Presenting A Deceptive Brief

Yesterday Byron York posted an editorial at The Washington Examiner about the impeachment brief Democratic House managers have compiled. The title of the article at The Washington Examiner is, “Two deceptions at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment brief.”

The editorial notes:

Democrats insist on Trump’s immediate removal because, they argue, he was the knowing beneficiary of Russian help in the 2016 election, and if he is not thrown out of office right now, he will do it again. But in making their argument, Democrats make two critical mischaracterizations about Trump, Republicans, and 2016. One is flat-out wrong, while the other is misleading.

The one that is flat wrong is the Democrats’ assertion that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate “a debunked conspiracy theory that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election to aid President Trump, but instead that Ukraine interfered in that election to aid President Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.”

The problem is, the theory does not hold that Russia “did not interfere” in the 2016 election. There is a mountain of evidence that Russia interfered, and that has been the conclusion of every investigation into the matter, beginning with the first congressional probe, by the House Intelligence Committee under then-chairman Devin Nunes. The theory is that in addition to Russian interference, some people in Ukraine, including some government officials, also tried to influence the U.S. election. It was not a government-run effort, and it was on a far smaller scale than the Russian project, but it happened.

I don’t know if any of the available information about Ukrainian interference will ever make it out to the mainstream media, but there have been criminal trials in Ukraine that confirm that the government was involved in 2016 in support of Hillary Clinton. The information is out there, but most of the mainstream media has successfully avoided reporting it.

The editorial reports the second deception:

The other mischaracterization in the Democratic brief is the assertion that, in 2016, Trump “welcomed Russia’s election interference.” The brief quotes special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that the Trump campaign welcomed Russian help because it “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”

That’s not wrong — Trump did, in fact, welcome Russia-based leaks — but grossly out of context. The context is this: Trump welcomed Russia-based leaks about the Clinton campaign because the media were enthusiastically embracing and repeating Russian-based leaks about the Clinton campaign. Print, internet, TV, everyone, was accepting, repeating, and amplifying the material released by WikiLeaks from the Russian hack of top Clinton campaign official John Podesta.

Perhaps people have forgotten how prominently media organizations featured the Russia-based material.

The editorial then lists a number of examples of media hysteria about Russian during the 2016 election.

The article concludes:

Of course, the Times was not the only media organization to trumpet the Russia-based leaks. They all trumpeted the Russia-based leaks. Everyone was complicit. And that is what makes the Democratic charge against Trump so misleading. He wasn’t welcoming something that everyone else was condemning. He was welcoming something that everyone else was welcoming, too. And now, in retrospect, that is a terrible offense, part of the foundation for removing the president from office?

Neither mischaracterization in the Democratic brief is a mistake; Democratic prosecutors know full well what actually happened. But the mischaracterizations are necessary to build the case against the president, to show that he had corrupt motives in the Ukraine matter. They are, of course, not the entire case, but they are important. And they are wrong.

Any Congressman who enables this farce of an impeachment to continue needs to be voted out of office as soon as possible.

Stop The World, I Want To Get Off

Have you ever been on a roller coaster and as it climbs to the top for its descent, you wonder if this is really where you want to be. I suspect that is how Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is feeling right now.

Yesterday The New York Sun posted an editorial about a recent remark by Speaker Pelosi.

The editorial notes:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion that President Trump emulate President Nixon and resign is, in our opinion, a shocking démarche unworthy of her office. And a glimpse into the predicament of the Democrats, who, though they began beating the drums for impeachment more than three years ago, still don’t seem to know what charges to lay against the president.

Mrs. Pelosi hauled out Nixon in her interview on the Columbia Broadcasting System, where Margaret Brennan asked the speaker whether the President would get, “as he says,” to “confront his accuser.” The question was met with a slippery evasion that began with Mrs. Pelosi snapping, “What do you mean confront his accuser? Confront the whistleblower?”

“Presumably, that’s what he means,” Ms. Brennan said.

“Well,” Mrs. Pelosi huffed, “I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower.”

Then again, too, Mr. Trump wasn’t asking to intimidate the whistleblower. He has been pointing out that he’s being brought up for impeachment on a complaint by a person he has been, in the resulting proceedings, unable to confront. That, it seems to the President and to millions of other Americans, ourselves included, to be crosswise with the spirit of the Rights Bill.

The editorial concludes:

In the case of President Trump, though, no committee of the House, let alone the House itself, has voted out a single charge. When Ms. Brennan asked the Speaker whether “bribery” would be one of the charges, Mrs. Pelosi retorted, “I have no idea.” Then she said: “Well, there’s not even a decision made to impeach the president. This is a finding of fact, unfolding of the truth. And then a decision will be made.”

So the Speaker of the House goes on national television to suggest that President Trump resign without disclosing whether the President is likely to be impeached or what the charges would be. It’s just Democratic Party demagoguery pure and simple, and soon people are going to start asking why Mrs. Pelosi is such an all-fired hurry to run the president out of office without a trial in the Senate at all.

Speaker Pelosi wants President Trump to resign so that she and her cohorts don’t have to prove that the President did anything wrong. This statement is totally inappropriate in a representative republic. It also goes totally against the rights guaranteed to American citizens in the Bill of Rights. This kind of political railroading by politicians in power is probably part of the reason the Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution. After reading her comments, I truly believe that Speaker Pelosi is in the position of a person on a roller coaster climbing to the top and wondering if she has made the right decision. Like that person, she knows that it is too late to get off now!

Misusing The Power Of Social Media

PJ Media posted an article yesterday about a recent statement by Mark Zuckerberg.

The article reports:

During this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that Facebook is increasingly trying to work with governments to determine what political speech it does and does not allow. Oh sorry, I mean: what kind of political ads it is willing to approve.

In the particular example Zuckerberg cited, in 2018, American pro-life groups wanted to run advertisements for Facebook users in Ireland. This is because the Irish were about to vote in a referendum on whether abortion should be legalized.

When Facebook saw the ad requests, the company contacted the Irish government asking whether this should or should not be allowed. “Their response at the time was, ‘we don’t currently have a law, so you need to make whatever decision you want to make.'”

In other words, Facebook could do as it pleased. There was no legal reason to disallow the ads. But what did Facebook do? You guessed it:

“We ended up not allowing the ads.”

When Mark Zuckerberg made this decision, Facebook became a publication–not a platform. The decision was an editorial decision–not a legal decision. The decision was consistent with the political ideology that Facebook has supported in the past. This is the point at which Facebook becomes dangerous. Much of the younger generation gets their news through social media. If Facebook is making editorial decisions based on political ideology, they are not acting as an honest broker of news. Our younger generations are not hearing the complete story–they are hearing a politically biased version–no different from the mainstream media.

There are no laws against Facebook making editorial decisions, but its users need to be aware that they are not getting both sides of any story.

Something To Consider

Yesterday John Solomon posted an editorial at The Hill that should give all of us pause. The editorial involves one particular email sent between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.

The editorial states:

It is no longer in dispute that they held animus for Donald Trump, who was a subject of their Russia probe, or that they openly discussed using the powers of their office to “stop” Trump from becoming president. The only question is whether any official acts they took in the Russia collusion probe were driven by those sentiments.

The Justice Department’s inspector general is endeavoring to answer that question.

For any American who wants an answer sooner, there are just five words, among the thousands of suggestive texts Page and Strzok exchanged, that you should read.

That passage was transmitted on May 19, 2017. “There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign.

Since the text was turned over to Congress, investigators wondered whether it referred to the evidence against the Trump campaign.

This month, they finally got the chance to ask. Strzok declined to say — but Page, during a closed-door interview with lawmakers, confirmed in the most pained and contorted way that the message in fact referred to the quality of the Russia case, according to multiple eyewitnesses.

The admission is deeply consequential. It means Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was “there.”

On December 1, 2017, Newsweek reported:

Since his appointment almost seven months ago, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his crack team have racked up a $5 million tab as they probe Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election and alleged collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign to claim the White House, according to ABC News.

The editorial continues:

In other words, they had a big nothing burger. And, based on that empty-calorie dish, Rosenstein authorized the buffet menu of a special prosecutor that has cost America millions of dollars and months of political strife.

The work product Strzok created to justify the collusion probe now has been shown to be inferior: A Clinton-hired contractor produced multiple documents accusing Trump of wrongdoing during the election; each was routed to the FBI through a different source or was used to seed news articles with similar allegations that further built an uncorroborated public narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. Most troubling, the FBI relied on at least one of those news stories to justify the FISA warrant against Carter Page.

That sort of multifaceted allegation machine, which can be traced back to a single source, is known in spy craft as “circular intelligence reporting,” and it’s the sort of bad product that professional spooks are trained to spot and reject.

Please follow the link to read the entire editorial at The Hill. A lot of people need to lose their jobs over this. It is a disgrace.

The Next Government-Caused Financial Disaster

The Wall Street Journal has two stories in its opinion section about what is happening to student loans–the first is entitled, “Your Taxpayer Tuition Bill,” and the second is entitled, “The Hidden Student-Debt Bomb.” As you know, the federal government took over the student-loan market in 2010. The Department of Education now stands behind over $1 trillion in outstanding debt.

The first article explains:

Less well known is how the same federal government that has promoted and subsidized this debt is also scheming to make sure it doesn’t have to be repaid.

Jason Delisle of the New America Foundation has the story in a nearby op-ed. Even as the debt-level rises and the economy improves, the feds are promoting loan forbearance and forgiveness programs.

The first article explains that graduates who choose nonprofit or government jobs an have their loans forgiven entirely after 10 years.

The first article points out:

Two years ago the Administration’s estimate of the average amount to be forgiven in income-based repayment plans was already $41,000 per borrower. The total amount of forbearance loans is $125 billion, and rising. And even with all of these ways to avoid on-time repayment, borrowers are still defaulting at a rate of nearly 20%. The clear danger is that hundreds of billions of dollars will never be repaid, which means that future taxpayers will have to pick up the tab.

Now on to the second article. The problem with the government taking over student loans is that a large percentage of them will not be repaid–leaving the taxpayers to pay the bill. Conveniently, the bill will be due after President Obama leaves office.

The second article illustrates the trend:

Despite more borrowers taking advantage of benefits to suspend and lower their payments, the share of borrowers in default is still trending upward. It now stands at 19.8% of borrowers whose loans have come due—some 7.1 million borrowers with $103 billion in outstanding balances. That’s the highest share since the Education Department began making the statistic available in 2013, and given other trends, it probably is a record high.

These trends are troubling because the U.S. economy has been improving for some time. Yet fewer and fewer borrowers are repaying their federal student loans. For those who do make payments, more of them are paying too little to retire the debt they took on.

This all makes sense, however, when you realize that the student-loan program has been designed to achieve two political goals: Loans should be available to any student, at any school, pursuing any credential; and student debt is bad and burdensome, so it should be easy for borrowers not to repay.

Based on these goals, the program is performing quite well for students and the institutions whose coffers swell under such loose lending standards. Loan issuance has grown rapidly in recent years while repayment rates have declined steadily. From the perspective of the taxpayers who must ultimately finance these liabilities, however, the federal student-loan program is performing badly and steadily getting worse.

There are some things we need to remember. Any time the government takes over something, it makes it less efficient. Banks had motivation for collecting on these loans and thus used wisdom in granting them–the government has neither. The amount of a college loan should be connected to the marketability of the skill required–borrowing more than $100,000 to get a degree in Women’s Studies does not necessarily make sense. As an aside, I once knew a person who had a Ph. D. in lute, but he was working for a living and being responsible financially. I also once worked doing data entry in a call center where one of the telemarketers had a degree in Ancient Egyptian Archeology. I asked him why he was working as a telemarketer, and he replied, “I like to eat.” An education is a wonderful thing, but at some point employment has to be a goal. Not everyone needs to go to college, and the American taxpayer does not have to pay the bill for everyone to attend.