No fly, no oil, no kidding

By Christopher Harper

Americans may disagree on many things, but it’s clear they take the war in Ukraine seriously.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans (74%) support establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, banning U.S. imports of Russian oil (80%), and imposing further penalties on the Russian economy (81%).

It’s time for Brandon to realize he’s leading from behind. Again.

The Russian invasion poses a significant threat to various countries, including Poland, a NATO member and key American ally.

If Russia had invaded Ukraine 20 years ago, there is little question that the United States would be helping as much as possible. But the disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq have made U.S. leaders reluctant to engage in the world.

It feels a lot like America in the late 1970s and early 1980s after Vietnam when the United States was reluctant to engage in world affairs. America was tentative and fearful; Ronald Reagan changed that.

Although I support Donald Trump and DaTechGuy on most issues, I think they’re wrong about keeping out of this battle. I firmly believe that despite the troubles Putin and his military have faced in Ukraine, they’re likely to keep pushing their weight around.

As a result, here’s what I think we should do:

–Remind Americans that the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1994 pledged that the United States, Russia, and others not to invade Ukraine, in exchange for that country giving up its vast nuclear arsenal. Putin has violated that promise. While America did not commit to defending Ukraine, the United States is morally obligated to do so.

–Impose sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas industry. Even though oil exports have dropped because of nervous shippers and insurers, Putin is still getting the product through to European and U.S. consumers. This move would likely push up gasoline and heating prices, but it will also have Brandon and his minions reconsider the need for American energy independence.

–Help to create a no-fly zone with NATO over Ukraine to allow an acceleration of weapons deliveries and humanitarian supplies. Some analysts and government leaders are concerned that such a move would result in battles with Russian aircraft. That is certainly a possibility, but Russians have steered clear of Western fighter jets in places like Syria and the former Yugoslavia.

Audentes fortuna iuvat. Fortune favors the bold.

Seeing red over green

By Christopher Harper

Going green may end up making many of us see red, particularly since the Brandon administration plans to force automakers to make 50% of all automobiles electric by 2030. 

All you have to do is look at the issue with one crucial mineral in developing a “green” car: lithium.

First, the cars will be significantly more expensive. The cost of lithium has increased as governments push for so-called “green” technology. Lithium, a mineral that is key for electric car batteries, has skyrocketed more than 250% over the last 12 months, hitting its highest level ever, according to an industry index from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

The average cost of an electric-vehicle battery ran $157 per kilowatt-hour, a measure of energy capacity, in 2021, the Department of Energy said. That means a typical EV battery costs between $6,000 and $7,000, a Bloomberg analysis showed.

Battery costs would need to come down to $100 per kilowatt-hour for overall EV prices to compete with traditional internal combustion engine cars, according to Bloomberg. The price of lithium will play a prominent role in achieving that goal.

Second, the United States has limited lithium resources, while China and Russia have vast amounts of the mineral. Depending on China and Russia for such minerals is a bad option in anyone’s book. Just think about how the U.S. dependence on foreign oil dominated American economic and foreign policy for decades. 

Third, a big surprise: environmentalists, who say they want “green” energy, don’t want the mining industry to provide it from the United States. 

Lithium Americas proposed to mine lithium on a dormant volcano in Nevada. However, the firm has yet to mine any lithium due to pushback from environmentalists and ongoing lawsuits related to allegations that the federal government approved the company’s mining permit too quickly.

But there’s more. Lithium isn’t technically what’s known as a “rare-earth mineral” because there’s supposedly enough to go around. We’ll see how that works out once the developed countries force most people to buy an electric vehicle.

China mines over 70% of the world’s rare earths and is responsible for 90% of the complex process of turning them into magnets used in electric vehicles and other “green” technologies, such as windmills.

Not surprisingly, environmentalists are also holding up permissions to mine rare earths in the United States. 

Isn’t it time to realize that the movement toward “green” energy needs to pause to determine what economic and political costs are associated with such a radical change in the energy needs of the United States?

Do we really want to be dependent on China for our energy?

If environmentalists want green energy, don’t they have to allow more mining in the United States?

The answers seem pretty apparent to me. 

The ‘science’ isn’t working

By Christopher Harper

The “science” isn’t working!

We’ve been masked-up, socially distanced, shut down, and vaccinated. But COVID keeps winning.

Maybe it’s time to reassess our hypotheses?

The underlying “science” of masks has always been suspect because the studies are old and dubious.

The underlying “science” of social distancing also has been suspect because no one could determine what the distance should be.

The underlying “science” of shutting down was suspect and had various adverse effects, such as economic and personal depression.

Vaccinations may have reduced the number of deaths but now seem incapable of halting each new variant that occurs.

Amid the renewed calls to intensify the old policies, a few voices of reason seem to be appearing in the fog of war.

“The reality is that we are all going to be infected at some point with omicron or something else,” said Bill Hanage, a Harvard epidemiologist.

Instead of government intervention, which doesn’t seem to be working to eliminate COVID, people need to ask themselves various questions. What is my risk? If I decide to get vaccinated, am I willing to accept the risks? If I am unvaccinated, am I willing to accept the risks?

Even in blue states, politicians seem to be bowing to pandemic fatigue: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said this week that the public health emergency “is over.” He said he doesn’t want to impose new restrictions on vaccinated people who have done their part to control the pandemic.

The government has to stop blaming those who don’t want to get the vaccination, making them seem like some country bumpkins without ethics. The vaccines have little impact on the omicron variant.

Moreover, the government needs to provide information on just how much money the pharmaceutical companies make on these vaccines and their boosters. More and more people like me are convinced that the drug companies are far from benevolent.

Fear-mongering no longer works. Rather than following the same flawed policies, perhaps it’s time to look at other alternatives, which may include allowing the disease to run its course.

As one of my friends suggested, perhaps it’s time to recommend the tenets of the Barrington Declaration to protect the sick and very elderly. See

Tone deaf in Killadelphia

By Christopher Harper

One of the main reasons my wife and I decided to move out of Philadelphia was the soaring crime rate in the city.

Even so, it was surprising how bad it got this year. Philadelphia has recorded more homicides this year than the nation’s two largest cities – New York City and Los Angeles – with 528 homicides to date. New York City has recorded 443 as of Dec. 5 and Los Angeles 352 as of Nov. 27.

Philadelphia is not alone in recording a record number of murders. Eleven other cities—all governed by Democrats—have set records: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; Toledo, Ohio; Tucson, Arizona; and Rochester, New York.

What’s just as surprising is the tone-dear responses to the crime spree from Democrats.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a George Soros darling and recently re-elected to his post, said that the city wasn’t experiencing a crime wave.

“We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,” the district attorney said last week. “It’s important that we don’t let this become mushy and bleed into the notion that there is some kind of big spike in crime.” He added that tourists should feel safe in the city.

The usually calm Michael Nutter, who served as mayor for eight years, denounced Krasner’s comments as “some of the worst, most ignorant, and most insulting comments I have ever heard spoken by an elected official.”

Nutter, who is Black, added in a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “I have to wonder what kind of messed up world of white wokeness Krasner is living in to have so little regard for human lives lost, many of them Black and brown, while he advances his own national profile as a progressive district attorney.”

After widespread condemnation for his remarks, Krasner, who is white, assembled a bevy of leftist political and religious leaders to announce an apology.

But it wasn’t only Krasner who didn’t understand the nature of the murder spree.

Two students from Temple University, where I teach, were murdered—a rare occurrence even though the college is located in the center of the city.

The president of the faculty, a Black woman, offered this disingenuous analysis of what’s going on.

“There are so many systemic issues at play—not just here in North Philadelphia—but in most urban centers across the nation that need to be addressed. Issues of poverty, severely compromised urban education systems, joblessness amidst a consumer culture that is always reminding us of the class divide between the haves and the have nots—complicated by COVID-19 and nearly two years of its wake—making these issues even more nuanced than they have been in previous years. But loss of life is a tragedy—no matter where it occurs or why. We have much work to do, and we need everyone to join in that struggle,” a statement said.

It’s impossible to unpack the illogical analysis in the statement above.

The facts, however, are clear: Two people died! Two or more people killed them!

The Democrats running the cities and the academy are out of synch with most people, who can easily point to the cause for rising crime rates: a lack of police enforcement and investigation. That’s because the Democrats don’t like law and order.

Liars figure

By Christopher Harper

Figures don’t lie, but liars figure. 

Mark Twain’s quotation couldn’t have described Dana Milbank of the Washington Post any better.

Milbank, one of the most-biased political analysts in Washington, set out to prove that Joe Biden is getting worse press than Donald Trump. 

“After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as—and for a time worse than—the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020,” Milbank writes. “Sure, Biden has had his troubles, with the delta variant Afghanistan, and inflation. But the economy is rebounding impressively, he has signed major legislation, and he has restored some measure of decency, calm, and respect for democratic institutions.”

Milbank bases his analysis on artificial intelligence evaluation of news sources, providing a “sentiment analysis” in which Biden does not do well.

But Milbank doesn’t list the usual caveats researchers have about such analysis. The simple, one-dimensional sentiment model from negative to positive yields rather little actionable information for a client worrying about the effect of public discourse on one’s reputation. As a result, the AI analysis should be put through the hands of actual humans.

These misgivings would stand in the way of a good story. So, Milbank, the liar, uses his illicit figures. Here is the fog of journalistic war against Trump:

FiscalNote, combed through more than 200,000 articles from 65 news websites (newspapers, network, and cable news, political publications, news wires, and more) to do a ‘sentiment analysis’ of coverage. Using algorithms that give weight to certain adjectives based on their placement in the story, it rated Biden’s coverage in the first 11 months of 2021 and the coverage President Donald Trump got in the first 11 months of 2020.

“Sentiment analysis ranks coverage from entirely negative (-1.0) to entirely positive (1.0), and most outlets are in a relatively tight band between -0.1 and 0.1. Overall, Biden was slightly positive or neutral for seven months, ranging from 0.02 to -0.01. That plummeted to -0.07 in August – a lower number than Trump hit in all of 2020 (or 2019) – and has been between -0.04 and -0.03 ever since. Trump never left a narrow range of -0.03 to -0.04.”

As noted earlier, a human has to sort through these data—an expert human rather than a journalist who’s often guilty of confirmation bias, which basically means he sets out to prove his point rather than interpreting the actual information.

I’ve done what is known as content analysis, where two analysts sift through the news to determine its bias, a system that has its flaws but is far more time tested than what Milbank uses.

But the liar doesn’t let these problems stand in his way as he pontificates on.

“How to explain why Biden would be treated more harshly than a president who actively subverted democracy? Perhaps journalists, pressured by Trump’s complaints about the press, pulled punches. Perhaps media outlets, after losing the readership and viewership Trump brought, think tough coverage will generate interest….

“Too many journalists are caught in a mindless neutrality between democracy and its saboteurs, between fact and fiction. It’s time to take a stand.”

Milbank’s argument doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s difficult for anyone to believe that Biden is getting worse press than Trump. It’s simply a way to try to turn the conversation back to blaming Trump for everything that has gone wrong in the world for the past century. 

Media madness

By Christopher Harper 

I usually don’t tell new acquaintances that I worked in the media for more than 25 years.  That way, I avoid trying to defend the indefensible.  

For example, the Russia dossier finally fell apart last week when one of its principal sources was arrested. 

But much of the media haven’t admitted their errors. As Axios puts it: “It’s one of the most egregious journalistic errors in modern history, and the media’s response to its own mistakes has so far been tepid.” 

BuzzFeed News, which made waves in 2017 by publishing the entire dossier, says it has no plans to take the document down. It’s still online, accompanied by a note that says, “The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.” 

Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn began reporting about the dossier before the 2016 election. Asked whether he planned to correct the record, Corn said,” My priority has been to deal with the much larger topic of Russia’s undisputed attack and Trump’s undisputed collaboration with Moscow’s cover-up.” 

To its credit, The Washington Post corrected and removed large portions of two articles. Its media critic, Erik Wemple, has written at length about the mistakes made by The Post and other media outlets in their coverage of the dossier. 

But that’s not the only scandal hanging around. 

It is unthinkable that Chris Cuomo has lasted this long after breaking almost every ethical guideline in the book by shoring up his brother.  

In his discussions with his brother’s support group, Chris “encouraged his brother to take a defiant position and not to resign from the governor’s office, people familiar with the conversations said. At one point, he used the phrase ‘cancel culture’ as a reason to hold firm in the face of the allegations, two people present on one call said.”  

It was an embarrassment to have Andrew Cuomo around for so long. It is just as bad that CNN continues to have Chris Cuomo around.  

But there’s more. The media look ridiculous in supporting President Brandon’s ban on travel to the United States from African countries when news organizations called President Trump a racist for similar acts.  

In 2017, President Trump imposed travel restrictions on six predominantly Muslim countries over concerns of improper vetting. Much of the media called his actions a “Muslim ban.” When the pandemic began, Trump blocked travel from China and six other countries, including Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. Biden, a presidential candidate at the time, called Trump’s actions “xenophobic.” 

It’s disheartening to see how far the media have fallen, particularly when I used to play a role in trying to prop up many of the organizations I now criticize.  

Humor and politics

By Christopher Harper

Dick Tuck was a political operative I met in the 1970s in Washington, D.C., and I later reconnected with him in the 1990s in New York City.

During his years as a campaign aide to the Democratic National Committee, Tuck became Richard Nixon’s nemesis.

In 1962, Tuck worked for Pat Brown in the gubernatorial campaign that Nixon tried to win after losing the presidential race to JFK two years earlier.

At a fundraiser in Chinatown in Los Angeles, Nixon was confused when the guests started to smile during his presentation. Tuck had snuck in fortune cookies that read: “Vote for Pat Brown.” During a whistle-stop campaign, Tuck ordered the train to start moving in the middle of Nixon’s speech. Nixon even complained about Tuck in the infamous Watergate tapes.

Whatever the case, Tuck brought humor to campaigns—a device sadly missing in today’s venomous political scene.

Rand Paul brought back memories of Dick Tuck when the Kentucky senator brought some humor to Washington during a speech about wasteful spending.

To make his points, Paul displayed several poster boards about specific research projects that he said taxpayers would be astounded to know their tax dollars were funding.

Among the projects he highlighted were: $357,000 to study “Cocaine and Risky Sex Habits of Quail” and $1.6 million for researching “Lizards on a Treadmill.”

One poster board featured legendary singer Dolly Parton to highlight that Uncle Sam is spending $250,000 to send “kids in Pakistan to Space Camp and Dollywood.” Another claimed the National Science Foundation spent $700,000 to figure out whether astronaut Neil Armstrong said: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” or “One small step for ‘a’ man.”

Paul said Americans might be alarmed by such frivolous studies, but it happens routinely “because we never vote for less money. It’s always more. Somebody’s got to point out that the waste and abuse of money goes on.”

Paul’s hilarious and poignant rant reminded me of U.S. Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin and his Golden Fleece Award, which he gave to public officials squandering public money in the 1970s and 1980s.

I hope that Paul continues the tradition of humor in politics, which seems far more effective than the vitriol we’ve seen in recent years.