May 14, 2018

Having a national conversation over whether waterboarding is torture seems like déjà vu all over again. But it’s come up once more because of the opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to head the CIA. I won’t rehash all the details of that because it was in the news all last week. I just wanted to direct you to an interesting new development:

Tim Kennedy was a Green Beret sniper in Afghanistan and is a former UFC fighter. He doesn’t believe waterboarding is torture, so to prove it, he shot a 41-minute video of himself being interrogated while being waterboarded, under the supervision of a special ops veteran.

I won’t give it away, but let’s just say that his reaction to being waterboarded didn’t change his mind about it. As of Sunday morning, the video had already racked up over 80,000 views. If you've ever wondered exactly what waterboarding it, you can read more and see it yourself at the link, although I warn you: it’s not for the squeamish.

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It’s smart to remain skeptical of any denuclearization promises by North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. But even the biggest skeptics have to admit that if this is just theater, it’s a pretty convincing production so far.

Saturday, North Korea announced that it will conclude its dismantling of a nuclear test site later this month by exploding all the tunnels. And to prove they’re being transparent, they’re opening up their notoriously restricted airspace and inviting journalists from the US, South Korea, China, Russia and Great Britain to watch (American journalists had better hope this isn't a trap, or else they'll be dependent on President Trump to bring them back. Good luck!) Granted, that site is falling apart anyway, but this is still an encouraging sign.

But as encouraging as that is, there is a breaking, unconfirmed report that might be even bigger news. Journalist Babak Taghvaee claims that his source inside Iran Defense Industries says that North Korean scientists and engineers who were helping Iran develop ballistic missiles have left Iran. This would be a major development because Taghvaee says Iran was dependent on North Korea to help them build short- and medium range ballistic missiles.

This has yet to be verified by any major news agencies, but if true, then it could mean that by forcing North Korea to join the ranks of civilized, non-nuclear states, President Trump set up a bank shot that also knocked the foundations out from under Iran’s nuclear missile ambitions. Is there such a thing as a Double-Nobel Peace Prize?

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Many of us have long suspected that “Russian collusion” was the Mueller investigation’s version of the “McGuffin.” That was Alfred Hitchcock’s term for a plot device that was meaningless in itself, but it kept the narrative rolling, like a “secret formula” or “hidden treasure” that all the characters were fighting over. Close observers long ago started to suspect that the “Russian collusion” claims were about as genuine as the Maltese Falcon, but they provided a McGuffin to distract Trump’s attention, hinder his agenda and entrap his staffers into unrelated charges. Many Democrats are still hoping that they will bring down the big guy before the end credits finally roll.

That kind of suspension of disbelief might work for a two-hour movie, but Mueller’s probe is well into year two, and the plot twists are getting silly enough to make Michael Bay roll his eyes. For instance, in an attempt to keep audience interest from waning (and to prove that “Russian collusion” wasn’t a total McGuffin), Mueller issued indictments against some Russian individuals and three Russian companies for conspiring to meddle in the 2016 election.

He must’ve thought this was a safe move, since there was no way the defendants would ever come to America to face the charges. Except one of the companies, Concord Management and Consulting, did demand its day in court. That threw Mueller’s team for a loop: they probably assumed that a press conference was all the prosecuting they’d ever have to do. The company’s attorneys showed up in court, demanding their right of discovery, to see all the evidence Mueller had allegedly compiled (which, if he actually has any, might expose valuable intelligence sources to a Russian-owned company – and who’d be helping out Russia then, hmm?)

Mueller’s team scrambled for any cover, requesting a delay on the laughable grounds that the defendants hadn’t been properly served. The judge saw through that: the defendant’s attorneys were right there in front of him, ready to start trial; why delay weeks while they were served with papers to come to court? But if you thought that was as laughably unprofessional as this investigation could get, oh, ye of little faith.

Last week, the judge asked one of Concord’s attorneys if they also represented a third company listed in Mueller’s indictment: Concord Catering. He replied no, because during the period when the government claims that company was part of a Russian conspiracy, it didn’t even exist yet. He said if anyone can prove it did exist at the time, then they’d probably represent them; but it appeared that the charges were an example of the proverbial prosecutor who has so much unchecked power that he could indict a ham sandwich.

But it goes even beyond that. Mueller managed to indict a catering company before it came into existence and was even able to make the ham sandwich.

If this were a movie, I would have walked out of it a long time ago. Could someone in Congress or the Justice Department please take mercy on the audience and yell, “Cut”?


For Mother’s Day, my daughter Sarah explained how dealing with toddlers prepares one for dealing with the White House Press Corps:

In case you missed it, Sarah also posted a must-see photo of one of the world’s greatest grandchildren for Mother’s Day on her White House Press Secretary’s Twitter feed. Naturally, she got attacked by the Twitter Troll Patrol: How dare she post a personal photo on her official White House Twitter account?!

Kudos to the commenters who dug into the Twitter archives and unearthed posts from President Obama wishing his wife a happy birthday on the official POTUS account, and former Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s retweet of the Obamas’ Christmas greeting on his official Press Secretary’s account – posts the Twitter Trolls didn’t make a peep about.

It’s amazing how, when Republicans come into power, suddenly, all the rules and regulations that were ignored for years must now be stringently enforced to the letter. Except the rules of politeness and civility, of course.

Oh, and for the record: Mother’s Day is an official US government holiday, as proclaimed in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson. I’m sorry if today’s leftist Internet trolls weren’t aware of that, but I guess it’s because Wilson didn’t announce it on Twitter.

And more examples of the intolerance of the professional tolerance brigades, this time threatening boycotts and demanding blacklisting (remember when Hollywood was opposed to blacklists?) of actor Rob Lowe. His unpardonable crime? Posing for a photo with my daughter Sarah at a public event.

I wonder if this shrill leftist shrieking about anything and everything that offends them (and trust me: everything offends them) is finally starting to wear out its welcome with Americans? I detect that a lot of people who were cowed into silence during the election for fear of having their cars keyed or their houses vandalized are now moving into the “fed up with this endless tantrum garbage” phase and starting either to tune it out or openly ridicule and defy it.

John Hawkins at has an excellent column rounding up some of the more ridiculous recent tantrums and making the case for why, if we want to preserve this great nation, it is imperative not to let over-emotional loudmouths cow us into staying silent and not giving up our right to speak and think for ourselves or to speak up to defend the truth.

Even “Saturday Night Live” seems to be coming to the realization that they’ve alienated half their audience (and as former cast member Rob Schneider noted, become angry, unfunny and predictable) with their transparently one-sided Trump-bashing after eight years of kissing Obama’s wingtips.

This weekend, instead of featuring Alec Baldwin’s tedious Trump impression, as usual, the “cold opening” of “SNL” focused on Mother’s Day, with the cast introducing their real life moms -- who then made their kids uncomfortable by telling them enough with the Trump bashing already. Yes, it was a scripted sketch, but I can’t believe the mothers would have agreed to say those lines if they were adamantly opposed to the sentiment. (See it at the link.)

It was a welcome (and overdue) admission that the cast and writers had let their partisanship harm the show, as recent lower ratings have borne out.

But another point it made, perhaps inadvertently: Trump voters, or Republicans in general, are not a big, angry mob of dumb, racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic deplorables. They’re people like…well, your mom. They don’t conform to all those hysterical slanders, that Republicans want to bring back slavery, Jim Crowe laws, Bull Connor’s firehoses and internment camps for immigrants (all things that were imposed by Democrats, by the way.) They’re just nice people who love America and think everyone should obey its laws and play by the same rules. You know, like you were taught…by your mom.

Media analyst Howard Kurtz notes that the frenzy over President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen getting lucrative contracts from companies that think he has Trump’s ear ignores the fact that this is done all the time in Washington by practically everyone who has access to power. I’ve complained about that kind of back-door lobbying for years, but it was a pretty lonely position to take -- up until now. How ironic that the media hate Trump for wanting to drain the DC swamp and upset the status quo, and now they’re attacking him because someone he knows is diving into the swamp and taking advantage of the status quo.

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Comments 1-2 of 2

  • Thala J Susag

    05/14/2018 06:52 PM

    Hi, Mike
    You've covered everything so well, there's nothing to add. I still find your informative newsletter
    in my spam box even though I followed all the rules for receiving legit emails. Of course, I still
    get spam in my inbox. I guess that's just the way it is. Some days I miss handwritten letters that
    arrive in my postoffice box with a U.S. flag postage stamp. Best wishes, Thala

  • Marc Jeric

    05/14/2018 06:29 PM

    Former FBI Director James Comey has a long history of involvement in Department of Justice actions that arguably ended up favorable to the Clintons. In 2001, following the original 9/11 mass murder by the Muslim jihadists, President Bush asked the FBI to track the movements of likely Muslim jihadists; Comey and Mueller refused that request on the basis that such tracking would be “un-American”. The jihadist mass murders of Americans in Boston, Chattanooga, Orlando, Fort Hood, and San Bernardino are therefore the direct result of that irresponsible refusal. In 2004 Comey, then serving as a deputy attorney general in the Justice Department, apparently limited the scope of the criminal investigation of Sandy Berger, which left out former Clinton administration officials who may have coordinated with Berger in his removal and destruction of classified records from the National Archives. The documents were relevant to the accusations that the Clinton administration was negligent in the build-up to the 9/11 terrorist attack. Back a year or two ago, FBI director Comey announced that despite the evidence of “extreme negligence” by Hillary Clinton and her top aides regarding the handling of classified information through her unprotected private email server, the FBI would not refer criminal charges to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Justice Department since it was just a case of innocent negligence. Imagine a similar finding of the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi criminals: “Well – yes, Goebbels did order that 6 million Jews be exterminated – but he really did not mean it, so let him go free with an appropriate government pension”. And now those two criminal anti-American traitors – Comey and Mueller - are “investigating” Russian influence in the Trump electoral victory???