I spend most Saturdays (weather allowing) at my screened porch, when I’m not doing chores. I was reading Robert Bidinotto’s latest thriller, Winner Takes All, when Juliette asked if I could fill in for her today, so here I am, posting from the porch.

It’s a beautiful, quiet, warm (80F, 49% humidity) and sunny day in Central Florida.

And I am thankful.

[I’ve been thinking a lot about thankfulness recently, not only because of Thanksgiving Day, but also because I’ve come across a person or two who spend every waking moment – they really work hard at it – in a purposeful bad mood. Lest you think I’m charitably inclined, my reaction is that of mild annoyance alternating with feigned indifference, since, to paraphrase Dean Wormer, “fat, ornery and stupid is no way to go through life.” But I digress.]

Good reads are one of the things I’m thankful for.

I highly recommend Winner Takes All. I met Robert Bidinotto years ago at CPAC, before he started writing thrillers. He was already known for his article “Getting Away with Murder” in the July 1988 issue of the Reader’s Digest, but I didn’t match the article with the face until later. The article,

stirred a national controversy about crime and prison furlough programs during the 1988 presidential election campaign, and it’s widely credited with having affected the outcome of the election.

It was about Willie Horton.

Robert brings his reporter experiences and his writing skills to his novels (in order): Hunter, Bad Deeds, and Winner Takes All starring Dylan Hunter.

You’ll enjoy them for the quality of the writing, the action, the nice details (Robert incorporates the family of foxes from his real-life back yard in Winner Takes All), and the well-developed characters.

The only warning (and you may – or not – be thankful to hear this in advance) is that the three novels are highly addictive and you will not want to put them down.

Unless, of course, you have a chance to fill in for Juliette. You can help her out with the laptop repair bills.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Yeah, I did this search from my computer this morning. Are you surprised?

Search engines are amazing. In Fifth Grade I had to write a paper on fireworks, and I remember digging through the local library’s index cards, finding the section in the Dewey Decimal system that I cared about, finding those books, and then reading them to get enough information to write the paper. By the time I was done, I could tell you what metals burned what color (magnesium is white, for example), how fireworks were packaged, and how a manufacturing plant managed static electricity to prevent explosions.

Now you can do most of this from your computer at home. I’m building a home, and a combination of Google, YouTube, and the local library has helped me design my house and ask my builder intelligent questions, like what sort of additives he plans on using in the foundations concrete. And naively, I thought most people use the internet for this purpose.

Apparently that isn’t true, and it’s more worthwhile to know about scaring cats with cucumbers.

Continue reading “But what did Google tell you to think?”

This week, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Governments around the world were quick to condemn the unilateral decision, with Saudi Arabia particularly vehement in its criticism of the “unjustified and irresponsible” move.

The fear is that the decision threatens to undermine the Peace Process between Israel and Palestine, and that this could potentially re-ignite a centuries old conflict in the middle east.

Much ink has been spilled on this topic in the past week, and it has further polarized opinion in both the US and Europe. Read both sides of the argument, however, and a strange point of agreement between left and right emerges: while the move may be good for the USA, there is no conceivable way that it furthers the peace process.

Trump claimed otherwise, of course, saying that “I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” But notice which point he put first? The interests of the USA.

Of course, the interests of his own country should always be the priority of a US President. But in the current context – a decision that appears to only affect Israel and Palestine – his justification raises a question: in what sense is it good for the USA?

My answer to this question might be controversial, but it is worth raising. The decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is good for the US precisely because it threatens to exacerbate conflict in the region.

Why Regional Conflicts Are Good For The US

The sad truth of the matter is that armed conflict in the middle east and elsewhere is an integral part of the US economy. This is true in a variety of ways. In the most basic sense, the US sells a lot of weapons to other countries. The State Department’s 2017 budget request includes approximately $5.7 billion for Foreign Military Financing, and the US accounts for 33% of all arms sales worldwide.

Returning to Israel, however, the situation is more complex. Though much is made of the fact that Israel would not be able to defend itself without US weapons, it’s worth noting that the country is not even among the top 10 countries that the US exports weapons to.

Instead, the countries are best seen as co-dependent. Israel is itself the world’s 10th largest arms exporter, which is quite impressive for such a small nation, and 5.9% of its weapons are bought by the USA.

Still, Israel’s dependence on US weapons export is hard to overstate. Though deals over fighter jets tend to hog the headlines, it’s also worth noting that a loot of the more mundane items used by the Israeli military are made in the US: everything from 9mm ammunition to popular concealed carry holsters for Glock 19 handguns.

What Is Trump Actually Doing?

I’m not going to put forward the conspiracy theory that Trump, or US administrations more generally, purposefully create conflicts in order to boost the domestic economy. Rather, Trump’s recent decision seems more likely designed to distract attention from his domestic legal troubles.

Rather, I merely wish to note that armed conflict has been an inherent part of international politics, and therefore the international economy, for as long as humans have been around. The USA has managed to capitalize on this, as any sensible nation would. As a result, asking the US to create peace in the world is not only unreasonable, but against its own self-interest.

For that reason, whatever you believe about Trump’s recent decision, one has to admit that he is acting in the most responsible way possible: he is charged with protecting and furthering the interests of the USA, and that is the way he should act, even if other countries disagree with him.

Additional Sources:

As I mentioned in yesterdays lead post despite a great month for traffic we not only had a horrible month at DaTipJar but we are a full $15K shy of our annual goal this year, so when I got a change to pick up an extra shift of overtime even though it would make 8 straight days of work I jumped at it.

When I left the Flynn plea was the big news. All over the MSM stories were going out that this was the beginning of the end for Trump. ABC reported that Flynn would testify that candidate Trump asked him to contact the Russians. This was going to be a game changer. In fact even though Mitch McConnell had said he had the vote to pass the Trump Tax bill the prospect of the left getting what they want had already caused the market to crash and had the potential to persuade a weak “yes” to defect and to top it all off the killer of Katie Steinle had been acquitted in what was instantly painted as a defeat for Donald Trump. The entire left was in a state of orgasmic euphoria

Little did I know that by the time I came home it would all change.

On ABC’s world news tonight an anouncement was made that included one detail about the Flynn statement that was left out of the original report.

In other words the big scoop is that the president elect told Flynn to reach out to Russia, not during the campaign but after the election.

So much for “collusion. The air came out of the left faster than an inner tube left in a porcupine farm.

Alas for Joy Behar who read the original ABC story on the air on the view this correction took place too late for her to set the record straight on the air. Oddly enough she hasn’t tweeted since the correction was made

I’m sure given the embarrassment he has caused ABC once again, they might have considered firing Brian Ross, but with Pervnado winds still blowing though the MSM reporters who have not been accused or suspected of sexual misconduct, even incompetent ones, are at a premium so odds are he survives.

And if that wasn’t enough the Steinle trial victory proved very short lived

An amended federal arrest warrant has been released for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a Mexican man acquitted Thursday in the killing of a woman on a San Francisco pier, a case that’s sparked national debate over immigration.

The warrant says Zarate violated his supervised release on a federal sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. by possessing the gun that killed Kate Steinle on July 1, 2015. The warrant was originally issued July 14 of that year but an amended warrant was unsealed Friday following the verdict.

The warrant issued by the U.S. District Court for the western district of Texas says Zarate was sentenced in Texas on May 12, 2011 to 46 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally re-entering the U.S.

The warrant says the terms of the supervised release, which began March 26, 2015, barred Zarate from committing another crime and from possessing a firearm. He was still bound to the terms of that release when Steinle was shot and killed. Though he was acquitted of murder Thursday, he was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

So not only does Zarate not go free with time served but he has to be turned over to the Feds, TEXAS feds and yet another round of leftist moping.

And then came the final straw, when I came home after midnight the TV had been left on the Senate channel and I watched the final defeat of the day for the Democrats as just after 1 AM the Senate by a 51-49 vote passed the Tax bill handing Trump and the GOP a badly needed legislative victory.

The twitter outrage was palatable as the left screamed and shouted their frustration to no avail. I can see why they are so upset

In a mere 8 hours the left went from believing they finally had the moment they’ve been waiting for since the day after the election to seeing it go up in smoke.

I’d feel more sorry for them, but that’s what they get for believing the MSM’s fake news.

I’m sure I’ll get sick of all this winning, I just haven’t figured out when.

The Good News is that we are on the verge of passing our hit number for last year (not bad for a site that doesn’t auto reload) and that we already have beaten last year’s number of unique visitors by 10,000+ people.

The bad news is we are also on the verge of missing our annual goal by over $15,000

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