Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Major Media Try to "Make the Statue of Liberty Disappear" in Reporting on Guns -- Latest Example is Vox

Magician David Copperfield famously made the Statue of Liberty "disappear" in plain sight on national television. Now the major national media are attempting a similarly audacious trick, this time involving some critical facts about one of our most important and contentious issues: guns.

The most recent example of this vanishing act is Vox's ambitious new project on gun deaths. "More than 33,000 people are shot and killed in the U.S. each year...And that means that for all the grief and haranguing and calls to action, we’re likely missing opportunities to bring that number down:" says the "letter from the editor" set-up for the report from Vox (a leading "young-adult site," according to WSJ's James Taranto.)

What's actually missing is recognition in the set-up that the number of firearms deaths has plunged over recent years, from almost 40,000 (39,595) in 1993 to 33,636 in 2013 (Centers for Disease Control, source for the Vox report's data.).

You'd think Vox might focus on this decline (which would come as news to many readers subsisting solely on a regular diet of major media mush) and explanations for the drop, which might well provide ideas on how to keep the decline going. But that would be like David Copperfield focusing on a moving stage or hidden trap door.

Also ignored in the Vox set-up and many other major media stories is that the CDC predicted gun deaths would exceed those from motor-vehicle accidents: "by the year 2003 (the CDC wrote in early 1994), the number of firearm-related deaths will surpass the number of motor-vehicle crashes, and firearms will become the leading cause of injury-related death."


Turns out that in 2003 motor-vehicle crashes still killed far more Americans than guns (43,340 to 30,136). They still do, though by a much smaller margin:  Now that's an interesting potential story.

All of which reminds us of this graphic from AEI (which again would probably come as a shock to many Americans):


Says the AEI researcher: "In contrast to the widely embraced narrative, perpetuated by liberal politicians and the media, that gun violence in America is getting worse all the time, the data reveal that the exact opposite is true. According to data retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control, there were 7 firearm-related homicides for every 100,000 Americans in 1993 (see light blue line in chart). By 2013 (most recent year available), the gun homicide rate had fallen by nearly 50% to only 3.6 homicides per 100,000 population."

We don't have the expertise to parse the more complicated statistical issues in the gun issue, but we do know enough to be skeptical when a critical trend is routinely & suspiciously underplayed, or even omitted, by so much coverage by the major media.

And unlike Mr. Copperfield, these media outlets apparently expect us to believe their sleight-of-hand is real.

Monday, June 20, 2016

If the Obama Administration Had Been in Office Back When...

“Sic semper tyrannis! The [omitted] is avenged:” [omitted] Wilkes [omitted], 4/14/1865.

"By the grace of Heaven, Emperor of [omitted], Emperor [omitted]...we hereby declare war" on USA, 12/8/1941.


"Nationalist Socialist [omitted] wants peace...[omitted] needs peace and desires peace!" [omitted], fuhrer of [omitted], 1935.


"The ruling to kill the an individual duty for every [omitted] who can do it:" [omitted] bin [omitted].


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Who Really Suffers Most (Reported) Hate Crimes: By Religion and Sexual Orientation

Reason for Research: Follow up on debate involving hate crimes and Islamophobia sparked by the Orlando terrorist attack. Obviously, even a single hate crime against anybody is one too many, but the numbers and trends are factors in understanding and developing important national policies.

Results: Far more hate crimes were committed against Jewish and LGBT people than Muslims during the last year for which complete US records are available (FBI 2014, released late last year), and, based on population, Jews appear to have suffered at least the same rate of hate crimes, if not a higher one, than Muslims. [Important note: the FBI collects data on categories of hate crimes, both against persons and property, and a person may be victimized by more than one crime during a hate attack, so the numbers/percentages below do not necessarily track exactly with individual victims. In addition, there's debate about how many hate crimes are missed by the FBI, so the information here should be viewed as indicative only.]

Worth highlighting is that more hate crimes were committed against blacks in America than any other single group. However, of four people murdered in hate crimes during 2014, three were white and one black (no Jews, Muslims or LGBT people were killed in hate crimes that year, according to FBI statistics).

It's important to note there were far more Jewish and LGBT people in the US in 2014 than Muslims. However, even on a proportionate basis, Jews suffered at least as many and likely more hate crimes than Muslims. (It's difficult to compare numbers involving the LGBT community given less certainty about their population.)

The FBI reports:

"Religious bias 

Of the 1,140 victims of anti-religious hate crimes:
  • 56.8 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
  • 16.1 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias."
About 3.3 million Muslims lived in the US in 2015 (app. 1% of US population), compared with about 5.7 million Jews (app. 1.8%) [the exact breakdown for 2014 was not available; these statistics from Pew.]

According to those 2014 FBI hate crime statistics (see them here), there were 635 "single-bias incidents" against Jews and 178 against Muslims. Extrapolating from the Pew population statistics, during 2014 there were app. twice as many Jews as Muslims in the US and they suffered substantially more than twice as many hate crimes as Muslims. However, it appears offenses against Muslims may have included a higher rate of violent crimes against people (as opposed to property crimes) than those committed against Jews.

Additional note: The number of hate crimes against Native-Americans and Asians jumps out in this data, given their relatively small populations. See more here:

Here are some of the key statistics. What do you think about hate crime trends?

Religion: 1,092
Anti-Jewish 635
Anti-Catholic 67
Anti-Protestant 28
Anti-Islamic (Muslim) 178
Anti-Other Religion 120
Anti-Multiple Religions, Group 51
Anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc. 13

Sexual Orientation: 1,178
Anti-Gay (Male) 683
Anti-Lesbian 168
Anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (Mixed Group) 278
Anti-Heterosexual 18
Anti-Bisexual 31
Gender Identity: 109
Anti-Transgender 69
Anti-Gender Non-Conforming 40

Race: 3,081
Anti-White 701
Anti-Black or African American 1,955
Anti-American Indian or Alaska Native 142
Anti-Asian 168
Anti-Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 4
Anti-Multiple Races, Group 111

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bill Clinton Aide/Hillary Emailer Charged $50,000 for Letter from Candidate Bill Clinton to Foreign Politician: FBI Files

A longtime aide to Bill Clinton obtained a $50,000 political donation in return for a 1992 letter from then-Presidential candidate Clinton to an Asian politician, according to FBI files obtained by Need to Share News. Ironically, Clinton's signature was actually simulated by the aide, Maria Haley, who would later be given positions at the Clinton White House and US Export-Important Bank -- and appear in the "Chinagate" campaign finance scandal.

Haley (Maria Luisa Mabilangan Haley) died in 2011. The information below comes from her FBI file.

Haley also apparently had a relationship with Hillary Clinton. In recent days an email was released showing Hillary Clinton and top aid Cheryl Mills were contacted by Haley before her death. The contents of that email were "censored" by the State Department, according to Judicial Watch. Haley also received a positive FBI reference from Bruce Lindsey, now chairman of the Clinton Foundation and former Clinton Administration official.

According to an unnamed source in the files, a businessman requested that then-Governor and presidential candidate Bill Clinton write a "good guy letter" to South Korean presidential candidate (and later president) Kim Young-sam, wishing the Korean well. The requestor believed the letter would help him or her get a credit line at the Korean export bank. Haley "drafted, typed and signed" the letter, from "Bill Clinton," on Clinton/Gore 1992 campaign letterhead, the source said.

 Washington Post
South Korean President Kim Young-sam and President Clinton (link to Washington Post)

According to the FBI's source, Haley was allowed to sign Clinton's name and may not have received specific permission from Clinton or his top campaign officials to sign and send this particular letter. The effort was part of fundraising operations by an organization called APAC-Vote, linked to the Asian Pacific Advisory Council (APAC), which raised money for Clinton and Democratic organizations. APAC-Vote was later associated with other scandals.

The FBI file also links the person who requested the letter to a multi-million-dollar effort to launder money from a Japanese corporation. We redacted the names of three companies and one bank mentioned in the files (our redactions are in black; the white redactions are from the FBI). We were not able to verify the allegations against these companies or reach them for comment, so for the time being we have chosen not to name them.

Haley's name surfaced in the "Chinagate" scandal of the 1990s, which involved allegations the People's Republic of China had tried to buy influence through donations to the 1992 Clinton presidential run and subsequent Democratic campaigns. The scandal grew to include other claims of campaign finance improprieties involving the Clinton political machine and Democratic Party. See more here. Haley was also accused of trying to push through a questionable loan after being appointed by Clinton to the Board of the US Export-Import Bank -- see
"Appointee of Clinton Pushed Deal Sought by a Big Donor" (New York Times, 1997).

According to her New York Times obituary: "Ms. Haley worked for Mr. Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas and when he was president — originally in the presidential personnel office and then, from 1994 to 1999, on the board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States...

Ms. Haley came under scrutiny during her years at the Export-Import Bank because of her friendship with James T. Riady and John Huang, key figures in an investigation of foreign campaign contributions in 1996. More than $1 million in Democratic National Committee contributions raised by Mr. Huang was returned because of questions about their origin.

Ms. Haley met Mr. Huang met in the 1980s, when she was at the Arkansas development agency and he worked for the Worthen Banking Corporation, which at the time was partly controlled by the Riady family of Indonesia.

Ms. Haley said she was not influenced by her friendships with Mr. Huang and Mr. Riady. She was not charged." Read the 2011 obit of Ms. Haley.

Haley received mostly glowing references during her FBI background checks from those asked about her suitability for a US government position of "trust and responsibility."

The positive references included one from her White House boss Bruce Lindsey, who is now chairman of the Clinton Foundation, and White House official Nancy Hernreich Bowen, who according to the FBI file roomed briefly with Haley in the 1990s. Bowen now uses her "relationships to assist Asian and American businesses with their cross border business interests" at the same consulting firm that once employed Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton's top aid Huma Abedin, Ms. Abedin was paid by this firm while also working for Hillary at the State Department, according to media reports.

Reference from Bruce Lindsey, Former White House Official and Current Chairman of the Clinton Foundation

However, not all Haley's references were positive. One source, who requested the FBI protect his/her identity, hints at the Chinagate issue, calling Haley a "fearless politician who would do anything for the Clinton/Gore administration, even if it was illegal," the file states. The source added that Haley "controlled" Asian campaign contributions to the Clinton/Gore administration. However, this source reportedly did not have first-hand information to back up the claims. 

Remarkably, the FBI file -- or at least its released portions -- are silent regarding Haley's connections with other Chinagate figures, such as those revealed in the media reports above. If Haley's involvement with shady fundraising went deeper than publicly alleged and discussed in the FBI file, she apparently took those secrets to the grave.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hillary Joked About 2012 North Korean Missile Test & Pranking Kim Jong-un, But Is Anybody Laughing Now?

Secretary of State Clinton joked about a failed North Korean missile test after a senior aide facetiously suggested they send North Korea's dictator a signed picture from the movie "Failure to Launch."

The State Department team may have needed a laugh at the time, since the launch attempt days earlier in April 2012 had generated widespread criticism of the Obama Administration's policy toward North Korea.

"The launching has been politically problematic for the Obama administration, which only weeks ago completed an agreement with the North to provide food aid in return for Pyongyang’s agreement to suspend uranium enrichment and refrain from test launchings of long-range missiles," reported the New York Times. "..Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said the launching illustrated President Obama’s strategy of appeasement. 'This incompetence from the Obama administration has emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and its allies'"(see article here.)

"Let's get Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey to sign the attached and send it to (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un," suggested State Department spin doctor Philippe Reines in his April 16, 2012 email. "His (Kim's) father was supposedly a huge movie buff. And the kid always looks like he could use a laugh" (see the email below).

Clinton responded that the movie, a 2006 romantic comedy, was playing on her TV at that very moment, writing: "auspicious sign?"

When Reines remarked on the coincidental timing, Clinton responded: "It's those strange signals you keep receiving from your dental fillings."

[The exact "Failure to Launch" picture sent by Reines to Clinton was not released. The image below is one of several available on the Internet.]

However, the joke turned out to be on the United States. Starting just months later in 2012, North Korea went on to successful tests of its long-range missiles, most recently earlier this year, when it also detonated an underground nuclear weapon,

U.S. military and intelligence officials now admit Pyongyang has made substantial progress during the Obama Administration in developing nuclear missiles that could one day hit the continental U.S. While public estimates of North Korean progress vary, in April 2015 the U.S. military commander in South Korea testified to the Senate that he believed the North could already mount a nuclear weapon on a missile capable of reaching the American mainland (see story here.)

This year's successful tests and the defiant progress they show have prompted unprecedented responses from North Korea's alarmed neighbors in South Korea and Japan, and President Obama recently signed into law enhanced sanctions against Pyongyang.

North Korean issues have figured prominently in Sec. Clinton's email scandal, including reports of classified spy satellite information on North Korea stored on her private email server (see here).

The emails also raise questions about how informed Sec. Clinton was on North Korean issues. In a 2011 exchange below, Clinton appears caught off guard by international media reports that U.S. and North Korean negotiators had reached an agreement for Pyongyang to suspend its uranium enrichment in return for American food aid (the agreement that was later concluded but failed to prevent the North from conducting that 2012 missile test).

"Is this true?" Sec. Clinton asked aides.

Their responses are classified.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

How Screwed Up Is the US Classification System? Even Henry Kissinger + $150,000 Couldn't Solve "Perfect Catch-22 Situation" Involving Records

Kissinger had to beg (and butter up) then-Sec. of State Clinton to get help (see below) in getting the government to review and release some of 560,000 decades-old documents from his time in government, including thousands that had already been declassified but had to be reviewed again, in what he called a "perfect Catch-22 situation."

Even a Kissinger contribution of $150,000 to get the records digitized had to failed to move the process. And while the CIA was at least somewhat responsive, the State Department had declassified, or perhaps "re-declassified," only three of its app. 260,000 documents.

"The pace of declassification of these papers by the (State) Department is maddeningly -- and disproportionately -- slow. I would call it non-existent," he wrote Clinton in Feb. 2012. wonder the families of Korean War POW/MIAs still can't get 60+-year-old files relating to their loved ones released and the Air Force still keeps files classified on the hunt for Hitler.

Apparently Kissinger and his high-power lawyer were finally able to get relief (see bottom), although the final outcome is not clear from the Clinton emails released 12/31/15.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Wonder If Pyongyang Was Reading These Hillary Emails -- When Former President Carter Offered to Go to North Korea "Commercial"

In early 2009, a pair of U.S. television journalists got picked up by North Korean police near the border with China. Never ones to let a potential hostage crisis go to waste, North Korean officials in June sentenced the still-photogenic young women to hard labor. Within days, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got an email.

It was an offer of help from a high-profile American who'd been to North Korea before as part of an unofficial effort to resolve a crisis (this one the 1994 showdown over North Korea's nuke program, which deflated into years of hapless American diplomacy that ultimately left Pyongyang with a stockpile of atomic weapons).

"Hillary: As I explained to you on the phone, I don't think it is appropriate to tell them (the North Koreans) that I will come only if they agree in advance to release the women. Your response was, in effect, 'They have already agreed.' Is this correct? If not, I will go, by commercial airline if necessary, representing The Carter Center, and try to induce them to approve the release. JC:" emailed someone with the first name "Jimmy" and the last initial "C," whose last name has been redacted from the email (below) by the State Department, but who is almost certainly former President Jimmy Carter.

Secretary of State Clinton's initial response was not to send a warm thank you back to Carter, or even offer him some frequent flyer miles for the trip, but rather to look for someone else to consult (Or dump the problem on?)

She asked her assistant for the emails of White House Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Kurt Campbell, State Department Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

If Secretary Clinton ended up emailing these officials, we didn't see that string in the declassified Hillary email files (are those resulting emails classified? or did Hillary pick up the phone instead?). But we do know one thing for sure: When the time came to send someone to Pyongyang to retrieve the journalists and boost his humanitarian cred, it was a former president, but not the one who emailed for the job.

In early August 2009, the world learned that Bill Clinton had jetted to North Korea (not on commercial, bur rather the private jet of one of his billionaire supporters). According to media reports, other emissaries had been discussed (former Veep Al Gore was cited in one report on a list that did not include Carter). But Pyongyang apparently held out for a bigger title.

After Bill offered some modest apologies and spent face time with then North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, the journalists received a special pardon and the former President whisked them home.

President Obama was quick to thank Clinton (and Gore): "I want to thank President Bill Clinton – I had a chance to talk to him – for the extraordinary humanitarian effort that resulted in the release of the two journalists."

[To be sure, Bill Clinton deserves praise, since flying across the world to a dangerous country, treating with a homicidal maniac dictator and riding back with two exhausted journalists long separated from American bath products was no doubt more risky and less enjoyable than other trips he's taken on that private jet. That said, it was some great press for the "Clinton Brand."]

Hillary was careful to emphasize that Bill's role was "private" and separate from the official discussions between America and the North: “I want to be sure people don’t confuse what Bill did, which was a private humanitarian mission to bring these young women home, with our policy..."

We haven't run across President Carter's reaction to losing out on the mission. Given his fondness for high-profile diplomatic initiatives, and willingness even to fly commercial on this one, we don't imagine he was smiling:

One addition note: Accompanying President Clinton on his trip to Pyongyang was his long-time aide and former White House Chief of Staff, John Podesta.

Podesta is now Chairman of Hillary's presidential campaign.

Returning from the trip Hillary's chief of staff pronounced "quite fab," Prodesta quipped: "I think I am now waived in to practice in the North Korean military courts." (Editorial aside: Those are probably not the courts in which Hillary may one day need Podesta's legal assistance.)