Just Repeal–Don’t Replace

The current ObamaCare bill is rapidly collapsing. It was designed that way. The plan was that Hillary Clinton would get elected and we would move to single-payer (totally government-controlled) healthcare. The fact that Donald Trump got elected and isn’t playing the Washington establishment’s games is a problem for those that want government healthcare. That is one of the reasons they are trying so hard to demonize him and get rid of him.

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article yesterday about the current state of ObamaCare.

The article reports:

Roughly 41 percent of counties in the United States could have only one insurer participating on the Affordable Care Act exchanges next year, according to a new analysis from Avalere Health.

This percentage is up from the lack of participation in 2017, when roughly one-third of counties, or 33 percent, had only one insurer participating on the exchanges.

According to their count, there will be 47 counties that will have no insurer participating on the exchange leaving about 34,000 consumers with no choice.

…”In addition to the cost of premiums, insurer decisions around whether or not to offer plans in the exchanges will impact shoppers,” said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president of the group. “Consumers will see fewer choices on the exchange again in 2018, with some counties at risk of having no options.”

This is not what success looks like. ObamaCare has been a failure. The best replacement would be to let the free market rule. Tax credits could be used to help lower income people afford health insurance, but the free market would make healthcare more affordable for everyone.

There are a few principles that would reform healthcare in a way that would benefit everyone–portability across state lines, tort reform, high risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions, and letting the companies with the actuary tables determine rates. The government does not have a stellar record when it comes to running things. There are very few government programs that are not wasteful, inefficient, and expensive. We don’t need another government money pit. It’s time to repeal ObamaCare. Then the debate on its replacement can begin.

Circular Logic Used To Justify Breaking The Law

The following post is based on two articles–one from The New York Post yesterday and one from Scott Johnson at Power Line Blog today.

The New York Post article states that the company Fusion GPS (the company that commissioned the Russian intelligence dossier on then candidate Trump) has blocked Congressional investigators from looking at its connection to the Democratic Party.

The article at The New York Post reports:

Fusion GPS was on the payroll of an unidentified Democratic ally of Clinton when it hired a long-retired British spy to dig up dirt on Trump. In 2012, Democrats hired Fusion GPS to uncover dirt on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And in 2015, Democrat ally Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to investigate pro-life activists protesting the abortion group.

More, federal records show a key co-founder and partner in the firm was a Hillary Clinton donor and supporter of her presidential campaign.

In September 2016, while Fusion GPS was quietly shopping the dirty dossier on Trump around Washington, its co-founder and partner Peter R. Fritsch contributed at least $1,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund and the Hillary For America campaign, Federal Election Commission data show. His wife also donated money to Hillary’s campaign.

Property records show that in June 2016, as Clinton allies bankrolled Fusion GPS, Fritsch bought a six-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Bethesda, Md., for $2.3 million.

Fritsch did not respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for Fusion GPS said the firm’s work is confidential.

Sources say Fusion GPS had its own interest, beyond those of its clients, in promulgating negative gossip about Trump.

Why is this important? Because the first FISA request to tap the Trump campaign was turned down. The second was approved after this dossier was leaked.

The Power Line article explains:

I remain convinced that the FISA warrants that were twice sought to target associates of Trump (and possibly Trump himself) are the key to blowing up the Russia narrative. As Andy McCarthy regularly points out, it was all done under the cloak of a counterintelligence (CI) investigation–and FISA techniques are at the heart of any CI investigation. Any FISA application encapsulates most of the predication for the investigation itself, and without FISA techniques the investigation likely goes nowhere. In a CI investigation focused on a foreign power, that’s not a problem since FISA on the foreign power (say, Russia) is already in place–all that needs to be done is to identify a foreign national as the agent of that power (Russia) and, presto, you get FISA coverage of anything that’s not already covered.

Where it becomes an acute problem is when the CI investigation is a ruse to cover domestic spying on political opponents. In that case FISA on the foreign power is of no use–not if, as appears to be the case, there was no significant contact or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. If, in fact, the real target was Trump himself–and we are told that Trump himself was named in the rejected July 2016 FISA application–you need to gin up a FISA on someone who really IS in contact with Trump, no matter how far-fetched the reasoning. Carter Page? He’ll do in a pinch, right?

The Power Line article concludes with an observation on the changed culture of the FBI:

With respect to possible corruption of the FBI: I regret to say that the process began in earnest under Bush, who appointed Mueller. An acquaintance recently complained that the Bureau was no longer what it used to be, or maybe never had been. I maintained that the institutional culture was changed through the Legal Counsel Division. That’s how it always work in America, isn’t it? If you want to enforce Liberal/PC norms, you change the lawyers.

Formerly, the Bureau’s legal division, and most top administrations positions, was/were staffed with Special Agents who were lawyers. Under Mueller, outsiders were increasingly brought in, including to Legal Counsel Division. For example: Andrew Weissman, who twice did stints at the FBI, and is now a top guy on Mueller’s Special Counsel team. That kind of back and forth between the FBI and private practice and/or other agencies was previously absolutely unheard of. And the choice tells you pretty much all you need to know about Mueller…

It is time to fire the special prosecutor and his staff. They truly are on a witch hunt which was planned before President Trump was elected. If they are successful, then the votes of the American people are worthless–the bureaucrats in Washington have won.

I Think The Special Prosecutor Is Following The Wrong Trail

The following is a press release from Judicial Watch today:

Judicial Watch: Obama NSC Advisor Susan Rice’s Unmasking Material is at Obama Library

 Records Sought by Judicial Watch May Remain Closed to the Public for Five Years

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced that the National Security Council (NSC) on May 23, 2017, informed it by letter that the materials regarding the unmasking by Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice of “the identities of any U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team” have been removed to the Obama Library.

The NSC will not fulfill an April 4 Judicial Watch request for records regarding information relating to people “who were identified pursuant to intelligence collection activities.”

The agency also informed Judicial Watch that it would not turn over communications with any Intelligence Community member or agency concerning the alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election; the hacking of DNC computers; or the suspected communications between Russia and Trump campaign/transition officials. Specifically, the NSC told Judicial Watch:

Documents from the Obama administration have been transferred to the Barack Obama Presidential Library.  You may send your request to the Obama Library.  However, you should be aware that under the Presidential Records Act, Presidential records remain closed to the public for five years after an administration has left office.

Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) April 4 request sought:

1.) Any and all requests for information, analyses, summaries, assessments, transcripts, or similar records submitted to any Intelligence Community member agency or any official, employee, or representative thereof by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice regarding, concerning, or related to the following:

  • Any actual or suspected effort by the Russian government or any individual acting on behalf of the Russian government to influence or otherwise interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
  • The alleged hacking of computer systems utilized by the Democratic National Committee and/or the Clinton presidential campaign.
  • Any actual or suspected communication between any member of the Trump presidential campaign or transition team and any official or employee of the Russian government or any individual acting on behalf of the Russian government.
  • The identities of U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team who were identified pursuant to intelligence collection activities.

2.) Any and all records or responses received by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice and/or any member, employee, staff member, or representative of the National Security Council in response to any request described in part 1 of this request.

3.) Any and all records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the Department of any Intelligence Community member agency and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice and/or any member, employee, staff member, or representative of the National Security Council regarding, concerning, or related to any request described in Part 1 of this request.

The time frame for this request was January 1, 2016, to the April 4, 2017.

While acknowledging  in its FOIA request that “we are cognizant of the finding by the Court of Appeals … that [the NSC] “does not exercise sufficiently independent authority to be an ‘agency’ for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act,” Judicial Watch argued:

The records sought in this request pertain to actions by the former National Security Advisor that demonstrate a much higher degree of independent authority than was contemplated by the court; specifically, the issuance of directives to the Intelligence Community related to the handling of classified national security information…

The recent revelations of the role of Susan Rice in the unmasking the names of U.S. citizens identified in the course of intelligence collection activities and the potential that her actions contributed to the unauthorized disclosure of classified national security information are matters of great public interest.

Judicial Watch has filed six FOIA lawsuits related to the surveillance, unmasking, and illegal leaking targeting President Trump and his associates (see hereherehereherehere and here).

“Prosecutors, Congress, and the public will want to know when the National Security Council shipped off the records about potential intelligence abuses by the Susan Rice and others in the Obama White House to the memory hole of the Obama Presidential Library,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “We are considering our legal options but we hope that the Special Counsel and Congress also consider their options and get these records.”

 

A Different Perspective On The Leaked NSA Report

Yesterday Bloomberg posted an article about the recently leaked NSA report about Russian hacking into the 2016 election. The article is fairly complex in its explanation of the electronics involved. I don’t totally understand what is being said, but I wanted to share the information.

The article reports:

The publication that revealed a classified National Security Agency report on alleged Russian attempts to hack U.S. election-related systems, treats the report  as possible evidence that Russia tried to rig the vote. More likely, however, the Kremlin expected the vote to be rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton.

According to the leaked report, the Russian military intelligence, GRU, ran a spear-phishing campaign targeting the employees of VR Systems, a voting hardware and software producer. At least one of its employee accounts was apparently compromised. Then, the hackers used the harvested credentials to trap local government officials in charge of organizing elections. Emails, coming credibly from a VR Systems employee, contained malware that would have allowed the GRU (although the report provides no clues as to how the attribution was made) to control the computers of these local officials. The NSA doesn’t seem to have determined whether the hackers managed that with any of their targets.

Logically I would have expected the Russians to support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. As President, she would have been closely aligned with the policies of President Obama, who famously told Dmitry Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”  Also, Hillary Clinton was involved in a transaction that brought cash into the Clinton Foundation and allowed Russia to obtain 20 percent of America‘s uranium reserves. I would think that Putin would have been hoping that Hillary would be elected. She probably would have made a great blackmail target using information gained from her unsecured server.

The article continues:

I have written before that it’s not impossible to rig a U.S. presidential election (and was ridiculed for saying so). The rigging, however, would require a vast conspiracy spanning the entire country and involving local election officials — the kind that exists in Russia. Trump, with his cheap, hastily thrown together campaign infrastructure could have achieved nothing of the kind, but, as the election campaign drew to a close, he appeared to fear such an effort from Barack Obama’s Democratic administration.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. The author paints a picture very different from the picture being painted by the mainstream media.

An Isolated Incident Or A Pattern Of Behavior?

Andrew McCarthy posted a story at National Review today about the House Intelligence Committee investigation into spying on Americans during the Obama Administration. It has become obvious from news reports since before President Trump was inaugurated that some sort of intelligence gathering on the incoming administration was going on.

The article reports:

The House Intelligence Committee has reportedly issued seven subpoenas in connection with its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and of the Obama administration’s potentially illegal use of the government’s foreign-intelligence-collection power for the purpose of monitoring Americans — in particular, Americans connected to the Trump campaign and transition.

The subpoenas are aimed at getting information about requests made by Susan Rice and John Brennan to unmask names of Americans caught in intelligence gathering.

The article explains:

The House Intelligence Committee is investigating both a) Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, an inquiry that entails thus far unsubstantiated suspicions of Trump-campaign collusion, and b) the use of intelligence authorities to investigate the Trump campaign, an inquiry that focuses on whether national-security powers (such as those codified in FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) were used pretextually, for the real purpose of conducting political spying.
There is also the question of whether or not U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power requested the unmasking of Americans–as U.N. Ambassador, she would have no obvious need for that information.
The article concludes:
Thus, as I’ve also outlined, it is unlikely that any single instance of unmasking would be found to be a violation of law — and, indeed, it would not violate any penal statute (it would violate court-ordered “minimization” procedures). Nevertheless, were a pattern of unmasking established, divorced from any proper foreign-intelligence purpose, that would be a profound abuse of power in the nature of a “high crime and misdemeanor” — the Constitution’s predicate for impeachment.

It’s a little late to impeach former President Obama, but the voters have spoken and dealt with the problem in their own way. The one thing that will be interesting to watch as this story unfolds is how the mainstream media will spin the story. The Obama Administration went after a Fox News journalist–journalists need to realize that they have as much at stake in protecting their freedom as the average American.

The Incest Of Washington Politics

The Gateway Pundit has done a very good job of bringing up the questions and problems related to the investigation of the death of Seth Rich. Judging by the reaction when Sean Hannity brought up the subject, this is a place the political left does not want to go. Unfortunately it also seems to be a place where law enforcement does not want to go.

The Gateway Pundit posted an article today which may explain part of the problem.

The article reports:

Former Head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  lost her position during the DNC Convention due to WikiLeaks emails being released that showed her efforts to enable Hillary Clinton to win the DNC nomination and steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders.  Now Wasserman Schultz is back in the news.  This time it is because of her close ties with the Assistant US Attorney at the Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia.

Wasserman Schultz’s brother, Steven Wasserman, is the Assistant US Attorney at the Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia.  Questions are arising whether Steven has played a part in burying the Seth Rich case in DC.  No one has yet been charged in spite of the many unanswered questions related to the murder case.  Because Rich reportedly provided emails to WikiLeaks there are many who believe Rich was murdered as a result.

This is the sort of information investigative reporters used to report. Why has it taken almost a year for this information to surface? Where are the investigative reporters?

Blatantly Ignoring The Protocol

In the days when we elected people to the White House who at least wanted to seem like gentlemen, it was understood that when you left office, you removed yourself from the spotlight and went on your way. Former President Obama not only did not get that message, he has chosen to be a totally sore loser after his party’s candidate lost.

Last Thursday, The Washington Times posted an article about some of former President Obama’s recent antics. It is very obvious that former President Obama is working very hard to undermine the Trump Administration. Hopefully the American public is smart enough to ignore his efforts.

The article reports:

Mr. Obama joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to lecture America and the West to quit being so beastly to the strivers of the Third World, and open wider the borders of the West. “We can’t isolate ourselves,” the former president said from a platform at the Brandenburg Gate. “We can’t hide behind a wall.”

This is the message that resonates with Mrs. Merkel and many of the Europeans, even it strikes a sour note at home and even in Britain, coming just days after the spawn of a Libyan immigrant murdered nearly two dozen Britons, including several children, and then blew himself up at a concert arena in Manchester.

 Timing is everything, as the man said, and the president in exile used his appearance in Berlin as a coming-out party after nearly six months of playing celebrity in borrowed houses across the South Seas and the Caribbean, playing at golf instead of government. But boredom set it and when Frau Merkel agreed to receive him as a fellow head of state, well, why not? She knew she could count on him to deliver platitudes and goo-goo worthy of an American president in exile.

“One way we can do a better job is to create more opportunities for people in their home countries,” Mr. Obama said. “If there are disruptions in these countries, if there is bad governance, if there is war, or if there is poverty in this new world we live in, we can’t isolate ourselves — we can’t hide behind a wall.”

The comment about the wall is an amazing statement from someone who spent serious money to build a wall around his Washington residence.

Some of former President Obama’s actions as President were questionable at best. For example:

Mr. Obama might think (though the Secret Service probably doesn’t) that he is safe from illegal immigrants up to no good simply because of who he is. But more bad timing: Only one day after the former president’s tryst with Frau Merkel, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, revealed that Customs and Border Protection had released, at Mr. Obama’s direction, 16 members of the remarkably brutal MS-13 gang, freed to look at will for opportunities to kill and plunder.

“[The federal authorities] apprehended them, knew they were MS-13 gang members, and they processed them into our communities,” the senator told his committee.

Former President Obama’s lack of respect for the unwritten rule of removing himself from the public spotlight after leaving office is another illustration of the self-centeredness of the man. I suspect the only way he will leave the spotlight is to have the American people ignore him as irrelevant. I am hoping that will happen.

Lied To Again

Honesty in Washington, D.C. seems to be non-existent. A lot of the things we were told during the Obama Administration have turned out to be simply not true.

Recently a news site called Circa reported that the statistics released by the Obama Administration showing the number of American citizens unmasked after being captured in accidental National Security Agency intercepts were inaccurate.

The article reports:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, now under new management with President Donald Trump, confirms that the 654 unmaskings reported last year for fiscal 2015 was underreported by a factor of more than three times. The correct number was actually 2,232.

…National intelligence officials say the 654 figure reported last year actually represented the number of times a government official had a request approved to unmask an American name and not the total number of U.S. persons’ identities that actually were unredacted after the fact in intelligence reports, as had been represented in last year’s report.

…But starting in 2011, former President Obama made it easier to access that information, essentially creating keys for intelligence professionals and even his own political aides to unlock the NSA’s lock box to consume surveillance on Americans.

Circa reported last week that since those changes, the number of requests to search NSA records for Americans’ information more than tripled under the former administration from about 10,000 in 2013 to more than 25,000 in 2016.

These numbers confirm the fears some Congressmen had about the Patriot Act. What we saw in the Obama Administration was the use of government agencies to spy on political opponents. Every person involved in this effort needs to be fired and sent to jail. This is totally unconstitutional.

It Wasn’t A Unilateral Decision

This article is based on two sources–an article posted at Lifezette today and an article from the BBC, also dated today.

The article at Lifezette reminds us that until President Trump fired FBI Director Comey, the Democrats wanted Director Comey fired.

The article reports:

Comey, being Comey, closed the new investigation in record time, ending the investigation two days before Election Day and enraging Republicans by publicly declaring he still would not recommend charges against Clinton.

Schumer indicated Comey’s handling of the matter was a deal-breaker.

“I do not have confidence in him any longer,” Schumer said of Comey on Nov. 2.

Schumer called Comey’s letter to Congress “appalling.”

Schumer is far from the only Democrat who has questioned Comey’s judgement or called for his firing.

…”This is not fake news. Intelligence officials are hiding connections to the Russian government. There is no question,” then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in a Dec. 10 interview on MSNBC. “Comey knew and deliberately kept this info a secret,” he said.

The MSNBC host asked Reid if Comey should resign. “Of course, yes,” Reid replied.

 Comey’s decision to publicly reopen the Clinton investigation drove Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) to also demand the FBI director resign.

“I called on FBI Director James Comey to resign his position after his recent communication with members of Congress regarding the bureau’s review of emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server,” Cohen wrote in a Nov. 3 op-ed published in The Hill.

It gets better.

The BBC posted a copy of the letter written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommending that Director Comey be fired. Follow the link above to read the entire letter.

Director Comey made some unusual decisions during the run-up to the November 2016 election. There are some valid questions as to whether or not the FBI was politicized under President Obama. It is very obvious that the Justice Department was compromised, but the jury is still out on the FBI.

I don’t know whether or not this is part of draining the swamp. I do know that draining the swamp is going to be a long term, ongoing operation, and I wish President Trump all the best in doing that.

The Brutal Culture We Don’t Understand And Insist On Importing

The Middle East is a tough neighborhood. Aside from the basic political unrest, there seems to be constant news of terrorist attacks and innocent people being murdered. The brutality of the region seems to be part of the culture. There are aspects of American culture that can be violent, but we have not accepted those elements in quite the same way.

PJ Media posted an article today about some recent events in the Middle East and one man’s reaction to those events.

The article reports:

In December, the Islamic State claimed a suicide bombing in a church inside Cairo’s Coptic cathedral compound that killed 29 (all but one were women and girls). On Palm Sunday, two separate Islamic State suicide bombings killed nearly 50 worshippers.

Over the weekend, the group threatened more attacks on Christians

The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928 and has been a problem for Egypt ever since. Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has tried to keep the Muslim Brotherhood in check since he took office. Obviously, he has not been totally successful. It is somewhat annoying to me that some Americans in the last administration were extremely sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. One in particular posted some strange tweets.

The article reports one of Mohamed Elibiary’s (former Obama Homeland Security Advisory Council member)  tweets:

Reading ISIS’s latest mag “otherizing” Egypt’s Copts. Subhanallah how what goes around comes around. Coptic ldrs did same to MB Egyptians.

The article explains:

What has Elibiary upset? Many in the Coptic Christian community backed the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in 2013. In his tweet, he references “MB Egyptians” — Muslim Brotherhood Egyptians.

During the time Morsi was President of Egypt, Christians were relentlessly persecuted. Although the persecution has somewhat abated under el-Sisi, it does continue. The Coptic Christians are one of the oldest branches of Christianity in the Middle East, dating back to about 42 AD. By the beginning of the Third Century, they comprised the majority of Egypt’s population. Many of them have left in recent years because of persecution.

According to Pew Research:

The highest share (of Christians in Egypt) reported in the past century was in 1927, when the census found that 8.3% of Egyptians were Christians. In each of seven subsequent censuses, the Christian share of the population gradually shrank, ending at 5.7% in 1996. Religion data has not been made available from Egypt’s most recent census, conducted in 2006. But in a large, nationally representative 2008 survey — the Egyptian Demographic and Health Survey, conducted among 16,527 women ages 15 to 49 — about 5% of the respondents were Christian. Thus, the best available census and survey data indicate that Christians now number roughly 5% of the Egyptian population, or about 4 million people. The Pew Forum’s recent report on The Future of the Global Muslim Population estimated that approximately 95% of Egyptians were Muslims in 2010.

Religious tolerance is not a part of Koranic Islam. Infidels have to be converted or killed. Sharia Law takes precedence over any Constitution or law of the land. So I have a few questions. Why was a man who supports the Muslim Brotherhood in the Department of Homeland Security in America? Why are we importing ‘refugees’ who will not respect our Constitution and who believe that killing infidels is acceptable? Where will American Christians flee if our citizens elect people who support the persecution of Christians? How many of our government appointees from the last administration share the beliefs of Mohamed Elibiary?

 

Is ObamaCare Dying?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill today to repeal and replace ObamaCare.The bill, named the American Health Care Act, passed by a vote of 217-213. It is not a perfect bill, but it is a first step in stopping the collapse of ObamaCare and the descent into a government-controlled single-payer system. When President Obama gave us ObamaCare, the Democrats knew it would fail–the law ignored the statistics of the actuarial tables that keep the insurance agencies in business. There was no way it could succeed. The goal was to create an entitlement that would collapse and then institute a single-payer government plan. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, that would have happened. Instead, we have a President Trump who believes in free markets.

The Daily Signal posted an article about the passage of the bill today.

The article details some of the amendments to the bill:

New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur’s amendment would give the secretary of health and human services the authority to grant a waiver to states that wanted an exemption from costly Obamacare rating rules and benefit mandates.

In order to secure a waiver from these federal insurance rules, the amendment specifies that states must establish a high-risk pool for persons with pre-existing conditions, a program to stabilize the those premiums, or participate in a new federal risk-sharing program designed to secure continuing coverage and market stability.

As drafted, the waiver from these federal regulations would be virtually automatic. In short, the states would make the key regulatory decisions over benefits and rating rules.

A second amendment, offered by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) adds $8 billion over 2018-2023 to the bill’s $130 billion Patient and State Stability Fund (making the total around $138 billion).

It specifies that those additional funds are to be used by states that have received a waiver from federal insurance rules (under the MacArthur Amendment) to assist individuals with increased healthcare costs.

A Good Foundation

The House’s action should be understood as part of a continuing process of national health reform.

As amended, the House bill rightly focuses on costly health insurance rules, makes historic changes in Medicaid—transforming Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement to a budgeted program—and repeals the national health law’s mandate penalties and its slew of taxes.

In fact, the House bill provides for one of the largest tax reductions on record.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a beginning. Twenty Republicans voted against the healthcare bill. All the Democrats voted against the bill. It would be nice if Congress stopped playing politics and worrying about campaign donations and elections and simply tried to do what was best for America.

I Will Be Surprised If ObamaCare Is Repealed

Republicans have the votes to repeal ObamaCare. They have proven that the other sixteen times they voted to repeal ObamaCare. It was safe to vote for repeal before President Trump was sworn in because they knew there would be a veto coming from the White House. Now that there won’t be a veto, they have lost the courage of their convictions (as if they actually have convictions).

ObamaCare is another entitlement program. Getting rid of an entitlement program is almost impossible. The people who are benefiting from the program don’t want to give it up (even though the people paying for it want to get rid of it as soon as possible).  That is why many Republicans want to keep ObamaCare.

Betsy McCaughey, who has actually read the original ObamaCare bill and followed the issue of ObamaCare closely, posted an article at Investor’s Business Daily today.

The article reports:

The House vote on the GOP‘s ObamaCare repeal bill vote is down to the wire, with dozens of Republicans waffling as “undecideds.” What’s the hold-up? Ninety-six percent of people who have to buy their own insurance stand to benefit from this bill, which will likely drive down premiums by double digits.

The remaining 4% — those with pre-existing conditions — will be protected by a federal fund to subsidize their insurance costs. They won’t get priced out of the market, because the fund will pay the lion’s share of their premiums.

But some Republicans are running scared. Although the bill solves two problems — lowering premiums and protecting people with pre-existing conditions — these fence sitters are worried about something else — getting re-elected.

As a member of the New York delegation put it, the issue is “optics.” They’re cowed by the media’s false reports that the GOP is abandoning people with pre-existing conditions.

It is a fact of life that in America we have a political class that would rather get re-elected than do what is best for America. That is one of the main reasons Donald Trump was elected President. Voters hoped he would change that.

The article explains how some individual states have handled healthcare reform:

New York, New Jersey and several other states ruined their individual insurance markets two decades ago by imposing community pricing, which drove out healthy buyers. Lawmakers in those states would be smart to wise up, get a waiver and offer low prices to most buyers. But don’t count on it, at least not in New York.

But several states — Alaska, Minnesota, Idaho and Oklahoma among them — have already acted, without waiting for Congress. They used state funds to help cover the sickest people, and relieve pressure on healthy premium payers. Alaska averted a 40 percent premium hike that way last year.

To summarize: The funding is adequate and the approach works. Spineless politicians whining about “optics” should look in the mirror. What’s they’re really missing is backbone.

The first repeal of ObamaCare bill was a bad bill, and its defeat was a good thing. The courageous (and correct) thing for Congress to do would be to reintroduce one of its past repeal bills and simply let the chips fall where they may. However, as that would take courage, it is highly unlikely.

The Ever-Changing Story

There are some serious problems with the actions of the Obama Administration in terms of unmasking American citizens making phone calls. It is not an incredible coincidence that the unmasked citizens were people closely connected to the Trump presidential campaign. One name that has continually been mentioned as part of this unmasking is Susan Rice. She appeared on the Sunday News Shows (hasn’t she done that before?) today to explain her innocence.

The details are posted at Hot Air today.

Ms. Rice stated this morning:

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice denied President Donald Trump’s claim that she tried to unmask Americans in an attempt to implicate Trump campaign officials, adding that she never did anything “untoward with respect to the intelligence” she received.

During an interview with CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” airing Sunday morning, Rice said Trump’s accusation is “absolutely false” and that members of Congress have not found anything inappropriate in the situation.

“I think now we’ve had subsequently members of Congress on the intelligence committees on both sides of the aisle take a look at the information that apparently was the basis for Chairman [Devin] Nunes’ concern, and say publicly that they didn’t see anything that was unusual or untoward,” Rice said, referring to the California Republican.

But what has she said before? The article reports:

You may recall that when the story first broke Rice spoke to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC and at least heavily implied that Trump’s initial accusations were all some sort of fever swamp fantasies. (What she actually said was that she never leaked anything.) But before very long the details which emerged told a very different story. Within days it was revealed that she had, in fact, actively sought to have names revealed to her even if they had originally been picked up “incidentally.” Eventually we reached the point where the best they could say was that it appeared that she hadn’t done anything that was technically illegal.

Now, in the fashion so typical of politicians (as opposed to national security experts), she’s answering an entirely different question. Yes, she did get that information but she never did anything “unusual or untoward” with it. And why would we be so suspicious as to think she might have seen some value in data collected on people associated with the guy who was then in a heated battle to defeat the candidate who was promising to carry on her boss’s legacy? Perish the thought.

If the Justice Department has actually become the Justice Department rather than a political arm of the Democrat party, someone will be charged with a crime in this matter. The leaking of the names and information to the media was illegal. The leaking of the information was exactly what some members of Congress warned about when the Patriot Act was passed–that there would be eavesdropping on Americans that would be used for political purposes. What happened during the 2016 presidential campaign is an example of this. If no one is held accountable, it will continue to happen. That is not good news.

 

What Tax Reform Can Do

President Truman is quoted as saying, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” He also said, “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.” We are seeing the truth in both of those observations in the current tax debate.

This is a picture of America‘s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years from the balance:

You might remember that 2012 was the year the tax increases to pay for ObamaCare began. In 2013 the Capital Gains tax increased for high income earners, and the increase in the medicare payroll tax also began in 2013. Obviously raising taxes did not help the economy.

This is the laffer curve:

As you can see, there is a point where tax increases no longer generate revenue.

I am going to assume that Democrats are going to try to block President Trump’s tax reform. I think that is rather obvious. So the question becomes, “Do Democrats not understand economic principles and economic growth (e.g. the Laffer curve) or do they simply want to enslave the American worker?” At this point it is a valid question.

I can understand high-tax states not wanting to give up the benefit they reap in the current tax code. I can also understand all the lobbyists tearing their hair out because their special interest will no longer get a tax break, but at some point Congress needs to do what is best for the country and for the American people. Economic growth is struggling under the current tax burden. Every American who works is giving the government a higher percentage of what they earn than the Medieval surfs paid their lords. That is a scary thought. At the same time, many people who choose not to work are driving expensive cars and living better than the people who do work. The poverty in America that the government is now supporting currently owns a nice car, a big-screen television, an ipad, a smart phones, and central air conditioning. I am all for helping people in time of need, but I think we have lost our way.

Congress needs to pass President Trump’s tax plan. Every Congressman who does not support the plan needs to be voted out of office as soon as possible. Unless the American voters begin to hold their representatives accountable for what they do, the swamp will never get drained. The problem is in both political parties. It is time to take note of the people whose votes help America and the people whose votes hurt America.

 

More Truth Comes Out

Even what we knew about the Iran deal at the time was questionable at best, but it keeps getting worse. Yesterday Politico posted an article about one aspect of the deal that somehow wasn’t covered by the press at the time.

The article reports:

When President Barack Obama announced the “one-time gesture” of releasing Iranian-born prisoners who “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses” last year, his administration presented the move as a modest trade-off for the greater good of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran’s pledge to free five Americans.

“Iran had a significantly higher number of individuals, of course, at the beginning of this negotiation that they would have liked to have seen released,” one senior Obama administration official told reporters in a background briefing arranged by the White House, adding that “we were able to winnow that down to these seven individuals, six of whom are Iranian-Americans.”

Sounds pretty innocent. But wait–there’s more to the story. Although President Obama described the seven as civilians, that is not actually true.

The article further reports:

But Obama, the senior official and other administration representatives weren’t telling the whole story on Jan. 17, 2016, in their highly choreographed rollout of the prisoner swap and simultaneous implementation of the six-party nuclear deal, according to a POLITICO investigation.

In his Sunday morning address to the American people, Obama portrayed the seven men he freed as “civilians.” The senior official described them as businessmen convicted of or awaiting trial for mere “sanctions-related offenses, violations of the trade embargo.”

In reality, some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. As part of the deal, U.S. officials even dropped their demand for $10 million that a jury said the aerospace engineer illegally received from Tehran.

Why in the world was President Obama so desperate to make a deal with Iran?

Please follow the link above to the Politico article. It is a rather lengthy article, but has a lot of insight into the difficulties created by President Obama’s Iran treaty. The treaty not only will allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon in the near future (think North Korea). The treaty also creates immediate security and safety issues for American troops in the Middle East because of the large amounts of untraceable cash sent to Iran. That money can be used to support worldwide terrorism or to fund actions against American troops.

We need to scrap the treaty and put the sanctions back!

Some History To Explain Some Current Events

Technically Egypt is considered a Republic. However, Egypt has a history of military coups, protests, and assassinations that have forced changes in leadership. As I am sure you remember, there were protests in Egypt as part of the so-called Arab Spring. As a result of those protests, on 13 February 2011, the military dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution. In June 2012, Mohamed Morsi was elected President of Egypt. On 2 August 2012, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil announced his 35-member cabinet comprising 28 newcomers including four from the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928. It has a two-fold purpose–to implement sharia law worldwide and to re-establish the imperial Islamic state (caliphate). Al Qaeda has the same objectives as the Muslim Brotherhood–they differ only in timing and tactics. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat after he signed a peace treaty with Israel. Although most Egyptians supported the treaty, Egypt was kicked out of the Arab League because of Anwar Sadat’s actions, and he was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood. That is some of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and explains why the Egyptian military removed Mohamed Morsi from office. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected President and sworn in on June 8, 2104. My purpose in explaining the history is to illustrate the reasons el-Sisi has found it necessary to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. They are very active in Egypt and are a threat to the nation’s freedom.

President Obama had a much better relationship with Morsi than he did with el-Sisi. President Obama was much more sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt than he was to those who opposed them. When President Obama spoke al-Azhar University in Cairo in 2009, he specifically invited 10 members of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc to attend the speech. President Obama’s actions showed much more sympathy to the Muslim Brotherhood than to those who wanted religious freedom in Egypt. So where am I going with this?

Our relationship with Egypt has improved since President Trump took office.

The Daily Caller is reporting today:

Egypt has released an Egyptian American woman who was imprisoned in Cairo for several years after Donald Trump struck a deal with the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.

Aya Hijazi, 30, a U.S. citizen and humanitarian worker, had been in prison for three years on child abuse and trafficking charges — which the U.S. dismissed as false — because she operated a nonprofit dedicated to helping kids on the street with her husband. Last week, an Egyptian court dropped all charges against her.

Ms. Hijazi had been in prison for three years. Donald Trump has been President for three months. There is no reason that President Obama could not have freed this woman as soon as she was arrested (other than the fact that he did not have a good relationship with el-Sisi).

Egyptians will probably never enjoy the degree of freedom that Americans enjoy, but it is to our advantage to stay on good terms with as many world leaders as possible. Some of the early indications are that the Trump Administration will endeavor to do this.

But What Are They For?

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about the activities of the Center for American Progress  The Center for American Progress has an Action Fund, which they are planning to use to fund anti-Trump activities around the country during the Congressional recess. Think about that for a minute. Why are they funding anti-Trump activities? Did anyone ever fund the Tea Party?

The article reports:

The Town Hall Project, a group that has served as the central hub for raucous town hall events against Republican lawmakers, announced the partnership with CAP Action to amplify their efforts.

“So today I’m excited to announce a partnership between Town Hall Project and the Center for American Progress Action Fund,” an email from Town Hall Project said. “With CAP Action amplifying our town hall event research, we can even better ensure that that all Americans have the tools needed to channel their organic energy to ensure their voices are heard and their elected representatives held accountable.”

“Let me emphasize that this is collaboration towards a common goal,” the email continued. “Town Hall Project is 100% independent and will never waiver [sic] from our core values of grassroots research and citizen engagement. While we stay true to ourselves—and to supporters like you—we know the way we win is to build a big coalition of progressive groups: big and small, new and old, online and offline, all working together to fight back.”

The email urges readers to visit ResistanceNearMe.org, a re-launched CAP Action website run in conjunction with the Town Hall Project.

“In partnership with Town Hall Project, Resistance Near Me is a hub for progressive local #resist actions, designed for you to find any public event, rally, town hall, protest, and more, near you, as well as the information you need to contact your member of Congress,” the website states. “It’s never been more important to raise our voices to resist Trump’s harmful agenda and the elected representatives who aren’t speaking for us.”

Jimmy Dahman, the founder of Town Hall Project, claimed on CNN in February that previous, explosive town hall events were “all organic and happening at the grassroots level.”

Wow. Funded grassroots. I think that’s called astroturf!

The concluding paragraph of the article explains who is behind this effort:

The Action Network’s board of directors includes Mark Fleischman, a former vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Jeffrey Dugas, who worked for Podesta’s Center for American Progress and Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign; and Brian Young, who worked for John Kerry and Howard Dean.

The Town Hall Project website now acknowledges a partnership with NextGen Climate, an environmentalist super PAC founded by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer.

In the email announcing the CAP partnership, the Town Hall Project took credit for “some incredible victories” with their progressive allies. The group linked to a Yahoo article on how activists organized to defeat the Republican health care reform bill.

The Town Hall Project did not return a request for comment on its partnership with CAP Action.

Donald Trump has made an effort to help the average American by rolling back regulations, cutting some government spending already, and planning to prevent the crash of ObamaCare. He is also planning to change the tax code to make it work for everyone. Which part of these things is the Center for American Progress against? What are they for? How many paid protesters does it take before people begin to see the game being played here by the political left?

The Spin Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

Yesterday The Chicago Tribune posted an article that seems to correct some of the charges made against President Trump about the cost of his travels to Florida. President Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago six times since he took office. I would like to note that he is not paying rent while he is there–he owns the place. As for arguments that the Secret Service is paying rent, I don’t know, but I do know the Secret Service paid rent to Joe Biden when they stayed on his property, so that is not anything new.

At any rate, the article reports:

With President Donald Trump making his seventh presidential trip this weekend to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, government watchdogs and Democrats are once again seeing dollar signs: namely, $3 million.

There are a few problems with the way this figure was reached. It was based on a trip President Obama made in 2013 to Palm Beach:

…Another problem with extrapolating from the October 2016 GAO report is that it included a leg from Washington to Chicago, where Obama gave an economic speech before heading to Palm Beach for a long weekend of golf.

Obama was only in Chicago for a few hours, but costs pile up because each destination triggers the need for the Secret Service to prepare and protect the site and the Defense Department to move the equipment involved.

Another significant cost-driver, GAO noted, is the per-hour cost of military aircraft, such as the president’s plane, Air Force One. So it’s not just a matter of slicing off a few hundred thousand dollars to come up with the $3 million estimate.

“If you take out Chicago, that just means the equipment is going to have to come from other bases,” Lepore said. Sometimes that means more money, sometimes less.

Judicial Watch arrives at its $1 million figure by estimating flight time and typical Secret Service costs, leaving out airlifting equipment such as the presidential limousines. Those costs also aren’t fully included in Judicial Watch’s $96 million total for Obama.

I would like to note that President Trump has been doing business while in Mar-a-Lago. Certainly it is an impressive place to meet with foreign leaders. I also wonder if it has less of a change of electronic surveillance than meetings in the White House. Considering all that we have learned about the surveillance of the Trump team, that might be a valid consideration.

The Story vs. The Spin

Yesterday The Washington Post reported some interesting information about the allegations that President Obama used electronic surveillance on President Trump’s campaign and transition team. I seriously wonder if anything will come of this, but I believe we have a smoking gun.

The article reports:

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

I would like someone to explain to me how the Russian government could swing the election in Trump’s favor. The investigation into any Russian involvement in the Trump campaign is nothing more than a smoke screen for the illegal surveillance done by the Obama Administration.

The New York Post reported yesterday:

In what the paper (The Washington Post) described as a lengthy declaration, the government said Page “engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow.”

The application was submitted in July and the ensuing 90-day warrant has been renewed at least once, the paper reported.

The government agencies are trying to determine whether Page or any other members of the Trump campaign had improper contacts Russian agents as the Kremlin sought to influence the presidential election.

Page told the paper that he was just a target in a political hit campaign.

“This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance,” Page told The Washington Post Tuesday. “I have nothing to hide.”

This makes Watergate look like amateur hour. People went to jail because of the Watergate break-in. People should go to jail for the surveillance of the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team. What was done was unconstitutional and a violation of the civil rights of the people under surveillance. The leaking of this information with the names unmasked was also a violation of the law. If no one is held accountable, then the precedent is set that unwarranted surveillance of American citizens and releasing the information is acceptable.

 

The Individual States Are Laboratories To Determine The Best Policies

For whatever reason, the Republicans seem to have a problem keeping their campaign pledge to repeal ObamaCare. For some reason, they just can’t seem to bring up any one of the many bills they passed to repeal ObamaCare in the past when they knew the President would veto the bill. They are behaving like cowards. The problem is not the Freedom Caucus; the problem is the establishment Republicans who, like the Democrats, love bigger government. At any rate, the states have shown the way to repeal ObamaCare.

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial showing how various states have dealt with various aspects of ObamaCare.

The editorial explains:

In the early 1990s, several states adopted “guaranteed issue” (which banned insurers from turning anyone down for health reasons) and “community rating” (which banned insurers from charging the sick more than the healthy).

As with ObamaCare, these regulations banned insurers from denying coverage or charging people more because they were sick. Like ObamaCare, these reforms were popular with the public.

And, just like ObamaCare, they all caused their individual insurance markets to collapse, as premiums skyrocketed and insurers fled the markets.

So what happened?

Of 10 states that adopted ObamaCare-style market regulations, four repealed their “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” regulations altogether, according to a detailed analysis by Milliman in 2012.

New Hampshire, for example, adopted these protections in 1994. By 2000, only two insurance companies were writing individual policies in the state, and by 2001, only 3% of the state’s non-elderly population were enrolled in an individual insurance plan, down from 7.6% before the reforms kicked in.

The editorial goes on to explain that when the regulations were repealed in 2002 and a high-risk pool created for those with pre-existing conditions, more people bought insurance. By 2010, 8.5% of the population were buying on the individual market.

The editorial cites a similar experience in Kentucky:

Kentucky likewise abandoned these protections six years after adopting them, and after making various modifications in hopes to get the rules to work. When Kentucky first imposed guaranteed issue and community rating in 1994, there were more than 40 insurers in the state’s individual market. By 1996, only one was left.

Iowa and South Dakota also ditched their guaranteed issue and community rating reforms within nine years of enacting them. Washington weakened its guaranteed issue provision in 2000.

The editorial concludes:

These states show that repealing blanket “guaranteed issue” protections is politically possible, that it will restore the individual insurance market to health, and that there are other, better ways to take care of the sick.

The free market works every time it is tried!

The government does very few things well. Right now I can’t think of any of them. I am reminded of the Milton Friedman quote:

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand”

We need to keep that quote in mind when Congress talks about expanding government programs.

Why We Need A Clean Repeal Of ObamaCare

The Daily Caller posted an article today about the first U.S. city to feel the effects of the failure of ObamaCare.

The article reports:

Knoxville, Tenn., could be the first city in the U.S. where Obamacare completely collapses, leaving tens of thousands of people without the option to buy a subsidized insurance policy.

Humana, the city’s only remaining insurance provider on its Obamacare exchange, announced it is exiting the market in 2018. If that happens, Knoxville citizens will be in a rough spot. Unless another insurance provider fills Humana’s place, some 40,000 people in the Knoxville area will likely be left without the option to purchase an Obamacare-subsidized insurance policy, CNN reports.

Knoxville is illustrative of one of the main problems with Obamacare: It doesn’t promote market-based competition. Insurers pull out of marketplaces where it is not cost-efficient for them to provide services, and, as a result, consumers are left with fewer options at higher prices.

When the government interferes with the free market, bad things happen.

Because of the collapse of ObamaCare, people will have to buy their insurance in the private marketplace. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee have proposed a bill that would allow consumers to purchase any state-approved health insurance plans with ObamaCare subsidies. Again, the government is interfering in the free market.

The health insurance industry is not the villain here. Insurance companies use statistical tables to determine rates. They are in business to make money and should be allowed to do so (although allowances should be made for pre-existing conditions and long-term issues). There are a few steps that can be taken to bring reason back into the health insurance market–tort reform, selling insurance across state lines,  and high risk pools for pre-existing conditions.

Texas succeeded in slowing the rise of health insurance premiums by tort reform. Unfortunately a large percentage of the campaign money that goes to Congressional campaigns comes from trial lawyers. That will make it very difficult to pass tort reform on a national level. This is another reason to get the federal government out of the health insurance business.

The Layers Of The Obama-Orchestrated Palace Intrigue

President Obama has been relatively quiet since leaving the White House, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have people representing his interests in the Democratic Party and the media. What are his interests? The main one is preventing President Trump from undoing his executive orders and other policies that were put in place that were not helpful to the American economy. On Saturday, The New York Post posted a list of recent Presidents and the economic growth under each.

This is the list:

Here are the average growth rates for each president:

  • Johnson (1964-68), 5.3 percent
  • Kennedy (1961-63), 4.3 percent
  • Clinton (1993-2000), 3.9 percent
  • Reagan (1981-88), 3.5 percent
  • Carter (1977-80), 3.3 percent
  • Eisenhower (1953-60), 3 percent
  • Nixon (1969-74), 2.8 percent
  • Ford (1975-76), 2.6 percent
  • G.H.W. Bush (1989-92), 2.3 percent
  • G.W. Bush (2001-08), 2.1 percent
  • Truman (1946-52), 1.7 percent
  • Obama (2009-16), 1.6 percent

There are some real questions as to the methods former President Obama and those who supported him plan to use to prevent President Trump from taking actions to improve the economy. It is becoming obvious, however, that one of those methods is to attempt to delegitimize President Trump. So far the attempts to do this have included bogus information accusing President Trump of strange activities while visiting Russia, a claim that the Electoral College is unfair, and a charge that the Russians helped President Trump win the election. So far the only success these people have had has been the destruction of General Flynn and the withdrawal of one of the President’s cabinet nominations. However, we shouldn’t conclude that they are anywhere near giving up.

Sometimes the best laid plans backfire. An illustration of that is found at Bloomberg.com today in an article by Eli Lake.

The article reports:

White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

Oddly enough, these conversation involved members of the Trump transition team and contained information that would be of value politically.

The article also points out that Susan Rice has publicly denied any knowledge of President Trump’s transition team being caught up in intelligence collection. I would like to remind everyone that Susan Rice’s record on honesty is not spotless.

The article further reports:

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are probing any ties between Trump associates and a Russian influence operation against Hillary Clinton during the election. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Representative Devin Nunes, is also investigating how the Obama White House kept tabs on the Trump transition after the election through unmasking the names of Trump associates incidentally collected in government eavesdropping of foreign officials.

Rice herself has not spoken directly on the issue of unmasking. Last month when she was asked on the “PBS NewsHour” about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection, Rice said: “I know nothing about this,” adding, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”

This scenario is an illustration of the nightmare those who opposed the Patriot Act saw coming–the intelligence community being used as a political weapon. The problem is not entirely with the Patriot Act; part of the problem is unethical politicians who do not understand that they are also required to abide by the law and follow the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment rights of a number of people were violated by the actions of the Obama Administration. Those responsible need to be brought to justice.

Somehow Most Of The Media Has Avoided The History On This

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about the confirmation process of Judge Gorsuch. The bottom line of the article is that it will take real talent for for Republican party to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in this instance. The article reminds us that until the administration of the 43rd President of the United States, Supreme Court Justices were sworn in by a simple majority.

The article reports the following quote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on both FOX News Sunday and Meet the Press yesterday:

“I can tell you that Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed this week. How that happens really depends on our Democratic friends. How many of them are willing to oppose cloture, on a partisan basis, to kill a Supreme Court nominee? Never happened before in history, in the whole history of the country. In fact, filibustering judges at all is a rather recent phenomen[on] started by your next guest, Senator Schumer, after George Bush 43 got elected president. We didn’t used to do this. Clarence Thomas was confirmed 52-48, the most controversial Supreme Court nominee in history. And not a single Senator said he has to get 60 votes.”

Senator Harry Reid brought back the traditional concept of an up or down vote to confirm lower court judges. It will not be a big step to go back to the historical precedent of confirming Supreme Court judges the same way. The question is, “Do the Republicans have the intestinal fortitude to do what they need to do to put Judge Gorsuch on the Supreme Court?” This is nothing more than a political game of chicken. If the Democrats force the issue, the filibustering of Supreme Court judges will end. Because the Democrats are generally the party that uses this tactic, it will be their loss. There may be other vacancies on the Supreme Court in the next three years, and the Democrats will have given up a tool to oppose those nominations. If the Democrats allow this nomination to go through, they will simply replace a conservative judge with a conservative judge. They will also keep their powder dry for the next fight which may involve replacing a more liberal judge. It’s their choice.

Just as a point to remember–for those who are still screaming because Merrick Garland never got a hearing, remember that the Biden rule was called into effect during the last two years of the Bush Administration. The Republicans simply made the Democrats follow the rule that Joe Biden had stated! They simply enforced the same rule for both political parties.

How The Deep State Works

It is nearly impossible to fire a federal employee. The logic behind this is that civil servants should not be at the mercy of elections. They should have some modicum of job security. Although in theory that is a really good idea, it prevents the occasional housecleaning that Washington, D.C. needs. The group in Washington that is dedicated to maintaining the status quo is a small portion of the deep state. The deep state is much more complex and entangled than that, but for the purposes of this article, the deep state is simply the entrenched bureaucracy that is intent on maintaining the status quo. The deep state is one of the few things in Washington that is truly bi-partisan.

The Conservative Treehouse posted an article yesterday that illustrates how the deep state works.

The article reports:

Chairman Nunes is the only member of the Intelligence Oversight Gang-of-Eight who has reviewed the executive level intelligence product which caused him concern.  Nunes alleged in the last week he received evidence that Obama administration political figures gained access to unmasked American identities through foreign intercepts involving the Trump transition team between November 2016 and January 2017.

Media and congressional leadership intentionally skip the obvious questions:

Why don’t the other seven members also go look at the same executive intel?

  • Why, instead of looking at the same data, does the entire UniParty political apparatus and DC media now seem intent on eliminating Devin Nunes?
  • Why doesn’t Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer or Mark Warner simply go look at the same executive intelligence product?
  • Why doesn’t Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell or Richard Burr simply go look at the same executive intelligence product?
  • Why doesn’t any member of the DC media ask such brutally obvious questions?
  • Why is the DC UniParty both intent on not looking at the intelligence and simultaneously intent on removing Nunes, and getting the investigation removed from the House Intelligence Committee (Nunes/Schiff) and over to the Senate Intelligence Committee (Burr/Warner)?
  • What is it about that Executive Office Level Intelligence Product the gang-of-eight are all so desperately afraid of?
  • Why would the Senate launch another entire congressional intelligence inquiry, when the head of the Senate Intelligence Committees, Burr and Warner, are desperate NOT to see the intelligence product that causes Nunes such concern?

In a previous article, The Conservative Treehouse explains why much of those in Washington who should see the intelligence reports have not:

If Representative Schiff saw the same intelligence that substantiates Nunes he couldn’t keep up the fake outrage and false narrative. Right now Schiff can say anything about it he wants because he hasn’t seen it.  If Schiff actually sees the intelligence Nunes saw he loses that ability. He would also lose the ability to criticize, ridicule and/or marginalize Devin Nunes.

The same political perspective applies to Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Mark Warner. For each of them to see the information would eliminate their ability to talk about it, or criticize Nunes. The politics of the situation are more valuable so long as they don’t engage in actual truthful knowledge.

Chairman Nunes cannot share his intelligence finding with the House Committee, because the intelligence product is beyond their intel authority. Nunes has to ask for it in portions as each compartment would permit and authorize; And so long as Pelosi, Schumer, Warner and Schiff refuse to look at the intelligence that ‘only they’ are allowed to see, they can continue to ridicule and take political advantage.

This reality is also the reason why the media is so able to manipulate the narrative around Chairman Nunes; and simultaneously why he’s able to say he’s done nothing wrong.

Until we go back to a system under which civil servants can be fired and there is a periodic housecleaning in Washington, we will be a bi-partisan government of unelected bureaucrats and our votes will not be worth much. If President Trump is serious about changing Washington, he needs to begin clearing out the deep state by firing civil servants who are working against the interests of elected officials. The uproar will be monstrous, but it is truly the only way to drain the swamp.