Friday Follies for July 13, 2012

I didn’t realize until this moment that today is Friday the 13th!  Heh!  I don’t care. I’m not superstitious. 

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Last night was the local ‘Pub monthly meeting.  It was held in the new county HQ. There were few chairs—standing room only. To say “crowded” was an understatement. Our meetings are usually more for meetin’ ‘n greetin’, the politician’s favorite past-time. This one was no exception. I’m not much of a talker. My leg had been hurting all day so we slipped out after grabbing a yard sign for a friend who’s running for office.

One thing struck me.  The “usuals”, those who come to almost every meeting, were there.  There too were some who rarely attend. The reason they were attending is that the Missouri primary is less than a month away and a number of the office holders have primary opponents. I saw several office holders present that I haven’t seen since the county ‘Pub Christmas dinner. Funny how the hot breath of unemployment, in this case losing office, makes a politician more visible to the public.

Many of these folks have become good friends. I’ve supported many with cash, passed out flyers, stood outside polls to help persuade those who arrive still undecided on a candidate. I do my bit, small though it be, to support those who have the same ideals as my wife and I.  But I will describe these events as I see them and will undoubtedly ruffle a feather or two.

I’m not criticizing. It’s human nature. The closer we come to an election, the greater the need to meet with other candidates, make or reaffirm alliances, and for some, to do a little plotting.  I have named myself an Observer of these events. I’m not interesting in running for public office, with one minor exception. But frequently, these meetings make great theater.

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Some news on the national front. Romney has finally gotten some backbone.  He has publicly called Obama a liar.  It’s about time! As others have said, Romney should treat Obama with the same tactics he treated Santorum, Gingrich and others.  Those were Romney’s fellow Republicans. He must not be less lenient to Obama.

Whether this tactic is working won’t be known from some time yet but there is some early indications that Obama is in deep, deep trouble. His tactics aren’t working.

Polls Prove Romney Outsmarted the Media … Again

For weeks, all we’ve heard in reference to the media/Obama-led attacks against Romney’s so-called outsourcing and offshore accounts is the following: “Romney needs to respond… Romney doesn’t have a response… It’s time for Romney to respond.” Across the media spectrum, we’ve heard this from Obama’s Media Palace Guards on Twitter, in op-eds disguised as straight news, and from television’s talking heads. The media has quite purposefully turned this call for Romney to respond into an incessant drumbeat. But…

It’s a trap.

You see, the outsourcing charge is a bald-faced lie and the offshore-account charge is nothing more than a smear. It was the Washington Post that started the outsourcing lie and it was an Occupy-supporter in Vanity Fair who started the offshore-account smear.

A lie is a lie is a lie.

And a lie can’t gain much traction because, other than the false charge, there’s nothing else for the corrupt media to talk about. But one way to extend a false narrative is to pressure the victim of the lie to respond. A response automatically gives the narrative another few days of life, but as a result only does more damage to the victim. Therefore… a trap.

By not responding, the Romney campaign played a nerve-wracking (for his supporters) game of chicken but ultimately made the wise decision not to feed this narrative fire — to not be the ones who gave the lies artificial life through the pointless act of trying to prove a negative.

And today, polls show Romney made the exact right decision:

Two things have become clear in the presidential race over the past month. One, it’s evident that President Obama’s campaign team believes, with good justification, that attacking Romney’s record at Bain Capital to portray him as a wealthy, out-of-touch millionaire is their most effective line of attack. Second, it’s becoming clear that the attacks are doing more to buy the Obama campaign time than seriously change the trajectory of the race.

For all the attention paid to the effectiveness of President Obama’s Bain-themed attacks, it’s remarkable how Obama has been stuck right around 47 percent for a very long time.  As the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza documented, the president’s team has handily outspent Romney and his allied super PACs, pouring in $91 million into eight swing states in an early spending barrage intended to make Romney seem an unacceptable challenger.  But for all that effort, the numbers haven’t moved much at all: The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll out today shows the race deadlocked at 47 percent. Yesterday’s USA Today/Gallup swing state poll showed Obama statistically tied with Romney, the exact same result the survey showed one month ago.

Meanwhile, in the coming months, Romney should have a spending advantage, having significantly outraised Obama over the last two months.  Along with the RNC, the campaign has $160 million cash-on-hand, a total that will likely be greater than the Obama team’s money. (The Obama campaign tellingly didn’t release their cash-on-hand figures.)  That will allow Romney to match or surpass Obama on the airwaves, having survived a period when he was outgunned.

One of the pieces of bait the media used to try and get Romney to respond was to bring up the damage the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did to John Kerry in ’04. The myth is that Kerry ignored the criticism of his war record for too long and that this cost him the election.  

But that is a myth. The difference between the Swift Boat Vets questioning Kerry’s biography about his time in Vietnam and the media/Obama led outsource/offshore attacks is that the Vets were telling the truth and Obama and the media are lying. There’s absolutely no upside for Romney to breathe life into a false narrative from a defensive crouch. None.

According to that new Washington Post poll, both men are tied at 47/47.   But had a gullible Romney blinked and been fooled into letting himself get wrapped ’round the axle of these false charges, not only would the media have blown both stories up into something much bigger and longer-lasting (which is why they were begging Romney to respond), but today’s poll numbers would likely look entirely different. Obama and the media had set up a no-win situation.

But what they didn’t count on was Romney refusing to play.

If you look at the state of the race today, we have 119 days to the election, Romney and the Republicans raised $106 million last month, $35 million more than Obama and the Democrats.

Obama has already spent a ton of money and begun to punch himself out with his best attacks.

Romney, however, hasn’t even gotten started and has 16 weeks to expose before the voting public this president’s failed record. And to do so only after people are paying attention.

The media is brilliant at creating a false reality that has nothing to do with what’s happening out there in the world. If you watch CNN and MSNBC, you would think the roof was caving in on Romney over outsourcing and his personal wealth, but that’s what the media wants us to believe in order to control the narrative and to get Romney to dance to their tune. 

Thank heaven, Romney isn’t falling for it.

Right now it’s Obama who’s acting erratic and panicked and like a loser, not Romney.

I like our chances and I love the discipline I’m seeing from Team Romney.

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This will be a bit short.  It caught my eye. Due to my experiences with Sprint before I retired, I have had some exposure to this issue.

The core issue is buying Chinese chips and telecom equipment. The intelligence community is concerned those items may contain Trojans that could provide the Chinese a gateway into our innermost secure voice and data networks.

Sprint, like most of the telecom providers, have governmental contracts to create private and secure voice and data networks for various federal agencies, like the FBI and IRS, as well as for the Department of Defense.  By contractual requirement, the hardware, the equipment used to created these private networks must be domestic.  In cases of a unique requirement, a waiver can be granted if there is sufficient justification. That is rare, however. There really isn’t a requirement that can’t be fulfilled with a domestic product.

The question arises with those domestic vendors.  Does their equipment contain Chinese components?  In many cases, since the US chip production has mostly fled overseas, the only source for some specialized components is…Chinese.

Now it appears that the fears of our Intelligence Agencies that those Chinese components do contain Trojans, gateways to external communications monitors, have been verified.

 

FBI Targets Chinese Firm Over Iran Deal

Feds: Telecom giant ZTE illegally shipped U.S.-made components

JULY 12–The FBI has opened a criminal investigation targeting a leading Chinese telecommunications firm that allegedly conspired to illegally ship hardware and software purchased from U.S. tech firms to Iran’s government-controlled telecom company, a violation of several federal laws and a trade embargo imposed on the outlaw Islamic nation, The Smoking Gun has learned.

The federal probe, launched earlier this year, has also uncovered evidence that officials with the Chinese company, ZTE Corporation (ZTE), are “engaged in an ongoing attempt to corruptly obstruct and impede” a Department of Commerce inquiry into the tainted $130 million Iranian transaction, according to a confidential FBI affidavit.

Officials with ZTE allegedly began plotting to cover up details of the Iranian deal after Reuters reported on the transaction in late-March. The news agency revealed that the telecom equipment sold to Iran was a “powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile, and Internet communications.” Included in the material sent to Iran were products manufactured by U.S. firms like Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Dell, and Symantec.

Concerned that they could no longer “hide anything” in the wake of the Reuters report, ZTE lawyers discussed shredding documents, altering records, and lying to U.S. government officials, according to an insider’s account provided to FBI agents by a Texas lawyer who last year began serving as general counsel of ZTE’s wholly owned U.S. subsidiary. ZTE, the world’s fourth largest telecom equipment manufacturer, is publicly traded, though its controlling shareholder is a Chinese state-owned enterprise.

The FBI probe is being run out of the bureau’s Dallas office by agents assigned to a counterintelligence and counterespionage squad. Like the Department of Commerce investigation (and a related congressional inquiry being conducted by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence), the FBI opened its case following the March 22 Reuters story by reporter Steve Stecklow.

During a May 2 interview with two FBI agents, Yablon provided a startling account of his interaction with ZTE representatives who were once eager to devise strategies that would allow them to sell phones containing U.S. made components to “banned” countries. But following the Reuters story, Yablon recalled, the Chinese officials sought to obscure details of the illegal backdoor Iranian deal and, in the process, stymie U.S. government investigators circling the multinational company.

The FBI affidavit reveals that ZTE recently informed the Department of Commerce that it would not comply with an administrative subpoena served on the company seeking records of the nine-figure Iran transaction. Yablon told the FBI that he learned that ZTE officials “had contacted the PRC [People’s Republic of China] government, which was prepared to advise [the company] that if it complied with the DoC administrative subpoena, it would be violating PRC law.”

Days after the Reuters story was published, Yablon recalled, he spoke with ZTE lawyer Xue Xing Ma (also known as “Marsha”), who said the company was concerned about how the news outlet obtained a copy of the 907-page packing list for the system shipped to Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI).  “Marsha told Yablon the corporation was concerned because it could no longer ‘hide anything,’” reported Agent Carwile.

The story gets more weird as it progresses. Evidence now in FBI hands appear to prove the Chinese have sold, illegally, US technology to countries under export and technology embargoes.  It also presents information that the systems were designed to provide monitoring gateways to allow those governments to spy on their citizens.

This issue will not be resolved soon.  Government regulations that has driven our production overseas, or has driven our production out of business must be abolished. We’ve become our own worse enemy under a government who appears to be a willing accomplice to our foreign and domestic enemies.