What the Hell is Going On In the Middle East?

Don’t you wish we still had a functioning news apparatus in this country?  The Middle East is blowing geopolitical gaskets left and right, and our news media spends every waking moment hyperventilating over Hillary’s abuse of Bernie a year and a half ago.  That and the non-stop bashing and belittling of our president.

Last week Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, arrested most of the senior leaders of his nation, including 11 princes, ostensibly on corruption charges.  A few hours later rival Prince Mansour bin Muqrin’s helicopter went down near the Yemeni border with seven other officials on board and no explanation.

Then Lebanon’s prime minister resigned after the Saudi crown prince claimed that he routinely dispatches Hezbollah attacks against Saudi Arabia. And Bin Salman again loudly blamed his ongoing conflict with Yemen on Iranian subterfuge, further angering his nearly-nuclear neighbor.

Meanwhile, the Saudi treasury is quickly bleeding out due to tumbling oil prices in the wake of a world-wide drilling frenzy.  The crown prince’s answer is to plant a glitzy mega-city called “Neom” in the desert, in hopes that if properly fertilized it will grow money.

While the mainstream media has totally whiffed trying to prove Trump-Russia campaign collusion, they also failed to notice that under Trump’s watch ISIL has thrown in the towel after getting thumped by American-led Iraqis and purged from Syria by Russian-led troops.  Now there’s some real collusion for ya.

Wait, there’s more.  It seems Qatar just signed a defense agreement with Russia.  I wonder, does that give them access to our huge military base at DoHa?

These are exciting times in the desert, all right.  But if you are one of the vast majority of Americans who gets your news from Joe and Mika, or the Comedy Channel, or Sean Hannity for that matter, you didn’t hear about any of this last week.  They can’t waste their important air time on such trivia, because you need to know who paid for the fake story about prostitutes peeing on Obama’s bed in Russia years ago.

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

The King called up his jet fighters
He said you better earn your pay
Drop your bombs between the Minarets
Down the Casbah way

I usually share live performance videos, but this classic sendup by the Clash is just too much fun!

More World News We Didn’t Get

We get plenty of news – in fact it seems like we have news in our faces almost all the time.  Unfortunately, some of it is fake news.  Much of it is opinion that we have come to accept as news.  A lot of it is totally unimportant political drama that gets hyped until it appears to be news.   If you flip between cable news networks you will see the same one or two stories bleated and repeated hour after hour, often day after day.

Meanwhile the world keeps turning and you just know that there is something important happening somewhere – the news we didn’t get.

So every once in a while I hit the web and scratch up some current news items from far-flung places that our pathetic news media failed to report to us.  Here’s what I found today:

South Africa in Chaos after President Fires Financial Minister – President Jacob Zuma replaced highly-regarded finance minister Pravin Gordhan with an inexperienced African National Congress loyalist last week in the face of growing tension over South Africa’s deteriorating economic conditions.  Gordhan has criticized the ANC-controlled government for “corruption and mismanagement.”  Rival political parties are gaining momentum in their quest to upend the ANC’s dominance of South African politics.

Pakistani and Indian Armies Exchange Mortar, Small Arms Fire On “Line Of Control” in Kashmir – India claims the Pakistani army broke the cease-fire on the LoC yesterday, firing mortars and automatic weapons at Indian soldiers, who returned fire.  The conflict over the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir goes back to 1947 when India was originally partitioned, and scuffles over the artificial border separating the claimed areas have gone on ever since.  Most Americans have no idea that these two nations with large armies and nuclear weapons routinely engage in battle, with no end in sight.

Brazilian Presidency Hangs By A Thread – Michel Temer awaits a court hearing that could oust him from Brazil’s presidency over claims of illegal campaign funding by his predecessor and running mate, Dilma Roussef.  Roussef was impeached for corruption in 2014.  Brazil’s economy had cratered during the leftist Roussef’s term, but was healing rapidly since vice-president Temer took over last year after a period of indecision and legal wrangling.  The court must now decide whether Roussef’s actions invalidate her election and thus that of Temer as her running mate.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

How was I to know
About the warm soulful secret
You been keepin’ for years
I got the news

I Got the News – Steely Dan

 

What The Hell Is ‘Mad Dog” Up To?

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

With all eyes on the middle of the swamp, riveted on the battle over the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, a little drama has been percolating, unwatched, over in the far corner under the cypress trees.

Not long ago, General James Mattis rode President Trump’s full-throated endorsement to the lofty post of Secretary of Defense, past eminently qualified candidates like Sen. Jeff Sessions, Rep. Mike Rogers, and veteran security advisor Stephen Hadley.  The men overlooked for the job had several things in common – all are Republicans, are loyal Trump supporters, and are broadly respected in conservative circles.

Mattis had a few things going for him, too.  People called him “Mad Dog”.  He once said, “it’s fun to shoot some people.”  He also once said he is opposed to the Iran nuclear giveaway.  Did I say his name is Mad Dog?

President Trump was so impressed with old Mad Dog he slam-dunked him right into one of his most critical cabinet posts.  Congress didn’t hesitate to give Mattis a waiver allowing the recently-retired general to bypass the required 10-year waiting period between active military service and SecDef.  Why, Leon Panetta himself personally campaigned for Mattis.  What’s not to like?

Wait a minute, Leon Panetta?  The guy who viscerally hates Donald Trump?  The far-left, Obama insider, Democrat apparatchik who was one of the biggest moving parts of the Clinton Machine?  That Leon Panetta?

It gets weirder.  Old Mad Dog’s first big recruit was Anne Patterson for undersecretary of defense for policy.  Patterson gained notoriety as a honcho on Hillary Clinton’s team for her support of the Muslim Brotherhood regime that failed so spectacularly in Egypt.

General Mattis also flirted with Democrat Michele Flournoy, founder of the far-left Center for New American Security and former Obama undersecretary of defense for policy, for a sub-cab post.  Flournoy ultimately turned him down because Mad Dog is not quite leftist enough to suit her taste.

Mattis’ latest pick is Rudy DeLeon for undersecretary of personnel and readiness.  DeLeon is a senior fellow at the Center for America Progress, whose current stated mission is to undermine the Trump presidency.  CAP was created and developed by John Podesta (there’s that name again) and is funded by George Soros.  According to Jordan Schactel in Conservative Review, DeLeon signed on to a letter that calls Trump’s national security order restricting immigration “beneath the dignity of our great nation” and advised government workers to apply “discretion,” in an attempt to essentially undermine the president’s initiative.  DeLeon is a big proponent of Obama’s nuclear giveaway program to Iran.

I can’t see any reason why a person with DeLeon’s pedigree wouldn’t fit perfectly into Trump’s administration, can you?

General Mattis’ appears determined to load up the administration with as many Trump-haters as he can find, as if there aren’t enough enemies left over from the Obama regime already.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Big man, walking in the park
Wigwam, frightened of the dark
Some kind of solitude is measured out in you
You think you know me but you haven’t got a clue
Hey Bulldog!

Hey Bulldog – the Beatles

 

We Can Rebuild the Military AND the Budget

carrier-landing

President Trump’s campaign promise to “Make America Great Again” included his plan to restore our military preparedness to at least pre-Obama levels.  His message resonated with voters, and still meets little resistance from political leaders or from citizens.

Most Americans sense that our armed forces are no longer up to the task of defending our homeland while dealing with international conflicts, and this week’s briefings to Congress by our top military brass didn’t leave us feeling any less hinky.

General Daniel Allen reported that only three of the Army’s fifty combat brigade teams could deploy if needed.  Admiral William Moran said less than half of the Navy’s fighters are in service and our fleet is the smallest it has been in 100 years.  Our Air Force planes average 27 years in age, well past their life expectancy, and we are short 750 pilots and over 1600 maintenance technicians.

Of course every government program wants more money, more money, more money.  Always.  But it appears the military has been cut to the bone, and our leaders made it clear to President Trump that they need funds, now – if we want to continue to have any foreign policy leverage.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is pushing for a huge military budget increase, but he may have to fight that through a conservative Congress and a tough new OMB director, Mick Mulvaney.  Mulvaney agrees with President Trump that national defense is our highest priority.  But he is also a budget hawk, tasked with keeping Congress’ promise to the voters to stop the insanity of our $20 trillion debt.

McCain attacked Mulvaney over his alleged “failure to support the military” by blindly supporting every request for “more money” as a congressman, but Mulvaney’s counterpunch embarrassed the crusty McCain, who could not differentiate between the “top line military budget” and the “overseas contingency operation”, a much-abused and unaccountable military slush fund.

McCain wants $100 billion.  The generals are asking for a $40 billion increase.  Trump is thinking more like $30 billion – with the requirement that it not be wasted.

Is President Trump right about the need to refresh our military?  Yes.

Is it time to send John McCain to the glue factory?  Yes.  Thanks for your service, John.  Have fun at Sun City.

Am I glad to have a tight-fisted skinflint like Mulvaney at OMB keeping an eye on our money?  Hell yeah!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideHell yeah!
Turn it up!
Right on!
Hell yeah!

Hell Yeah! – Montgomery Gentry

 

 

Think Our News Media is Bad? You Should See the UK!

sky-news-trumpI just spent a week in the UK and was anxious to observe the political mood of the Brits.  I expected their focus to be on Brexit, their new prime minister Theresa May, the impact of immigration in the UK, the pound vs. the euro – you know, British stuff.

After a long red-eye flight, and suffering a butt-dragging case of jet lag that first evening, my son and I had an early dinner and retired to our hotel room.  We soon learned that British television is abysmal – mostly old American reruns and effete comedy that’s just not funny.  But that’s okay, we are both news junkies, so I switched to BBC News.

To my surprise, every minute of programming on the Beeb was a non-stop assault on Donald Trump.  There was no balance, no “other side”, no pretense of fairness or even any attempt at honesty.  And no non-Trump news at all.

So I switched to the other news network, SkyNews.  It was worse!  Nothing but unbridled, hair-on-fire, heads-exploding, cobra venom spit in the eyes of Donald Trump and all the Americans who chose him to be their president.  MSNBC is Mister Rogers compared to British television news. And nothing changed for the entire week of our visit.  Both networks ran anti-Trump propaganda full-time, 24/7.   Only passing mention was given to the fact that Parliament was engaged in a pretty significant discussion about whether they would honor the people’s vote for Brexit.  The newspapers (which are free and stacked up on street corners every evening) were also fixated on all things American, with only a smattering of local news.

We were given a warm welcome in the pubs and at the football (soccer) games.  Like us, British guys love beer, football, and politics and are ready to discuss all of the above, especially with a couple of Yanks.  They were very curious about the Trump phenomenon, and were surprisingly up-to-speed on American politics.  But then, why wouldn’t they be?  That’s all they get on their news networks.

I was surprised to find that most of the Brits we met were on the conservative side, despite their hard-left news media.  They understand our “drain the swamp” revolution and see parallels with their own Brexit experience.  But some can’t get past our new president’s persona.

“I agree with everything that Trump is doing,” said one new friend over a couple of pints.  “But I can’t support him because he hates women.”  When I pressed him about what that meant, he said he just can’t tolerate a president who goes around grabbing women by the pussy.   Groan.

Another conservative limey said he agrees with American conservatives right down the line, with one big exception.  “Why do you all think you need guns?  Your crime rate is terrible.”  I had to explain that’s why we need guns.

Like American lefties, British liberals love to protest.  They even feel compelled to protest about an election that took place 3,500 miles across the pond.  There are subtle differences, though.  Left-wing British protesters don’t break windows and start fires, and left-wing American protesters don’t give a rat’s patootie about who is elected on the other side of the planet.

I left my British friends with this advice:  don’t believe what you see and hear on the television!  I guess the same advice would serve us Americans well, too.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

We don’t believe what’s on TV
Because it’s what we want to see
And what we want we know we can’t believe
We have all learned to kill our dreams

We Don’t Believe What’s On TV – Twenty One Pilots

 

This fun young duo is filling venues all over on their US tour and were nominated for three Grammy awards.  Check ’em out!

Trump’s First Thirty Minutes in Office

trump-phone

 

[operator]:  Good morning, Mr. President.  I hope you will enjoy your first day in the Oval Office.

[Trump]: Thanks, Rosie.  But just remember, one screw-up and You’re Fired!  You’ll be back cleaning bathrooms at ‘The View’ with those other ugly broads in a New York minute!

[operator]:  Of course, sir.  I have made your first call – President Putin is on the line.

[Trump]:  Hello, Vlad.  Hey, I just wanted to let you know, no hard feelings about hacking the DNC.  I don’t blame you, it’s a hell of a lot of fun tweaking that bunch of whiney snowflakes, isn’t it?  I would have done it myself, but I can barely do Twitter.  Anyway, what do you say we get together next week and make a plan to take out those ISIS bastards once and for all?  Should be fun!  Later, comrade.

[operator]:  Mr. President, President Kim Jong-un of North Korea is ready to speak with you.

[Trump]:  Is that you, King Kong?  I have a message for you on my first day in office, you fat little f***, so listen up.  If you test one more nuclear device, if you launch one more missile – if you so much as pee one drip outside your hole in the floor, my boys will turn your God-forsaken armpit of a country into a flamed-out marshmallow on a stick.  You got that, Ping Pong?  Fagettaboutit!

[operator]: President Trump, the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto has been holding for you.

[Trump]:  Hello?  Hello?  Now, Enrique, please stop crying.  It’s . . . there, there, Enrique, it’s . . . now please . . . Look, I know it was Vicente Fox that said he wouldn’t pay for my f***ing wall, not you.  Enrique?  You need to get yourself together amigo, call me back when you can talk.  Okay, Adios.

[operator]: Mr. President, I have reached Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada.

[Trump]:  Well hello, there, neighbor!  I called to invite you to join me later this week, eh?  We need to work on our plan to make North America the energy powerhouse of the world.  I am so ready to get everybody back to work and our economy flying, eh?  Our low energy cost will attract the best manufacturers from all over the world.  What a one-two punch, eh?  Heck, if Mexico cleans up their act, maybe Enrique will want to join the party, too.  He’s got a lot of good workers down there, eh?  All right, my friend, let’s start Monday.  Oh, and by the way – let’s talk about that “Liberal Party” of yours, eh?  Okay, bye.

[operator]:  Mr. President, our conference call with the leaders of Germany, France, Great Britain and Japan is ready for you.

[Trump]:  Fellows, thanks for joining me on this call.  Oh, and you too, Frau Merkel, sorry.  I just wanted to let you know that I bought the UN building in New York City this morning.  Yes, and I am evicting all of those whiney little despots so I can turn it into a first-class resort hotel.  Right.  Last I heard they are going to meet up in Kinshasa.  I don’t know, it’s somewhere over there in Africa.  But hey, I thought we could start our own little club, you know?  We could watch each other’s backs and get some of these messes cleaned up, instead of paying for all those other little piss ants to cause trouble all the time.  Then if some of these other countries want to stand up for democracy, and human rights, and free trade and forget about getting rich by global warming hoaxes and identity politics, maybe they can join the club later on.  Right.  I’ll see you guys at Mar Largo next month.

[Trump]: Rosie, hold my calls for a while, I have to straighten out the tax code, fix our immigration problem, and get a new health care system running.  But I should be done in time for my 4:00 pm tee time!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideListen kid, you paid for the call.
You ain’t bad but I’ve heard it all before.
Don’t call us, we’ll call you!
Don’t call us, we’ll call you !

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You – Sugarloaf

 

Jerry Corbetta, founder and leader of the Denver band Sugarloaf, passed away a few months ago.  Sugarloaf had some monster hits in the seventies and they are as crisp today as they were then.  I feel a tiny connection to this band – I played in a band with a guy who played in a band with a guy who played for Sugarloaf.  Probably every musician in the world has played with every other musician in the world, twice removed!  Anyway, enjoy this classic – sorry, no live video of this song.

Russians? Chinese? They Are Just Spies Like Us

spyvsspySadly, the glory days of Spy vs. Spy are gone.  No more encrypted notes taped under park benches.  Forget about secret meetings in parking garages.  Throw away your fountain pen with the camera in the cap.

Was that sultry Russian babe James Bond’s friend or enemy?  How did Maxwell Smart get such good phone reception in his shoe?

Today’s spies aren’t nearly as cool and clandestine as the spooks we grew up with.  You won’t find them sneaking through the fog in trenchcoats with microfilm and hidden cameras, digging up tidbits to sell to the KGB or the CIA.  But there are still plenty of them, and they are gainfully employed by governments all over the world.  They spend their workdays in front of a computer screen, looking for an open port or a compromised password.  They write worms of code that can be planted in a target computer to reveal government secrets from yesterday, today, and into the future.

Democrats and the mainstream media (sorry, redundant) have suffered ‘hair-on-fire syndrome’ this week, blaming Russian hackers for helping Donald Trump defeat their heroine Hillary in the presidential election.   It’s amusing on a number of fronts.  They want to impugn Trump because somebody hacked their DNC servers and emails.  They assume it was the Russians, but they don’t know.  They don’t seem concerned about the ugly Democrat secrets revealed.  They can’t explain why Russian president Putin would prefer Trump to their golden girl.  Wasn’t it Hillary who gave 20% of our strategic uranium supply to Russia?

Vladimir, when asked by a reporter about Russian hacking, said, “It wasn’t us, but thanks for the compliment.”

“There’s nothing there benefiting Russia,” Putin told the Russia Calling conference. “The hysteria is simply to distract the American people from the contents of what the hackers have posted.”

Putin doesn’t deny that his government employs hackers.  He would be foolish to do so, at a time when China, the United States, and many other governments are feverishly at work trying to dig up each others’ secrets.  China, in fact, is setting the bar high for other wanna-be hacker spies.  They nailed the personnel records of 4 million US government workers.   Oops, make that 21.5 million government workers.  They busted into the White House, the US Postal Service, the State Dept., and the NOAA.  They infiltrated the FDIC.  It may be hard to find a government server that hasn’t been hacked by the Chinese.  Several years ago the Chinese Army filled a building with hackers, and has since built a small high-tech city around it, putting a whole lot of their espionage eggs in the computer hacking basket.

And if stealing secrets isn’t bad enough, foreign hackers are developing offensive weapons that could black-out our electrical grid, bring the stock market to a screeching halt, or make our barely-functional air traffic control system totally dysfunctional.  Chances are some or all of these dastardly deeds are already do-able.

As early as 2011 the US government recognized hacking as the next big thing in intelligence and intrigue, ramping up to hire its own army of geeks.  Mum has been the word since then, but it would be naïve, to say the least, to think that we haven’t tried to sneak into Putin’s database.

As to the latest knots in the Democrat underwear about Trump conspiring with big, mean Putin against poor little Hillary (who got her own top-secret server hacked by lord-knows-who) – I say, fagettaboutit.  It’s Spy vs. Spy all over again, and our spies had better be at least as smart as the other guys spies.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Hey don’t feel afraid
Of an undercover raid
There’s no need to fuss
There ain’t nobody that spies like us!

Spies Like Us – Paul McCartney