By John Ruberry

I hate to interrupt your day by veering away from such issues, well, issues to some, such as the Donald Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia or that nation’s reputed hacking of the 2016 presidential election, but there is something more important that the mainstream media is only nibbling at the edges of: the Great American Pension Swindle.

What is it?

Underfunded pension plans in blue states, well mostly blue states.

Here are some media headlines from just this month:

I could go on and on.

As for that last one, many bond firms rate Chicago Public Schools’ bonds as junk. The collateral for its latest loan, and that’s a generous use of the term, is money owed to CPS by the state of Illinois, the Puerto Rico of the Midwest. Illinois’ public-worker pension plans are just 29 percent funded. Chicago’s pensions are worse–at 25 percent funded, the worst among 15 large cities surveyed.

I don’t have Schadenfreude over this situation. On a personal level the spouse of a friend of mine and one of my cousins are collecting Illinois State Police pensions. They were promised these retirement plans and they didn’t pay into Social Security when they worked for the state. There was no opt-out option for them in regards to these pensions. And their union, unlike AFSCME, wasn’t showering Illinois politicians, mostly Democrats, with copious campaign contributions while the state was shortchanging and even skipping payments into pension funds.

Now what?

John “Lee” Ruberry of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven

I suspect bankruptcies in all but name, which I wrote about earlier this month in this space, are coming to Illinois and other states who see pensions as a reward system for political sponsors such as AFSCME. Here’s another possibility: run-of-the-mill taxpayers, many of whom are just getting by financially and have no pensions of their own, nor the ability to retire in their 50s, will have to cough up even more in taxes to bail out public worker retirement funds.

This tragedy is not the fault of the Russians. Vladimir Putin didn’t hack the pension funds.  But too bad that’s not what happened. Then perhaps MSNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times might devote more time to the Great American Pension Swindle.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Liberals and members of the mainstream media–okay, other than how they earn their paychecks there isn’t much difference between the two–have many intellectual flaws. But I’m going to zero in on just one here–their predilection to view all events through the sphere of the ’60s. For this discussion I’m going to bend time a bit–and call the ’60s as the years of 1964-1974, the period that covers Vietnam and the anti-war protests, the Civil Rights movement, and the Watergate Scandal. Richard M. Nixon, by the way, was elected to the presidency in 1968.

Older journalists looked back at the first and second Gulf Wars with nostalgia, especially when the anti-war protests broke out and during the pre-surge quagmire of 2005-2007. Younger journalists felt cheated by their absence from that first quagmire, Vietnam, and they didn’t want to miss out on what they saw as a second one.

Very few reporters who were on the job during Watergate are still working in journalism, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward. who is 74, is a notable exception, so those in the biz now are hoping that President Donald Trump’s firing of embattled (yes, embattled) FBI Director James Comey is their Watergate, which of course crescendoed with Nixon’s resignation before his almost certain removal from office by the Senate.

Watergate was of course much more than the break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, it was the cover up as well as the side scandals, such as the White House Plumbers, the dirty tricks, and the slush funds that made it America’s gravest political scandal.

Trump’s firing of Comey was ham-handed. If he had canned Comey shortly after being sworn-in, there would have been muted criticism from the left, as many Hillary Clinton supporters blamed Comey for her defeat last fall. Comey of course, in 2016’s October Surprise, reopened the investigation of Clinton’s reckless and illegal use of a home-brewed email server while she was Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Many prominent Democrats called for Comey’s resignation. When Trump did fire Comey last week, the White House didn’t know where to find him–Comey was in Los Angeles. And he learned of his dismissal from a television news report. And Trump, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, contradicted the explanation from his deputy press secretary as to why he fired Comey. Finally, Trump’s hint that he may have taped one of his conversations with Comey doesn’t help the president’s case the public.

The media of course is drawing parallels to Comey’s firing to that of Richard Nixon forcing the dismissal of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Yes, Trump cited “this Russia thing” as one of the reasons for getting rid of Comey, but what is this “Russian thing?” Collusion? Meanwhile James Clapper, Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence said only a few hours ago that there is no evidence of any Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

And who seriously believes that Russia hacked the presidential election?

Rather it appears “this Russia thing” was invented by sore losers within the Hillary Clinton campaign.

So repeat after me. “Russian collusion” is not Watergate. James Comey is not Archibald Cox. Donald Trump is not Richard Nixon. While we’re at it, Black Lives Matter is not the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the regular anti-conservative riots at Berkeley are not the Free Speech Movement.

So what does Woodward, who along with Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate scandal for the Washington Post, think about the Comey controversy? While conceding on Fox News Sunday this morning that there are some questions on Russia that he wants answered, he also told host Chris Wallace, “This is not yet Watergate. Not a clear crime.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

by baldilocks

In the last few days, it has been reported that the government of the Chechen Republic (Chechnya) is putting homosexuals in “concentration” camps.

“Concentration camps” for LGBT people have been allegedly opened up in Chechnya where men have been tortured and killed because of their sexuality, Novaya Gazeta reported. The allegations came after a few eyewitnesses and survivors said in interviews with the Russian publication that they were arrested and detained at one of the secret prisons in Argun, a town in the Chechen Republic, Russia.

Around 100 gay men have been reportedly detained and at least three killed in the past week in Chechnya by the police. The “concentration camps” are being used to force homosexuals to commit that they would leave the republic, according to Novaya Gazeta.

The officials in Chechnya started torturing the homosexuals after a Russia-based NGO for LGBT rights — GayRussia.ru — applied for a gay rights march in the capital of Grozny [the Chechen capital], reports said.

Meanwhile, Chechen’s President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a key ally [sic] of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been accused of setting up the camps to torture gay people. He has denied the allegation saying, “It’s impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic.” The Chechen government suggested there are no gay people in their country.

And this is the key phrase in the report:

The Muslim-majority nation of Chechnya falls under Russian federal powers and follows traditional Muslim values.

A few pertinent facts:

  • Chechnya is 95% Muslim and is, basically, owned by Russia. The two entities have a bloody history that goes back centuries.
  • Muslims non-pitchers have been persecuting homosexuals for who knows how long.
  • Remember Beslan?

In the past couple of days, I’ve seen people act all surprised about this report and even wonder why President Trump doesn’t do something about it. Really? Perhaps they think that he should lob a few Tomahawks on what is, essentially, Russian soil. Yeah, that will fix everything.

Please, people. Is it too tough to do the barest bit of homework before you virtue signal?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on April 2017! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

Ok I admit I didn’t see this coming:

Russia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated in a surprise announcement on Thursday.

The announcement comes as US President Donald Trump’s administration is agonizing over whether to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would constitute recognizing west Jerusalem as the country’s capital. No other country in the world recognizes any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Even more importantly…

the Jerusalem Post has learned that Moscow intends for this recognition to go into effect immediately.

Russia’s Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein intends to meet with Foreign Ministry officials in the coming days to discuss Moscow’s decision and its ramifications. There is currently no intention, however, of moving Russia’s embassy to Jerusalem.

The significance of this can’t be overstated, by doing what they’ve done Russia not only embarasses Donald Trump by getting to Jerusalem before he does so to speak, but it also throws a gauntlet down to every islamic power, every arab oil exporter and to ISIS itself, literally daring them to do something.

By an odd coincidence right after a terror attack in St. Petersberg that has gotten almost no attention internationally Israel did something others did not:

RT noted no landmark was lit in Russia’s national colors although Tel Aviv City Hall did light itself in the colors of Russia’s flag.

It pays to show sympathy doesn’t it?

Prof. Stephen Cohen is one of the preeminent Russian scholars in the world. He is a frequent guest in the John Batchelor Show, most recently last Tuesday, when he discussed Dissent and the New Cold War.

I invite you to listen to that podcast (which I can not embed in this version of WordPress), where he explains why the Russia hacking story is a false narrative.

In the podcast Cohen describes the parallels between the Soviet-style omission of dissenting views and the lack of opposing views for the Russian hacking story on the editorial pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post and in the panels at CNN, in spite of

“no shred of evidence, actual forensic evidence, wiretap, a surveillance of any kind, a witness, an inside informer, a fingerprint, a careless statement in the Russian media, nothing, not a single fact is supporting this” (25 mins into the audio).

Cohen knows from experience what the Soviets were like, since they threw him out of the country back in the day.

Last night Cohen was in the Tucker Carlson show, also talking about the so-called Russian hacking false narrative,

The Duran transcribed part of the interview,

“This figure 17 [intelligence agencies] is bogus.”

“The one agency that could conceivably have done a forensic examination on the Democratic computers is the National Security Agency. We learned from Snowden, they’re in your computer, mine, our e-phones.”

“Everybody else who signed that report, said they were highly confident. The NSA said it was only moderately confident.”

“You don’t get married based on moderate confidence. You don’t go to war with Russia. You don’t stage this theater that’s going on in Washington, that could destroy a Presidency.”

Having stressed the lack of evidence, Cohen cuts to the chase (my transcription):

“When they admit they have no evidence, they fall back on something else. which I think is very important. They say Putin directed Russian propaganda at us and helped elect Trump.

“I don’t know about you, Tucker, but I find that insulting, because the premise they’re putting out in Washington in this hearing, is that the American people are zombies . . . anywhere Putin leads them.

“It’s the premise of democracy that we are democratic citizens, we have a BS detector and we know how to use it. But they’re telling us in Washington . . . every politician who loses in America is going to say was hacked by Putin.”

My kudos to Carlson for having Prof. Cohen on his show.

You can safely bet CNN won’t be having Cohen as a guest anytime soon.

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

Are Russian hackers an actual threat to democracy? Or are US intelligence agencies with “deep state” factions opposed to the government the bigger threat? And what do the Vault 7 revelations along with others coming out since the change of administration tell us about the Democrats’ constant finger pointing and fear mongering?

When the Intelligence Community is Weaponized by the Political Powers that Be

Is it unreasonable to think that intelligence agencies that were capturing all metadata on emails and phone calls wouldn’t spy on a political rival they thought was a threat to their legacy?

It is alleged that the Obama administration used spy agencies to monitor and occasionally go after reporters, in addition to using the Espionage Act more than any prior administration. The Obama Administration hacked reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer because she was investigating Benghazi. In 2013, the Obama Administration spied on the Associated Press. The FBI labeled one journalist, James Rosen, an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for reporting on matters and, according to a 2016 New York Times article, issued subpoenas to force reporters to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.

And they didn’t just use intelligence agencies to monitor the press. They were also used to spy on Angela Merkel, the head of Germany, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and several dozen other heads of nations. Nor did Obama limit his spying to our allies. The NSA spied on Congress during the negotiations on the Iran Nuclear Deal.

The Political Left’s Own Laxness with National Security

The Office of Personnel Management was copied in its entirety (and all subsequent updates) and sent via an “internet superhighway” to China because they didn’t bother to vet IT security contractors for foreign intelligence connections. This provided the Chinese with detailed personnel files of everyone with a security clearance from military contractors to government officials.

In February 2017, three Pakistani brothers were discovered to have compromised the computers of several House committee members. They were working as IT employees of the DNC and gained access to the computers of members of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. They funneled the data to external servers while taking money from nations like sources in Iraq.

And that’s aside from Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State having an unmonitored, unprotected email server in her home in violation of all IT security and classified data handling regulations, which was likely hacked by half a dozen nations. For example, such servers are supposed to be in a classified space, supported by people with appropriate clearance, and have documented backups to protect the information from loss in case of a hard drive failure.

Conclusion

The transformation of U.S. intelligence agencies into a surveillance state is concerning. While Russian hackers are an actual threat, the democrat party’s constant breach of privacy over the last few years was also a threat to democracy. And a sizable shadow government, a literal fifth column, sitting in the intelligence agencies already used to violating the law and using the information they have to attack critics actively working to undermine the sitting President is the greatest threat to our democracy we have faced in generations.

Bob Woodward: Hunt’s come in from the cold. Supposedly he’s got a lawyer with $25,000 in a brown paper bag.
Deep Throat: Follow the money.
Bob Woodward: What do you mean? Where?
Deep Throat: Oh, I can’t tell you that.

All the President’s Men 1976

Old friend Tom Bowler from Libertarian leanings who was once a regular on my old radio show sent over this post a few days ago that got to the heart of the Russia/Special prosecutor line of the left:

Democrats would once again like to execute from the Comey-Fitzgerald playbook. As with the case of I. Lewis Libby, there is no underlying crime to investigate, only a lot of partisan hyperventilation about ordinary and proper contacts, such as those between then Senator Jeff Sessions and the Russian ambassador. The element of intrigue is introduced only by the ridiculous and farfetched story that Russia interfered in the November election in order to help Donald Trump become president, and that the Trump campaign colluded with them. That fantasy hangs on because without it there is no rationale for conducting an investigation, and Democrats are desperate to investigate.

They are not really after Attorney General Sessions, though they would welcome his forced resignation if they could get it. They want Trump.

After debunking the Russia hacking story Tom talks about the real reason why the left is so zealous here.

I thought of Thomas’ post when I saw the ending of Robert Stacy McCain’s latest:

…feminists spent a couple of years insisting that every college boy who so much as hinted at an interest in heterosexual activity on campus was a potential rapist. “Consent training” became a mandatory part of freshman orientation, and “affirmative consent” laws were imposed, shifting the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.

Here in 2017, however, when campus rape cases make headlines, we await the feminist reaction and . . . Nothing. Silence. Crickets chirping.

For some reason, feminists haven’t said a word about Jonathan Henry-Walker or Kishawn Holmes. Nor have I noticed feminists commenting on the brutal attack against Priyanka Kumari, or the rape and kidnapping charges against Evan Xavier Little, or Oliver Funes-Machado, who decapitated his own mother, or Henry Jose Garcia who allegedly raped a girl from the time she was 11 until she was 15. All this violence against women, and yet feminists don’t seem to notice these crimes.

It’s almost as if there’s a pattern or something . . .

And both of these stories brought to mind this piece at of all places the Hollywood in toto about a documentary concerning race:

“People in the film business are afraid of it,” says Steele. ”I’m challenging the narrative at the table. It’s pissing people off.”

I Am, or How Jack Became Black” lets the filmmaker use his own biography to explore the impact racial politics are having on the nation. It’s a fair but withering look at a system that puts the emphasis on ethnicity, not the content of one’s character.

And Steele should know. He’s part black, part Jewish and deaf. His two children also have Latina ancestry from his ex-wife.

The film opens with Steele trying to figure out which box, or boxes, to check on his children’s school forms. Sound easy? Not so fast. How should he identify his own mixed-race children? And why can’t he simply opt out and let them simply be … Jack and June?

It’s a starting point for a serious, and seriously personal, examination of race in America.

What is the tie that binds these three stories together?  The secret comes from the final lines of the Hollywood in toto piece:

“Racism will never go away … that’s part of the human condition,” he says. “What makes today different … is that people make a living off of it. That’s a huge issue. Once you make a living off of race, what’s your motivation for it to go away?”

And that’s the key to the lock of this puzzle, as Tom put it when talking Trump’s goals

If he is successful, he will also have stripped much of the power from the party of big government

And big money from the Government for the left’s interest groups was the big reward of the Obama years as well as the potential reward if Hillary was elected.  And not just from taxpayers alone, after all what do you think the Justice department’s “settlements” that sent corporate cash to groups providing foot soldiers of the left was all about.  That’s why as Stacy put it the “rape epidemic” story was big during the end of the Obama years and in anticipation of a Clinton White house, but once both were over a different tack was made.

Readers will recall that feminists recently spent many months decrying an alleged “epidemic” of sexual assault at colleges and universities…Since last November’s election, however, we see that the focus of feminist activism shifted from the “campus rape epidemic” to organizing mass protests against the Trump administration. Does this mean that campus rape has ceased to be a priority for feminists? 

As we’ve already learned there is big money to be made in fighting Trump, the groups supporting a day without women for example had $246 million reasons to march and cry out.  It’s not about changing the world or social justice it’s to keep the checks coming that would explain this difference in attitude spotted by our filmmaker

You might think shooting “I Am” would leave Steele embittered about the state of American culture. Not even close.

“It made me much more positive, gave me more faith in the people,” he says. The strangers he met during the filmmaking journey proved more open-minded and fair than those showcased in press reports.

That’s because those strangers away from the camera who aren’t on the gravy train have no incentive to keep the scare up.  I’ll give Stacy the last word

Go check the Twitter feeds of Jessica Valenti, Laurie Penny, Amanda Marcotte and other prominent feminists and see if you get any sense of concern about the alleged “epidemic” of college girls being sexual assaulted. It’s as if the whole thing instantly evaporated just about the time the networks called Pennsylvania for Trump on Election Night.

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President Obama’s dreadful policies toward Russia allowed Vladimir Putin to regard the United States as an impotent power.

The misguided approach started at the beginning of Obama’s regime. For example, he surreptitiously sent a letter to the Russians just after taking office, offering to cancel plans to install a missile defense site in Poland and corresponding radar in the Czech Republic.

According to The National Review, these systems would have provided a layer of protection for the United States and its allies from Iranian long-range missiles. All Russia had to do for Obama to cancel the plans was to agree to help pressure Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program.

This exchange started the road down the ill-advised treaty with Iran and showed Russia the weakness of Obama because he couldn’t force the Islamic Republic to do his will.

The Obama administration ended up canceling the missile-defense system, and the United States to this day remains ill-equipped to combat Iranian ballistic missiles.

Obama also negotiated a new arms control treaty with the Russians even though Putin and the gang were violating the previous one. It took constant congressional pressure to get Obama to admit that Russia had been disregarding the previous agreement since he took office.

Fast forward to Obama’s statement on an open microphone telling then–Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to pass along a message to then–Prime Minister Putin. “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space…. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility,” Obama said.

In other words, Obama promised to do a lot more than anyone in the current administration has.

Obama’s response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea in March 2014 and Moscow’s subsequent support of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine was economic sanctions. Although the measures had an impact on the Russian economy, they were seen as woefully inadequate.

Finally, the United States has become so irrelevant in Syria and Russia so important that the Obama administration didn’t even get an invitation to the last conference to discuss the civil war.

Only after all these signs of weakness did Russian hacking occur. But it wasn’t just the DNC. Russian entities hacked private companies, Nasdaq and banks, as well as government agencies, including the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon. The Obama administration apparently was incapable of mounting any significant defense against the hacking.

An investigation into Obama’s dreadful record of dealing with Russia might be useful before looking at anything else.

 

Christopher Harper teaches media law.

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has a flare for the dramatic. She’s risen on the Democratic power charts by calling out Republicans every chance she gets. It’s no surprise that she would call out Attorney General Jeff Sessions after it was revealed he met with the Russian Ambassador during campaign season last year.

That’s a pretty powerful condemnation of her former peer in light of the recent revelations. The problem is that it’s a complete and total lie. She DID have a call with a Russian Ambassador in the past.

Twitter has a long memory. Granted, it was a group call and mentioning the Russian Ambassador within the group technically means she didn’t speak with him directly, right? We also should take into account that she didn’t actually meet with the Ambassador. Phone calls are easy to forget, especially for a busy Senator.

Uh oh…

No group call this time. No call at all, in fact. She actually met with the Russian Ambassador.

Here’s the problem with leftist hypocrisy (all hypocrisy, for that matter, though it predominantly spews forth from leftists): The rhetoric can only sustain the narrative for as long as the truth remains hidden. Senator McCaskill inserted herself into a situation and thought she was throwing stones. Instead, she was throwing a boomerang that came back to hit her.

The problem here isn’t the dishonesty. It isn’t the hypocrisy. It’s that mainstream media won’t say a thing about McCaskill’s lie. They’ll cover for her just as they tried to cover for Hillary and just as they covered for President Obama for eight years. This is the reason I write about politics. The real hypocrisy comes from the storytellers more so than the subjects of their stories.

by baldilocks

Was Bush right? It depends, of course, on what the topic is.

Zero Hedge points to Statista and YouGov polls containing the following information:

Americans have consistently identified ISIS as the biggest threat to their nation across multiple polls. Traditional foes, such as the countries making up George W. Bush’s infamous “Axis Of Evil”, have been pushed into the background by the rise of non-state actors like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. In recent years however, Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes that the threat presented by some of America’s traditional enemies has started to manifest itself once again. Russia’s annexation of Crimea came as a reality check to the Obama administration while as recently as last Saturday, North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test.

YouGov conducted a poll to find out which countries Americans perceive as their nation’s biggest enemies. North Korea has continued to make headlines even after that missile launch with news emerging earlier this week that Kim-Jong-un’s half brother was allegedly poisoned in an airport in Malaysia. Both incidents have illustrated the unpredictability of the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang and it comes as little surprise that 57 percent of Americans consider North Korea their enemy.

Recall that George W. Bush named Iraq, North Korea and Iran as the Axis of Evil. In spite of the big headlines that feature Russia as the biggest Bad Guy, the Russians come in sixth on chart–which, of course, does not mean that they aren’t a bigger threat than is perceived by the polled. (Aside: while reading all the reportage about Russia today, I briefly felt 25 years-old again, but my hair color is telling a different story.)

Iran came in second. Syria and Iraq came in third and fourth, respectively–ISIS; and Afghanistan is fifth.

Does the American public have a better handle on who America’s enemies are than their leaders do, both of the recent past and the present? Time will tell. But I think that these polls may show one thing: that Mainstream Media propaganda isn’t as effective as it may seem to those of us who lament its existence. That’s cause for hope.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on February 2017! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

baldilocks