Sunday, October 30, 2016

Afghan troops are getting slaughtered. Unsustainable casualties continue in Afghanistan.

Afghan special forces prepare for battle in Lashkar Gah. Reuters. 

In the first 8 months of 2016 Afghan troops have suffered immense casualties in their battles against the Taliban and ISIS. VOA. This year alone they have suffered 15,000 casualties and more then 5,500 deaths. Even worse, they have lost 2.2% of the territory they held in the same time period. Of the 407 districts in the country, the government only holds 258, with 116 contested and 33 completely under enemy control. Insider attacks have been a crucial aspect with 257 deaths and 125 other casualties inflicted by inside traitors. Civilian casualties have been heavy as well with 8,000 total casualties, with 2500 of those being deaths. 

My Comment:
Afghanistan is a basket case and the situation is just getting worse. Losing 5,500 troops in 8 months is not something that can be sustained by the Afghan government. And many of the wounded are going to be too crippled to continue fighting. The Afghan Army only has 185,000 troops (or even less by some accounts), many of them in non-combat roles. If my math is correct that means that roughly 12% of their military has been injured this year alone. 

There is no way that the Afghan military can sustain those kinds of losses. Especially since the vast majority of those hurt and killed are going to be the front line soldiers. It takes a lot of time and money to train a rifleman and to lose so many so quickly just isn't sustainable. Either they are going to have to rush out new recruits without training them completely, or they are going to have to transfer people from the non-combat units. Either way, quality will decrease as these casualties continue to mount. 

No military could take those kinds of casualties, year after year. Especially not a country as poor, corrupt and incompetent as Afghanistan. Every soldier they lose is more money down the drain and a major blow to morale in a country that is seriously lacking. Indeed, I think the only thing that is propping up the Afghan government is the fact that we are still backing them to a degree. Even though our troops aren't directly involved in the fight, we are providing arms, air support and training. 

But it's not just the casualties. The Afghan military is also losing quite a bit of territory. 2.2% is nothing to sneeze at and it represents a large gain for Afghan Taliban and ISIS forces in the country. Ignoring the obvious strategic benefits of taking more of the country, the Taliban and ISIS are able to use the captured areas as a tax base and recruitment areas while the Afghan government no longer has that option. 

And the people they are fighting are some of the worst people in the world. The Taliban have long conducted terror attacks in their territory and often harbor terrorists. They also treat women and children terribly and are very involved in the drug trade. Letting them gain power was a major factor in 9/11 happening and they end up victorious the whole vicious cycle could start over again. 

Critically, Afghanistan is one of the few places where ISIS is expanding right now, with the other major country being Somalia. ISIS is taking advantage of the weakness of the national government to establish a toehold in the country. If they are allowed to do so, Afghanistan may well be a backup plan if and when their holdings in Syria, Iraq and Libya are finally liberated. 

Clearly, our strategy in Afghanistan has failed. We decided that it was time for the Afghans to stand alone but it seems that they are not up to the task. What they really need is large numbers of well trained fighters, but who on Earth is going to fight Afghanistan's battles for them? Obviously, there is no appetite in America for doing so... 

And though Afghanistan is a critical war, and US troops continue to serve there, the issue has hardly come up during the election cycle. The only incident I remember was Bernie Sanders flubbing a debate question. Trump and Clinton never seem to talk about it. Some of that is justified by the larger foreign policy challenges going on right now, but I don't think it's wise to ignore what is happening in Afghanistan. I wish both candidates would put forward a plan to defeat the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan once and for all, but I am not holding my breath... 

We have been at war in Afghanistan for 15 years, and we have little to show for it. Though al-Qaeda's base of operations has been broken, the Taliban is still in good shape and is expanding. Even worse, a much worse terror group, ISIS has rushed in to fill the void left by al-Qaeda.

If the Afghan government were to fall and the Taliban and/or ISIS were to gain power in most of Afghanistan it would pretty much outweigh all our accomplishments in the country. If Afghanistan falls it means that the 2386 military deaths we suffered there, along with the 20,000 or so wounded, would have been sacrificed for nothing. But unless something changes, that is the direction we are heading... 

Friday, October 28, 2016

FBI reopens investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

Hillary Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin. Reuters. 

The FBI has reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. Reuters. The investigation was reopened after new e-mails were discovered on Anthony Wiener's phone. Wiener was married to top Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, and his recent sexting scandal was being investigated by the FBI. It is unclear what the FBI has found, but James Comey, the FBI director, reopened the case. Comey had earlier recommended no charges for Hillary Clinton. The candidates responded to the announcement predictable, with Donald Trump praising the descion while Hillary Clinton demanded more information from Comey. 

My Comment:
This is a massive problem for Hillary Clinton. And the timing couldn't be worse. This is the dreaded October surprise for Clinton and it may effect her chances of winning. The Clinton campaign had thought they had put the e-mail issue behind them. To have it come up at the 11th hour has to be a huge blow to morale for the Clinton campaign.  

I have no idea what the FBI found, but whatever it was it has to be damning. Comey is putting his entire career, and perhaps even his life, on the line by reopening this case. My guess is that it is something worse then simple classified information. They found that in the original case and the FBI didn't bring charges. It could be something showing clear corruption or even overt criminal acts. 

The media is giving this quite a bit of coverage. The usual suspects are bashing Comey over this, but everyone is covering the underlying issue. This is a massive change as well. For the last couple of months they have been giving Clinton fawning coverage while bashing Donald Trump. But now even pro-Clinton outlets, like the New York Times and the Washington Post are covering the story. 

I think that the investigation and the coverage has less to do with the actual issue and more to due with Hillary Clinton's chances in November. There might be something damning on the device that the FBI took, but I don't think the issue would have come up if the thought Clinton was going to win. Though some of the polls still have her winning, she has been hemorrhaging points, even in the most favorable rigged polls. Early voting has shown that Clinton is losing in some critical states, including Florida. And Trump's team announced today that normally solid blue states, like Nevada and Michigan, are tied in their internal polling. There would be no way that Trump would visit Nevada if he didn't think it was in play... 

There is also the possibility that Comey is trying to salvage his personal and professional credibility. At the very least, he thinks that Hillary Clinton is going to lose. He also know that if Trump wins, he is going to open another investigation into Clinton and perhaps Comey himself. My guess is that he knows what Clinton did was wrong and wants to wash his hands of the issue. He doesn't want to be known as the guy that let Clinton off the hook. 

It's also possible that Comey knows that there are going to be more leaks. I have heard rumors that the November surprise is going to be the release of Clinton's 30,000 deleted e-mails. Wikileaks may have them and Kim Dotcom claims that the e-mails can be found in the NSA data center in Utah. My guess is that these emails are going to leak before the election and they will contain damning information on Clinton. Comey knows this and, again, wants to salvage his reputation before it happens. 

Will this effect the election? There might be a few undecided voters that will switch yes, but I don't think it will in the long run. If I am right and these charges are because damning leaks are still upcoming, then those leaks will have the real impact. But the investigation itself? Probably won't do much except slightly depress voter turnout for the Democrats.

But I do think that this issue, if nothing else comes up, will be used as an excuse for a Donald Trump victory. I think that is probably wrong. People don't vote on character . If they did then Trump would have been done after the Trump tape and the various groping accusations, and Clinton would have never been able to run. 

People vote on policy and right now Clinton's policies are extremely unpopular. Obamacare, which Hillary Clinton foolishly called Hillarycare, has been a disaster. All across America people have seen their rates skyrocket and the penalty for not having insurance increase as well. People will vote their pocketbooks and people will hate that they are paying so much for something that is either useless or worse then they had before. And that's to say nothing with the economic problems and various foreign policy difficulties. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I am officially predicting a Donald Trump victory in November. I really think that Comey reopening the case and the media actually covering it are huge signs that the election is not going the way Hillary Clinton is losing, despite what the polls are saying. I could be wrong, but I really think that this is the beginning of the end for Clinton... 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A few quick thoughts about the Oregon Standoff trial and subsequent acquittal.

A picture of the protesters. LA Times/AP

Today, many of the people involved in the Oregon Standoff were acquitted by a federal jury. As you probably remember, the Bundy family have had several incidents with the federal government, mostly over land use issues. They had a massive standoff in Nevada and followed that up with another standoff at a wildlife refuge. The LA Times has a good overview of the case and the acquittal here. 

So what's my take on it? It's a clear case of jury nullification. Jury nullification means that the jury admits that the prosecution has a case but doesn't convict anyways.The facts of the case almost certainly warrant a conviction. But since the defendants were sympathetic, the jury decided to not convict them. I am pretty sure that is what happened in this case.

Keep in mind, there is absolutely nothing wrong with jury nullification. It's a right that juries have and, quite frankly, it's an right they should use more often. People often don't know it exists, so hopefully this case will change things. 

What would I have done on this jury? Probably the same thing. It was clear to me that the government was throwing their weight around. And their actions resulted in the death of one of the protesters. He drew down on the FBI, which is an open invitation to get shot, so I don't blame the government for actually shooting him, but on the other hand, they created the situation in the first place. There was no reason for the government to aggressively target the Bundy family in the first place. All they needed to do was wait them out and not go all Waco on them. 

So what are the implications of this verdict? Well it is clear to me that in rural America, the people are sick and tired of the federal government pushing people around. This protest was mostly peaceful and their cause was, at the very least, understandable and sympathetic for people in the west that have had to deal with these land rights issues. 

Some people on social media are blaming this verdict on race relations and other identity politics nonsense. I don't buy it. For one, the federal government came down harder on the Bundy family then they did on Black Lives Matter. BLM has been way more disruptive and destructive then the Bundy family yet they still exist. And their protests usually don't end with anyone being shot... except when their followers try to murder cops. Had the government treated the Bundy standoff like they treat BLM, then the occupation would still be going on and the feds would be looking the other way. 

I also think that this should be a clear warning to the federal government. It's clear to me that they need to do some serious outreach to rural America. The Bureau of Land Management needs to back off and the feds need to stop these prosecutions. They need to recognize how unpopular their actions are and either need to change course or try and convince people that they are in the right. Throwing their weight around is only going to make things worse...  

This election? It's personal.

This election has been a brutal one. And not just for the candidates. It's been brutal for me as well. There is always a risk in speaking out and expressing your political beliefs can be dangerous. That is nothing new. But what does seem to be new, at least this election cycle, is the stakes. Given the actions of the Clinton campaign, along with their media lackeys, this election is personal for me now.

Since this election has started and I have posted about it, not only on blogger, but Facebook and Twitter as well. While doing so I have faced a couple of attempts to attack me. First some definitions. In internet vocabulary, there is a term called "doxing". Doxing is to release someone's private information, like names, addresses and work info onto the internet with the expectation that the people that the information is released to will begin a harassment campaign.

Someone tried this with me. All I did was say that I wouldn't vote for any Republican that didn't support Donald Trump after the Trump Tapes scandal hit. That's semi-controversial I guess, but someone on Twitter decided that was unacceptable. That person was not a Republican and quick check of his Twitter account shows that he is most likely voting for Clinton.

This person attempted to get information about my personal life, including where I went to college, and added me to a list on Twitter, obviously intended to name and shame people for having the "wrong" political beliefs. Fortunately, I did not raise to his bait and blocked him immediately after I figured out what he was going to do.

If I hadn't done so? Well the guy only had 7,000 followers, a small amount on twitter, but he could have sent my information to others. And that could have lead to me being harassed. Do I know that for sure? No, but I was not going to take any chances. As far as I am concerned, this was a close call.

But that is not all. I have been flamed and called racist by quite a few people on Twitter. This is par for the course on social media, and something that I am prepared to deal with. If you haven't been called a racist, as a conservative, then you haven't posted anything on the internet because it seems to be the default attack. It's happened to me for simply saying that attacking a rally protesting against political violence is counter productive. Years ago I was called a racist simply because I went to college and studied the criminal justice system. The bar is quite low with these people.

What I wasn't prepared for was what Twitter seemed to do to me as well. As in the company itself, not the community. At one point I believe I was shadow-banned. Shadow banning is when your posts (or tweets in this case) are blocked from normal view and you aren't informed of this descion. Twitter has fairly powerful analytics available and through that tool I suddenly noticed that instead of getting hundreds or thousands of impressions for each tweet, I was getting single digits. This was a matter of concern until I also noticed that my analytics were no longer working either.

I asked one of my followers if she could see my tweets and she said yes, but also confirmed that my tweets weren't available when she wasn't signed in. To this day I have no idea why I was shadow banned. The ban was lifted shortly after, but I have no idea why it was put into place in the first place. It might have been retribution because I followed the wrong person, Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopolis, right before he got banned from the platform. But if that was the case, why was I still able to see posts from other people that followed him? My guess is that it had nothing to do with it and my posts just pissed off the wrong person.

Still, all of that could have been a mistake or a glitch. I never tried to contact Twitter about the problem, so I don't have the full story. I don't think I ever did anything to be banned, you can look at my Twitter account yourself and I doubt you will find me doing anything that is against the terms and services, but the whole situation left a bad taste in my mouth.

That being said, these incidents were minor. After all, even though internet drama can leak out into the real world, the real world is still more important. So has my support of Donald Trump ever gotten me in trouble in real life?

Almost. I was at a gas station around 10:30 at night. I had pulled in to get gas and I saw another vehicle at another one of the pumps. On the back, someone had written "FUCK DONALD TRUMP" and the back window. At first I thought that it was a case of vandalism, but then the driver started to walk back to his car from inside the gas station. He must have caught my look of disgust or perhaps he just hated me because I was wearing a uniform (security, not police/military). But he looked at me like he wanted to murder me. Though this was just a punk kid, I kept my mouth shut. He drove off and in the end, I am glad I didn't say anything. Because if I had, the kid probably would have attacked me. I probably would have won that fight, had it occurred, but I learned a long time ago to never insult someone without knowing their capabilities. And he could have been capable of anything.

This election has me on edge. Maybe it is making me a bit paranoid. I will let you judge for yourself. But the threat is real. A lot of Trump supporters (and just non-Clinton people in general, Bernie Sanders fans have dealt with the same crap) have been attacked. If you search youtube and twitter you can find plenty of examples of people vandalizing cars with Trump stickers, signs being stolen and quite a bit of actual physical violence. Some of that violence was even instigated at behest of the Clinton campaign, as the Project Vertias videos showed.

I don't want to be part of that. And I think it is disgusting that I have to worry about physical violence and online and offline harassment just because I like Trump better on policy then Clinton. I would have loved to have gone to Trump's rallies (or any of the other GOP candidates when they were in my state) but at the time, I was way too worried about violence. The events that have occurred around here have been peaceful, but there wasn't anyway for me to know that. In other states there have been riots, beatings and even an assassination attempt on Donald Trump.

That wasn't true in the past. I've gone to campaign events for George Bush, John McCain, Senator Ron Johnson and Governor Scott Walker. In all of those cases I felt safe. Hell, I was working security for most of those events, so I was helping keep it safe. But even though I had done it before and felt completely safe, I thought the risk was way to high this year around. I wasn't just worried about violence, I was worried about my vehicle being keyed or otherwise vandalized.

That's the level of discourse now and I think the media and the Clinton campaign have a lot to do with it. From the beginning they have tried to paint Donald Trump and his supporters as evil people. They don't just say that we are wrong, they say we are deplorable, irredeemable and even out and out Nazis. By doing so they are painting Trump supporters as people you can morally do anything to and still be in the right. Because who wouldn't want to stop Nazis?

This is a huge problem and not something I agree with at all. And before you say it, yes the GOP and Trump supporters have their bad apples as well. Trump himself has shot his mouth off a few times when he shouldn't have. But there hasn't been anywhere near the kind of condemnation happening in the Trump camp as there has been in the Hillary Camp. Most of the vitriol is directed at Clinton herself, along with the news media, who, quite frankly, earned most of their scorn. That doesn't mean it's right to harass them either, but they did more then simply express support.

Which is another reason I am voting for Donald Trump. He's not perfect. Indeed, in many ways he is a scoundrel. But I refuse to accept that he and, more importantly, his supporters, deserve to be attacked. The vast majority of people voting for Trump are doing it for valid reasons and none of his actions are so far beyond the pale that his supporters should be attacked and harassed. Hell, even if the groping charges are true, that doesn't mean that his supporters deserve violence. The campaign against him and his supporters is what planted me firmly in his camp and on November 8th, I will be voting for him because of it. Like I said, it's personal now...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Donald Trump warns that Hillary Clinton will get us into a war with Russia if elected.

Donald Trump gives a speech. BBC/AP

Donald Trump claims that Hillary Clinton's plans in Syria will lead to World War III with Russia. BBC. Trump says that Clinton's plan to enforce a no-fly zone could lead to a conflict. He said such a conflict would also involve Iran and Syria itself. Trump also claimed that Clinton would be completely unable to negotiate with Vladimir Putin after she has blasted him and blamed him for the Wikileaks scandal. Trump's concerns are backed by Chairman of the Join Chiefs Marine General Joseph Dunford, who gave similar warnings last month. Even Hillary Clinton admits that enforcing a no-fly zone would kill many Syrians. In a speech given to Goldman Sachs, and leaked to Wikileaks, Clinton admitted that many civilians would die in the campaign to destroy Syrian air defenses. 

My Comment:
Donald Trump must be reading my blog because I brought the same thing up on Monday. In that post I discussed the evidence that Russia really is preparing for war. They are building bomb shelters and running massive civilian drills, the biggest since the Cold War. Though they haven't out and out said that they expect a war (at least the government hasn't, the people and pundits in Russia have), it's clear that they are thinking about it. 

Trump brought something else up that I hadn't though of though. He mentioned that Iran could join the war as well. They have a lot of troops in Syria and would not appreciate being bombed in the campaign to establish a no fly zone. If Iran got mad enough about it, they could join the war and conduct attacks. They could close the straits of Hormuz and launch terrorist attacks. 

And Trump is right, Putin would not be in the mood to talk to Hillary Clinton. He barely talks to Barack Obama, and Obama isn't half the war hawk that Clinton is. I mentioned in the last post that I think Putin thinks that Clinton's goal for Russia is regime change. He probably takes that personally and Clinton's unhinged rant about Russia interfering with our elections certainly didn't help things. 

I've been stating and restating the arguments against the no-fly zone in Syria since the GOP debates so I don't know if I need to rehash it again. But I did want to say that I like that Donald Trump and I are on the same wavelength here. Indeed, if I was advising Trump I would have told him to hit Hillary Clinton on this much earlier in the campaign. Had he hit her hard on this issue during the debates, it probably would have helped. I consider this another unforced error from the Trump campaign. After all it helped President Johnson defeat Barry Goldwater... 

Seriously, all Donald Trump would have to do to make the Daisy ad apply to Hillary Clinton is to change the names at the end. I personally believe that Trump is right. If Clinton gets elected there is a great chance for World War III. We have been lucky before and who know, maybe we will get lucky again and nothing will happen. Or a conflict will happen, but it won't escalate to nukes. But as I see it, the chances of a nuclear war with Russia are MUCH higher with Hillary Clinton than it is with Donald Trump. That alone is reason enough for me to vote against her and for him... 

ISIS takes responsibility for major terrorist attack targeting police recruits in Pakistan.

Pakistani security forces guarding the police college after the attack. LA Time/EPA

ISIS has taken responsibility for a major terrorist attack in Pakistan that killed at least 60 people. LA Times. The attack occurred at a police academy in Quetta and the victims were all cadets between the age of 15 and 25. The three militants in the attack were armed with Kalashnikov's and grenades and at least 120 people were wounded in the attacks. Though other groups have taken credit for the attack, including the Pakistani Taliban, the government believes that ISIS was, at the very least, involved in the attack. An ISIS affiliate, Lashkhar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami, is believed to be responsible for the attack and they have strong links to ISIS's Khorasan Province. As ISIS has retreated in Iraq, Syria and Libya, many fighters have returned to Pakistan to take up the fight there. 

My Comment:
ISIS has been lying low lately. I'm not talking about the various battles in Syria, Iraq and Libya. ISIS has still been getting headlines there. Indeed, they are falling behind in each country. In Syria, they have been pushed out of their border holdings and have even lost the critical town of Dabiq, important for religious, not strategic reasons. In Libya, their last major holdouts in Sirte are all but defeated. An in the biggest battle of all, Iraqi troops are closing in on their de-facto capital of Mosul. 

As ISIS is pushed back in those countries many people, including me, predicted more major attacks from ISIS both as a distraction and because ISIS militants can't get to the major battlefields anymore. So far however, in Europe and America at least, that has not developed. Who's to say why or how long it will last?

But obviously Pakistan wasn't so lucky. This ISIS affiliate pulled off an extremely daring and effective attack. Three men with rifles and grenades killed at least 60 and wounded 120 more. That's an effective terror attack by almost any measure. 

And it is a similar tactic that has been used several times in the country before. ISIS and Taliban militants have a long history of attacking colleges, schools and academies like this. The militants have had great success attacking these places, even though some of them, like this police academy and various military schools, should have some defenses. 

It really is concerning to me that Pakistan hasn't gotten an answer to this kind of attack. You would think at this point they would have some kind of defenses up, beyond the protective walls that surround these targets. Arming people could work, there was an attack where a professor bought time for his students by returning fire at militants with a handgun, but these attackers are better armed then any civilian is likely to be. My suggestion is that they should have the Army or other security forces guarding these schools and academies. 

I also wonder why, if the victims were police recruits, none of them were armed? I know military bases can be surprisingly poorly defended (see all the various terror attacks here in the United States like the Chattanooga and Fort Hood shootings), but you would think that someone would have had a gun to fire back. 

I think it is possible that western terrorists in America and Europe could also follow this strategy. Though in America, school shootings are not unheard of, to say the least, they have largely been carried out by deranged people, not terrorists in the traditional sense. Schools and colleges are still soft targets in America, even with our heightened sensitivity to the issue, and I would not be surprised if ISIS or some other terror group doesn't give it a try here. Especially when they have been so effective in Pakistan.  

I do wonder if there won't be another major terror attack before the US election. Lone wolf attackers could be planning something and I wouldn't be too surprised if a more substantial plot develops as well. We haven't had a successful terror attack in the United States since the bombings in New York and the mass stabbing in Minnesota, and those attacks were rather minor in comparison. 

My greatest worry is that ISIS or some other terror group will launch an attack at a polling place in November 8th. That could have massive implications for the election and would make our current concerns about voter fraud and Russian interference seem quaint in comparison. I don't really think ISIS will pull anything like that off though, but if they do it would be a disaster... 

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Russian people and their government appear to be preparing for nuclear war.

Government photo from the bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. Via Wikipedia.

Russia appears to be preparing for a nuclear war with the west. IBT. Igor Zuyev, who builds bomb shelters for $24,000 a pop has been doing record business lately. Polling in Russia shows that the Russian people believe that the third world war has already begun, but is in a "cold" stage. Earlier this month Russia held four days of nuclear warfare drills involving 40 million Russians. The Russians have also been reviewed the quality and quantity of shelters in Moscow. Russia has canceled an agreement with the United States that concerned the destruction of weapons grade plutonium. The tensions are high due to the situation in Ukraine, Crimea and especially Syria. Russian media has made a much bigger deal about the attack on Russian backed Syrian forces in Dier Ez Zor. 

My Comment:
The US media is completely ignoring this situation. I have heard about these drills and perpetration's from other sources, but the US media has not been covering it at all. Indeed, if you want to hear anything reliable about Russia these days you have to go to smaller outlets like IBT, or foreign media. The American mainstream media simply won't cover what is going on. 

The truth of the matter is that relations between America and Russia are about as bad as they have been since the Cold War. There are some very obvious reasons for this. The most important was probably the entire Ukraine situation. The Russians feel that we were responsible, at least in part, for the overthrow of the pro-Russian government and the installation of an anti-Russia one. The destabilization of a major buffer country for Russia has been seen as an attack on Russia itself. 

Once the Crimean annexation and Ukrainian civil war happened, things got even worse. Not only did we put some rather severe sanctions on Russia, we also backed the Ukrainian government. We even trained some of their troops and militias and have threatened to give them deadly weapons. To the Russians, these moves seems like a deliberate attempt to gain a major ally bordering Russia and even bringing Ukraine into NATO, both of which the Russians feel are existential threats. 

Our policy in Syria seems even more deranged, from a Russian perspective. The Russians have always felt that the best way to deal with Islamist areas is to install a strongman, like Bashar al-Assad or their own strong man in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. They completely disagree with nation building and see our efforts to remove Assad as a blatant attempt to hand one of their allies over to Islamist terrorists. 

Even worse, there have been open calls for the United States to set up a no fly zone and shoot down Russian jets if they violate it. Several presidential candidates called for that this election, none more notably then Hillary Clinton. Trying to do so would be a disaster and could lead to a major war. Actually enforcing a no-fly zone wouldn't just require shooting down Russian and Syrian planes. We would also have to destroy the impressive anti-air defenses that Russia has stationed in and around Syria. We would have to bomb their troops on the ground and blow up their ships in the Mediterranean. If that happens the Russians would have to respond by blowing up our planes, which could quickly spiral out of control into a nuclear war. 

The Russians think that this is a real possibility and if Hillary Clinton does get elected, it could very well happen. Regardless of what you think of Hillary Clinton, it's clear that the Russians are afraid of her and think that she will provoke a war with them. That is a large reason why the Russians are conducting these drills and why their people are preparing for war. They really think that a war is a possibility. 

The IBT article mentioned that Russia is also trying to distract from their recent economic problems. I think there is some truth to that. Russia has had some economic problems, due in part to the lower prices on oil and gas. But I don't think the Russian people are going to blame the price of oil for their economic problems. They are going to blame US and European sanctions, which plays into the same narrative as everything else I mentioned. 

To the Russians, it seems as though the west is out to get them. They fear that America and her allies are going to try and destabilize Russia and remove Vladimir Putin from power. They also think that we would fight them over incredibly stupid things, like Ukraine and Syria. Worst of all, they aren't really wrong. 

Of course, Hillary Clinton isn't president yet. As bad as Barack Obama has been as president, he has backed down on occasion. Though he had some opportunities to send heavy weapons to Ukraine or send airstrikes in Syria, he hasn't done so. To the Russians, Obama is a known figure. They think he is weak and won't fight them if he can possibly avoid it. 

They do not feel the same way about Hillary Clinton. They think that she is the architect of some Obama policy that they really didn't like. They tried the Russian reset, but after that, she was the one that came up with the Libya intervention. And she has called to go much further then Barack Obama on Syria and Ukraine. I think that they honestly think that she will try to provoke a war with them. I mean, the Russians have to have seen the third debate right? In that debate, not only did she not rule out shooting down Russian jets, she also blamed the Wikileaks scandal on the Russians as well, and sounded unhinged while doing it. 

When you frame it that way, it makes a lot more sense why the Russians like Trump. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who threatens to shoot down Russian jets and blames them for everything bad that happens in her campaign, Donald Trump says "Why can't we be friends with Russia?" Is it any wonder why they want him to be president and not Hillary Clinton?

I really think that if Hillary Clinton is the president, the Russians will view it as prelude to war. They may even decide that if she is elected, that a first strike might be necessary to prevent a defeat in an inevitable war. If not, they may ratchet tensions up enough that any major move by Hillary Clinton could lead to war as well. 

Now I won't say that this deterioration in relations is all our fault. The Russians have their share of the blame as well. Putin is a strongman and has done some very obviously dangerous things. But there is no reason for our two countries to be enemies. And if things really do spiral out of control into war it would be a massive crime by both countries. 

Sadly, while the Russians are preparing for war, the United States seems to be ignoring the possibility. Obviously our government doesn't want to sound the alarm because it would hurt Hillary Clinton's chances. By doing so, they are betraying their people. Americans need to be reminded what to do in case of a nuclear war. Unlike popular depictions, a nuclear war isn't the end of the world. People will survive the initial attacks. As long as you aren't in the blast area itself, you should be able to survive, if you have prepared for it. And even if you are in the blast area, if you can get into a shelter, you have a chance. 

But the government here, unlike the Russian government, is not providing the information and shelter that people need to survive a war with Russia. My guess is that they don't believe their lying eyes when it comes to Russia and think that war is unlikely. I guess that is possible, after all, I could be reading the situation wrong. But if I am right, then a lot of people are going to die that could be saved if we took even the most basic protective steps. And if we had a more sane policy on Russia, war could be completely avoided entirely...  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A few thoughts about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama...

Hillary Clinton's official Senate portrait 

A while back I admitted that I almost voted for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the 2008 election cycle primaries. I in no way supported Clinton but at the time I thought that she was a safer option on terms of policy. I also thought she had a better chance of losing against whoever the GOP candidate was. It was going to be a tactical vote, but in the end I couldn't go through with it. I ended up not voting in that election and then voting for McCain in the general.

I think now I have to admit that I was wrong about Barack Obama when compared to Hillary Clinton. Though in my view the Obama administration has been a disaster in both foreign and domestic policy, Hillary Clinton would have been worse.

How? Well for one, Barack Obama is capable of backing down on foreign policy sometimes. When the Ukraine war flared up, what did he do? Pretty much nothing. When he led the war in Libya, what happened? Mostly airstrikes and the death of four Americans in the Benghazi incident. And when the time came to decide whether to go to war in Syria, he decided, after massive public outcry, to back down.

If Clinton had been the president then? I think for sure that we would have 100,000 troops in Syria right now, and we would be losing the war. I also think that we would probably have 50,000 in Libya as well. Worst of all, I really think that Hillary Clinton would have gone to war with Russia over Ukraine. That could have lead to a nuclear war, which means that if she had been president, I don't think I would be here writing this post.

Given the fact that Hillary Clinton is openly calling for a no-fly zone in Syria, which would involve shooting down Russian and Syrian jets and probably attacking their anti-air missile sites and destroying their ships in the Mediterranean, I am almost thinking that it would be better for America if Barack Obama were to remain the president. He won't get us nuked for stupid reasons. His Syrian policy has been a disaster, but at least it hasn't been a world ending disaster.

Of course, I want Donald Trump to win, and more importantly, Hillary Clinton to lose. Hell, I would even prefer Jill Stein or Gary Johnson over her. But it seems clear to me that Clinton is the war hawk candidate that makes even Barack Obama's reckless and feckless foreign policy look preferable. Given that I despise Barack Obama and would have him arrested for his presidency if I could, that's a damning statement. But I really think it is true...

Editor's note

I've been extremely busy this weekend. That fact, along with the utter lack of interesting stories led to a lack of posting this weekend. Posting should return to normal now.

Friday, October 21, 2016

ISIS launches a major attack on the Kurdish city of Kirkuk in Iraq.

Peshmerga forces take cover behind rocks during the attack. Reuters. 

ISIS has launched a major attack on the city of Kirkuk as a counter-move to the Mosul offensive. Reuters. At least 18 local security forces, including two Iranians died in the assault, which took place in a part of Iraq under Kurdish control. The attackers included several dozen fighters and they attacked police stations and power buildings. Most of the ISIS fighters withdrew, but a small group is still holed up in a local mosque. 8 ISIS fighters died in the attack, either from the gun battles or from blowing themselves up in suicide attacks. The attack is largely seen as a distraction from the battle of Mosul, which has bogged down before reaching the city. 

My Comment:
Very interesting. It seems like ISIS is still capable of launching offensive operations fairly deep into enemy territory. Kirkuk is pretty far away from the front lines, so it is impressive that ISIS was able to strike there. Kirkuk has been largely spared ISIS attacks, compared to other cities, so I wonder how prepared the Peshmerga troops assigned to the city really were. They seem to have done ok in this battle, but the fact that ISIS was able to get to the city at all does not bode well. 

I think that this is a rather large victory for ISIS, at a time when they are desperate for a win. Sure, they weren't able to take and hold Kirkuk, but I doubt that was ever their plan. This was a raid, pure and simple, and I think they accomplished their major goals. 

First, they needed to demonstrate that they were still capable of mounting attacks on this scale. ISIS is on the defensive in both Iraq and Syria (and Libya as well) and it has been a long time since they have actually gained any ground. The perception is that they are on the back foot and this attack might shake up that perception. Though ISIS is undoubtedly losing, this attack shows that they aren't anywhere near being defeated yet. 

Second, this attack will serve as a major distraction from the battle of Mosul. If ISIS were to lose Mosul, it would essentially cost them the war in Iraq. By attacking Kirkuk, they are forcing the Iraqis and Kurds to respond. In the Reuters report, the Peshmerga fighters were quoted as being desperate for reinforcements. With Iraqi and Kurdish forces stretched thin, the only place they can really pull troops out of is from the Mosul front. This may serve to blunt the attack against ISIS, which has already failed to reach Mosul itself. 

Finally, they managed to inflict more casualties then they suffered. Though ISIS can ill afford the 8 fighters they lost (at least) they did kill more people then they lost. Counting bodies is a fools errand, but it seems that they did more damage here than they suffered. 

If I were an ISIS commander I would continue to launch these raids against Iraqi and Kurdish targets far away from the Mosul battle, for all the reasons I just discussed and more. I don't know if I would attack Kirkuk again so soon, but there are other targets in the area they could hit. Places like Tikrit, Baiji and Haditha could be other good targets as well. Not only are these cities relatively close to the front lines, attacking them would force the Iraqi's to move their forces around as well. Kirkuk is almost exclusively guarded by the Kurdish Peshmerga, so they are the ones that will have to pull back troops. It would be good for ISIS to force the Iraqis to back down as well. 

Still, the main show is going to be Mosul for the time being. I haven't been following the battle as closely as I should. Due to election coverage, I haven't been paying close enough attention. I do know that the battle of Mosul is kind of a misnomer right now because the Iraqi and Kurdish forces haven't reached the outskirts of the city yet. Right now they are focusing in on reclaiming the surrounding towns. 

Will Mosul fall? Probably. These distraction raids, if they continue, will probably help ISIS, but I can't see them winning the battle outright. The Iraqis and Peshmerga forces are vast and ISIS is outnumbered. Though ISIS is in a defensive position their enemies have enough bodies to overwhelm their defenses. Plus they have massive US air support, along with special forces on the ground. That will help them greatly. 

Still, the Iraqi military has broken before. If morale gets too bad, it's possible the Iraqis could break. They have always been rather skittish and I don't know if I trust them to withstand counter attacks. Remember, if the Iraqi military could fight, Mosul never would have fallen in the first place. The Iraqi Army has been largely destroyed and rebuilt since then, but the problems remain. 

I am predicting that we will probably have a new president here in the United States before the battle of Mosul is resolved. It's going to be brutal, urban fighting and a lot of people are going to die and be displaced. I honestly think it is going to end up like the battle for Aleppo in Syria. Unless you are Gary Johnson, you know how brutal that will be... 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

My reaction to the third and final presidential debate!

A screenshot from the third debate. 

The entire debate.

The final presidential debate is in the books and here's my reaction post. Before I go on, I have to say this is a bittersweet moment for me. I have had a lot of fun watching these debates since last year and I really enjoyed writing up these posts. It's going to be a long time until I get to do this again, but in the meantime, a big thank you to everyone who has taken their time to read these. It's been a crazy ride... 

This was probably the most substantive debate that we have had this election series. At the very least, out of the three presidential debates, this is the one that focused the most on policy. As such, your impression of it will be much more dependent on how much you like the policy the candidates sold. Since I like Trump's policy way more then Clinton's it was a good night for me. 

Moderation was much better. For the first time we had a fair moderator. Chris Wallace was very tough on Trump, but he also hit Hillary Clinton pretty hard as well. It wasn't a 2-1 slugfest like the last few debates, and Wallace actually seemed to take his job seriously. I don't think there was much in the way of bias at all in this debate, which is almost unbelievable to me. That's how bad the moderation of these debates have been so far this election. Just appearing to be fair puts you head and shoulders above everyone else. 

I also have to say that Wallace asked some very good questions. Not only was he tough on Clinton where other moderators have held back, he actually covered some policy questions that were sorely lacking. It's almost criminal that gun rights, immigration and abortion didn't come up until the 11th hour. Given how massively important those issues are to millions of Americans, it was very good that they came up and Wallace deserves a lot of the credit for that.

I am rather disgusted at one part of the debate though. The media is going absolutely insane because Trump said that he would withhold conceding the election until election day. That's completely stupid because what candidate wouldn't consider contesting an election where it was close or fraud was suspected? Al Gore did the same thing in 2000 and I guarantee if there had been an undercover tape where GOP Super PAC's were openly discussing voter fraud, the media would be clamoring to contest the election.

Indeed, it really sounded like Hillary Clinton was laying the groundwork for that anyways. When challenged about her e-mail server, she pivoted to Russia and directly claimed that the country was deliberately interfering with our election by "hacking" her. And the media has been talking about how Russia could hack our electronic voting machines (which is reason enough that those machines should never be used). But, critically, the question was never asked of her.

My question is that if people really are pissed about the idea that Trump could contest the election if he thinks there was voter fraud, can't Clinton do the same thing if there is evidence of Russian interference?  If she can, why is it bad that Trump is suggesting it? Hell, I am guessing that both scenarios can and will play out this election, I have almost zero faith that it will go smoothly. It just seems to me to be another phony outrage due to people's double standards. I think if it is good for the goose then it is good for the gander. Trump was right to say he would reserve judgement, and if Clinton had said the same thing, I would defend her as well. 

It's very unfortunate that this is the main media takeaway because this was a great debate for policy. Trump really stepped his game up and Clinton has always been good at explaining her plans, even if I disagree with them. This should have been the debate that people made up their minds on who had the better ideas for the country, but those that missed the debate will only hear the hysteria coming from the mainstream media right now. 

As always I will go through both candidates performance. I started with Donald Trump last time, so this time I will start with Hillary Clinton. Before I continue though, I do think that Trump won the debate. It wasn't as good as a performance as the 2nd debate, he had a couple of major unforced errors, his statement about the integrity of the election being one of them, but Clinton made some critical mistakes which were far more damaging in my mind.  

Hillary Clinton:
Not a good night for Hillary at all. She got roughed up by Trump and was seriously questioned on some of her scandals. But she did have some good moments as well. Her defense of abortion will probably fire up her base. It's pretty clear from tonight that she thinks that abortion is a good thing and that there is a clear contrast between her and Trump on the issues. It's not an issue I care about at all, but I think her defense of it will help motivate her base, even as she probably motivated the pro-life people opposed to her. 

I think Clinton may have scored some points when she was criticizing Trump on the groping allegations against him. Though I do think that most of those allegations are bunk, she kind of did it in a brilliant way. Instead of focusing on the veracity of those allegations, she pointed out that part of Trump's defense was that they weren't attractive enough to attack. Though I actually think that's a decent defense, it makes Trump look like a jerk. 

Even people who think he is probably innocent have to admit that bashing the women because of their looks probably wasn't the way to go. I think people will forgive Trump if they don't think he did anything wrong, but one thing I have learned is that many women absolutely hate it when a man criticizes a woman's looks, even if that woman isn't someone they like or even care about. I know I have gotten bashed for it hard, even when I simply said I wasn't attracted to someone. Trump was doing it to defend himself against serious allegations, so it wasn't a good moment for him and was a great line of attack for Clinton. 

Other then that, and the fact that she adequately explained her policies, this was not a good night for Clinton. She had some major unforced errors. When she was talking about gun control, she bashed DC vs Heller, a critical Supreme Court case that finally cemented the right to bear arms in America, somehow trying to make it sound like toddlers were out popping caps in each other's asses. It was insane. 

Trump also had Clinton on the ropes with her Wikileaks scandal. She then tried to pivot to Russia, which would normally be a good move. But then she went on her rant about how the Russians were trying to steal the election from her and that Trump was some kind of Manchurian pro-Putin puppet candidate. It was unhinged and it could have been a deathblow for her if Trump hadn't had his own major unforced error as well. 

The worst moment for Clinton by far is the reaction to the James O'Keefe video that showed pro-Clinton super PAC's admitting to causing violence at Donald Trump rallies. After Trump rightly tore into Clinton on the issue Clinton did something unbelievable. She tried to blame Donald Trump, yet again, for the violence that occurred at his rallies, even though it's clear that, at the very least, it was her supporters that did so. At worst, she ordered it herself, and she had the gall to blame Trump for it? There's a term for that, and it's called blaming the victim. 

Clinton also seemed genuinely rattled when Chris Wallace brought up the Clinton Foundation. This gave Trump an opening to hit her hard on the issue and she was never really able to come up with a defense of the accusations. Though there is something to be said about ignoring accusations, indeed, I wish Trump had done more of that, she couldn't just leave a question about pay-to-play up in the air like that. 

That being said, she is damn lucky that the media is in the tank for her. None of her errors are going to make an impact except for the people that watched the debate. All the coverage is going to be about Trump's statement on the integrity of the election. This hurts her a bit too though, because like I said above, some of her attacks had the potential to hurt Trump and she did a fairly good job of explaining her plans for the country.

Donald Trump:
Trump won the debate but he needed to do better than just win. He needed to eviscerate Clinton and I don't think he did. Time and time again he had Clinton up against the ropes but he never quite finished her off. Instead he felt the need to defend himself. Given how many of her attacks on him were things that he had already spent a lot of time on in the other debates, like his taxes, this was a huge error. 

The worst of it was when Wikileaks came up. He completely blew that engagement even though Hillary Clinton was flailing around lost. Though he correctly called out the fact that she was obviously pivoting away from immigration and Wikileaks, two issues that greatly hurt Clinton, he dropped both of those issues to defend himself on Russia. 

That was, quite frankly, insane and a huge unforced error for Trump. First of all, he needed to stay on immigration as an issue. It's his campaign's signature issue and the main reason he has done as well as he has. And he had precious little time to bring it up but he squandered it. 

Second, even if he didn't go back to immigration, he could have focused on Wikileaks. The Podesta e-mails have some juicy stuff in them that Trump should have broadcast to the world. Most people aren't going to put in the effort to look at those e-mails themselves, so this was the perfect opportunity to tell the world what was on them, and he left that fruit rotting on the vine. 

I also think he made a major error when he answered the question about accepting the election results. Though I argued above that his sentiment was completely correct, his delivery was horrible. Though I have no doubt that Trump meant that he would contest the results if there was some obvious evidence of voter fraud or an "Al Gore" close tie situation, he made it sound like he would contest it no matter what. That made him look way more unreasonable then he should have and was another unforced error.

 It was a tough question regardless, but I would have answered it something like this: "Chris, that's a great question and I hate to say it but we might have to look at things after this election is over. The O'Keefe tape sure looked like the Democrats are planning voter fraud. They might do it, they might not, but if they do, I won't commit to just giving up. That would be crazy and we shouldn't reward cheating on that scale. But if Clinton wins fair and square, and there isn't any evidence of fraud, then yes, I will accept the will of the people." A much better answer, but unfortunately it wasn't the one that Trump made. He's going to have to live with the negative press coverage now.

With all that being said, this was still a good debate for Trump. He clearly did his homework on policy. He had good answers on foreign policy and his explanations for his plans were pretty good. Critically he shored up his conservative support on two critical issues. Gun rights and abortion. I'm very obviously pro-gun so his defense of gun rights was like throwing a raw steak to a lion. I loved it and it wills serve as a very strong reminder for pro-gun people what is at stake this election.

As for abortion, his extreme disgust and graphic description at partial birth abortion will probably win him support. I am on the record as not caring about abortion one way or the other but even I was pretty grossed out after hearing his description of what they do in those procedures. For pro-lifers this was a great moment for him because Trump has never been all that convincing as a pro-life candidate. I think that changed last night, and even though he said that Roe vs Wade is probably on the way out, I think people will remember his comments on partial birth abortion, which Hillary Clinton was forced to defend, way more than that. 

Trump also clearly unnerved Clinton at several points. I already said that she was on the ropes with the Wikileaks question, but it wasn't the only one. She was severely rattled by the Clinton Foundation question and Trump's response to it. Critically, she had about the worst reaction she could have possibly had when Trump bashed her for taking money from places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who treat women and gays horribly. While Trump was bashing those countries for pushing gay people off of buildings, Hillary Clinton smiled. Now I don't blame you for not believing that, but go click on the video for the debate and put it at 57 minutes. See for yourself. 

I don't think for a second that Clinton thinks that pushing gay people off of a building is a funny thing. Indeed, I think her reaction was something like "wow, he really said that?" But the optics of it are terrible. As someone who is supposed to be in favor of LGBT rights, it's a hell of a bad way to show that support. And she made that mistake entirely because Trump rattled her. 

Trump was also calm and to his credit, he didn't interrupt Hillary nearly as much as he did in the first two debates. This was a kinder, gentler Trump. That isn't saying much but I do think he probably calmed some fears last night, or he would have if he had a better answer on the voter fraud question. He looked a lot more reasonable, presidential and calm then Hillary Clinton did.

This was a Trump victory, but it wasn't a blowout. Instead it's more of a 31-28 win, to put it into football terms. He could have destroyed Hillary Clinton but instead he let her off the hook. And he made some critical unforced errors that allowed Clinton to stay in the debate. 

Clinton, for her part, made some serious mistakes of her own, but as the apparent front runner, she just needed to survive. Right now, I think she did so. Some of that was on her own merit, due to good answers on some questions and her strong explanations on her policy, but she got some help from Trump's mistakes. 

I will say that this debate did way more then the last two when it comes to explaining policy. For example, when it comes to abortion, it's clear who you have to support if you care about the issue either way. We also got some very good answers on foreign policy and the various tax and trade plans. For people that vote strictly on policy, this was a great debate. 

Will it effect the polls? Well, I don't Trust the polls anymore anyways so who knows? I think the race is probably a tie now anyways, so any movement in the polls is probably just illusionary. Most people have made up their minds who they like better and won't be swayed either way at this point. What will matter is turnout and both candidates gave their supporters very good reasons to vote in November. 

As for me, I am somewhat saddened to see this phase of the election close. I have a lot of fun writing about these debates and writing them up as well. I also have to admit that I am still relieved that the election is wrapping up. It's been a long, stressful road for me and I am looking forward to what happens after, assuming that Putin doesn't get sick of all of us and just nukes everything. Assuming that doesn't happen though, I will be happy to be writing about other things once this is all done... 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A few quick thoughts about tonight's debate...

The final presidential debate starts tonight at 8:00 pm central. As always I will be watching along and live tweeting it. My Twitter account can be found here, and I hope people will be able to follow along.

There is a small chance that I could be called into work tonight. If that happens I will be hugely disappointed but it may be unavoidable. If I do have to go in, I will post something here and on Twitter about it, but I think there is only a 5% chance of it happening. Which is 5% more than I would like, but what are you going to do?

This debate is going to be brutal. Trump has to be pissed off about the groping allegations against him. It's his position that they are all made up, and I tend to agree with him. At the very least they were time to be released when they would be the most damaging. Expect Trump to go after Clinton harder tonight then he has ever done before. He has absolutely nothing to lose and no longer has any reason to hold back. I mean would you hold back against someone who accused you of sexual assault?

I also think that the horrible news that Clinton got this week will dominate the debate. Clinton and the moderator, Chris Wallace, will try to focus on the Trump Tape scandal but there is no way that Trump will let that stand after the events of this week. Expect multiple references to the Podesta e-mails, the James O'Keefe undercover videos and the FBI report about Hillary Clinton. All three of those stories have been hugely damaging to the Clinton's and this is Trump's last, best chance to get that information in front of the millions of people watching the debate tonight. The media is only reluctantly covering these scandals and this is Trump's best chance to inform the voting public of them.

There is also a chance that there will be even more damning information released today. I think that James O'Keefe is going to release another tape today, though I am not sure if that is going to happen. I've seen what O'Keefe has had to say on Reddit and other places and he claims that he has video of Hillary Clinton saying some very racist things about a black woman. If he does and those tapes are released it could have a major impact on the debate. I don't know if that's what he is posting today or not, but I sure hope it is. This would be perfect timing to drop it because it would throw Hillary Clinton off of her game.

I also expect that voter fraud is going to be a major theme of the night. Trump has been going on and on about how the system is rigged and now he's got some stronger evidence of that being true. The 2nd O'Keefe video showed pro-Clinton supporters openly discussing voter fraud in a way that certainly looks like they were up for trying it. That's not something that can be dismissed so easily.

Supposedly this debate is going to be about policy. Fox New put out a list of topics that will be covered. If the debate actually follows this format then it will be a good chance for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to remind voters where they stand on policy issues. The last few debates had precious little of that, so perhaps this debate will have an upside as well.

Finally, I am wondering if Hillary Clinton is healthy. She has essentially dropped off the face of the earth the last few weeks and I can't imagine all that time has been spent on debate prep. She has mostly sent her spokespeople and surrogates to do events for her. Hillary's health has taken a back seat after everything else that has happened since she collapsed on 9/11 but the fact that she has essentially disappeared during the most important weeks of her campaign makes me think that there is something wrong with her...  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My take on the Project Veritas videos.

Video one showing how Democrats incited violence at GOP rallies. 

Video two showing discussion of voter fraud. 

The two videos posted above are damning for the Democrats. James O'Keefe, the man behind the Acorn videos, has gotten hidden camera footage of Democratic operatives discussing some rather shady stuff. The first video detailed how the Democrats incited violence at GOP rallies, specifically Donald Trump ones. The second one showed discussions about voter fraud, which we have always been told doesn't exist. 

A few notes on the source of the video. Project Veritas and James O'Keefe have been accused of deceptively editing videos in the past. I don't think that is the case here. Though I do think some of the context has been edited out, the accusations have been verified. Two of the people in these videos, Bob Creamer and Scott Foval have been fired since these videos have been released. Also, I have seen documents confirming that Zulema Rodriguez was on the payroll on several liberal Super PAC's as well as the Hillary Clinton campaigns. 

Do I think the videos are valid? Well the 1st video is obviously. It has essentially proven that the Democrats have incited violence against Donald Trump supporters. They even incited a riot in Chicago in which multiple people, including some cops, were hurt. They have multiple people on tape admitting to it. If it was a court of law, it would be damning evidence. 

The 2nd video is less so. Though the discussions they were having were extremely unethical, and even illegal, it doesn't look like the people involved actually did any voter fraud. It sounded like they were aware that such things were going on and that they would very much like to do so in the future, but there was no smoking gun where someone said something concrete. And the background information is much harder to prove than the 1st video. 

So what are the implications of these videos? Well it's glaringly obvious that the Democratic party is inciting riots and violence. This is something I have always suspected but haven't been able to prove until now. The 1st video is damning proof of that. That alone should disqualify Hillary Clinton for president unless she can prove she had nothing to do with this and denounces it in its entirety. 

The Democrats were essentially picking fights with Republican supporters in order to discredit Donald Trump. The whole "Republicans are violent" narrative, which hurt Trump in the primaries, was largely constructed out of whole cloth by the Democrats.

Worst of all, these attacks were largely blamed on Bernie Sanders supporters as well. Many of the attackers in the Chicago riot were wearing Bernie Sanders gear. Not only was this an attempt to discredit Donald Trump and his supporters by saying they were inciting violence, they also blamed that violence on Sanders and his supporters. That is what is known as a false flag and it's an extremely dirty trick to try and pull.

I admit to joining in on that bandwagon when the riot in Chicago. Though I blamed Hillary Clinton as well, I put most of the blame on Sanders and his people. That was wrong and I think I owe those people an apology. I hadn't considered that the Clinton campaign would go so low as to do this, even though I suspected the violence was from paid troublemakers, I had no idea that it was also a false flag.

As for the voter fraud accusations, there wasn't a smoking gun. Just like the last video from Vertias Project on voter fraud, it showed a lot of people talking about how voter fraud works and their opinion that it was happening, and even some initial planning for future voter fraud, but there was no actual voter fraud shown. 

Though there is a circumstantial case for voter fraud happening, and I personally believe that it is happening, this 2nd video isn't strong enough proof of it. Still, I think there is probably enough evidence here for a conspiracy charge. 

I was especially disgusted that one of the people involved in this was an illegal alien. Ceaser Vegas of the Dream Coalition, is in the country illegally. We have him on video making some statements that certainly look like he wants to commit voter fraud. Why hasn't he been deported? Why is he even in this country? Why is he allowed to interact with our elections at all? 

Still, the 2nd video proves that the leftist narrative that voter fraud never happens is just something they tell the voters and don't believe themselves. This is the 2nd video that Project Veritas has put out that shows people on the left clearly admitting that voter fraud happens and that they want it to continue. Voter fraud is happening. The Democrats know that and are participating in it. We just can't prove it yet.

The good news is that the voter fraud they were talking about didn't seem to help. It sure looked like the state they were discussing was my home state of Wisconsin. In case you forgot, Wisconsin was won by Bernie Sanders and it wasn't that close, with him getting 56% of the vote over Clinton's 43%.

That alone is reason enough for people to vote, even if you are worried about voter fraud. There becomes a point where even outright fraud is still not enough to swing an election. This is why it is so important to vote if you care at all about the election. Voter fraud can swing a close race, but legit votes will always outweigh fake ones. 

Finally, I have to say that these tactics have backfired on the Democrats. Even talking about voter fraud is making the election seem rigged, and the violence they incited gave people like me a huge reason to vote against the Democrats in the election. Though I like Trump's policy, one of the main reasons I went from a "I'll vote for Trump if I have too" to "I am voting for Trump openly and will support him" was the violence in Chicago. I wasn't ever going to vote for a Democrat but there was a chance that I wouldn't have voted at all if it wasn't for the violence. Even though I have my reservations about Donald Trump, I will still continue to support him through think and thin just on this issue as well. 

I think that these videos are getting some coverage as well. Though the mainstream media is mostly ignoring the videos, social media is lighting up. And slowly mainstream media is covering them as well. I know Sean Hannity did yesterday and though I don't watch CNN anymore, I heard that they covered the 1st video today too. 

Will it have an effect? Maybe. I do think that these videos will do a lot to motivate the Republican base. They, after all, are the victims of the violence in the 1st video. Bernie Sanders supporters also have strong reason to be angry, but for whatever reason the videos didn't mention that they were victims of a false flag attack that made them look violent and that the vote rigging they were talking about was to cheat Sanders out winning Wisconsin. If former Bernie Sanders supporters see these videos and draw the right conclusions they might be pissed off, but they are certainly not being spoon-fed here. 

Still, I fear that the people that really need to see these videos and be convinced by them won't be watching. Most people are in a bubble right now and rarely see anything that challenges their views. Though that is somewhat true for Republicans, it's extremely true for Clinton supporters. My guess is that very few Clinton supporters will even see these videos and if they do they will dismiss them out of hand because they don't confirm to their stereotypes and preconceived notions... 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Somebody has cut off Julian Assange's internet connection and Wikileaks claims it's a state actor.

Julian Assange. BBC/AFP.

Wikileaks leader Julian Assange has been disconnected from the internet at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. BBC. Wikileaks posted a tweet claiming that a state actor had taken him off of the internet, though those claims have not been verified. Wikileaks also claims that contingency plans have been put into place. The incident occurs after more leaks from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, dropped last week. 

My Comment:
Very little to go on right now but this story was too important to ignore. This is going to be largely speculation on my part here, but forgive me, this is completely crazy and I want to talk about it. Obviously, Julian Assange has made some very powerful enemies. Most obvious among those enemies is the United States government. Many of the most recent leaks from the Podesta e-mails were embarrassing not only to Hillary Clinton herself, but to the entire US government.

Social media is, quite understandably, freaking out. They are saying that Assange is dead or that the US government captured him and sent him to a black site. That is all speculation at this point, and I won't contribute to it further other then to say I would believe anything at this point.

Here's what I do know. Before this happened, Wikileaks posted a bunch of mysterious tweets which I will post below...

Something is obviously up there. My guess is that this was a confirmation code that Assange and Wikileaks has some kind of incriminating information about the three things just mentioned.  My guess is that Assange new his time at the embassy was almost up and wanted to protect himself by showing the groups mentioned that he had the dirt on them as well. People have been saying on the internet that they are hash codes used to identify documents, but I have no idea if that is legit. No matter what though, Wikileaks was trying to get information out to someone.

If I had to guess I am thinking that the United States government was able to pressure Ecuador into kicking out Julian Assange. Assange is wanted on dubious sexual assault charges in Sweden, but I doubt that they would have put so much political pressure on Ecuador over that.

This is obviously about the leaks that Assange and Wikileaks has put out. Though the Podesta and DNC Leaks were greatly damaging to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in general, what could be coming might even be more so. Rumor had it that Assange had copies of the 30,000 e-mails that were deleted from Clinton's server and was just about to release some of them before the debate.
Will that happen now? Very hard to tell. I can't imagine that Assange doesn't have contingency plans for this kind of thing. He has a dead man's switch set up and if something does happen to him, his revenge will be epic. He has been collecting things for years that would be massively damaging to the world's government and if he releases them all at once it could be earth shaking. Though I hope there is still a good outcome for Assange, if there isn't, I for one am waiting with baited breath for that to happen...

I am rather disgusted at this entire thing. Though I have criticized Wikileaks in the past, their work with the Snowden NSA leaks and this entire election cycle has been a great service to everyone in the world. To see them silenced like this is horrifying.

It also confirms to me at least that the leaks that Assange was putting out there were real and that he has even worse stuff to come. I won't speculate what those things are but I will say that I have been seeing a lot of internet chatter claiming that they involve some seriously shady stuff from the Clinton's.

Since what Assange was revealing to the public has largely been proven true (and even the Clinton's don't deny that, they just claim that the Russians did it), this is pretty clearly a violation of free speech. There is an obvious public interest in finding out what Assange has and that information could have a massive impact on the election. If the rumors of what is on those 30,000 e-mails are true, it means that Trump could win in a landslide.

This action seems like a pretty obvious and heavy handed attempt to stop that from happening. If so it means that the Obama administration is basically interfering with our election. With out a full accounting of Hillary Clinton's sins (and I believe that is what was about to be released) how can America make an informed choice? We can't and that is the problem...

My hope is that Assange is still safe and hasn't been turned over or killed. Right now I have no way of knowing if that is true or not. His leaks though should still be able to come out. I am guessing that Assange isn't the only person in his organization to have access to the leaks. They need to come out and come out now because if it is true that the US government is moving in on Assange, we might never get another chance to bring this information to the light...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

GOP headquarters in North Carolina firebombed and vandalized.

Photo showing some of the damage to the North Carolina arson attack. GOP Handout/Charlotte Observer.

A GOP headquarters in Orange County, North Carolina, has been attacked by a firebombing and other vandalism. Charlotte Observer. Someone threw a bottle filled with flammable liquid into the headquarters and also sprayed "Nazi Republicans get out of town or else". State and national GOP officials condemned the attack. The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory (R) called it an attack on democracy. For the Democrats part, Hillary Clinton also condemned the attack on Twitter. The office was considered a total loss. 

My Comment:
This is the textbook definition for terrorism. The use of violence and intimidation for a political cause. The arson attack was an attempt to disrupt GOP operations in North Carolina, a critical swing state. Arson is always a violent act and it is very lucky that there wasn't anyone there when this attack happened. And it's clear that the message painted on the wall is a direct threat at GOP people in the state.

A quick note. There is always a possibility this is a false flag. I would say in this case it is an extremely small chance. Though Orange County seems to be fairly safely in the Democrats hands, no one would be so stupid to destroy their own headquarters in a critical swing state. I only bring it up just in case...

But I am guessing this attack is legit. And it might have an impact on North Carolina. Current polling, which I don't trust at all, has a slight lead for Clinton in the state, which could erode by election day. It's close enough that the small number of votes that the Orange County GOP headquarters could have peeled off from the Democrats might have decided the election.

That won't happen now. Indeed, this looks like a textbook case of voter suppression. This act of violence could influence who decides to vote for Donald Trump and down ballot candidates. The implicate threat of violence might cause people to worry "what happens if people find out I voted for Donald Trump and the GOP?" And prominent public figures in North Carolina, who may have endorsed Trump over Clinton, now have to worry about their homes and businesses getting firebombed. This attack may have the desired effect.

I will give some credit for Hillary Clinton, which is not something I do often. She did come out right away and condemned the attack (see tweet above). That was, of course, the correct thing to do and she deserves some credit for that.

Still, I think that she and the Democratic Party deserve some of the blame for this attack. From the start of this election and beyond they have been saying that Donald Trump and the GOP is the party of hate. They say the GOP hates minorities, women, gays and Muslims. Calling people on the right Nazi's is a common and almost normal occurrence from people on the left. I got called one once simply for saying political violence is never ok, even when it is directed at right wing extremists. Is it any wonder when you spend the entire election cycle calling people Nazi's, that someone would go out and attack someone?

This behavior is common and I see precious little condemnation form the left about it. They didn't say much of anything when Trump supporters were attacked in San Diego and Chicago. And they don't say much about the army of twitter trolls who harass those of us on the right. I'm not saying the right is without sin here, there has been bad behavior on all sides, but I also think that the left hasn't done much to condemn it either.

This attack may backfire though. Though I worry that some voters may be intimidated, I think a lot more people are going to be pissed off. I know my reaction to this is that I am even more determined to vote in November. I categorically reject this kind of political violence so when I see it directed at people that are generally like me and support the same side, I see it as an attack on me. Such attacks are a huge motivation to send a message to the people responsible for this act. We won't be intimidated.

Indeed, the event that pushed me into full fledged support for Donald Trump was the attack on his supporters in Chicago. That attack, which both the Democrats and GOP blamed Trump for, more than anything else made me want to support Donald Trump. If for no other reason then to send a message to the left. If they try to suppress our votes through violence, than we will make our voices heard at the polling box.

I also think that this violence creates an obvious asterisk that should be posted on every opinion poll. People are being intimidated into not openly supporting Donald Trump and the GOP. I would love to have a Trump bumper sticker, but I know that if I did so, I would be risking getting my car keyed. I'd put a Trump sign in my apartment's windows, but I am worried that my neighbors might attack me for it.  And when Trump was in the area for some speeches, I didn't even seriously consider going because I though the threat of being attacked was much higher than I was willing to accept. I think these kinds of thoughts are common and may cause quite a few people to keep their support for Trump quiet. The "shy Trump" effect is real and is being compounded by these kinds of attacks.

I'm semi-open about my support for Trump. My friends and family all know I support Trump, and I obviously have said that I have voted for him here. That being said, I am happy that my blog and related social media accounts are semi-anonymous. Though I doubt my boss would care if some twitter trolls tried to get me fired simply for what I write here and on twitter, I don't know if that's true for my boss's boss and people even higher up in the company. That's how messed up this election is. I feel like I could be risking my job and my safety just because I support the nominee for a major political party...