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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Maureen Dowd, "Beware Our Mind Children": Robotic Porn?

The new movie "Ex Machina" is getting darned good reviews. As described by "IMDb":

"A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I."

Okay, it sounds a bit like Rick Deckard being asked to test Rachael at the beginning of "Blade Runner," but I'm willing to risk the price of a ticket.

Remarkably, "Ex Machina" is the subject of Maureen Dowd's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Beware Our Mind Children." Given the Uranium One scandal that has erupted around the Clintons owing to "Clinton Cash" and subsequent Times investigative reporting, one might have expected Dowd, no friend of Hillary, to seize upon the opportunity this Sunday, but it was not meant to be. Although Hillary was mildly chastized in a Times editorial, the newspaper's op-ed columnists have been treating Uranium One as if it was radioactive.

Near the end of her opinion piece, Dowd writes of Alex Garland, the writer and director of "Ex Machina":

"Garland talks about all the things, including government programs, that would run more smoothly with an A.I. in charge. Can he can envision an A.I. president, even more sleek and less emotive than the one we have now?

'There could be an A.I. president; there could,' he replies."

Obama is not "emotive"? Get real, Maureen. Over the course of my lifetime, I cannot remember another instance of presidential petulance that rivaled Obama's hissy fit in response to Netanyahu's speech before Congress.

But more to the point, I would imagine that many Americans would today prefer "Hal" of "2001: A Space Odyssey" fame over Hillary.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gail Collins, "Presidential Primary Book Club": Is It Wrong for Rubio to Write About God?

Whereas uber-liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus is obviously troubled by donations received by the Clinton Foundation (remarkably, she manages not to mention Uranium One in her latest WaPo opinion piece entitled "Foreign donations leave Hillary in a cloud"), New York Times columnist Gail Collins would have us turn our attention elsewhere. In her latest Times op-ed entitled "Presidential Primary Book Club," Collins begins:

"Concerned citizens bear many great burdens, one of which is trying to follow a presidential race in which virtually every candidate has written one or more books about their lives, hopes, dreams, theories — and, in the case of Mike Huckabee, diets.

You cannot possibly read them all. It is very likely you don’t want to read any. That’s what we are here for. Today: Marco Rubio.

Rubio is 43, and he has already written an autobiography ('An American Son') and a book on policy ('American Dreams'). Do not feel compelled to go back and look at '100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.'"

"That’s what we are here for"? Who is "we"? Does Collins write her cutesy essays with a team of little helpers, or has Collins become an intellectual and/or physical heavyweight who must refer to herself in the plural?

Be that as it may, Collins proceeds to jab at Rubio's "antipathy for taxation according to the ability to pay," seeming indifference to global warming, and multiple references to God in his autobiography.

Well, at least Collins is not claiming that Rubio made use of "composites," as did Barack Obama in his 1995 memoir, "Dreams From My Father," published when the president was 34 years old and readying his campaign for the Illinois Senate.

But more to the point, is Collins's op-ed an acknowledgement that Rubio has leapt to the front of the Republican pack and could pose problems for Hillary in 2016 - if Hillary is not dragged down long before then by Uranium One and whatever other scandals emerge in the interim?

Regrettably for Collins, but fortunately for the rest of us, she was unable to weave Seamus, Romney's dog, into her column.

Paul Krugman, "Zombies of 2016": No Mention of the Uranium One Scandal

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Zombies of 2016," Paul Krugman excoriates Republican presidential candidates for their views regarding social security and Obamacare. Krugman writes:

"A deep attachment to long-refuted ideas seems to be required of all prominent Republicans. Whoever finally gets the nomination for 2016 will have multiple zombies as his running mates."

Questions for Krugman:
  • US national debt is now $18.2 trillion (some $154,000 per taxpayer) and rising by the second. Is this sustainable?
  • What are Hillary's ideas concerning US debt? Oh, that's right, she has none. (She is making a point of not expressing ideas about anything.)
  • What are the ideas of Hillary's opponents for the Democratic nomination? Oh, that's right, she has no opponents, unless you actually believe that Martin O'Malley stands a chance.
It's strange how Krugman failed to add Hillary to his list of 2016 zombies.

More peculiar, however, is how Krugman has absolutely nothing to say about Hillary's Uranium One scandal. Even the editorial board of the Times declared today:

"Hillary Rodham Clinton’s determination to reconnect with voters in localized, informative settings is commendable, but is in danger of being overshadowed by questions about the interplay of politics and wealthy foreign donors who support the Clinton Foundation.

. . . .

The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.

The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation."

But why should any of this mess, which has absolutely nothing to do with campaign finance or global economics, weigh upon someone as idealistic as Paul Krugman?

[See also "New York Times Editorial, "Candidate Clinton and the Foundation": A Sugar-Coated Slap on the Wrist."]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New York Times Editorial, "Candidate Clinton and the Foundation": A Sugar-Coated Slap on the Wrist

Yesterday, DNC Chairman Howard Dean responded to questions concerning the Uranium One Scandal by accusing The New York Times of "sloppy" reporting. What does The New York Times have to say about this? In an editorial entitled "Candidate Clinton and the Foundation," The New York Times blithely informs us, "Nothing illegal has been alleged about the foundation, the global philanthropic initiative founded by former President Bill Clinton."

"Nothing illegal has been alleged about the foundation"? Oh really? As stated by Mitt Romney on the Hugh Hewitt Show:

"I’ve got to tell you, I was stunned by it. I mean, it looks like bribery. I mean, there's every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of what - twenty percent of Amercia's uranium production to Russia, and then it was covered up by lying about a meeting at her home with the principals and by erasing emails. I presume we might know for sure whether there was or was not bribery if she hadn't wiped out thousands of emails. But this is a very, very serious series of facts, and it looks like bribery."

Does it indeed look like bribery? Have another look at the Times article entitled "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company" by Jo Becker and Mike McIntire:

"As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock."

Question: Prior to the deal, had Uranium One's chairman ever donated funds to the Clinton Foundation?

But why should we believe anything that Mitt Romney tells us? After all, he put the family dog on the roof of his car when driving to Canada on vacation . . .

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Uranium One: Hillary's Quest for the Presidency Is Over!

Today, a New York Times article entitled "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company," written by Jo Becker and Mike McIntire, tells us how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, acquired Uranium One, a Canadian company with extensive uranium interests around the globe, including uranium mines in the US. More important, we are informed by Becker and McIntire:

"Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock."

Moreover, Becker and McIntire acknowledge that their investigation is tied to material appearing in Peter Schweizer's new book, "Clinton Cash":

"The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book 'Clinton Cash.' Mr. Schweitzer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting."

Over the past several days, Clinton supporters have sought to disparage Schweitzer and his book. David Brock, interviewed on "Morning Joe," stated, "I think what we’re going to be left with here is 100 percent innuendo." However, the Times article seems to put an end to such claims.

Questions:
  • How soon will government inquiries be launched against Hillary and Bill?
  • How soon will Hillary withdraw her candidacy?
  • How soon will Biden and Warren announce their candidacies?
  • Will the radioactive fallout extend to the Obama administration?

[See also the lead Washington Post article entitled "For Clintons, speech income shows how their wealth is intertwined with charity" by Rosalind S. Helderman. Also watch DNC Chairman Howard Dean accuse The New York Times of "sloppy" journalism on "Morning Joe."]

Thomas Friedman, "Deal or No Deal?": How Dumb Do They Come?

And here I thought that David Ignatius's Washington Post opinion piece of today's date about achieving balance beween Shiite Iran and its Sunni neighbors by asking Saudi Arabia and the UAE to focus on their own internal affairs was asinine . . .

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Deal or No Deal?," Thomas Friedman, another would-be Middle Expert and Obama apologist, writes:

"But what is hard to implement is a complex arms control deal with an adversary you don’t trust — like Iran or North Korea. Each moving part requires some good will from the other side, and, because there are so many moving parts, the opportunities for cheating are manifold. It requires constant vigilance. Are the United States, Russia, China and Europe up for that for a decade? After the Iraq invasion, we took our eye off North Korea, and it diverted nuclear fuel for a bomb. With Iran, the U.S. Energy Department is planning to put a slew of new, on-the-ground monitoring devices into every cranny of Iran’s nuclear complex, which should help. But there also has to be zero-tolerance for cheating — and a very high price if there is."

Query: How do you install on-the-ground monitoring devices in facilities in Iran which are unknown to the US? Or to which Iran is not willing to permit access, e.g., the Parchin military base? Or in locations which are outside of Iran, e.g., in North Korea?

Friedman continues:

"Iran, with about 80 million people, is simply a more powerful and dynamic state today than most of the Sunni Arab states to its west, half of which have collapsed. Iran, even if it had good intentions, almost can’t help but project its power westward given the vacuum and frailty there. When Nixon opened to China, and helped unleash its economic prowess, China was largely surrounded by strong or economically powerful states to balance it. But an Iran enriched by billions in sanctions relief would be even more powerful vis-à-vis its weak Arab neighbors. Our Gulf Arab allies are deeply worried about this and are looking to the U.S. for both protection and more sophisticated arms. I get that. But unless we can find a way to truly ease tensions between Shiite Persians and Sunni Arabs, we will find ourselves unleashing Iran to the max while arming the Arabs to the teeth. Maintaining that balance will not be easy.

These are not reasons to reject the deal. They are reasons to finish it right."

Or in other words, let's find a way to end Sunni/Shiite enmity and mistrust lasting almost 1,400 years over the next 70 days.

Yeah, right.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

David Ignatius, "A tricky two-step in the Middle East": Applying Deodorant to Obama's Noxious Middle East Policy

Obama's relationship with America's traditional Sunni allies in the Middle East has reached a nadir. Back in February of this year, we already knew that Obama's purported coalition with Arab nations against ISIS was little more than a mirage: The UAE had ceased airstrikes in December,  and Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia were not bombing inside Iraq. More recently, as Iranian-backed Houthis ran rampant over Yemen, America's Sunni allies in the Middle East began to rage over Obama's impotence. Now, as Obama prepares to give away the store in order to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran by the June 30 deadline, some of these nations are snubbing Obama's May 13 summit with Gulf leaders. However, if you believe the rubbish written by David Ignatius, Obama's foreign policy apologist at The Washington Post, these Sunni leaders have only to blame themselves.

In a WaPo opinion piece entitled "A tricky two-step in the Middle East, Ignatius concludes:

"In a radically unstable Middle East, it’s worth remembering two positive developments: First, the United States and Iran are talking productively after 36 years of enmity. And second, the United States is engaging honestly and creatively with its often prickly Gulf allies. Good policy would make these two trends converge in a way that, over the next decade, gradually stabilizes the region.

Gulf Arab leaders get offended when they hear Obama say, as he did to Tom Friedman of the New York Times, that 'the biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading . . . [but from] inside their own countries.' They shouldn’t worry. Such straight talk is part of a real friendship, and a real alliance."

As Obama prepares to legitimize Iran as a nuclear threshold power and to free up some $50 billion as a signing bonus - to be used by Tehran to arm its terrorist proxies - Saudi Arabia and the UAE are seeking "straight talk" from an American president they perceive as a naif?

I don't think so, David.