National Pot Day: The Fault is in Our Stars and Ourselves

If you ever wanted to know why you really, really shouldn’t even try pot, no better testimony exists than the autobiography of the late actress Carrie Fisher (Star Wars): The Princess Diarist, 2016, Blue Rider Press, New York.

 

Normally, I don’t read actors’ autobiographies. Celluloid fame doesn’t normally provide enough bona fides to earn a place on my already crowded bookshelf in my tiny, little condo.

 

However, last week, I decided to take a glance at the livestream broadcast of the Stars Wars Convention in Melbourne, Fla. I’m a big fan of the Star Wars movie, although I’m not a fanatic.  I admit to having bobbleheads of C3PO and R2D2, Darth Vader, Yoda, and Luke and Leia.

 

But that’s it. I bought them because they were funny – especially C3PO.  His place is right near my computer monitor.  He’s bobbling his head in agreement that so many factors – including himself – made Stars Wars such a phenomenon for a generation that never knew the glories of Saturday afternoon serials:  the cowboy movies, the space adventures, the pirate ships, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Errol Flynn and so forth.

 

My parents thought Star Wars was ridiculous. But after over a decade of dreary “message” movies and washed-out stars, their eyes dimmed by alcohol and acid, Star Wars broke onto the screen like a sunburst.  The scene at the end of the movie, where the Millennium Falcon blasts into view to clear the road for Luke Skywalker, its after-burners glowing white, is a summary of the entire movie, definitely a popcorn romp, completely camp, and entirely welcome by a generation weary of the Sixties.  The movie, indeed, was a “new hope.”  Our faith in movie heroes had been restored.

 

The anti-hero was dead; long live Luke Skywalker.

 

Forty years later, though, a sea change had overcome the cast, with the untimely death of one of the trio, Carrie Fisher. Harrison Ford made a first-time-ever appearance at the convention, something he’d disdained in the past, presumably to deliver a homily in memory of everyone’s beloved space princess.

 

Warwick Davis, who played the lead Ewok in Return of the Jedi hosted the panel on the first day.  They’d gotten around, at last, to the tribute to Fisher, who died this past December, just after finishing up filming on Star Wars VIII:  The Last Jedi, due out this coming December, filming a television series, and promoting The Princess Diarist.

 

Davis asked Harrison Ford if he missed Carrie Fisher. In her book, Fisher outed Ford as her lover during the 1976 filming of Star Wars in London.  She claims the affair only lasted three months, but some believe the pair continued throughout at least the second film, The Empire Strikes Back.

 

Harrison, always a cautious man of few words, uttered very few words in reaction to Fisher’s sudden death. In response to Davis’ question, he, again, responded in a very few words.

“Yes. Yes, I do.”

 

Mark Hamill, the star of the three movies, had plenty of words to say on the subject. Probably many more than were good for his marriage.  In the unexpurgated, original live-stream clip, he stated that he wanted to say something.  That was okay.  Presumably, that was the purpose of this panel, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars (officially, it’s next month) and paying tribute to the late actress.

 

“I want to say a few things,” he state – demanded, actually. “I know people say I should get over her death – get on with it.  But I can’t and I don’t care.  I loved her.  I still love her.”  He was totally serious, which is said to be unlike this actor.  He’s said in other forums that he’s changed.
Uh-oh. A dead silence fell over the audience and the panel.  Davis froze in his place, still clutching his note cards, his smile turning into a grimace.  Hamill went on to recount his feelings for Fisher; how he would have and did do anything to please her, even to allowing her to force him into her Princess Leia snowsuit from The Empire Strikes Back, which they were filming at the time, and a clown’s head mask, and parade him around the Star Wars set.

 

He admitted that it was foolish of him but that he would have done anything to please her and would still do it. Hamill also referred to her recently-published Star Wars autobiography.

 

“You should see what she wrote about me in her book,” he complained bitterly.

 

Now I was curious, but not entirely convinced that it was worth overburdening my credit card to find out. But then, I went back to hear the Day One Livestream again. I wanted to play it for a musician friend.   At the very end, John Williams himself showed up, complete with orchestra, to play “Princess Leia’s Theme” as a tribute to Fisher and also the Main Theme in honor of the film’s upcoming 40th Anniversary.

 

I’d put the link on my favorites. Only, some 20 to 30 minutes had been edited out, including, unfortunately, the concert.  Mark Hamill’s entire rant about Carrie Fisher had been expurgated.  A new livestream video appeared, featuring basically only Hamill leading the tribute, along with some videos of some of Star Wars’ lesser-known stars.  Also edited out was the clumsy ending, with Ford essentially chasing the audience out, telling them to “get out of here” and go home.  Host Warwick Davis had to jump in quickly and remind the audience of all the features at the convention.

 

In the new video, a freshly scrubbed, trimmed, re-wardrobed (and probably well-chastened) Hamill showed up to explain how only part of him loved her, as all the rest of the cast did. He made a point of re-recounting how she made a fool of him and how she, as a child of Hollywood, was clearly out of his league as well as his price range.

 

He told of how he had gone to Debbie Reynolds house for parties many times and how he parked his middle class Mazda down the street so it wouldn’t stand out in a parking filled with expensive sports cars and limousines.

 

“I couldn’t have handled her,” he admitted. True, that.  The audience laughed appreciatively and Hamill’s reputation was restored.  Poor guy.

 

Fisher had eyes for someone else: co-star Harrison Ford.  The filming took place at the Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England.

 

Fisher first met Ford on the Star Wars Cantina set. She immediately felt attracted to him, realized, as everyone else did, that he was going to be a major star, and that he was out of her league.

 

Although she worked with him on scenes, she otherwise avoided the tall, imposing, ever-scowling Ford.

 

“He made me feel very nervous,” she wrote. “I was tongue-tied [around him]…clumsy.”  She feared annoying him.

 

Fisher prefaces her autobiography comparing the times between the two sets of movies: 1976-1983 and 2013.  She writes about what it was like to be Princess Leia and how the character ultimately took over her life, while enriching her, only to lose most of her fortune to an unscrupulous manager.

 

The story of her career as Princess Leia begins appropriately enough on page 21. While Ford is the main focus of her book, she does talk about she laughing called “The Buns of Navarrone,”  wearing enough lip gloss to “wax a car” and grimacing whenever she fired her prop space blaster.

 

Fisher had dropped out of high school after appearing in the chorus of her mother’s Broadway play, “Irene,” to attend drama school in England. There, she lived with her boyfriend and so was not “inexperienced” exactly.  But she had not slept around, as was apparently commonly assumed.

 

Nor did she drink yet, at that time, having her father, Eddie Fisher’s example of alcoholism, drug abuse and womanizing. She vowed she would never be like her father.

 

Like most young women (and men), Fisher wanted to be popular. On one of the Friday nights after filming began, she writes, the cast and crew held a surprise 32nd birthday party for director George Lucas.

 

The party was held in a room adjacent to the studio cafeteria. Fisher was the only female present.  She refused persistent requests by the British crew to have a drink, sticking to her favorite soda, Coca-Cola.  But eventually they wore her down and, wanting to be popular, she had a couple of glasses of wine.

 

For a girl her size, age, and inexperience in the area of drinking, two glasses was all took. (“It tasted like rust,” she wrote.”).  My own impression at that age right up to this day was that all alcoholic beverages taste like glossed-over gasoline.

 

“I think part of their motive,” she writes, “was that I was essentially the only girl at this party, and it would be more entertaining to have the only girl at a party completely…drunk than not. If it was the last thing they did, they were going to get me to drink some of that hard liquor everyone was guzzling.  It became one of the main focuses of the night – let’s get Leia legless – and if I played along, it would be the most idiotic choice I could make, considering that this shindig would no doubt include everyone I knew on the film, including my bosses, the producers, and the birthday boy himself, the director.”

 

The “sparks” as the electricians in England are called, got Fisher sufficiently hammered to coax her into going with them. As they reached the door, suddenly, like something out of a heroic Errol Flynn movie, an American voice called, “Hey!  Where are you taking her?!”

 

It was Harrison Ford.

 

He removed the damsel-in-distress from the clutches of the mob. The “tug-of-war” confrontation turned violent.  A white horse wasn’t suddenly whistled onto the scene, but Ford hailed his studio car.  Limping slightly from a kick to his ankle, he got Fisher into the cab and once in himself commanded the cabbie to “’Go!  GO!!’”

 

Apparently, they weren’t very far on the road to London when he started making love to her in the back of the car, under the eyes of the very-knowing chauffeur.

 

On the way to London, to Ford’s dismay, another car hailed them with a honk. It was Mark Hamill and crew member Peter Kohn, with actress Koo Stark, whose character, a girlfriend of one of Luke Skywalker’s older Tatooine pals, was dropped from the movie.  They wanted to have dinner.

 

“’Fix your hair,’” Ford told Fisher. “And just act normal.”  Fisher was beginning to sober up and managed her way through dinner.  Once dinner was over and they were again on their way to Carrie’s rental apartment, Ford immediately took up where they left off.

 

At dinner, Ford, in her mind was already “on his lickety-split way to being pretty much everything to me. He would all too soon become the center of my off-center, kilter-free world.  Which, I agree, is absolutely pathetic in the extreme, but keep in mind that this whole thing was not my weirdly inexperienced idea.  It was Harrison’s.”

 

Nevertheless, she didn’t protest and when they reached her flat, she invited him up and he accepted. Harrison was every inch the hero in her young eyes.

 

“He was…God, he was just handsome,” the now-60 year-old Fisher would recollect. “No. No, more than that.  He looked like he could lead the charge into battle, take the hill, win the duel, be leader of the gluten-free world, all without breaking a sweat.  A hero’s face – a few strands of hair fell over his noble, slightly furrowed brow – watching the horizon for danger in the form of incoming indigenous armies, reflective, concerned eyes so deep in thought you could get lost down there and it would take days to fight your way out.”

 

However, Fisher would soon learn there was a strange, dark side to Ford, which only attracted her to him even more.

 

“I could charm the birds out of everyone’s tress but his,” she wrote.  He was married with two children, so that pair had to be discreet, getting together only on the weekends, at night.  Nor could she talk to anyone about the affair.  That was when she began keeping her “Star Wars” diaries.

 

While Ford was possibly the most handsome man she’d ever met, she found holding a conversation with him nearly impossible. The long silences and short, grunting answers worried her endlessly.

 

Once she offered to imitate him so he could see what he was like from someone else’s perspective.

 

“I moved out of sight around the corner from Harrison and after a moment, reappeared, strolling as he strolled, sauntering my way into whatever fresh hell I found myself in. I’d become him, disenchanted Lord Ford, master of all he surveyed, if he got around to it.

 

“After almost forty years later, I still think of it [finally making him laugh] as one of the greater moments of my life. My ‘love’ life.”

 

Fisher held Brontesque visions of Ford leaving his wife and children for her. Ultimately, Ford’s marriage – and the one after that – would disintegrate. Maybe they couldn’t get through the wall Ford had built around himself, either.  At any rate, Fisher was desperate to do anything to please him and make him at least like her.

 

Ford was horrified when Fisher related to him that her first and only real boyfriend had been Simon, her college roommate.

 

“’What do you mean, your only boyfriend?’” he asked her with a frown. “What about all those guys you talked about?”  And he rattled off the names of the guys she knew.

 

“I don’t sleep with all the men I know and I don’t sleep with them just because I bring them up in conversation!” she replied.

 

In the book, Fisher claims that he did propose to her and vowed to leave his wife, even giving her an engagement ring. Divorce his wife, he did.  But he and Fisher never married.

 

Now we come to the point about pot.

 

“How can I paint for you the picture of this brief three-month break in the bad weather of no-feeling [when they had commenced their affair in earnest]?” Fisher wrote. “Sadly, I cannot.  And this is not because of the memory loss that typically comes with age – though that is a distinct factor.  It is the memory loss that comes with marijuana use.  Though in this case, it not the long-term use [she supposed, at any rate] that has deprived me of the recollections from those months from long ago.  It is the three-month ingestion of what seemed to me to be the brutal strength of Harrison’s preferred strain of pot.  This is what takes any and all vivid recollections and crushes them beneath its, inhaled heel.

 

“At the time, the reefer took whatever certainty I possessed while in Harrison’s company and traded it for paranoia so intense that it took my breath away. What I recall from the rubble of my brain cells is the discomfort I experienced between waking and sleeping, trying to think of something to say other than ‘Do you love me?’ or ‘Why are you with me at all?’ or “Do you know your lines for next week?’ or ‘Can I get you another beer?’ or ‘Where did you get that scar on your chin?

 

“By the way, I believe the answer to that question [those questions] had the words ‘acid’ and ‘girl with freckles’ in it, and ‘the toilet seat hit my head and cracked this cut into my chin.’” But I am more than probably wrong.”

 

“Though there has been some speculation regarding my drug use during Star Wars, I used nothing other than Harrison’s pot on the weekends during that first film.  After that, marijuana was no longer possible for me – it had such a powerful, all-consuming effect on me that I have never used that drug again.”

 

Ford became Fisher’s whole world. In the book, she has published actually excerpts from her diary.  Observations about the filming of the movie, but mostly observations about Ford, and at least one other co-star (“I wish it could have been Mark.  It should have been Mark but…”).

 

“Sullen and scornful; a real Marlboro man

The type who pours out the beer and eats

The can

A tall guy with a cultivated leer

One you can count to disapprove or

Disappear.”

 

“Sold to the man for the price of disdain

All of this would be interesting

If it weren’t so mundane.”

 

In another entry, she writes of Ford’s famous silences.

 

“Silence speaks louder than words – it screams, “BORING!’ He’s boring and tries to make it look more like a decision than an accident.  The silences make my composure decompose from the inside out.”

 

For all that, Fisher worried that Ford found her boring, that maybe he considered her a “hick”.

Ford had a degree in philosophy and would later go on to earn a master’s degree in public administration. She was a high school drop-out who’s only academic achievement was that she attended – but never graduated from – drama school.  By the time she would have graduated, Star Wars had already made a permanent star of her.

Mark Hamill told a story at the Convention from when they were making Return of the Jedi.  He and Fisher were filming the biker scene on the Endor moon.  The take was very technical and the machines required a great deal of repositioning in between takes.

 

Hamill took the long breaks with professional stride. While they were up there on the “bikes” Fisher pulled out heavy books of philosophy.  He made the mistake laughing at her – he noted that their relationship had cooled considerably since the early days of the first film.

 

He said he mockingly asked her why she was reading philosophy books on set when her trailer was filled with entertainment trade magazines.

 

“I want people to think I’m smart!!” she yelled back at him haughtily (and probably defensively).

 

But she wasn’t looking to impress just anyone; she was obviously, by the tone of her book, trying to impress Ford.

 

Perhaps it’s cruel to try to disenchant the millions of Star Wars fans about their favorite cocky space pilot – and beloved princess [well, she did write the book]. Eventually, Fisher would give in wholeheartedly to the drugs, of every sort including LSD or acid, and the booze until she was totally alienated from her mother for about a decade, reuniting only after a spell in rehab.  Her one marriage, to Paul Simon, lasted only nine months.  She then had a baby (her daughter Billie) with a man, whom she would discover afterwards, was gay.  That’s Hollywood for you.

 

However, there’s nothing enchanting or heroic at all about using drugs, much less creating a holiday to celebrate a miserable drug that ruined one space princess’ memory [her brain memory, that is to say, not her legacy] and quite possibly made an automaton of the hero the princess worshipped. To say nothing of what it may have done to her other co-star, judging by his performance in the now-deleted live-stream video.

 

Far too many movies in the past 40 years have paid obeisance to drug use. Far too many of their stars have casually entered into that poisonous galaxy – and wound up in rehab time again as the price.

 

Celebrate the princess, her knight-in-shining-brick, and her space-twin brother. Don’t celebrate the poor behind-the-scenes performance and certainly don’t imitate, as though you were a fan going to a Fan-a-Thon in a cinnabun wig or a hairy dog costume.  People may laugh to scorn at such people and evoke fake sympathy for what mental problems they have or what empty lives they lead.

 

Their lives have more substance than the people who imbibe drugs to the point that they think fish are talking to them.

 

Who’s the more foolish? The fool or the fool who does drugs with them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on April 20, 2017 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Raunchy Fox News Rejects O’Reilly

A long-held theory states that if you’re a woman and want to join Fox News at its New York headquarters, you have to have a legal degree, journalistic credentials, long legs and blonde hair. Short, average-looking, intelligent women need not apply, even if you have no desire to be an on-air personality.

 

After settling numerous sexual harassment lawsuits against him, Fox News has announced that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to his 8 p.m. Fox News show, The Factor. The company claimed that the accumulation of sexual harassment allegations had had its effect and that half the company’s advertisers had dropped their sponsorship of the program.

 

Can anyone say “Rush Limbaugh” or “Glenn Beck”?

 

Roger Ailes preceded his favorite male employee in being fired by the network. One glance below the screen line of the Fox News website will tell you why:  scroll down past the Latest News section and you’ll often find smuttiest, pornographic and salacious photos and stories ever to disgrace a website.

 

One day, not too long ago, just when I thought Fox News could sink no lower, one of the features of that below-par “entertainment” section was a naked man dressed in nothing but a pair of pink tights. The section regularly features voluptuous, scantily-clad starlets with everything above the waist hanging out, the bigger the better, apparently, and not much below the waist, either.

 

Clearly, O’Reilly wasn’t going to go quietly into that good night of double standards. He – and Fox News – would and did pay through the nose.  Doing so, they lost the battle.  Fox News’ girlies had no trouble with being hired for their looks.  They dangled themselves in front of the Fox cameras every night, apparently without complaint; certainly not from the advertisers.

 

For all that, O’Reilly was still the main attraction and the biggest draw on Fox News. Whatever he may or may not have done behind the scenes, before the camera he did his job and did it well enough to make The Factor the highest-ranked cable news show in its time slot.

 

Why does one get the feeling that these high-heeled harpies had more in mind than simply giving an alleged “letch” the what-for? Could it be that they are also hard-core Feminists seeking redistribution of wealth, female revenge, and social justice?

 

Fox News has certainly taken a hard left turn since the election last year. Many of the show’s hosts came out of the Liberal closet:  Shep Smith, Chris Wallace, and of course, Megyn Kelly.  After the election, she left Fox to bat her railroad-tie false eyelashes at another set of cameras on a true Liberal network.

 

Perhaps the advertisers, always a nervous lot, were scared off by the hissy-fit allegations of the discontented damsels-in-distress.

 

If the viewers have left – and they will – it’s because they just fired the most-popular on-air 8 p.m. host any station ever had. Seriously, who really watches the news after the 7 p.m. broadcast?  Most people are sick of the news by that point and are ready for entertainment.

 

But Bill O’Reilly – he was worth staying tuned to Fox News for. Fox News has taken a self-destructive wrecking ball to its best program.  And for what?  A group of underdressed, overstuffed, Amazonian Barbie dolls?  Was O’Reilly a nitwit, if the allegations are true, and he debased himself on their account?

 

Men will be men and Barbie dolls will be Barbie dolls and take advantage of the men, if they let them. Fox News’ website speaks volumes about this whole controversy.  A serious news organization on top and a sleaze factory below.

 

Indiscriminate women – or men, for that matter – deserve no sympathy for any discrimination they suffer.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on April 19, 2017 at 4:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Critics Have Tomahawks Out for Trump

One week ago, President Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile attack Shayrat Airfield in Syria from which a chemical attack was launched on April 4. Airstrikes hit the rebel-held city of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday morning, giving off a “poisonous gas,” according to Anas al-Diab, an activist with the Aleppo Media Center,

 

Trump ordered the strike against Syria early Friday local time in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people on Tuesday, he said.

 

Trump said Syrian President Bashar Assad “launched a horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent. Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

 

The counter-attack essentially follows the plan that the Pentagon had set in September 2013, according to a senior Defense official not authorized to speak publicly about the operation. That plan was devised after President Obama had set a “red line” on the use of chemic weapons. Assad had used the weapons, which killed 1,400 civilians, but Obama did not order an attack.

 

Instead, Assad agreed to turn over his stockpiles of chemical weapons, a pledge he obviously reneged on in light of Tuesday’s use of what experts believe was sarin gas on civilians.

 

In 2013, military planners had planned to use land-attack cruise missiles launched from Navy destroyers cruising off shore from Syria. For weeks, the Navy had four destroyers floating offshore; waiting for the order to strike that never came.

 

Russian officials warned Trump against the recent military strikes.

 

“We have to think about negative consequences, negative consequences, and all the responsibility if military action occurred will be on shoulders of those who initiated such doubtful and tragic enterprise,” said Vladimir Safronkov, Russia’s deputy envoy to the United Nations, speaking with reporters at the U.N.

 

Evidently, even Conservative pundits have been thinking about all those possible negative consequences. They’ve reproved Trump for thinking “emotionally” instead of “rationally.”  After the Tomahawk launch, Russia moved a naval force into the area to confront the U.S. naval forces that had launched the attack.

 

So far, there have been no negative repercussions. But one positive consequence has been that China has agreed to chasten North Korea for its nuclear missile threats on behalf of the United States.  China has sent the coal it had ordered back to the Hermit Kingdom, which would have to be a serious economic blow to North Korea, and ordered its much-needed coal from the United States, instead.

 

Counter-claims from Assad that Syrian forces did not launch the attack on the rebel city have had their intended effect;  pundits –  liberal and conservative alike – have been chastising Trump for what they consider a hasty action that may never have required a response at all.

 

According to them, Trump was moved to make an “emotional” decision driven by his daughter Ivanka (who was converted to Orthodox Judaism by her marriage to Jared) over a series of what they consider inauthentic photographs.

 

Only six people – air force personnel – were killed in the strike on the air base. During the Russian Missile Crisis in October of 1962, millions of Americans on the Eastern Seaboard waited in terror for nearly two weeks while the United States faced down the Soviet Union as it attempted to place nuclear weapons at a base in Cuba.

 

Pres. Kennedy was lauded for his courage, tempered by later revelations that he also closed military bases on the Turkish border with Russia. We were frightened, much more so than after last week’s retaliatory attack on an empty air base in Syria.  Russian missile cruisers and submarines were known to be right off our coast.  The threat was 90 miles off the coast of Florida; it was lurking in the waters off of New York, Washington, D.C., and possibly Boston.

 

We here in the New York metropolitan area knew we wouldn’t stand a chance if negotiations went badly or if Khrushchev decided to launch a “pre-emptive” strike. Kennedy gambled – and won.  The missile bases were removed from Cuba.

 

And later, Turkey.

 

Critics would say that this wasn’t the same sort of crisis. No Americans were being threatened and that we shouldn’t have gotten involved.  That was Franklin Roosevelt’s thinking on the holocaust going on against the Jews in German-occupied Europe.  It wasn’t “our” problem.  He’d promised American mothers that their sons would never again die in a European war, as they did in World War I (for which many American men actually volunteered).

 

Trump’s cause was not strictly military, although the strike certainly sent a message to China about North Korea. Initially, he didn’t want to get Americans involved.  During the campaign, he said he didn’t approve of America getting involved in foreign conflicts.  Neither did George Washington.

 

Ultimately, his “emotions” got the better (or worse, if you’re a pundit) of him. The rebels in Syria happen to be affiliated with ISIS, so whose side would we be on if we did get involved?  However, the six-year Syrian civil war is having an effect on American – thousands of Syrians are fleeing into Europe, and into America, as refugees.

Wars are for armies. How often in the 20th Century – and now the 21st Century – have combatants, including the United States, ignored that age-old imperative?  Would wars ever end if civilians didn’t suffer?  Tyrants consider civilians pawns in the game.  As long as they use civilians as shields – or targets – democracies are obliged to respond, sometimes in kind.

 

Trump took the humanitarian route and for this he is being soundly criticized. There are no “good guys” in the Syrian Civil War, no side on which decency can plant its flag.  Syrian is now all but a flattened desert.

 

Sending a Tomahawk message of “Knock it off!” requires a hide of iron, a certain conviction that the “gamble” is worth taking, and an emotional sensibility of standing up for humanity.

 

So what exactly did Trump get wrong? Requiting innocent civilians?  Having the caginess to send that message while having dinner with the president of China?  Recognizing and sympathizing with the suffering of children and doing something about it, rather than turning his head to rationalize inaction?

 

Give me a break and save us all from quivering ninnies. Those of us who remember the Cuban Missile Crisis understand the risks we must take – New York City is a target, so it’s not just our brave military who are potentially in harm’s way – for democracy and humanity.

 

Published in: on April 13, 2017 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dinner and a Tomahawk Strike on Syria

Wouldn’t it have been great to be a fly on the wall at last night’s dinner at Mar-A-Lago?

 

President Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife at his Mar-A-Lago estate. Just after dinner, as dessert was being served, Trump excused himself to bomb Syria in response to Pres. Bashar al-Assad’s April 4, 2017 chemical attack on children in Khan Sheikhun, in Idlib, Syria.

 

According to the New York Times, “Dozens of people, including children, died — some writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth — after breathing in poison that possibly contained a nerve agent or other banned chemicals, , according to witnesses, doctors and rescue workers. They said the toxic substance spread after warplanes dropped bombs in the early morning hours. Some rescue workers grew ill and collapsed from proximity to the dead.”

 

Meanwhile, the U.K. Guardian reports, “Vladimir Putin has doubled down on his support for the Syrian government despite the release of postmortem results by Turkey that confirmed chemical weapons were used in an attack that killed at least 72 people in north Syria.

 

“The Russian president attacked ‘groundless accusations’ that Damascus was responsible for the assault, and called for a ‘detailed and unbiased investigation’ into the deaths, a Kremlin statement said.”

 

The scenario is just delicious: Mr. Trump:  “Excuse me, Mr. President, I have to go bomb Syria.  Please, enjoy your tea and tiramisu.”

 

Between 60 and 70 U.S. Tomahawk missiles hit the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, a small installation with two runways. At least seven Syrian soldiers were killed and nine wounded in the airstrike, the country’s military said.  Shayrat is generally believed to be the base from which the chemical attack on Khan Sheikun was launched.

 

The Trump Administration said that initially it wasn’t going to respond to the chemical attack until the president saw the pictures of all the dead children.

 

Congress reacted with its usual chicken coop hysterics, protesting that what Trump did was unconstitutional. Actually, it was a targeted strike against an airbase from which an atrocity was launched.  Not only did Trump do the Constitutional thing, and the right thing – he did the humanitarian thing.

 

Even as the maintenance staff was cleaning up the flurry of chicken feathers, Rand Paul went on television to denounce the President’s actions. ‘He didn’t ask us first.’  We Conservatives think that’s pretty awesome.  Not only that, but he excused himself from dinner with our chief economic and military rival, the president of China, to give the order for the attack.

 

Can you imagine the scene afterwards with Xin Ping? “Now then, President Xin, about the Spratly Islands.  You know, those fake military islands in the South China Sea?”

 

“Oh, Mr. Trump, they are real military islands.”

 

“Yes, I know. Those Tomahawk missiles I just launched against Syria were real, too.”

 

“But you cannot start a military war without approval of your Congress.”

 

“No, but I can send a warning shot over another country’s bow. This missile strike?  It was just a warning.  I haven’t even warmed up yet.”

 

In 2009, China submitted a new map to the United Nations showing the now-infamous “Nine-Dash Line”—a series of boundary dashes over the South China Sea that it claimed demarcated Chinese territory. Since then, China has expanded at least seven reefs and islets in the sea with sand dredged from the ocean floor, including Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, Gaven Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Cuarteron Reef.

 

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has sent warships into the Mediterranean. They had been participating with Turkey in a joint military exercise and had just resupplied in Novorossiisk, according to reports.  Supposedly, they are to visit a logistics base in Tartus, Syria.

 

So much for Trump’s alleged “admiration” for Vlad (or Vlad’s for Trump). Congress is still clucking nervously.  Pundits are wondering about the constitutionality of Trump’s move.  The Democrats are rubbing their dovish hands with glee at being able to portray Trump as a “hawk.”

The American people, though, are proud of their new president today.

Published in: on April 7, 2017 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Was the American Health Care Act?

As usual, the American people were the last to know when it came to the contents of the American Health Care Act. One of the elements, which the Freedom Caucus initially opposed but finally came around to, was the large group of people with access to neither Medicaid, Medicare, employer-supported, nor individual health insurance.

 

That would be most of us thrown out of work either completely or into part-time jobs with no health insurance just after the 2008 economic collapse, and in the ensuing years.

 

This was a bill that not only the Freedom Caucus but even Moderate Republicans initially opposed. Once they were reconciled to health care for the chronically unemployed did Ryan come close to having the votes to pass the bill no one really wanted.  Those 17 Freedom Caucus members stood fast against the bill.

 

The bill would have granted $35 billion to the insurance companies that wrote the bill and according to Congressman Mel Brooks (R-Ala.), speaking on the Glenn Beck program today, turn 10 million people into welfare recipients.

 

Obamacare was an octopus of a program that reached its tentacles into every aspect of our personal lives, employment, business, and government. What businessman would sign a 2,000-plus page contract?

 

Yet Pres. Trump, apparently more concerned with his first-quarter legacy than truly serving the American people, declared war on the Freedom Caucus. We who are unemployed are relieved to hear that he championed us.  However, waging Twitter War on them will only damage his reputation in the long run?

 

When in doubt about what is going on in Washington, D.C., I turn to my favorite Conservative magazine as a resource. This is what the editor’s published on the magazine’s website this morning concerning the American Health Care Act and the Freedom Caucus.

 

“In Defense of the Freedom Caucus”

 

By the National Review Editors

 

The demise of the American Health Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House’s ill-fated effort to reform Obamacare, has prompted a cascade of finger-pointing as Republicans try to assign blame for their recent embarrassment. The White House and much of the Republican establishment have settled on a familiar scapegoat:  the famously stubborn 30 or so members of the House Freedom Caucus.  On Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted:  “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.  We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”

 

We have been not infrequent critics of the Freedom Caucus, often seem oblivious to Ronald Reagan’s observation that “my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.” There is no doubt that members of the caucus can be frustrating and prone to unrealistic tactical maximalism.

 

Yet in this latest episode, the Freedom Caucus was mostly in the right (and it wasn’t just them – members from all corners of the House GOP found it impossible to back the bill). The American Health Care Act was a kludge of a health-care policy.  Described as a way to simultaneously repeal key elements of the Affordable Care Act and replace them with market-oriented reforms, the bill in its final form managed to do little of either.

 

Freedom Caucus members were particularly concerned about the willingness of House leaders to leave the vast majority of Obamacare’s regulations on the books – after Republicans spent seven years promising that the party would “repeal and replace Obamacare.” Even the rationale that the AHCA would be better than nothing was hard to justify; it probably would have further destabilized the individual market, while millions fewer would have been insured.

 

No wonder that strong-arming on behalf of the bill didn’t work. According to news reports, in the final hours, the White House adviser Steve Bannon to tell obstinate Freedom Caucus members that they “have no choice” but to vote for the bill.  It’s hard to imagine a less effective pitch to a group that has long accused Republican leaders of trying to coerce Conservatives into falling in line against their principles.

 

In any case, the now-or-never rhetoric around the bill has now been exposed as a convenient exaggeration. The House is exploring whether it can revive the repeal-and-replace effort, as it should.  Some members of the Freedom Caucus are demanding an immediate, straight-up repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or at least of its taxes and spending, which is unrealistic.  But for all their reputed rigidity, most of the Freedom Caucus had accepted the inclusion in the Ryan bill of tax credits for people without access to Medicare, Medicaid, or employer-provided insurance – a policy they had previously tended to oppose.

 

That the president has decided to declare war, at least rhetorically, on this bloc of his own party’s congressional majority is a reminder of one of the other key elements of the AHCA collapse: For all of the praise heaped on the president’s negotiating acumen, he has yet to demonstrate it in his dealings with Congress.

 

Trump’s tweet has all the hallmarks of ineffectually blowing off steam, since it’s hard to imagine the president and his supporters following through with the organizing and funding it would take to try to take out Conservative members representing deep-red districts.

 

If Trump wants to win over the Freedom Caucus – all the other members – who opposed the health-care legislation, the first step should be obvious, if more difficult and less satisfying than popping off on Twitter: Get them a better bill.

 

In order for the tax reform bill to go through, the repeal of Obamacare is imperative. Pres. Trump is still in his honeymoon period as a president.  He needn’t feel defensive if the first bill he supports doesn’t go through.  Perfectionist that he is reputed to be, he himself has sent newly-remodeled planes back to the hangar until the workers get it right.

The American Health Care Act was a Spruce Goose. Working with the Democrats will only bring back more of Obamacare into the plan, not remove it.

 

The American people (especially we late-career workers tossed to the curb by the Obama Administration) need jobs. We need insurance that we can afford.  We don’t actually need a whole lot of insurance.

 

We don’t need insurance companies and lobbyists telling us that we didn’t pay our fair share when we did and that that’s the reason premiums are so high. From our point-of-view, we’ve been royally cheated.  We (and our employers) paid the premiums.  Then when it came time when we might actually need the insurance, before that could happen, we were all shoved out of the bees’ nest.  Explain that, Freedom Caucus.

 

For this, the Trump administration is going to reward the insurance company with $35 billion of our money. That doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me.

 

Bullying Congress, no matter how recalcitrant, is not presidential.  Congress is a co-equal branch of the government.  The best way to win over Congress is to support a bill that lowers premiums, keeps the government out of the doctors’ office, reduces medical fraud, and eliminates all the regulations that stifle the insurance industry.

 

 

 

Published in: on March 31, 2017 at 12:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Health Insurance Lie: Paying Up

One argument that bolstered the alleged need for universal, single-payer health care insurance is that the young don’t buy insurance and don’t pay their share, but then when they become older and sicker, their costs become a burden to the insurance company or the company paying for the insurance.

 

Excuse me?! As long as I worked after getting out of college, I had health insurance.  My employer would pay the main premium, but some of the cost came out of my earnings (which was all right by me).  The only time I didn’t have health insurance was when I was unemployed (having no income, I had no money to pay for insurance).

 

There were times when I had to float along and hope for the best as a temporary employee. But it wasn’t long before I found myself permanently employed again.  I was careful never to abuse my insurance privileges.  I made sure I had a high deductible, paying for minor problems, like sore throats, and building my way up to paying off that deductible.

 

The time never came when I needed hospitalization, simply treatments for various ailments. Who did Obama think he was, blaming my generation 55 and over for not “paying” for our insurance?  We most certainly did.

 

Now that we’re 55 and over, millions of us have been kicked out our jobs, with no way to pay for insurance. I have friends working as many as four part-time jobs just to pay their bills, much less paying for this high-cost health care insurance.  We’re paying outrageous premiums on the basis that we hadn’t paid in when we were younger, and that’s an out-and-out lie.

 

For generations, companies have kicked older employees (over 55) out of the bee’s nest once they began showing signs of illness. Never mind how long the employees had worked for the company, how skilled they were, how loyal.  Hiring younger, “healthier” employees just made better “business sense” for the companies.  We paid for the insurance (or it was paid for us, although we did have to contribute) and earned our place in the companies, but it when it came time to pay up, we were out of luck.

 

The insurance isn’t more expensive because we’re older. The expenses come from high hospitalization costs, technology, and bureaucracy within the states which require doctors’ offices to spend more money on staff to deal with the paperwork.  My doctor’s office staff still hasn’t learned to wait at the fax machine to make sure the scrip has gone through.

 

Pharmaceutical companies have been reaping billions in new medicines and the bureaucrats have been reaping billions regulating them. Our litigious society has also been responsible for costly medical lawsuits and medical fraud.  People are also living longer but suffering from various ailments that cost billions.  Then there are the people in the 55-gap, like me and my friends, who have lost their employer-based insurance but aren’t yet eligible for Medicare.

 

Some seriously elderly people work at supermarkets and superstores to make ends meet. Work ethic champions applaud their guts and scorn those who don’t try to “power-through” a supermarket job, where they have to stand up all day or push shopping cart trains.

 

Meanwhile, record numbers of the 55-gap are having to go for knee and hip surgery at earlier ages, especially those who spent their careers on their feet, like teachers. Older unemployed are faced with a dilemma, take two or more part-time retail jobs that don’t offer health insurance, in order to pay the bills, and then go into debt having to pay for hip or knee surgery.

 

What kind of a deal is that? Interestingly, Obamacare doesn’t cover the unemployed.  The unemployed must either go on the difficult-to-obtain SSDI (for which they’ve been paying all their working lives), or sell all their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.  Meanwhile, there’s little sympathy from the armchair pundits.  Quit complaining and get to work checking those groceries.  If your hip hurts, just take some more Tylenol or something.

 

Why isn’t anyone standing up for the older unemployed office worker? Because that’s just the way things have always been?  Because it’s just business?  Isn’t age discrimination supposed to be against the law?  Prospective employers are not allowed to ask your age, but they get around it by asking when you graduated from high school.

 

It doesn’t make any sense: Older workers are kicked to the curb, even though they have 15 years plus experience, all because they’re considered health risks even though they’ve paid into the insurance system, and so they’re pushed into physically taxing jobs in retail.  Meanwhile healthy younger workers are hired on in office jobs, with little or no work experience, because their health care costs are less of a risk to the business.

 

If that makes sense, I’ll eat my Slinky.

 

 

 

Published in: on March 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Henny Penny, The Health Care Sky is Falling!!

The quarterback felt he was running against the clock. The team manager wanted a completed pass in the first quarter.  His teammates weren’t quite on board.  Some of them wouldn’t stand where they were supposed to stand.

 

He went back for the pass, but the receiver wasn’t there. Luckily, the pass was incomplete; they didn’t lose the ball to the other team.  Some team members were complaining about the condition of the ball itself – that it was too much like the football from last season.

 

Like hypercritical football fans after a new quarterback has fumbled the ball, political fans are calling for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s ouster. They’ve note, magnanimously that he initially wanted to pass on the job.  But no one else was willing to step up to the plate.

 

What confuses average Americans about all this is the difference between health insurance and health care. To someone like myself, health insurance has always meant coverage by my employer.  There was a deductible (usually about $1,000) that I had to pay before the insurance company, engaged by employer, kicked in.  Good.  Great.  Okay.

 

Essentially, the health insurance I expected was for hospitalization and catastrophic illness. I was making good money – I could handle the sneezes, sniffles and sore throats, the sprained ankle I got for jumping over a police barrier (it’s not what it sounds like) and other minor maladies (there weren’t many).  Oh, and I was able to pay for my own female health care, thank you very much.

 

Somewhere along the line, though, the demarcation between insurance and health care got muddled. I only wanted enough insurance so that if I had to have surgery (and recently, I came close to that point but dodged the bullet), I wouldn’t lose my home or my retirement savings.

 

Instead, Obamacare offered us the whole smorgasbord of health care, which came with a hefty price tag, much higher than I ever would have had to pay myself. By the time it was enacted, I was unemployed and no longer eligible for Obamacare.  Medicaid wanted to know too much information about my mother’s and older brother’s income.  I refused to tell them.

 

It should be enough that I have a bank balance of $200 with no income at all, since the newspaper for which I was doing freelance photography downsized all its photographers. I’d love to sign up for a low-cost health care plan, that just covers the basics mentioned above – hospitalization and catastrophic illness.

 

We don’t need or want a “health care” plan. We want a “health insurance plan.”  I don’t want the government – or a private insurer – or a prospective employer – paying for all my health needs.  I don’t need the government to purchase the Heather’s Tummy Tamers that aide my IBS condition.  I don’t need them to purchase Immodium or pain reliever or mouthwash.

 

It would be nice if someone would hire me so I could pay for these things myself. But aside from that, I’m glad the Freedom Caucus stood up to the weak bill that Speaker Ryan presented and had to pull from the vote.

 

Because he pulled it from consideration before it could be voted on, real affordable health care insurance for Americans that doesn’t involve government interference in our personal lives, supporting welfare families who want the government to buy their cold medicine for them (isn’t that what Medicaid is for), purchasing contraception methods for young women who can certainly afford to buy those items themselves, and doesn’t rob us of our future savings.

 

We’re not exactly sure what was in this bill, just as we weren’t sure what was in the Obamacare bill (now we know). But the less it looks like Obamacare, the better for us.  You can’t very well say, “We’re going to repeal Obamacare” and then hand America the Son of Obamacare.

 

Tomorrow is another day. Don’t try to cover so much.  Don’t make the bill so complicated.  Go back to the drawing board.  It’s okay to talk to insurance companies, who have a fiscal responsibility to keep costs down, but also talk to doctors who don’t hold with the AMA, and patients of all ages.

 

You might also want to look into exactly why medical costs are so high, beyond the fact that we have a large, aging Baby Boomer population. My doc says it’s all the expensive equipment.  He also says hospitals have too much power.  He also says that patients have a tendency to run to the doctor for every little ache and pain, which also drives up insurance costs.

 

One time I visited him because I felt like I had a fever. He was a bit annoyed with me for coming in for what he figured was just a cold (I was pretty health up until that point) until he took my temperature and saw that it was 104 degrees.

 

Let us hope Congress has the good sense to wade through the sheafs of paper and eliminate everything that doesn’t involve a serious injury, illness, or condition (i.e., appendicitis).

 

It’s really quite simple. Maybe their law degrees are getting in the way of straightening out health care.  Or maybe it’s politics and all the state health department bureaucrats who would be out of work if a health care bill is passed that allows insurance companies to sell health insurance across state lines.

 

As long as a federal government health department doesn’t take their place, that sounds like a great plan.

 

Meanwhile, take a valium and call me on Monday if your anxiety still persists.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on March 25, 2017 at 12:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Westminster Bridge Attack: Just Another Day in London Town

According to London’s Muslim Mayor Saddiq Khan, terror attacks are just part of living in a big city. Just be brave and go on about your business.  Both the London mayor and British Prime Minister refused to characterize the attack as “Islamic” terrorism.

That was how then-President Bill Clinton described the first attack on the World Trade Center in February 1993. Maybe people living in other parts of the country who had never been to New York City or held a dim view of it accepted Clinton’s announcement that the attack was merely the attack of a “criminal.”

The next year, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who helped conceived the attack, was convicted of participation in a plot to blow up bridges, tunnels and landmarks around Manhattan. Maybe residents on the Left Coast or in Middle America, who had good reason to distrust New Yorkers, thought it was just another day in New York.  But when Clinton announced that the World Trade Center bombing was nothing more than a criminal act, we were indignant.

Liberals are unabashed about throwing in additional charges in cases where the victim is a minority. They demand special civil rights prosecution for the offenders.   But in the case of Muslim terrorists, they are a special class of criminal, butchering their victims openly in the name of their religion (“Allah Akbar!!”) but protected from prosecution for a religiously-motivated crime by politically-motivated civil rights laws.

According to the U.K. Telegraph:

The attacker – now named as 52-year-old Khalid Masood – killed five pedestrians and injured around 40 other people as he mowed down members of the public with a car on Westminster Bridge – [one woman was thrown into the Thames River below, but survived] – at about 2:40 p.m., on Wednesday, before crashing into the railings in front of Parliament.

Bursting through the gate to the Palace of Westminster, he stabbed unarmed Pc Keith Palmer, 48, before being shot dead by armed officers.

Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack, Scotland Yard said. However, he was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences.

His first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage and his last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife. He has not been convicted for any terrorism offences.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said research into Masood’s aliases was ongoing, adding: “Khalid Masood is not at this early stage believed to be his birth name.”

Prime Minister May told the Commons earlier, prior to the man being identified: “What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism.

“He was a peripheral figure. The case is historic. He was not part of the current intelligence picture. There was no prior intelligence of his intent or of the plot.”

Eight people have been arrested so far, and six addresses raided across London, Birmingham and elsewhere.

The Birmingham raid took place on the Hagley Road, a mile or so southwest of Birmingham city center at 11 p.m. yesterday.  Neighbours said more than a dozen black-clad police stormed a flat on the road with machine guns.

One witness, who works in a shop near the second-floor flat, said: “The man from London lived here.” He added: “They came and arrested three men.”

Searches are continuing at the flat today after it emerged that the killer’s car had been hired nearby.

On Thursday, the car-hire firm Enterprise confirmed the Hyundai 4×4 used in the attack was one of its vehicles after an employee recognised the number-plate in online photos.

The car is understood to have been rented from a branch in Stratford, Shirley, in Solihull, just eight miles (13km) from the scene of the flat raid.

Pundit estimate that in about another 20 years – if the current low European birth rate and the rate of North African immigration continues – the native populations of Europe will be overwhelmed and under the dictates of an Islamic tyranny. There were will be no way to avoid it.

Pres. Trump wants to enact a ban on Muslim immigrants from those countries. He’s been heckled into compromising on that ban and unconstitutionally thwarted by activist judges in Hawaii.

There can be no compromise with Islamic terrorists. They surround themselves with herds of refugees driving them like sheep, acting as stalking horses – hiding themselves within the “innocent” masses –  in order to enter enemy territory and wage their battle.

United States law makes provisions, does it not, for religions that prove themselves dangerous to the population? That was the reasoning for the federal government attacking the Branch-Davidian Compound in Texas in 1993.

 

A religious group that originated in 1955 from a schism in the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists (“Davidians”), a reform movement that began as an offshoot from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (“Adventists”) around 1930.

Some of those who accepted the reform message had been removed from membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church because of their supplemental teachings. Today, the original Davidian Seventh-day Adventists and the Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventists are two different and distinct groups.

The doctrinal beliefs differ on such teachings as the Holy Spirit and His nature, the feast days and requirements, and who had the prophetic office since Victor Houteff’s death. From its inception in 1930, the reform movement believed themselves to be living in a time when Bible prophecies of a final divine judgment were coming to pass as a prelude to Christ’s Second Coming.

In 1993 the ATF, FBI, and Texas National Guard laid siege to their property for 51 days. The siege ended with a raid which resulted in the deaths of the Branch Davidians’ leader, David Koresh, as well as 82 other Branch Davidian men, women, and children, and four ATF agents.

The raid appears to have been the result of a power struggle between two would-be leaders of the communal group, George Rohen, son of one of the group’s spiritual leaders, and new-comer David Koresh. The groups engaged in armed conflict in a battle over the compound and leadership of the group.  That was when the federal government entered the scene and made things even worse.

The Branch-Davidians were a small, albeit violent, sect in the wastelands of Texas. Islam dates back to the Seventh Century, unchanged in its intolerant ideology towards women and non-believers.  Like the Mexican and Central and South American illegal aliens, they have been allowed to swarm our borders unchecked.

Their violence is every bit as storied as any Mexican cartel that murdered witnesses at the scene of a crime. The evidence is written into their holy books and in the writs of their genocidal clerics.  Those who would hold us back from vetting, or even preventing their entry, into the United States, have a similar agenda for destroying our society.

Our voices must be stronger and louder than that of the Deep State media, our craven representatives, or hired thugs at a staged rally. If we don’t sound our voices soon, soon we will have no voices left.

The Westminster Bridge attack was just another footstep of doom for Western civilization. British civil authority gives this advice to Londoners in case of another such attack:  Run.  Hide.  Call for help.

Is that the best we can do to protect ourselves?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on March 23, 2017 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fox News Throws Judge Andrew Napolitano Under the Bus

Apparently, when you appear on Fox News Channel’s morning show, “Fox and Friends,” with friends like those, you don’t need any enemies.

 

Last week, Mr. Napolitano, Fox News Channel’s Senior Legal Analyst and a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, reported on the morning show “Fox and Friends” that the Obama administration had asked British intelligence to wiretap Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

 

His firing by Fox News Channel is the last straw. It’s been a long while since I’ve suffered FNC to appear on my television.  I have it on right now only because they’re reporting on today’s terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge and on Parliament in London.  I regard that duplicitous news network as now just another member of the Deep State Media (since the word “Mainstream Media” really doesn’t represent Mainstream America at all, as some wag pointed out yesterday).

 

Fox News has leaned so far to the Left, that I’ve switched to Fox Business News for my political news. I believe Napolitano was on Fox Business Network, discussing the possibility that Obama employed the services of British Intelligence – the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ – to carry out his dirty deeds.

 

I was watching the broadcast. The entire conversation was speculation.  Napolitano was unapologetic in stating that he wouldn’t put it past Obama to do such a thing.  However, prodded by the host, he was careful to explain this spy-world caper theoretically. He stated that he had to be very careful in what he said because he had no actual facts, but that this was the most likely scenario.

 

A few days later, Fox News suspended the judge indefinitely after Pres. Trump cited Napolitano’s interview. The GCHQ was furious that they should be implicated in such a crime.  Napolitano also published his theory on his website, which hasn’t been updated since the incident.

 

 

Did Obama Spy on Trump?

 

Published on Mar 16, 2017

 

The question of whether former President Barack Obama actually spied on President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition has been tantalizing Washington since President Trump first made the allegation nearly two weeks ago. Since then, three investigations have been launched — one by the FBI, one by the House of Representatives and one by the Senate. Are the investigators chasing a phantom, or did this actually happen?

 

Here is the back story.

 

Obama would not have needed a warrant to authorize surveillance on Trump. Obama was the president and as such enjoyed authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to order surveillance on any person in America, without suspicion, probable cause or a warrant.

FISA contemplates that the surveillance it authorizes will be for national security purposes, but this is an amorphous phrase and an ambiguous standard that has been the favorite excuse of most modern presidents for extraconstitutional behavior. In the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon used national security as a pretext to deploying the FBI and CIA to spy on students and even to break in to the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, one of his tormentors.

 

FISA was enacted in the late 1970s to force the federal government to focus its surveillance activities — its domestic national security-based spying — on only those people who were more likely than not agents of a foreign government. Because FISA authorizes judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to make rules and establish procedures for surveillance — essentially lawmaking — in secret, the public and the media have been largely kept in the dark about the nature and extent of the statute and the legal and moral rationale for the federal government’s spying on everyone in the U.S.

 

The mass spying that these judges have ruled FISA authorizes is directly counter to the wording, meaning and purpose of FISA itself, which was enacted to prevent just what it has in fact now unleashed.

 

We now know indisputably that this secret FISA court — whose judges cannot keep records of their own work and have their pockets and briefcases checked by guards as they enter and leave the courthouse — has permitted all spying on everyone all the time.

 

The FISA court only hears lawyers for the government, and they have convinced it that it is more efficient to capture the digital versions of everyone’s phone calls, texts, emails and other digital traffic than it is to force the government — as the Constitution requires — to focus on only those who there is reason to believe are more likely than not engaging in unlawful acts.

 

When FISA was written, telephone surveillance was a matter of wiretapping — installing a wire onto the target’s telephone line, either inside or outside the home or business, and listening to or recording in real time the conversations that were audible on the tapped line.

 

Today the National Security Agency has 24/7 access to the mainframe computers of all telecom providers and all computer service providers and to all digital traffic carried by fiber optics in the U.S. The NSA has had this access pursuant to FISA court orders issued in 2005 and renewed every 90 days. The FISA court has based its rulings on its own essentially secret convoluted logic, never subjected to public scrutiny. That has resulted in the universal surveillance state in which we in America now live. The NSA has never denied this.

 

Thus, in 2016, when Trump says the surveillance of him took place, Obama needed only to ask the NSA for a transcript of Trump’s telephone conversations to be prepared from the digital versions that the NSA already possessed. Because the NSA has the digital version of every telephone call made to, from and within the U.S. since 2005, if President Obama last year wanted transcripts of Trump’s calls made at any time, the NSA would have been duty-bound to provide them, just as it would be required to provide transcripts of Obama’s calls today if President Trump wanted them.

But if Obama did order the NSA to prepare transcripts of Trump’s conversations last fall under the pretext of national security — to find out whether Trump was communicating with the Russians would have been a good excuse — there would exist somewhere a record of such an order. For that reason, if Obama did this, he no doubt used a source on which he’d leave no fingerprints.

 

Enter James Bond.

 

Sources have told Fox News that the British foreign surveillance service, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, most likely provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s calls. The NSA has given GCHQ full 24/7 access to its computers, so GCHQ — a foreign intelligence agency that, like the NSA, operates outside our constitutional norms — has the digital versions of all electronic communications made in America in 2016, including Trump’s. So by bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints.

 

Thus, when senior American intelligence officials denied that their agencies knew about this, they were probably being truthful. Adding to this ominous scenario is the fact that three days after Trump’s inauguration, the head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, abruptly resigned, stating that he wished to spend more time with his family.

 

I hope the investigations of Trump’s allegation discover and reveal the truth — whatever it is. But the lesson here is terribly serious. We face the gravest threat to personal liberty since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 proscribed criticism of the government. We have an unelected, unnamed, unaccountable elite group in the intelligence community manipulating the president at will and possessing intimate, detailed knowledge about all of us that it can reveal. We have statutes that have given the president unconstitutional powers that have apparently been used. And we have judges on secret courts facilitating all this as if the Constitution didn’t exist.

 

For how much longer will we have freedom?

 

Strangely, no Conservative friends have come to the judge’s defense, except for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.  At least they’re willing to consider his side of the story.  Citing Mediaite, The Blaze reported this:

Mediaite reports that a Fox News “source” is denying this report. TheBlaze has reached out to Fox News for clarification and will update this story further when and if the company releases an official statement on the matter.

According to the LA Times, Fox News judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano has been suspended from the network due to his comments centered around President Donald Trump’s wiretapping claims.

While the LA Times did not receive a statement from Fox about Napolitano’s status, anonymous sources claim that it will be a while before we see the judge again.

Given Fox News Channel’s decided turn to the Left, one might ask whether Napolitano was set up on that morning show? FNC’s chief anchors, Shepherd Smith and Chris Wallace, are declared Democrats.  We know what to expect from them.

 

If you watched the program (which most of you certainly did not, as you were working – ah, the benefits of unemployment), you’d know that Napolitano was trying to be careful. But the reporters kept pressing him on the subject.  ‘Yeah, but can you tell us this?” and “Yeah, but can you tell us that?”

 

I admit to being a little nervous for the judge, myself. He was clearly nervous.  Time and again he stressed the theoretical nature of what they were discussing because he, personally, didn’t have the facts.  That’s when he cited the “Fox News Sources.”  This is how it could have happened, not that it did happen, necessarily.

 

Speculation is a dangerous temptation in journalism, especially when you’re giving an opinion. The Democrats engage in it wholesale, joyfully:  “The Russians ‘hacked’ the elections (poor choice of words on their part)!”  “The Russians interfered with the elections!!”  “Hillary really won but lost because the Putin Propaganda machine outmaneuvered her and brainwashed millions of voters into voting for Trump!”  “Trump has ties to Russia (through a third-rate publicist and a former oil company president who’s been on speaking terms with Russia for decades)!”  “Trump’s cabinet appointees met with the Russian ambassador!! (Are we at war with Russia yet?  Have we broken off diplomatic relations with them?)”

 

Therefore, it’s important for them to keep up the drumbeat for impeaching Trump, as ridiculous as it sounds. Anyone who champions Trump, like the esteemed Judge Andrew Napolitano, must be thrown under the bus and silenced.  He just can’t go around giving away national security secrets like that, that the recently past president may have been spying on his political opponent before the election.

 

They were wiretapping a Russian gambler who conveniently enough resided in the Trump Towers? That’s a matter of a national security?  Please.  That doesn’t mean the past administration wasn’t also wiretapping Trump, the more likely scenario.

 

But according to Comey, he’s not obliged to answer any questions from Congress on the grounds that it involves “national security.” Now that’s Deep State.  Since he’s begun the investigation, Trump can’t fire him.  Jeff Sessions had to stand aside.  If Trump were to fire him, he would immediately be charged with obstruction of justice, just as Richard Nixon was.

 

At least we can say Richard Nixon did something wrong. Sort of.  Trump claims that his phones – his phones, not some Russian’s dudes, were tapped.  He’s the President of the United States and he can’t get justice.  In fact, he’s being persecuted through the Deep State Press without any evidence of wrongdoing.

 

I do hope someone with national clout will take up Judge Andrew Napolitano’s cause. The Judge has been an honorable and conscientious defender of the U.S. Constitution.  Someone wants him out.  What’s all very ironic about this is, if I recall correctly, he was opposed to the Patriot Act, which allowed the government to spy on American citizens.

 

We American Conservatives want him back and vindicated for wrong-doing.

 

 

Published in: on March 22, 2017 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Deep State Double-Talk

The United States Government, still in some ways under the auspices of Barack Obama thanks to his delegates in the shadow government he left behind, is proceeding apace with its prosecution by proxy of Pres. Donald J. Trump.

 

In a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, FBI Director James Comey said for the first time Monday that the bureau is investigating whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow while Russia was interfering in the presidential election.

 

Comey also delivered an implicit rebuke to President Donald Trump, saying that he had “no information” to support claims by the President that he was wiretapped on the orders of predecessor Barack Obama.

 

In a dramatic hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey, once again finding himself at the epicenter of a political storm, also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a clear preference for whom he wanted to see as the next president — and it was not Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

 

Comey’s comments represented his most explicit intervention yet in the controversy over what US intelligence agencies have assessed was a Russian attempt to disrupt the election — and a string of counter-claims against the previous administration leveled by Trump himself.

 

How is it that an investigation – a veritable show trial – has been launched against Trump, with zero evidence according to former CIA Director Clapper, but Hillary was never indicted after all we now know she had done with highly unlawful pay-to-play corruption (unlawful “donations” in the multiple millions) to Hillary Clinton’s Machine, the Clinton Foundation?  Selling uranium to Russia?  How about investigating her ties to Russia?

 

According to Katie Pavlich, Town Hall.com: “Testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee Monday, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers re-emphasized that although the Russian government did in fact wage a strong propaganda campaign during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, votes were not changed. Specifically, they were not changed in swing states Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump.

 

Committee Chairman Devin Nunes asked Rogers about North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Rogers replied by saying votes were not changed in any of them.

 

In January former Director of Nation Intelligence James Clapper said the same and was backed by a report issued by the intelligence community.

 

“They did not change any vote tallies or anything of that sort,” Clapper said.

 

U.S. intelligence shows Russia did mount a major campaign to push propaganda into the minds of American voters through Twitter, fake news websites and the Russian government-backed television station RT, which broadcasts in the United States.

 

“The Russians have a long history of interfering in elections, theirs and other people’s,” Clapper continued. “I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a more aggressive or direct campaign to interfere in our election than we’ve seen in this case.”

 

“All evidence points to vote tallies being unchanged as a result of Russian interference.”

 

From the Right.com: FBI Director James Comey confirmed during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday that the FBI is investigating Russian interference in November’s presidential election.

 

The investigation, Comey said, includes an examination of the alleged “links” between President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was coordination between the two during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

 

Comey said the FBI’s practice is generally “not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations” but that in “unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest, it may be necessary to do so.”

 

He told the committee, “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI is investigating Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.”

 

Okay. So here we have our Justice Department and the F.B.I. claiming that some mysterious “link” between Russia and the Trump campaign conspired to interfere, although have no effect upon, the 2016 presidential elections.

 

Russian intelligence “pushed” propaganda into our brains to “make us” vote for Donald J. Trump?! Some of their conspiracy theorists point to a journalist named Michael Caputo, a former top adviser to Donald Trump who resigned on June 20 after sending a mocking tweet about just-fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, a campaign source had told CNN.

 

Michael Caputo, then head of the communications for Trump’s caucus operations team, tweeted “Ding Dong the witch is dead” following the news that Lewandowski had been fired. The conspiracy theorists claim that Caputo went on to become an image consultant for Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

 

The government then claimed that it hadn’t wiretapped Trump’s building, but someone living in one of his residences in the Trump Towers on the 37th floor.  Today, they claimed it was some Russian mafia gambler they were after.

 

But there’s still the matter of the FISA court warrant, which does apparently exist, except in Obamaworld. The Deep State Media have been working very hard to make that document disappear into the ether.  They’re claiming Obama didn’t need one – a month before the election.  So if he didn’t need one, why was one issued?

 

Clearly, the Deep State is setting up Pres. Trump to be impeached on grounds of conspiring with a foreign government to affect a U.S. election. Part of their evidence is all those meetings with Russian ambassadors by his key cabinet appointees.  They were careful to step around Rex Tillerson, who has had long ties with the Russian government, and not accuse him of anything.

 

They’re trying desperately to manufacture this non-existent evidence, claiming, according to FBI Director Comey himself that they have evidence, even though they don’t. No wiretap here; nothing to see here, move along, please.

 

This new “Red Scare” by the Media and the Deep State Government is curious since their own ideological proclivities, their collusion, and their manipulation of their news is precisely what has made Americans suspicious of them.

 

If they’re so worried about “Russian influence” why did the Senate pass the appointment of Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, who has had decades of experience dealing with the Russians, as well as any other nation that had dealings with the oil giant?

 

This Caputo is a small fry. He was fired from the team even before the Republican National Committee.  Also, why is the Obama Administration trying so hard, now, to bolster its foreign policy credos on Russia and the Ukraine, pluming itself for taking an eleventh hour stance against Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine, when for the previous eight years, it had done absolutely nothing?

 

We’ll say it again: the notion that the Russians – the Communists of Russia – had anything to do with Trump winning the election is absurd.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  If Putin was going to secretly back anyone, it would have been the Democrat nominee.  Putin himself has said the idea is rubbish.  Yet Comey admitted that Russian propagandists have long tried to influence U.S. elections.

 

Yeah, we know. We’ve read it in the New York Times, the information leader of the media pack.  We didn’t need a Congressional or F.B.I. investigation to tell us that.  Why do you think we elected Trump?

 

 

 

 

Published in: on March 22, 2017 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment