Buyer’s Remorse

Some more of the same

I’ve been trying to figure out what Kellyanne Conway does for a living. Apparently others are having the same problem. One of those might be Alisyn Camerota, who anchors New Day for CNN. On Friday (23 June) Camerota interviewed presidential  advisor Conway and brought up the matter of Russian meddling in the 2016 election plus any subsequent hocus pocus. It was an odd interview, and I pulled up a transcript from CNN, part of which follows:

CAMEROTA: Joining us now, we want to get to the counselor to President Trump, Kellyanne Conway. Good morning, Kellyanne.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being with us. This is a busy day.

CONWAY: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: As it always is, lots of breaking news. I want to ask you about Adam Entous’s reporting that he just shared from “The Washington Post” that this goes the furthest we’ve seen to connecting President Putin of Russia to actually giving the directive to interfere in the U.S. election and to try to hurt Hillary Clinton. What’s the White House’s response to this?

CONWAY: Well, the president has said previously, and we’ve got confirmation now from Jeh Johnson, from Adam Schiff, from Dan Coats, from Jim Comey, from Mike Rogers, that there’s no evidence of collusion, number one. And number two, that this doesn’t have an impact on the electoral result. And I think it’s very important to show no nexus has been proven between what Russia or any other foreign government tried to do and the actual election result. The only person making that case prominently is Hillary Clinton. And you have everything saying that there is no nexus, that not a single vote changed, and we’re going to stand by that. We know Donald Trump won fairly and squarely, 306 electoral votes, and it had nothing to do with interference.

CAMEROTA: We know that as well. But what about this new reporting that there are three dozen high-level officials that say they can connect President Putin with giving instructions to hack the DNC computers and to plant fake stories? What is the current White House doing about this?

CONWAY: Well, Alisyn, the president has said previously, and he stands by that, particularly as president-elect, that he would be concerned about anybody interfering in our democracy. We saw a lot of people interfering with our democracy by saying he couldn’t win here at home.

But I really am struck by former homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson’s testimony earlier this week which you covered extensively where he seemed very frustrated the DNC refused the help of the DHS because DHS knew that the DNC was vulnerable. The RNC I’m sure was vulnerable but had those safeguards and protections in place and had a different result. And so it’s very clear that even the Obama administration, there was concern. There were actions trying to be taken. But the question for the DNC is, why were you so arrogant in not letting the homeland security of your own administration help you?

CAMEROTA: That’s fine. But my question for you is, what is the White House, what is President Trump now doing from preventing Russia from doing this again?

CONWAY: This report is new and we’ll discuss it with him later. But he’s been very clear on the record he believes in any tie of numbers of measures to make sure that democracy flourishes and that our voter integrity intact.

CAMEROTA: Such as — I mean, against Russia what is he doing specifically to try to stop this?

CONWAY: Alisyn, I realize that we just like to say the word “Russia, Russia” to mislead the voters. And I know that CNN is aiding and abating this nonsense as well. —

CAMEROTA: Kellyanne —

CONWAY: You’ve asked me the same question three times now —

CAMEROTA: You’re not answering it, Kellyanne.

CONWAY: Yes I am.

CAMEROTA: And what’s he doing?

CONWAY: He has said, he has said very clearly that he wants the voter integrity and the ballot integrity to be protected.

CAMEROTA: And what action is he taking?

CONWAY: — any type of interference — at this very moment, at this very second?

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CONWAY: Oh, yes, because we have nothing to say about Russian collusion affecting the electoral outcome. Those rabbit holes did not bear fruit.

CAMEROTA: Kellyanne, I don’t understand what you’re trying to do talking about collusion.

CONWAY: I’ve answered the question four times.

CAMEROTA: What action is the White House doing to stop Russian interference in elections?

CONWAY: The White House, the president has met with his national security team many times. He has an initiative on a commission on voter integrity, and he himself has used the power of the bully pulpit to express his resistance towards any type of outside interference. So again, I’ve answered the question several times in an ongoing process. You’re dealing with a very new report. So we will look at that as well as we do all —

CAMEROTA: Yes, fair enough. This is a new report. But the idea Russia interfered has been obviously around since now we know before the election.

CONWAY: Yes. Jeh Johnson seemed very frustrated with his own DNC about it. I agree with you.

[08:10:00] CAMEROTA: And in fact said there was great concern that if they did anything openly that they would challenge the integrity of the election process itself. And, look, you’ve heard from this new report that President Obama was afraid that — that Vladimir Putin would up the ante, would ratchet it up. But I understand. You haven’t read the report yet. That’s fine this morning. But, still, this has been going on for months. So the president talking about it, do you think that he’s done enough to sending a signal to Russia to stop this?

CONWAY: I think the president has been very clear on how he feels about this issue and many others. Do you know, Alisyn, he also has a full roster. I know CNN and others don’t want to cover it. He just last week opened up a $100 million investment in apprenticeship programs. And 90 percent of people who go through these skills, certification apprentice programs are employed in short order with an average of $60,000 salary. Where is the reporting on that? This week just back here, Secretary Price and I met with Obamacare victims. They’re real. They’re suffering. They’ve been left behind out of the Affordable Care Act. If you want the information, I’ll provide it you can interview them.

CAMEROTA: I think that, Kellyanne —

CONWAY: The markets love this presidency. There’s so much real people impact happening here that doesn’t get covered on the altar of Russia.

CAMEROTA: Kellyanne, I think that a lot of people think that Russia trying to interfere in our democracy is a big story.

CONWAY: It is, but there are other stories. And I know we’re all capable of covering many of them. You have a 24/7 cable news outlet that certainly can fill lots of are content. I’m giving you great story ideas because we hear from people every day. They want him, and certainly in these special elections, people rejected this Russia obsession because they like the fact there’s job creation, regulation is being rolled back, health care is —

CAMEROTA: Yes, we do cover, obviously, the jobs report, Kellyanne. And I know everyone’s a producer and everybody has ideas of what CNN should cover. But Kellyanne, I think that —

CONWAY: We’re helping.

CAMEROTA: Thank you — is that the president has not given a terribly full-throated announcement that he believes that Russia interfered. He says things like, they may have. It may have been China.

CONWAY: Alisyn, so we’re just asking, we’re having the same conversation through six different semantic differences. That’s fine. It’s your show. You can ask me what you want. But I will just remind you as politely as I can that this entire conversation was irrelevant to voters in these four special elections. Everybody tried hard as they could to make it something other than job creation, rollback of draconian, byzantine regulations, the unleashing of entrepreneurship, including if these small business owners, and I was one for over 20 years, gets a 15 percent to 20 percent tax bracket. That will be monumentally transformative in our country’s economy. This is important things that people want to focus on. Yesterday the Senate released their health care legislation.

All right. And there was a lot more, as the interview moved to other topics. Here is a link to the full interview.

So, I’m going to attempt to summarize:

Camerota: Good morning Kellyanne. Who does your hair?

Conway: President Trump is the best since Abraham Lincoln.

Camerota: Enough with the pleasantries. Does the President have plans to do something about current and future meddling by the Russians?

Conway: I like your shoes.

Camerota: Thanks, Kellyanne, but you didn’t answer my question. Does the President have a plan?

Conway: Alisyn, you’re getting snippy.

Camerota: About the Russians. Does President Trump plan to deal with this matter.

Conway: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Camerota: Kellyanne, about the Russians…

Conway: Alisyn, bitch. I have already answer that question four times.

[At this point Conway seems to have lost count. By my count she has answered that question zero times.]

Camerota: Kellyanne, you have not answered my question…

Conway: We won, and you losers lost. How about all of you go suck an egg.

Which leads me to wonder:

Hey, Kelly-Anne, what’s your game now?
Can anybody play?

[With apologies to the Hollies]

Friday Funny

Number 64 of a series

Let me know if you find this funny. I know I did, and so did a bunch of others. This was last September on Outnumbered, which comes on Fox at noon. Eric Trump, son of the current president, was on, and he was explaining his father’s rise to greatness despite coming from a childhood of disadvantage. From the video on YouTube:

He’s built an amazing company. He’s become the epitome of the American dream. He’s gone from just about nothing to…

And that’s where I, and most others, stopped listening.

People, how come nobody allowed me to come from just about nothing? Oh, the curse of an opulent upbringing.

And that is funny.

Yes, we have no covfefe.

There is an old song, and I made some changes to the lyrics:

“Yes, we have no covfefe
We have-a no covfefe today.
We’ve string beans, and onions
Cabbageses, and scallions,
And all sorts of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned to-mah-to
A Long Island po-tah-to
But yes, we have no covfefe.
We have no covfefe today.”

You need to know that came immediately to mind on hearing this announcement:

(CNN) — President Donald Trump did not record his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey, he tweeted on Thursday, ending weeks of speculation kick-started by the President himself.

“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump tweeted.

Now we can get back to things of more interest to voters. Such as who had the largest inauguration crowd.

Minor Absurdity

The cartoon is by one of my favorites. Scott Adams has been poking fun, through Dilbert, at American business and society on a grand scale since 1995, drawing from his experience working in business and project development. He has other interests, besides:

Russia Hacked our Election! (So what?)

I see a consensus forming that Russia attempted to influence our election with fake news and other social media shenanigans.

But why?

It’s an entry in Scott Adams’ Blog, and it’s worth some diagnosis. Here are a few snippets along with my comments:

If you start with the assumption that Russia is an enemy of the United States, you probably assume they do bad things to us simply to weaken our power and effectiveness. For example, this article hypothesizes that Russia’s intention was to breed distrust between whoever became president and our intelligence services. I guess that hypothesis sort-of-almost makes sense. But I wouldn’t say it passes my personal sniff test.

What is absurd in a minor way is his use of the term “assumption.” Take that away and also substitute “Vladimir Putin” for “Russia,” and you get a picture that has considerable credence. Former KGB foreign intelligence officer in the and current president, seemingly for life, of the Russian state gives all the appearances of being a very bad character. Any difference between Vladimir Putin and a heavy-handed dictator is difficult to discern. Not to sound conspiratorial, but people who oppose Putin tend to die a lot, in the most prejudicial ways. No examples given. None need be.

That Putin, through Russia, is opposed to this country and to much of Western political influence is manifest in his actions in  Georgia and Ukraine. Adams might want to have his sniffer tested.

Then there’s the more popular theory that the Russians were colluding with the Trump campaign because Putin thought he could somehow control President Trump via blackmail, or business ties, or something else we’re imagining. I guess that could be true. Sort of. But that doesn’t pass my sniff test either.

Again, Scott, get thee to a clinic to have thy sniffer tested. If Putin is not exercising blackmail over the President of the United States, it would only be because he has no need to. The accommodation given to the Russian dictatorship by Donald Trump is without parallel in history.

President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, second left, at the White House on May 10, 2017. Fourth from right is Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak. Russian Foreign Ministry Photo / AP

Photo attribution is given to the Associated Press, but I have it on good evidence that I need not worry about stepping on their copyright, because the ultimate source is an agency of the Russian government. The President of the United States invited the Russian press but excluded any member of the American press. This came the day after President Trump fired the director of the FBI, apparently because Director James Comey would not lay off investigating Trump’s dealings with the Russians. And finally, if the Russians want to come at me for copyright infringement, then let them have at it.

Then there’s the hypothesis that Russia was messing with our democratic system to weaken the country by sowing distrust about the election process, or possibly by electing a president they believed would be less effective. But I have a hard time believing the Russians thought Trump would be ineffective. Maybe they just thought he would be divisive, and perhaps they thought that’s good for Russia in some way.

Scott has a “hard time believing Trump would be ineffective.” Then he must have a hard time believing the Russians are not stupid. That Trump is ineffective is manifest on a broad scale. The president the Russians did not believe would be ineffective is proving to be an embarrassment to his own party. Republicans may swoon at his tweeted goals, but they are confounded by the litany of prevarications and contradictions coming daily. Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star has cataloged 300 (and more?) miscues from Donald Trump since 20 January this year. Considering the term “ineffective” we need only to think “NATO.” NATO, set up by retired General Eisenhower and President Truman after World War Two to oppose Soviet expansion in Europe, is a constant obstruction to Putin’s European ambitions. Our effective president first declared NATO a non-entity, then forswore our obligations under the treaty, then reaffirmed these same obligations. How many different ways are there to spell “ineffective?”

As Putin accurately pointed out in a recent interview, hackers can make their attacks seem to come from other sources, including Russia. I assume there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Trump-supporting Americans with the skills to hack poorly-secured servers. Even if you assume Putin wanted to hack American servers, he would have needed to get in line to do it. Given all the American hackers who opposed Hillary Clinton, there is perhaps a one-in-a-hundred chance Putin’s hackers (if they exist) got to the DNC and Clinton’s servers before the hordes of non-Russian hackers did it. So even if Putin tried, the odds are low that his team got to the good stuff first.

It’s hard to get past “Putin accurately pointed out in a recent interview.” It is heartening to know we can  count on a Russian dictator for sound advice. What I find interesting is that Scott, who formerly worked in the industry, is not current with the technology. He is also not up on the findings of people who do this sort of thing for a living. The people who do this sort of thing for a living, e.g., the CIA, FBI, NSA, have found the attacks came from the Russians, disguised has having come from elsewhere. American  intelligence services also determine the blame ultimately falls at the feet of Vladimir Putin. In response, Scott is going to have to tell us our intelligence agencies are lying to us. But this he has not done. Additionally, Scott’s analysis of cyber attacks is naive at the least. He appears to buy into the Hollywood view of spies breaking encrypted passwords. Unfortunately for him, that is not the way this stuff is usually done. All successful attacks I have seen reported in  the news have been by way of “social engineering” You trick somebody into revealing the password,  or you plant somebody (Edward Snowden) inside to steal the information you want. Scott may want to read up on the history of computer intrusion.

Let’s say Russia did attempt to influence American voters to support Trump. The first question I have to ask is this: Aren’t all the big countries trying to influence elections in all the other countries, all the time? If Russia did try to influence an American election, wouldn’t that be business as usual? Do we imagine the United States is NOT trying to influence foreign elections through our own fake news and social media manipulations? I always assumed we do that sort of thing. I base that assumption on the following observation about human beings:

Is it possible Scott previously denied the Russians did this stuff, and now he is saying so what if they did it? Our intelligence services say that is exactly what the Russians, under the direction of Vladimir Putin, did.

But let’s get back to Russia’s presumed payoff for somehow destabilizing the United States. I think we need to check that assumption because Putin seems like a smart guy. It’s hard for me to believe he thinks he would come out ahead by destabilizing the world’s most important military and economic power. And that is doubly true when you are teaming with that country to fight ISIS, put a cap on North Korea, and keep the economy chugging along. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in 2017 in which Russia gains by poking America with a sharp stick. The probable outcome seems more bad than good. Who wants a pissed-off nuclear superpower looking in your direction? It doesn’t pass the sniff test. If Putin were an idiot, I could see him wanting to cause this sort of trouble just because he was dumb.

Scott goes on to say Putin is not dumb.

He finds it difficult to believe Russia (Vladimir Putin) would seek to check us who “are teaming with that country to fight ISIS.” Please replay the most recent state of this teaming to defeat ISIS:

The U.S. downing of a Syrian government jet over the weekend marks an escalation in the long Syrian conflict, although Russia’s bold response Monday to view U.S. aircraft in the region as legitimate “targets” is seen more as “bluster” than anything else.

Yes, the United States and Russia are so hunky-dory on all matters of defense. Yes, Scott, this does pass the smell test.

I’d like to introduce a new hypothesis to explain why Russia might have wanted to influence American elections: They believed a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a disaster to the world, including Russia.

The best observation is that Putin strongly opposed Hillary Clinton and desired strongly that she not become president. Not so much the rest of the world, where Clinton holds great popularity. Trump and Putin not so much.

Did Putin or other Russian nationals try to influence American elections? I assume so. I also assume America has done the same – in terms of influence on their local politics – to Russia, and to every one of our allies.

Finally, Scott Adams turns his argument around. That the Russians were behind the attacks on the 2016 election is something that does not pass his smell test, and finally that—his smell test notwithstanding—it is true. His assumptions aside.

And that is what I call a minor absurdity.

Trump News

More From Trump News

Yes, your memory is correct. I subscribe to a newsletter from Trump News. That’s the name of the sender when their daily report shows up in my inbox. The site is EnVolve.com, and the screen shot above is from today’s mailing. Please pardon, but I jacked up the contrast so you can read the caption beneath the photo. The link points to a page that elaborates:

Negative Liberal Media REFUSES To Report What This Republican Patriot Did!

Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers took a moment to support the victims of last week’s shooting at a congressional baseball game practice by donating blood on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

It is no surprise to see the Vice President doing this, as he often examples what Patriotism looks like for the everyday citizen. Also not surprising is the clear lack of media coverage that such service would generally merit. Clearly, the negative liberal media would hate to ever show that any Republican, especially the Vice President, could ever have a caring heart for others.

And that’s the message for today. A deranged gunman, a Bernie Sanders supporter, shot up a baseball  practice session, wounding several, including Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana District 1. And patriotic Vice President Mike Pence stepped forward to donate blood. And the liberal media (meaning the mainstream news outlets) refused to report it. “REFUSED.”

Refused, that is, except for ABC News:

Mike Pence, other lawmakers donate to Capitol Hill blood bank in honor of Scalise

By DAVID CAPLAN

Vice President Mike Pence was among those on Capitol Hill Tuesday who rolled up their sleeves and donated blood in honor of the victims of last week’s shooting at congressional baseball practice at an Alexandria, Virginia, park.

That was posted today. The blood drive is still ongoing and will continue tomorrow. It will be interesting to see just how many mainstream news sources refuse, absolutely refuse, to cover the story. So far Washington News 8 has covered it, as well as The Hill.

Regarding Trump News, I am dead certain this is not an official Donald Trump outlet. From all appearances it is an independent enterprise established to capitalize on Trump’s notoriety and his fan base. Another thing I am sure of is that Trump supporters read Trump News, and they accept its news as factual. It’s another sign we live in interesting times.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 11 in a series

When newly-elected President Donald Trump announced he had picked former Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy, I was suitably impressed. As governor of Texas, Mr. Perry had shown extraordinary interest in science education. I know. I was around when Governor Perry nominated Bryan, Texas, dentist Don McLeroy to be chairman of the Board of Education. In turn, McLeroy’s appreciation for sound science education has been viewed by many as without equal:

In 2003, McLeroy led efforts by proponents of creationism and intelligent design to de-emphasize discussion of evolution in proposed new biology textbooks. He was one of only four board members who voted against biology textbooks that year that included a full account of evolution.

Over objections by his critics in 2004, McLeroy voted to approve health textbooks that stress “abstinence-only” in regard to instruction about pregnancy and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

In 2005, McLeroy conducted a sermon in his church, in which he said naturalism is “the enemy” and questioned: “Why is Intelligent Design the big tent? Because we’re all lined up against the fact that naturalism, that nature is all there is. Whether you’re a progressive creationist, recent creationist, young earth, old earth, it’s all in the tent of Intelligent Design.”

According to a 2008 article in The New York Times, “Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. ‘I believe a lot of incredible things,’ he said, ‘The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the God that created the universe.'” McLeroy’s statements regarding science have been criticized. McLeroy and other Board members who want to challenge evolution have received criticism from more than fifty scientific organizations over an attempt to weaken the currently-accepted science standards on the theory of evolution. In particular, biologist Kenneth R. Miller called McLeroy’s statements on science “breathtakingly” incorrect.

While it became clear to all that McLeroy’s appreciation for science is not all that high, none have lower.

Fortunately for us who enjoy a good light show, Governor Perry was re-elected, and when his subsequent re-appointment of Don McLeroy stalled in the Texas Senate, Mr. Perry was wise enough to appoint as DOE chair Barbara Cargill, whose scientific acumen scrapes close to McLeroy’s. I was there to enjoy the spectacle:

I struck up a conversation with Ide Trotter and reminded him of our meeting, nearly ten years previous. He remarked on my keen memory, but he should not have been amazed, because I had taken his photo at the time, so my memory was quite fresh. Dr. Trotter is a noted creationist, and I was very interested in talking to him about any progress his movement has made with Intelligent Design in the past ten years. He assured me Intelligent Design is on solid ground.

Also, Barbara Cargill joined us in our conversation. Dr. Trotter and I were discussing Intelligent Design when she walked up, and I am afraid she was confused and thought I was a creationist. She remarked “I’m one of you,” and gave us a reassuring clap on the shoulder. She conferred for a moment with Dr. Trotter over some notes, and she went off to visit other volunteers.

After Ms. Cargill left us I felt a little embarrassed, and I hoped I had not given the wrong impression. I reminded Dr. Trotter that I had previously headed up The North Texas Skeptics, and we were strongly supportive of the teaching the science of biological evolution in public schools. Dr. Trotter assured me that he, too, wanted evolution taught, only he wanted the correct facts to be taught.

Anyhow, that is water under the bridge. Rick Perry ran for president and came hard up against logic and reality, making him a prime choice for Secretary of Energy. Which brings us to our present Age of Embarrassment:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says CO2 is not the main driver of climate change

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told CNBC on Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are the main driver of climate change, joining the EPA administrator in casting doubt on the conclusion of some of the government’s top scientists.

Asked whether CO2 emissions are primarily responsible for climate change, Perry told CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

“The fact is this shouldn’t be a debate about, ‘Is the climate changing, is man having an effect on it?’ Yeah, we are. The question should be just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to effect that?” he said.

Allow me to interpret what the Secretary just told us. The primary driver behind climate change is the ocean waters and the environment. By environment we can assume the Secretary means the natural  environment, because if it’s not the natural environment, then it must be that human activity is the cause. So he means the natural environment. That is to say, the natural environment that has been around for millions (billions?) of years. The natural environment that has not seen fit to raise global temperature averages for hundreds (thousands) of years, and just waited until people started raising the CO2 concentration  in  the atmosphere from 300 parts per million to 400 ppm.

Or else it’s the ocean waters. Yes. The ocean waters are getting warmer. Ocean waters getting warmer is a manifestation of climate change (global warming), and that’s what’s causing global warming. Global warming is causing global warming. We needed former Texas Governor Rick Perry to tell us this.

And now I am embarrassed.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

This has to be about the worst movie I’ve reviewed, that is, after Mars Needs Women. This is Ransom Money from 1970, starring Broderick Crawford as FBI Inspector Joseph Medford. It’s available to view on Amazon Prime Video, but Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for it. Details are from IMDb.

For once it’s not only the plot that sinks this picture. It’s the rock bottom production quality, starting with the cinematography. To illustrate, the first minute or so, while they rolled the titles (by Pacific Title, no less), I thought I was watching an 8mm home movie. Somebody is driving along country roads in a large piece of Detroit iron while a kid looks out the car window, gaping at the wonders of the American West. All along a dumb song is playing over the sound track. Things plod along from there.

The driver is Joanne Patrick (Rachel Romen), and she’s driving her son Ronny (Randy Whipple) to see Grand Canyon. From the title we figure this is going to be about a kidnapping caper, so we have the kid, and it’s beginning to look as though we have the venue. We become intrigued as to how the snatch is going to be pulled off. That’s settled quickly when Ronny’s mom allows him to remain behind gawking at the scenery while she goes inside the lodge to register. Also we have seen a VW van following the Patrick car since the outset, so it’s no surprise when a man snatches the kid and takes  off with him in  the van.

The woman comes out. The kid’s missing. She gets frantic. She runs all over the place. She goes back to the car. There’s a note from the kidnapper stuck in the door. She reads it. She is supposed to go to Phoenix and check into  a certain hotel. She’s out of her mind. She harasses a park ranger and tries to show him the note. The paper is blank. The ink has disappeared.

In the car, down to Phoenix, to the hotel, where a room has already been reserved for her. Her phone rings in the room. It’s the kidnapper. He says it’s OK to contact the police. They are not going to be able to help. He wants a million dollars. And that’s what the movie is about.

In comes Agent Medford from Los Angeles. He did not even stop to pack a bag. That turns out to be significant.

Skipping a bunch of melodrama, Malcolm Stewart (Sebastian Stuart), Joanne Patrick’s investment counselor, enters the picture. He barges into the case, constantly making a nuisance of himself. The deal is, a few years back Joanne Patrick’s millionaire husband vanished in a private flight that went down in the Gulf of Mexico. So she’s a widow with a lot of money. Keeping it short, Inspector Medford goes back to Los Angeles and returns with the money, a suitcase filled with unmarked 50s and 100s. He opens the suitcase and examines the money. This is also significant.

Yes, this is an actual scene from the movie. Medford, Patrick, and two other lawmen post themselves out in a dry lake bed, looking for the return of the kid. The kidnapper advises there will be a bomb attached to the kid, and it will go off if the money is not delivered. Medford has previously deposited the suitcase full of cash out in a rocky area for the kidnapper to pick up.

They see something. Maybe a kid standing out on the dry lake bed. They approach. The apparition vanishes in a blinding explosion. It’s a dummy. The kid has not been  killed, but he has still not been returned, because the suitcase was full of blank paper.

The fuzz figure out that pesky Malcolm Stewart has gone out to the drop site and switched suitcases. They nab him at a bar, where he allows he did make the switch. So the lawmen need to follow the kidnapper’s further advice to airdrop the money (recovered from Malcolm) thirty minutes west of the city. Medford makes arrangements to carry out the plan.

Now the story takes a twist. Medford dies in a traffic accident on his way to purchase a new dress shirt. Remember, he left Los Angeles without a change of clothing. But the accident was no accident. The kidnapper sabotaged his car with a bomb that caused the crash.

So now the kidnapper has the money, and they rescue the kid, and they find Malcolm murdered. Before he dies Malcolm identifies the kidnapper as an electronics expert, thought to have perished in the same ill-fated flight with Joanne Patrick’s husband. The learn he was deeply in debt due to gambling addiction. They figure he has headed for Las Vegas.

Sure enough, the kidnapper shows up at a high-stakes casino with a suitcase full of large bills. He takes a bundle and heads for the tables. At the cashier’s window he plunks down two bills and purchases a pile of chips. But the bills turn blank after he leaves the window. Security is notified immediately, and he is apprehended. The deceased Medford has pulled the same trick the kidnapper previously employed. He has had printed a suitcase full of money with disappearing ink. And that solves the case.

Besides the amateur photography, this one suffers from deadpan acting. After starting in the movies in  1937, Broderick  Crawford pulled down an Academy Award for best actor in All the King’s Men in 1949. By 1955 he was more famous as Officer Dan Matthews in Highway Patrol gaining recognition in modern lexicon through the phrase, “Go get ’em Broderick.” He fairly much walks his way through his part as Agent Medford. As for the remainder of the crew, this appears to be another case where the director instructed someone on the set to go out and grab some people off the sidewalk.

Continuity is also lacking. Joanne Patrick leaves Grand Canyon, heading for Phoenix. We see her driving through the night, arriving the following day. People, that’s about a 3½-hour drive. I doubt it  took much longer even in 1970.

The plot has additional lapses in logic:

The kidnapper is going to snatch the kid. The kid conveniently insists on staying outside while his mother goes inside to register. What was the kidnapper’s backup plan if the kid decided to stick with his mother?

The kidnapper pens his note to Joanne using ink that vanishes when exposed to light. Then he posts it on her car door and drives away.  Suppose the mother had been late getting to the car, and the note was blank when she got there. That wasn’t such a hot idea.

Malcolm turns out to have been in on the plot, and he continues to  interfere with the case. How come he doesn’t get chained up in a cell and out of the way, even after the lawmen find out he switched suitcases?

We see the lawmen and the sharp-looking widow stationed for hours on end out on a dry lake bed in Arizona. No shade, no shelter, no water, to say nothing of no bathrooms. Who runs a sloppy operation like this.

Medford stashes the suitcase with the funny money out in the desert. And then drives away. Nobody hiding out to see who comes to pick up the loot? Malcolm comes and departs without being detected. Besides, these places are one way in and one way out. All that was needed was for a cop, posing as a prospector or a broken down motorist, to monitor the in and out traffic.

Same way with the money dropped by parachute from an airplane. Nobody is watching to see who drives out into the desert to pick up the package?

No way. And that’s not the half of what’s wrong. You will have to watch for yourselves.

Music credit goes to Hank Levine. Thanks, Hank, for that jaunty jazz number that plays along while life and death drama is supposed to be playing out.

Stupidity on Stilts

One of a continuing series

Hold on. Wait. All right. I’m finished laughing. No, I’m not. Just wait.

That’s long enough. I need to finish this. Take a look at the image above. It’s a screen shot from my inbox yesterday. It’s an email I received from a source named “Trump News.” I assume from the name and from past history this is a politically conservative outlet. In fact, read the top line. It says, “The Top Conservative Topics Today.” I’m convinced. Read on.

The caption under the photo says, “POLL: Should The Virginia Gunman Who Shot a Senator Get LIFE in Prison?” The caption is a hyperlink that leads to a page that repeats the photo and the message plus: “Posted on June 15, 2017 by  Do you think that gunman who shot a Senator, as well as others, in Virginia should get life in prison?” And there are buttons to click to cast your vote in the poll.

And I can’t stop laughing.

Thomas Robertson, you posted this. What were you thinking. Consider two critical points:

  • The person pictured is James T. Hodgkinson, who opened fire on a team of Republican lawmakers practicing for a baseball game. He was killed immediately by Capitol Police. He is not going to prison for life or for any length of time.
  • James T. Hodgkinson did not shoot any senators.

People, when you set out to make a political statement, it works best if you sprinkle a few facts about. But don’t overdo it. That would make us suspicious.

Friday Funny

Number 63 of a series

I woke up this morning, and it was after 5 o’clock, so I’m getting a late start. Along about 8 I  realized I did not have a Friday Funny post, so I started feeling panicked.

Ha! What a crock. I have a ready source of Friday Funny’s, and that source would be our collection of Christian historical revisionists. Let’s start with Aledo, Texas‘, own Joe Barton:

David [Barton]:

That’s right.

God Is In Control Of The Weather

Another one I’ll throw out is weather. It’s interesting in the Bible, weather patterns are often predicated on whether the people doing the right thing or the wrong thing. And if people sin against God, then you get floods, and you get storms, you get lightning, you get all your crops get destroyed, you get all sorts of things-

Yes, you heard it right. Pseudo historian Joe Barton is telling us this planet’s weather is not solely driven by natural forces. There is an invisible person, somewhere, who is devilishly concerned with every aspect of human life and who puts a finger  on the scale from time to time to tip the consequences and to remind everybody he (she) is in control. This in lieu of posting a notice in The Wall Street Journal, which would be much less expensive.

For those disinclined to follow the link, here is some background. The foregoing is from the transcript of a WallBuilders podcast that aired 13 June 2017. The podcast is titled Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order Is Better Than You Might Think, and guests include Mat Staver, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton. David Barton “is the founder of WallBuilders, LLC, a Texas-based organization that promotes unorthodox views about the religious basis of the United States.”

And if all of this were not the least bit scary it would be very funny.

Industrial Strength Irony

Number 4 In A Series

Full disclosure: I subscribe to Robert Jeffress’s newsletter, and there are periods when I receive almost daily mailings in my inbox.

You wanna embrace the golden calf?
Ankle, and thigh, and upper half?
Here it is!
I mean, here it is!

That’s from the Lyrics On Demand, and it’s about sin in No Name City, but let’s pretend the subject is irony. Then here it is, I mean here it is:

This appalling act of violence highlights the fact that the unrelenting demonization of our legitimately elected political leaders could lead to tragedy, and I refer particularly to the mainstream media, our universities, and to Hollywood.

Now is the time to tone it all down, embrace real tolerance, report objectively, and stop provoking our nation to conflict.

By “Yesterday at 10:22 a.m.” is meant 1022 on 14 June 2017. That was the day a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice session at a park in Alexandria, Virginia. Congressman Steve Scalise, representing the Louisiana 1st congressional district was severely wounded. Others were also shot or injured, including two police officers. The police killed the gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, a vocal opponent of President Trump and, presumably, at odds with the Republican Congress. The Robert Jeffress Facebook posting also included the following:

Pastor Robert Jeffress: Time to Stop “Demonization of Legitimately Elected Public Officials”

And that’s what is so ironic:

For the first time in history a president of our country has openly proposed altering one of society’s (not to mention God’s) most fundamental laws: that marriage should be between a man and a woman. While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.

Robert, Jeffress. Perfect Ending: Why Your Eternal Future Matters Today (Kindle Locations 1073-1077). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

That was from 2014. Some elaboration may be helpful:

Jeffress, head of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, writes in his book Perfect Ending that he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, yet he links Obama’s support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist. Many Christians believe Jesus’ Second Coming will feature a confrontation with an enemy called the Antichrist, based on interpretation of passages 1 John and 2 John.

We are thankful Dr. Jeffress is not saying President Obama is actually the Antichrist. That said, we are surprised he did not. Robert Jeffress is not famous for pulling punches:

(CNN) — A pastor with a long history of inflammatory remarks about Muslims, Mormons, Catholics and gays preached at a private service for President-elect Trump and his family on Friday, shortly before Trump took the oath of office.

The pastor, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, is a Southern Baptist who vigorously campaigned for Trump during the final months of the presidential election and is a member of his evangelical advisory board. “I love this guy!” Trump has said of Jeffress. Before the campaign, Trump, a Presbyterian, had no apparent connection to the pastor, who leads First Baptist Church in Dallas.

Can we expect Robert Jeffress to tone down his remarks in the future? Not likely. That would constitute Industrial Strength Irony.

This isn’t over. I will have more to say about Dr. Robert Jeffress, so keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.