The Russians Are Not Coming

Although Hillary and Putin both like the idea conveyed by this illustration, it is not the way it happened. By a long shot.

Turns out it is possible to overstate the impact the Russians had on our last presidential election. According to the latest Mueller indictments, the Russian government spent as much as $1.25 million dollars a month to influence the 2016 elections. Imagine! If they had kept that up for only 12 and a half years, they would have almost matched what Jeb Bush spent before dropping out of the primary races in February. After spending $150 million, Jeb had managed to win the support of most, but not all, of his extended family. His mother remained on the fence. Continue reading

The Freedom Train is Leaving

Refugees from Syria on a freedom train to somewhere. Migrants like this all over the world are leaving countries where there is no hope of living a decent life, and they’ve added a new country to the list of those to be shunned. (Photo by electronicintifada.net)

They come all day, starting before full daylight. They come to the end of the road in taxis, or in beat up old cars driven by friends. They come alone sometimes, but usually in pairs or in families, often families with small children. When their transport has left, they gather their suitcases and cardboard boxes and struggle into the woods. Their goal is a shallow gully not far down the well-trodden path. With many a fearful glance behind them, looking for those who are out to intercept them, they reach the gully.

On the other side stands a uniformed police officer. He greets them politely. He tells them that they are about to cross an international border, and by so doing will have broken the law, and will be taken into custody. That is their plan. Being arrested on the other side is far preferable to the increasing levels of harassment, discrimination, forced deportation and overt bigotry they are experiencing on this side. And so they cross, relieved to be in a kinder country, and willingly submit themselves to its bureaucracy.

Here’s the kicker: these refugees are running away from the United States of America, seeking safety and a better future in Canada. Continue reading

Advice to a Young Friend Running for Congress

As long as you’re running for Congress you will be spending six hours a day on your smartphone, dialing for dollars. Did they tell you that in the recruiting brochure?

First of all, I’m glad you’re doing it. You’re young, energetic and smart, and seem to have a moral compass that can still find true north, so you probably won’t do very much harm to anybody. At first. I’m glad you’re running as a Democrat, because the wind is at your back this year. But I have to tell you — you, and your party, are blowing it. Hugely.

You’re doing all the right things that all the right people tell you to do. You’re spending six hours a day and more on the phone, begging strangers for money, answering their inevitable question: “Where do you stand on (fill in the special-interest blank)?” Then with the little time you have left, you’re spending the money on consultants: fundraising consultants, social-media consultants, data-analysis consultants, communication consultants,  campaign-management consultants, consultant consultants. And after all the meetings you need to have with them, you rarely get a chance to go to a public event. Continue reading

Gorillas In the Room

If you find yourself in a room with one of these dudes, ignoring him may not be the best option. (Photo by meldoraley46/pixabay)

It’s getting harder and harder to talk to you about how great the stock market is doing and how unemployment is a thing of the past (especially among black people), and how America is almost energy independent — because I can’t see you around all these damn gorillas in the room. Each one weighs 800 pounds, and every time I think of another way America is doing great, another gorilla comes in and sits down. And we don’t talk about them. We certainly don’t Tweet about them. You’d almost think they weren’t really there.

Here’s a recent arrival — from Iran. We’ve all been talking about Iran lately, since people there  started taking to the streets in protest last month. We’ve been talking about how they’re tired of their government and their religion and their leaders, and how they love democracy, and want to be more like us. Which is awkward, because our Twitterer-in-Chief seems to want to go to war with them. Continue reading

Our Comic Book World

No, see, this isn’t right. In the movie, the main characters such as Roger Rabbit were animated fictions, and the rest of the world was real. Now it’s the other way around. (Photo by jbhthescots/Flickr)

A generation ago, a film titled Who Framed Roger Rabbit attracted a lot of attention for portraying cartoon characters playing out their roles in the real world. Now, something more sinister has happened; more and more of us are feeling like human beings living out our lives trapped in a cartoon. Reality seems to have been drained from the world around us, leaving us the only creatures left who are three-dimensional, and bleed.

Everywhere we look, imaginary animation is replacing reality. On our screens, people demonstrate their prevailing mood by leaping and dancing and shrieking with laughter and grinning idiotically — and this is because they got new dishes. Why do you and I never feel or act like that? Because we are real, not the product of sophomoric animators. Continue reading

This is the Great Depression

America is in the depths of the greatest depression in its history. You might assume I’m speaking of economics but I’m not — I am speaking of the mental health of our people and our society. We like to think and talk about ourselves as the richest country in the world — we are not — the smartest people in the room — we’re demonstrably not — with the best health care system in the world — far from it — and the highest standard of living ever — wrong again. Objectively, the word that best describes the condition that most of us are in most of the time is despair.

If you doubt that statement, consider the mounting evidence: Continue reading

“To Boldly Go Where Liver Never Went Before.” A Fable

Liver cells have aspirations too, you know.

Once upon a time, two liver cells suddenly became self-aware. They soon found they had a lot in common — boredom with their dead-end jobs (making bile and filtering blood), contempt for liver cells from the other lobe, and a burning desire to better themselves. Their ardent conversations about how they saw the world, now that they were self-aware, awoke nearby cells, and soon they were a colony.

With breathtaking speed, they developed a culture. They posited evolution as a way of explaining how nature, over millennia of selecting the fittest, came up with, well, them — and then stopped selecting, its job complete. They invented a religion to explain why God, having all the options that He had, decided to establish communications with, well, them. And they never missed an opportunity to praise God for His good judgement. Continue reading

Technology Oncology Now At Stage Four

Like all the new updates offered constantly for all the machinery of life, it seemed at first like such a good idea: using the technology of “smart” phones to provide an instant, universal warning of impending nuclear attack. What a great idea! A lifesaver, as long as you make several unwarranted assumptions about the size and target of the nuclear strike, and ignore all the questions that arise, such as what do people actually do when they’re been warned, and if you save their lives just so they can crawl out of a shelter onto a radioactive rubble heap, what have you accomplished? Never mind. Great idea. Continue reading

How to Identify a “Shithole” Country

If you look around your country and see a lot of these, that would be one clue. But there are others.

It’s important in national and international affairs that the terms of statecraft be precisely defined. When making policy and alliances, the parties must at all times be rigorously clear about what is meant by such labels as “nuclear power,” “developing country,” and the like. Now, a new term of art just introduced by the President of the United States, “shithole country,” begs a proper definition. Let us fix that for ya. Here is how you tell whether a country qualifies for the new designation.

Exhibit One — Airports. If you have an airport, named for one of your most popular presidents, located just outside your largest city, in which earlier this month:

Then you might be living in one of those countries the President was talking about. Continue reading

Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Debt. Pick One.

The flag maker got it wrong: It was supposed to say, “Don’t lend to me.” (Wikipedia Image)

In September, the national debt of the United States passed $20 trillion for the first time in history. Three months later, it  passed $20.6 trillion. That’s $600 billion in debt added in three months. The tax cuts just passed by Congress will shortly add another $1.5 trillion.

In the past two years, corporate debt in America has increased by over $568 billion (pikers — Congress did that in three months!).  And all the lines on all the graphs charting the borrowing of money are pointing at the sky.

In September, the total debt owed by American consumers approached $13 trillion. Consumer debt set a record in the third quarter of 2008 and has topped the record every quarter since. The world economy crashed and burned in 2009, but consumer debt never went down. Now, household debt is rising 60 percent faster than incomes are rising. Laissez les bons temps rouler. Continue reading