Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

Guess who’s meddling in US politics now

Posted by Richard on August 14, 2018

An investigation by the Daily Caller News Foundation reveals that Iranian nationals are posing as anti-immigrant Americans as part of a campaign to defeat the repeal of per-country caps on the number of employment-based green cards (permanent resident visas) issued to mostly H1B visa holders:

Iranian nationals are impersonating Americans online to demonize Indian immigrants as part of a lobbying campaign against proposed legislation in the House of Representatives, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has found.

Using Twitter usernames that read like foreign stereotypes of American names, they tweet obsessively at reporters and high-profile political figures about the threats they say Indian immigrants pose to America.

H.R. 392 enjoyed broad bipartisan support and has been incorporated into the Homeland Security appropriations bill as an amendment. Contrary to what many of the fake Americans’ tweets claim, it doesn’t increase either the number of H1B visas or the number of green cards issued. It simply eliminates the per-country limits on the latter.

To be clear, these people aren’t living in Iran and doing the bidding of the Mullahs. They’re Iranians who’ve fled from the Mullahs and are living in the US under non-permanent visas. Their greatest fear, I’m sure, is being forced to return to Iran. They’re desperate to not have their already slim chances at gaining the security of permanent residence status further eroded. So I’m quite sympathetic to their concerns.

But their tactic of ginning up anti-immigrant sentiment and encouraging the false belief that this legislation will lead to countless Indians taking “all the jobs of the US citizens” is deplorable.

Before I retired as a technical writer, I worked with a number of H1B visa holders from around the world, some of whom were lucky enough to eventually obtain green cards. They were, to a man and woman, highly skilled, valuable professionals in software engineering and related fields. On net, they didn’t “take Americans’ jobs”; they created far, far more jobs than they “took” by helping to develop new products and services (including innovative, patentable new technologies) that greatly improved video conferencing and collaboration, distance learning, etc. They were exactly the kind of people we should want to become Americans. The US would become wealthier (and create countless new good jobs) if it allowed more such people to come here. And to stay.

Probably the only thing I’ve ever agreed with Thomas Friedman about is his suggestion for an immigration compromise: build a high wall with wide gates. In other words, make it harder to come here illegally, but easier to come here legally.

Perhaps that would assuage the fears of these Iranians by making them feel less like they’re playing a zero-sum game rigged against them. Which they are.

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Another “do as I say, not as I do” Democrat

Posted by Richard on August 13, 2018

Episode #13,496 of Not The Onion:

She ran on responsible gun regulation, now she’s accused of killing her campaign treasurer

ATLANTA – A former Georgia Congressional candidate has been charged with murder after her former campaign treasurer was found dead inside her apartment.

Kellie Collins, of Thomason, turned herself into the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office just as authorities in Aiken County, South Carolina found the body of Curtis Cain, Collins’ former campaign treasurer.

Investigators said Cain did not show up for work on Tuesday, so deputies went to his home to check on him. That’s when they found him dead from an apparent gunshot wound.

In 2017, Collins ran as a Democrat against incumbent Rep. Jody Hice, a Republican, for Georgia’s 10th District. She ultimately dropped out of the race, citing personal reasons.

During the race, she touted her support for responsible gun regulation to protect the community.

The typical gun banner wants to disarm you and me because we lack impulse control and might in a moment of rage shoot someone. That’s called projection.

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Training kids to be school shooters

Posted by Richard on August 8, 2018

It started out as a sad, but not terribly important, news story. Authorities raided a squalid “compound” in New Mexico, just south of the Colorado border last Friday looking for a young boy kidnapped by his father. They found 11 children, ages 1 to 15, malnourished and living in terrible conditions. They arrested three women, believed to be the children’s mothers, and two men. And they found the body of a child, most likely Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, the boy they were searching for and the son of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, one of the men arrested. Sad, but still not terribly important.

Then came news making it much more important. According to prosecutors, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was training some of the children to commit mass shootings at schools. That link is to the story aired on Next on 9News. Mind you, I like Kyle Clark and Next on 9News, a refreshingly different and generally thoughtful and fair-minded local newscast. But in that clip, they go out of their way to reassure us that an outburst of “Allahu akbar” in the courtroom could be totally innocuous and no different than a Baptist shouting “praise the Lord.” Nonsense.

Siraj Wahhaj is the son of an infamous imam, also named Siraj Wahhaj, of the radical Masjid At-Taqwa mosque. The elder Wahhaj was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a “character witness” for Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the notorious “blind sheik” convicted of plotting terrorist attacks in the US.

Shouting “Allahu akbar” was innocuous, my ass. It was the war cry of a radical Islamist who won’t rest until every infidel converts, submits, or dies.

I guess we should have expected that radical Islamists would target our schools as a way of terrorizing us. Schools were one of their targets of choice in Israel until the Israelis ensured that every school had armed guards. Do you have kids in school? Have any of the staff at that school undergone FASTER training?

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Sarah Hoyt: Heinlein vs. Handmaid’s Tale

Posted by Richard on August 1, 2018

Have you read Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100? It’s part of his future history series (which you should read in its entirety, and which is, IMHO, the ne plus ultra of the science fiction genre). I haven’t read it in about 40 years (although I’ve reread some of his other future history stories since then). After reading Sarah Hoyt’s column contrasting it and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I think I’ll reread it. And I’ll continue to not read Atwood’s book and to not watch the Hulu series based on it (easy enough, since I don’t subscribe to Hulu and don’t intend to).

Hoyt’s column is impossible to excerpt in a way that does justice to it, so you just have to read the whole thing. But here’s the opening as a teaser:

I’ve been waiting for someone to accuse me of hypocrisy for liking Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100 (“If this goes on…”) and hating Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Mind you, I’m a libertarian which means being accused of hypocrisy is my bread and butter, and if it doesn’t happen at least twice a day I start feeling a little off.

The left, for instance, is fond of accusing me of hypocrisy for the stuff I write, since my moral and religious standing should not allow me to do that.  Not that I have a moral or religious stand (or rather I do, but often in a different direction from every other human being).  In other words, I’m often enough accused of hypocrisy for not matching their strawman of me, so that I expect to be accused of hypocrisy at the drop of a hat.

But there are substantive reasons why “If this goes on…”/Revolt in 2100 is a worthy contribution to speculative literature, while Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tail survives only by being mercilessly inflicted on school children by their progressive elders.  And the reasons go way beyond the fact that the blinkered Atwood refuses to be considered “speculative fiction” under the impression that science fiction is bug-eyed monsters ravishing beauties. (Yeah, she said that.  No, seriously.)  They even go beyond the fact that Robert A. Heinlein could spin a tale, while Margaret Atwood has the writing skills of a bad porn writer, easily matched by any of a dozen newby erotica writers on Amazon Lending Library who at least, most of the time, manage to make their porn titillating while she only manages to make hers stultifying.

The reasons are more substantive when you get to world-building and the nature of fiction.

Like I said, RTWT.

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Comey’s big lie

Posted by Richard on July 25, 2018

A.F. Branco wondered whether Comey lied in 2016 or in 2017. The answer is “Yes, and probably plenty of other times too.”

Comey's Oath

For instance, earlier this year Comey appeared to claim that the Steele dossier wasn’t critical to getting a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page (and his “contacts,” meaning practically anyone in the Trump campaign).

Former FBI Director James Comey does not believe the infamous Steele dossier was necessary to obtain surveillance warrants against President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser, Carter Page, Comey said Monday.

“Could there have been a FISA warrant without the Steele dossier?” PBS “News Hour” host Judy Woodruff asked Comey.

“It’s not my recollection that it was an essential part of any application,” he replied.

But note the weasely, Clintonesque wording, specifically the placement of the negative. Someone not parsing his words carefully to shade the meaning would have said, “It’s my recollection that it was not an essential part…”

Now that the Page FISA applications have been released (albeit heavily redacted), we know that the Nunes memo denounced by Democrats as full of lies was almost 100% accurate, that the Steele dossier was the first and primary evidence cited, that the FISA court was not made aware that it was paid for by Fusion GPS on behalf of Clinton and the DNC, and that James Comey signed off on the assertion that the information had been verified (emphasis in original):

On a sleepy summer Saturday, after months of stonewalling, the FBI dumped 412 pages of documents related to the Carter Page FISA surveillance warrants — the applications, the certifications, and the warrants themselves. Now that we can see it all in black and white — mostly black, as they are heavily redacted — it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.

Based on the dossier, the FBI told the FISA court it believed that Carter Page, who had been identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser, was coordinating with the Russian government in an espionage conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

This sensational allegation came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy. The FISA court was not told that the Clinton campaign was behind Steele’s work. Nor did the FBI and Justice Department inform the court that Steele’s allegations had never been verified. To the contrary, each FISA application — the original one in October 2016, and the three renewals at 90-day intervals — is labeled “VERIFIED APPLICATION” (bold caps in original). And each one makes this breathtaking representation:

The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures, which include sending a copy of the draft to the appropriate field office(s).

Consider this: The representation that the FBI’s verification procedures include sending the application to “appropriate field offices” is standard in FISA warrant applications. It is done because the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) mandates that the bureau “ensure that information appearing in a FISA application that is presented to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has been thoroughly vetted and confirmed.”

In each Carter Page FISA warrant application, the FBI represented that it had “reviewed this verified application for accuracy.” But did the bureau truly ensure that the information had been “thoroughly vetted and confirmed”? Remember, we are talking here about serious, traitorous allegations against an American citizen and, derivatively, an American presidential campaign.

When the FBI averred that it had verified for accuracy the application that posited these allegations, it was, at best, being hyper-technical, and thus misleading. What the bureau meant was that its application correctly stated the allegations as Steele had related them. But that is not what “verification” means. The issue is not whether Steele’s allegations were accurately described; it is whether they were accurate, period. Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court — which is what common sense and the FBI’s own manual mean by “verified”?

No, they were not.

Bottom line: We have evidence of collusion all right. There’s evidence of collusion between CIA Director George Brennan and the Russians. There’s evidence of collusion among various FBI and Justice officials to stop Trump before the election and to undermine his presidency afterward. What we don’t have is any credible evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

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The real foreign collusion scandal involves Brennan and the CIA

Posted by Richard on July 20, 2018

George Neumayr presents a scathing indictment of George Brennan and the CIA:

An article in the Guardian last week provides more confirmation that John Brennan was the American progenitor of political espionage aimed at defeating Donald Trump. One side did collude with foreign powers to tip the election — Hillary’s.

Seeking to retain his position as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan teamed up with British spies and Estonian spies to cripple Trump’s candidacy. He used their phony intelligence as a pretext for a multi-agency investigation into Trump, which led the FBI to probe a computer server connected to Trump Tower and gave cover to Susan Rice, among other Hillary supporters, to spy on Trump and his people.

John Brennan’s CIA operated like a branch office of the Hillary campaign, leaking out mentions of this bogus investigation to the press in the hopes of inflicting maximum political damage on Trump. An official in the intelligence community tells TAS that Brennan’s retinue of political radicals didn’t even bother to hide their activism, decorating offices with “Hillary for president cups” and other campaign paraphernalia.

The bogus tips about Trump and the Russians came originally from Estonia, which feared that Trump would pull out of NATO, and later from British spooks who also wanted to ensure that Trump lost.

Read the whole thing, but note especially this, which is a tremendous ongoing problem:

A supporter of the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War, Brennan brought into the CIA a raft of subversives and gave them plum positions from which to gather and leak political espionage on Trump. He bastardized standards so that these left-wing activists could burrow in and take career positions. Under the patina of that phony professionalism, they could then present their politicized judgments as “non-partisan.”

This problem exists not just in the CIA, but in countless other federal agencies and departments. That’s one reason that Congress very much needs to pass the MERIT act ASAP.

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Funny footnote to Thai cave boys’ rescue

Posted by Richard on July 20, 2018

A retired Thai military officer provided Michael Yon with a funny footnote to the story of the Thai soccer team rescued from a flooded cave after two weeks. It seems that the rescuers let the boys decide who should leave the cave first.

The boys had no idea that millions of people around the world, and a helicopter were waiting for them. The hospital was totally prepped. A doctor told me that all 13 had their own medical staff assigned to them. Everyone had their own doctors and nurses assigned.

But they are rural boys and thought they would just pedal their bicycles home.

The boys decided that those who had the longest bicycle ride home should leave first.

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QOTD, Helsinki edition

Posted by Richard on July 17, 2018

Condemnation of Trump and the Helsinki summit has been near-universal. Media commentary has spanned the spectrum from “Trump should be removed from office by any means necessary” to “Trump should be summarily hanged for treason.” Democrats and Republicans (with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul) seem to be in bipartisan agreement that every word Trump uttered was reprehensible and deplorable, and that we must punish Russia with more sanctions at the very least, and possibly go further.

Which brings me to today’s quotes, a couple of reminders concerning bipartisanship:

We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.
— M. Stanton Evans

Universal, bipartisan agreement on anything is usually the first sign that something deeply unwise is about to happen, if only because there is nobody left to ask skeptical questions.
— Tucker Carlson

As for skeptical questions, a friend sent some of us a link to this Disobedient Media article about Mueller’s indictments of a dozen Russians for hacking the DNC et al. Confession: my eyes started to glaze over about a third of the way through this very dense and detailed dissection of the Russian hacking claims, and I only skimmed the rest. But if even a third of what I read is correct, Mueller’s claims regarding Guccifer 2.0 fall completely apart.

A more likely conclusion is that someone went to considerable trouble to make it look like Guccifer 2.0 was Russian government operatives. Pure speculation on my part, but I’m thinking that that someone might be CrowdStrike, hired by the DNC to look into its server breach(es) and the only organization that ever had access to the DNC servers (the FBI never did).

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QOTD, rock edition

Posted by Richard on July 14, 2018

“Same three guys, same three chords.”
— Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top

Their 50th anniversary is next year. Hard to believe.

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Smirking Strzok

Posted by Richard on July 13, 2018

Peter Strzok testified before a House committee yesterday, and the usual suspects in the media lauded him as a hero and excoriated the Republicans as doing the bidding of Putin. For example, here’s John Brennan on MSNBC (emphasis in the original):

Moments later, Barack Obama’s former CIA Director and NBC News Contributor John Brennan absurdly applauded Strzok: “Well, I’m personally glad that Peter Strzok had an opportunity to talk publicly about this so that the American people could see his professionalism as well as what I think is his integrity.”

Professionalism and integrity? He’s talking about this guy:

Strzok just oozes professionalism and integrity in that clip, doesn’t he?

That’s one of the key figures in both the Clinton email investigation and the Russian collusion investigation, folks. Looks completely objective and unbiased, doesn’t he?

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Turning cancer against itself

Posted by Richard on July 12, 2018

If we can manage to keep the Luddites who fret about “Frankenfoods” and “designer babies” at bay, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology will enable us all to live longer, healthier lives. The latest example of its potential involves modifying cancer cells so that they attack their own kind:

Cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream have something of a homing instinct, able to find and return to the tumor where they originated. To capitalize on that ability, researchers engineered these roving tumor cells to secrete a protein that triggers a death switch in resident tumor cells they encounter. The cancer-fighting cancer cells also have a built-in suicide switch — so the weaponized cells self-destruct before they can start tumors of their own, the team reports in the July 11 Science Translational Medicine.

The new study isn’t the first attempt to fight cancer with cancer. Previous research has used circulating tumor cells to deliver cancer-killing viruses to noncirculating tumor cells, for example. But the new approach uses a gene-editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9 to manipulate the offensive-line cancer cells and give them more sophisticated properties, such as the ability to self-destruct once no longer needed.

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, “Faster, please!”

HT: Fark

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DOJ: AR-15s are not “weapons of war”

Posted by Richard on July 11, 2018

The Department of Justice has agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation. As Billll notes:

The DOJ has thrown in the towel in a lawsuit brought by Defense Distributed which opens up a lot of doors and windows.

The settlement acknowledges that Defense Distributed has a First Amendment right to publish 3-D printer files for making firearms and related information, and DOJ agreed to pay “a significant portion” of the plaintiff’s legal fees. But perhaps most importantly, as SAF notes in their statement, it destroys a key argument of the gun control crowd:

Significantly, the government expressly acknowledges that non-automatic firearms up to .50-caliber – including modern semi-auto sporting rifles such as the popular AR-15 and similar firearms – are not inherently military.

“Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “For years, anti-gunners have contended that modern semi-automatic sport-utility rifles are so-called ‘weapons of war,’ and with this settlement, the government has acknowledged they are nothing of the sort.

In today’s climate, I’m willing to celebrate that as something of a victory. But I’m compelled to point out that a true understanding of the Second Amendment leads to the conclusion that it’s the right to possess military arms, “weapons of war,” that our founding fathers wanted to protect.

“[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.”
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28, January 10, 1788

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Prediction: Kavanaugh will get bipartisan support

Posted by Richard on July 10, 2018

National Review’s Jim Geraghty has a roundup of conservative praise for Trump’s SCOTUS pick, Brett Kavanaugh. But the really interesting news, and the basis for my prediction, comes at the end:

The Susan B. Anthony List commissioned a poll of registered voters in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia, and asked voters, “As you may know, Justice Kennedy recently retired from the Supreme Court. The President will appoint a replacement and the U.S. Senate will vote on that person. Do you think Senator [Nelson, Donnelly, McCaskill, Heitkamp, or Manchin: depending on the state] should vote to confirm President Trump’s appointment to the Supreme Court?” (Note this poll is conducted before Kavanaugh was named.)

In Florida and Indiana, 56 percent of registered voters answered Yes. In Missouri, 57 percent of respondents said Yes, in West Virginia it was 59 percent, and in North Dakota it was all the way up to 68 percent.

It’s a near certainty that some of those senators, facing tough re-election battles, will decide that keeping their job trumps (if you’ll forgive the expression) loyalty to the party leadership. All five races are currently considered toss-ups. Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Manchin voted to confirm Gorsuch, arguably even more of an originalist/textualist on the Constitution than Kavanaugh.

Another five Senate Democrats are running for re-election in states that Trump carried in 2016 (Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Montana, and Pennsylvania). But those senators (Stabenow, Baldwin, Brown, Tester, and Casey, respectively) are currently favored to retain their seats, and thus are less likely to break ranks for reasons of self-preservation.

I’m guessing that Kavanaugh will get three or four Democratic votes, more than enough to offset the possibility of one or two GOP defectors (Collins and a RINO to be named later).

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Not the Onion: Lesbians protest against transgenders

Posted by Richard on July 9, 2018

I’m sure this is troubling to advocates of intersectionality theory, but it left me grinning from ear to ear:

In a bizarre scene Saturday, a group of “lesbian activists” disrupted and stalled the London Pride Parade, in what they called a protest against the event’s inclusion of transgender individuals.

Local media reported that the protesters stalled the parade for around ten minutes, and as they were carted off, one could be heard screaming that, “A man who says he’s a lesbian is a rapist” — an apparent reference to male-to-female transgender individuals.

… The lesbian activists who disrupted the parade said they’ve felt left out of Pride events this year, after noting to organizers that lesbians prefer sex with only biological females, not transgender men who might dress and live as women but who have not completed gender reassignment surgery.

“We don’t want any kind of penis in our bedroom,” an activist told media. “I’m really sad I have to reassert this again.”

Men who don’t want a relationship with a “woman” who has a penis are routinely excoriated by the “woke” left as hate-filled cis bigots. How are they going to deal with women who feel the same way?

Grab the popcorn!

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A 3000-pound go-anywhere motorcycle

Posted by Richard on July 8, 2018

This season, Guns & Ammo TV (on the Sportsman Channel) has a new feature highlighting some of the cool military toys you can play with at DriveTanks.com. The episode I watched the other night showcased a unique German WWII motorcycle called the Kettenkrad. Check it out.

As I watched, I wondered about the name. “Ketten” means chain or track, and “rad” means wheel or bike (“fahrrad” is bicycle), but the extra k in there made no sense to me. I’ve forgotten a lot of my German, so I thought maybe I was just missing something. But no, it turns out that “Kettenkrad” is actually short for “Kettenkraftrad,” which is best translated as “tracked motorcycle.”

If that video makes you want to drive one, you need to head to the Ox Ranch in the Texas Hill Country, the home of DriveTanks.com. The Kettenkrad is just one of many adult toys you can drive and shoot there — for a price.

If you’d like to own one … well, that’s really going to cost you. In 2016, the asking price for this fully restored Kettenkrad was 120,000 Euros.

But wouldn’t it be cool to head up some ATV trail on one of those?

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