• Home page of novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • About author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Books by novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Reviews of the writing of author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Blog of author William (Bill) S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Contact author William S. Frankl, M.D.
Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Facebook Faces Congress

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

As usual, The Heritage Foundation is “right on”
when it comes to digging deep into the maze of corruption and lies rampant in our culture and society, on all levels, today.

The Heritage Foundation
The Daily Signal
April 9, 2018
Commentary By Hans von Spakovsky and Klon Kitchen

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. Read his research.

Klon Kitchen is senior fellow for technology, national security and science policy at The Heritage Foundation.

When Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress Tuesday and Wednesday he will have plenty of explaining to do to answer a torrent of criticism that has been leveled at his company in recent weeks.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most important questions we think lawmakers should ask Zuckerberg when he is scheduled to testify at a joint meeting of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on Tuesday and then before the House Commerce and Energy Committee on Wednesday. We list these below—but first, here’s some background.

Facebook’s handling of its users’ personal data has sparked privacy concerns as well as questions about how others—including political campaigns—have used that data.

Zuckerberg was invited to testify before Congress after multiple sources reported that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to as many as 87 million Facebook profiles. Cambridge Analytica allegedly used that information improperly after it was hired by the Donald Trump presidential campaign. This raises two questions.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>

First, what information did Cambridge Analytica acquire and how did it come by that information? Zuckerberg has indicated publicly that he knows the answers to these questions, so Congress should have no trouble sorting that out.

Cambridge Analytica used the information to craft sophisticated, targeted political ads. And that raises the second—and far more interesting—question: Did Cambridge Analytica’s actions constitute a novel use of Facebook user information, or is this precisely how the social media company intends the data to be used by its paying customers?

What members of Congress and the general public need to keep in mind is that nothing is free. While individuals who use Facebook don’t have to pay for it, Facebook makes money—and lots of it—using their information.

Facebook’s net income was nearly $16 billion last year. The company sells advertising to commercial clients seeking to target Facebook users based on profiles derived from those users’ online activities.

That very same ability—to identify and reach users most likely to be receptive to a client’s product or service—was valuable not just to the Trump campaign, but also to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election effort. Indeed, it was the Obama campaign that pioneered the use of such data to win elections.

In light of this, here are 10 of the most important questions that we suggest lawmakers ask Zuckerberg when he appears before Congress:

1. Mr. Zuckerberg, you recently said: “At Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use.” If users of your platform are not the source of your income, who is?

2. Specifically, what services do you provide to your paying customers and how much access do you give them to the data of Facebook users?

3. How do political campaigns leverage your services, and what are your rules governing campaign-sponsored advertisements and access to individual Facebook user data? What will be the impact of new rules you announced Friday to require people to reveal their identities and verify their location before they are allowed to buy political or “issue” ads?

4. Carol Davidsen, the director of data integration and media analytics for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, said: “Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized what we were doing.” She noted that “they [Facebook] were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.” Did Facebook, in fact, let the Obama campaign use Facebook data in ways that were outside of the company’s normal and acceptable use standards? If so, why? Who at Facebook made this decision?

5. Did the Mitt Romney presidential campaign receive access to the same information and company expertise provided to the Obama campaign? If not, why not? Who at Facebook made this decision?

6. You and other Facebook executives tell users that “we do not sell your data.” Are you asserting that all marketing and targeting data that is sold to commercial customers is anonymized and generalized so that no individual Facebook user can be specifically targeted or marketed to?

7. Doesn’t the Obama campaign’s use of your information to identify and target individual so-called “persuadables” on Facebook contradict the above claim?

8. Did the way that the Obama campaign used Facebook’s data influence your decision to change your data use policies in 2014? If so, how?

9. Does Facebook now, or has it ever, deliberately collected the content of users’ phone calls and/or messages via any of your company’s applications or services? If so, what have you done with that data?

10. Why have you suggested that the government may need to regulate you and other tech companies? Why don’t you simply adopt the practices you believe are necessary to protect the privacy of your users without requiring government coercion?

Modern technology is changing how we communicate. Those changes bring major advantages, but they also raise serious questions. One of those questions is: How much privacy do users of a social media platform like Facebook have a right to expect when they post personal information to share with their families, their friends, and the world at large?

Internet companies owe their customers straightforward answers to those questions. But government regulation should be a last resort. For now, calls for more such regulation are premature. We must first examine the extent and nature of the problem, and then assess the pros and cons of all possible solutions.

Originally published by Fox News.

Republicans’ Worst Fears

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Trump is out to face political suicide. If he could only: keep his bloody mouth shut, STOP TWEETING, and go on a nation wide tour touting all he has accomplished and that he needs more Republican senators and more Republican representatives in order to prevent the Democrats from destroying all he has done.

Washington Examiner

 Trump Confirms Republicans’ Worst Fears

By David Drucker

3/20/18

President Trump is confirming House Republicans’ worst fears about the depth of their midterm woes after spending a weekend lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation.

House Republicans were relying heavily on the $1.4 trillion tax overhaul to counteract concerns about the president and revive their 2018 fortunes, burdened with traditional midterm headwinds made exponentially worse by dissatisfaction with Trump’s polarizing leadership.

But they need Trump’s cooperation to pull it off, and the president appears uninterested.

He has sidelined the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in favor of tariffs, while unleashing a tweet storm of attacks on Mueller and the Russia probe that amplify personal traits that make him such a liability for Republicans in November.

He’s a mercurial figure,” Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., who represents a battleground district in suburban Chicago, said in a recent interview with the Washington Examiner editorial board. “If he’d put the Twitter feed away, what a glorious thing; what a glorious thing. But I just don’t think that’s going to happen.”

House Republicans have staked their 23-seat majority on tax reform, signed into law by Trump in late December after clearing Congress amid unanimous Democratic opposition. Tax cuts and economic expansion, plus proof that Republican governance could deliver tangible results, is the party’s recipe for maintaining power.

For a time, it appeared the strategy was working. Trump and congressional Republicans worked together in January and most of February to promote the tax bill, a period that coincided with positive news about the national economy.

Voters’ optimism about the future jumped, Trump’s approval rating ticked up, and the generic ballot gauging which party Americans would prefer be in charge on Capitol Hill swung back toward the GOP. But Trump’s fascination with tax reform and his historic legislative victory had waned by early March.

Last week, during a fundraiser in Missouri to boost the Republican Senate front runner, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, the president briefly mentioned tax reform, reserving much more of his speech to defend new tariffs on steel and aluminum. A few days later, Trump targeted Mueller, an escalation of sorts of his criticism of the special counsel’s Russia investigation — he had never singled out Mueller personally in a tweet.

The president also lit into the FBI after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior agent Andrew McCabe based on the finding of an as-yet unpublished inspector general probe into his role in the bureau’s investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state.

“A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Trump tweeted on Monday, as his tirade continued.

But, Trump isn’t completely ignoring the tax law. He did manage one tweet highlighting it in the past week: “Six months ago I promised that we would cut taxes and bring Main Street roaring back — and that is exactly what is happening,” he said. And, his official outside group, America First Policies, is holding town hall meetings across the country to boost the law, featuring Vice President Mike Pence. The next event is Thursday in Manchester, N.H.

And, Trump still stands to boost Republicans in the battle for the Senate, where the party holds a slim 51-49 majority.Democrats are defending a handful of seats in red states that embrace the president. In states with influential rural and exurban populations, like Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia, Trump’s trade policies appeal to working class voters. To them and other Republicans in these conservative bastions, the president’s capriciousness as evidence that he is shaking up Washington — just like he promised.

House Republicans are in a tougher spot, especially after the Democratic upset last week in a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, which sided with Trump in 2016 by 20 percentage points. Their majority could hinge on defending nearly two-dozen districts won by Clinton in the 2016 election that are comprised of upscale, educated suburbs inclined to vote Republican but are unhappy with Trump.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the GOP’s way of telling these voters — especially skeptical women — the party was delivering on traditional conservative goals despite Trump’s unorthodox behavior. It’s why House Republicans are so sensitive to the topics and messages favored by the president.

Earlier in the year, it appeared doable. The Democrats’ advantage on the generic ballot dwindled, as Trump and his allies in Congress focused equally on promoting the tax law. But as Trump has drifted back into old habits, the polling has drifted back toward the Democrats. In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, Democrats led the generic ballot 50 percent to 40 percent.

“No plan for anyone on the Hill should start with what the president is saying, it should start with what we can get done and send him to sign,” said a veteran Republican operative, advising as to the best way for Republicans to deal with Trump and survive the midterms. “No matter what his daily focus is, the fact remains that if congressional Republicans could pass things and put them on his desk, he would sign them.”

The challenge Republicans face is competing with Trump’s megaphone. Presidents always influence the political landscape; their personas and message tend to define their parties, no matter how hard down-ticket candidates work to create separation.

Trump dominates the media environment more than his recent predecessors, making it that much more difficult for Republicans in Congress to be heard above the din generated by the president. But they’re trying. Along with affiliated big money advocacy groups on the outside, the Republican Party aside from Trump is stubbornly promoting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, viewing their ability to sell the bill as integral to their midterm prospects.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC, and its sister political nonprofit, American Action Network, both aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are investing millions this year to advance the tax bill. So is Americans for Prosperity, the conservative grassroots organization affiliated with the Koch political network.

There are “three keys” to withstanding a possible Democratic wave, a top Republican consultant said: “Localize your campaign; win on the tax issue,” and make the elections a referendum on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

 

Soros/Krasner/Philadelphia is the Victim

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s new district attorney who was backed by billionaire George Soros, recently rolled out sweeping policy changes “to end mass incarceration and bring balance back to sentencing” in the City of Brotherly Love.

The progressive Democrat issued a memo to 300 assistant DAs last Tuesday outlining several bold reforms crafted to reduce the number of people in jail. The procedural shifts instruct prosecutors to stop charging people for possession of marijuana, seek lighter sentences with plea deals, and directs them to obtain approval from supervisors before requesting more punitive penalties.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Krasner highlighted one element of the memo at a news conference Thursday: the requirement that prosecutors, when asking a judge to sentence a defendant to prison, specify how much it will cost taxpayers to keep the person behind bars.

Taken in full, the five-page document – which also addresses policies around plea offers, diversion programs, and some charging decisions – is likely to impact thousands of criminal cases in the state’s busiest prosecutor’s office and one of the nation’s most violent cities.

Criminal justice experts said some of the guidelines appeared to be unprecedented, a blend of research and practices touted by reform advocates but perhaps never made so explicit in writing by a top prosecutor.

The memo encourages prosecutors to consider several department talking points before making their sentencing recommendations, such as:

“The cost of one year of unnecessary incarceration (at $42,000.00 – $60,000.00) is in the range of the cost of one year’s salary for a beginning teacher, police officer, fire fighter, social worker, Assistant District Attorney, or addiction counselor.”

“Pennsylvania’s and Philadelphia’s over-incarceration have bankrupted investment in policing, public education, medical treatment of addiction, job training and economic development – which prevent crime more effectively than money invested in corrections,” wrote Krasner, who had never prosecuted a criminal case before taking office two months ago.

During his thirty years as a defense attorney, Krasner became known for filing 75 civil rights lawsuits against the city’s police department and representing radical activists from groups like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Philadelphia, pro bono. After making his lack of prosecutorial experience a focal point of his campaign, Krasner won in a landslide last November, capturing 75 percent of the vote.

“This is a story about a movement,” Krasner said after his victory. “And this is a movement that is tired of seeing the system that has systematically picked on poor people – primarily black and brown people.”

Black and brown residents constitute approximately 57 percent of Philadelphia’s population.

Soros had contributed more than $1.6 million to a political action committee that supported Krasner’s candidacy.The organization, called Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety, paid for people to walk neighborhoods campaigning on his behalf and also financed television commercials and other advertisements.

Krasner, who was sworn-in on January 2, fired 31 prosecutors who did not share his vision during his first week on the job. Last month, he eliminated cash bail for low-level offenses. His anti-incarceration platform is the latest of many Soros-backed reform efforts intended to reverse local sentencing laws throughout the nation.

In 2011, Soros’ international grantmaking network and other deep-pocketed foundations began funding multi-pronged drives demanding California change its policies on crime and imprisonment. Since then, Soros has spent millions convincing voters in the Golden State to approve ballot measures that reclassified many felonies to misdemeanors and revamped the state’s parole guidelines. Soros-funded political action committees – like the one that supported Krasner – started sprouting up around the country in 2015, established to elect progressive prosecutors on the local level.

As Politico previously reported:

Soros has spent on district attorney campaigns in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas through a network of state-level super PACs and a national “527” unlimited-money group, each named a variation on “Safety and Justice.” (Soros has also funded a federal super PAC with the same name.) Each organization received most of its money directly from Soros, according to public state and federal financial records …

Some of these targeted, Soros-influenced races had been researched by progressive groups that identified potential regions and electorates which might be more receptive to transform its local criminal justice system fundamentally.

“There is without question a national movement toward having progressive prosecutors all over the country,” Krasner told HBO’s “Vice News Tonight” in an interview broadcast last Wednesday. “It’s in Chicago; it’s in San Francisco, Houston, it’s happening quickly. The rate of winning is high.”

Brain Dead Journalist

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

An amazing article. How far journalism has fallen.

Daily Wire
NYT Columnist Pens Stupidist Column in Recent History: ‘Go Ahead Millenials, Destroy Us!’
by Ben Shapiro
3/21/18

On Monday, New York Times essayist Tim Kreider penned an op-ed so stunningly ridiculous that readers everywhere must have simultaneously come to the realization that Kreider was dropped on his head as a child. The piece, titled, “Go Ahead, Millenials, Destroy Us,” suggested that young Americans have the freshness of youth to appreciate all the errors of the past, and that they should tear down the structures of thought that have brought about the most prosperous and free civilization in world history. In the name of progress, of course.

It’s a pandering, meandering, maudlin screed — an invitation for youngsters to burn everything with fire. Everything except Kreider, of course, who will be given a stay of execution for his role in ushering in the Xbox Revolution.

Kreider begins with the Parkland massacre, of course, which supposedly taught Americans that youngsters have greater wisdom than their elders — even though the kids from Parkland most lauded by the media have generally had little to say beyond “take the guns away” and “I hung up on Trump” and “Dana Loesch and the NRA and Marco Rubio hate children,” which isn’t so much wisdom as sheer nonsense. But according to Kreider, the children shall lead us:

As with all historic tipping points, it seems inevitable in retrospect: Of course it was the young people, the actual victims of the slaughter, who have finally begun to turn the tide against guns in this country. Kids don’t have money and can’t vote, and until now burying a few dozen a year has apparently been a price that lots of Americans were willing to pay to hold onto the props of their pathetic role-playing fantasies. But they forgot what adults always forget: that our children grow up, and remember everything, and forgive nothing. Those kids have suddenly understood how little their lives were ever worth to the people in power.

Such idiocy. Everyone in America cares about these kids — which is why they’re on television non-stop, and why we’re still talking about Parkland when we stopped talking about a massacre in a Texas church and a far larger massacre in Las Vegas mere days after they took place. Yes, America cares about its children. Duh. But according to Kreider, the kids know that we don’t care about them, and thus they will surely put down their iPhones and sound the call to the barricades:

And they’ll soon begin to realize how efficient and endless are the mechanisms of governance intended to deflect their appeals, exhaust their energy, deplete their passion and defeat them. But anyone who has ever tried to argue with adolescents knows that in the end they will have a thousand times more energy for that fight than you and a bottomless reservoir of moral rage that you burned out long ago.

And then they’ll grow up and realize half of what they thought was dumb. Which is what age and experience does to young people. I should know. I regret a good deal of the crap I wrote when I was 17 and a syndicated columnist — and I was as passionate about politics as any teenager ever.

Now, Kreider acknowledges that young people haven’t undergone that experience:

The young — and the young at mind — tend to be uncompromising absolutists. They haven’t yet faced life’s heartless compromises and forfeitures, its countless trials by boredom and ethical Kobayashi Marus, or glumly watched themselves do everything they ever disapproved of. I am creeped out by the increasing dogmatism and intolerance of millennials on the left…I just can’t help noticing that the liberal side isn’t much fun to be on anymore.

But never mind all that — bring on the guillotine!

Yet this uprising of the young against the ossified, monolithic power of the National Rifle Association has reminded me that the flaws of youth — its ignorance, naïveté and passionate, Manichaean idealism — are also its strengths. Young people have only just learned that the world is an unfair hierarchy of cruelty and greed, and it still shocks and outrages them. They don’t understand how vast and intractable the forces that have shaped this world really are and still think they can change it. Revolutions have always been driven by the young.

Yes, and those revolutions have often ended in bloody chaos and/or tyranny. The number of liberal revolutions in world history is rather limited, and those were rarely led by gung-ho 17-year-olds. The average age of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence was 44, in an era when life expectancy was far, far lower. But Kreider continues:

The students of Parkland are like veterans coming home from the bloody front of the N.R.A.’s de facto war on children. They’ve seen their friends, teachers and coaches gunned down in the halls. To them, powerful Washington lobbyists and United States senators suddenly look like what they are: cheesy TV spokesmodels for murder weapons. It has been inspiring and thrilling to watch furious, cleareyed teenagers shame and vilify gutless politicians and soul-dead lobbyists for their complicity in the murders of their friends.

Kreider makes no case for that complicity. And he can’t explain why he isn’t a jabbering spokesmodel for virtue signaling New York leftism — which he clearly is, by the way. But the kids say so, so it’s so. Go, kids!

My message, as an aging Gen X-er to millennials and those coming after them, is: Go get us. Take us down — all those cringing provincials who still think climate change is a hoax, that being transgender is a fad or that “socialism” means purges and re-education camps. Rid the world of all our outmoded opinions, vestigial prejudices and rotten institutions. Gender roles as disfiguring as foot-binding, the moribund and vampiric two-party system, the savage theology of capitalism — rip it all to the ground. I for one can’t wait till we’re gone. I just wish I could live to see the world without us.

The kids will remake the world. We’ll have a world in which the government controls all industry, in which biological sex disappears into the vagary of subjectively-defined gender, in which we no longer talk about the horrors of the Soviet Union and China and North Korea and Cuba and Venezuela (they’re probably fake, anyhow, made up by those old fogeys who just don’t understand sharing!); we’ll have a world in which men and women are merely clay to be molded to societal whim, in which capitalism disappears in favor of, well, something, and yet Tim Kreider keeps getting to write s****y essays for cash instead of doing something useful like cleaning the restrooms with his discarded drafts. Yeah, kids! And remember that Tim Kreider was there, cheering you on like that cool, dope-smoking uncle at the holiday party three years ago who sneaked you a beer and then patted you on the back as you vomited into the bushes to fight the system, man!

At least Kreider is right about one thing: sane people can’t wait until he’s gone, from the pages of The New York Times, at least.

Senator Cotton and the North Korean Talks.

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Senator Cotton knows a great deal about North Korea. The following is a warning by him about the upcoming “ Peace Talks.”

Washington Examiner

Tom Cotton: The U.S. Should be Ready For War With North Korea

by David M. Drucker
3/13/18
Sen. Tom Cotton is warning that North Korea isn’t interested in relinquishing its nuclear weapons and can’t be trusted to negotiate in good faith, just as President Trump is preparing to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un without preconditions.

“We should be taking more steps than we are right now to be ready to fight a war, if that’s what’s necessary, with North Korea,” the Arkansas Republican said in an interview with “Behind Closed Doors,” a Washington Examiner podcast. Cotton, 40, is a combat veteran of the Iraq war.

Cotton, a close ally of the White House, discussed the matter one day before Trump surprised the world by announcing plans to hold a summit with Kim, currently planned for May. The administration is trying to force North Korea to dismantle a nuclear weapons program that threatens U.S. allies in Asia and could soon endanger the American mainland.

Trump’s approach to subduing North Korea revolves around a strategy the White House dubs “maximum pressure.” The administration has led an international effort to enforce tough diplomatic and economic sanctions against Pyongyang, while keeping the threat of military action on the table.

The president is relying heavily on China and its leader, Xi Jinping, to squeeze North Korea and create the ultimate pressure for the rogue communist nation to denuclearize. At issue is whether China is interested in help the U.S. — and whether overtures from Pyongyang are sincere.

The statement Cotton issued after Trump announced his potentially historic summit with Kim suggested that he remains suspicious. He elaborated on in his views regarding Beijing and North Korea in his interview with Behind Closed Doors.

“For years, China said they wanted a denuclearized North Korean peninsula. I think they’re lying about that. They obviously have no interest in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula because as long as North Korea is a nuclear power, it is the primary focus of the United States in Northeast Asia,” Cotton said. “Meanwhile, China runs wild, building islands in the South China Sea, intimidating Taiwan, oppressing its own people.”

North Korea’s nuclear program has been a conundrum for previous administrations. Trump’s predecessors tried to a mixture of strong-arming the regime, and negotiations, to entice Pyongyang to give up nuclear weapons. Both Kim and his late father, Kim Jong Il, were impervious to pressure, even as sanctions crippled the North Korean economy and the quality of life of its citizens.

The elder Kim regularly forged agreements to halt the development of nuclear weapons in exchange for financial incentives or aid, only to break those agreements.

Cotton said he believes Trump has learned from the past; he emphasized that nothing he has seen from the North Koreans indicates anything has changed “because of their long history of manipulating diplomacy in their own advantage to gain concessions or buy time for their nuclear program.”

“The last three administrations, at a minimum, have been Charlie Brown to North Korea’s Lucy [with the football,] in that they’ve granted concessions for the mere act of sitting down to talk,” Cotton said. “If Kim Jong Un or one of his senior envoys wants to sit down w/ the United States, we should listen to them. But if they demand any kind of suspension of sanctions or food aid or financial aid in advance, we obviously should not do that.”

Trump has agreed to accept Kim’s invitation to hold bilateral talks without concessions from North Korea. But he has similarly declined to any relaxing of sanctions, and U.S. military exercises in the region will continue as scheduled.

Cotton said that only the credible threat of war is likely to “compel” China to crack down on North Korea, a client state of Beijing, sufficient to force Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear weapons program.

To do that, the senator, who serves on the Armed Services and Intelligence committees and has Trump’s ear, recommended that the U.S. take concrete steps to prove it’s willing to follow through with the military option.

“We need to take steps like beginning to stop the deployment of military dependents to the Korean Peninsula and gradually removing dependents from the Korean peninsula,” Cotton said. “Stockpiling ammunition … fuel stores and so forth. We need to make it perfectly clear to PyongYang and Beijing that we are prepared and willing to fight a war to stop North Korea from threatening us with nuclear weapons.”


William S. Frankl, All Rights Reserved
Design by Yikes!