The following letter was recently printed in The Wall Street Journal:
The Inspector General’s report on the foreign intervention in the 2016 election is expected to come out in the next two weeks or so. Many of us are getting very impatient. Based on what the alternative media has been reporting for years now, Attorney General Barr and his investigating team are looking in all of the right places–Russia, Australia, Italy, Ukraine, and Britain. Those who took part on the scam and the investigation that followed are correct to be very uncomfortable about what is to come. The mainstream media is trying to blunt the impact of the information that will be made public.
Yesterday Newsbusters posted an article detailing exactly what is going on. It is a complicated article, so I suggest you follow the link and read the entire article, but I will provide a few highlights.
The article reports:
Once upon a time — in a galaxy far, far away — The New York Times and The Washington Post were the go-to papers when it came to uncovering political scandals.
Both papers made a point of running the Pentagon Papers, an internal and secret U.S. government history of various presidents and their relevant Cabinet secretaries decision-making on American involvement in the Vietnam War. The Post, of course, was also famous for its birddogging young reporters Woodward and Bernstein and their digging out the details of the Watergate scandal. In fact, movies have been made with Hollywood A-listers lionizing both The Post and the journalists involved. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman starred in the Watergate movie (All the President’s Men), while Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep starred in the dramatic tale of the Post’s battles with government officials over breaking the Pentagon Papers story (The Post. )
So it is with no little irony that today the two papers are leading the media charge to cover-up “Spygate” – the considerable scandal that is the the use of American intelligence agencies to spy on the political opponents of Obama and Clinton in 2016.
The Wall Street Journal has noticed, saying this in an editorial titled: “Foreign Influence and Double Standards. Democrats want to stop Barr from investigating what happened in 2016.”
The article also notes:
Perhaps the real question should be: Just How Corrupt is The New York Times?
A perfect example of the game at play in this article is Goldberg citing one “Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University School of Law.” I recall Stephen Gillers. In fact, I took a look at Gillers in my 2005 book The Borking Rebellion, a recounting of the Senate confirmation of Bush nominee Judge D. Brooks Smith for the Third Circuit of Appeals. The Post had asked Gillers for comment on a supposed ethics issue involving Judge Smith, presenting him, as does Goldberg today, as an above-it-all, strictly non-partisan legal ethics expert.
In fact, in the Smith battle I uncovered the fact that Gillers was hardly a non-partisan. He had served as a consultant to a far left special interest group called the Community Rights Counsel. The CRC had issued a report harshly critical of the Judge, and The Post went to Gillers for comment, leaving out of their story Gillers own ties to the CRC, the very group whose report on Smith he was being asked to comment.
Goldberg plays the same game, citing Gillers as if he were some lofty non-partisan when, in fact, his background and record illustrate that he is anything but. Goldberg’s presentation is, to borrow again from her title, corrupt.
Andrew McCarthy at The National Review noted recently:
The strategy here is obvious. The Democrats and their note-takers would like the public to believe that Barr’s investigation is an adjunct of the Trump 2020 campaign — and a grossly improper one at that. The misimpression they seek to create is that Barr is putting the nation’s law-enforcement powers in the service of Trump’s reelection campaign, in the absence of any public interest. The hope is that this will delegitimize not only any information that emerges from Ukraine but the whole of the Justice Department’s investigation of intelligence and law-enforcement abuses of power attendant to the 2016 election.
If the people who used government and foreign resources to spy on a political opponent in 2016 are not held accountable, their actions will become the template for future political campaigns. This will destroy our republic.
The Wall Street Journal posted an article yesterday about the drone attack on Saudi oil fields. The Iran-allied Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen have claimed credit for the attack.
The article reports:
The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about 5.7 million barrels a day, the kingdom’s national oil company said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil.
Officials said they hoped to restore production to its regular level of 9.8 million barrels a day by Monday. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said lost production would be offset through supplies of oil already on hand.
The strikes mark the latest in a series of attacks on the country’s petroleum assets in recent months, as tensions rise among Iran and its proxies like the Houthis, and the U.S. and partners like Saudi Arabia. The attacks could drive up oil prices if the Saudis can’t turn production back on quickly and potentially rattle investor confidence in an initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company.
The article concludes:
The Yemen war is a central front in a new and more aggressive foreign policy overseen by Prince Mohammed, who launched the intervention with a coalition of allied states in 2015. Under the prince’s watch, the kingdom also applied a blockade on neighboring Qatar, detained Lebanon’s prime minister, and sent a team of men to kill exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.
A conservative kingdom with a Sunni Muslim majority, Saudi Arabia has been an opponent of Iran in a struggle for power across the broader Middle East since the 1979 revolution that toppled Iran’s monarchy.
The attacks on Aramco’s facilities are poorly timed for Aramco’s coming IPO and pose a challenge to oil officials after a changing of the guard in their leadership. Aramco last week picked seven international banks to help it list on Saudi Arabia’s domestic exchange, an IPO that could value the company at about $2 trillion dollars and come before the end of the year.
There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes here. This is part of the conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. At their core, both the Saudis and the Iranians want to bring back the former caliphate. The Ottoman Empire (which was that caliphate) existed until the early 1900’s. Many Muslims want that Empire restored. The argument is over who will rule the caliphate when it is established. Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are players in this conflict, as is ISIS. Jamal Khashoggi was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Descriptions of him as simply a journalist were misleading. Another part of this puzzle is the fact that Saudi Arabia is drawing closer to aligning with Israel because of the fear of a nuclear Iran. That also would be a cause for increased aggression from Iran.
Generally speaking, any terrorism that goes on in the Middle East can be traced back to Iran. They have been training and funding terrorists since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
I have no idea what impact this will have on world oil prices. I do know that Saudi Arabia will work to repair the damage as soon as possible. I have no doubt that Iran is violating the sanctions on its oil exports, so if the price of oil rises significantly, Iran may be able to pull itself out of its current economic difficulties and calm its population. America will continue to prosper as oil prices rise because we are now a net exporter of oil rather than a net importer. Because of the policies of President Trump, we are in a very different situation than we were during the oil crisis of the 1970’s.
Politico posted an article today about the latest events in Hong Kong. The article is taken from the South China Morning Post. Please consider the source when reading the excerpts.
The article reports:
Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has formally withdrawn the much-despised extradition bill that sparked the nearly three-month long protest crisis now roiling the city, confirming the Post’s exclusive report earlier on Wednesday.
She will also set up an investigative platform to look into the fundamental causes of the social unrest and suggest solutions for the way forward, stopping short of turning it into a full-fledged commission of inquiry, as demanded by protesters.
The decision to withdraw the bill will mean that the government is finally acceding to at least one of the five demands of the protesters, who have taken to the streets over the past 13 weeks to voice not just their opposition to the legislation, but the overall governance of the city in demonstrations that have become increasingly violent.
Apart from the formal withdrawal of the legislation, the protesters have asked for the government to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate police conduct in tackling the protests, grant amnesty to those who have been arrested, stop characterizing the protests as riots, and restart the city’s stalled political reform process.
Whether they will view the investigative committee as adequate in meeting the call for a commission remains to be seen. On the bill withdrawal, a government source said that Lam will emphasize that the move was a technical procedure to streamline the legislative agenda, with the Legislative Council set to reopen in October after its summer break.
Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line Blog today about Hong Kong. In the article he quotes a Claudia Rosette article at The Wall Street Journal:
[T]he millions of protesters. . .have been doing the world a heroic service. Like their predecessors at Tiananmen, they are exposing on a world stage the brutality of the Beijing regime. From the only place under China’s flag where there is any chance to speak out, they are shouting the truth, day and night, in the streets and from the windows—while they still can.
During more than 13 straight weeks of protest, Hong Kong’s people have demanded the rights and freedoms—including free elections—that China, in a treaty with Britain, guaranteed to Hong Kong for 50 years after the 1997 handover. At a press conference last week held by Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized some of the biggest peaceful protests, spokeswoman Bonnie Leung observed that if the authorities would simply keep those promises, “the whole movement will end immediately.”
Instead, President Xi Jinping and his puppet, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, have defaulted to threats, propaganda and force. Ms. Lam’s administration has deployed riot police, tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons. Officers have made more than 1,000 arrests.
China has been pressuring Hong Kong companies, including Cathay Pacific Airways, to fire employees who join the protests. Chanting “Stand with Hong Kong! Fight for freedom!” the protesters have refused to back down. Some told me they are ready to die for their cause. Many of their predecessors did in Tiananmen.
Hong Kong police have begun firing warning shots with live ammunition. This weekend, police were caught on video beating unarmed civilians bloody on the subway. China has been conspicuously drilling troops of its People’s Armed Police across the border, and last week it sent fresh army troops to its garrison in Hong Kong, labeling this a routine rotation to ensure “prosperity and stability.”
The article at Power Line Blog concludes with an UPDATE:
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has finally agreed to withdraw the extradition bill discussed above. She takes her order from Beijing, so it looks like China wants to avoid a Tiananmen Square style massacre and the worldwide condemnation it would bring.
Will this concession, absent the freedoms China promised Hong Kong in 1997, be sufficient to take the steam out of the protests? Perhaps.
Another possibility is that the protesters, if anything, will be emboldened by the concession and that China, having made it, will believe it can defend a crack down by claiming that the protesters couldn’t take “yes” for an answer.
MSN Money posted an article from The Wall Street Journal today. The article deals with the Democrats’ latest plan to raise taxes on things that are not currently taxed. The Democrats don’t seem concerned with cutting spending–they just want more of your money.
The article explains the plan:
The income tax is the Swiss Army Knife of the U.S. tax system, an all-purpose policy tool for raising revenue, rewarding and punishing activities and redistributing money between rich and poor.
The system could change fundamentally if Democrats win the White House and Congress. The party’s presidential candidates, legislators and advisers share a conviction that today’s income tax is inadequate for an economy where a growing share of rewards flows to a sliver of households.
For the richest Americans, Democrats want to shift toward taxing their wealth, instead of just their salaries and the income their assets generate. The personal income tax indirectly touches wealth, but only when assets are sold and become income.
At the end of 2017, U.S. households had $3.8 trillion in unrealized gains in stocks and investment funds, plus more in real estate, private businesses and artwork, according to the Economic Innovation Group, a nonprofit focused on bringing investment to low-income areas. Most of the value of estates over $100 million consists of unrealized gains, said a 2013 Federal Reserve study. Much has never been touched by individual income taxes and may never be.
Under current law, when stocks and investment funds are inherited, the person inheriting them pays no tax on the capital gains that were accrued during the time the previous owner possessed the stock. At the point of inheritance, new capital gains begin to accrue. For example, if a person of modest means bought five shares of a stock a month over a period of ten years and his $3000 a year investment was worth $300,000 at his death, his heirs would receive the $300,000 worth of stock and pay capital gains when they sold it on the basis of that $300,000. The idea is to encourage people to invest. The Democrats want to change that.
The article reports:
In campaigns, Congress and academia, Democrats are shaping tax plans for 2021, when they hope to have narrow majorities. There are three main options.
President Obama left office with a list of ideas for taxing the rich that might have raised nearly $1 trillion over a decade. The most important was taxing capital gains at death.
The idea was too radical for a serious look from Congress at the time. Now, to a Democratic base that has moved left, it looks almost moderate.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the candidate most prominently picking up where Mr. Obama left off, has proposed repealing stepped-up basis. Taxing unrealized gains at death could let Congress raise the capital gains rate to 50% before revenue from it would start to drop, according to the Tax Policy Center, because investors would no longer delay sales in hopes of a zero tax bill when they die.
And indeed, Mr. Biden has proposed doubling the income-tax rate to 40% on capital gains for taxpayers with incomes of $1 million or more.
But for Democrats, repealing stepped-up basis has drawbacks. Much of the money wouldn’t come in for years, until people died. The Treasury Department estimated a plan Mr. Obama put out in 2016 would generate $235 billion over a decade, less than 10% of what advisers to Sen. Warren’s campaign say her tax plan would raise.
That lag raises another risk. Wealthy taxpayers would have incentives to get Congress to reverse the tax before their heirs face it.
Mr. Obama’s administration never seriously explored a wealth tax or a tax on accrued but unrealized gains, said Lily Batchelder, who helped devise his policies.
“If someone’s goal is to raise trillions of dollars from the very wealthy, then it becomes necessary to think about these more ambitious proposals,” she said.
Instead of attacking favorable treatment of inherited assets, Mr. Wyden goes after the other main principle of capital-gains taxation—that gains must be realized before taxes are imposed.
The Oregon senator is designing a “mark-to-market” system. Annual increases in the value of people’s assets would be taxed as income, even if the assets aren’t sold. Someone who owned stock that was worth $400 million on Jan. 1 but $500 million on Dec. 31 would add $100 million to income on his or her tax return.
The tax would diminish the case for a preferential capital-gains rate, since people couldn’t get any benefit from deferring asset sales. Mr. Wyden would raise the rate to ordinary-income levels. Presidential candidate Julián Castro also just endorsed a mark-to-market system.
For the government, money would start flowing in immediately. The tax would hit every year, not just when an asset-holder died. Mr. Wyden would apply this regime to just the top 0.3% of taxpayers, said spokeswoman Ashley Schapitl. Mr. Castro’s tax would apply to the top 0.1%.
The article concludes:
The Constitution says any direct tax must be structured so each state contributes a share of it equal to the state’s share of the population. A state such as Connecticut has far more multimillionaires per capita than many others, so its share of the wealth tax would far exceed its share of the U.S. population. How Ms. Warren’s wealth tax might be categorized or affected is an unsettled area of law relying on century-old Supreme Court precedents.
Still, the wealth tax polls well, and Democratic candidates are eager to draw a contrast with President Trump, a tax-cutting billionaire.
Republicans will push back. Rep. Tom Reed (R., N.Y.) says tax increases aimed at the top would reach the middle class. “It easily goes down the slippery slope,” he said. “If it’s the 1%, it’s the top 20%.” he said.
The bookkeeping would be ridiculous. The tax forms would be intimidating. Let’s keep moving in the direction of simpler tax forms and less taxation. The next step should not be more taxes–it should be less spending.
The Wall Street Journal posted an article today about the changing values of Americans. The article includes the chart below:
According to statistica.com (2017 data), there are 97 million Americans born between 1928 and 1964 currently in America. There are 65.45 million Americans born between 1965 and 1980 currently in America. There are 72.06 million Americans born between 1981 and 1996. I realize that these dates do not exactly correspond to the graph above, but they give you a general idea of the age of the American population. Thank God the old people still have the young whippersnappers outnumbered. Evidently we are the generation with the strongest traditional values.
This shift in values did not happen in a vacuum. In 1962, prayer was taken out of American schools. Students no longer started the day with some sort of simple prayer. I remember in Junior High School (now Middle School) we began every day with an assembly where we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and sang The Lord’s Prayer. I don’t remember being significantly harmed by that. By high school, the prayer and the Pledge were gone.
The article at The Wall Street Journal goes on to describe different feelings about racism.
The article reports:
The survey also found partisan divides on views of race relations. When surveyed six years ago, about half of Republicans and a slightly larger share of Democrats said relations among the races were on a good footing. Today, half of Republicans say race relations are good, while only 21% of Democrats say so.
Overall, the latest poll found 60% of adults saying race relations are in a bad state, a smaller share than in mid-2016, before Mr. Trump took office, when 74% said relations were poor. At the time, two incidents of police shootings of African-American men had been in the news.
In the new survey, only 19 percent of African-Americans said race relations were fairly or very good, the lowest level in Journal/NBC News polling over more than two decades.
While views on race relations improved overall, the change didn’t come through when Americans were asked about Mr. Trump’s time in office, the poll found.
Fifty-six percent of adults said race relations had gotten worse since Mr. Trump became president, while 10% said they had improved.
The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 1,000 adults from Aug. 10-14. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
I blame the news media for that one. We had more racial unrest under President Obama than we have seen under President Trump.
The article also includes an interesting comment on patriotism:
Megan Clark, a 31-year-old from Austin, Texas, said her experience as a child living overseas due to her father’s military career influenced her views on patriotism.
“Patriotism for the sake of patriotism means nothing to me,’’ she said. “If you believe in the values that your country is expressing and following and you want to support those, then, sure. But just as a blind association with wherever you happen to be from, that just doesn’t seem logical.”
Generational differences on personal values were most pronounced among Democrats. In fact, the views of Democrats over age 50 were more in line with those of younger Republicans than with younger members of their own party.
Part of the responsibility for the decline in patriotism goes to our schools. It is disconcerting to me that the Advanced Placement U.S. History books focus on the negative aspects of American history–slavery, mistreatment of Indians, etc. They don’t focus on how unique the concept of God-given rights and freedom were at the time of the American Revolution. Part of the responsibility for the decline of patriotism also falls on parents. It is up to us to teach our children to love our country. Our freedom is always only one generation away. Hopefully we are not currently watching that generation grow up.
David Coleman has been the President of the College Board since 2012. David Coleman was one of the people responsible for developing the Common Core standards. He has now brought his total misconceptions of what works in education to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), long used as an indication of a student’s ability and possible clue to how well they would do in college.
Yesterday The New York Times posted an article that reported the following:
The College Board, the company that administers the SAT exam taken by about two million students a year, will for the first time assess students not just on their math and verbal skills, but also on their educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, entering a fraught battle over the fairness of high-stakes testing.
The company announced on Thursday that it will include a new rating, which is widely being referred to as an “adversity score,” of between 1 and 100 on students’ test results. An average score is 50, and higher numbers mean more disadvantage. The score will be calculated using 15 factors, including the relative quality of the student’s high school and the crime rate and poverty level of the student’s neighborhood.
The rating will not affect students’ test scores, and will be reported only to college admissions officials as part of a larger package of data on each test taker.
The new measurement brings the College Board squarely into the raging national debate over fairness and merit in college admissions, one fueled by enduring court clashes on affirmative action, a federal investigation into a sprawling admissions cheating ring and a booming college preparatory industry that promises results to those who can pay.
Below is a picture of what constitutes the adversity score:
It’s kept a secret. “Trust us,” in effect, they say. There is no appeal possible. And as a black box whose inner workings are secret, it becomes an ideal vehicle for engineering the racial results admissions offices desire.
It is easily gamed – fake addresses, even possible income manipulation (by claiming a lot of depreciation, for instance, the way that Donald Trump reported negative income in the 1980s)
And it provides perverse incentives, rewarding victim status, not achievement. Parents who start out with no advantages and work hard to provide a better life for their kids will now be handicapping them if they have high incomes and live in nice neighborhoods with good schools.
Obviously if you are a middle class parent living with the father of your children in a respectable neighborhood, the answer would be to divorce your spouse and move to Detroit. That is obscene.
It might also be a good idea to consider the consequences of this new program–how will children who do not have good SAT scores but have great adversity scores do in college? What will be the drop out rate? Will they understand the classes they are taking? The way to achieve diversity in colleges is to change the culture in communities where the work ethic has been lost. There are many first-generation Chinese children living in New York City in poverty that are gaining admission to the top schools in the city because their parents have taught them to work hard in school. Rather than risk putting students in college that are academically unprepared for what they are going to face, shouldn’t we simply encourage a cultural change in poor communities that rewards hard work in school. It can make a difference–Ben Carson is a shining example of a child growing up poor with a single parent who lacked education that taught her children the value of education. Let’s lift people up instead of making excuses for them because of where they grew up.
Michael Cohen has been caught lying to Congress. That shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone, but it happened. The Daily Caller posted the details today.
The article reports:
A lawyer for Michael Cohen says that the former Trump fixer directed his former attorney to inquire about a presidential pardon, a claim which, if true, would contradict Cohen’s congressional testimony on Feb. 27.
Lanny Davis told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday night that Cohen instructed Stephen Ryan, his previous lawyer, to raise the prospect of a pardon shortly after the FBI raided Cohen’s home in April 2018.
“During that time period, [Cohen] directed his attorney to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump,” Davis told The Journal.
That statement directly contradicts what Cohen told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in public testimony on Feb. 27.
Michael Cohen is not stupid. I am sure that when he saw the “Mueller Train” coming at him full speed, he was open to trying anything to get out of its way. I believe he would say anything to Congress to limit his jail time and any jail time for his wife. It is unfortunate that some on the Mueller team have resorted to the kind of theatrics and bullying that has been a major part of this investigation. We need to take action in the future to see that all Constitutional rights of Americans are protected–even when a Special Counsel is involved.
Yesterday The Wall Street Journal posted an article about a recent statement from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Mayor stated, “Here’s the truth. Brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world. There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands.”
Wow. So it’s wrong for the money to be in the hands of the people who actually earned it?
The article notes:
• Perhaps he means David Koch, the retired businessman and libertarian who donated the entire $65 million cost for the new public plaza in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The more than six million people who visit the museum each year can now stroll past trees and fountains on their way in and out of the Met, which by the way is also supported by private donors.
• Or perhaps the mayor is thinking of Ken Langone, the Home Depot founder, who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the New York University Medical Center that treats patients of all incomes and social strata. Mr. Langone’s most recent $100 million gift, made last year, will go to provide cost-free tuition for every NYU medical student. Wrong hands?
• Or maybe the mayor has in mind Richard Gilder, who made a fortune in finance and provided the first major grant for the Central Park Conservancy that has rescued the park from its sad mid-20th-century decline. Each year the conservancy, led by private donors, restores eroding corners of this grand public space with new trees, lawns, playgrounds and ballfields that are used by tens of thousands across the city regardless of income.
Mr. Gilder has also given generously to the American Museum of Natural History and the New-York Historical Society, two other favorites for visitors and students of all ways and means.
• Then again the mayor dislikes charter schools, so perhaps he means Stanley Druckenmiller, the legendary investor who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars for Geoffrey Canada’s successful charter-school network in the poorest neighborhoods of the city. These students would otherwise be stuck in failing schools run by Mr. de Blasio’s friends in the teachers union.
But thanks to donations from Mr. Druckenmiller, and hedge-fund operator Dan Loeb’s gifts to the Success Academy charter network, thousands of kids have a shot at a better life.
The article reminds us that because of capitalism and the fact that when men can keep the fruits of their labor, donations are made that educate children, improve neighborhoods, and provide playgrounds and recreation.
Let’s compare that record with what happens when government controls the money. The article concludes:
As for Mr. de Blasio’s right hands, there are those failing schools. And don’t forget the New York City Housing Authority, which last year had to sign a consent decree with the federal government for lying about its failure to provide safe and sanitary conditions.
“Somewhat reminiscent of the biblical plagues of Egypt, these conditions include toxic lead paint, asthma-inducing mold, lack of heat, frequent elevator outages, and vermin infestations,” federal Judge William Pauley III wrote last year, adding that the authority “whitewashed these deficiencies for years.”
Perhaps those are the hands Mr. de Blasio should do something about.
Yesterday I posted an article about the sentencing of General Michael Flynn. In the article I noted that there were some curious circumstances surrounding the interview in which General Flynn is accused of lying. Evidently I am not the only person concerned about those circumstances.
The American Thinker posted an article today about the judge who will be sentencing General Flynn.
The article reports:
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is due to sentence General Michael Flynn next Tuesday, has thrown a wild card on the table, raising the possibility that a miscarriage of justice may finally be called out and the guilty plea coerced by Team Mueller thrown out.
Thanks to the sentencing memorandum filed by counsel for General Michael Flynn, we now see that the FBI used deception to ensnare him in a perjury trap.
Yesterday The Wall Street Journal posted an editorial titled, “The Flynn Entrapment.”
The editorial states:
Of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s many targets, the most tragic may be former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The former three-star general pleaded guilty last year to a single count of lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Now we learn from Mr. Flynn’s court filing to the sentencing judge that senior bureau officials acted in a way to set him up for the fall.
Not a rich man after decades in uniform, Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to avoid bankruptcy and spare his son from becoming a legal target. Mr. Flynn’s filing doesn’t take issue with the description of his offense. But the “additional facts” the Flynn defense team flags for the court raise doubts about FBI conduct.
The Flynn filing describes government documents concerning the Jan. 24, 2017 meeting with two FBI agents when Mr. Flynn supposedly lied. It turns out the meeting was set up by then Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who personally called Mr. Flynn that day on other business—to discuss an FBI training session. By Mr. McCabe’s account, on that call he told Mr. Flynn he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with him to talk about his Russia communications.
There is another clue in The American Thinker article as to why the Judge is asking questions:
Chuck Ross reports for the Daily Caller News Foundation on Judge Sullivan’s startling order:
District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on Wednesday ordered Flynn’s lawyers to hand over two documents: a memo that then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wrote after speaking with Flynn ahead his Jan. 24, 2017 interview with two FBI agents and the FBI summary of notes taken during that same interview.
That summary, known as an FD-302, was compiled on Aug. 22, 2017 by the two FBI agents who interviewed Flynn. It is unclear why the summary was put together seven months after the Flynn interview.
When you look at the actions of the FBI and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team, you find that in some cases civil rights were trampled (attorney-client privilege, having a lawyer present, being put in solitary confinement for crimes that did not warrant it, etc.). Hopefully the actions of Judge Sullivan will cause both the FBI Special Prosecutor Mueller to be more aware of the civil rights of all Americans.
I am not an economist, but I have learned over the years to listen to the people with the best track records on analysis. One of those people is Stephen Moore, who posted an article at The Wall Street Journal yesterday.
The article reports:
Liberals are tripping over themselves to explain why the economy has performed so much better under Donald Trump than it did under Barack Obama. The economy has grown by nearly 4% over the past six months, and the final number for 2018 is expected to come in at between 3% and 3.5%. The U.S. growth rate has doubled since Mr. Obama’s last year in office.
When Mr. Trump was elected, many Democratic pundits predicted an economic and stock-market meltdown. Then the economy started surging and they abruptly changed their tune, arguing that Mr. Trump was simply riding a global growth wave. That narrative was shattered when U.S. growth kept steaming ahead even as global growth—especially in China and Germany—stalled.
The people who predicted an economic crash if President Trump was elected are now saying that the tax cuts have given us a ‘sugar high’, and the market will crash when the sugar wears off. That makes about as much sense as President Obama taking credit for the move toward American energy independence.
The article continues:
The real contradiction in the “sugar high” argument is that it ignores the slow growth of the Obama years, which featured an avalanche of debt spending. Deficits as a share of GDP were 9.8% in 2009, 8.6% in 2010, 8.3% in 2011 and 6.7% in 2012. Where was the sugar high then? Instead of the expected burst in output coming out of the 2008-09 recession, borrowing more than $1 trillion a year for four years yielded the worst recovery since the Great Depression. Even excluding 2009, Mr. Obama’s deficits averaged more than 5% of GDP throughout the rest of his presidency but produced less growth than Mr. Trump has with lower deficits.
This wasn’t what Keynesians expected. Mr. Obama’s economic team predicted 4% growth every year coming out of the recession. Instead the “sugar high” from record peacetime deficits produced measly 2% growth. By 2016 GDP was running about $2 trillion below the trend line of a normal recovery.
The fastest growth rate over the past three decades was recorded in Bill Clinton’s second term, when federal government spending fell from 21.5% to 18% of GDP and deficits disappeared into surpluses. So much for the idea that deficit spending is a stimulant.
Mr. Trump’s fiscal policies have produced more growth than Mr. Obama’s because they were designed to incentivize businesses to invest, hire and produce more here at home. The Obama “stimulus,” by contrast, went for food stamps, unemployment benefits, ObamaCare subsidies, “cash for clunkers” and failed green energy handouts.
The article concludes:
Those pushing the “sugar high” fallacy also don’t realize that the Trump tax cuts aren’t going away soon. The 2017 business tax cuts can’t cause a recession in 2019 or 2020 because they don’t expire until 2025. They aren’t sugar pills.
The biggest threats to the economic boom and financial markets today are a deflationary Federal Reserve and the specter of a global trade war. Solve those problems and the American economy can keep flying high on its own power. And Mr. Trump’s critics will be proved wrong again.
When you decrease taxes and regulations on businesses, we all gain. That combination, if allowed to continue, will bring us continued economic growth.
This week we watched the Mueller investigation recommend that Michael Flynn not be incarcerated because of his extensive cooperation with the investigation. This creates more questions than it answers. Why was there any kind of continuing investigation of Michael Flynn? Notes released from the investigation show that no one who interviewed him thought he was lying. So why wasn’t the investigation dropped? But wait–there’s more!
Kimberley Strassel posted an article at The Wall Street Journal yesterday with the following title, “Mueller’s Gift to Obama.” The article reminds us that the charges against Michael Flynn were based on his telephone calls and interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. As incoming National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn would have been expected to have those conversations. It is also expected that those conversations would be wiretapped because they involved a Russian Ambassador. What is not protocol is the unmasking of General Flynn’s identity.
The article reports:
But what about the potential crimes that put Mr. Flynn in Mr. Mueller’s crosshairs to begin with? On Jan. 2, 2017, the Obama White House learned about Mr. Flynn’s conversations with Mr. Kislyak. The U.S. monitors phone calls of foreign officials, but under law they are supposed to “minimize” the names of any Americans caught up in such eavesdropping. In the Flynn case, someone in the prior administration either failed to minimize or purposely “unmasked” Mr. Flynn. The latter could itself be a felony.
Ten days later someone in that administration leaked to the Washington Post that Mr. Flynn had called Mr. Kislyak on Dec. 29, 2016. On Feb. 9, 2017, someone leaked to the Post and the New York Times highly detailed and classified information about the Flynn-Kislyak conversation.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has called this leak the most destructive to national security that he seen in his time in Washington. Disclosing classified information is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. The Post has bragged that its story was sourced by nine separate officials.
The Mueller team has justified its legal wanderings into money laundering (Paul Manafort) and campaign contributions (Michael Cohen) on grounds that it has an obligation to follow up on any evidence of crimes, no matter how disconnected from its Russia mandate. Mr. Flynn’s being caught up in the probe is related to a glaring potential crime of disclosing classified material, yet Mr. Mueller appears to have undertaken no investigation of that. Is this selective justice, or something worse? Don’t forget Mr. Mueller stacked his team with Democrats, some of whom worked at the highest levels of the Obama administration, including at the time of the possible Flynn unmasking and the first leak.
It is becoming very obvious that Robert Mueller’s investigation is wearing blinders. Their prosecution of Michael Flynn while ignoring the crime of leaking classified material and unmasking Americans on foreign phone calls (not to mention ignoring the Clinton campaign’s relationship with Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, and the dossier) is a glaring example of the politicization of our Justice Department. The Congressional hysteria over the idea that Mueller could be fired or limited in any way is a glaring example of the ignorance on the part of some Congressmen of our Constitution. For the past two years we have had a taste of what it would be like to live in a country where justice is political. If we do not successfully deal with this, we will have taken a pretty big step toward becoming a banana republic.
Donald Trump became America’s President despite long odds. Hillary Clinton was considered to be the President-elect by almost everyone up until we actually voted. So what happened? Many Americans are looking past the news the mainstream media has been feeding them and looking around. They have reached the point where they are choosing to believe what they see rather than what they are being told. As the middle class of America struggled under the Obama administration, those in the bureaucracy increased in number and prospered. The richest counties in America are adjacent to Washington, D.C. That is not a coincidence. The political and media elite are looking out for their own interests while ignoring the well being of their fellow countrymen. Those countrymen elected Donald Trump. Those feelings are not unique to America. They recently erupted in France.
The Wall Street Journal posted an article yesterday about the recent riots in France. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the drastic increase in the gasoline tax, but that was the straw–the issue is much bigger.
The article reports:
Nothing reveals the disconnect between ordinary voters and an aloof political class more than carbon taxation.
The fault line runs between anti-carbon policies and economic growth, and France is a test for the political future of emissions restrictions. France already is a relatively low-carbon economy, with per-capita emissions half Germany’s as of 2014. French governments have nonetheless pursued an “ecological transition” to further squeeze carbon emissions from every corner of the French economy. The results are visible in the Paris streets.
President Emmanuel Macron and his Socialist predecessor François Hollande targeted auto emissions because they account for about 40% of France’s carbon emissions from fuel combustion compared to 21% in Germany. But this is mainly because France relies heavily on nuclear power for electricity. Power generation and heating account for only 13% of French emissions, compared to 44% across the Rhine. French road-transport emissions were a mere 0.4% of global carbon emissions in 2016, when overall French emissions were less than 1%.
Yet Paris insists on cutting more, though transport emissions are notoriously hard to reduce. Cleaner engines or affordable hybrids have been slow to emerge. Undeterred, Mr. Macron pushed ahead with a series of punitive tax hikes to discourage driving.
If you still believe that the climate change movement is about climate, I would like to share the following from a previous rightwinggranny article:
“Green For All acknowledges the need to disrupt the current economy, because we understand that our current economy was based upon human trafficking, the exploitation of labor, and violent racism,” according to the group’s website. “We are safe enough to be invited into spaces where power-building groups are not, and radical enough to push a deeply justice-based agenda in those spaces. We are radical enough to partner with grassroots organizations when other national groups are turned away, and enough of an ally to offer resources and support in those spaces.”
In case you were wondering, a deeply justice-based agenda means that the United Nations would be in charge of all political and economic activities of its members. There would be a movement toward socialism and a great loss of the freedoms we enjoy in America and in other western countries. The French were right to revolt.
First of all, the following chart is found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. It shows the Workforce Participation Rate in recent years.
Below is a chart posted at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website showing the unemployment rate for October.
Today The Wall Street Journal posted more good economic news:
Strong hiring and low unemployment are delivering U.S. workers their best pay raises in nearly a decade.
Employers shook off a September slowdown to add 250,000 jobs to their payrolls in October, above monthly averages in recent years, the Labor Department said Friday. With unemployment holding at 3.7%, a 49-year low, and employers competing for scarce workers, wages increased 3.1% from a year earlier, the biggest year-over-year gain for average hourly earnings since 2009.
…The share of Americans in their prime working years, between 25 and 54, who are working or looking for work rose to the highest rate since 2010 last month, at 82.3%.
President Trump touted the figures in a tweet Friday, just days before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. “Wages UP! These are incredible numbers,” Mr. Trump said.
Employers have added to their payrolls for a record 97 straight months.
This is the Trump economy. The Federal Reserve is beginning to raise interest levels to more normal levels, which may slow down the growth of the economy, but keeping interest rates at artificially low levels is not a good long-term strategy. We still have a need to control our spending and get the national debt under control, but strong economic growth and a lessening of the need for welfare programs should begin that process. There will be some adjustments along the way–low interest rates will no longer be keeping the stock market artificially high and rising interest rates may slow the housing market, but raising interest rates will also help bring us back to a more balanced economy.
If the Republicans hold Congress, the economic growth will continue. If the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives, we will be in for a very bumpy economic ride.
On October 15, The Wall Street Journal noted:
The U.S. government ran its largest budget deficit in six years during the fiscal year that ended last month, an unusual development in a fast-growing economy and a sign that—so far at least—tax cuts have restrained government revenue gains.
The deficit totaled $779 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up 17% from $666 billion in fiscal 2017, the Treasury Department said Monday. The deficit is headed toward $1 trillion in the current fiscal year, the White House and Congressional Budget Office said.
Deficits usually shrink during economic booms because strong growth leads to increased tax revenue as household income, corporate profits and capital gains all rise. Meantime, spending on safety-net programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps tends to be restrained.
In the last fiscal year, a different set of forces was at play as economic growth sped up. Interest payments on the federal debt and military spending rose rapidly, while tax revenue failed to keep pace as the Republican tax cuts for both individuals and corporations kicked in.
What you just read is totally misleading. The statement that ‘ tax revenue failed to keep pace as the Republican tax cuts for both individuals and corporations kicked in” is absolutely false. The two major parts of the problem are Congress’ lack of ability or willingness to cut spending and the fact that when the federal reserve raises interest rates, it increases the interest the government pays on the current debt, thus increasing the deficit. As far as the tax cuts are concerned, the facts are quite different from what The Wall Street Journal reported.
On October 16, Investor’s Business Daily reported:
Critics of the Trump tax cuts said they would blow a hole in the deficit. Yet individual income taxes climbed 6% in the just-ended fiscal year 2018, as the economy grew faster and created more jobs than expected.
The Treasury Department reported this week that individual income tax collections for FY 2018 totaled $1.7 trillion. That’s up $14 billion from fiscal 2017, and an all-time high. And that’s despite the fact that individual income tax rates got a significant cut this year as part of President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan.
True, the first three months of the fiscal year were before the tax cuts kicked in. But if you limit the accounting to this calendar year, individual income tax revenues are up by 5% through September.
Other major sources of revenue climbed as well, as the overall economy revived. FICA tax collections rose by more than 3%. Excise taxes jumped 13%.
The only category that was down? Corporate income taxes, which dropped by 31%.
Overall, federal revenues came in slightly higher in FY 2018 — up 0.5%.
Spending, on the other hand, was $127 billion higher in fiscal 2018. As a result, deficits for 2018 climbed $113 billion.
The underline is mine.
It’s the spending, stupid! We need a Congress that will curb spending and a Federal Reserve that will move slowly.
Yesterday The Wall Street Journal posted a commentary with the headline, “Democrats Abandon the Constitution.” Actually they did that a long time ago, which is why they were so upset at the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh–he might work to bring it back.
The commentary goes on to list some of the basic tenets of the Constitution that the Democrats are currently railing against:
Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court has sparked a firestorm of outrage and recrimination on the left. Some attacks seem aimed at intimidating the justices into supporting progressive causes. “The Court must now prove—through its work—that it is worthy of the nation’s trust,” Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, tweeted Oct. 6.
Yet the attacks go beyond ideology. Detractors of Justice Kavanaugh and President Trump are denouncing the Constitution itself and the core elements of America’s governmental structure:
- The Electoral College. Mr. Trump’s opponents claim he is an illegitimate president because Hillary Clinton “won the popular vote.” One commentator even asked “what kind of nation allows the loser of a national election to become president.” The complaint that the Electoral College is undemocratic is nothing new. The Framers designed it that way. They created a republican form of government, not a pure democracy, and adopted various antimajoritarian measures to keep the “demos” in check.
The Electoral College could be eliminated by amending the Constitution. But proposing an amendment requires two-thirds votes in both houses of Congress, and the legislatures of three-fourths, or 38, of the states would have to ratify it.
- The Senate. The complaint here is that the 50 senators who voted in Justice Kavanaugh’s favor “represent” fewer people than the 48 who voted against him. But senators represent states, not people.
Equal Senate representation for the states was a key part of the Connecticut Compromise, along with House seats apportioned by population. The compromise persuaded large and small states alike to accept the new Constitution. It was so fundamental that Article V of the Constitution—which spells out the amendment procedure—provides that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” That means an amendment changing the structure of the Senate would require ratification by all 50 states.
- Judicial independence. Commentators who disapprove of the Supreme Court’s composition have urged, as one law professor put it, “shrinking the power of the courts to overrun our citizens’ democratic decisions.” Some suggest limiting and staggering the justices’ terms so that a vacancy would come up every other year, ensuring that the court follows the election returns. That could be achieved via constitutional amendment, but it would go against the Framers’ wisdom. As Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 78, life tenure for judges is “the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright and impartial administration of the laws.”
What we have hear is a living example of what happens when you don’t teach American history and the principles of the Constitution in schools. The people calling for these changes have no concept of how our government was designed or the safeguards that were put in it. Their desire is to take those safeguards out and institute mob rule. That has not worked well in other places, and I seriously doubt it would work well here. It was what our Founding Fathers sought to avoid.
The commentary concludes:
The anger and disappointment of Justice Kavanaugh’s opponents is understandable, as would be that of his supporters if the vote had gone the other way. They are perfectly entitled to pursue political remedies, including using his appointment as a campaign issue. They also are entitled to pursue amendments to the Constitution that would make our system of government more responsive to the popular will. What they cannot do is overturn the Connecticut Compromise guaranteeing each state equal representation in the Senate, or launch unconstitutional investigations or impeachment of a sitting Supreme Court justice. The Constitution protects all of us, even Supreme Court justices.
Senator Susan Collins has announced that she is voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. As she began her speech to the Senate today, protesters had to be quieted down or escorted from the Gallery. The other day we saw Jeff Flake corned in an elevator by two left-activist women (story here).
And we have this picture of a ‘friendly’ conversation between Senators Diane Feinstein and Lisa Murkowski:
Joe Manchin has announced that he will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. I am not impressed. He announced after Susan Collins announced–her vote should assure the confirmation. I wonder if he would have voted yes if he were the deciding vote.
There has been a lot of political pressure surrounding this nomination. The Gateway Pundit quoted the following from The Wall Street Journal:
Leland Keyser, who Dr. Ford has said was present at the gathering where she was allegedly assaulted in the 1980s, told investigators that Monica McLean, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and a friend of Dr. Ford’s, had urged her to clarify her statement, the people said.
[…] On Thursday, a day after sending to the White House the report on its investigation into the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, the FBI sent the White House and Senate an additional package of information that included text messages from Ms. McLean to Ms. Keyser, according to a person familiar with the matter.
That doesn’t sound as if Professor Ford and her allies were really interested in providing the truth of Professor Ford’s charges. I don’t know the rules of Senate hearings, but in a court of law that would be witness tampering. It will be interesting to see if there are any consequences to the actions of the Professor and her friend.
Meanwhile, it isn’t over yet. It probably won’t be over after Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed. If the Democrats take Congress, I have no doubt they will attempt to impeach Kavanaugh. Now that we have a nine-person Supreme Court, it is my hope that we can now deal with some of the elements of the deep state. I suspect that the deep state is a part of what this fight was about.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.