An Attempt To Bork Kavanaugh

Robert Bork would have made a fantastic Supreme Court judge. He was brilliant and understood the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately he was blocked from being a Supreme Court Justice because of the antics of that bastion of virtue Ted Kennedy. A similar tactic was tried on Justice Thomas, but it didn’t work. Justice Thomas, thankfully, sits on the Supreme Court. Now the attempt is being make to prevent Judge Kavanaugh from being confirmed. It is an ugly attempt, and hopefully it will fail.

The Daily Caller posted an article yesterday detailing the problems with the Democrats’ case against Judge Kavanaugh. Diane Feinstein has come up with a letter charging Judge Kavanaugh with inappropriate behavior when he was in high school. In the article, Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal listed the problems with the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh:

Strassel began by pointing out reports from the New York Times that suggested Feinstein had at least been aware of the letter’s existence since summer — and argued that if the accusation was truly damning enough to warrant an FBI investigation, it would have been reason enough for Feinstein to present it to authorities immediately.

…Strassel went on to question whether a letter concerning enough to warrant a federal investigation should have been shared with Senate Republicans, who, just like their Democratic counterparts, were charged to “advise and consent” with regard to Kavanaugh’s nomination. Additionally, she suggested that if the accuser had explicitly stated a request to not take things further, Feinstein could be betraying that trust by going to the FBI.

…Finally, Strassel argued that the timing of the letter’s introduction into public discourse “cannot be ignored” — it was made public only after Senate Democrats made numerous attempts to stall or delay Kavanaugh’s hearings, all of which were shut down.

Approval of nominees is supposed to be based on the qualifications of the nominee. Unfortunately in recent years, it has become extremely political. I firmly believe that barring unusual circumstances, a President is entitled to appoint the people he chooses. That courtesy was extended to President Obama, who appointed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. The appointment of Merrick Garland was blocked according to the ‘Biden Rule’ put in place under George W. Bush. The Democrats invented the ‘Biden Rule’ to block an appointment by President Bush. It is only fair that they got hoisted on their own petard.

I believe that the Democrats need to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. Their stall tactics are only creating bad feelings that will come back to bite them in the future.

 

Looking For Your Keys Under The Light

There is an old joke about a man who was walking around under a street light and another man asked what he was doing. He explained that he was looking for his car keys which he had dropped across the street next to his car. The other man then asked why he wasn’t looking for the keys where he had dropped them. The first man then answered, “Because the light is better here.” That pretty much describes the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit for investigators on one side that the investigation chooses to ignore. There is no evidence on the other side, so the investigators are chasing rabbit trails.

Yesterday Kimberley Strassel posted an article at The Wall Street Journal about the Mueller investigation.

The article notes some basic inequities:

And they are now witnessing unequal treatment in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Yes, the former FBI director deserves credit for smoking out the Russian trolls who interfered in 2016. And one can argue he is obliged to pursue any evidence of criminal acts, even those unrelated to Russia. But what cannot be justified is the one-sided nature of his probe.

Consider Mr. Cohen, the former Trump lawyer who this week pleaded guilty to eight felony charges. Six related to his personal business dealings; the other two involved campaign-finance violations arising from payments to women claiming affairs with Donald Trump. The criminal prosecution of campaign-finance offenses is exceptionally rare (most charges are civil), but let’s take Mr. Khuzami’s word for it when he says Mr. Cohen’s crimes are “particularly significant” because he’s a lawyer who should know better, and also because the payments were for the purpose of “influencing an election” and undermining its “integrity.”

If there is only “one set of rules,” where is Mr. Mueller’s referral of a case against Hillary for America? Federal law requires campaigns to disclose the recipient and purpose of any payments. The Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to compile a dossier against Mr. Trump, a document that became the basis of the Russia narrative Mr. Mueller now investigates. But the campaign funneled the money to law firm Perkins Coie, which in turn paid Fusion. The campaign falsely described the money as payment for “legal services.” The Democratic National Committee did the same. A Perkins Coie spokesperson has claimed that neither the Clinton campaign nor the DNC was aware that Fusion GPS had been hired to conduct the research, and maybe so. But a lot of lawyers here seemed to have been ignoring a clear statute, presumably with the intent of influencing an election.

The article concludes:

Of the seven U.S. citizens Mr. Mueller has charged, five have been accused of (among other things) making false statements to federal officials. But there have been no charges against the partisans who made repeated abjectly false claims to the FBI and Justice Department about actions of their political opponents. There have been no charges against those who leaked classified information, including the unprecedented release of an unmasked conversation between former national security adviser Mike Flynn and a Russian ambassador. Nothing.

Some of these charges might not stand up in court, but that’s beside the point. Plenty of lawyers would poke holes in the campaign-finance charges against Cohen, or the “lying” charges against Mr. Flynn. Special counsels wield immense power; the mere threat of a charge provokes plea deals. It’s the focus that matters.

Prosecutors can claim all they want that they are applying the law equally, but if they only apply it to half the suspects, justice is not served. Mr. Mueller seems blind to the national need for—the basic expectation of—a thorough look into all parties. That omission is fundamentally undermining any legitimacy in his findings. Lady Justice does not wear a blindfold over only one eye.

I guess it’s okay for the FBI to lie to the FISA Court but not okay for regular people to lie to the FBI. Seems like a double standard to me.

Eventually Justice Shows Up

Most of us remember the stand-off between ranchers and the federal government in Oregon in 2016. Robert LaVoy Finicum was killed during the protests surrounding these events. Yesterday The Wall Street Journal posted an article about W. Joseph Astarita, who was part of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team deployed out of Quantico, Va., to assist other state and federal law-enforcement officers during the standoff. Mr. Astarita is now on trial in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., on charges of making false statements and obstruction of justice related to the 2016 fatal shooting of Robert LaVoy Finicum.

The article reports:

The trial will bring to a head the tensions between Western ranchers and the government that had been at the heart of the 2016 standoffs. Mr. Bundy’s armed occupation was fueled by the federal prosecution of Oregon rancher Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, for arson. The duo, who were sentenced to five years in prison, received a presidential pardon earlier this month.

Mr. Bundy was acquitted for his role in the occupation, along with six followers.

The death of Mr. Finicum has spurred outrage among friends and family. They have long accused the government of carrying out a deadly vendetta. While federal investigators determined the rancher was reaching in his coat for a gun when he was shot, supporters said he was surrendering.

“Someone needs to be charged with murder,” said Angie Bundy, wife of Mr. Bundy’s brother, Ryan.

Local law-enforcement authorities also have criticized the Justice Department for Mr. Astarita’s alleged actions. When the indictments of Mr. Astarita were announced last summer, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson said they “damage the integrity of the entire law-enforcement profession, which makes me both disappointed and angry.”

The original disagreement between the Bundy family and the federal government had to do with federal regulation of grazing lands.

America’s Genocide

Yesterday Jason Riley at The Wall Street Journal posted an article about a rarely mentioned item in the debate over President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

The article states:

As Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination tees up another national debate about reproductive rights, is it too much to ask that abortion’s impact on the black population be part of the discussion?

When the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, polling showed that blacks were less likely than whites to support abortion. Sixties-era civil rights activists like Fannie Lou Hamer and Whitney Young had denounced the procedure as a form of genocide. Jesse Jackson called abortion “murder” and once told a black newspaper in Chicago that “we used to look for death from the man in the blue coat and now it comes in a white coat.”

I don’t know why Jesse Jackson changed his mind. It is very unfortunate that he did.

The article cites the impact of abortion on minorities:

What’s not in doubt is the outsize toll that abortion has taken on the black population post-Roe. In New York City, thousands more black babies are aborted than born alive each year, and the abortion rate among black mothers is more than three times higher than it is for white mothers. According to a city Health Department report released in May, between 2012 and 2016 black mothers terminated 136,426 pregnancies and gave birth to 118,127 babies. By contrast, births far surpassed abortions among whites, Asians and Hispanics.

Nationally, black women terminate pregnancies at far higher rates than other women as well. In 2014, 36% of all abortions were performed on black women, who are just 13% of the female population. The little discussed flip side of “reproductive freedom” is that abortion deaths far exceed those via cancer, violent crime, heart disease, AIDS and accidents. Racism, poverty and lack of access to health care are the typical explanations for these disparities. But black women have much higher abortion rates even after you control for income. Moreover, other low-income ethnic minorities who experience discrimination, such as Hispanics, abort at rates much closer to white women than black women.

Those are chilling statistics.

Many years ago (in the late 1960’s), I sat in the living room at a party that I was invited to because of the person I was visiting (those at the party were way above my pay grade!) and listened to some highly educated people express fear that the black population would overtake their city if the growth of that population was not checked. These were otherwise compassionate people who would have been offended at being called racists (although that’s what they were). This was a major southern city, and the people stating this opinion had no problem with what they were saying. These were people in their twenties who were among our best and brightest and probably became political leaders as they matured. Those statements have always stayed with me, and I wonder if they are happy with what has happened to the black population under Roe v. Wade. It seems to me that the pro-abortion people need to look at the damage abortion has caused to the black community before they start demonizing people who want to stop the genocide.

Sometimes The Media Spin Is Simply Pathetic

On May 10, The Gateway Pundit quoted a Wall Street Journal article by Kimberley Strassel (The Wall Street Journal article is not linked because it is behind the subscriber wall):

Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

We now know the identity of this person, and it has been confirmed that he was in the Trump campaign working for the FBI. So how does the media spin this?

On Friday, The Washington Post reported:

…But Trump and his backers are wrong about what it means that the FBI reportedly was using a confidential source to gather information early in its investigation of possible campaign ties to Russia. The investigation started out as a counterintelligence probe, not a criminal one. And relying on a covert source rather than a more intrusive method of gathering information suggests that the FBI may have been acting cautiously — perhaps too cautiously — to protect the campaign, not undermine it.

As a former FBI counterintelligence agent, I know what Trump apparently does not: Counterintelligence investigations have a different purpose than their criminal counterparts. Rather than trying to find evidence of a crime, the FBI’s counterintelligence goal is to identify, monitor and neutralize foreign intelligence activity in the United States. In short, this entails identifying foreign intelligence officers and their network of agents; uncovering their motives and methods; and ultimately rendering their operations ineffective — either by clandestinely thwarting them (say, by feeding back misinformation or “flipping” their sources into double agents) or by exposing them.

Was there an FBI spy in the Hillary Clinton campaign to make sure the Russians did not influence the campaign?

If American voters fall for this spin, we probably do deserve to lose our republic.

The Investigation Of Russian Collusion Just Keeps Coming Off The Rails

Kimberley Strassel posted an article at The Wall Street Journal yesterday that casts further doubt on the origin of the investigation into President Trump and Russian collusion. As we learn more and more about spying on the Trump campaign and other nefarious activities of our FBI and Justice Department during the campaign, it becomes obvious that the investigation of President Trump was an investigation in search of a crime.

The article states:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes appeared on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday, where he provided a potentially explosive hint at what’s driving his demand to see documents related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Trump-Russia probe. “If the campaign was somehow set up,” he told the hosts, “I think that would be a problem.”

That is definitely an understatement.

The article explains some of things we have recently learned:

Think of the 2016 Trump-Russia narrative as two parallel strands—one politics, one law enforcement. The political side involves the actions of Fusion GPS, the Hillary Clinton campaign and Obama officials—all of whom were focused on destroying Donald Trump. The law-enforcement strand involves the FBI—and what methods and evidence it used in its Trump investigation. At some point these strands intersected—and one crucial question is how early that happened.

What may well have kicked off both, however, is a key if overlooked moment detailed in the House Intelligence Committee’s recent Russia report. In “late spring” of 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey briefed White House “National Security Council Principals” that the FBI had counterintelligence concerns about the Trump campaign. Carter Page was announced as a campaign adviser on March 21, and Paul Manafort joined the campaign March 29. The briefing likely referenced both men, since both had previously been on the radar of law enforcement. But here’s what matters: With this briefing, Mr. Comey officially notified senior political operators on Team Obama that the bureau had eyes on Donald Trump and Russia. Imagine what might be done in these partisan times with such explosive information.

And what do you know? Sometime in April, the law firm Perkins Coie (on behalf the Clinton campaign) hired Fusion GPS, and Fusion turned its attention to Trump-Russia connections. The job of any good swamp operator is to gin up a fatal October surprise for the opposition candidate. And what could be more devastating than to paint a picture of Trump-Russia collusion that would provoke a full-fledged FBI investigation?

It is definitely ironic that as the Mueller investigation continues, more and more facts discrediting the Mueller investigation seem to surface. If I were Mr. Mueller, I would be in a hurry to wrap this up before the American people find out any more about what was behind the investigation.

The article ends with a statement about leaking and about government transparency:

Whatever the answer—whether it is straightforward, or whether it involves political chicanery—Congress and the public have a right to know. And a Justice Department willing to leak details of its “top secret” source to friendly media can have no excuse for not sharing with the duly elected members of Congress.

We Were Very Close To Losing Our Republic

When the entire apparatus of government is used for political purposes, the freedom of Americans is in danger. Evidently there was a lot of that going on during the Obama Administration. It became particularly rampant during the 2016 campaign–electronic surveillance, the FBI’s ‘insurance policy’ in case Donald Trump got elected, etc. However, it was evident long before 2016.

In December 2017, I posted an article about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which funneled penalties they levied on corporations into Democrat aligned community organizer groups. We all know about the IRS’s targeting of conservative political groups to stifle free speech during the 2012 election. In 2008 most Americans watched a video of the New Black Panthers standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia with billy clubs looking very menacing. Despite the video evidence, they were never convicted of voter intimidation. There has been a problem with our federal justice system for a while.

Scott Johnson posted an article today at Power Line which cites the latest example of misuse of the government for political purposes. The article is based on a Wall Street Journal article (which is behind the subscriber wall).

Kimberley Strassel writes in The Wall Street Journal:

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting.

Congress has legal oversight over the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice was created by Congress in 1870. Originally, there was simply an Attorney General who gave legal advice to Congress and the President. Eventually that was limited to Congress because of the workload. The Department of Justice is a creation of government.

Either Congress has not been properly exercising its oversight authority over the Justice Department or Congress is as corrupt as the Justice Department. It is one of the other. All of the information regarding the relationship between the Justice Department’s spying and otherwise interfering with the Trump campaign needs to be made public–immediately. The American voters are entitled to see where the corruption was (and is).

Evidently The Swamp Has Been Busy For A While

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today detailing some of the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in recent years. Evidently the ‘deep state’ has been busy for a while.

The article deals with the efforts to protect Hillary Clinton from the consequences of having a private email server and also notes the efforts to derail an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

The article reports:

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe may be the worst off. In addition to possible charges for lying under oath for denying that he leaked information to the Wall Street Journal (in large part dfto answer swirling rumors in the journalistic community), it’s alleged that he ordered FBI agents working on the Clinton Foundation investigation to stand down.

Now, evidence suggests he told the FBI’s Washington field office to also “stand down” from its investigation of Clinton’s private-email server. That investigation followed a New York Times piece that appeared in 2015, detailing Hillary Clinton’s possible illegal use of an unsecured, home-brew email server for her official business as secretary of state. It appears to be a clear violation of the law.

“Multiple former FBI officials, along with a Congressional official, say that while there may have been internal squabbling over the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation at the time, there was allegedly another ‘stand-down’ order by McCabe regarding the opening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of her private email for official government business,” wrote independent journalist Sarah Carter.

On August 26, 2016, Fox News posted the following quote from Charles Krauthammer:

Charles Krauthammer said that after a year of speculation and diversion, the issue of what Hillary Clinton’s email scandal was about is finally clear.

“The issue we’ve always asked ourselves here is, why was she hiding this in the first place? Why did she have a private server? Obviously, she was concealing; what was she concealing?”

He said that the “most obvious possible answer” was the Clinton Foundation.

We need Charles to get well soon–we miss his insight. It is becoming obvious that the Clinton Foundation was a charity that simply enriched the Clintons and the donations to the Foundation influenced American foreign policy. The American people were victims of the pay-for-play, but the Haitian people were victims of the corruption. It is time that the truth come out and the appropriate people bear the consequences of that truth.

The article at Investor’s Business Daily concludes:

Ironic, isn’t it, that the real “collusion” all along seems to be among those who are themselves investigating Trump.

Fortunately, the Justice Department‘s Inspector General Michael Horowitz has a team of investigators looking into not only McCabe’s lies, but also how the FBI conducted itself in the Clinton email server scandal. Horowitz’ group already issued a report on McCabe, and referred his case for possible prosecution. Next up: In May, it’s expected Horowitz will release a report on Clinton’s email server use.

Increasingly, the supposed case of “Trump-Russia collusion” is morphing into a case of “FBI-Justice Department-Clinton collusion.” With the many elements finally coming together just as the mid-term congressional elections get underway, we could be in for a bumpy ride this summer.

Be assured that if the Democrats win Congress in November, all investigations into wrongdoing by the Department of Justice and FBI will end, and no one will be held accountable for their corruption. That is a scary thought. At that point the deep state will simply become deeper, and equal justice under the law will be permanently lost in America.

The Questions I Haven’t Heard The Media Ask

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today that included a portion of a Wall Street Journal article by Kimberley Strassel. The article at The Wall Street Journal is behind the subscriber wall, so I am not linking to it.

Kimberley Strassel listed a number of questions she would like to hear James Comey answer.

Power Line listed six of these questions:

  • You admit the Christopher Steele dossier was still “unverified” when the FBI used it as the basis of a surveillance warrant against Carter Page. Please explain. Also explain the decision to withhold from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the dossier was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
  • You say you knew the dossier was funded by a “Democrat-aligned” group but that you “never knew” which one. Why not? Didn’t the FBI have a duty to find out?
  • Please explain the extraordinary accommodations the FBI provided Team Clinton during the email investigation. Why was Cheryl Mills —whose emails suggest she had early knowledge of the irregular server as Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff—allowed to claim attorney-client privilege and represent Mrs. Clinton at her interview? Why did that interview happen only at the end? Especially since you say any case hung entirely on her “intent”?
  • You’ve surely now read the texts between the FBI’s Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. That happened on your watch. Is this appropriate FBI behavior? Should we believe such behavior is limited to them? In addition to overt political bias, the texts prove the FBI took politics into account—worrying, for instance, about how much manpower to put into investigating the woman who could be our “next president.” Why should the public have any faith in the integrity of the Clinton or Trump investigation?
  • The texts ridicule former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s decision to step aside from the Clinton probe, “since she knows no charges will be brought.” This was before the FBI even interviewed Mrs. Clinton. And it contradicts your claim at the start of your July 2016 press conference that no one at the Justice Department knew what you were about to say. Please explain.
  • You dismiss Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s memo as nothing but a “pretext” to fire you. Yet you don’t address its claims. Please point to the internal policies or regulations that gave you the authority to announce that Mrs. Clinton was being cleared and why. Please provide any examples of similar announcements by FBI directors. Please address the criticisms of the prior attorneys general and deputy attorneys general from both parties cited in the Rosenstein memo.

Works for me.

 

Lost In The Partisan Hype

Guy Benson posted an article today at Townhall about the American economy under President Trump.

The article quotes a Wall Street Journal article listing economic milestones:

The number of Americans claiming new unemployment benefits has never been so low for so long.  Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., decreased by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 233,000 in the week ended April 7, the Labor Department said Thursday. This means claims have now held below 300,000 for 162 consecutive weeks, cementing the longest streak for weekly records dating back to 1967...The current streak eclipsed the previous longest stretch that ended in April 1970. Taking into account the size of the labor force, claims today compared to the late 1960s and early 1970s are much lower…The consistently low claims levels point to labor market health because they mean relatively few Americans are losing their jobs and applying for benefits to tide them over until they can find new employment. After several years of consistent job growth, firms are reluctant to let employees go in a tightening labor market in which many available workers are quickly snapped up.

Wow.

Further good news:

Trump’s speech came amid surging optimism among American manufacturers thanks to the after-effects of the GOP’s recently-implemented tax reform law. More than 93% of manufacturers have a positive outlook on their company’s prospects in the U.S. economy – the second-highest level ever recorded by the National Association of Manufacturers –  its most recent quarterly survey revealed. Meanwhile, optimism among small manufacturers was at its highest level ever recorded throughout the survey’s 20 year history; 94.5% of companies reported that they were positive about their future. Wage growth among those manufacturers surveyed also rose at the fastest pace in 17 years…The survey showed that manufacturers expected full-time employment to increase by 2.9% on average over the next year, an all-time high by the survey’s standards. Companies also said capital investments are likely to rise by 3.9% over the next 12 months, while inventories are expected to rise by 1.7%.

The two main causes for the economic boom are cutting the regulations that make it difficult for businesses to grow and changing the tax codes so that Americans get to keep more of what they earn. Small business is one of the main engines of job growth in America, and changing the way small businesses pay taxes has a very positive impact on job growth. One other factor in the economic boom is the move toward American energy independence. Low energy costs and low taxes are two things that attract foreign businesses. Because America now has both of these assets, we are more attractive as a place for foreign business to relocate. We are more competitive in the global marketplace because of the policies of President Trump. That is a really good thing.

Oversight Is Difficult When Needed Information Is Being Withheld

Scott Johnson at Power Line posted an article today about the ongoing efforts of Devin Nunes, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the U.S. House of Representatives, to obtain information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The article notes that Kimberley Strassel has entitled her weekly column at The Wall Street Journal “What is the FBI hiding?” It is beginning to look as if they are definitely hiding something.

The article at Power Line notes:

Strassel notes that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has just sent another letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to demand yet again that they comply with an August 2017 subpoena and hand over, among other things, the electronic communication—“EC” in investigative jargon—that officially kicked off the counterintelligence investigation. In his letter, Rep. Nunes states that the FBI has provided only a “heavily redacted” version of the EC. Beyond that, the FBI would prefer not to give it up.

Rep. Nunes is not amused. He writes: “On March 23, 2018, the FBI’s Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs informed the Committee that the FBI would refuse to further unredact the EC based on its supposed sensitivity. The document in question is not highly classified, and law enforcement sources have apparently not been shy about leaking to the press information that the Department and Bureau refuse to share with Congress.”

The article at Power Line includes a copy of the letter sent by Representative Nunes. It is unfair to ask Congress to exercise Congressional oversight without giving them the requested information. Hopefully the FBI will cooperate in the near future.

Sara Carter has also been following this story. More details are available on her website.

Washington Agencies Are Totally Out Of Control

The Daily Caller posted an article today about a New York federal court case involving the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The twisted logic being used by the CIA in the case is simply amazing.

The article reports:

Intelligence officials can selectively release classified information to trusted journalists while withholding the same information from other citizens who request it through open records laws, CIA lawyers argued Wednesday.

That is simply an amazing statement. If the journalists receive the information, isn’t the public also entitled to see it?

The article states:

The case stems from lawsuit against the CIA by New York-based independent journalist Adam Johnson, who had used FOIA to obtain emails between the agency’s public information office and selected reporters from the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and The New York Times. The emails the CIA provided to Johnson were redacted, leading him to question why he was not allowed to see the same information that had been given to uncleared reporters.

Johnson challenged the redaction in court, arguing that the CIA, once it has selectively disclosed information to uncleared reporters, cannot claim the same information is protected by a FOIA exemption.

…“In this case, CIA voluntarily disclosed to outsiders information that it had a perfect right to keep private,” she wrote. “There is absolutely no statutory provision that authorizes limited disclosure of otherwise classified information to anyone, including ‘trusted reporters,’ for any purpose, including the protection of CIA sources and methods that might otherwise be outed.

MacMahon also said it didn’t matter if the journalists in question published the information they received, only if the CIA waived its right to deny the information.

As President Trump continues to drain the swamp, hopefully one of the things his administration will look at is the practice of classifying information that Washington agencies don’t want the public to see for reasons other than national security. It is amazing how much material has come to light recently that was classified only for political reasons–it revealed nefarious activities on the part of the government.

Actions Have Consequences

First of all, I need to say that I support freedom of speech. I also support organizations creating behavior guidelines and enforcing them.

The NFL Handbook includes the following rule:

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.

During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

I am not sure what the NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem were trying to prove, but actions have consequences.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article today about some of the consequences of kneeling during the National Anthem.

The article reports:

DirecTV is letting at least some customers cancel subscriptions to its Sunday Ticket package of NFL games and obtain refunds if they cite players’ national anthem protests as the reason, customer service representatives said Tuesday.

Sunday Ticket’s regular policy doesn’t allow refunds once the season is under way. But the representatives said they are making exceptions this season—which began in September—in response to the protests, in which players kneel or link arms during the national anthem.

…It isn’t just the political stakes that are high. Football draws the biggest TV audiences of American sports and is a vital income source for a host of major media companies. Sunday Ticket is a major customer draw for DirecTV and one of the NFL’s premier franchises, earning it $1.5 billion a year in licensing revenue.

A substantial number of cancellations risks further damage as the league tries to rebound in ratings. Viewership fell last year and continues to do so this year. Network executives and league officials attributed last year’s declines in part to viewing competition from the presidential election, consumer distaste with the pace and quality of games, and the anthem protests.

The revenue of the NFL comes from the fans–tickets, team merchandise, and advertising. If the income stream from the fans dries up and the fan base dries up, the advertisers may go elsewhere. The actions of the players may have bigger negative consequences than they planned on.

On another note, one of my Facebook friends suggested that if the players are concerned about the treatment of black Americans, they should be willing to go into the black schools and teach the students what they need to know to be successful.

A Great Idea That Will Never Work

Yesterday PJ Media posted an article about what to do with the Dreamers. Just as an aside, isn’t it interesting that ‘dreamers’ was the media’s choice of a name for this group of people?

The article suggests that whatever is decided, we don’t ever allow the Dreamers to vote. If that were honestly part of the debate, it would totally change the debate. Does anyone believe that the Democratic Party sees the Dreamers as anything other than future Democratic voters?

The article reports:

People who claim to be shocked that Donald Trump is prepared to make an amnesty deal for the”Dreamers” — most of whom are Mexicans who entered the USA at around the age of six — are being more than a tad disingenuous. The president has been hinting as much for over a year to anyone paying attention. In fact, it’s hard to conceive how he could have done otherwise, considering the (excuse the cliché) “optics” of shipping 800,000 young people back to a homeland they may never have seen.

The question is what your definition of amnesty is. It’s a vague word at best that can mean many things.

I suggest we keep it simple. In the case of the “Dreamers” amnesty should allow for just about anything citizenship entails, for them to work and study here as long as they wish, except for that most precious of all things in a democratic republic —  the vote. Under no circumstances can or should someone who has arrived in our country illegally, no matter at what age, be allowed ever to vote in our elections at any level — federal, state or local.

I love this idea, but how long would it take for Democrats in Congress to begin efforts to allow the Dreamers to vote?

The article further points out:

It would be to the benefit of the Democratic Party as well to separate amnesty from voting and thus strike a blow against “identity politics.”  As was clear from the election of 2016, the public is becoming disgusted with it.  Identity politics now actually works against the Democrats in the long run and, frankly, makes them seem quite dumb and self-destructive. Democrats aren’t the cool kids anymore.  We’re in the era of Kid Rock and progressives are stuck on Linda Sarsour.  As liberal Columbia professor Mark Lilla noted in a recent Wall Street Journal essay:

As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate.

The generation now reaching voting age is going to have a profound impact on American elections if they choose to be involved. The results will be somewhat unpredictable and totally interesting.

 

The July Jobs Report

I am not an economist, and I don’t play one on television, but I am capable of basic observations. The July jobs numbers came out Friday. This put the rather biased media in a position of having to say that the report beat expectations. When do they ever get their expectations right?

The Wall Street Journal posted the statistics on Friday. Here are some highlights:

The economy created 209,000 jobs in July, well above this year’s average monthly gain of 184,000.

…The jobless rate fell by a tenth of percentage point to 4.3%, matching May as the lowest level of unemployment in 16 years. It declined despite an expansion in the labor force.

…The average hourly wage for private-sector workers grew 2.5% in July. That’s a modest pace historically, but it looks better when considering inflation is so low.

…The share of Americans holding jobs or actively looking for work rose a tenth of a percentage point last month to 62.9%. That’s very slight progress.

…A measure underemployment—one that takes into account jobless workers, reluctant part-time workers and Americans too discouraged to look for work—remained at 8.6%. That’s two tenths of percentage point higher than May’s level, though it’s down more than a point from the prior year.

You can’t turn eight years of anemic economic growth around in seven months. However, we are definitely moving in the right direction. Despite the lack of cooperation from the Washington establishment, President Trump is deregulating and moving forward. If we are to see real economic growth, we need to drain the swamp of those establishment politicians who are blocking President Trump’s economic policies. We need to find primary challengers to many of the so-called leaders in Washington.

This Really Was Not Unexpected

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about the Russian investigation. It seems as if this investigation has been going on forever, and so far nothing has been found. I am waiting for the eventual charge that someone went to a Russian tea room for a cup of tea and therefore should be prosecuted. Unfortunately, because special prosecutors tend to want to charge someone with something, all these lawyers with political leanings may eventually charge someone with a process crime (they forgot something in their testimony and gave an answer on a minor point that did not satisfy the investigators). However, it is becoming rather obvious that the tale the left has been spinning since the election of foreign intrigue tied to the Trump campaign or Trump Administration is pure fiction.

Breitbart reports:

Investor William Browder testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that Fusion GPS, the firm that had been responsible for creating and pushing the so-called “Russia dossier” against Donald Trump, had been paid by the Russian government to push for the repeal of the human rights sanctions in the Magnitsky Act of 2012. In other words, the Russian government may have been paying to smear Trump with false and salacious accusations.

Until now, the media and the Democrats have proceeded under the assumption that Russia intervened in the 2016 election by hacking the email server of the Democratic National Committee, as well as the private email of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and releasing their emails via Wikileaks. They have further claimed — with no evidence — that the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russians in obtaining or releasing the emails.

The entire theory rests on the ridiculous claim that Trump had invited Russia to hack Clinton and the Democrats when he joked last July about the Russians releasing the emails Clinton had deleted from her illicit private server.  (The left-wing HuffPost observed Thursday as the anniversary that Trump “asked for Russian help in the election.”) That joke prompted then-CIA director John Brennan to convene an investigation of alleged Russian interference.

Thursday The Wall Street Journal posted an article by Kimberly Strassel (the article is not linked here because it is subscribers only) noting a connection between Fusion GPS and the Democratic party.

In an interesting move, Congressional Democrats, who were ready to hold public hearings about Russian election interference featuring Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, have decided to hold those hearings in private (where they can’t pontificate instead of asking questions). Why? Because if Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort were questioned in public, then Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson would also be questioned in public. For whatever reason, the Democrats were willing to give up their dog and pony show to avoid Glenn Simpson’s public testimony (where he would have been asked who paid for the false dossier on Donald Trump).

The Wall Street Journal article asks:

What if, all this time, Washington and the media have had the Russia collusion story backward? What if it wasn’t the Trump campaign playing footsie with the Vladimir Putin regime, but Democrats? The more we learn about Fusion, the more this seems a possibility.

We know Fusion is a for-hire political outfit, paid to dig up dirt on targets. This column first outed Fusion in 2012, detailing its efforts to tar a Mitt Romney donor. At the time Fusion insisted that the donor was “a legitimate subject of public records research.”

The article at Breitbart concludes:

Or the truth could be that Russia was trying to embarrass both parties, to weaken the eventual winner. Browder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it is common for Russia to back both sides in elections, simply to create chaos.

Regardless, the Russia conspiracy theory has now collapsed. There is no evidence that Russia was colluding with the Trump campaign. But there is evidence Russia was working against it. And the truth is only beginning to emerge.

The following quote is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The same thing can be said about the investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia.

 

The Coming Battle Over Tax Reform

Tax cuts create economic growth. Government revenues soared to record levels during the Reagan Administration. Had Congress not gone wild with spending, we could have made serious progress on cutting our deficits. One of President Trump‘s campaign promises was to simplify the tax code and cut taxes. That is a fantastic idea that will encounter many obstacles. One of those obstacles is the federal deduction for state and local taxes, also known as the SALT deduction. The fight to eliminate this deduction is going to be brutal. Why? Because the SALT deduction essentially forces taxpayers in states with lower state taxes to subsidize taxpayers in states with higher state taxes. The states with ridiculous state taxes– for example California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts–face less opposition to tax increases when their voters know their state taxes can be deducted on their federal tax forms. Residents of high-tax states get a break on their federal income tax because of the high state taxes they pay.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article about this on June 22nd.

The article reports:

An often overlooked but critical feature of Mr. Trump’s tax-reform proposal gives Democrats the perfect opportunity to meet him at the bargaining table. When Mr. Trump introduced “the biggest individual and business tax cut in American history,” he said he would “eliminate targeted tax breaks”—including the federal deduction for state and local taxes. Also known as the SALT deduction, this $100 billion annual tax break to state and local governments has been on the books since 1913, even surviving Reagan tax reform. But this time, threatening the federal deduction may seal a tax deal for the GOP. Here’s why:

First, it’s hard for Democrats to argue that the tax reductions in Mr. Trump’s plan are budget-busters when killing the SALT deduction would add $1.3 trillion to federal coffers over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That would pay for a lot of personal and business tax cuts, even without factoring in the faster growth that could pay for those cuts over time.

Second, Democrats can’t say Mr. Trump’s plan isn’t real reform. The SALT deduction is a distortive subsidy to states. It encourages them to raise taxes, because voters can deduct those higher taxes from their federal tax bill.

Third, there’s little in this for red states, because they generally have lower tax rates to begin with. Therefore, according to the Internal Revenue Service, blue states with higher tax rates receive about two-thirds of this break. In fact, half of the $100 billion tax break goes to six deep-blue states: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Democrats in favor of preserving the SALT deduction are simply self-interested.

There is no doubt that the SALT deduction is going to be a major bargaining chip when the discussions on tax reform begin. Stay tuned.

It’s All A Matter Of Perspective

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about the American economy under President Trump. The article mentioned that the media is calling the 0.7% growth in the first quarter of 2017 a “lackluster beginning.” Somehow lost in that comment is the fact that President Trump did not take office until the end of January and that the Democrats in Congress have slow walked his cabinet appointments and obstructed anything he has attempted to do. Other than that, they have cooperated fully in helping improve the American economy.

The article reminds us:

CBS and the Associated Press tell us the first quarter’s “lackluster beginning … marks the first quarterly economic report card for President Donald Trump, who has vowed to rev up the U.S. economy.”

The Wall Street Journal, which should know better, called the number “the broadest report card on the economy in the nearly 100 days since President Donald Trump took office pledging a return to faster growth. …”

Bloomberg correctly stated that “the first-quarter figure isn’t a verdict on President Donald Trump’s policies,” but then added that economists are “generally skeptical that growth will reach his goal of 3% to 4% on a sustained basis.”

To start with, it’s simply not correct on any level to call this GDP number a “report card” on Trump. He hasn’t been in office long enough to take credit or blame for the GDP number, which, as any economist will tell you, is heavily influenced by policies in place well before the number ever comes out. That means President Obama.

The article contrasts the skepticism about President Trump with the mainstream media’s fawning over President Obama when he took office:

We tried to find mainstream media critiques of Obama’s policies early in 2009, but there were virtually none. In Obama’s defense, he did face a 6.1% decline in GDP in his first quarter. But no one blamed him for that. Instead, there was lavish praise, even as he stumbled from error to error. They blamed Bush.

For instance, the Media Research Center quotes Time’s Joe Klein, who wrote: “The legislative achievements have been stupendous — the $789 billion stimulus bill, the budget plan that is still being hammered out (and may, ultimately, include the next landmark safety-net program, universal health insurance).”

The article correctly concludes:

Eight years later, here is Obama’s “report card”: Slowest economic expansion for any president since the Great Depression, averaging just 2%, with no annual growth of more than 3%. More than $6 trillion in deficits, and a doubling of the nation’s debt to $20 trillion. A decline in real median household incomes of more than $4,000. Drops in homeownership to the lowest level since 1966. Labor participation rates near three-decade lows.

Sure, give Trump some time, and he’ll generate his own grades. But the first quarter GDP number has little or nothing to do with him, and the media’s bias is showing in suggesting it does.

There is a reason many Americans are tuning out the mainstream media in droves. If the mainstream media continues on its present path, there will be about two or three people actually paying attention to what they say.

 

Wisdom From The Voice Of Experience

Senator George McGovern was elected to the Senate in 1962. He left the Senate in 1981.

In June 2011, Forbes Magazine noted:

After leaving the Senate in 1981, McGovern hit the lecture circuit and in 1988 decided to invest his speaking fees in the Stratford Inn in Connecticut. He loved the idea of running a hotel. It went bankrupt a few years later, thanks in large part to the withering recession of 1990-91. But the experience gave McGovern new wisdom on how little politicians understand the arduous task of job creation.

I would like to point out that the recession of 1990-1991 was caused by a bi-partisan deal to ‘raise taxes on the rich.’ This was done in the form of instituting a tax on ‘luxury items’ such as expensive boats and jewelry. As boat sales and expensive jewelry sales dropped significantly, people in the boat-building business and some areas of the jewelry industry began to lose their jobs. As these people decreased their spending on going out to dinner, travel, and entertainment, those industries began to suffer and more people lost their jobs. At that point Americans began to curtail their spending in other areas because of fear of a recession, and the recession followed. This was a graphic illustration of the Laffer Curve at work.

The Forbes Magazine article quotes a Wall Street Journal editorial written by Senator McGovern in 1992.

In The Wall Street Journal, Senator McGovern states:

In 1988, I invested most of the earnings from this lecture circuit acquiring the leasehold on Connecticut’s Stratford Inn. Hotels, inns and restaurants have always held a special fascination for me. The Stratford Inn promised the realization of a longtime dream to own a combination hotel, restaurant and public conference facility–complete with an experienced manager and staff.

In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business, especially during a recession of the kind that hit New England just as I was acquiring the inn’s 43-year leasehold. I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.

Today we are much closer to a general acknowledgment that government must encourage business to expand and grow. Bill Clinton, Paul Tsongas, Bob Kerrey and others have, I believe, changed the debate of our party. We intuitively know that to create job opportunities we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.

My own business perspective has been limited to that small hotel and restaurant in Stratford, Conn., with an especially difficult lease and a severe recession. But my business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: `Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape.’ It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.

We have just elected a President who has the experience of running a business and dealing with government regulations. Hopefully, he has already learned the lessons Senator McGovern learned after he left office.

The Iran Deal Just Gets Uglier

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

The Obama administration agreed to back the lifting of United Nations sanctions on two Iranian state banks blacklisted for financing Iran’s ballistic-missile program on the same day in January that Tehran released four American citizens from prison, according to U.S. officials and congressional staff briefed on the deliberations.

The U.N. sanctions on the two banks weren’t initially to be lifted until 2023, under a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers that went into effect on Jan. 16.

The U.N. Security Council’s delisting of the two banks, Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International, was part of a package of tightly scripted agreements—the others were a controversial prisoner swap and transfer of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran—that were finalized between the U.S. and Iran on Jan. 17, the day the Americans were freed.

If the Iran nuclear deal is such a wonder thing, why has so much of it been kept secret?

The Middle East was in relatively good shape when President Obama took office. Hillary Clinton was his Secretary of State. Eight years later, where are we? In 2011 we saw the birth of the ‘Arab Spring’ which was supposed to democratize the Middle East. The Arab Spring brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt, destabilized Libya, and eventually led to the civil war in Syria. Egypt (with no help from the Obama Administration) was able to wrestle its country back from the Muslim Brotherhood and install leadership that will fight the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism. It’s far from a democracy, but it is keeping peace within the country and working to stop terrorism. I am not impressed with the Obama Administration’s foreign policy under the leadership of Secretary of State Clinton. We have consistently worked against freedom, and we have funded terrorism by giving money to Iran.

Please follow the link above to read the entire Wall Street Journal article. The foreign policy of the Obama Administration has been a nightmare for America. Electing Hillary Clinton as President will give us more of the same.

Who Made This Decision?

On Sunday The Wall Street Journal posted an article about some of the recent bank settlements that were supposed to help consumers. Well, I think consumers were on the list right after political entities.

The article reports:

Imagine if the president of the United States forced America’s biggest banks to funnel hundreds of millions—and potentially billions—of dollars to the corporations and lobbyists who supported his agenda, all while calling it “Main Street Relief.” The public outcry would rightly be deafening. Yet the Obama administration has used a similar strategy to enrich its political allies, advance leftist pet projects, and protect its legacy—and hardly anyone has noticed.

The administration’s multiyear campaign against the banking industry has quietly steered money to organizations and politicians who are working to ensure liberal policy and political victories at every level of government. The conduit for this funding is the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, a coalition of federal and state regulators and prosecutors created in 2012 to “identify, investigate, and prosecute instances of wrongdoing” in the residential mortgage-backed securities market. In conjunction with the Justice Department, the RMBS Working Group has reached multibillion-dollar settlements with essentially every major bank in America.

The most recent came in April when the Justice Department announced a $5.1 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs. In February Morgan Stanley agreed to a $3.2 billion settlement. Previous targets were Citigroup ($7 billion), J.P. Morgan Chase ($13 billion), and Bank of America, which in 2014 reached the largest civil settlement in American history at $16.65 billion. Smaller deals with other banks have also been announced.

You might expect that maybe some of the money would go into the U.S. Treasury to pay off some of the deficit. Silly person.

The article reports:

…a substantial portion is allocated to private, nonprofit organizations drawn from a federally approved list. Some groups on the list—Catholic Charities, for instance—are relatively nonpolitical. Others—La Raza, the National Urban League, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and more—are anything but.

…As part of their “consumer relief” penalties, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase must also pay a minimum $75 million to Community Development Financial Institutions—taxpayer-funded groups propped up by the Obama administration as an alternative to payday lenders. “Housing Counseling Agencies” also get at least $30 million. This essentially circumvents Congress’s recent decision to cut $43 million in federal funds routed to these groups through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The politicians who negotiate the settlements as part of the RMBS Working Group have also directed money to their supporters and states. Illinois’s Democratic attorney general Lisa Madigan announced she had secured $22.5 million from February’s Morgan Stanley deal for her state’s debt-ridden pension funds—a blatant payout to public unions. The deals with J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup yielded a further $344 million for both “consumer relief” and direct payments to pension funds.

The article concludes:

Despite the best efforts of a few principled legislators late last year, Congress missed an opportunity to amend the Justice Department’s funding bill to stop further handouts. Lawmakers now have another opportunity as Congress enters budget negotiation for fiscal year 2017. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) introduced a bill in April that would prevent government officials from enforcing settlements that funnel money to third parties, and it needs to gain wider traction with his colleagues. The political shakedowns disguised as public service must end.]

Is there any doubt that we need a new paradigm in Washington? There was no “Main Street Relief” involved in any of this–there was, however, Washington corruption. It was nothing more than a legal stick-up.

When The Government Overrides The Free Market

On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal posted an article about the current controversy about the cost of an EpiPen. Anyone who understands free market economics has been scratching their head trying to figure out why there was no competition to manufacture this product (and thus a more reasonable price). Well, The Wall Street Journal article provides an explanation. For the moment, I am going to overlook the fact that the company involved made a large donation to the Clinton Foundation and that the person in charge of the company is the daughter of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

The article at The Wall Street Journal explains:

In a statement, the Democrat (Hillary Clinton) assailed the “outrageous” cost of EpiPen, an emergency treatment for allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis, and she demanded that drug maker Mylan “immediately reduce the price.” Federal and Senate investigations are pending into these spring-loaded syringes filled with epinephrine (adrenaline) used primarily by children with life-threatening sensitivities to food or insect stings.

Mylan has raised the price of EpiPen in semiannual 10% to 15% tranches so that a two-pack that cost about $100 in 2008 now runs $500 or more after insurance discounts and coupons. Outrage seems to be peaking now because more families are exposed to drug prices directly though insurance deductibles and co-pays, plus the political class has discovered another easy corporate villain.

Still, the steady Mylan rise is hard to read as anything other than inevitable when a billion-dollar market is cornered by one supplier. Epinephrine is a basic and super-cheap medicine, and the EpiPen auto-injector device has been around since the 1970s.

Thus EpiPen should be open to generic competition, which cuts prices dramatically for most other old medicines. Competitors have been trying for years to challenge Mylan’s EpiPen franchise with low-cost alternatives—only to become entangled in the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory afflatus.

Approving a generic copy that is biologically equivalent to a branded drug is simple, but the FDA maintains no clear and consistent principles for generic drug-delivery devices like auto injectors or asthma inhalers. How does a company prove that a generic device is the same as the original product if there are notional differences, even if the differences don’t matter to the end result? In this case, that means immediately injecting a kid in anaphylactic shock with epinephrine—which is not complex medical engineering.

But no company has been able to do so to the FDA’s satisfaction. Last year Sanofi withdrew an EpiPen rival called Auvi-Q that was introduced in 2013, after merely 26 cases in which the device malfunctioned and delivered an inaccurate dose. Though the recall was voluntary and the FDA process is not transparent, such extraordinary actions are never done without agency involvement. This suggests a regulatory motive other than patient safety.

The article concludes:

Mrs. Clinton claims the EpiPen price hikes show the need for price controls, and she says she’ll require drug makers to “prove that any additional costs are linked to additional patient benefits and better value.” Somebody in Congress should require the FDA to justify how its delays are advancing the same goals.

Price controls are not the answer–a government agency that cannot be corrupted by special interests is the answer. The FDA has been interfering with the free market, and the price of the EpiPen is exhibit A in the case against the FDA. I am all for safe drugs and clinical trials, but I am tired of federal agencies being used to pick winners and losers.

Are There Any Honest People Left In Washington?

I know that there are some honest people in Washington, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem that way. What is really disturbing to me is that corruption seems to run from top to bottom. We may have to get rid of politicians with questionable ethics, and we may have to get rid of their staffs as well. This does not bode well for America.

Last week The Wall Street Journal posted a story that illustrates the total disregard for ethical behavior now running rampant in Washington. The story has to do with a company named Cadiz, Inc., and their plans to build an underground pipeline along the Arizona & California Railroad’s right-of-way to transport 50,000 acre-feet of water annually to Southern California.

The article reports:

The Department of Interior’s longstanding policy allowed railroads to run power, telephone and fiber optics lines along their rights-of-way without a federal permit, thus expediting environmental review. However, in November 2011, after Cadiz had modified its plan to reduce environmental opposition, Interior at the insistence of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein revised its policy to limit the use of railroad rights-of-way granted in 1875 to “activities that derive from or further a railroad purpose.”

The Cadiz pipeline was the only project subject to the new rules. Cadiz spent several years and $12 million reconfiguring the pipeline to “further a railroad purpose,” proposing the likes of hydro-turbines, power safety systems and automated fire suppression. None of Cadiz’s compromises satisfied regulators.

On Oct. 2, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) informed congressional staff—who tipped off Cadiz—of an imminent adverse ruling. A letter circulated by the bureau noted that the pipeline “does not derive from or further a railroad purpose” because the fire suppression system was “an uncommon industry practice,” among other complaints. The kicker was that the ruling could not be appealed because it “is not a final agency decision.” Thus the pipeline would have to undergo a formal environmental review. Ms. Feinstein has attached riders to every Interior appropriations bill since 2008 barring a review.

Within a week of the BLM ruling, Cadiz’s stock plummeted 65%. Yet one Cadiz investor had inside information that could have allowed him to make a killing. Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Cadiz reveal that BLM realty specialist Erik Pignata (who oversaw the Cadiz review from the Sacramento bureau) shared non-public information with Cadiz investor Thomas McGannon of Whetstone Capital Advisors. Cadiz provided the emails to us.

Thomas McGannon sold short based on the information that Erik Pignata shared and Mr. McGannon profited greatly. Just for the record, there is a 1990 executive order forbidding government employees from improperly using non-public government information to further a private interest. Let’s hope the government chooses to separate Mr. McGannon from his ill-gotten gains.

Just a note–I love the Freedom of Information Act.

Maybe Justice Will Be Done

I realize that I am not an impartial observer, but it seems to me that there are very different rules for democrats and republicans. Media bias right now is over the top, and the democratic party seems very willing to oppose voter identification laws that would play a role in preventing election fraud. One of the eye-opening events in recent years was the Internal Revenue Scandal (IRS) that specifically targeted conservative groups applying for tax exempt status. It was discovered that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, and the head of the IRS stepped down. However, there was some real question as to whether or not that targeting stopped. Evidently, it didn’t.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal posted an article about a recent court decision regarding the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

The article reports:

A federal appeals court Friday revived a pair of lawsuits against the Internal Revenue Service stemming from the tea party targeting scandal.

The mixed ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out claims for damages against the U.S. government and senior IRS officials sought by the conservative nonprofit plaintiffs.

But the appellate panel reversed a lower court that had dismissed the litigation entirely. The ruling expressed skepticism with IRS assurances that it was no longer subjecting conservative organizations to discriminatory treatment.

The decision Friday threw a lifeline to two lawsuits brought by dozens of conservative nonprofit groups, including Texas-based True the Vote, an advocate for stricter voter registration enforcement and voter identification requirements.

True the Vote discovered rampant voter fraud in Houston. The details are here. The fact that they were attacked does not say good things about the administration that targeted them.

The article further explains:

In 2013, the IRS apologized for improperly targeting conservative groups and said it had halted political screening of applications. But D.C. Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle, who wrote Friday’s opinion, said it was telling that the IRS had suspended the screening “until further notice.” Stated Judge Sentelle:

A violation of right that is “suspended until further notice” has not become the subject of voluntary cessation, with no reasonable expectation of resumption, so as to moot litigation against the violation of rights. Rather, it has at most advised the victim of the violation – “you’re alright for now, but there may be another shoe falling.”

The court said beyond the potential for more abuse, the IRS hadn’t ceased discriminatory conduct, noting that at least two tax-exempt applications submitted by plaintiffs were still pending.

That meant, in the judges’s view, that the case had not become “moot” as U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton had concluded in 2014 when he dismissed the lawsuits.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the ruling gives their cases a lifeline with an opportunity to dig for more evidence.

The IRS needs to be either done away with or cleaned up. Neither is likely under an Obama or Clinton administration. The attack on conservative groups was designed to silence their voices during the 2012 election. Although the attack has morphed into other areas, the attack has not ceased. Any American who depends on the mainstream media for their news is routinely told things that are not true or not told things that are true. The picture that the mainstream media is painting of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are caricatures–they are not realistic images. Americans are responsible for the leaders they elect. However, there are forces at work that are attempting to prevent Americans from making informed choices in electing those leaders.

 

Beyond The Standard Accusations

We have all listened to the media report on the $400 million dollars paid to Iran. Iran claims it was a ransom payment; President Obama claims it was not. One of the hostages has stated that they were detained at the Iranian airport until the plane with the payment landed. That sounds like ransom, but ransom is not the real issue.

Andrew McCarthy posted an article in National Review today explaining another aspect of the payment.

The article explains:

At a press conference Thursday, Obama remarkably explained, “The reason that we had to give them cash is precisely because we are so strict in maintaining sanctions and we do not have a banking relationship with Iran.” Really Mr. President? The whole point of sanctions is to prohibit and punish certain behavior. If you — especially you, Mr. President — do the precise thing that the sanctions prohibit, that is a strange way of being “so strict in maintaining” them.

Now, the sanctions at issue exclude Iran from the U.S. financial system by, among other things, prohibiting Americans and financial institutions from engaging in currency transactions that involve Iran’s government. Contrary to the nuclear sanctions that Obama’s Iran deal (the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” or JCPOA) attempts to undo, the sanctions pertinent here were imposed primarily as a result of Iran’s support for terrorism. That is significant. In pleading with Congress not to disapprove the JCPOA, Obama promised lawmakers that the terrorism sanctions would remain in force.

…As noted above, the sanctions prohibit transactions with Iran that touch the U.S. financial system, whether they are carried out in dollars or foreign currencies. The claim by administration officials, widely repeated in the press, that Iran had to be paid in euros and francs because dollar-transactions are forbidden is nonsense; Americans are also forbidden to engage in foreign currency transactions with Iran.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. The ransom payment to Iran was another example of the Obama Administration’s blatant regard for the laws that are supposed to govern our country. The payment also funds terrorism and puts our military (and all Americans) at greater risk for terrorism and kidnapping. This should be an impeachable offense, but I really haven’t even heard much complaining from the Republican Congress. We need to elect some Congressman who will support America. Right now those in office seem to lack a backbone.