December 2019 Archives


I'm on the phone for work every day, but apparently telephone calls died in 2007. I don't miss phone calls at all -- I never answer a call from an unknown number, and when I do have to call someone I generally feel bad for interrupting them. Texting has numerous advantages, not least of which is that it's less disruptive because it's asynchronous.

The phone call always was an invasive form of communication, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that as soon as a plausible substitute presented itself we grabbed it. What was the very first phone call, on March 10, 1876, if not an urgent human demand? "Mr. Watson," said Alexander Graham Bell, "come here--I want to see you." That Thomas Watson, situated in the next room, would comply was a given, because Bell was his employer. For the next hundred years, phones continued to boss people around. A loudly ringing telephone demanded its owner's immediate attention because you never knew who it might be. It could be the president! Or news that you'd inherited $1 million from a relative you'd never heard of! Or (God forbid) your teenager wrecked the car and was in the hospital! Octogenarians still tend to respond to a ringing landline with terrific urgency, risking hip fracture as they lunge to answer it. ...

The telephone's rule was absolute until the mid-1980s, when the rising popularity of answering machines and caller ID began to undermine it. Baby boomers wielded these tools against their telephones like a lion tamer's whip. If it was important, the caller could leave a message just as if they weren't there, a deception their World War II generation parents could never countenance. The advent around the same time of call waiting similarly made human agency a deciding factor in whether you were available to talk. Sometime around 2010, my then-teenage daughter was trying to call a friend. Something's wrong, she said. This phone has gone berserk. She handed it to me. I listened, then explained patiently what a busy signal was. She'd never heard one before.


Inspector General Michael Horowitz uncovered a lot of wrongdoing by FBI investigators but can't quite seem to put all the pieces together. Why were these corrupt investigators so eager to spy on the Trump campaign?

Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote in his report released this week that although there were a number of "errors and omissions" that occurred during the FBI's bizarre investigation, he found no evidence of "political bias" and that the investigation was otherwise legitimate and justified.

But "errors and omissions," a quote that was repeated over and over again in headlines, sounds like minor missteps that could have been taken care of with a little Wite-Out. It hardly covers the blatant wrongdoing that Horowitz described in his report -- corrupt law enforcement officers abusing their power.

Both in his report and during congressional testimony on Wednesday, Horowitz admitted that he didn't know why the FBI was so keen to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page, who was in fact not a Russian agent after all; that he didn't know why they continued to spy on Page, even after the FBI was informed by the CIA that Page had actually been working for them as an informant; and that he didn't know why, when the FBI continually sought to have its investigation reauthorized by the FISA court, it routinely withheld information from the court or straight-up misled about things that might have undermined the investigation.

In his report, Horowitz said he found seven times where FBI agents relied on "inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported" information in order to continually seek reauthorization for the surveillance of Page and others in the campaign.

Seems like quite a mystery! I guess we'll never know, but at least we can be confident that there was no evidence of "political bias". Ahem.


It would sure be nice if Trump and his allies didn't use Twitter to "attack" / mildly criticize children, but who decided to drag Greta Thunberg onto the global stage in the first place?

In case you aren't already familiar, here's a bit about Thunberg's original talk about global warming at the U.N. in September:

My message is: We'll be watching you [pause for laughs and applause]. This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to use young people for hope -- how dare you!

The lecture goes on in a similar vein, with poor Thunberg looking more and more disturbed as she continues. The Swedish teenager is not some science prodigy who graduated young from some Ivy League school with an advanced agree in physics or anything like that. Rather, the daughter (and granddaughter) of famous actors and opera singers suffers from Asperger's syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and selective mutism. I'm no medical professional, but these things might have been brought on when (according to public sources), starting at the age of eight, Thunberg was subjected to such a barrage of climate panic that she eventually became depressed and lethargic, and also developed an eating disorder.

Now Thunberg is paraded around the globe as the voice of sanity on climate change.

Thunberg considers her medical condition to be a "superpower" that gives her a unique perspective on global warming, and she was right to say: "I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school." The people who thrust her into the middle of a contentious global political issue should be ashamed.

As always, the Babylon Bee nails it: "Democrats Introduce Debate Strategy Of Holding Up Small Child Whenever Their Positions Are Challenged"


I may be delusional (or *too* sane) but my thinking leans towards Charlie Martin's articulation of why he still doesn't think Democrats will impeach Trump. The polls just don't show impeachment working out well for the Democrats, and they've worked so hard to obfuscate the House process that they must realize their case is weak. If impeachment goes to the Senate the Republicans will control the narrative throughout 2020.

Just a few days ago, I predicted that Trump won't be impeached. Of course, today we saw the announcement that Nancy Pelosi has directed the Judiciary Committee to start drafting Articles of Impeachment based on the hearing yesterday.

Now, that means a committee chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Moria) is supposed to start coming up with a list of charges. Apparently, this is supposed to include bribery, abuse of power, and damned if conspiracy and collusion with the Russians isn't back, Mueller investigation be damned.

You might think this would cause me to rethink my prediction, but it doesn't. ...

I still think the risks are too great for the Democrats. Instead, we'll see this "drafting of Articles of Impeachment" drag on, "vaster than Empires and more slow," because they get all the political benefits of keeping IMPEACHMENT IMPEACHMENT IMPEACHMENT in the news, with none of the risks. ...

Coincidentally, Monday is the day the ICIG report comes out.


Hong Kong protests are spreading to Guangdong in mainland China:

Slogans of Hong Kong's democratic movement have been reportedly heard at protests in a Chinese city 60 miles to the west.

According to Hong Kong-based Apple Daily--a vocal supporter of the democracy campaign in Hong Kong--chants of "Liberate Maoming! Revolution of our times!" were heard during several days of protest in Maoming.

The chant is a take on the "Liberate Hong Kong" slogan commonly used during protests across the border, where anti-government demonstrations have raged since June.

Protestors also reportedly told Apple Daily reporters that their movement was "just like you [in] Hong Kong." Both cities share a common Cantonese language.

In confrontations that began last week, Maoming protesters pelted police with bricks and set off fireworks, forcing authorities to announce Sunday that they would not be building a crematorium on plot of unused land in the area. The long-running plan had infuriated residents, who had been promised an ecological park on the same site.

And Iran is in flames:

The Iranian regime faces the most serious popular challenge to its tyranny in 40 years. Sparked by a 50 percent hike in fuel prices last month, the uprising has spread to the whole country. Security forces have killed hundreds of protesters, and at one point they were even forced to shut down the internet -- a sign that the ayatollahs feared for the survival of their regime.

So it's worth asking: Did our ­experts see this coming?

Nope: Most were too busy blasting President Trump. The prestige press and Twitterati spent the last few years railing against the president for trashing the nuclear deal and ratcheting up sanctions -- actions that had supposedly sent the Iranian people rallying around the flag.

President Trump's approaches to China and Iran have been controversial, but they appear to be bearing fruit. Hopefully the United States will continue support the right of these protesters to express themselves freely and peacefully.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2019 listed from newest to oldest.

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