Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Day After - Weighing-In on the 2018 Academy Awards Best Picture Winner - The Shape of Water - 5 March 2018

It’s that time of the year again when the Old Colonel gets to weigh in on the Academy Awards and I truly appreciate the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences telling me what the best motion pictures of the year were but in the ONLY category that really countsMONEY MADE – it appears the American and International audiences have made different decisions.  When it comes to picking movies, I always "trust the mob" so here is how the movie going and paying public ranked this year’s movies as of 5 March 2018, the day after the Academy gave the Best Picture award to The Shape of Water!

Notice NONE of the nine nominated pictures is even among the ten top money maker of the past year, or even close for that matter. According to the Mob, the Best Picture of 2017 was Star Wars: The Last Jedi taking in $1.33B Worldwide which was more than ten times what the winner, The Shape of Water, made and over two and a half times what the top nominee, Dunkirk, took in.  Star Wars made 35 times more than Phantom Thread earned.  Although some of the nominees might earn more between now and the end of their theater run, none including Dunkirk will crack the Top Ten earnings list where the poorest performer, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, earned $794.9M.

One thing I'm confident of is that the producers of The Shape of Water would gladly trade their Oscar for the $1.33B Star Wars: The Last Jedi earned.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Was Nancy Pelosi's Dad a Nazi Alt-Right Bigot?

House Minority Leader Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi Seems to Have Forgotten Her Southern Heritage

House Minority Leader Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi woke up from her 30-year slumber last week and suddenly decided to be outraged by the Confederate statues standing in the halls of Congress. After serving as Speaker of the House for four years without noticing the statues, she now suddenly finds them "reprehensible" and is demanding House Speaker Paul Ryan have them removed immediately but her family history makes her newfound outrage a bit awkward.

The Lee-Jackson statue in her childhood hometown of Baltimore was removed yesterday but it seems the 1948 statue dedication ceremony was presided over by then Maryland Governor William Preston Lane Jr. and Baltimore Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr, Nancy's Dad. Nine year old Nancy stood close by during the ceremony beaming with pride along with the 3000 other attendees. The statue was erected with a $100,000 donation from Baltimorean J. Henry Ferguson whose father was a friend of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Mayor D’Alesandro's dedication speech include these inspiring words:  “Today, with our nation beset by subversive groups and propaganda which seeks to destroy our national unity, we can look for inspiration to the lives of Lee and Jackson to remind us to be resolute and determined in preserving our sacred institutions.”

I suspect today Nancy would consider her Dad/s words "Hate Speech!" Here is the link to the Baltimore Sun article to verify this information:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Marylanders Remove Statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and They Don't Even Know Who He Was!

Now that Marylanders are eradicating all traces of Roger B. Taney, they will never know why they ever built tributes to this distinguished Marylander in the first place but then again, most have probably never been curious why anyway.  He was not JUST a Supreme Court Justice, he was the fifth CHIEF JUSTICE of the United States serving for over 28 years (1836-64) which made him the second longest serving Chief Justice in US history behind only John Marshall.  He was also the Attorney General (1831-33) and the Secretary of the Treasury (1833-34) and he was the first non-protestant ever to serve in a president’s cabinet.  Taney remained loyal to the Union throughout the Civil War.

The Dred Scott vs. Sandford decision for which he is now being vilified was a 7-2 decision with Taney in the majority and was decided on the basis of interpreting the Constitution as it was written.  It took the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to "fix" the Constitution so it appears Taney's interpretation was correct at the time of the decision.

Taney was personally against slavery and, when he inherited slaves at the death of his father, he manumitted all of them and even provided pensions to the ones too old to work.  He famously condemned Slavery as “a blot on our National character.”  Chief Justice Taney even administered the oath of office to Abraham Lincoln on 4 March 1861.

Finally, the USCGC Taney (WHEC-37) was one of the Coast Guard’s most historic ships and is now a museum ship in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988.  I suspect Marylanders next move will be to try to sink her one night soon.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due - It Was 55 Years Ago When President John F. Kennedy Sent Combat Troops to Vietnam to Save Southeast Asia from Communist Domination

On this Memorial Day let’s all remember that it was President John F. Kennedy Kennedy that had the courage to stand up to Communist aggression in Vietnam which in retrospect arguably saved all of Southeast Asia from falling under Communist domination.  I don’t believe President Kennedy is given sufficient credit for his courageous committed bi-partisan, anti-communist foreign policy and his principled defense of South Vietnam.

By sending in U.S. Combat Forces and creating the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) on 8 Feb 1962 (as everyone that fought in Vietnam knows, MACV was the US Command that prosecuted the war right up until the end), President Kennedy provided most of the rest of Southeast Asia, and particularly Thailand, the “breathing room” to resist total Communist domination.

President Kennedy was totally committed to stopping communist expansion and knew not acting decisively in Vietnam by committing US troops would fatally damage U.S. credibility with our allies. As Kennedy so eloquently stated "Now we have a problem in making our power credible... and Vietnam looks like the place.” He went on to reaffirmed his commitment to defend South Vietnam in his 11 May 1962 National Security Action Memorandum 52, known as "The Presidential Program for Vietnam."

And for those revisionist “historians” that say that if President Kennedy had lived he would have abandoned South Vietnam, I can only refer you to what Robert Kennedy said in his oral history interview in April 1964 at the John F. Kennedy Library.  Remember, Robert Kennedy was not merely John Kennedy's brother, he was his closest political ally and closest confidant so what RFK said about his brother’s view of the Vietnam War is not merely speculation or opinion.

Third Oral History Interview with

April 30, 1964
New York, New York
By John Bartlow Martin
For the John F. Kennedy Library


the president felt that the. . . . He had a strong, overwhelming reason for being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam.
What was the overwhelming reason?
Just the loss of all of Southeast Asia if you lost Vietnam. I think everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.
What if it did?
Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world. Also, it would affect what happened in India, of course, which in turn has an effect on the Middle East. Just, it would have, everybody felt, a very adverse effect. It would have an effect on Indonesia, hundred million population. All of these countries would be affected by the fall of Vietnam to the Communists, particularly as we had made such a fuss in the United States both under President Eisenhower and President Kennedy about the preservation of the integrity of Vietnam.

There was never any consideration given to pulling out?


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

More Lies About The Department of Veterans Affairs Firing Wrong-Doers But This Time It's President Obama Doing the Lying!

The "Old Colonel" has Blogged before about faux-Vets VA Secretary Bob McDonald and his Deputy Slone Gibson probably being the least effective leadership Duo in the VA’s storied history but now they got President Obama lying for them too.  They have done NOTHING to fix VA problems or fire “bad apples” in the department!  They are not only consummate liars but have gone native becoming part of the VA bureaucracy they were appointed to reform.  They are more interested in protecting the VA workforce than rooting out evil. That’s what you get when you select faux-Vets like Bob & Slone to lead the VA. Both bailed out of uniform the very second they could after the payback time for their free education - without ever even serving a second in a combat zone let alone hearing a shot fired in angerNeither even bothered to remain in the Reserves as doing so might someday subject them to danger!  That's how they got their nicknames "Battlefield Bob" and "Slow-to-Combat Slone."
Both faux-Vets have demonstrated they possess the requisite detachment to continue the VA’s absolute indifference towards Vets. The problem is NOT money, it’s ineffective leadership at the top!  In addition to voting for the VA Reform Bill, if you want to really do something to support Vets, urge the President to FIRE Bob & Slone immediately!
 Fact Checker
‘Whole bunch’ of facts don’t support Obama’s claim that many VA bosses were fired over scandal
By Michelle Ye Hee Lee 12 October 2016

“I don’t want to, in any way, pretend that we are where we need to be but we have, in fact, fired a whole bunch of people who are in charge of these facilities.”
— President Obama, town hall aired on CNN, Sept. 28, 2016

The Obama administration seems set on misleading the public about the number of people held accountable for the wait-time scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA Secretary Robert McDonald has twice received Four Pinocchio rulings for claims about how many people his agency fired or proposed disciplinary action against.

Obama was responding to a question from the widow of Army veteran Barry Coates, who advocated for changes at the VA before he died of colon cancer. Coates had waited about a year for a colonoscopy at a VA hospital — and by the time he got one, doctors found that he had Stage 4 cancer and was terminally ill. The family later sued the VA over a misdiagnosis of hemorrhoids and reached a settlement.

“We heard a lot of promises about reform and accountability but still, nothing’s changed. … When are we going to actually start holding these contracted doctors and the VA employees accountable?” she asked. Was Obama’s answer correct?

The Facts

The VA scandal unfolded in 2014 after whistleblowers alleged that employees at the Phoenix VA hospital manipulated patient wait-time data, leading to delays in access to health care and contributing to patient deaths. The VA Office of Inspector General later confirmed the allegations and found a systemic, years-long problem. Two years later, patients are still unable to get timely appointments with specialists at the Phoenix VA.

Congress passed the bipartisan Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 in response. The legislation, referred to as the “Choice Act,” allowed more veterans to seek private care outside the VA system, and authorized McDonald to expedite disciplinary actions for senior executive service employees.

It was notoriously difficult to fire senior executives at the VA — which terminated executives at one-fourth the firing rate for all federal agencies from 2008 to 2013 — and the goal was to allow the VA chief to replace bad actors quickly, especially ones connected to the wait-time scandal.

The White House referred us to VA spokeswoman Victoria Glynn, who said the South Carolina VA medical center has “made significant and sustained improvement in the gastrointestinal department” where Coates had tried to get a colonoscopy. There is more staffing, better data tracking and improved communication within the medical center, Glynn said. During the investigation of the department’s procedures, the chief of gastroenterology resigned, a chief of staff retired and the chief of nursing was reprimanded, Glynn said.

The VA has terminated more than 4,095 employees since July 29, 2014, when McDonald was confirmed, Glynn said. But that does not capture people in charge of the facilities or people fired because of the wait-time problems.

We asked specifically about senior executives fired under the Choice Act firing authority. The VA provided these actions, current as of Oct. 3:

Three employees removed.
• One 15-day suspension.
• One proposed removal that was reversed.
• Three employees retired or resigned with disciplinary process pending.
• Five employees resigned in lieu of an adverse action or before their disciplinary actions took place.
• Two employees were demoted, but their demotions were reversed by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

That means three senior executives, who fit Obama’s description of being “in charge” of the facilities, were fired after McDonald became secretary. Glynn said the Choice Act firing authority is not the only method for holding people accountable, so we asked how many people were removed with authority other than the Choice Act. We did not receive a response.

The department provides regular updates to the House and Senate VA committees about proposed and completed employee disciplinary actions taken against senior executives under the Choice Act, and “adverse employment actions initiated since June 3, 2014, on any basis related to patient scheduling, record manipulation, appointment delays, and/or patient deaths.”

As of Sept. 22, the data available at the time of the CNN town hall, the VA had proposed 12 senior executive service employees to be removed or demoted under the Choice Act firing authority. Five were successfully removed. Only one removal, of former Phoenix VA director Sharon Helman, was marked as “a case involving patient wait time.” The VA attempted to discipline Helman for wait-time issues, but she ultimately was fired over failing to report thousands of dollars worth of gifts from a lobbyist.

Among non-senior executives, six employees were successfully removed in relation to patient wait times: an associate director, a chief of health administration service, a chief of staff, a medical support assistant, a nursing supervisor and a chief of medical service. That means five of the six fired non-senior employees were in some type of leadership or supervising roles.

The Pinocchio Test

No matter how many times administration officials try to spin this, the facts just don’t support them. Twice, we awarded Four Pinocchios to McDonald for exaggerating the number of people fired over their actions relating to wait times. This time, Obama said “we have, in fact, fired a whole bunch of people who are in charge of these [VA] facilities.”

In response to the VA scandal, Congress gave the department’s chief authority to expedite disciplinary actions for senior executives (those “in charge”), especially relating to the wait-time problem. Since Obama signed the bill into law in August 2014, the VA proposed removals or demotions of 12 to 15 senior executives under the new authority. Three to five senior executives were successfully removed. Only one senior executive’s removal was marked as “a case involving patient wait time,” but her actual firing was because of an unrelated ethics violation over accepting gifts. Five non-senior employees in leadership roles at VA medical centers were successfully removed relating to patient wait times.

Although Obama said he didn’t want to “pretend that we are where we need to be,” he did just that. The VA removed one to six people “in charge” for patient wait-time problems in the past two years. That’s nowhere near “a whole bunch.”

Four Pinocchios

Monday, September 12, 2016

Remind Me Again, Who Has the "Deplorable" Supporters?

If it’s a contest about who has the most despicable supporter, I would like to nominate Seddique Mir Mateen, father of Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter who killed 49 people in at the Pulse nightclub in June.  He attended Hillary Clinton’s 9 August Florida rally and the Clinton folks placed him strategically directly behind her because his middle eastern appearance fit their narrative of inclusive immigration.  Given Seddique's “politics,” I suspect he would fit into Hillary’s “deplorable bucket” along with a majority of her other “supporters.”

Monday, August 1, 2016

Washington Post Finally Criticises Hillary Clinton for Lying About Top Secrets Disclosed in Her Emails on Her Home-brew Server!

In a rare Washington Post Fact Checker, the paper actually printed something critical of the paper’s political darling, Hillary Clinton.  Seems even Glenn Kessler couldn’t quite some of the blatant lies Hillary was attempting to spin on Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday on 31 July 16.

Here is what the WaPo said but you will notice they buried it on their website without posting it on their homepage although they did post a Trump Fact Checker on the homepage.  So much for WaPo fair and balanced reposting.

Here is what Glenn had to say about Hillary:

Clinton’s claim that the FBI director said her email answers were ‘truthful’

By Glenn Kessler, 31 July 2016

“Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”

—Hillary Clinton, interview on “Fox News Sunday,” July 31, 2016

Clinton made these remarks after “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace played a video of her saying: “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified materials. I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time. I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified.”

As Wallace put it, “After a long investigation, FBI Director James Comey said none of those things that you told the American public were true.”

After Clinton denied that, Wallace played another video of an exchange between Comey and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi:

GOWDY: Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her emails either sent or received. Was that true?

 COMEY: That’s not true.

 GOWDY: Secretary Clinton said, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” Was that true?

 COMEY: There was classified material emailed.

So what’s going on here?

The Facts

Clinton is cherry-picking statements by Comey to preserve her narrative about the unusual setup of a private email server. This allows her to skate past the more disturbing findings of the FBI investigation.

For instance, when Clinton asserts “my answers were truthful,” a campaign aide said she is referring to this statement by Comey to Congress: “We have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.”

But that’s not the whole story. When House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) asked whether Clinton had lied to the American public, Comey dodged: “That’s a question I’m not qualified to answer. I can speak about what she said to the FBI.”

At another point, Comey told Congress: “I really don’t want to get in the business of trying to parse and judge her public statements. And so I think I’ve tried to avoid doing that sitting here. … What matters to me is what did she say to the FBI. That’s obviously first and foremost for us.”

Comey was also asked whether Clinton broke the law: “In connection with her use of the email server? My judgment is that she did not,” Comey said.

As for retroactive classification of emails, Comey did say many emails were retroactively classified. But he also said that some emails were classified at the time — and Clinton and her aides should have been aware of that.

Here’s how Comey put it in his lengthy statement when he announced the completion of the investigation: “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

Comey said “seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters.”

He added: “There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.” He noted that “even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”

In her response to Wallace, Clinton at one point appeared to deflect responsibility to her aides: “I relied on and had every reason to rely on the judgments of the professionals with whom I worked. And so, in retrospect, maybe some people are saying, well, among those 300 people, they made the wrong call.”

Testifying before Congress, Comey said it was possible Clinton was not “technically sophisticated” enough to understand what the classified markings meant. But he said a government official should be attentive to such a marking.

The Pinocchio Test

As we have seen repeatedly in Clinton’s explanations of the email controversy, she relies on excessively technical and legalistic answers to explain her actions. While Comey did say there was no evidence she lied to the FBI, that is not the same as saying she told the truth to the American public — which was the point of Wallace’s question. Comey has repeatedly not taken a stand on her public statements.

And although Comey did say many emails were retroactively classified, he also said that there were some emails that were already classified that should not have been sent on an unclassified, private server. That’s the uncomfortable truth that Clinton has trouble admitting.