Fighting Cultural Norms

I am definitely old. I grew up in the age of dinosaurs when all you had to do to decide which bathroom to use was check your pants. Men who dressed in women’s clothes were simply odd. There was no reason to harm them or look down on them, but they were simply not something you were interested in incorporating into the mainstream of society. They were certainly not something you felt it necessary to discuss with your elementary school child. Well, evidently there is a definite effort being made to change those cultural norms.

The Hill posted an article today about “Drag Queen Story Hour.” This is a relatively new phenomena where men in drag read children’s books to kids in libraries or bookstores. This seems really bizarre to me.

The article reports:

And a group called Common Sense Campaign Tea Party is also reportedly calling for a protest of an event this month at a public library in Mobile, Ala., it added.

“The program is designed to purposely target children so as to make sexual perversion acceptable through repeated exposure,” according to a poster on the group’s Facebook page, the AP reported.

Drag queen Khloe Kash is reportedly scheduled to visit Mobile and read “Rainbow Fish” and other children’s books, including “Stella Brings the Family,” about a little girl unsure what to do as Mother’s Day approaches because she has two fathers.

According to the news service, critics say that the program is meant to indoctrinate children into a progressive view of sexuality. Citing AL.com, it noted that opponents at a Mobile County Commission meeting described it as such. Those defending the event at a meeting reportedly sympathized with the critics, but pointed to the First Amendment.

So far, there are no plans to cancel “Drag Queen Story Hour” in Mobile, the AP noted.

Despite small pockets of opposition, the events are becoming more prevalent, Jonathan Hamilt, a New Yorker who helps organize the story hours across the U.S., told the news agency.

“It’s growing all over the nation, including the South,” Hamilt said.

I’m sorry. I just don’t think this is appropriate for young children. Can’t we just let them alone to be children for a while?

One Rule For Me And One Rule For Thee

Mark Penn, a former pollster and advisor to President Clinton, posted an op-ed piece at The Hill today. I suspect he is no longer being invited to the Clinton’s dinner parties. The article explains how the plea deal with Michael Cohen is an attempt to set up President Trump. I am amazed at how vicious some of our politicians are when it comes to President Trump. Robert Mueller is a prime example of that, and it is sad.

The op-ed notes:

Why was Michael Cohen investigated? Because the “Steele dossier” had him making secret trips to meet with Russians that never happened, so his business dealings got a thorough scrubbing and, in the process, he fell into the special counsel’s Manafort bin — the bin reserved for squeezing until the juice comes out. And now we are back to 1998 all over again, with presidents and presidential candidates covering up their alleged marital misdeeds and prosecutors trying to turn legal acts into illegal ones by inventing new crimes.

The plot to get President Trump out of office thickens, as Cohen obviously was his own mini-crime syndicate and decided that his betrayals of Trump meant he would be better served turning on his old boss to cut the best deal with prosecutors he could rather than holding out and getting the full Manafort treatment. That was clear the minute he hired attorney Lanny Davis, who doesn’t try cases and did past work for Hillary Clinton. Cohen had recorded his client, trying to entrap him, sold information about Trump (while acting as his lawyer) to corporations for millions of dollars, and didn’t pay taxes on millions.

This is the problem with this case:

The sweetener for the prosecutors, of course, was getting Cohen to plead guilty to campaign finance violations that were not campaign finance violations. Money paid to people who come out of the woodwork and shake down people under threat of revealing bad sexual stories are not legitimate campaign expenditures. They are personal expenditures. That is true for both candidates we like and candidates we don’t. Just imagine if candidates used campaign funds instead of their own money to pay folks like Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about affairs; they would get indicted for misuse of campaign funds for personal purposes and for tax evasion.

There appear to be two payments involved in this unusual plea — Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation for having “coordinated” the American Media Inc. payment to Karen McDougal for her story, not for actually making the payment. So he is pleading guilty over a corporate contribution he did not make.

No one connected in any way with President Trump is treated in the usual way:

The usual procedures here would be for the FEC to investigate complaints and sort through these murky laws to determine if these kinds of payments are personal in nature or more properly classified as campaign expenditures. And, on the Daniels payment that was made and reimbursed by Trump, it is again a question of whether that was made for personal reasons (especially since they have been trying since 2011 to obtain agreement). Just because it would be helpful to the campaign does not convert it to a campaign expenditure. Think of a candidate with bad teeth who had dental work done to look better for the campaign; his campaign still could not pay for it because it’s a personal expenditure.

Meanwhile, Robert Mueller is totally ignoring campaign irregularities from Hillary’s campaign:

Contrast what is going on here with the treatment of the millions of dollars paid to a Democratic law firm which, in turn, paid out money to political research firm Fusion GPS and British ex-spy Christopher Steele without listing them on any campaign expenditure form — despite crystal-clear laws and regulations that the ultimate beneficiaries of the funds must be listed. This rule was even tightened recently. There is no question that hiring spies to do opposition research in Russia is a campaign expenditure, and yet, no prosecutorial raids have been sprung on the law firm, Fusion GPS or Steele. Reason: It does not “get” Trump.

Any investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election that does not include money laundered through Perkins Coie to pay for the Russian dossier does not have credibility. I suspect that will be the point made in the coming months in an attempt to shut down this travesty. The foundation of appointing a Special Prosecutor was totally flawed and the investigation is even more flawed. It is time to let people associated with Donald Trump live in peace. To do otherwise is to criminalize political opinions.

How America Almost Lost Its Republic

Yesterday John Solomon posted the following at The Hill:

Hundreds of pages of previously unreported emails and memos provide the clearest evidence yet that a research firm, hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to find dirt on and defeat Donald Trump, worked early and often with the FBI, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official and the intelligence community during the 2016 presidential election and the early days of Trump’s presidency.

Fusion GPS’s work and its involvement with several FBI officials have been well reported.

But a close review of these new documents shows just how closely Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, who reported to Obama-era Deputy AG Sally Yates, maintained contact with Fusion — and, in particular, its primary source, former British spy Christopher Steele — before, during and after the election.

Yates was fired by President Trump over an unrelated political dispute. Ohr was demoted recently.

Ohr’s own notes, emails and text messages show he communicated extensively with Steele and with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. Those documents have been turned over in recent weeks to investigative bodies in Congress and the DOJ, but not reviewed outside the investigative ranks until now.

They show Ohr had contact with Steele in the days just before the FBI opened its Trump-Russia probe in summer 2016, and then engaged Steele as a “confidential human source” (CHS) assisting in that probe.

They also confirm that Ohr later became a critical conduit of continuing information from Steele after the FBI ended the Brit’s role as an informant.

I suspect you are as tired of hearing about this as I am. It is time to try some people for trying to fix an election. Mueller is investigating the wrong people, but since he is part of the problem, it would be naive to expect him to be part of the solution.

The article concludes:

Most importantly, the new memos make clear that Ohr, a man whose name was barely uttered during the first 18 months of the scandal, may have played a critical role in stitching together a Democratic opposition research project and the top echelons of the FBI and DOJ.

Representatives for the Justice Department and FBI did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment. A message left on the cell phone for Bruce and Nellie Ohr, seeking comment, was not returned.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. It includes screenshots of documents that prove its case.

Where Is The Younger Generation?

A baby boomer is our current President. Chances are, if the economy continues to grow, he will serve two terms. Logically in 2024, Mike Pence would run. So who would the Democrats run in 2020 and 2024? The Democrats are a party in flux–half of them are openly embracing socialism and half of them are trying to bring their party more into the mainstream of America.

The Hill posted an article recently about the Democrat field of candidates for President in 2020.

The article reports:

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are the most popular potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, according to a new American Barometer poll. 

The poll, which is a joint project of Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company, showed Biden with a 50 percent favorable rating, while Sanders trailed with a 48 percent favorable rating. 

Only 31 percent of those polled said they viewed the former vice president unfavorably. A third of respondents said they viewed Sanders unfavorably. 

The survey comes as speculation swirls around a slew of potential Democratic contenders, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.), who could challenge President Trump in 2020. 

Warren held the highest favorable rating among Democratic senators listed in the survey, with 33 percent of those polled saying they held a favorable view of the senator.

The poll showed Gillibrand holding a 20 percent favorable rating, while 21 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of Harris, and 23 percent said the same for Booker.  

Name recognition remains an obstacle for many Democratic contenders. 

Thirty-four percent of respondents said they had never heard of Gillibrand, while 36 percent said the same for Harris. Thirty-two percent of respondents had not heard of Booker.

Only 4 percent of those polled said they had never heard of Biden or Sanders. 

I realize that you have to be 35 to be President, but you don’t have to be over 60! Bernie Sanders is 76, and Joe Biden is 75. They are leading in the polls. Elizabeth Warren is 69. The younger contenders are Kirsten Gillibrand is 51, Kamala Harris is 53, and Cory Booker at 49 is the youngest of the group.

Where are the millenniums in either party?

In November 2017, Quorum posted the following chart about the House of Representatives:

This is the Senate:

Where are our young political leaders?

 

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.

Another Reason FOIA Requests Are Valuable For Providing Transparency

John Solomon at The Hill posted an article on Friday about more information found in the memos recently released to various Senate and House Committees. The memos reveal government agencies misused to achieve a political goal. Thankfully, in spite of all their efforts, that goal has not been achieved. However, I have no doubt that the people behind the attempt to undo the 2016 presidential election have not given up.

Here are some of the highlights of the information in the recently released memos (as noted in the article):

The memos show Strzok, Lisa Page and others in counterintelligence monitored news articles in September 2016 that quoted a law enforcement source as saying the FBI was investigating Carter Page’s travel to Moscow.

The FBI team pounced on what it saw as an opportunity as soon as Page wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey complaining about the “completely false” leak.

“At a minimum, the letter provides us a pretext to interview,” Strzok wrote to Lisa Page on Sept. 26, 2016.

Within weeks, that “pretext” — often a synonym for an excuse — had been upsized to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant, giving the FBI the ability to use some of its most awesome powers to monitor Carter Page and his activities.

To date, the former Trump adviser has been accused of no wrongdoing despite being subjected to nearly a year of surveillance.

Some internal memos detail the pressure being applied by the FBI to DOJ prosecutors to get the warrant on Carter Page buttoned up before Election Day.

In one email exchange with the subject line “Crossfire FISA,” Strzok and Lisa Page discussed talking points to get then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to persuade a high-ranking DOJ official to sign off on the warrant.

This group did not give up after the election:

The day after Trump’s surprising win on Nov. 9, 2016, the FBI counterintelligence team engaged in a new mission, bluntly described in another string of emails prompted by another news leak.

“We need ALL of their names to scrub, and we should give them ours for the same purpose,” Strzok emailed Page on Nov. 10, 2016, citing a Daily Beast article about some of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s allegedly unsavory ties overseas.

“Andy didn’t get any others,” Page wrote back, apparently indicating McCabe didn’t have names to add to the “scrub.”

“That’s what Bill said,” Strzok wrote back, apparently referring to then-FBI chief of counterintelligence William Priestap. “I suggested we need to exchange our entire lists as we each have potential derogatory CI info the other doesn’t.” CI is short for confidential informants.

It’s an extraordinary exchange, if for no other reason than this: The very day after Trump wins the presidency, some top FBI officials are involved in the sort of gum-shoeing normally reserved for field agents, and their goal is to find derogatory information about someone who had worked for the president-elect.

The article concludes:

These and other documents are still being disseminated to various oversight bodies in Congress, and more revelations are certain to occur.

Yet, now, irrefutable proof exists that agents sought to create pressure to get “derogatory” information and a “pretext” to interview people close to a future president they didn’t like.

Clear evidence also exists that an investigation into still-unproven collusion between a foreign power and a U.S. presidential candidate was driven less by secret information from Moscow and more by politically tainted media leaks.

And that means the dots between expressions of political bias and official actions just got a little more connected.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. It is chilling to think that supposedly non-partisan members of the government used the powers of government for political purposes. It is more chilling to realize that at this moment they have not paid for their crimes. Unless someone is held responsible for these crimes, Americans will totally lose faith in what used to be upstanding organizations–the FBI and the Department of Justice.

I’m Not Overly Optimistic, But It’s A Start

Last Thursday The Hill posted an article about the FBI’s handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Why is this important? Because, as anyone who has ever held a security clearance knows, there are very strict rules for handling classified information. It is obvious that those rules were broken. The question then becomes, “Does America have equal justice under the law?” George Orwell stated in Animal Farm, ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’ Have we reached that point in America?

The article in The Hill reported some upcoming events regarding the investigation:

House Republicans are preparing to conduct the first interviews in more than four months in their investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe.

A joint investigation run by the Judiciary and the Oversight and Government Reform committees has set three witness interviews for June, including testimony from Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, and Michael Steinbach, the former head of the FBI’s national security division.

Multiple congressional sources confirmed Priestap’s interview. Steinbach confirmed to The Hill that he would be appearing.

The third witness is John Giacalone, who preceded Steinbach as the bureau’s top national security official and oversaw the first seven months of the Clinton probe, according to multiple congressional sources.

The article notes:

Since October, the panel is believed to have interviewed only two witnesses — of about 20 potential witnesses — infuriating conservative members who are eager to uncover what some have characterized as “corruption.”

The pace of this investigation is disturbing. It causes me to wonder if it is being slow-walked in the hopes that the Democrats will take Congress and the investigation will go away. At that point we will have a totally corrupt government that does not represent the American people.

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse posted the following statement:

Never, ever, ever trust a member of the Washington DC UniParty.  Write it down; underline it; stick a reminder on your bathroom mirror -if needed- in order to see it when you brush your teeth twice daily; do what ever it takes not to forget the fundamental aspect to avoid consigning yourself to a life of ‘Battered Conservative Syndrome‘.

I am hoping this statement will be proven false. I am not optimistic, but I am hoping.

Do Employers Have The Right To Set Conditions Of Employment?

The Hill posted a story today about today’s Supreme Court ruling that employers can include clauses in employment contracts that force employees to settle disputes individually with a third-party arbitrator.

There are a few aspects of this ruling–the most obvious one is that employers can write employment contracts without government interference. Another is whether or not employers have the right to include in employment contracts clauses that include the prohibition of class-action lawsuits to settle disputes over wages and working conditions.  These clauses preventing class-action lawsuits in employment contracts are fairly common. It should also be noted that many companies have mandatory arbitration procedures–that is the proper way to deal with conflicts. Our society has often been too quick to seek legal action as a way to gain instant wealth. Not all class-action lawsuits have merit. We live in a society where people are free to change jobs. If salaries or working conditions are unacceptable, a company will not be able to find quality employees. The system will police itself. There are also federal avenues available to address valid salary or working condition complaints.

The Hill reports:

The EPI ( Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal think tank) found in a survey last year that 53.9 percent of nonunion private-sector employers already have mandatory arbitration procedures.

Software company Epic Systems Corp., accounting and financial firm Ernst & Young LLP and Murphy Oil USA Inc. were the employers at the center of three cases the court consolidated that argued in support of the agreements.

The government, which changed its position under President Trump, had also intervened in support of the employers, arguing that Congress enacted the Federal Arbitration Act in 1925 to “overcome judicial resistance to arbitration.”

The court’s decision settles a deep split among the lower courts. The 2nd, 5th and 8th circuit courts of appeal and the California and Nevada supreme courts had ruled these arguments are fully enforceable, while the 7th and 9th circuits, along with the National Labor Relations Board, ruled the agreements violate the NLRA.

Government does not belong in the business of writing employment contracts or telling employers what to put in them.

Caught Again

There have been a number of incidents in which the media has altered transcripts or tapes to give an impression that is not accurate. The latest example comes from an article in The Hill. PJ Media reported the story today.

The story deals with comments by presidential candidate Ted Cruz made about the recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado.

The article in The Hill included the following (which actually contradicts the headline):

“I think there’s been some vicious rhetoric on the left blaming those who are pro-life,” Cruz said according to audio from The Texas Tribune.

“It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and a transgendered leftist activist. If that’s what he is, I don’t think it’s fair to blame the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer,” Cruz continued.

The headline of the article in The Hill stated, “Cruz suggests Colorado shooter is a ‘transgendered leftist.’

That’s not exactly what he said. News readers, beware.

The Lies Begin To Add Up

Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill, have never had a strong reputation for honesty, but sometimes it is a good idea to remind ourselves why they have such a miserable rating in that area. Last week The Hill posted an article by A. B. Stoddard about Hillary Clinton’s rather distant relationship with the concept of truth.

The article notes:

In the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, even though Clinton beats most GOP candidates, Sanders performs better against them, and she loses independents in every match-up. Her numbers on honesty and trustworthiness, according to Qiunnipiac, are 36 percent to 60 percent — worse than for any candidate in either party.

It is a sad reflection of the values of American voters that a candidate who has such a low rating on honesty and trustworthiness is leading the fight for the presidential nomination of the Democratic party.

The article goes on to list some of Hillary Clinton’s more recent lies:

Clinton said she was transparent, yet her emails were under congressional subpoena for years while she kept her private server a secret. 

Clinton said she used one device at State for convenience, but she in fact used several. 

She said her email server was destroyed, but it was not. 

She said she handed over all work emails to the State Department, but then congressional investigators turned up others. 

She said she responded to a routine records request from the State Department and turned over her emails when several other secretaries of State did, but State officials were asking for her emails in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and congressional investigations months before that.

Clinton said the State Department affirmed that 90 percent of her work email was captured on the State.gov accounts of other employees — a statistic department officials conceded, after she repeated it under oath in her Benghazi Committee testimony, they know nothing about. 

Clinton claimed in March “there is no classified material,” yet indeed there was. 

Clinton has repeated numerous times that the arrangement was “allowed,” though no one in the administration has ever said they approved her server. So Democrats — like Republicans — assume she is making a misleading statement about her own unorthodox decision to do something no Cabinet secretary had ever before done.

When asked on NBC’s “Meet The Press” whether she deleted any emails to hide information from future investigations, Clinton said the idea “never crossed my mind.”

America is a representative republic. We elect our leaders. We get the leaders we deserve. If that is the degree of honesty that we expect from our President, we are in serious trouble.