gore, at the suggestion that they run fake news. I keep politely suggesting that the best way to fight that would be to stop running fake news, but that seems to be a bridge too far. They think that when President Trump calls them “fake news” after they run fake news, he’s slandering them and attacking the First Amendment. Only if they mean the First Amendment right to tell fairy tales in public. Not that today’s reporters seem to know much about the First Amendment or real history or doing research before reporting something.
Well, if they think the only person who believes they’re running fake news is Trump, then they’re going to be horrified to learn how persuasive he is. A new poll by Axios/Survey Monkey (and Axios is not a right-wing site, it’s a site launched by Politico and aimed at short attention-span Millennials) found that a staggering 72% of Americans believe that “traditional news outlets knowingly report false or misleading stories.” Only 25% believe the media “rarely” or “never” spread fake news. (I don’t what the remaining 3% believe. Maybe they think the media make up fake news and then actually believe it themselves. Those are known as “Comedy Central viewers.”)
Broken down by party affiliation, the news for the media gets even worse. You’d expect that 92% of Republicans think the new media lie routinely, but so do 79% of Independents and – brace yourselves – 52% of Democrats!
Tellingly, Axios tries to spin the results as mostly conservatives being skeptical of the media, even though it’s also a large majority of independents and a majority of Democrats as well. In other words, they can’t even report a survey on fake news without trying to turn it into fake news.