Uneven Precautions

Hot Air posted an article today about some recent comments by New York City Mayor DeBlasio.

The article reports:

“A small number of religious communities, specific churches and specific synagogues, are unfortunately not paying attention to this guidance even though it’s so widespread,” the New York Democrat said Friday at his daily press briefing.

“I want to say to all those who are preparing for the potential of religious services this weekend: If you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services,” he added.

De Blasio said that continued resistance of authorities to close religious services could mean a permanent shutdown.

The last paragraph is an amazing statement. Particularly when you consider the fact that he has not closed down the parks in New York City.

The article notes:

But it’s still interesting to see how selective the Mayor is in the targets he picks for “special treatment” in terms of enforcing his social distancing decrees. As I mentioned above, why threaten to close the synagogues when he still hasn’t closed the public parks? We’re seeing much larger crowds still clogging the parks than you’re likely to find in the average temple on any given Saturday.

The last paragraph of the article reminds us how silly Mayor De Blasio’s statement about closing down the churches and synagogues is:

The last thing I’ll touch on here was de Blasio’s admonishment about potentially closing the buildings “permanently.” That’s hogwash. Or perhaps malarkey, if you’re feeling more Bidenesque. Sooner or later this virus will pass. When it does, the rules about not gathering in large groups will go out the window. And any elected official found trying to shutter churches and synagogues at that point will quickly find themselves on the losing end of a massive court case, if not run out of town on a rail.

At any rate, one thing Americans need to make sure of is that the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment of our Constitution do not get lost in the fight against the coronavirus.

A Subtle Way To Infringe On A Constitutional Right

“America’s 1st Freedom” is a magazine distributed by the National Rifle Association. I am not including a link to the article I am posting about because I can’t find the article electronically although it is in the April 2020 issue of the magazine.

The title of the article is “The New Gun-Control Activism.” It deals with the strategy those who oppose the right of Americans to own guns are using to limit the availability of guns to Americans.

The article notes:

Last year, for example, Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, who commands $37 billion in public pension funds, announced plans to pull $30 million worth of shares from civilian firearm manufacturer securities. Wooden also intends to prohibit similar investments in the future and to establish incentives for banks and financial institutions to adopt anti-gun protocols. The proposition was immediately praised by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and other Connecticut politicians who view the divestment from five companies–Clarus Corp., Daicel Corp., Vista Outdoor Inc., Olin Corp., and ammunition maker Northrop Grumman–as a step toward reducing gun violence.

…Wooden also requested that financial bodies disclose their gun-related portfolios when endeavoring to wok with the treasurer’s office. Wooden subsequently selected tow firms, Citibank and Rick Financial Product (both had expressed the desire to be part of the “solution on gun violence”), to take on the roll of senior bankers in Connecticut’s then-forthcoming $890 million general obligation bond sale.

Technically I guess this is legal. It is a very subtle infringement on the Second Amendment and would be very difficult to prove in court. It is also not a new approach. During the Obama administration, the administration put in place guidelines that prevented gun dealers from getting business loans from banks.

On May 19, 2014, The New American reported:

Following the Obama administration’s “Operation Broken Trust,” an operation that began just months into his first term, the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was created initially to “root out and expose” investment scams. After bringing 343 criminal and 189 civil cases, the task force began looking for other targets.

The task force is a gigantic interagency behemoth, involving not only the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI, but also the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the U.S. Secret Service.

The next target for the task force was credit card payment processors, such as PayPal, along with porn shops and drug paraphernalia stores. In 2011, it expanded its list of “high risk” businesses to include gun shops. Peter Weinstock, an attorney with Hunton & Williams, explained:

This administration has very clearly told the banking industry which customers they feel represent “reputational risk” to do business with….

Any companies that engage in any margin of risk as defined by this administration are being dropped.

In 2012, Bank of America terminated its 12-year relationship with McMillan Group International, a gun manufacturer in Phoenix, and American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale. Said Joe Sirochman, owner of American Spirit Arms:

At first, it was the bigger guys — gun parts manufacturers or high-profile retailers. Now the smaller mom-and-pop shops are being choked out….

They need their cash [and credit lines] to buy inventory. Freezing their assets will put them out of business.

That’s the whole point, according to Kelly McMillan:

This is an attempt by the federal government to keep people from buying guns and a way for them to combat the Second Amendment rights we have. It’s a covert way for them to control our right to manufacture guns and individuals to buy guns.

With the Obama administration unable to foist its gun control agenda onto American citizens frontally, this is a backdoor approach that threatens the very oxygen these businesses need to breathe. Richard Riese, a senior VP at the American Bankers Association, expanded on the attack through the banks’ back doors:

We’re being threatened with a regulatory regime that attempts to foist on us the obligation to monitor all types of transactions.

All of this is predicated on the notion that the banks are a choke point for all businesses.

How you vote matters.

Privacy Is Now A Total Myth

Yesterday NBC News posted an article that illustrates how the surveillance state can be a problem for perfectly innocent individuals.

The article reports:

The email arrived on a Tuesday afternoon in January, startling Zachary McCoy as he prepared to leave for his job at a restaurant in Gainesville, Florida.

It was from Google’s legal investigations support team, writing to let him know that local police had demanded information related to his Google account. The company said it would release the data unless he went to court and tried to block it. He had just seven days.

“I was hit with a really deep fear,” McCoy, 30, recalled, even though he couldn’t think of anything he’d done wrong. He had an Android phone, which was linked to his Google account, and, like millions of other Americans, he used an assortment of Google products, including Gmail and YouTube. Now police seemingly wanted access to all of it.

“I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew the police wanted to get something from me,” McCoy said in a recent interview. “I was afraid I was going to get charged with something, I don’t know what.”

There was one clue.

In the notice from Google was a case number. McCoy searched for it on the Gainesville Police Department’s website, and found a one-page investigation report on the burglary of an elderly woman’s home 10 months earlier. The crime had occurred less than a mile from the home that McCoy, who had recently earned an associate degree in computer programming, shared with two others.

The article goes on to say that McCoy went to his parents, explained what was happening, and they funded a lawyer for him. McCoy was trying to figure out how he got involved in something he was totally unaware of. He began to look at his phone and realized that he was using an exercise-tracking app, RunKeeper, to record the bike rides he was taking for exercise.

The article continues:

The lawyer, Caleb Kenyon, dug around and learned that the notice had been prompted by a “geofence warrant,” a police surveillance tool that casts a virtual dragnet over crime scenes, sweeping up Google location data — drawn from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connections — from everyone nearby.

The warrants, which have increased dramatically in the past two years, can help police find potential suspects when they have no leads. They also scoop up data from people who have nothing to do with the crime, often without their knowing ─ which Google itself has described as “a significant incursion on privacy.”

Please follow the link to read the entire article. However, the bottom line is simple–Mr. McCoy’s civil rights were violated when he was accused of a crime simply because his exercise application placed him in the neighborhood of the crime. There was no other evidence other than the illegal surveillance of his movements.

The article concludes with the outcome of the case:

On Jan. 31, Kenyon filed a motion in Alachua County civil court to render the warrant “null and void” and to block the release of any further information about McCoy, identifying him only as “John Doe.” At that point, Google had not turned over any data that identified McCoy but would have done so if Kenyon hadn’t intervened. Kenyon argued that the warrant was unconstitutional because it allowed police to conduct sweeping searches of phone data from untold numbers of people in order to find a single suspect.

That approach, Kenyon said, flipped on its head the traditional method of seeking a search warrant, in which police target a person they already suspect.

“This geofence warrant effectively blindly casts a net backwards in time hoping to ensnare a burglar,” Kenyon wrote. “This concept is akin to the plotline in many a science fiction film featuring a dystopian, fascist government.”

The filing seemed to give law enforcement authorities second thoughts about the warrant. Not long afterward, Kenyon said, a lawyer in the state attorney’s office assigned to represent the Gainesville Police Department told him there were details in the motion that led them to believe that Kenyon’s client was not the burglar. The state attorney’s office withdrew the warrant, asserting in a court filing that it was no longer necessary. The office did not respond to a request for comment.

Kenyon said that in a visit to his office, the detective acknowledged that police no longer considered his client a suspect.

On Feb. 24, Kenyon dropped his legal challenge.

The case ended well for McCoy, Kenyon said, but “the larger privacy fight will go unanswered.”

This is frightening.

Really?

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about a recent comment by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE).

The article reports:

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) said on Tuesday during MSNBC’s impeachment coverage that “hypothetically,” President Donald Trump could be impeached for a “hateful, racist position” that he tweets about.

Host Chuck Todd said, “I have to say, one of the logic things I don’t understand when I hear people making declarations about ‘this is not an impeachable offense.’ Correct me if I’m wrong, the impeachable offense is whatever a majority the House says it is, and if you get ousted, it’s whatever two-thirds of the Senate says?”

Representative Coons continued:

He continued, “It is a political process, Chuck. You’re right that we don’t have detailed documentary evidence of what the Founders meant by high crimes and misdemeanors. We have some history from the United Kingdom, where they used that term in impeachment over a long period of time. Understanding this is the Constitutional mechanism for removing the president, I find it hard to believe that it has to be a specifically plead federal crime.”

He continued, “If, for example, the president of the United States just chose to move to his golf resort in Scotland for two years and not come back, not return calls, not be the president, don’t you think we could impeach him and remove him for dereliction of duty, even though there’s no specific crime?”

He added, “If the president hypothetically were to start adopting some hateful, racist position and tweeting and saying things that violated all of our values and were offensive to every American and didn’t specifically commit a crime, couldn’t we remove him in that instance?”

Our Founding Fathers are not turning over in their graves–they are spinning. Hasn’t this man read the Constitution? Aren’t the Democrats the party who had a Senate Majority Leader who was a leader in his local Ku Klux Klan?

I really can’t believe that the Democrats are so willing to undo a legitimate election when the next election is merely nine and a half months away.

The Other Side Of The Story

Impeachment continues. We all know that President Trump’s constitutional rights were violated during the initial hearings in the House of Representatives–he was not allowed to face his accusers, his lawyers were not allowed to call witnesses, and much of the cross examination of the Democrats’ witnesses was disallowed or limited. All of those things are in violation of the constitutional rights supposedly allowed ALL American citizens. Now the President’s defense team is making their case to the Senate.

Townhall posted an article today that lists six facts that were either misrepresented or omitted in the House Managers’ presentation to the Senate.

The article reports:

According to Purpura (White House Deputy Counsel Mike Purpura), there are six key facts that “have not and will not change.”

1. The transcript proves President Trump didn’t condition military aid or a meeting on anything.

“The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call,” Purpura said.

2. Ukrainian officials said they never felt pressured into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, for corruption. They also said quid pro quo never took place.

3. President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials were unaware of the paused military aide.

“The security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25th call,” Purpura said.

4. None of the Democrats’ witnesses say President Trump tied an investigation into the Bidens to the military aid or a meeting.

5. “The security assistance flowed on September 11th and a presidential meeting took place on September 25, without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigation,” Purpura said.

6. President Trump has been a strong supporter of Ukraine.

“The Democrats’ blind eye to impeach the president does not and cannot change the fact, as attested to by the Democrats’ own witnesses, that President Trump has been a better friend and supporter of Ukraine than his predecessor,” Purpura explained. “Those are the facts.”

What a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money this trial has been when everyone could have simply read the transcript of the telephone call in question. We need to vote anyone out of office who has promoted the idea that President Trump has committed an impeachable offense. I truly believe that the rush to impeach has more to do with the crimes of some Congressmen that may be revealed in the Durham report than anything President Trump has or has not done.

Things To Keep In Mind

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about the impending impeachment trial. The article is a summation of things to keep in mind as the trial progresses. Please follow the link to read the entire article. I will try to hit some of the high points here.

The article reports:

1. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced that the trial itself will begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The Clinton impeachment took five weeks, and Johnson’s lasted 11 weeks. The Senate’s impeachment trial rules, adopted in 1986, mandate that the trial should begin at noon and last until the Senate decides to adjourn, Monday through Saturday, “until final judgment shall be rendered.”

2. When the trial begins, the Senate will adopt a resolution establishing the specific timetable, including the time allotted for each side to present its case, senators to ask questions, and the Senate to consider motions.

At that point, if the Senate follows the general pattern of the Clinton trial, the Senate will vote on a motion to dismiss the impeachment and, if that motion fails, on whether additional witnesses or evidence should be considered.

During Johnson’s impeachment trial, the prosecution and defense called a total of 41 witnesses. During the Clinton trial, three witnesses provided videotaped testimony.

McConnell and several other Senate Republicans have indicated they think the Senate should rely on transcripts of the testimony of witnesses who appeared before the House, while Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and several other Democrats have demanded that witnesses be called to testify.

3. Clinton likewise did not appear before the Senate during his trial.

Trump previously indicated he would “strongly consider” testifying or providing a written statement to the House during its impeachment inquiry, but that didn’t happen. Odds are, Trump won’t be present at the Senate trial.

4. Similarly, the rules of evidence used in criminal trials do not apply in an impeachment trial. The Senate’s impeachment trial rules state that the Senate’s presiding officer has the authority to rule on questions of evidence.

Any senator, however, may ask that the full Senate vote on such matters. That reflects the Constitution’s assignment to the Senate of “the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

5. There have already been calls for the House managers to move to disqualify senators whose impartiality is in question. There is no basis in the Constitution, Senate rules, or history for such an attempt.

The only qualification for participating in a Senate impeachment trial is to be a senator.

6. Removal from office is automatic upon conviction, and the Senate may vote separately whether to disqualify the defendant from serving in any other federal office.

The Constitution explicitly provides, however, that these consequences by the Senate do not, if the defendant’s conduct is also criminal, prevent “Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

7. In theory, he likely could be retried in the future. Although neither the Constitution nor Senate rules address this issue, and no precedent exists for it, a few legal scholars, such as former Obama administration official Neal Katyal, have pointed out that the Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy Clause does not apply to impeachment proceedings. 

8. Senate committees may hold hearings in the morning of each trial day, but doing any business such as sending bills, nominations, or other matters to the full Senate would require the consent of all senators.

The Senate impeachment rules provide that the chamber must suspend its legislative and executive business while the trial is under way.

One thing to consider in all of this is that the House of Representative’s evidence was generally hearsay evidence. Because impeachment does not follow the rules of evidence, it is possible that some of that evidence will be introduced. However, do Senators really want to go back to their districts to say that they voted for impeachment because a witness ‘felt’ that the President was thinking something that might have been against the law? Realistically, we also need to realize that there is an element of the Democrat party that will continue to do everything it can to destroy President Trump and his agenda regardless of what happens in the impeachment trial. At some point you have to wonder why successful economic and foreign policies are such a threat to the Democrat party.

Some Wise Words From A Friend

Thoughts on today’s Civil Rights March in Richmond, Virginia.

Folks the Governor of Virginia (AKA King Ralph) has lost control of the situation and declared a state of emergency. He is using this as an excuse to suspend the Constitution and Civil Rights of the People of Virginia.

The National Guard has basically told him they are not playing his silly game, the county Sheriff’s have sided with the people.
This should tell you something really important. The National Guard General I guarantee you had a bunch of JAG lawyers backing him up when he said “No”.

Antifa has publicly sided with the people and pro 2nd Amendment groups calling the Governor a fascist and a tyrant (I did not see that coming and I am not ruling out a false flag or trouble here, but at least they are calling the Governor out for being a Tyrant and acting like a Fascist).

The West Virginia Legislature has already publicly offered counties to come on over to the Mountain State.

The Governor now backed into a corner has tried to hire private military contractors. Which also have said “No”.
(This should also set off major warning bells)

Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase warns all Patriots to remain calm and keep their heads on a swivel and not to take any action that allows the Governor to set this up to look like anything other than what this is, his fault, his listening to the Liberal echo chamber and not the average citizens of his state.
Some anti-gun lobbyists got paid a lot of money for helping set this in motion and filled a lot of campaign coffers.
Part of the reason this situation came up is several of the Democrats now elected ran unopposed. (We can never let this happen again)

Be smart out there folks. This needs to be about the 1st and the 2nd Amendments.
Freedom of Speech,
Freedom of Thought,
Freedom to Assemble,
The Right to Self Defense can never be Denied.

The Primary reason for the 2nd Amendment is so the Citizens may resist Tyranny. However we are no where near that point yet. Attending today’s Civil Rights march with a long gun and dressed anything less than your Sunday best is counter productive.
The Governor of Virginia wants an excuse. He wants to excuse his egregious abuse of power and abuse of the Constitution. Do Not Under Any Circumstances give him an excuse for his over reach of power. Do Not give him an Excuse to grab for more power. He will use egregious behavior on the part of the protesters to try to claim his Tyranny was “only doing what was necessary”.

This is a time to follow the wisdom of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr he knew a thing or two about showing resistance to tyranny with dignity:

Show up dressed in your Sunday best and have dignity, display your dignity for all to see.
Walk proudly with your head held high, be solemn, be respectful, be reverent, you can even be silent when you walk in protest of tyranny.
Let your presence, you reverence shout for you.
Do not under any circumstances act undignified. This March is above all about Dignity and Freedom. We are Free men and women, and we will resist Tyranny, displays your Dignity and show the Governor and his Liberal Masters you are unbowed and you are upright and not on bended knee.

Liberal protest marches are usually a spectacle, a clown show.
Do no sink to that lack of dignity, lack of self respect, and most of all respect for others. When you act like offensive clown, you do not further the cause. You alienate supporters and potential supporters. Worse you offend and impose upon the disinterest that just wanted to go about their daily life and make them worse than disinterested, you make them an opponent.

Your cause is just.
Do not sully the cause with egregious behavior. Do not tolerate your fellow marchers and protesters acting improperly.
Police each other so the Police can stand and observe the Parade and remain unengaged and unmolested.

The Nation and the World are watching you!
(And so are a lot of drones and intelligence services)
We will resist Peacefully, until Peace is no longer an option.

As General Mattis would say:
“Be polite, be Professional, but keep your head on a swivel and never ever lower your guard”

Written and posted on Facebook by Herbert Clayton Bollinger

An Interesting Take On Impeachment

The American Thinker posted an article today about the next step in the impeachment process.

The article notes:

The latest reporting I’ve seen is that the Senate will take up President Trump’s impeachment trial this week.  What’s wrong with that, you ask?  I’ve already said what’s wrong: the Schiff-Nadler Star Chamber violated President Trump’s Fifth Amendment rights to procedural due process, rendering the resulting impeachment articles null and void as “poisoned fruit.”  The GOP leadership should do what the Founders would have done: challenge the legal legitimacy of the impeachment articles.  The logic blueprint I will present below — Mr. Jefferson knew logic — will help make the case in court.

As we know, protecting the rights of the accused is of fundamental importance in a just legal system and is a key motivation behind the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which asserts that “[no person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”  The Supreme Court has interpreted due process broadly to include:

    • procedural due process rights,
    • substantive due process rights, and
    • prohibition against vague laws
    • as the vehicle for the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.

Of concern here are only procedural due process rights (PDPRs), which include:

    1. An unbiased tribunal.
    2. Notice of the proposed action and the grounds asserted for it.
    3. The opportunity to present reasons for the proposed action not to be taken.
    4. The right to present evidence, including the right to call witnesses.
    5. The right to know the opposing evidence.
    6. The right to cross-examine adverse witnesses.
    7. A decision based only on the evidence presented.
    8. Opportunity to be represented by counsel.
    9. A requirement that the tribunal prepare a record of the evidence presented.
    10. A requirement that the tribunal prepare written findings of fact and the reasons for its decision.

I can sum this up with one question, “If you were on trial would you be happy to have the same rights as a defendant that President Trump was given by the House of Representatives?”

If the God-given rights that are supposed to be guaranteed by our Constitution matter, the impeachment case put together by the House of Representatives needs to be thrown out for not respecting those rights.

The Battle For The Second Amendment

The Washington Examiner posted an article today with the following headline, “Sheriffs may go to jail to protect ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries,’ congressman says.”

Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam recently told WTKR that any law enforcement officer that did not carry out gun control laws enacted by the state would face “consequences,” but he did not give any specifics.

The Second Amendment states:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The article notes:

Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie thinks some local law enforcement leaders will be willing to go to jail rather than comply with state gun control laws they deem unconstitutional.

“Attended my first 2A sanctuary meeting today in Lewis County (where I live). Standing room only. Friends and neighbors spoke passionately and articulately. County officials unanimously passed a resolution,” Massie tweeted on Dec. 30. “This grassroots movement feels even stronger than the Tea Party in 2010.”

“Second Amendment sanctuary” municipalities last year sprouted up in Illinois, a state with some of the strictest gun control laws. They then spread to Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, Washington state, and other states.

Massie cited Weld County, Colorado Sheriff Steve Reams, a critic of the state’s “red flag” law, who has offered to put himself in his own jail rather than enforce the state law.

“His county government has already voted to fund his legal fees should he end up in a protracted legal battle that might go all the way” to the Supreme Court, Massie told the Washington Examiner.

“And so that’s one of the things that when you boil it all down and say, ‘What does the sanctuary county movement mean?’” Massie said. “So, what it could mean is that county governments decide to use taxpayer dollars, with the blessing of the taxpayers in those counties, to support the sheriffs in their court battles.”

Red flag laws are unconstitutional–they violate the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and they take property from citizens without the necessary legal procedures. Those laws seem like a good idea on the surface until you realize that people could use those laws to take guns away from people they simply don’t like. Unfortunately, red flag laws in action could very easily mirror what happened during the Salem Witch Trials where a person was accused of being a witch because someone wanted their farm. This is a glaring example of what happens when the legal rights of the accused are not respected.

Some Wise Words From Walter Williams

On Saturday, Breitbart posted an article quoting Walter Williams on the new gun registration measures being instituted in Virginia. Walter Williams is a columnist and a George Mason economics Professor.

The article reports:

On December 10, 2019, Breitbart News reported that Northam changed his position from supporting an across-the-board ban on possession of such weapons to supporting a ban only in a situation where a person refuses to register the firearm with the government. The Virginia Mercury quoted Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky saying, “The governor’s assault weapons ban will include a grandfather clause for individuals who already own assault weapons, with the requirement they register their weapons before the end of a designated grace period.”

On December 27, 2019, Walter E. Williams used a Fox News op-ed to warn Virginians “not to fall for the registration trick.” He said, “Knowing who owns what weapons is the first step to confiscation.”

In the article, Walter Williams quoted James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 46:

James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 46 wrote that the Constitution preserves “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

Too many Americans believe the Second Amendment grants Americans the right to own firearms only to go hunting and for self-protection. The framers of our Constitution had no such intent in mind.

The article concludes:

Eighty-six of Virginia’s 95 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries in which future gun controls passed by Northam and his Democrat colleagues will not be enforced.

Stay tuned.

Some Perspective From A Former FBI Agent

Sometimes the people who have done a job are the most qualified to analyze how a job was done. Frank Watt, a former FBI Agent, posted an article at The American Thinker today about the surveillance of Carter Page. The title of the article is, “Two Possibilities in Trump Wiretapping, and Neither Is Good.”

Mr. Watt reminds us that because the surveillance of an American citizen violates that citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights, there has to be proven justification for that surveillance. We know that was not the case with Carter Page, in fact, some things were left out of the application for surveillance that would have immediately called into question the need for surveillance.

The article notes:

Based on what we are told by the I.G., there are only two possible conclusions that can be reached regarding the official conduct of those responsible for infringing on Carter Pages Constitutional freedoms: 

The first is that the hand selected team of investigators, attorneys, and Senior Executive Service officials with decades of law enforcement, administrative, and judicial experience were abject failures at a task that they were hired to perform. Speaking from personal experience, in FBI, DEA, and state and local wire tap investigations, the slightest omissions, misstatements, and clerical errors are routinely identified and corrected by the street agents and line prosecutors who do these investigations for a living. To believe that a “varsity level” team, with unlimited time, support, and resources, somehow inadvertently overlooked seventeen major omissions, misstatements, and/or outright falsehoods, is simply not believable. 

The second possibility is that nearly everyone who significantly participated in obtaining FISA coverage on Page knowingly and deliberately operated outside the law to one degree or another. The reasons behind the decision to do so are irrelevant. The particulars regarding the seventeen I.G. findings are startling, taken individually. It’s difficult to see how any of the individual omissions or misstatements could have happened accidentally. Viewed collectively, the apparent intentionality is nearly impossible to reconcile as anything but corruption. 

In light of the I.G findings, the presiding FISA court judge seems to have come down on the side of intentional abuse. In a recent court order, Judge Rosemary Collyer gave the FBI until January 10 to explain to the court why the FBI should be allowed to continue to utilize FISA. The statement that the FBI “withheld material information” and that “FBI personnel misled NSD” suggests that the judge isn’t buying the “series of unfortunate events” excuse peddled by prominent figures in defense of the indefensible. 

The article concludes:

Whichever explanation seems more likely, the end result should be infuriating to every American. Either your nations premiere law enforcement agency was breathtakingly incompetent when the stakes were the highest, or select officials in that organization made deliberate decisions to break the law, undermine the Constitution, and illegally spy on a fellow American. Either possibility has deeply damaged the reputation of the FBI and DOJ in addition to the reputations of thousands of honest FBI Agents and DOJ attorneys. Despite the legitimate concerns of civil libertarians, the FISA process has indisputably proved an invaluable resource in safeguarding the country from terrorism. If the heinous abuses documented in the I.G.s report result in a weakening or loss of FISA, we will all be the worse for it. If those responsible are not held to account, this will happen again. There is no happy face to put on this episode. 

It is time for those guilty of corruption to be tried and held accountable for their actions.

The Truth About Purging Voter Rolls

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about some of the lies the media is telling about purging voter rolls.

The article reports:

Maggie Haberman, the esteemed New York Times reporter, recently tweeted out a Mother Jones article to 1.2 million followers. It was titled: “GOP-Led Voter Purges in Wisconsin and Georgia Could Tip 2020 Elections.”

The chilling piece warns readers that “hundreds of thousands of voters are set to be purged in two key swing states,” which “potentially” gives Republicans “a crucial advantage by shrinking the electorate” in those states.

None of this, of course, is true. Cynical pieces of this genre, an election-time tradition at this point, only allow Democrats to warn of widespread disenfranchisement and preemptively give aggrieved Democrats such as Stacey Abrams a baked-in excuse for losing elections and smearing Republicans.

How many people who fall for these claims understand that both federal law and state law mandate the updating of voter lists?

In Georgia, we already know that hundreds of thousands of “voters” were not purged, because at least 62% of registrations that were canceled recently by the state had surely moved away or died. Either their mail was returned as undeliverable or they had officially changed their address to a different state.

Other registrations were purged because the person hadn’t voted in years. Georgia has automatic registration. I know it’s difficult for some people to believe this, but lots of Americans have no interest in voting.

And Georgia voters can be declared “inactive” if they haven’t participated in elections, contacted officials, responded to officials, or updated their registrations since the 2012 election.

That’s state law. Georgia sends everyone letters explaining how they can fix any potential problems. Georgia, in fact, publishes a list of names online so anyone who has not received a letter can check if they are still registered. Gov. Brian Kemp recently signed a law that lengthens the period before voters become “inactive” from three to nine years.

As Justin Gray, a reporter in Atlanta, notes, the reason you don’t hear complaints from these “hundreds of thousands” of disenfranchised voters is because “most on [the] list are either dead, have moved, or as some told me were registered automatically when they got [a] license and don’t ever want to vote.”

It’s important to note, as well, that despite what you’ve heard, and what Democrats are constantly intimating, an analysis by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution uncovered no racial disparities in the voter roll purge in Georgia, finding that blacks and whites were purged in proportion to their shares of the state’s registered voters:

The article concludes:

However you look at these situations, though, “hundreds of thousands of voters” are not losing their right to cast ballots. Even if judges began forcing Wisconsin and Georgia—and the seven other states with “use it or lose it laws”—to ignore the law, there’s no evidence that it would have any bearing on the election.

Because even if we conceded that a tenth of these purges were inappropriate (and there’s zero evidence that suggests that even 1% of them are wrong), and even if we conceded that every single one of those voters would then cast their ballots for Democrats (which is implausible), it still wouldn’t change the outcome.

Not in Georgia. Not in Wisconsin. Not anywhere.

None of this is to contend that there isn’t a single person in the country who is being unfairly denied the right to vote. But the notion that “hundreds of thousands of voters” will be stopped from participating in the 2020 election through voter purges is nothing but destructive scaremongering meant to undermine American belief in the veracity of our elections.

Purging the voter rolls cuts down on voter fraud. It eliminates the possibility of someone claiming to be someone who has either moved or died. It prevents the vote of an American citizen from being cancelled out by fraud. It helps keep our elections honest.

Sometimes It’s The Little Things That Matter

President Trump has given us back the freedom to choose our light bulbs. American Thinker posted an article today stating:

Score another million votes for President Trump in the coming 2020 election.

The president has gotten rid of a despicable little micromanaging regulation left over from the Obama era, restoring the citizens’ right to buy the light bulbs that fit their preferences and needs. According to The Hill:

“Today the Trump Administration chose to protect consumer choice by ensuring that the American people do not pay the price for unnecessary overregulation from the federal government,” Brouillette said in a statement. “Innovation and technology are already driving progress, increasing the efficiency and affordability of light bulbs, without federal government intervention. The American people will continue to have a choice on how they light their homes.”

Blocking the standards flies in the face of congressional intent, critics say, citing a 2007 act signed into law by President George W. Bush that requires all everyday bulbs to use 65 percent less energy than regular incandescent bulbs, which currently constitute about half of the bulb market.

Where in the Constitution does it give the government power to tell us what kind of light bulbs we can buy?

The article continues:

Way back in 2011, when the Bush-era nanny-state measure was first enacted, Virginia Postrel, then at Bloomberg (she might still be) wrote this brilliant piece on how stupid and immoral the whole thing was. She began:

If you want to know why so many Americans feel alienated from their government, you need only go to Target and check out the light bulb aisle. Instead of the cheap commodities of yesteryear, you’ll find what looks like evidence of a flourishing, technology-driven economy.

There are “ultrasoft” bulbs promising “softer soft white longer life” light, domed halogens for “bright crisp light” and row upon row of Energy Smart bulbs — some curled in the by-now-familiar compact fluorescent form, some with translucent shells that reveal only hints of the twisting tubes within.

I can’t get the whole thing on Outline, but here was her money-quote:

… the activists offended by the public’s presumed wastefulness took a more direct approach. They joined forces with the big bulb producers, who had an interest in replacing low-margin commodities with high-margin specialty wares, and, with help from Congress and President George W. Bush, banned the bulbs people prefer.

It was an inside job. Neither ordinary consumers nor even organized interior designers had a say. Lawmakers buried the ban in the 300-plus pages of the 2007 energy bill, and very few talked about it in public. It was crony capitalism with a touch of green.

Now we have our freedom to choose light bulbs back. Let’s see how many other freedoms we can reclaim!

Stay Tuned

The Democrats in Congress seem intent on rewriting the Constitution and rewriting precedent on how things are supposed to be done. The latest rewrite involves the comment by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that she will delay forwarding articles of impeachment to the Senate until she is convinced that the Senate trial will be fair. That is an amazing statement given the total unfairness of the trial in the House of Representatives, but it also goes against precedent. I am not a lawyer, but one lawyer who graduated from Harvard Law School has weighed in on what may happen next.

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article written by Joel B. Pollak about the legal aspect of what Speaker Pelosi is doing.

The article reports:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appears to be considering an idea Democrats have floated for several days of holding back the articles of impeachment to exercise leverage over the Senate and the president.

She declined formally to transmit the articles to the Senate on Wednesday evening after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

Unfortunately for them, the Senate can act, regardless — and would vote to acquit.

That’s because the Constitution is absolutely clear about the Senate’s authority. Article I, Section 3 says: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

That is all.

The Chief Justice presides over a trial involving the president, but the Senate makes the rules. And the Senate is controlled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who regards what the House has done with contempt.

You’re in Cocaine Mitch’s court, now.

Politico outlined Democrats’ new idea, citing constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe (but, interestingly, not the Constitution itself). Pelosi hopes to pressure McConnell into holding a “fair trial” — this, after she and her party broke every relevant House rule and precedent, and several Amendments in the Bill of Rights, all in the name of their “sole Power of Impeachment.”

They forget that a “fair trial” applies to the accused, not the accuser, and has since 1215.

The article notes the contradiction between what Speaker Pelosi is doing now and previous statements by House of Representatives regarding impeachment.

The article concludes:

If Pelosi refuses to submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, McConnell can convene the Senate anyway, summon the Chief Justice, and swear in the Senators as jurors. Democrats can boycott, but they can’t stop the trial.

McConnell can then propose to dismiss the charges or even hold a vote to acquit the president.

Pelosi can hide the articles of impeachment in Adam Schiff’s basement forever, and it won’t make a bit of difference.

Stay tuned. This entire process has turned the Constitution on its head–from the rights of the accused, to vague articles of impeachment, to ignoring precedents involved in impeachment.

About That Oft Repeated Concern For The Constitution…

Yesterday PJMedia posted an article about constitutional violations under President Obama. Somehow I don’t remember the Democrats being very upset about those violations.

The article lists the violations:

5. Illegally firing an inspector general

In 2009, Barack Obama illegally fired Gerald Walpin, the inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service,  without notice or providing the legally mandated explanation for the firing to Congress. Obama did this to protect Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, an ally of his, whom Walpin had been investigating for misusing federal funds Walpin had discovered a cover-up of sexual assault allegations by minors against Johnson.

4. Giving “green energy” loans to donor companies

If you want to talk about an abuse of power, Barack Obama and Joe Biden were both personally involved in the decision-making process to determine who got $80 billion for clean energy loans, grants, and tax credits for green energy companies, in a highly politicized process that favored companies that supported the Obama-Biden campaign over those that didn’t. It was no coincidence that the companies that got all the cash were donors to their campaign. In fact, DOE officials expressed concerned that Obama and Biden’s involvement was putting taxpayer dollars at risk. Not only did they give all this money to green energy companies that donated to their campaign, but the Obama administration also stole proprietary technology from companies that didn’t get the loans to the Obama cronies who got them. This scandal was much bigger than Solyndra, but the calls for Obama’s impeachment weren’t there.

3. Unconstitutional recess appointments

When Obama made a number of controversial picks for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), he was unable to get them through the Senate. So, in January 2012, he declared his nominees appointed to the Senate via recess appointments. Except the Senate wasn’t even in recess at the time. Obama’s actions were such a blatant abuse of power that experts on both sides of the aisle blasted Obama for what he did and a federal appeals court overturned the appointments a few days after his second inauguration, declaring, “Allowing the president to define the scope of his own appointments power would eviscerate the Constitution’s separation of powers.” The United States Supreme Court ultimately took up the case, and unanimously agreed Obama abused his power.

2. Illegally reinterpreting Title IX

When Title IX was written, the goal was to protect people from discrimination based on sex in education. The notion of “gender identity” or “gender expression” wasn’t even a thing back in 1972 when it was passed. Nevertheless, Obama unilaterally decided that “sex” meant “gender identity” and threatened to enforce this bizarre idea. This was a huge violation of the rights and privacy of women and girls nationwide without so much as a national debate in Congress, where this issue needed to be worked out. Instead of going to Congress, Obama simply threatened educational institutions at all levels with the loss of Title IX funding if they didn’t comply and allow boys to share bathrooms, locker rooms, and dorm rooms with girls, as well as allow boys to play on girls sports teams. Obama’s going around Congress on this issue was a huge violation of power.

1. Changing immigration law via executive order

The truth is, Obama spent most of his presidency with a divided Congress or a GOP-controlled Congress. His radical left-wing agenda was mostly DOA because rather than work toward compromise legislation, his default position was to act on his own, assuming the executive authority to change laws via executive fiat. Anyone who’s familiar with the Constitution knows he had no such authority.

Still, when the DREAM Act failed to pass, Obama issued an executive order creating DACA, an executive-branch version of the DREAM Act. Obama literally bypassed Congress, changing U.S. immigration law via executive pen to appease his pro-open-borders base.

There seems to be something of a double standard here. The Democrats are not able to name one instance where President Trump abused his power or violated the Constitution, yet there was not a peep out of them when President Obama openly violated the Constitution.

A Law Professor With Principles

The Gateway Pundit posted a link to Professor Jonathan Turley’s opening remarks at the Nadler impeachment panel on Wednesday. Professor Turley’s entire remarks can be found here.

These are a few of his opening comments:

Jonathan Turley:  I would like to start, perhaps incongruously, with a statement of three irrelevant facts. First, I am not a supporter of President Trump. I voted against him in 2016 and I have previously voted for Presidents Clinton and Obama. Second, I have been highly critical of President Trump, his policies, and his rhetoric, in dozens of columns. Third, I have repeatedly criticized his raising of the investigation of the Hunter Biden matter with the Ukrainian president. These points are not meant to curry favor or approval. Rather they are meant to drive home a simple point: one can oppose President Trump’s policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous, as the basis for the impeachment of an American president. To put it simply, I hold no brief for President Trump. My personal and political views of President Trump, however, are irrelevant to my impeachment testimony, as they should be to your impeachment vote. Today, my only concern is the integrity and coherence of the constitutional standard and process of impeachment. President Trump will not be our last president and what we leave in the wake of this scandal will shape our democracy for generations to come. I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president.7 That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided.

Democrats take note. You will not be in power forever and someday the tables will be turned. Would you put up with this bogus impeachment?

Following The Spirit Of The Law As Well As The Letter Of The Law

The Washington Times posted an article yesterday about an aspect of the Trump presidency that I think has been largely ignored.

The article notes:

Ronald Reagan made nearly 250 recess appointments during his time in office. Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush made dozens each. George W. Bush made 171, and Barack Obama notched 32.

President Trump, meanwhile, stands at a big zero.

No other president has gone this deep into an administration without making a recess appointment. In fact, he is poised to become the first president never to get one — save William Henry Harrison, who died just one month into office.

The article also reports:

The Constitution places the recess power in Article II, which lays out the role of the executive branch, assigning the president “power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.”

That was the key trade-off: The president could fill vacancies, but the appointees’ terms were limited unless the Senate voted to approve them.

In the early years of the republic, when Congress was frequently out of session for a majority of each year, it was standard for a president to begin his tenure with a slew of recess appointments for posts that opened during the transition.

Each new president would notify the Senate of his actions and ask the upper chamber to confirm the person once it was back in session. In nearly every case, the Senate did so.

In recent years, the political rancor between the parties has changed that and recess appointments are not always confirmed–John Bolton is one example of this and I am sure there are others. President Trump thinks like a businessman. The article notes that he has used the Federal Vacancies Reform Act to make ‘acting’ appointments that allow him to remove people or move them when he sees fit.

The article concludes:

Analysts debate whether the recess appointment has become a constitutional anachronism. But some are wondering whether Mr. Trump might try to use that power heading into the last year of his term.

Even if Congress never goes into a full recess anymore, it still divides each year into a separate session — and on Jan. 3, both chambers will gavel out the first session of the 116th Congress and gavel in the second session.

The Supreme Court was silent on that type of recess in its Noel Canning ruling.

There is precedent for using the intersession period to make recess appointments. Roosevelt used the tactic in his 1903 power play.

One of the biggest mistakes America ever made was to air condition Congress so that they could stay in session during the summer.

This Would Be Funny If It Wasn’t True

The National Review posted an article today about a recent comment by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Before I share the comment, I would like to point out that Speaker Pelosi took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

The article reports:

In her Dear Colleague letter pushing back against Republican anti-impeachment talking points, Nancy Pelosi wrote this: “The weak response to these hearings has been, ‘Let the election decide.’ That dangerous position only adds to the urgency of our action, because the President is jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 elections.”

‘Let the election decide’ is not a dangerous idea–it is how our representative republic works. Exactly what is President Trump doing that jeopardizes the integrity of the 2020 elections? Does the idea of national voter ID jeopardize elections? What Speaker Pelosi fears is that the voters will see through the sham that is going on now and ‘throw the bums out’ that are responsible for the sham.

I also would like to note that the continued charge that President Trump has ‘abused his power’ is never followed by specifics. Meanwhile, the reason that DACA is before the Supreme Court is that President Obama abused his power. In his own words, President Obama admitted that.

The Heritage Foundation reminded us of the following in September 2017:

Responding in October 2010 to demands that he implement immigration reforms unilaterally, Obama declared, “I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.” In March 2011, he said that with “respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.” In May 2011, he acknowledged that he couldn’t “just bypass Congress and change the (immigration) law myself. … That’s not how a democracy works.”

There was no outcry when he changed his mind and did it anyway. When has President Trump done anything similar?

Really Bad Advice

I don’t watch The View. I watched a few minutes once and realized instantly that it was simply not something I wanted to spend time watching. However, occasionally the ignorance of our Constitution illustrated on that television show is simply astounding.

Fox News posted an article today that illustrates that ignorance.

The article reports:

Politicians seeking to confiscate guns from Americans shouldn’t share their plans with the public beforehand and should seek to maintain an element of surprise, Joy Behar said on “The View” Monday.

Behar was discussing former 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from Texas, and said it was foolish of him to announce his plans for gun confiscation before he was elected. She advised all politicians to go after the country’s guns after they’ve assumed office.

Co-host Meghan McCain also weighed in on the issue and said O’Rourke has poisoned the well and scared off independent voters from the Democratic party.

“They should not tell everything they’re going to do. If you’re going to take people’s guns away, wait until you get elected — then take the guns away,” she said. “Don’t tell them ahead of time.”

“I will also say that his stance on gun buybacks — Mayor Pete said it was a shiny object that distracts from achievable gun reform,” she said earlier in the interview. “That clip will be played for years… with organizations that try and scare people by saying that Democrats are coming for your guns.

“[Beto] also made some statements about religious institutions getting their tax-exempt status removed from them because they didn’t support same-sex marriage,” McCain continued. “He did a lot of, like, battleground culture war, and he ran as the most left, most woke candidate and look where he ended.”

The Second Amendment is not a cultural issue–it is an integral part of the Bill of Rights, a document written to limit the power of government–not the power of citizens. The ladies on The View need to take a basic civics course.

Losing Our First Amendment Rights

On Tuesday, The Christian Post posted an article about a bill recently signed into law in New York State.

The article reports:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that prohibits churches and other nonprofits from campaigning for or against political candidates.

Cuomo signed Senate Bill S4347 last week, creating a state-level equivalent to the current federal Johnson Amendment, which bans electioneering among nonprofits.

In a statement released last Wednesday, Cuomo said he felt the law was necessary in response to efforts by the Trump administration to weaken the Johnson Amendment.

“For too long we have listened to the Trump administration threaten to remove common sense protections prohibiting tax exempt organizations from engaging in inappropriate political activities,” Cuomo said.

“New Yorkers have a right to free and fair elections, and this law will further protect our democracy from unjustified interferences once and for all.”

Also known as Assembly Bill A623, the bill amended the state tax law to say that  nonprofit organizations, religious or secular, cannot participate in “any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

The article reminds us:

In May 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order which, among other things, called for the federal government to stop enforcing the Johnson Amendment.

“In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective,” stated Section 2 of the executive order.

Despite the executive order and Trump saying on multiple occasions that he eliminated the amendment, it still has not been officially repealed.

The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

People do not give up their First Amendment rights because they enter a church.

The article also includes a quote by Ryan Tucker of the Alliance Defending Freedom:

Ryan Tucker of the Alliance Defending Freedom took issue with Cuomo’s signing of the law, writing in a New York Daily News opinion piece last week that the state government was “cracking down on political speech.”

“In the minds of New York lawmakers, a group can only speak freely if it pays the government extra for the privilege of doing so. That type of financial coercion may pay for a payroll increase in Albany, but it will sideline the roles of both secular and religious charities,” Tucker wrote.

“Cuomo’s comments are wrong. The government can’t condition your tax-exempt status with the surrender of your First Amendment rights or any other constitutionally protected freedom.”

That is a very interesting way to look at this. Why should churches give up their right to speak out on political issues that are relevant to spiritual life simply because they are tax exempt?

Does America Have Equal Justice Under The Law?

We are about to find out if the same rules apply to everyone. One America News Network is reporting today that Attorney General William Barr’s probe into the origins of the Russia investigation is turning into a criminal case. For those listening to the mainstream media spin that this is just retribution for impeachment, have you considered the Constitutional protections that were violated when there was massive surveillance on the Trump campaign, the Trump transition team, and even the Trump presidency? Have you looked at the changes made in the handling of classified information that took place in the final days of the Obama administration that made leaking information much easier?

The article notes:

The change reportedly allows U.S. attorney John Durham, who was chosen by Barr to lead the probe, to subpoena documents as well as witness testimonies and to file criminal charges if necessary. This comes after reports last week said Barr was expanding the investigation after Durham found something “significant.:” However, it’s still not clear what exactly prompted the switch.

The probe was first launched in May as an administrative review into the origins of the Russia hoax. President Trump has repeatedly denounced former special council Robert Mueller’s Russia probe by calling it a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” When asked whether he prompted the attorney general to open the investigation, however, the president said he hadn’t, but also said he appreciates Barr’s work.

The article concludes:

Meanwhile, Durham has reportedly expressed interest in investigating former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, who were in charge while the since-debunked Steele dossier was released. This led to the secret surveillance of Trump campaign officials in 2016.

It was recently reported that multiple CIA officials have pursued legal council because of Durham’s legal review. Horowitz has said his report will be released in the near future.

Spying on Americans by the CIA is illegal. However, if the CIA used overseas resources to accomplish what was illegal, they need to be held accountable. One of the things that the Obama administration was known for was the politicization of government agencies–the IRA targeted conservative groups by slow walking their 501(c)(3) applications, the administration dismissed charges against the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation when there was video evidence, the administration eavesdropped on James Rosen and his parents because they didn’t like his reporting, etc. It would not really be a surprise if they had used the government to further their political agenda. It will be interesting to see if anyone is held accountable for the violations of the civil rights of American citizens that occurred during the Obama administration.

Who Runs This Agency?

Yesterday The Washington Examiner reported that the Supreme Court has agreed to take up a dispute over the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a case that could dramatically scale back the agency’s authority to police financial markets or eliminate it altogether. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), considered to be the brainchild of Senator Elizabeth Warren, was created in 2010. It was one of a few misdirected responses to the housing bubble that burst in 2008.

Just for the record, I want to review a few facts about the financial collapse of 2008 that the mainstream media somehow missed.

The following video was posted at YouTube in September 2008. The video was essentially a campaign ad, but the information in it is important. The CFPB never addressed the actual problem. (For that matter, neither did Dodd-Frank). The video below tells a story you might not be familiar with:

 

The article reports:

The court said Friday it will hear a challenge from a California-based law firm that argues the CFPB, the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is unconstitutionally structured.

Opponents of the CFPB, created in 2010, argue that its structure violates the separation of powers, as Congress gave it broad authority to regulate mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer products, and is helmed by a single director who can’t be removed by the president except for cause.

The court said it will also address whether the entirety of the law that created the CFPB, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that re-ordered the financial regulatory system, should be struck down.

The Trump administration said in a filing with the Supreme Court it concluded the “statutory restriction on the president’s authority to remove the director violates” the Constitution, and “the director of the bureau has since reached the same conclusion.”

Trump tapped Kathy Kraninger to replace Mick Mulvaney, the acting CFPB director, last year.

Congress set up the CFPB as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform package, and its director is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The director serves a term of five years.

Cases challenging the constitutionality of the agency have been weaving their way through the lower courts. In 2016, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, then a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said in a ruling in a similar case the CFPB is a “gross departure from settled historical practice.”

Stay tuned. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting For Consequences

On October 9, One America News reported the following:

The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled that the FBI previously violated Americans’ privacy rights by conducting unreasonable searches. The FISA Court opinion disclosed Tuesday revealed that the FBI violated constitutional rights and federal law through their warrant-less internet surveillance program.

A 2018 review revealed the bureau used their raw intelligence database in 2017 and 2018 to administer tens of thousands of searches on private U.S. citizens. The searches were conducted on some occasions to screen FBI personnel and sources, involving emails and phone numbers. In one instance, the court stated that an FBI contractor searched his family, staff members and himself on the database.

Federal law requires the database only be used to gather evidence of a crime or foreign intelligence information. According to the ruling, the FBI violated the law authorizing the program as well as the Fourth Amendment, which bars the government from conducting unreasonable searches.

Following the court’s decision, the FBI said it would apply new procedures as to how the database is used in order to better protect personal privacy.

The Foreign Intelligence Service Act has been under scrutiny for some time. Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page has argued the Obama-era FBI may have used its FISA authority unlawfully against him.

Years ago I took a critical thinking course taught by a former NSA employee. At the beginning of the course, he assured us that guidelines that protected Americans from illegal surveillance were being followed. He stated that in his experience anyone who violated those guidelines was escorted out immediately. About a year later, I talked to him and he apologized for misleading the class. He commented that upon further research he found violations tolerated and sometimes encouraged. Unfortunately there were a lot of things that went on during the Obama administration regarding the politicization of government agencies that we are just now beginning to uncover. It is my hope that the people who chose to violate the civil rights of American citizens will be held accountable. If they are not, the abuses of power will continue.

Getting Serious About False Allegations Against Nominees

Senator Chuck Grassley posted an article on his Senate web page that included a letter asking the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI about investigations into false charges made against Justice Kavanaugh.

Part of the letter states:

These criminal referrals were not made lightly.  In each of the aforementioned cases, the referred individual(s) made false allegations against then-Judge Kavanaugh.  These allegations were taken seriously and carefully investigated by Committee staff, resulting in the diversion of significant resources.
    1. The first referral, dated September 29, 2018, relates to a false allegation made by an individual who told the Committee that he had direct knowledge that Judge Kavanaugh assaulted a close friend on a boat in the harbor at Newport, Rhode Island in 1985. [1]  After the Committee extensively questioned Judge Kavanaugh about the allegation, the individual recanted and apologized on social media for making the false allegation.
    1. The second referral, dated October 25, 2018, relates to false allegations made by Mr. Michael Avenatti and his client, Ms. Julie Swetnick.[2]  In a September 23, 2018, email to Committee staff, Mr. Avenatti stated that he and Ms. Swetnick were aware of evidence that during the 1980s, Judge Kavanaugh participated in the “targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them.”[3]  Committee staff interviewed Judge Kavanaugh and ten other individuals in connection with these allegations, which were outlined in graphic detail in a sworn statement to the Committee purportedly written and signed by Ms. Swetnick.  After a thorough investigation, the Committee found no verifiable evidence to support any of the allegations made in the declaration.  The Committee also found that both Mr. Avenatti and Ms. Swetnick had a long history of credibility issues and may have criminally conspired to mislead the Committee and obstruct its investigation.
    1. The third referral, dated October 26, 2018, relates to evidence that Mr. Avenatti falsified a sworn statement to the Committee in order to provide support for Ms. Swetnick’s unfounded allegations.[4]  The sworn statement by an unknown declarant claimed that Judge Kavanaugh had spiked the punch at house parties with Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol in order to make “girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say ‘No.’”[5]  NBC News later reported on a series of contacts with the purported declarant, who stated that she had denied the key allegations in the declaration both before and after the statement was publicly released and that Mr. Avenatti had “twisted [her] words.”[6]
    1. The fourth referral, dated November 2, 2018, relates to allegations made by Ms. Judy Munro-Leighton.[7]  On October 3, 2018, Committee staff received an email from Ms. Munro-Leighton stating that she was the author of an unsigned letter containing highly graphic sexual-assault accusations against Judge Kavanaugh previously received by the office of Senator Kamala Harris.  Ms. Munro-Leighton included the text of the letter in her e-mail to the Committee, claiming that Judge Kavanaugh and a friend had raped her “several times each” in the back seat of a car.[8]  When Committee staff interviewed Ms. Munro-Leighton, she admitted that she falsely identified herself as the author of the letter and its allegations and had only claimed authorship “as a way to grab attention.”[9]  When asked by Committee investigators if she had ever met Judge Kavanaugh, she said:  “Oh Lord, no.”[10]

The letter continues:

As the Committee stressed in each of the referrals issued during and after the investigation into allegations against then-Judge Kavanaugh, investigations in support of the judicial nomination process are an essential part of the constitutional role in confirming judges.  As Committee members, we are grateful to citizens who come forward with relevant information in good faith, even if they are not entirely sure about the accuracy of that information.  But, when individuals intentionally mislead the Committee, they divert important Committee resources during time-sensitive investigations and materially impede its work. Such acts are not only unfair; they are potentially illegal.  It is illegal to make materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements to Congressional investigators.  It is illegal to obstruct Committee investigations.
It is important to protect the constitutional process from being hijacked by bad actors involved in insidious partisan operations.  The Committee can bring bad actors to the attention of law enforcement and the American people by being as transparent as possible about its investigative findings.  However, it is up to the FBI and the Justice Department to hold those who mislead Congress accountable for the criminal aspects of their behavior.  The DOJ has not shied away from selectively filing charges against individuals for alleged violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 in the past.  Martha Stewart, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, and ex-Presidential aide Scooter Libby are just a few individuals who have been charged with lying to federal investigators.[11]  Lying to Congress is and should be treated as an equally serious offense.
The next Supreme Court nominee should not have to defend himself or herself against baseless and fabricated allegations, and Committee staff should not have to spend valuable time investigating them.
Accordingly, please respond to the following no later than October 21, 2019:
    1. For each criminal referral made by the Committee to the FBI, did the FBI open a criminal investigation?  If so, which investigation(s) resulted in a referral to the Justice Department for prosecution?  If not, why not?
    1. For each case that was referred to the Justice Department for prosecution, which cases were rejected and which were accepted for prosecution? 

It will be interesting to see if there is any response to this letter.

The Political Cost Of Impeachment

What the Democrats in the House of Representatives are doing is not impeachment. It might be called ‘impeachment light’, but it is not impeachment. Impeachment is something that is supposed to begin with a vote of the full House of Representatives. At that point, both parties are allowed to call witnesses and question witnesses. The accuser (or accusers) of the President is asked to step forward and state his case. What the Democrats are doing violates a number of basic principles in our Constitution. Our Constitution allows a person charged with a crime to face his accuser. Our Constitution allows for both sides of an accusation to be heard. Our Constitution allows for any exculpatory evidence to be heard. None of this is happening in ‘impeachment light.’ So what is the cost of this charade to the Democrats?

The Washington Times posted an article today that includes the following:

Independent voters are warming up to President Trump, says a new survey which finds that Mr. Trump is now besting Democratic front-runners in a theoretical matchup.

“A new IBD-TIPP poll shows President Trump has gained significant ground with independent voters in head-to-head matchups with the Democrat Party frontrunners for president,” wrote Matt Margolis, a contributor to PJ Media.

He cited the factors. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, for instance, leads Mr. Trump by just one percentage point among independents, down from Mr. Biden’s 18 percentage point lead in September. Against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 49% of independents backed Mr. Trump, while 43% favored the Massachusetts Democrat.

The article concludes:

“What caused such a dramatic swing in Trump’s favor with independents? Is it a coincidence that this poll was conducted after Nancy Pelosi formally launched an impeachment inquiry into President Trump? Not to me,” Mr. Margolis said.

“Impeachment is not exactly popular among voters, and only a minority of independents support it,” the analyst noted. “Many on the right have warned Democrats that impeachment fever will only benefit Trump in the long run — and they appear to be proven right by this poll.”

I am sure that the House Democrats are aware of these numbers. It will be interesting to see what they do about them.