I normally focus on Latin American news, but two stories have prominently popped up in my news feed during the last couple of days: the Roy Moore sex accusations, and the Trump-didn’t-take questions-in-China tale.

The Roy Moore story (or as Scott Johnson calls it, The Moore miasma) is astonishing, not the least because of the timing. Moore had been suspended twice from the state’s Supreme Court: the first in 2001 for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, the second in 2016 for directing probate judges to continue to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. It defies belief that the accusers would not have felt they could come out and expose events that took place nearly four decades ago only until a couple of weeks before this upcoming election.

I do not know if Moore is guilty. I do not know if or how the allegations could be proven or disproven. But no matter the facts, I expect this story to remain prominently in the top headlines for a while, especially if Moore wins.

The media will pick and choose.

As it did, for instance, with the Trump-didn’t-take questions-in-China story: Pres. Trump did not take questions from the media after a press conference. Streiff describes the media outrage,

CNN, naturally, ran a story in which they claimed that Trump broke from decades of tradition by participating in a news conference with a Chinese president in which there were no questions.

A few hours later, this, from a CNN article:

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect neither Trump nor President Barack Obama took questions alongside his Chinese counterpart during their first visit to the country. A previous version misstated that Obama had.

By then,

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Streiff, again,

So you can have your journalistic hit job and claim the moral high ground by tweeting and publishing a correction no one will read.

And then it’ll happen again.

JD sums it up:

What concerns me is the intellectual dishonesty and blatant manipulation these news outlets embrace.

That is what I keep in mind every time I read any news at all.

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

Drug cartels have a full panoply of false gods.

The best-known in the wide-ranging and impressive array is Our Lady of the Assassins, made famous by a popular novel that was later made into a movie. She’s also known as Santa Muerte, a grim reaper figure which even turned up in Breaking Bad,

The most recent is The Infant Huachicolero, essentially a baby Jesus with a jerry can, an image promoted by gangs in Puebla, Mexico. Huachicoleros illegally tap oil pipelines, stealing fuel for cheap resale – a business which, according to the BBC, has become Mexico’s second-biggest organized crime after drug trafficking.

A Google search for religious imagery and drug cartels yields almost 250,000 results, among them Know Your Narco Saints: The Religious Iconography of the Drug Trade

Some of these figures are true “Narco-Saints,” forthright patrons of illegal acts. Others are simply saints that narcos pray to, holy figures asked to intercede in unholy doings. Even Jesus and Mary are not considered beyond the pale.

It’s hardly surprising that cartels would be willing to exploit this tradition of the Catholic Church for their purposes. For instance, San Ramon Nonato (Saint Raymond Nonnatus), patron saint

of the the secrecy of the confessional, of priests keeping their mouths shut. In narco culture, that secrecy is extended to more secular arenas. Namely, police interview rooms and witnesses boxes at the courthouse. “If you get arrested you’re gonna pray to this saint hoping that your witness or whoever is gonna testify against you will be silent and keep the secret of your dirty deed,” says Garza. Petitioners sometimes offer padlocks at San Ramon’s altar, or place tape across his mouth.

How better to broadcast the message “keep your mouth shut”?

Juliette points out for the need to fill the space of your soul, and she quotes Mark Steyn’s essay, The Triumph of Amoral Will, (emphasis added)

A republic requires virtue, and the decline of virtue is accompanied necessarily by the decline of the concept of evil, and its substitution by exculpatory analysis of the “motives” of evil. A more useful conversation would be on what it takes to remove the most basic societal inhibition – including the instinctive revulsion that would prevent most of us from taking the lives of strangers, including in this case eighteen-month-old babies.

Like at the cartels,

That inhibition is weaker in the dar al-Islam, because of Islam’s institutional contempt for “the other” (unbelievers) but also because of the rewards promised in the afterlife. Thus, violence is sanctioned by paradise. That is the precise inversion of our society, and yet the weakening of inhibition seems to be proceeding here, too.

“One should not underestimate the effectiveness of cultural pressures,” Steyn states. Whether in dar-al-Islam or narcostates or anywhere, when the culture eliminates virtue, a republic cannot sustain itself.

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

Eagle River, Wisconsin

By John Ruberry

“‘Many are the strange chances of the world,’ said Mithrandir, ‘and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter.'”
Mithrandir (Gandalf), in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Simarillion.

This week greets the first anniversary of Donald J. Trump’s historic election to the presidency.

Historic? Yes. Trump is first first non-politician–or former general–ever elected to the nation’s highest office. The Manhattan billionaire was one of 17 candidates for the Republican nomination and it’s very safe to say that among the GOP establishment, Trump was the least popular member of this group.

But among the unpolished masses–the folks that Hillary Clinton dubbed “Deplorables” a year later–Trump was their champion. House Speaker Paul Ryan said after Trump’s upset win over Clinton, said that the president-elect, “Heard a voice that no one else heard.”

Clinton, on the other hand, was clearly the choice of the Democratic Party insiders, and that point was driven home last week by Donna Brazile, the interim DNC chair when Trump scored his upset win.

Trump was branded a racist when he said that Mexico was sending “rapists” and “criminals” over the border and he vowed to build a wall at the Mexican border. Was he wrong to say that? Yes. But Trump revealed a glaring hypocrisy among the Republican Party. The GOP’s idea of “getting tough” on illegal immigration was to talk tough about illegal immigration. And suddenly, the emerging Trump base learned, here was a candidate who will do something about illegal aliens–who yes, not only take away American jobs, such as in food service, but also drive down wages.

Barack Obama waxed eloquently–he’s good at that–about the plight of the laid-off workers at a Maytag refrigerator plant in Galesburg, Illinois–the manufacturer shifted that work to a factory in Mexico, both in his memorable keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and in Audacity of Hope. Trump vowed–and vows–to stop the exodus of blue collar jobs to south of the border. After eight years of President Obama in charge, whose response to these job losses was to offer retraining to workers for scarce jobs in “green industries,” Trump’s message resonated. While Clinton doubled-down on green failure.

Last week Rush Limbaugh praised Trump’s making an issue during the campaign of China cheating on trade deals and its currency manipulation “China is ripping us off on trade,” Trump screamed. At the time El Rusho saw it as too esoteric of a topic for presidential campaign. But the “weak” understood while the “wise” faltered.

And the Deplorables of Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan–many of whom voted twice for Barack Obama–went with Trump last year.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Subject line: “Tomorrow is a big deal but President Trump doesn’t want you to know about it.” Well, that’s one way to stand out in my email inbox. The sender is my state’s senior U.S. Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, and the message is from her Senate account, not a campaign address.

“…November 1st, through December 15th, you have the opportunity to sign up for a new health insurance plan or change your existing plan through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Despite the many attempts by President Trump and Republican leadership to repeal Obamacare, it remains the law of the land. As you consider your healthcare options, it’s important to note that there have been many changes to available plans. Instead of just signing up for the same plan for 2018, I encourage you to shop around …”

Stop. Just stop. But no, there’s more:

“The Trump administration has been trying to keep Granite Staters in the dark about this important signup period by slashing open enrollment advertising by 90 percent, cutting the open enrollment period in half and defunding support staff that assist with signing up. So, friends, it’s up to each of us to get the word out to family members and friends that the enrollment period is about to get underway.” 

Consider yourself informed. You’re welcome.

As I have expressed at possibly tiresome length since last year’s campaign, I hold no brief for President Trump. Of all the things for me to hold against him, though, trying to keep me in the dark about the administrative details of Obamacare isn’t one of them.

There are things about Obamacare that bother me a lot more than open enrollment advertising being “slashed” by 90 percent – its effect on conscience rights, for one thing; its cost, for another.

I won’t be signing up for insurance on the “Affordable” Care Act’s exchange today, or tomorrow, or anytime before December 15. It isn’t affordable. Instead, I’ll be checking with my healthshare plan, Solidarity HealthShare, to see if there’s going to be any adjustment in my monthly fee, which I can afford.

I’m supposed to be upset about how Trump’s handling Obamacare?

My state’s senior Senator is right about this much: Obamacare is still the law of the land. It will remain so, I fear, until federal legislators like her are forced to go on their home states’ insurance exchanges to find health care coverage. I can visualize my senator getting a breezy campaign-style email assuring her “you have the opportunity to sign up!”

She might even be as enthusiastic as I am.

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. She blogs at ellenkolb.com and Leaven for the Loaf. 

Cast your vote for independent journalism by hitting Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar!

By John Ruberry

Last Monday I had a errand to run for work–which brought me to Milwaukee’s suburbs. And for the first time in five years I drove on Interstate 94 north of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line–on what is known as the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor.

A lot has changed since 2012. As I left a toll road south of the border and entered a true freeway–okay, to be fair, the toll road has been there for decades–I noticed a lot.

Businesses–with huge facilities–that weren’t there five years ago leap out at you. Most obvious is the massive Uline warehouse in Pleasant Prairie. The headquarters office of the industrial supplier moved a few miles north from Waukegan, Illinois into Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County in 2010. Its “Chicago warehouse” followed four years later.

In the 1980s Wisconsin’s tourism slogan was “Escape to Wisconsin.” Illinois businesses are now heeding the call.

Yes, the Chicago area has a couple of Amazon fulfilment centers, but farther north on my drive I saw a massive one in Kenosha–it opened in 2015. The Milwaukee Business Journal calls it “the largest in the recent Kenosha County industrial boom.” There is a “Hiring Now” sign out front.

Sears Holdings, an Illinois loser

South of Kenosha County is Lake County in ILL-inois. There is no Lake County industrial boom. There is no Illinois industrial boom.

Why is that? Sure, tax incentives from Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker have helped greatly. Illinois, when inept Democrat Pat Quinn was governor, offered tax breaks to Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart brands, and Mitsubishi Motors, to encourage them to stay. This was a few months after a huge income tax hike was enacted. What about attracting new business? By all accounts Sears and Kmart are on life-support and Mitsubishi closed its Bloomington plant in 2015.

Corporate taxes might be slightly higher in Wisconsin–no place is perfect. But Illinois has the nation’s highest median property tax rate. And Illinois’ expensive workers compensation laws frighten business owners.

In 2015 Wisconsin became a right-to-work state. All the states that border Illinois except for Missouri are right-to-work states and Show Me State voters will be asked next year if they want to join the trend. Nearby Michigan has been right-to-work since 2012. Job creators don’t like unions and based on recent workplace votes, neither do workers.

Illinois has its 800-pound odious gorilla in its basement, a woefully underfunded public-worker pension system. Wisconsin’s state pensions are by most accounts fully funded. Businesses don’t like uncertainty and Illinois’ pension bomb, despite a massive personal and corporate tax hike put in place this summer, has not been defused. Not even close. Ka-boom is coming.

Blogger in Pleasant Prairie

This summer Wisconsin and the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor snagged its biggest prize, the Foxconn factory. The Taiwanese manufacturer will hire anywhere from 3,000 to 13,000 employees for its facility in Mount Pleasant in Racine County. Yes, Illinois had also bid on the Foxconn plant.

Indiana is also enjoying great success poaching Illinois firms for the similar reasons.

And when the jobs leave the people leave. And Illinois is one of only three states with negative population growth.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

There’s a math education professor at the University of Illinois who thinks “math perpetuates white privilege,”

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

If she thinks algebra and geometry are tough, she’s never struggled through calculus.

Sure enough: according to her faculty profile she does not have a degree in math and is not a math teacher. Instead, she has a Ph.D. in “Curriculum and Instruction,”

and focuses on equity issues in mathematics education, paying particular attention to how race, class, and language affect teaching and learning

Ah.

Gutierrez believes that

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

Or Chinese or Indian, like several I know.

But I digress.

As a marketing and economics major in college, I had to take several semesters of statistics and calculus. Not being particularly gifted in those disciplines, I had to knuckle down: Stay focused in class, work through all the problems in the textbooks, do all the homework, and study for every test.

I could blame someone else for my frustration when I didn’t get “A” grades  and call it a “microagression” (not that the word existed then). The fact is that math is hard. It took hard work.

I have known men with exceptional faster-than-a-calculator math skills (no, I’ve not yet met women with that skill). The rest of us, regardless of race, ethnic origin or sex, have to apply ourselves. That’s why sciences are disciplines

training to act in accordance with rules; drill:

It is by no means “unearned privilege.” Maybe she ought to try it.

Jaime Escalante was very successful teaching math to “unteachable” students. The students had to do the work. His work was not only to teach, but to motivate. Escalante respected his students enough to demand that they live up to their potential.

Escalante didn’t believe in politically correct excuses.

Rather than take Escalante’s approach, Gutierrez wants math teachers to develop a sense of “political conocimiento,” mixing Spanglish while shifting away from “math developed by white people.” Never mind that quadratic equations were developed by the Egyptians, and that the Chinese were doing calculus by the 11th century B.C. Identity politics reigns supreme.

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.

The simple answer is that you can’t BS your way out of math. In a technology-based world, math skills command a premium.

I mourn for the students affected by Gutierrez’s mindset.

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

A 17-year old with no visible means of financial support got an abortion this morning.

Not news, you say? Look again.

“Jane Doe” is an immigrant, an unaccompanied 17-year-old, living in the U.S. without benefit of documentation. When Jane Doe learned she was pregnant, she sought an abortion in Texas, where she is living. Disputes broke out, state and federal courts weighed in, and somewhere along the way Jane Doe was assigned a guardian to protect her interests.

The guardian enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, which jubilantly reported today that the abortion has been committed. “Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe,” went the ACLU tweet, one among many celebrating the death of a child’s child. #JusticeforJane, says the hashtag.

I suspect Jane Doe’s anonymity will dissolve when she turns 18, if not earlier, as she becomes a poster child for abortion advocates. Killing her child was worth a legal battle, to some people – more so than trying to regularize her residency status, apparently.

That’s a hellish way to become a celebrity. Whatever her immigration status, she deserves better than that.

Our country deserves better than to be thought of as an abortion haven, too.

I assume that as an immigrant without documentation, whose home is a U.S. detention center, she didn’t have money. Who paid to have her child killed? Was it you and me?

Human dignity lost today – the mother’s, the dead child’s, the abortionist’s, the abortion apologists’.

There’s surely a great deal about this 17-year-old that I don’t know. Why did she leave her homeland? Was she sent by her family, or did she decide on her own to cross the border? Was she pregnant when she got here? Did she become pregnant due to assault, and if so, is there as intense an effort to apprehend the perpetrator as there was to abort her child?

Whatever the answers, great things may yet lie ahead for her; better days, better choices.

Today isn’t a good day for her, no matter what her enablers are saying. Her child is dead, and abortion apologists are dancing on the remains. God have mercy on us all.

Alexandra DeSanctis said it better than I. “This is perhaps the most despicable thing about this entire ordeal — that justice in our modern world demands the blood of an innocent child. We have reached the point in the abortion debate where it is not only socially acceptable to crusade for the intentional killing of one specific unborn child, but where we are expected to applaud when that execution is carried out. How utterly shameful.”

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. She blogs at ellenkolb.com and Leaven for the Loaf, and she welcomes reader support.

Support independent journalism by hitting Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar. Thank you!

And the WaPo‘s anonymous sources say so:  Fusion GPS was paid by Marc E. Elias, a lawyer acting on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee,

Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community.

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

How much? It’s unclear how much money went to Fusion GPS directly, but according to campaign records, the Hillary campaign paid Elias’s firm $5.6million legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, while the Post states that the DNC paid Perkins Coie $3.6million in ‘legal and compliance consulting.’ Roughly $9 million. Under campaign rules, I assume that the amounts can be verified.

According to the post, there were three sources of funding.

The unknown first client:
The Post’s anonymous sources claim that (emphasis added)

Prior to that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client  during the GOP primary.

IF the first client actually exists (and I’m not the only skeptic) it’ll be interesting to find out who the Republican (or not?) was, and why (s)he stopped funding it. Was there “no there, there “? Were they outbid by the Dems?

The second: Hillary/DNC,
Either way,

The Clinton campaign and the DNC through the law firm continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

Aaron Blake notes that Steele was only funded by Democrats.

The third: The FBI, who apparently offered, but didn’t, pay
The Daily Mail reports that After the election the FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering intelligence, but they reneged when he was identified. Paul Mirengoff explains,

The agreement reportedly was reached before the election. If Clinton won, as the parties to the agreement probably expected, the FBI would take over financial responsibility for the apparatus she was funding in order to discredit her political opponent, even after he was defeated. If Trump won, the FBI would take over financial responsibility for trying to discredit the president-elect.

My doubts:
Ace wants to know who the first client is, as Fusion fights a congressional subpoena to avoid disclosing that information,

But the first remains hidden — and if Fusion prevails in court, it will remain hidden.
. . .
Someone really doesn’t want Fusion to be compelled to open up its books and client list.

As I said above, IF the first client really exists, it may not be a Republican , because,

someone wishing to obscure the actual client would, of course, put out that kind of disinformation, anonymously.

Be that as it may,  while both sides paid Fusion GPS, Steele was only funded by Democrats, and Fusion GPS had the Kremlin as a client for . . . wait for it . . . a smear campaign against Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnistsky.

When asked about the original Russia collusion story, Hillary’s talking point/bromide – repeated by her minions on cable news interviews – is “it’s been debunked.”

This is a huge story, undoubtedly. We’ll see what kind of coverage it gets from the same reporters Hillary lied to, and what Congress does about it.

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

Daniel Webster School, a CPS school on the West Side

By John Ruberry

On Friday a friend of this very blogger forwarded a Chicago Tribune Breaking News Alert to me: Chicago Public Schools enrollment drops by nearly 10,000 students. And the year before CPS enrollment slid by 11,000.

There are 371,382 students taking classes in CPS schools  In 2002 there 438,589 kids running the halls, with some of them learning something.

So, taxes for schools will go down, right?

Not in the Prairie State, the home of “Illinois Math,” where two plus two equals five.

For a while, that is.

CPS is expected to raise property taxes soon–a state bill that will likely pass to pass gives them that power–by $120 million to pay for, wait for it, teacher pensions. That’s on top of $100 million in a tax jump already sanctioned

“Building a New Chicago” at Dunne School on the South Side, where your blogger attended kindergarten

The sad tale of the Chicago Teachers Pensions Fund [CTPF] goes back to 1981 when the Chicago Board of Education agreed to pick up most of the teachers’ obligation to pay into their pension plans. Out of sight–out of mind. Yes, Chicago Teachers Union, I’m looking at you! In 1995 a lost weekend of retirement funding began–it lasted ten years–and all of that money that was supposed to go to pensions instead went towards teacher salaries and nuts-and-bolts school expenses. Oh, don’t forget to throw in a calorie-loaded Chicago-style pizza buffet line of cronyism, giveaways, and malfeasance into this toxic dish.

Illinois still hasn’t completely recovered from the Great Recession–government corruption and incompetence, in my opinion, are the sole reasons for that–so naturally a partial CTPF “pension holiday” was declared from 2011-13 and the can was kicked down the potholed road again.

Chicago Public Schools bonds are rated as junk.

Two years ago Chicago property owners had to swallow the largest property tax hike in the city’s history to help shore up police and firefighter pension funds, which are even more underfunded than the teachers’ pensions. And last week Chicago’s embattled mayor, Rahm Emanuel, released his 2018 budget proposal, which of course includes tax increases. When asked if more tax hikes were coming, Emanuel dodged the question.

Chicago is the only large American city with a shrinking population.

As bad as Chicago’s financial situation is, the reality is probably far worse because Illinois Math is very likely disguising the wretched truth.

Decline and fall.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

Here is some more Illinois Math for you: The free-market Illinois Policy Institute says, “There are now more inactive employees and beneficiaries in CTPF than there are active workers paying into the pension fund.”

Someday there will be a new Illinois Math equation. Two plus two won’t equal five–it will equal just one.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

John Solomon and Alison Spann continue their reporting on the Clintons and Rosatom, the original Russia collusion story,
Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

Hillary was Secretary of State back then, but the State Department dragged its feet for a week or two, and apparently Bill decided to not meet with the 15 Russians on his list.

Rather, Bill cut to the chase (emphasis added),

Bill Clinton instead got together with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s private homestead.

Back then Dmitri Medvedev was president of Russia, but

The head of Rosatom boasted in the report that the Uranium One deal was part of a larger Putin strategy to strengthen “Russia’s prestige as a leader of the world nuclear industry.”

Cornering one-fifth of the U.S.’s uranium supply fit nicely into that strategy, and with State Department approval, no less.

If that was not damning enough, Bill was allegedly wanting to use the trip for the $500,000 speech

to try to help a Clinton family relative “grow investments in their business with Russian oligarchs and other businesses,”

because apparently it wasn’t enough that the Clinton Foundation received $145 million in contributions from Uranium One shareholders. The Clinton relatives wanted in on Russia.

Never mind that being a Russian oligarch ain’t what it used to be,

Putin’s policy of “de-offshoring” has imposed such cumbersome controls on the business leaders of the 1990s that most have sold off their assets in Russia and decamped to London or Monaco. This trend has been accelerated by Russia’s lack of any real property rights, which has enabled the Kremlin to cut Russia’s wealthy down to size at will, often targeting the most law-abiding among them.

It makes you wonder if the emphasis would shift from “oligarchs,”  to  “other businesses,” whatever those may be.

I can’t figure out a reason for the Clintons’ boundless greed, other than perhaps they want to become the next George Soros.

They may get there yet.


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