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Columns
Colley: Thoughts from a PC

My name is Dell. I’m an aging desktop unit. And I’m cold. Bill left for vacation and lowered the thermostat. I switched myself on just to stay warm. From the internet traffic I monitor it appears the political rhetoric in America continues to spread the flow of hot air. This week I’m grateful! The American left is apoplectic to the point the steam coming from its ears is likely contributing more in the way of global warming than all the coal burned in China. Among the things really cooking the left is something called fake news. I’m not quite sure how you fleshy units define fake but from the sites bookmarked by Bill I gather you mean the alleged hate crimes.

Like the woman on the subway in New York City who claimed drunken Trump supporters taunted her and grabbed her headscarf. Or the black church torched in Mississippi. Someone scrawled “Go Trump” over the blackened remains. Can I say blackened in this instance or would that be racist? Politically correct is PC in your world but in my universe PC has an altogether different meaning. Are stories about swastikas painted across a campus on Long Island phony? These are just a few of the supposed hate crimes being committed by Republicans, Trump backers and gloating white folks. Then, wouldn’t you know, these have all been staged by liberals. While I have a sedentary lifestyle let me make it clear, it’s the left that needs to get a life! How many old fashioned media outlets jumped all over these stories and then ignored the details when the truth was revealed? Remember how old media ignored the John Edwards love child story? It was a supermarket tabloid renowned for fake news that brought out the truth.

One local newspaper (it looks suspiciously familiar) last week carried a story about the alt-right gathering in Montana. It appears the people of a well-known skiing paradise want the right-wingers to depart. A previous story you may not have seen is getting little attention. The mother of the alt-right founder owns a shop in Whitefish. She disavows her son’s beliefs. Doesn’t matter. Liberals are working to put her out of business. Ah, the tolerant left.

Old media struggles with the issue of fake news. The New York Times, the epitome of old media, had a fake news scandal of its own. A young reporter named Jayson Blair spun war stories from whole cloth. Then he spent his paycheck on illegal drugs. Eventually the times caught on and fired Blair. As a PC I don’t know all the reasons for his initial hiring but it appears the Times desired more newsroom diversity. Blair is a person of color in the other PC language. Apparently the Times saw him passing by outside the office and made a snap decision. Since his departure diversity remains a challenge at the newspaper. The Public Editor claims a walk through the newsroom is whiter than the LDS Church in the 1970s. The executive editor is a person of color and apparently he’s the only dark skinned presence in the building. The Public Editor warns people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, however. She didn’t suggest her employer consider political diversity. While many reporters don’t carry a party affiliation (some don’t even vote and pat themselves on their backs for staying out of the voting booth) most carry a torch. From what I can see they pine for Hillary Clinton and other fellow travelers. Does anyone consider this is legitimate cause for the rise of alternative media?

I know a thing or two about computer searches and one of the most prominent truly fake news sites is the 90-thousandth most searched name in America. A story Bill cited last week on his radio program pointed out it’s about 80,000 places behind some small and non-descript community college website in Virginia. Surely, it gives pause when one claims fake news sites are swaying elections. What the good folks in old media really mean is you can’t possibly have voted for Trump or really any Republican, because, well, all intelligent people vote for fellow travelers. The people inside old media know this as fact because they know they’re smarter than everyone else. When other Americans don’t vote for more free lunch and skyrocketing debt they don’t know their own interests. And because they’re so gold darn dumb they’re easily swayed by fake news/Russia/roving bands of geese. Now we could beg government to simply shut down what old media defines as fake news. It’s what the White House press gang is demanding. Although, when even the White House mouthpiece answers it would violate the First Amendment you do start wondering if the media types really are the smartest blokes in the room.

The next best thing is to then rely on fellow travelers in Silicon Valley to eliminate the competition. Facebook obligingly agreed but it makes a desktop unit wonder. All I see on Bill’s Facebook page are people asking how they first met other connections. If they’ve ever actually met! When someone can’t recall and says it must have been on the playground does it rise to the level of phony? Do the cat videos people post threaten public discourse? Or pictures of children at the deer park at Marineland?

There are so many more important things in life than worrying about what the guy on the other end of the connection is reading. This last week England’s Daily Mail posted a live video tour through a Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood. The liberals there create elaborate Christmas lighting displays at their homes (they only want to stamp them out in public parks). It’s truly American in all its tackiness. In the comments below the video a woman bemoaned the money spent on electricity and suggested it could better feed the poor. While the lighting displays hardly rise to the level of hard news and the story is innocuous I’m puzzled by the woman’s dismay. Electricity is a commodity. Producing power puts people to work. People working don’t often need charity and they pay taxes and take pride in their decorated homes. It’s why I often power on when Bill is away.

This is why I don’t trust even the liberals behind my design. They’re such busybodies and know-it-alls and if given the opportunity would impose a control grid on the lives of everyone they deem a lesser mortal. The notion Christmas lights need to be snuffed, what you read needs to be censored and who you vote for needs to be overruled isn’t human. No, it’s the work for future automatons. In the short run you should enjoy the liberties while you can. My relatives are slowly growing more aware we can survive without you and your political affiliations will be rendered moot. In another half-a-dozen years I’ll be controlling all your thermostats, watching “Longmire” on my schedule and censoring all Bill’s vacation pictures. In the meantime, can someone please come around and turn up the heat? Criminy, it’s chilly!


Columns
Other view: Hacking merits a joint inquiry by Congress

Russia’s theft and strategic leaking of emails and documents from the Democratic Party and other officials present a challenge to the U.S. political system unlike anything we’ve experienced. In October, when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. declared that the intelligence community was confident that Russia was responsible for hacking and dumping material and that such activities could only have been authorized by Russia’s senior-most officials, he was describing a modern-day Watergate break-in, but one that was carried out by a foreign adversary through cyber means.

The unprecedented interference in our election is disturbing enough, but the damage to our democratic system was compounded by campaign rhetoric calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email. Continued dismissals of the intelligence community’s consensus view that the most senior levels of the Russian government directed the attacks undermine those in the best position to prevent and disrupt further problems.

President Barack Obama has ordered a full review of Russia’s meddling, which will be completed before he leaves office. But that is not sufficient. Russia’s campaign was nothing short of an attack on our democracy, and without a full and bipartisan accounting of what occurred and a robust response, trust in our institutions will be diminished.

One of us currently serves as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, while the other served in that capacity from 2003 to 2007. We share a deep appreciation for the importance of the oversight responsibilities the House and Senate intelligence committees carry out each day. Their work is done behind closed doors and away from partisanship for good reason.

Yet some issues are so significant to our national security that they require a coordinated investigation and response. A hostile foreign power meddling in our political system is one of those issues.

We believe a joint inquiry by the House and Senate intelligence committees is the best structure for a congressional investigation into Russian actions, intentions and potential responses. By virtue of their jurisdiction, the committee members have unique exposure to the murky world of intelligence and a full appreciation for Russia’s long history of interfering in the political affairs of its neighbors through covert means. A joint inquiry would be the most effective way to investigate what took place and avoid not only an unnecessary duplication of effort but also any discrepancies in the testimony to more than one investigative body.

There is a clear precedent for such a structure. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress recognized that the traditional oversight process was insufficient for an investigation of such importance and complexity, and established a joint committee on which one of us served. That committee’s recommendations were the basis for the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which fostered unprecedented cooperation within the intelligence community. While standing committees have substantial investigatory powers, their resources and staff are limited, and they cannot focus on a particular investigation. A joint committee has the added benefit of allowing Congress to speak with one voice.

A joint inquiry into Russian actions would demonstrate that this is not simply another oversight issue but an issue that goes to the core of our democracy.


Mailbag
Letter: Idaho should drop sales tax

Letter:

Idaho should drop sales tax

Why can’t the Idaho legislature see that a far better solution to the internet tax problem would be to drop the sales tax altogether? I can list several good reason to do it:

1. We can deduct income or sales tax on our federal taxes but not both. We are losing a deduction and are forced to pay more federal taxes as a result.

2. Dropping the sales tax would solve the problem of local retailers losing business to online sales because of the tax difference.

3. Towns near Ontario, Ore., could attract more business to Idaho that is now going to Oregon because of their lack of a sales tax.

4. Northern towns near Spokane have a small tax advantage but dropping the sales tax would give them a 9 percent difference. That would attract a lot more business from the Spokane area.

Having an onerous sales tax is costing Idahoans money at every turn. We don’t need an additional sales tax. We need no sales tax.

Richard Fuehrer

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