My Netflix Reviews: Time Travel Edition

As a long time science fiction fan, I can tell you that traditionally, much of what passes for science fiction in movies and TV is crap.  Some of it campy crap, which can still be fun (like Sharknado) but most of it is just crap-crap; earnest low budget attempts that are just not well thought out and terrible.  However I’ve has a bit of good luck recently on Netflix with a couple of recent time travel related movies.  These are two I would actually recommend without embarrassment.

First up, In the Shadow of the Moon, begins in 1988 when a young Philadelphia cop, Thomas Lockhart, with a pregnant wife is on the trail of a seeming female serial killer who he corners in a subway station where she begins mentioning detailed information about his life, before being hit by a train and killed.  The police close the case and that’s that until 9 years later when the exact same type of murders occur, with an identical suspect.  Since I’ve already said this was a time travel movie, you can put two and two together and guess there is a connection.  However how the connection reveals itself gives us a moody drama as Lockhart’s life implodes as he becomes more and more obsessed with tracking down the serial killer and discovering the why of these victims.

There are plenty of SJW points to be accumulated here as a white supremacy group plays a role.  This is the Trump era after all! However, the clever conclusion of the film more than makes up for whatever social justice points the writers are trying to score.  It’s still a well done story.

Time Trap was originally a video-on-demand film before Netflix obtained it.  An archeology professor who has spent years trying to find his hippie parents who vanished in the 1970’s discovers their old van, apparently untouched after all these years, outside a hidden cave system.  He goes into the cave exploring and…

…some of his students, trying to locate the missing professor, organize a little search party, find the van, the professor’s car and a cave system, go exploring and…

…and it’s a trap.  It’s no spoiler to say that time moves differently inside these caves.  That’s actually part of the movie description, but how that affects the characters, and how long it takes them to figure out what’s going on, is part of the fun.  They have either all the time in the world, or almost no time at all, to figure out the mystery.  That’s a matter of perspective.

Anyway both of these movies were surprisingly thought provoking and I give them two thumbs up.

 

More Hysteria Over Another Syria Withdrawal

I must be the only person left who is not in a full-fledged panic over President Trump’s decision to pull out 50 to 150 US troops in northern Syria.  In fact, every news article on the issue that I came across dealt more with the “backlash” to the decision rather than the actual decision itself.

Of course the decision shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.  It’s very much in line with the Trump Doctrine.  Trump views foreign policy through a narrow lens of US national interest, an abhorrent concept to most of our media and political establishment.  Trump’s withdrawal of troops leaves northern Syria open to Turkish attack, which is…bad I guess, but I’m not sure what the alternative is.  We are allied with Kurdish groups that are categorized as terrorist groups by Turkey, our NATO ally.

I believe it was a good decision to withdraw, or at least a “not bad” decision, but it was, as usual with Trump, handled poorly. It came out of the blue when really he should have called in the relevant GOP senators and briefed them on his rationale so they would at least have understood his reasoning, even if they disagreed with it. Instead, they’re caught flatfooted. However I think at this point we know Trump just isn’t going to do that, so every few months he makes a unilateral decision that catches everyone by surprise, with no media or PR prep.

As for the decision itself, at some point we are going to have to realize that we are trapped in a military alliance with an Islamic authoritarian that we have very little foreign policy agreement with. This decision is a good example, while we have interests with the Kurds and interests with the Turks, and they both want to kill each other. I sympathize with the Kurds and admit they’ve gotten a raw deal historically, and if there was true justice in the world, they should have their own state.

However Turkey is in NATO. So that’s that. No one wants to deal with the consequences of that, and it gets brushed over in our public discourse, but it’s at the root with dealing with the Kurds. We can’t accept that if it were not for NATO, Turkey would be, if not an enemy, at least an adversery.  We really need to have a discussion about NATO.  In a post-cold war era, does it really make sense that we’re joined at the hip with an increasingly erratic Erdoğan?  Either the United States doesn’t belong in NATO or Turkey doesn’t.  I’d rather not wait until we’re dragged into a war not of our choosing to think about dealing with this.

 

 

Why Watch the News? They’re going to Lie Anyway

My morning routine as I prepare, and start work includes a healthy dose of TV news. First I start with the local news (gotta stay on top of that traffic and weather!), The Today Show, which provides a bland wind up to the day’s major events, and then a switch to MSNBC for a little Morning Joe.  Some may argue that’s not a healthy way to start the day, but I’ve always felt it was important to know what the enemy is up to by monitoring their communications.

I’m starting to have second thoughts about that.  The first story out of the gate on the Today Show this morning was, of course on “Ukraine-gate” and the fake scandal that instigated Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry that I wrote about the other day. It was the usual nonsense blather, which I expected until we hit about a minute and fifteen seconds into the piece when Savannah Guthrie goes to Jeremy Bash, NBC’s “National Security Consultant.”

https://www.today.com/video/whistleblower-s-claim-is-most-serious-against-a-president-in-us-history-analysts-70066757559

In reference to the Whistleblower complain, Savannah asks for Bash’s reaction.

“This Savannah, is the most serious allegation against an American President in our country’s history. That the President used his office to press a foreign country to interfere in an American election. That he enlisted the Justice Department to investigate a political rival and that White House officials were so alarmed by it, that they launched an elaborate cover up.”

This…is a goddamn lie.  It’s a lie and Bash knows it.

The Whistleblower complaint came out publicly yesterday, in which the Whistleblower made these sort of accusations without having any first-hand knowledge of the phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.  However as I wrote on Wednesday, the transcripts of the call had already been released by the White House.  Specifically this passage:

President Zelensky: … We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.

This isn’t about Trump asking Zekensky to dig up some opposition research on Biden (which is how it’s been reported virtually everywhere), but on assisting on a Department of Justice investigation into the origins of the FBI counterintelligence probe into Trump during the 2016 elections.  The investigation, announced in May, perfectly dovetails with Trump’s request to cooperate with the Attorney General.  Discussing this latest fake scandal online, I was shocked to discover that most of the left leaning posters had no idea that there even was an investigation ongoing.  The things Rachel Maddow won’t tell you…

So, since the actual transcripts were released before the Whistle blower complaint and the Whistle blower never even had first hand contact with the call, that means the allegations by the Whistle blower were already revealed to be bogus before it was ever released.  And that’s why Jeremy Bash is a liar, because he knew the actual call didn’t support the allegations, but reported them as if they did anyway.

I’ve previously expressed my disdain for TV “national security experts.”  They seem as untrustworthy as any other cable news commentator crafting their message to get more bookings on TV.  But Bash’s lie was so blatant; I mean all the evidence to the contrary was already out there, that he seems to have reached a new low in whoring out his resume.

I had previously given up on TV and cable news after the Charlottesville “good people” hoax.  Then gradually crawled back because I still, as I stated at the beginning of this post, wanted to see what the enemy is saying.  But after Bash’s lies I cut the TV off, tuning out the MSM news for the rest of the day.  I’m not saying I won’t go back eventually, but it won’t be today, or tomorrow…or anytime soon.

 

The Impeachment Shoe Dropping

At the beginning of the year I made my annual list of predictions, and included by prediction of impeachment for some time this year, “The House Judiciary Committee will vote on articles of impeachment this year. I’m not going to guess whether there will be enough votes to bring the issue to the floor of the House, but the Judiciary Committee will for sure be voting on it.  It’s too tempting to leave that candy in the pantry.” Of course, we already had a vote on impeachment back in July so this isn’t all that new.

Apparently that candy looked really good, and as the number of Democrats who were in favor of impeachment slowly rose throughout the year, it became apparent that eventually Nancy Pelosi would have to either go along or get left behind. She decided that she would rather drive the train than get run over by it, and so announced an impeachment inquiry, a made up thing that has no constitutional or legal basis.  However it does announce the official beginning of the Impeachment Bowl, “play ball!”

This trigger, the outrage over the President’s call to the Ukrainian President, hasn’t caused such uproar since…a few weeks ago during the Scottish Airport scandal, when Trump was allegedly directing military flights to his resort.  That scandal turned out to be fake as I suspect this one will be, although the difference is that the impeachment machinery of investigations will remain. After all, Pelosi announced her inquiry yesterday before either the whistleblower’s complaint or the contents of the phone call transcripts were known.  So it didn’t matter what the actual accusation was or what the content of the transcripts were, impeachment ho!

Reading the transcript, I was surprised at how banal it was, not at all the snarling Trump threatening the President of Ukraine to bring him Oppo research on Biden or no aid, as I had been prepped by MSNBC to expect.  So…no quid pro quo for military aid.  Like every other fake crisis about Trump over the past two and a half years; a nothingburger.

Meanwhile, three Democratic Senators wrote a letter to Ukraine’s prosecutor urging him to reopen investigations involved with the Mueller probe and of course, good old Sleepy Joe himself successfully got the investigation of the company Burisma shut down.  As Marc Thiessen noted in The Washington Post:

“And then there is Joe Biden. In 2016, the then-vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine if the government did not fire the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin. According to the New York Times, “Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden … who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general.” The Post reports that it is “unclear how seriously Shokin — who was under fire by U.S. and European officials for not taking a more aggressive posture toward corruption overall — was scrutinizing Burisma when he was forced out.” But what is clear is that Biden bragged about getting him fired, declaring last year: “I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b—-. He got fired.””

Well there is some quid pro quo right there! It would be hilarious if the Democratic Congress, in attempting to smear Trump with yet still more nonsense, actually drops a ton of crap on Joe Biden.  Then again, maybe that’s their plan after all…

My Pre-Primary Democratic Nominee Prediction

If there is one thing I’ve been sure of, it’s that the conventional wisdom of the past few months that Joe Biden was the locked in choice for the Democratic nominee for President, was wrong.  At no time, did I ever think that Biden had a chance. Not because he was a gaffe machine; that’s something that plagued him his entire career, but that he was too old and it would show on the campaign trail, and Democratic Primary voters just wouldn’t think he would be up to the job (the job of beating Trump, not being President).

However for the longest time I wasn’t sure which of the many Democratic candidates was going to rise to the top spot, but now I think I’ve gotten an idea of who could win the nomination, and that candidate is Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Yeah, it’s a surprise to me too.  Going back to 2012 I had pretty much discounted Warren because of her “Fauxcahontas” scandal, one that has provided many hilarious updates since then. But actually running in a Presidential race provides a great opportunity to separate the Presidential wheat from the chaff.

Four years ago if someone had asked me who was likely to get the 2020 Democratic nomination I would have guessed…Hillary?  For her second term?  But Corey Booker would have been my second choice.  As Mayor of Newark he seemed a dynamic Obama Part two, but since becoming Senator, he’s revealed the truth of the Peter Principle; Booker is not up to his current position and looks a good deal weaker and less consequential then he did as a mayor.  Apparently Democratic donors and polled Democratic primary voters agree.  He doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Kamala Harris who started out the gate strong, also seems to be faltering.  I would have given her much greater odds earlier in the race.  The Democratic primary voter seems to want a socialist, just not a white male one (sorry Bernie).  In 2016, Bernie was the only socialist in the race, now, when there are plenty of socialists available of every color and sex…err I mean gender, voters can be pickier.  CNN’s Don Lemon disputed that Harris could even be called an African American.  That’s actually a fair point since Harris, whose mother is Indian and father is mixed, is about as black as George Zimmerman.  However Harris identifies herself as African American.  Why she doesn’t identify as Indian American I don’t know, since that would be more accurate, but I suppose there is more electoral cache in that than in Indian.

Warren has managed to get through three debates without saying something stupid, or at least stupid for a Democratic debate.  That may be a new candidate record.  On the other hand, Biden can’t get to a commercial without saying something stupid in every debate.  The only thing keeping his candidacy afloat is the idea that he can beat Trump, but the more he turns into Grampa Simpson, the less likely that seems, and it gives the opportunity for other candidates to rise.

And, as this NBC/WSJ poll shows, Warren is catching up with Biden.   At this rate, Warren could catch Biden in a month or so, and then even talking heads will have to take notice.  Fair to say, some of them have.  I’ve noticed the pro Biden Morning Joe starting to turn to highly complementary things to say about Warren.  It looks to me that they are preparing their MSNBC audience for a new front runner. Biden won’t fade out quickly however.  He has a lot of money behind him, and I for one wouldn’t mind hearing more rambling stories about Biden fighting “Corn Pop” with a chain.

 

Never Trumpers Being Good Allies to The New York Times

A recent story that was covered heavily by the conservative media but not covered by the regular media at all was the leaked transcripts from a New York Times employee town hall in which the executive editor of the Times, Dean Baquet, laid out how the Times set the narrative for news coverage in the country by orienting their news room to go full Russian Collusion.  It was great fun for a while…

“We set ourselves up to cover that story. I’m going to say it. We won two Pulitzer Prizes covering that story. And I think we covered that story better than anybody else.”

Winning two Pulitzers for fake news is nothing I would brag about, but then, I don’t work at the Times.

“But then came the Mueller report, with special counsel Robert Mueller failing to establish that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to fix the 2016 election. “The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened,” Baquet continued. “Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.’ And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?””

So when your narrative collapses, what to do?

Now, Baquet continued, “I think that we’ve got to change.” The Times must “write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions.”

The headline controversy, it appears, was a preview of a new 2019-2020 New York Times. If Baquet follows through, the paper will spend the next two years, which just happens to be the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, building the Trump-is-a-racist narrative. (Baquet added, almost as an afterthought, that the Times will “continu[e] to cover his policies.”)

That the Times is, rather than reporting news, setting up narratives, is no surprise to most people on the right.  I didn’t bother to write anything about it because, hey, it’s business as usual.  What isn’t business as usual is that this time the Never Trumpers are helping out.  Last week there were two Never Trump articles published that were pushed by MSNBC.

The first, It’s time to create a conservative ecosystem that doesn’t welcome racists by Tim Carney.

“Conservatives ought to make it a priority to fight for the fundamental dignity and equality of racial minorities who have been denied that dignity and equality. It will require overcoming decades of injustice, and so won’t happen quickly. We won’t disabuse the Left of their self-satisfied smears and conceits, but that’s not the point. Conservatives will be able to take solace in the fact that we’re fighting the good fight and pissing off the racists.”

Although “pissing off racists” is all well and good, even Carney admits, “we won’t disabuse the Left of their self-satisfied smears and conceits.”  So you can fight the good fight, join with the left to call conservatives racist, and then…what?  Get called racist yourself for your troubles?

Of course it’s not often that MSNBC devotes a segment to a Washington Examiner article, but Morning Joe did just that.  If you have the time, you should watch it.

A day later, the most never Trumpie writer imaginable, David French, published his contribution, My Fellow Republicans Must Stand Against the Alt-Right Virus Infecting America.  At this point, decrying the “alt right” is one of about four or five articles that French writes on rotation at National Review. However this time French got to play at the grown up table, since the piece ran in Time.

And once again, Morning Joe dedicated a whole segment to David French’s hysteria against a segment of the population that is an internet only phenomenon, and is so tiny it doesn’t show up in polling.  Again, I recommend a watch, if only to catch French’s hysteria.

Not only are Carney and French helping The New York Times waste another two years of coverage on their 1619 Project rather than actually reporting news, it’s all going to turned against Republicans, which of course is Carney and French’s goal too.  Any party that would reject Evan McMullin as a serious candidate must be burned to the ground, and what better way to do it in 21st Century America than with the torch of racism?

 

The UK as the 51st State?

I came across an interesting twitter thread the other day which posited an interesting question.

It’s an interesting question, as a pure theoretical, but my short answer is no way.

The US and the UK are too dissimilar to form a cohesive union. The almost 250 year separation has led to totally different economic, political, and national cultures. The UK couldn’t tolerate either a First or Second Amendment; both are alien concepts in their political culture, and there are no doubt many other aspects of our political culture that the UK would simply find intolerable.

The US doesn’t need any more States (I’m looking at you Puerto Rico!) The trend of a few massive super states, the condition we found ourselves at the beginning of the 20th Century, has reversed itself, usually after each war. The Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and decolonization have left a multitude of nation states (and chaos) as a result. That process is still going on. Scotland, Catalonia, and a multitude of others want to be independent countries, and of course here in the US, we have California…

That being said, in a post Brexit Britain, we should seek closer economic ties.  President Trump has proposed a trade agreement with the UK and that will probably be an economic necessity for the British economy after leaving the EU.  I would suggest going further with a common market among the Anglosphere nations, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.  This isn’t just my daydreaming, but a serious proposal.  None other than the current British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has endorsed that as a goal.

An Anglosphere common market and relatively easy movement would be more than an economic match for the EU and China.  It has a lot of the benefits of freer trade without the downsides that the US has fallen into by seeking trade agreements with third world countries that serve as large “sucking sounds” of US manufacturing to take advantage of third world wage rates. The economies and wage rates of the Anglosphere countries are more or less equivalent, meaning competition will depend on more than who can pay their shoeless employees even less money.

I’m no isolationist, but isolationism is a better alternative than the course the US has been following for the last 30 years; a race to the bottom for wages and the deindustrialization of the American heartland. An Anglosphere alternative would help provide a better alternative, larger markets among equivalent national economies.  Will it happen?  I wouldn’t bet on it but there is a better alternative than the one we’ve been on for the past few decades.