Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things

A Continuing Thread – Number 2

So I watched this, after the fact, and it was something to behold. At the White House Correspondents’ Press Association annual dinner, comedienne Michelle Wolf rose to deliver the benediction. Actually, they may not have anything like a benediction at these functions, but they traditionally invite somebody in to roast popular people. It’s in the spirit of H.L. Mencken: “My job is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” There is no evidence Mencken ever said such a thing, but it is good reading. Anyhow, Wolf saw her duty Saturday night to afflict the comfortable, and afflict she did, not so much with a prick but with a blackjack. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a particular target:

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful,” Wolf said. “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.

I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” the comedian continued. “Is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women?

Yeah. I’m noted at times for being crude and lewd, but I probably could have finessed this one. Predictably, Wolf caught some flak over this and other bludgeonings of the night, definitely from the Left, but from the Right with a vengeance. I’m going to give the Left a pass on this and direct my attention to comments from the Right. Let’s start with prominent conservative politician Mike Huckabee, a close relative of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. A sample response from Governor Huckabee:

The WHCD was supposed to celebrate the 1st Amendment. Instead they celebrated bullying, vulgarity, and hate. They got all dressed up so they would look nicer when they had a hired gun savagely attack their guests. Do they really wonder why America has no respect for them? Sad!

Yes… This is the kind of thing I long to hear (read). It’s the yodel of the congenitally indignant. It’s the defense of  the indefensible. Missing from Governor Huckabee’s self-righteous lament is a vast amount of perspective. It may be time for a review of what it is that Mrs. Sanders does for a living. From all appearances her daily routine consists of attempting to explain away a flood of massive lies and insults. Let us not allow the sun to set before visiting some of this ripe fruit:

Katie Couric, the third rate reporter, who has been largely forgotten, should be ashamed of herself for the fraudulent editing of her doc.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana. If he doesn’t he should drop out of the race-stop wasting time & money

. was one of the worst performing stocks on the S&P last year, plunging 46%. Very disloyal company. Another win for Trump! Boycott.

I gave a woman named Barbara Res a top N.Y. construction job, when that was unheard of, and now she is nasty. So much for a nice thank you!

I know Mark Cuban well. He backed me big-time but I wasn’t interested in taking all of his calls.He’s not smart enough to run for president!

Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers. Disgruntled, he, McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!

Watched low rated for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show

. is a total low life— read his past tweets. A dummy with no “it” factor. Will fade fast.

The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use….

That’s enough of Twitter. President Trump’s candor in assessing various people out of favor is legendary. From earlier this year:

Self-obsessed billionaire Donald Trump earlier snatched the campaign torch from the Republican Party by scooping up conservative America’s low-hanging fruit. Full disclosure: it’s something I proclaimed over a year ago could not be done. I was wrong! How wrong? Very wrong. Donald Trump is the one candidate who displays an astonishing degree of class:

In the article, I wrote that Trump could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman said the man’s comments were “categorically untrue.”

The story ran below the fold in the business news section with the headline: How a Curious Visitor Beat Trump at the Casino Game.

And now I was holding for Mr. Trump.

There was no hello. But there was yelling, lots of yelling.

The word “shit” was used repeatedly as a noun and adjective.

I had shit for brains.

I worked for a shitty newspaper.

What sort of shit did I write.

Before I could reply, he hung up.

Then he called my editor in Philadelphia, Craig Stock. Now it was Craig’s turn to “Hold for Mr. Trump.”

Craig was treated to the same Trumpian wordplay, but got an added treat. Trump referred to me as “that cunt.”

There is more from that same post:

A cute nickname for a United States senator:

Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.

Characterization of a rival candidate.

Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years!

NFL players who protest.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said at a rally for Republican senator Luther Strange, who is running in a special election next week to remain in the seat vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions.

A writer who writes unkind things about Donald Trump.

The Mercer Family recently dumped the leaker known as Sloppy Steve Bannon. Smart!

Most would envy Mrs. Sanders’ professional obligation to front for such as this. One might wonder whence comes the wherewithal. Here’s a hint:

Huckabee has voiced his support of intelligent design and he has stated that he does not accept the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He was quoted in July 2004 on Arkansans Ask, his regular show on the Arkansas Educational Television Network: “I think that students also should be given exposure to the theories not only of evolution but to the basis of those who believe in creationism.”

In April 2011, Huckabee said, “I almost wish that there would be a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, at gunpoint, to listen to every David Barton message,” in praise of the Christian revisionist historian David Barton.

Within hours of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Huckabee made headlines in the U.S. and abroad for stating on Fox News: “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” and further asked, “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

In September 2014, Huckabee said, “Fire the ones who refuse to hear not only our hearts, but God’s heart” (for which he was criticized by Richard Dawkins).

Support for Intelligent Design? Disdain for modern theories of modern biology? Praise for David Barton? Defiance of the rule of law? Add to that a deliberate distortion of American history:

The story starts in a class room where the teacher has the kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, with the “under God” wording. One kid refuses because of the under God language, and later the teacher is threatened with dismissal for this breach of school protocol.

OK, right there I hit a snag. I’ve been around the sun a few times, and I recall the time before the “under God” language was added, and I as yet unaware of any public school that disallows the “under God” language. Actually, a few years back Michael Newdow sued his daughter’s school, the United States Congress, et al, over the use of the “under God” language. The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed Newdow’s suit, since he was not the custodial guardian of his daughter and really had no legal standing in the matter. More recently, a family in Massachusetts has sued over the pledge as a violation of that state’s own equal protection clause in its constitution. So far as I know, all attempts to prohibit the “under God” language have been thwarted. So, where did the producers of One Nation get this scenario. We may have to ask learned historian Mike Huckabee.

Yes, it would appear the fruit does not fall far from from the tree, and for the Huckabees the truth is a sometime thing. Setting the crude and lewd aside for a moment, on Saturday night it was obvious to all the slings and arrows were well directed. That Mrs. Sanders has not resigned her unenviable position speaks for itself. In case I have not made my point, here it is. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a lying sack of shit, a trait that seems to run in the family.

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Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 32 in a series

People ask me, “How come you don’t do one of these every day?” Actually, nobody asks. But if they did ask I would have to concede I am at the point where I’m running low on energy. But for an ambitious landscaping project, I might have posted this Friday while it was still hot. Which reminds me, I need to be sure to get Barbara Jean a birthday present.

Anyhow, the following image, a screen shot from MSNBC streaming on YouTube, shows some people desperately in need of assistance.

These are the hosts (Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade) of Fox and Friends on (where else) the Fox network, and if they appear distressed to you, then you are imagining things. That’s because I watched this episode, and I can tell you that at this point in a thirty-minute sequence these people were desperate to not appear distressed, but they were squirming, and they were trying mightily to get a caller off the phone. They were also trying mightily to conceal that fact. The reason for their discomfort is the caller was their supreme, exalted patron, the President of the United States, who had just spent the major part of half an hour demonstrating why I call him the Schlemiel-in-Chief.

If you just returned from a trek through the desert on a horse with no name, then I need to inform you what the rest of the nation already knows. The Fox network show Fox and Friends comes on at 6 a.m. Eastern Time, and sometimes the President of the United States phones in, and the hosts are always glad to have him, they being his chief cheer leading squad. Last Thursday that joy appeared to last all of ten minutes. Some explanation as to why:

TRUMP: People have to understand how dishonest the news is. And in all fairness to Fox, you guys don’t always treat me great. But you treat me fairly. It’s not like Fox is perfect for me. They’re not! They’re tough. But at least it’s fair. When you look at some of the others, you look at like a CNN, they’ll have a council of seven people [audibly becoming enraged] and of the seven people, every one of them is against me! I’m saying, where do they even find these people?

BRIAN KILMEADE: I’m not your doctor, Mr. President, but I would recommend you watch less of them.

TRUMP: I don’t watch them at all! I watched last night, I tell you what. I watched leaking lying Comey last night [Steve Doocy guffaws sycophantically] and I did, I hated to do it, you know, one of the reasons, people say, “You’re still looking good, Mr. President—how do you do it?” [Ed.: No one says this, I hope]

DOOCY: All right—

There is more from Fortune:

Trump criticized the Obama administration and former Secretary of State John Kerry for not handling tensions with North Korea sooner.

“This should have been settled long before I came into office,” he said, calling Kerry “the worst negotiator” he’s ever seen.

The president said he did watch the interview with former FBI director James Comey on CNN Wednesday night.

“His performance, by the way, was horrible,” Trump said. He blasted Comey as a criminal, calling him a “leaker and a liar.”

“He is guilty of crimes,” the president said. “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him.”

On Michael Cohen pleading the fifth

“This doesn’t have to do with me, Michael is a businessman,” the president said. “I have nothing to do with his business.”

He emphasized the small role Cohen played in his own legal affairs.

“Just so you understand, I have many attorneys. So many attorneys you wouldn’t even believe it,” Trump said. “He represented me on this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, and from what I can see he did absolutely nothing wrong.”

The president hit his favorite highlights in the interview with Fox and Friends, criticizing CNN and NBC, among others, as “fake news,” and bragging about his electoral college win.

“The electoral college is set up perfectly for the Democrats,” he said, “They should never lose the electoral college and they did.”

Trump repeated the claim that the Russia investigation is an effort by Democrats to save face after an embarrassing loss, citing the number of electoral votes he won.

On how he would grade his time in office so far

“I would give myself an A+,” Trump said. “Nobody has done what I’ve been able to do and I’ve done it despite the fact that I have a phony cloud over my head that doesn’t exist.”

He spoke about accomplishments like deregulation and the Republican tax bill, but mostly emphasized the challenges he’s faced during his first year.

“I’m fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people — drain the swamp — that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me and they’re not bringing up real charges against the other side,” the president said. “So we have a phony deal going on and it’s a cloud over my head. And I’ve been able to really escape that cloud, because the message now everyone knows now it’s a fix, it’s a witch hunt.”

From Vanity Fair:

Doocy, Kilmeade, and Earhardt endured the deluge heroically, fidgeting slightly at times, and offering small laughs as they encouraged the president and tried to keep him on track. The interview went off the rails, however, when the Fox hosts asked Trump about the Russia investigation dogging his presidency, and whether he would agree to interview with Mueller:

“Well, if I can. The problem is that it’s such a—if you take a look, they’re so conflicted, the people that are doing the investigation. You have 13 people that are Democrats, you have Hillary Clinton people, you have people that worked on Hillary Clinton’s foundation. They’re all—I don’t mean Democrats. I mean, like, the real deal. And then you look at the phony Lisa Page and [Peter] Strzok and the memos back and forth and the F.B.I.—and by the way, you take a poll at the F.B.I. I love the F.B.I.; the F.B.I. loves me. But the top people at the F.B.I., headed by Comey, were crooked.”

“You look at the corruption at the top of the F.B.I.—it’s a disgrace,” Trump continued, practically yelling, as the Fox hosts stared ahead nervously. “And our Justice Department—which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t—our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia. There is no collusion with me, and everyone knows it.”

As the Fox & Friends control room may have guessed, Trump’s burning anger could come at the expense of his current legal-defense strategy. With Mueller reportedly investigating the president and his associates for obstruction of justice in the Russian collusion probe, Trump’s lawyers have urged him to stay quiet about the special counsel’s work and allow his investigation to go forward. By impugning the F.B.I. and threatening to intervene at the Justice Department, Trump may have just given his adversaries more legal ammunition. He may also have undermined his case in more roundabout ways: at another point, he referred to his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen as having done a “tiny, tiny little fraction of my legal work”—an apparent attempt to distance himself from Cohen, who he admitted represented him in “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.” Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, immediately called the admission a “gift from the heavens” and “hugely damaging”: not only did Trump’s statement suggest he was aware that Cohen had paid hush money to Daniels, it also undercut Cohen’s argument that his communications with Trump, recently seized by the F.B.I., are protected by attorney-client privilege.

I find it breathtaking that three Fox TV hosts grasped something the President of the United States failed to. That is when Fox host Steve Doocy spoke words that may eventually be carved in granite.

Meyers unpacked what he called the “truly crazy rant” that was Trump’s phone interview with Fox & Friends on Thursday morning. It was a conversation in which the Commander-in-Chief “rambled on for so long about so many random topics that at one point the Fox & Friends hosts said they were the ones who were running out of time,” Meyers said — before cutting to footage of the Fox & Friends hosts’ deflating expressions and Steve Doocy interrupting Trump to say, “We’re running out of time.” [Emphasis added]

On the first level Doocy was wanting to get the President of the United States off the air, back into his box, and safe from American ears. On another level Doocy may have offered up a prophecy. We [Fox and Trump] are running out of time. There is only so much longer this comedy can go on before it is dragged down by the sheer weight of its lunacy.

In the meantime, President Trump has trapped himself with his own words. Two hours after this bit flapped publicly, Justice Department lawyers handed into a judge an argument that the President’s words have unraveled his claims for attorney-client privilege in the investigation of his lawyer, Michael Cohen.

 

In particular, the letter to Kimba M. Wood United States District Judge Southern District of New York, government lawyers used the President’s language from the Fox and Friends interview against his case.

2 If Cohen’s request for a privilege log were to be granted, there is no reason the Government’s Investigative Team could not review the privilege log.
3 As the Court is aware, after originally stating that the Government seized “thousands, if not millions,” of pages of privileged documents, Cohen subsequently identified three current clients.Of those three clients, one, Sean Hannity, has since said that “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees.” Another, President Trump, reportedly said on cable television this morning that Cohen performs “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work. These statements by two of Cohen’s three identified clients suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here.

If ever there was a definition for Schlemiel-in-Chief, then this should be enshrined.

Quiz Question

Number 150 of a continuing series

This is one I got off the Internet. I left the copyright information in the image, but readers are cautioned against using that to hunt down the solution. Work this one out for yourself and post your answer in the comments section.

There are nine combinations of colored cubes pictured above. When rotated properly, two of the nine are the same. Which two are the same?

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Today’s Bad Movie of the Week comes from Hulu, where it is now streaming and where I obtained these screen shots. From 1957 it is The Tall Stranger, starring Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo. It’s based on a novel of the same name by Louis L’Amour, and I will get back to that matter later. I’m fairly sure I did not see this in the Palace Theater three blocks from where I grew up. I must have been trying to get past Algebra II or something at the time. The film was released through Allied Artists. I’m getting details from Wikipedia.

This is going to be your typical western movie with settlers moving west and ranchers resisting settlers and both fighting Indians. You know there’s going to be some gun play. I’m fairly sure there is not a L’Amour tale that does not involve somebody getting shot. That includes the main character, Ned Bannon (MCrea), shown here alone in the wilderness and wondering about a noise coming from over the ridge. He is tall, hence the title. Both he and his horse are about to get shot. The horse dies.

So, the bushwhackers are likely rustling some cattle, and they leave Ned alone to die beside his horse. Ned does not get a good look at the shooter, his vision is blurred from loss of blood. But as the bad guy, known as Zarata (Michael Ansara) stops by to empty Ned’s canteen, he can’t help noticing the man’s spiffy boots and spurs and his gold-plated repeater rifle.

Anyhow, Ned gets found by some settlers coming through in their wagons, heading toward California. He is cared for by sumptuous Ellen (Mayo), who does not seem appropriately dressed for the trail.

Ned warns the settlers they are headed for trouble, because their next encounter is going to be Bishop’s Valley, where his estranged half-brother Hardy Bishop holds sway, notoriously averse to interlopers. However, two men, Harper (George N. Neise) and Purcell, who have inserted themselves into the wagon train, assure the settlers there is no such concern. They can pass right through Bishop’s Valley and continue west to California through a trail that has recently been opened. They strongly contradict Ned, who is from the region and knows of no such trail. Ned gets expelled from the wagon train.

We later learn that Harper figures to set the settlers against Bishop and his ranch hands. Secretly Zarata and his band are lined up to assist Harper in finishing off any survivors of the battle. Harper aims to scoop up the entire valley for himself.

Harper is forewarned of his half-brother’s arrival, and he prepares a loaded repeater rifle as welcome. However, the two wind up scuffling instead of shooting it out. Ned warns Harper of the trouble coming and offers to mediate.

Things get interesting when Zarata spies Ellen taking a bath in the creek, and he likes what he sees. He aims to  take what he sees, but Ned intervenes and observes that Zarata is the one who with the spiffy spurs and the gold-plated rifle. Zarata’s henchman gets killed in the ensuing shootout, but he gets back to his gang and prepares to take on  the ranchers.

There’s a terrific gun battle at the Bishop ranch. A handful of ranch hands get killed, but Ned and Harper turn the tables, and Zarata’s gang gets wiped out. Harper is fatally shot, but he strangles Zarata before he dies.

Ned advises the settlers to stay in the valley, and he rides off to catch up with Ellen, heading toward the Humboldt Trail in her wagon.

Yeah, it’s a formula Louis L’Amour story, only it is not the Louis L’Amour story. I have a Kindle edition of the book, and there is nothing about Ned riding alone in the wilderness and getting bushwhacked. The book mentions run-ins with Indians, but there are no Indians in the movie. There is no Zarata in the book. There is the half-brother, and there are settlers in wagons, and there is a conflict, but the rest is fluff installed by script writer Christopher Knopf.

If you don’t have a Hulu account, you can watch for free on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L0PhwEkk_s.

This is your President speaking.

Number 94 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

“Clapper lied about (fraudulent) Dossier leaks to CNN” FoxNews He is a lying machine who now works for Fake News CNN.

I like that. The President of the United States is calling somebody a liar.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

This is an old one. I’m thinking I first heard it from high school, certainly from my time in the Navy. Could have been first published in Boys Life magazine.

Asked if a year in college had made a difference in his son, the farmer replied, “Well, he still good at plowing, but now instead of saying, “Whoa, Becky! Haw and git up!’ now he says, ‘Halt, Rebecca! Pivot and proceed!'”

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks (number 108).

Families need to feel safe in their homes. The NRA works to ensure that your right to have a gun to protect your family is not infringed. That’s working so very well.

3-year-old accidentally shoots pregnant mother in NW Indiana parking lot

Yes, the story is interesting. Follow the link and read the details.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 18 in a series

This story has some history, so I need to go back forty years and more. I had moved to Dallas, and I needed medical attention, so I found a doctor. And I was there in the waiting room, and there was a bunch of really interesting stuff to read, as there is in all doctor’s waiting rooms. Just kidding. There was this health journal, and I did not keep records, and it has been too long, so I don’t know the name of the journal, really a magazine full of ads, sort of like Ladies’ Home Journal. And here is what I read.

There was an article about the place of sugar in the diet, and the general gist seemed to be in favor of sugar. Sugar is a great thing, and there is nothing wrong about eating sugar. For example, the writer told of people who cut sugar cane by hand, and these guys burn a bunch of calories in a day. To keep up their energy they eat as much as nine pounds of granulated sugar a day, and they do not suffer ill effects from it. After reading somewhat more than a page something occurred to me. This was not the product of independent investigation, it was an item sponsored by people who make sugar. Just about everything in the article was in contradiction to what I had learned about sugar in more than 30 years on this planet at the time, including that eating sugar contributes to the development of dental cavities.

From childhood I knew about a life-threatening affliction popularly known as “sugar diabetes.” Some of my relatives had experience with it, and the proper name is just “diabetes,” without the sugar prefix. I later figured the reason the people I ran with used the sugar prefix is because it was popularly considered that diabetes onset was commonly associated with consumption of too much sugar. A whole bunch of sugar in your diet for a long (years) period of time, and you could develop diabetes. And diabetes was bad stuff.

So we still ate a bunch of sugar in our family when I was growing up, and I never developed diabetes, but I’m figuring that is because after about 30 years I made the conscious decision to vastly reduce my sugar consumption. So, then in Dallas, I was wondering why this writer was denying not only that sugar consumption can result in the onset of diabetes, but also that eating a bunch of it will not make you fat, provided you do sufficient exercise to work off the extra calories.

The whole episode set me on the road toward doubting unsubstantiated claims made in newspapers and in popular journals regarding the safety or the non-safety of various products. And that’s what leads me to this posting. The following caught my attention some time ago:

The Mounting Evidence Against Diet Sodas

Studies suggest possible links between low-calorie beverages and health risks, though more research is needed

That was startling news to me, because in my quest to reduce my sugar intake, all my soda consumption has been sugar-free for decades. This is only the headline for the complete item from Consumer Reports, but there are a couple of  things of interest in this small segment. Start with this wording: “Studies suggest possible links between low-calorie beverages and health risks, though more research is needed.” Now let me repeat parts of the quote. “Studies suggest possible links…” What strikes me first is the use of the weasel words “suggest possible.” Where is the glaring declarative statement that should occupy this space? Now this part: “more research is needed.” More research is needed. Again there is the avoidance of certainty. I am glad that other important things like gravity do not require a bunch of extra study, although I once studied under a college professor who was continuing to study gravity.

Now here is the second thing so disturbing about this: it’s not the first time I’ve seen this wording. Fact of the matter is, I have been seeing it for years. Story after story carries the cautionaries “Studies suggest possible links…” and “more research is needed.” Jesus save us all, but how many years is it necessary to keep saying more research is needed before somebody actually performs more research and settles the issue?

A conclusion I draw is that somebody in the sugar industry has set out to harpoon sugar substitutes, and they (possibly a number of sources) are sponsoring writers to publish unfavorable items. It’s worth reading more from the Consumer Reports article. Here are some excerpts:

Many people think of diet sodas as healthy, low-calorie alternatives to sugary drinks. Yet a small but growing body of evidence suggests that diet sodas may have health downsides and may not even provide the benefits some people turn to them for, such as weight loss.

That’s the opening paragraph. Nowhere is there a link to the “growing body of evidence.” Fact is nowhere in the entire article is there a citation to a specific study readily accessible to the reader. The closest approach is this:

The strongest evidence so far links regular diet soda intake with cardiovascular conditions, such as stroke and heart attack, as well as type 2 diabetes and obesity (which are also risk factors for cardiovascular disease), says Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. For example, in April, a widely reported study of about 4,400 people age 45 and older found that those who drank one or more diet sodas every day were three times more likely to have a stroke than those who didn’t, says Pase, who led the study. The research was published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

4,400 is a healthy sample, one that should produce statistically significant results. It’s worth tracking down the Stroke paper, and I did that, using the information above. I found two related items published in April 2017, and both are available as PDFs.

The journal has published other papers on the subject, but these will get interested readers started on the search path. Without completely digesting these items, I will hit some highlights. To begin, the first is an editorial, which is not expected to undergo the kind of rigorous vetting as the second, which is a research paper the editorial references. Concentrating on the research paper, from the abstract:

Results—After adjustments for age, sex, education (for analysis of dementia), caloric intake, diet quality, physical activity, and smoking, higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia. When comparing daily
cumulative intake to 0 per week (reference), the hazard ratios were 2.96 (95% confidence interval, 1.26–6.97) for ischemic stroke and 2.89 (95% confidence interval, 1.18–7.07) for Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar-sweetened beverages were not associated with stroke or dementia.
Conclusions—Artificially sweetened soft drink consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia. (Stroke. 2017;48:1139-1146. DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.016027.)

Further on, the paper contains the following language.

In our study, prevalent hypertension, the single most important stroke risk factor, attenuated the association between artificially sweetened beverage intake and incident all-stroke,
although not ischemic stroke. Prospective cohort studies, such as the Nurses Health Study, have demonstrated associations between higher intake of artificially sweetened beverages
and an increased risk of incident hypertension. However, it remains unclear whether artificial sweeteners cause hypertension or whether diet beverages are favored by those most at risk. Given that clinical trials involving stroke end points are large and costly, clinical trials should investigate whether artificially sweetened beverages are associated with important stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure.

[Emphasis added]

What the authors are saying in the highlighted text is their study demonstrates correlation, not causation. An example of the disconnect between correlation and causation is illustrated by the case of the bishops. Bishops (men) live longer than the average man. No surprise, since by the time you become a bishop you are already advanced in years, and you have beat out all those who died in their teens. This section also notes that expensive clinical trials will be needed to determine causation, indicating that clinical trials have not been conducted.

Whatever the intent of this kind of discussion, the results are apparent. A large part of the population is averse to consuming aspartame, which matter I included in  a recent Quiz Question posting.

The image at the top of this post is from a Facebook posting, which points to an illustrated discussion titled Will Aspartame Kill You? I can’t vouch for any of the article’s assertions, but it is worth a read.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

I watched this stream on Netflix last year, but I did not have a copy for review. It is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia. It’s Eye in the Sky from 2016 out of Entertainment One and Raindog Films. It’s about drone warfare, and it wants you to think through the morality of remote control combat. We shall see.

The war is in Nairobi in Kenya, where some terrorists are making plans to carry out a suicide bomb attack within the city. We see a dusty neighborhood where life struggles for normality despite a desperate tension barely beneath the surface. Here we see a father, Musa Mo’Allim (Armaan Haggio), prepare a hula hoop for his daughter Alia (Aisha Takow). Due to her unquestioned innocence, she is  to be the plot’s central theme, the collateral sacrifice in the pursuit of a higher goals.

It is  morning, and a Reaper (Predator) drone is overhead, monitoring the activities of a terrorist group in Alia’s neighborhood, a poor section of this major city

Thousands of miles away in England the sun is just coming up, and a woman prepares for a day at work. She is “Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK military intelligence officer” (Helen Mirren). This scene is pivotal in portraying an aspect of modern war. Increasingly war is not up close and personal.

The Reaper relentlessly flies its mission, possibly unnoticed by those on the ground.

The center of attention is a particular room in a particular building in Alia’s neighborhood. Inside the room combatants in an unsymmetrical war are preparing to strike at their enemy, which is assumed to be Western style civilization. A man sits for a martyr’s video, which will be dispensed after he has completed his deadly mission.

Outside in the adjacent streets, counter forces are quietly marshaled. Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi) is an undercover Kenyan NIS agent monitoring events close up. Not explained is why Kenyan government forces cannot move in and neutralized the growing threat. We see Jama constantly in danger of being comprised by the gang of insurgents who permeate the area.

Tiny drones with audio and video capability penetrate the terrorists’ complex and obtain information that turns the mission from the capture of two operatives to interdiction with prejudice of the suicide bombing.

The film emphasizes the dispersion of command and control and also the attached bureaucracy involved. Disparate locations involved in the operation include an American base in Nevada and various other points on the globe where official approval must come from traveling officials. The need to observe strict niceties of killing produces a mad scramble to cross all the ‘t’s and to dot all the ‘i’s before an innocent girl’s life is put in jeopardy.

Tension builds as Alia takes loaves of bread her mother has baked and sells them in the street adjacent to the drone target. When Jama attempts to resolve the situation by purchasing her remaining loaves, it only encourages Alia, who brings more bread from home.

The final scenes show the targeting reticle centered on the bomber’s room as Alia completes her last sale and prepares to depart. The Hellfire missile strikes the building, flinging parts into the air and upending the white car. Alia’s small body is crushed by the debris, and she dies shortly after in a hospital. The bomber thread has been neutralized, hundreds of innocent Kenyan citizens have been saved, and modern warfare has done its job.

The obvious theme is the impersonality of modern warfare, and underlying that is the perception of drone attacks as somehow unsporting. In olden days fighting men faced each other with clubs and axes. Then smarter men figured that placing a point on the end of a long stick allowed them to kill the enemy while remaining beyond the swing of the ax. Spears and then arrows proved even better. Then came the gun, fired from the hand or the shoulder or launching deadly projectiles from miles away. Aircraft introduced an entirely new dimension to remote killing. First came bombs dropped from airships, then attacks with guns and bombs from airplanes. The atomic bomb, later coupled with the guided missile, today disconnects the assailant completely from his target. Modern missiles mean there is no more “going downtown.” Still the drone is viewed by some as a criminal instrument of war. The movie wants to remind us of that.

Beyond that, the movie takes some liberties, the destruction of the terrorists’ hideout being one of them. The drone fires a Hellfire missile into the house. The Hellfire has at most an 18-pound warhead. Yet we see a car parked outside the house being flipped in the air. No. Just no.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 102 in a series

It’s not always this current life you give up for false belief. Sometimes it’s your future life:

Guru convinced 400 men to castrate themselves to be closer to God

‘Guru of Bling’ collects testicles for God: An Indian spiritual leader is accused of convincing up to 400 followers to remove their testicles, claiming that by doing so the men would be able to speak directly to God.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, known as “The Guru in Bling,” is accused of coercing hundreds of followers to undergo the procedure at a hospital run by his spiritual organization.

It is true that God works in mysterious ways. I had forgotten just how mysterious.

This is your President speaking.

Number 93 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book (that should never have been written). Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don’t think so!

Mr. President, would you like to take a minute and rephrase that?

Quiz Question

Number 149 of a continuing series

Here’s one from a site on the Internet, and I’m not going to tell you what site. You need to solve this one without help.

Use the numerals 1, 9, 9 and 6 exactly in that order to make the following numbers: 28, 32, 35, 38, 72, 73, 76, 77, 100 and 1000.
You can use the mathematical symbols +, -, ×, /, √, ^ (exponent symbol) and brackets.
Example: 1×9+9×6 = 63

Post your answer in the comments section.

This is your President speaking.

Number 92 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

The Washington Post said I refer to Jeff Sessions as “Mr. Magoo” and Rod Rosenstein as “Mr. Peepers.” This is “according to people with whom the president has spoken.” There are no such people and don’t know these characters…just more Fake & Disgusting News to create ill will!

Funny that he does not know these characters.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Yes, it’s Amazon Prime Video again, where I obtained these screen shots. From England in 1951 it’s The Quiet Woman, starring Derek Bond and Jane Hylton. Details are from Wikipedia, which lists Tempean Films as the distributor.

It’s a simple enough story, with some pathos. Here we see smugglers putting in at the Channel coast near Rye, almost in sight of France. They are ex naval officer Duncan McLeod (Bond) and his former shipmate Lefty Brown (Michael Balfour), and they are expecting a friendly reception, which they are not about to receive.

Their goal is The Quiet Woman Inn, hence the name of the movie, turning out to be redundant.

The inn is just that day being taken over by quiet woman Jane Foster (Hylton), and Duncan is surprised when he unlocks the back door to store the booty. You can tell the two are going to end up being a  match.

Lefty goes for Jane’s bar keep Elsie (Dora Bryan). It’s the formula element in a formula plot.

But Duncan is not a full time smuggler. That’s only a hobby, which he now abandons when it becomes apparent Jane does not approve. He is a full time artist, and he hires Helen (Dianne Foster) to come out to the coast to model for a painting he is doing. Only it wasn’t Jane he hired but somebody else. Jane has inserted herself into the position, hoping to insert herself back into Duncan’s life. We soon see she is the ultimate schemer. Here Duncan gifts a painting to his war-time pal Bromley (John Horsley) as Helen looks on. During the war Duncan saved Bromley’s life, incurring a loyalty that plays into the plot. Bromley has come to  stay at the inn while he seeks suspected smugglers in the region.

The plot turns. Jane goes for a swim in the Channel and makes it out to Duncan’s boat. From  the shore a stranger watches as Duncan helps Jane into  the boat and offers her a towel. The stranger steals Jane’s clothing.

The stranger turns out to be Jane’s husband-turned-criminal James Cranshaw (Harry Towb) in his screen debut. He has escaped from Dartmoor Prison, and he is forcing Jane to help him escape. Here he menaces Elsie with a pistol.

Duncan, learning of Jane’s plight, attempts to assist by spiriting Cranshaw across the Channel to France, not knowing the fuzz have been alerted and that French authorities are waiting on the other side. Mid-Channel Cranshaw brandishes the gun when Duncan’s enthusiasm wanes. They struggle, and both go into the water.

But Lefty arrives in another boat and rescues Duncan. Not so fortunate for Cranshaw, as the last thing he sees in this life is an errant boat bearing down on him in the water.

Cranshaw’s body heading back to England on Lefty’s boat, Duncan pulls in to dock to find Jane waiting for him. It’s a storybook ending, of course. That’s the formula.

Acting is decent, but staging is flat. Imaginative directing and cinematography could have brought this production up to the level of an episode of Kojac.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 17 in a series

I’ve been having too much fun with politics and Donald Trump. It’s time for me to get to some serious business requiring Skeptical Analysis. Facebook to the rescue.

Cody Knotts is a Facebook friend I sought out after taking in some of his divergent views. This blog would not be very interesting reading if it only pulled from sources that parallel to my own views. As an aside, Cody is a movie producer, currently involved in a film based on the Kecksburg Incident.

Anyhow, Cody posted a link to an opinion piece appearing in Forbes Magazine, and a quick reading reveals it to be worth some comment. Additionally, Cody’s followers on Facebook chimed in, and there is some interesting back and forth. Let me start with the original Forbes opinion piece.

Opinion  

To The Horror Of Global Warming Alarmists, Global Cooling Is Here

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Around 1250 A.D., historical records show, ice packs began showing up farther south in the North Atlantic. Glaciers also began expanding on Greenland, soon to threaten Norse settlements on the island. From 1275 to 1300 A.D., glaciers began expanding more broadly, according to radiocarbon dating of plants killed by the glacier growth. The period known today as the Little Ice Age was just starting to poke through.

And more. The piece runs to two pages, and contributor Peter Ferrara makes a number of assertions, too many for me to address in this short post. I will touch on some highlights, beginning with the paragraph above.

Ferrara emphasizes the so-called “Little Ice Age,” and there is evidence of a global cooling during this period. Follow the link and read the article on Wikipedia. Ferrara may have a valid point, that there have been, and there likely will be, short term fluctuations in global temperature. The following plot tracks the Little Ice Age as described by Ferrara, and it also tracks the up-tick in global  temperatures since the exploding use of fossil fuels.

The plot is available on Wikipedia with the following caption, which should provide some explanation:

The original northern hemisphere hockey stick graph of Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1999, smoothed curve shown in blue with its uncertainty range in light blue, overlaid with green dots showing the 30-year global average of the PAGES 2k Consortium 2013 reconstruction. The red curve shows measured global mean temperature, according to HadCRUT4 data from 1850 to 2013.

Ferrara points out observed changes in solar activity since the time people became able to quantize it, and he correlates this with observed climate change. He also discusses later trends.

Those ocean temperature cycles, and the continued recovery from the Little Ice Age, are primarily why global temperatures rose from 1915 until 1945, when CO2 emissions were much lower than in recent years. The change to a cold ocean temperature cycle, primarily the PDO, is the main reason that global temperatures declined from 1945 until the late 1970s, despite the soaring CO2 emissions during that time from the postwar industrialization spreading across the globe.

It will be interesting to examine what went on since the end of World War Two.

This shows the drop, which began before 1945. But then global  temperatures leveled off before beginning to rise in the late 1960s, a rise that continues to this day. Ferrara contends the rise does not track soaring use of fossil fuels following the war, but he does not provide any evidence concerning the increase in fossil fuel consumption and its timing. The Keeling Curve, which tracking began in 1958, shows levels of CO2 in the atmosphere since that time.

Volcanic activity can contribute to a decline is global temperatures, and this is considered as a possible contributor to the Little Ice Age. Volcanic activity is not currently in play.

Nor is solar activity.

However much success his readers believe Ferrara has obtained in convincing them that anthropogenic global warming is a myth, those readers will be amiss in taking his words at face value. That’s because historically his words have had little value.

National Review magazine published his essay “What Is An American?” in its September 25, 2001 issue, after the September 11 attacks. In the essay, he claims that “there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan”, although census numbers show Afghanistan has roughly ten to fifteen times as many Muslims as the United States. The essay was reproduced in a chain e-mail claiming that an Australian dentist wrote it. Ferrara, reflecting on that essay in 2007, still stood by it and supported “more selective immigration so that the U.S. gets a ‘better-educated class of Mexican immigrants.'”

Another indicator is his current employer. From Wikipedia:

Lawyer, policy analyst, and columnist who is an analyst for The Heartland Institute

Yes, we have had previous experience with The Heartland Institute:

Heartland Institute to the rescue. To counter the findings of researchers in the field Heartland engages in various practices to dissuade the voting public from accepting these findings. Desmoglog obtained pilfered internal Heartland documents and heartlessly exposed the contents:

Tue, 2012-02-14 13:13 BRENDAN DEMELLE

Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

Of course, that is not the end of the story. I will leave it to readers to figure out for themselves whether Peter Ferrara is convincing. I will turn now to a collection of his readers, particularly people who participated in the discussion on Cody’s Facebook feed. Here are a few comments worth noting.

Sean Logue of course it was obvious… But people believed “science” versus historical evidence and observation.
Few realize that most public scientist are chasing dollars rather than truth. Having studied history and knowing the mini ice age and past cooling and warming trends this was elementary. It also appears in tree rings.

Rob Mudryk It was global cooling to start, the global warming, then climate change, then global climate disruption, then Global Species disruption, then Obama got his Peace Prize for the plan to get the media in line and it went back to Global Warming. But all along since 2000 we knew from actual scientists that there was going to be a 57 year solar minimum and a mini ice age was coming. The head of the Hurricane center said back in 2000 that Hurricanes are going on a 27 year minimum. Science knew what was going to happen, and it happened as they said. Not what the political propaganda of give us more money so we can fix it politicians story of doom and gloom. Even the CFC ban on the Ozone Layer is 100% false, it was found out long long ago that solar cycles control the hole in the ozone. Only in the USA is CFC’s banned.. Freon is still made in the USA and shipped all over the world.

Devin Montgomery Glad I bought new skis. It’s gonna be a fun ride.

Cody Knotts Whether it is cooling or warming, the idea that it is man made is the hubris and the center of the hysteria.

Sean Logue John Blanton, how many cars were there during the ice age, mini ice age, or medieval warming period?

Sean Logue How much CO2 did the dinosaurs put out to make their climate hotter and wetter than ours.

Rob Mudryk John Blanton there is also credible evidence that the warming is being caused by the scientists lowering historical data. The most damning thing to the CO2 claim is first is the increased CO2 is already doubled in plant life causing global greening. Second plant life goes extinct below 160ppm the earth peek plant life is around 1000-2000ppm per historical observations. The fact that the earth temp is not correlating to anything CO2 just show how towing the socialist line it is. 1000’s of scientists are now dropping their unwavering support for global warming now their career is not in jeapority. The climate cult is over, jump off the train before it goes over the cliff, the imperical evidence is no longer in the socialists side.

Rob Mudryk Sean Logue CO2 levels when the dinosaurs were ruling the planet was 1000-4000ppm when plant life and animal was 10 times larger from abundance of food.

Rob Mudryk John Blanton I’m sorry I’ve seen the wayback machines data and it changed. it is fact of the CO2 levels during the earths most green period. It is fact that peer review studies say the CO2 is being absorbed and the earth is getting greener. It is fact that Plants can not live below 150ppm of CO2 We have been at a CO2 famine for quite a long time. Dragging it back to the absolute minimum because politically motivated academics say we have to do it, give us money. It is fact that 10,000 confirmed relavent scientists signed documents to disagree with the global warming theory. It is fact that all the computer models that you base your “facts” on have never been back tracable let alone follow the actual climate over the past 20 years. It is fact that the scientific method does not allow for settled science, that is the realm of political propaganda. So I’ll stick with what I believe, what is actually happening in the world, vs. the chicken little stories of doom and gloom.. We’d be underwater already if your religion was correct.

John Blanton Sean Logue Regarding the number of cars in those historic times, there were none. And the relevance being?

Sean Logue Aren’t cars the number 1 man-made source of CO2?

And that pretty much illustrates the level of discourse this subject receives on Facebook.

Readers are invited to challenge or to expand on any of the points made on this post. My time is at your disposal.

This is your President speaking.

Number 91 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use….

….non-existent “sources” and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if….

….it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!

Full disclosure: Vladimir Putin says he never told the President of the United States that Russia has the most beautiful hookers. I hope that settles this critical point of international relations.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Two brothers, Timmy and Tommy, are badly misbehaving, and their parents send them to a religious reform school.

Almost immediately Timmy gets into trouble and is sent to the principal’s office.

The principal is a large man, and he looms over little Timmy. In a booming voice he demands, “Do you know where God is?” Timmy’s eyes grow large, but he doesn’t say a word.

The principal shouts even louder, “Do you know where God it?” Timmy runs from the room screaming.

Tommy finds his brother huddled in a corner and crying. He asks,”What’s wrong?”

Timmy responds, “They don’t know where God is, and they think I took him.”

Houston, we have a problem.

First of a series

Yes, Texas junior Senator Ted Cruz is up for re-election, and it’s time to start taking an assessment. Let’s begin here:

President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature.

The person Donald Trump two years ago was calling “Lying Ted” has since drunk the Kool-Aid—his praise for, and his subservience to, the grandest clown to ever grace the presidency appears unabashed. We would expect no less, or should that be “no more.” I will take a few turns at unpeeling the onion that is Rafael Edward Cruz. I have a feeling it’s going to be fun to watch.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Golden Shower

Number 31 of a Series

While the most salacious part of the Steele Dossier remains unconfirmed, it continues to be of great interest. It continues to be of great interest to the President of the United States:

There are several recurring themes through the conversations: Trump frequently brings up leaks to the media and they discuss trying to find the source of the leaks. Trump also at least twice brought up the “golden showers thing” and said he was concerned even if there was a small chance his wife had thought it was true.
In the January 7 memo, Comey writes that Trump interjected, “there were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes” about his 2013 trip to Moscow.
In his January 27 conversation with Trump, Comey recounted, in a memo written the next day, that Trump said “the hookers thing is nonsense,” but then later said that “Putin had told him, ‘we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.'”

While some may dispute Russian Leader for Life Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia has some of the most beautiful hookers in the world…

Wait. Why is a President of the United States even involved in this conversation? People are asking. Many of the same people are also asking, “What was I thinking when I voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, who surely knows the United States has some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.”

To clarify what this conversation is about, here is a reminder:

Sorry, this is a story that will not go away. I mean, once word came, albeit unconfirmed, that Donald Trump paid prostitutes to pee on a bed in a Moscow hotel room, then that should have been the end of the story. As a reminder:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

I will look into putting up a copy of the video when it comes available.