Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Amtrak decision is still costly, still risky and still appealing


The Mobile City Council postponed (again) the decision on whether to roll the dice on restoring Amtrak service to Mobile. Who can blame them? It's a big decision with big risk, as we saw in this post from December 2019, reposted here just ICYMI.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2019
Amtrak's return to Mobile will be expensive and risky


If left alone to sink or swim on its own financial viability, Amtrak would have gone under long ago and we would never be having a discussion over whether the City of Mobile should commit scarce resources to an Amtrak station here.

Amtrak is not a profitable enterprise. It never really has been, either. At the end of Fiscal Year 2019, the national passenger rail service reported its lowest ever adjusted operating loss of $29.8 million. That followed operating losses of $194.1 million in FY 2017 and $170.6 million in 2018. Under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (the standard that publicly traded companies use in reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission), net losses for 2018 and 2019 would have been $817 million and $875 million. Amtrak has just one route that would be profitable under real-world accounting rules--the Northeast Corridor. This route serves the country's most densely populated region and most closely resembles places like Japan and Germany with dense, high-income population centers.

The national rail service receives about $234 million in subsidies from state and local governments it serves. Without those subsidies, losses would have been well over $1.0 billion. In addition, Amtrak receives $1.3 billion annually in federal allocations, without which Amtrak would have been broken up and sold for scrap years ago. President Trump initially proposed a complete elimination of federal subsidies, then acquiesced and requested $611 million for FY2020, only to have Congress restore the $1.3 billion from prior budgets. Trump is likely to propose cuts in FY2021 and beyond.

Which brings us to the decision faced by the Mobile City Council on New Year's Eve. From John Sharp's excellent reporting at al.com:

City Council members were asked Tuesday to subsidize a local match to a federal grant that passenger rail advocates believe will not cost more than $3 million over three years. ...

“This investment is totally an offset for operational costs,” said Wiley Blankenship, president & CEO of the Coastal Alabama Partnership and chairman of the 21-member Southern Rail Commission that is charged with prompting passenger rail service and pursuing funding opportunities to support its mission. ...

As proposed, the three-year commitment under what rail commissioners call a “worst-case” scenario -- where annual ridership is around 38,000 people who spend an average of $18.33 per trip – would cost city taxpayers $3 million from 2023-2025. Over five years, the subsidy would rise to $7.7 million.

Rail commissioners, however, are proposing what they believe is a more realistic “conservative” estimate of around 86,400 riders per year who spend an average of $30 per trip. Under that proposal, it would cost Mobile around $2 million to subsidize the train’s operations, and about $5.4 million over five years.
Under the "worst case scenario" from Sharp's report, the route would generate gross receipts of about $3.96 million annually, the city's annual subsidy tab would be $1.0 million and Amtrak collects about $5 million total. Under the "conservative" estimate, annual gross receipts would be about $20.45 million, the city ponies up $1.67 million and Amtrak collects $22.1 million.

Amtrak collects all of this revenue. Ticket fare, food, beverage and sundry services all go to Amtrak and none go to the city or the state.

The city will also be on the hook to secure funding for capital improvements that could cost as much as $7.7 million. This will be needed for railway modifications west of the city and a new train station at Brookley, which is destined to become Mobile's consolidated commercial and industrial air traffic center.

Under neither of the two scenarios does the city's obligation fall below $1 million annually for the three-year planning scenario (years 2026 and 2027 do, presumably due to discounting). Keep in mind that both of the scenarios are "what if" imaginations of proponents. It's entirely possible that either scenario plays out or reality plays out somewhere in between. If we're honest about the City of Mobile's history in projecting usage of its grand ideas, even the worst case scenario is a tad on the optimistic side. A hard question with an unpleasant answer: "What is our cost if we get 5,000 riders a year and they only spend $10.00 each?"

Sharp's reporting also touches on the impact to Mobile's bona fide cash cow--The Alabama State Port Authority. The State Docks has said that moving any Amtrak station to Brookley would be preferable to having it located downtown near the Outlaw Convention Center on Water Street. However, it would still represent a significant and costly disruption to rail traffic through the port. We all hate it when rail cars are stacked up along Water Street and cut off access to the waterfront along Mobile River. That gets worse and costlier for both port traffic and tourism if the port's rail operations are disrupted for the twice (at least) daily arrivals and departures of the passenger train.

All of the above is not to say that passenger rail service with stops along the Gulf Coast from Mobile west to New Orleans doesn't have tremendous economic, cultural and historical appeal. This stretch of the Gulf Coast has a magnetic draw on tourists from elsewhere in North America and abroad. The State of Alabama is celebrating its bicentennial this year. The communities along this rail route have already celebrated their tricentennials. The culture of this region is unlike anything found elsewhere on the continent. A visit that encompasses the 150-ish miles between the cuisine of Louisiana and the pristine beaches of South Alabama with fun and gaming along the Mississippi coast is unique. History, fun, food, charm, hospitality, mild climate... It's a moneymaker. But the infrastructure to support that recreational order of magnitude is... expensive.

The City Council has a big decision to make on New Year's Eve. The cost of putting Mobile at the eastern edge of the proposed rail route is much more than just the $3 to $5 million dangled by the Coastal Alabama Partnership and the Southern Rail Commission. Ridership is probably going to be lower than projected (at first) and fares are probably going to be higher than the $25-ish estimate. Capital costs for railway improvements and station construction will go up because they always do. The disruption of business at the port will cost millions and probably a lot of jobs. Plus, Amtrak's finances are an unmitigated disaster and President Trump could scrap the whole system before 2023 even rolls around. There should be no misunderstanding that going forward will be costly and risky.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

ALDOT and bridge proponents are still NOT LISTENING


The problem with the Mobile River Bridge & Bayway Project is NOT the toll. The problem is much deeper and more complex than that. At any toll rate, even zero, the MRB&B Project represents a bad investment for Mobile & Baldwin Counties, the State of Alabama, the region and the Nation.

In August 2019, the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) voted to remove the Mobile River Bridge & Bayway Project from its Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), effectively blocking federal funding for the project. The impetus for that vote was the product of public opposition to a proposed $3 to $6 one way toll to finance a project with a need that was never clearly established. The Facebook Block the Mobile Bayway Toll Group mobilized public opposition and made it clear to local elected figures that they were having none of this foolishness.

Now comes a news report detailing how ALDOT thinks that a "much cheaper toll" would be ok. These people at ALDOT and local proponents are still not listening.

Weeks before that fateful vote, this blog argued that the toll was never the real problem. The real problem was in the planning, engineering and design of a Taj Mahal bridge and bayway system that's not necessary and would never be economically feasible.
This project's problem isn't the toll. This project's problem is a failure to meet a basic NEPA requirement to evaluate a full range of alternatives. It won't be the tolling pain that kills the project. It will be the NEPA failure.

By now, it should be clear that nowhere in the public process of preparing the necessary NEPA documents is it stated that this project's economic benefits are equal to or greater than its costs.

The Benefit-Cost Ratio is a mathematical expression of a project's worth to taxpayers. A BCR greater than 1-to-1 means that the project will improve our economic well being. A BCR less than 1-to-1 means that the project will harm our economic well being. A toll would only make our state's agony worse.

Until this project's BCR is proven to be greater than 1.0, the statement "the cost of doing nothing is too high" is patently false.
In layman's terms, ALDOT designed and engineered a bridge and bayway system that would have been overbuilt. They failed to acknowledge that there is a level of storm surge damage risk that we are willing to accept. That level of risk is far higher than what ALDOT was asking us to pay for.

From an economics perspective, the project will suck more money from our local and regional economy than it ever could hope to pay for in more businesses, jobs and tax revenue.

ALDOT deliberately withheld information about the project during the public review period.

ALDOT also inadvertently disclosed what would have been the recommended plan had they accepted the fact that they were proposing an unnecessary behemoth of a project. They withheld information they knew we needed and accidentally disclosed information that showed their lack of candor.

Here is my full review of the Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

Here is an Economic Impact Fact Sheet showing that even with a reduced toll, the project is still a proposal for economic disaster.

The project will not go forward under the NEPA document ALDOT attempted to foist off on the public. Try it, and we'll see it aired out in federal court.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Colin Cowherd sets out to prove that even broken clocks are right sooner or later


The sun will rise tomorrow. February is coming soon. After winter's chill is over, spring will thaw and summer will warm again. Nick Saban's time will come to an end, some other program will enjoy a fleeting period of success and Colin Cowherd thinks that time is now.

Cowherd, Paul Finebaum and Jim Rome are sports media personalities that don't get ratings and don't make money unless they say stuff knowing that they may have to take it back and apologize for saying it later. It's just what they do. Car dealers sell cars, thieves steal things and pot stirrer-uppers stir up the pot.  But pot stirrer-uppers have an out when they make bold predictions like "the end of an era is upon us." Even the most outrageous doomsayer will be right sooner or later. This is much like the proverbial broken clock. It's always right twice a day.

Nick Saban is a mortal human and his time at Alabama is limited. It is unlikely that any near term replacement will duplicate (or even exceed) his success. But anybody who watched all of the Tide's 13 games in the 2019 season saw a program that was about a cat hair's distance from being another link in the dynastic chain. The team was loaded with talent among the first-teamers but just didn't have the depth and experience of the 2015-2018 teams. Those teams made four appearances in the CFP Championship game and won two while beating would-be aspirants Clemson and Georgia twice each. Injuries and eventual graduation to the NFL are part of the game of Big Boy College Football. That both bugs bit in the same season doesn't mean that an empire is crumbling. Not... yet.

Anyway, here's the pot stirrer-upper, practicing his craft.



Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Dylan Moses to return to Alabama


He's coming back, y'all.

Dylan Moses was the missing part in a good-but-not-great 2019 Alabama defense. After the devastating knee injury suffered in August, the team lacked a squad leader. Fans watching Alabama football this season could sense that something was missing:
Moses brings a steadying presence to the quarterback spot of a complex Alabama defense. He was the veteran voice obviously missing from a defense that regressed through attrition. This program overcame incredibly bad linebacker injury luck in 2017 but just didn’t have the depth when disaster struck in August.

Opponents picked on the inexperienced middle linebackers with schemes designed to attack them. Moses was always around the program but couldn’t have the impact he’ll have next fall counseling them from the field instead of the film room.

“I think a lot of the times,” Golding said Sunday of the freshman linebackers, “they are looking for confirmation and the guy beside him doesn’t really know either. And I think that’s been the big difference.”
Coach Nick Saban is delighted, of course:
“He can create value by coming back, and we certainly have to, as an institution and an organization, make him feel comfortable relative to how we insure him and what he can do so that hopefully he’s not going to have these kinds of problems and he’ll be able to improve his draft status.

“I think the big thing with Dylan was he wanted to be a part of the team. He wanted to be a leader of the team, he wanted to come back and play well for Alabama and that was probably the deciding factor for him. Obviously, he’s a great player, he’s a good person and a good leader, and he can make a significant impact on making us better next year.”
Some people who fancy themselves gurus of the draft were a little perturbed:
Oh, well. Roll Tide!

In WaPo Op-Ed, Doug Jones parrots Chuck Schumer


Providing proof beyond reasonable doubt that Doug Jones is a Chuck Schumer puppet, the doomed Democrat junior Senator from Alabama pleads with his colleagues in the upper chamber to "pursue the truth over all else."

This is insulting.

If there were any honest truth-seekers left in the Democrat Party, this impeachment circus would have folded its tents and left town before Halloween. Honest truth-seekers would have read the transcript of the phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and said, "nothing to see here." Instead, Democrats and their media mouthpieces manufactured a no-no out of whole cloth and blatantly lied through their teeth about what the two heads of state said to each other.

They conducted closed-door hearings, hand-selected their own witnesses, conspired with a "whistleblower" to fabricate a second- and third-hand story, refused to allow Republicans to subpoena witnesses, leaked testimony and paraded a bunch of Deep State bureaucrats before the public who just didn't like how President Trump was exercising his Article II, Section 2 powers.

Democrats rushed the impeachment process. They issued subpoenas to everyone listed in Schumer-Jones Op-Ed. When the people summoned declined to testify, the Democrats failed to seek court orders to compel testimony. Why? Because they didn't have time to wait for a drawn-out court battle. No, in the age of the internet, 24-hour news cycles and the microwave Starbucks, the old fashioned way just would not due. So after a scant 84 days, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rammed two Articles of Impeachment through the House on a party-line vote.

That Chuck Schumer would cry about an impending Senate trial that lacks truth is insulting. This is a purely partisan attempt to fulfill a fantasy Democrats have held since November 2016. There hasn't been one iota of truth in this since Eric Ciaramella filed his complaint.

What Democrats demand is not the Senate's cross to bear. This is the political equivalent of empowering a courtroom jury to call witnesses and develop its own evidence. That was the House's job. They failed so miserably that neither of the two Articles of Impeachment even allege that the President has committed a crime. Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican majority are having none of this nonsense. A trial will be conducted and votes will be held based on the evidence developed by the House.

And that will be that.

Doug Jones is doomed. Unless Republicans crap the bed and nominate Creepy Uncle Roy to run against him, Jones' tour of the DC cocktail circuit ends January 2021 with the election of Jeff Sessions, Tommy Tuberville or Bradley Byrne. So, Jones will vote to convict-and-remove if the Articles ever come up for a vote in the Senate. He'll do it because Schumer has commanded him to do so. Even if he dares to defy his master and he votes to acquit, there's no chance that it saves his job.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Illinois tax increase will benefit FIVE states that voted for Donald Trump


Liberals are bad at math everywhere, but starting January 1, 2020 the liberals running the state of Illinois will begin learning math the hard way. As an added irony, all five of the states that will benefit most from Pritz's folly are states that voted for President Donald Trump.

The New Year marks the effective date for a slew of new tax increases, passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature during their Spring 2019 money grab. These included a new gas tax, a new tobacco tax and 18 other "ways and means" signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker.

One of the most onerous measures is a trade-in tax, which will be applied to the value of a car with a trade-in value over $10,000.
The trade-in tax is particularly bad tax policy and cannot be justified as anything other than a revenue grab. The money isn’t even targeted to roads.

The state currently collects no sales tax on a car’s trade-in value, which acted as credit toward a new vehicle purchase. The sales tax only applies to the difference between trade-in value and the new vehicle’s purchase price, preventing residents from having to pay sales tax first when a vehicle was purchased new and then a second time when it was traded in. After Jan. 1 that trade-in vehicle will be taxed twice.

Any trade-in value above $10,000 will be subject to the full state and local sales tax burden, which is highest in Chicago at 10.25%. The tax is expected to cost Illinoisans $60 million. The state’s auto dealers are rightly upset about the dampening effect this is likely to have on car sales and have called foul on the double taxation aspect.

If you trade in a car valued at $20,000 before Dec. 30 to purchase a $35,000 vehicle, you will pay $1,311 in sales tax, which was only on the value of the new car above the trade-in value. But that exact same transaction will cost you $2,185 after Jan. 1.
You paid sales taxes when you first bought the vehicle. You pay the state the license and registration fee. You pay sales taxes on the new car and now you have the honor and privilege to pay taxes on the trade, to.

Auto dealerships in  Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri are cackling in delight. There is no stopping a car owner in lovely Mt.Vernon from driving an hour or so to St. Louis or Evanston to trade in their well-maintained Toyota Tundra and buy a new one. Who wouldn't spend a couple of hours to save a few grand? Now think of car owners in Chicago, who have options in South Bend, Gary, Racine and Kenosha.

Automobiles are your property. Once it's paid for, you can sell your property in any state in the union (or overseas, if you want). What you do with that money is your own business. You can put it down on a newer model. You can bank it for something else and sign a zero-down lease.

Automobile sales will be very hard hit in Illinois while sales in her sister states will benefit from a yuuge uptick in volume. You can't have used car sales without used car supply and St. Louis and South Bend is about to be swimming in a sea of inventory, all compliments of Pritz and his ill-schooled liberal friends in Springfield.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Tua Tagovailoa Teases a Return


Will he return for a senior season, or jump to the NFL? The possibility of Bama's most prolific quarterback's return was a topic of some discussion earlier this month.

From his interview with TideSports.com's Cecil Hurt:
“Whatever God puts in my heart and my parents’ hearts, that will be the right thing.”

Tagovailoa, who suffered a hip dislocation in Alabama’s Nov. 16 game at Mississippi State and had hip surgery two days later in Houston, is finishing the semester at Alabama and will take final exams next week.

As far as his decision, Tagovailoa said he was looking “at both sides of the spectrum.”

“There is a risk and a reward if I stay and a risk and a reward if I go,” Tagovailoa said.
Tua was later seen at post-season workouts either on a scooter, cart or crutches (practices are allowed by NCAA rules for teams eligible for bowl games), and speculation on message boards, talk radio and social media ran rampant. The man has always been the consummate team player and told people that he was there to show solidarity with his teammates.

Board chatter made mention of the fact that he truly enjoys collegiate life and really likes being on campus with his younger brother, 2019 freshman Taulia.

Then yesterday during the College Football Playoff semi-finals in Atlanta and Tempe, Tua dropped this cryptic message on his Instagram feed:


I think he wants to come back, but his decision might hinge on how other players decide between now and January 20, the drop dead day for commitment to forgo collegiate eligibility. If a whole bunch of top-drawer players decide to bug out and register for the NFL draft, it could push him deep into the 1st round; possibly early 2nd (No way he gets drafted late 2nd).  That scenario makes a return to Tuscaloosa more likely. 

What makes a return even more likely? The fact that even an athlete of his prowess will not be able to participate fully in the NFL Combine or late winter/early spring private workouts. Rehabbing a dislocated hip and pelvic fracture is a months-long, grueling affair. Even if he does return for the 2020 season we won't see much of him in the spring drills or A-Day game.

Coach Nick Saban and his staff have an excellent track record of advising players about the decision to go pro or come back for their senior year. The severity of the injury and the progress of the recovery will complicate things a bit, but it's not like Tua is rolling loaded dice. He'll receive wise counsel.

My hunch is that he plays for Alabama again in 2020 just because of the uncertainty associated with the progress of the rehab.


Cover Photo via Sports Illustrated 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Homelessness ticks up in the U.S., despite unprecedented prosperity


You would think that with record low unemployment, record numbers of people in the workforce, record employment totals and income growth among the lowest income earners that we'd see a corresponding decline in the numbers of homeless Americans.

And you'd be right if it weren't for a certain part of our country that's quite literally playing with fire. History's convincing lesson is that socialism and its requisite authoritarian control of economic activity distorts market processes, pollutes natural market incentives and quietly deceives people into doing things that harm their own interests. Guess where that's happening, and guess what that means:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is reporting its third consecutive uptick in its homelessness projection for the country, based on a summary of its annual report obtained by The Associated Press.

President Donald Trump has been highly critical of the homeless problem in California, and HUD said the increase seen in its January snapshot was caused "entirely" by a 16.4% increase in California's homeless population.

"As we look across our nation, we see great progress, but we're also seeing a continued increase in street homelessness along our West Coast where the cost of housing is extremely high," HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. "In fact, homelessness in California is at a crisis level and needs to be addressed by local and state leaders with crisis-like urgency."
A deeper dive into the data shows that California and her left coast sister states Oregon and Washington are collectively making the whole country look as if it's descending into a death spiral of abject human misery. But if you take those states out of the mix, the homelessness situation in this country is improving.

There is a strong correlation between tax & regulatory burden and homelessness statistics. Another can be found between those burdens and other indicators of social decay, such as drug abuse and violent crime. The same report linked above shows that Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Dakota are the best five states in terms of homeless persons per 10,000 in population. Furthermore, if you remove the metropolitan areas of New Orleans, LA; Birmingham, AL and Jackson, MS the numbers for those states are even more impressive. The states with the lowest income and property taxes have the lowest rates of homelessness, and they'd be even better off if it weren't for the largest metro areas in their states. Those metro areas are (of course) governed by people of the same ideological persuasion as the states with the worst homelessness problems.

When your governing philosophy consists of heavily progressive taxation, oppressive regulatory burdens and strictly limited personal liberty, the hardest hit are always on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder because they are the least capable of adapting or leaving. These governing principles are also highly correlated with income inequality. The more meddlesome and oppressive the regime, the greater the difference between the haves and the have-nots. When you tighten restrictions, only those who can't escape them are restricted. The homelessness problem will thus always get worse, never better.

Dr. Carson is absolutely right that the problems out west need to be addressed "with crisis-like urgency." But I don't think the leaders at the state and local levels there are capable of even comprehending what they need to do. Rolling back decades of regulations would be a good start but decreasing the role of government is not a tool in their kit. It's going to take someone else.

President Trump is also right to be concerned about the west coast. Those three states are responsible for about 19% of total U.S. economic output. A significant downturn in those states' economies could have profound impacts on U.S. productivity and global economic progress in the years ahead. This is the reason for my "playing with fire" comment in the second paragraph of this post. America is poised to lead the world again in another peacetime expansion of global free trade, economic freedom and individual prosperity. Having children in California, Oregon and Washington playing with the deadly authoritarian conflagration of socialism is not going to help that happen.

Millions are already leaving California each year. The population growth rate has reached its lowest rate since 1900. Emigration from the state looks eerily like the diasporas from pre-Soviet revolutionary Russia, pre-Mao China, pre-Castro Cuba, pre-Chavez Venezuela... The most striking similarity is that the people leaving are the hated bourgeoisie class so-despised by Marxist ideologues. They are the people with the means, education and desire to prosper. Those they leave behind are the ones who will suffer.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Scarborough: Obama's FBI had spies inside the Trump campaign


This is not a "debunked conspiracy theory." It is not "Russian misinformation." It is not a bunch of lies propagated by the White House to save Donald Trump from impeachment. It is not the manufactured Fake News based on information obtained by a "source close to the matter."(*)

No, this is the conclusion reached by Inspector General Michael Horowitz and it is reported by Rowan Scarborough, investigative reporter for the Washington Times.
The report discloses that the FBI dispatched against Trump allies multiple unnamed FBI informants known as confidential human sources (CHS). The most publicized was Stefan Halper, a longtime Washington national security figure and Cambridge University professor. He ingratiated himself to George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, while also attempting to engage with a senior Trump campaign official in New York.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s Dec. 9 report says that rather than hearing incriminating statements, Mr. Halper (whom he did not identify) recorded conversations that could be seen as exculpatory.

Mr. Horowitz rapped the FBI for not including them in four sworn affidavits agents presented to federal judges to authorize Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) electronic and physical spying on Mr. Page. ...

Mr. Horowitz listed that FBI decision as one of 17 glaring omissions or inaccuracies that misled the FISA judges who signed four surveillance warrants on Mr. Page.

“None of these inaccuracies and omissions were brought to the attention of OI before the last FISA application was filed in June 2017,” the IG said. “Consequently, these failures were repeated in all three renewal applications.”
Our once-honest news media is very busy trying to convince you that Horowitz didn't find evidence of political bias in the launch or continuation of Crossfire Hurricane, the clandestine investigation of the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. Despite the fact that Horowitz noted at least 17 errors or glowing omissions of evidence during the investigation, the media would have you believe that all 17 incidents of oopsie went in favor of the FBI and went against a finding of innocence is... well... just bad luck.

A coin flip coming up tails twice is bad luck. A coin flip going against you 17 straight times has odds of 131,072 to 1.

Paul Sperry at RealClearPolitics.com notes that Horowitz has a well-developed pattern of pulling knockout punches. He's a good bureaucrat and just does what bureaucrats do. But even a history like that can't explain what has happened here.

On October 1, 2019, this blog told you that the current push to impeach the President of the United States is intended to deflect attention away from the Horowitz report. That blog post came more than two months before the Horowitz report was even published on December 9, 2019. I wrote about it again here, and then again right here.

Scarborough's report also confirms what we already knew about where the Horowitz findings are going.
Attorney General William Barr says the FBI started the investigation on flimsy grounds. He has tapped John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to conduct an inquiry into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane.... Mr. Durham has been looking into Mr. Mifsud and, according to a defense attorney court filing in a criminal case, his office took possession of two cellphones used by the Maltese professor.

Mr. Mifsud is a shadowy figure mentioned throughout the Mueller report. Papadopoulos writes that he believes Mifsud is/was a western intelligence operative; CIA, DIA or FBI CounterIntel. Whoever he is, court records show that Durham has physical evidence on his involvement and was willing to go to Europe to get it.

This blog is not exactly a lone voice in the wilderness, either. For the last two years, Sharyl Atkisson, Sarah Carter, Greg Jarrett, John Solomon and Paul Sperry have all been reporting on the spying that went on in 2016. But since those are conservatives, their work has never been taken seriously.

Read this though, from someone with a very different perspective on President Trump:
Imagine if a similar situation had taken place in January of 2009, involving president-elect Barack Obama. Picture a meeting between Obama and the heads of the CIA, NSA, and FBI, along with the DIA, in which the newly-elected president is presented with a report complied by, say, Judicial Watch, accusing him of links to al-Qaeda. Imagine further that they tell Obama they are presenting him with this information to make him aware of a blackmail threat, and to reassure him they won’t give news agencies a “hook” to publish the news.

Now imagine if that news came out on Fox days later. Imagine further that within a year, one of the four officials became a paid Fox contributor. Democrats would lose their minds in this set of circumstances.

The country mostly did not lose its mind, however, because the episode did not involve a traditionally presidential figure like Obama, nor was it understood to have been directed at the institution of “the White House” in the abstract.

Instead, it was a story about an infamously corrupt individual, Donald Trump, a pussy-grabbing scammer who bragged about using bankruptcy to escape debt and publicly praised Vladimir Putin. Audiences believed the allegations against this person and saw the intelligence/counterintelligence community as acting patriotically, doing their best to keep us informed about a still-breaking investigation of a rogue president.
That's from Matt Taibbi, a senior editor at left wing icon Rolling Stone, writing at his independent site on Substack.com. His is one of the honest liberal voices that people should be listening to instead of parroting the formerly honest mainstream news media. Taibbi et al are very smart people and they are not conservatives.

There were FBI spies inside the Trump campaign. They lied to federal judges to gain access to Trump campaign officials. They repeated those lies in sworn statements even after they knew the truth. They manufactured and altered evidence. And their actions were sanctioned at the highest levels of the Department of Justice.

Anyone who believes Barack Obama didn't know what was happening is a fool.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Doug Jones refuses to commit to acquit; trails most GOP opponents


No Alabama voter in their right mind thinks that a vote to acquit President Trump will let Doug Jones sneak in and be reelected as the junior U.S. Senator from Alabama. No... his vote against Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 has almost certainly sealed that fate. But here he is trying to play the uncommitted juror in an appearance on ABC News this morning. Axios won't let me embed the video but you can click through if you want, and you tell me if that's the face of an honest man.

So... given that the man is fundamentally dishonest and slipperier that a Goat Hill piglet, how can his 2020 electoral fate be almost certainly sealed? Well, we have some recent polling of the 2020 Alabama Senate seat race and Jones trails almost all of his GOP opponents.

Tommy Tuberville beats him 47/40. Sessions wins 46/41, my guy Bradley Byrne beats him 44/40.  Who does he almost certainly not beat?
Jones did beat former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in a head-to-head match-up, leading him 47% to 33%, with 20% undecided. He also led Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Indian Springs, 40% to 34%, with 25% undecided. The incumbent senator also consistently led his opponent among voters under the age of 35; African-American voters, and non-evangelical voters.
There really are only two people who could lose to Doug Jones in November: Me, and Roy Moore. Though Mooney trails Moore in the Advertiser poll, that's simply a function of name recognition. Mooney is a solid conservative with very little (known) baggage.

I'm not running--I missed the primary ballot deadline because my wife grabbed my ankle and wouldn't let me make it to the courthouse.

That leaves Creepy Uncle Roy Moore.

The sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh failed to derail his SCOTUS nomination because they were provably false. The sexual misconduct allegations against Creepy Uncle Roy were credibly true. If things had ever come to a trial, the well of other victims with other lurid and disgusting stories would have never run dry. Let's just say that the women who came forward were the brave ones.

A vote for Creepy Uncle Roy in the March primary is the same as a vote for Doug Jones in the general election. Please don't.

Alabama voters have already made it clear that they'd rather have a dishonest Democrat than a creepy dude who was twice removed from office by members of his profession elected from his own party. If Republican lawyers and judges can't stand the man, Republican voters shouldn't either.