The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Flynn

Kim Strassel is one of the relatively few journalists who have reported on FBI abuses of investigative power over the past two and a half years. Using unassailable evidence, the words and actions of senior FBI officials, and the testimony of disgraced (and we now know, hyper-partisan) FBI director, James Comey, Strassel has delineated an apparent conspiracy to undermine Donald Trump before the election (think: the phony Russian dossier and the FISA court approval of surveillance on a presidenctial candidate) and destabilize his new administration (think: the texts between Strok and Page) after he won the presidency. The railroading of General Mike Flynn sits at the top of a heap of despicable, if not criminal, actions undertaken by the FBI and used by Robert Mueller to 'get' Donald Trump. She writes:
Robert Mueller has operated for 19 months as a law unto himself, reminding us of the awesome and destructive powers of special counsels. About the only possible check on Mr. Mueller is a judge who is wise to the tricks of prosecutors and investigators. Good news: That’s what we got this week.

Former national security adviser Mike Flynn a year ago pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Flynn’s defense team this week filed a sentencing memo to Judge Emmet Sullivan that contained explosive new information about the Flynn-FBI meeting in January 2017.

It was arranged by then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who personally called Mr. Flynn on other business, then suggested he sit down with two agents to clear up the Russia question. Mr. McCabe urged Mr. Flynn to conduct the interview with no lawyer present—to make things easier.

The agents (including the infamous Peter Strzok) showed up within two hours. They had already decided not to inform Mr. Flynn that they had transcripts of his conversations or give him the standard warning against lying to the FBI. They wanted him “relaxed” and “unguarded.” Former Director James Comey this weekend bragged on MSNBC that he would never have “gotten away” with such a move in a more “organized” administration.

The whole thing stinks of entrapment, though the curious question was how the Flynn defense team got the details. The court filing refers to a McCabe memo written the day of the 2017 meeting, as well as an FBI summary—known as a 302—of the Flynn interview. These are among documents congressional Republicans have been fighting to obtain for more than a year, only to be stonewalled by the Justice Department. Now we know why the department didn’t want them public.

They have come to light thanks to a man who knows well how men like Messrs. Mueller and Comey operate: Judge Sullivan. He sits on the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, and as he wrote for the Journal last year, he got a “wake-up call” in 2008 while overseeing the trial of then-Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. Judge Sullivan ultimately assigned a lawyer to investigate Justice Department misconduct.

The investigator’s report found prosecutors had engaged in deliberate and repeated ethical violations, withholding key evidence from the defense. It also excoriated the FBI for failing to write up 302s and for omitting key facts from those it did write. The head of the FBI was Mr. Mueller.
In a perfect world where truth and justice prevails, Judge Sullivan would throw out the entire Flynn Case, exonerating him of any wrong-doing, castigate the FBI for its disgraceful behavior, and sanction Mueller and his team for participating in this "witch hunt." I don't think that will happen, but one can always hope.

UPDATE:
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Michael Flynn was forced to plead guilty under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1001. None other than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (an icon among the same people who are persecuting Flynn) wrote this in 1996:
"The prospect remains that an overzealous prosecutor or investigator — aware that a person has committed some suspicious acts, but unable to make a criminal case — will create a crime by surprising the suspect, asking about those acts, and receiving a false denial."...

... the Department of Justice has long noted its reluctance to approve §1001 indictments for simple false denials made to investigators."
With Flynn, we have the exact circumstances that RBG describes. We have a biased overzealous investigative agency (the FBI) and biased prosecutor—a toxic mix that RBG warned us to avoid. It's a travesty that should be thrown out by Judge Sullivan.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Power and Greed

It looks like 77 year old Bernie Sanders is gearing up for another run at the presidency. Sanders, the godfather of "democratic socialists" is ramping up his class warfare rhetoric, using the same tired tropes used by all socialists over the past 100 years. Catherine Clifford reports (and editorializes):
The power and greed of billionaires in the United States is threatening the country.

So says Bernie Sanders, the 77-year-old senator from Vermont who tried unsuccessfully to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

“We live in a nation owned and controlled by a small number of multi-billionaires whose greed, incredible greed, insatiable greed, is having an unbelievably negative impact on the fabric of our entire country,” Sanders told Paul Jay, CEO and senior editor of The Real News Network, in an interview posted Thursday.

Sanders, who has become a political figurehead for the liberal end of the Democratic Party, said billionaires and their greed are to blame for any number of social problems in the United States.

“When we deal with climate change, when we deal with the economy, when we deal with housing, when we deal with criminal justice or immigration issues, we have got to deal with those in a holistic way, and understand why all of that is happening. Not see them as silo-ized separate issues,” Sanders said. “A lot of that has to do” with the pervasive power of the ultra rich in this country, he said.

It is the responsibility of America to look at the extreme gap between the rich and the poor, Sanders said.
In the run-up to his takeover of Venezuela 20 years ago, Hugo Chavez said essentially the same thing. He demonized the rich in Venezuela, told the "poor" that their lives would improve, and suggested that his path would lead to a utopian existence in which everyone would be "equal." He promised better healthcare, better education, better ... everything. That's not how it worked out.

Oh by the way, Chevez died a billionaire, having stolen about $2 billion from his country. But nevermind—the dictates suggested by class warfare are always aimed at others, never the leaders of the socialist movement.

Bernie's rhetoric is powerful but empty—not because he's alway wrong—he does identify systemic problems, but because his "solutions" would wreck our economy and hurt the "poor" and the "middle class" in exactly the same way Chavez (and later Maduro) ravaged those constituencies in Venezuela. The problems associated with income distribution in a society cannot be solved through confiscatory taxation, oppressive government controls, excessive regulation, and the demonization of those who create companies, employ millions, and spur economic growth. But demonization is the lingua franca of class warfare, and class warfare is the only strategy that socialists have.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Gilets Jaunes

The events in France continue to unfold, three things become increasingly clear.
  1. The "Normals" (as Kurt Schlichter calls them), have finally woken up. Working men and women across the income spectrum always bear the brunt of excessive taxation (despite the empty rhetoric of socialist politicians implying that only "the rich" will bear the burden) and are finally saying "enough." Socialist states throughout Europe rely heavily on various direct and indirect taxes to fund the programs that Democrats in the United States yearn to copy (e.g., "free" national health care). The problem, of course, is that these programs are hardly "free." They are enormously expensive, often inefficient, and sometimes ineffective, so to fix them, more and more money is needed. Finally, the socialist governments begin to run out of other people's money and in desperation, increase taxes until a tipping point is reached. That precipitates movements like the Gilets Jaunes in France
  2. The elites that govern Western countries have no feeling whatsoever for the struggles of working people. Many of the elites are consumed with social justice issues that are so far removed from the everyday struggles of the Normals that it's laughable. Even worse, the elites have no compunction about forcing the Normals to fund their pet causes or defund issues that the Normals believe are important (e.g., strong border security). For example, whether you believe that anthropogenic climate change is at a crisis level or not, unproven and often questionable policies to mitigate the "crisis" can make the lives of Normals more difficult. Understandably, there's push back as the Gilets Jaunes are doing right now.
  3. The condescension that the elites and their media hamsters heap on the Normals (think: "deplorables") suggesting that only the elites know what is best has created anger just below the surface. The Gilets Jaunes exemplify that anger in many ways.
All of this frightens and frustrates the elites, who had a long run during which their leadership was generally unquestioned. Until that leadership failed not once, or twice but repeatedly and sometimes catastrophically (think: the neocons). That's part of the reason why Donald Trump makes the elites crazy—his presidency, his sometimes crazy rhetoric, his bombast, and his direct attacks provide clear and irrefutable evidence that the elites have lost their central position. And they hate it!

American elites look nervously toward Europe and ask whether the analog to the Gilets Jaunes will arrive in America. If they keep doing what they're doing ...
  • growing government every bigger,
  • weaponizing major government agencies in a partisan fashion,

  • using the media as a propaganda arm,

  • whining about incivility and divisiveness while working hard to promote both,

  • pushing for the impeachment of a duly elected president,

  • conducting specious investigations that accomplish nothing,

  • instituting programs that are overly costly and generally ineffective,

  • continuing the hypocritical, sanctimonious, and dishonest rhetoric that exemplifies modern politics,

... there's a very strong likelihood that it will.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

-63 Percent

Now and then, one or more members of the "democratic socialist" wing (it's becoming more like the "body") of the Democratic party suggests that more government control of everything from healthcare to prescription drug production is the best path for success. After all, private enterprise is suspect and capitalists are worrisome.

In fact, in unguarded moments, some of the wing's most extreme members suggest that the government should nationalize specific companies (e.g., newbie congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested that Tesla IP should be nationalized so that all cars can become electric quickly.* That's naive at best and monumentally ignorant of the realities of the auto industry at worst, but whatever.

Spencer Jakab reports:
You know things are bad when North Dakota zooms past you.

Venezuela, by some measures home to the world’s largest crude reserves, saw oil output drop in September to a four-decade low of 1.17 million barrels. The same month saw North Dakota, owner of the Guinness World Record for the most snow angels, produce a record of nearly 1.3 million barrels.

Fracking technology accounts for North Dakota’s ascent, but so does bad policy. Go back to 2000, Hugo Chávez’s first full year in power, and Venezuela pumped nearly 3.2 million barrels a day, or about 33 times what North Dakota managed.

At least Venezuela still has better weather, global warming notwithstanding. North Dakota recorded the coldest temperature on earth to ring in 2018 on a day when Caracas only dipped to 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gosh ... the socialists' dream of nationalizing a major industry worked well for Venezuela, didn't it? In less than 18 years, oil production in that country is down by 63 percent! Just another small indicator of the wonders of socialism.

FOOTNOTE:
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* As the owner of two EVs myself, I'm a strong proponent of the technology (it's simply better in every respect) but I'm also a strong proponent of allowing the free and independent markets to dictate buying patterns (and that's already happening with EVs). The government might have a peripheral role to play via tax incentives and a reduction in regulatory actions, but it should NOT interfere with the private sector in substantive ways.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Mueller Chase

If the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media are really convinced that Donald Trump is a liar, a fascist, a racist, a misogynist, an incompetent, a Russian stooge, and a really, really, really, really bad president, you'd think they's exhibit just a little patience, recognizing that the 2020 election will turn Trump out of office in a landslide for Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, or Kamila Harris, or Beto, or some other Democrat superstar. But deep down, they remain obsessed and frightened by Hillary Clinton's upset loss. They have to prove that the Dem narrative didn't lose, that their candidate were wasn't rejected by half the country ... it was the RUSSIANS!

This weekend, the Dems and their media hamsters were all aflutter about Michael Cohen, Trump's scumbag fixer who flipped for Mueller and turned states's evidence. We learned the shocking (!) news that the Trump organization talked with Russians about real estate deals that never came to fruition, that no money changed hands, and that no meeting with actual high level government officials (only Cohen level Russian scumbags who claimed to be connected to Russian officials) took place. We also learned that that Trump paid hush money to a few women who he hooked up with years before he decided to run for office. The humanity!! This confirmed what every person in America already knew, that Trump is a serial philanderer.

Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler—politicians whose "honesty" makes Michael Cohen look like the most upstanding man on the planet—are already threatening an indictment with clear implication that impeachment is at hand. I have only one thing to say to the Dems—go for it! No matter that it will poison politics for a generation, roil the country, create uncertainty in the markets, foster instability in international relations, and otherwise damage the country—Trump Derangement Syndrome must be served.

With the stern look of law enforcement professionals, Mueller and his colleagues in the Southern district of New York have demonstrated how concerned that are about "campaign finance violations" connected with Trump's payoffs to a porn star. Interesting though, that the Southern District never talked indictments when the Obama campaign literally turned off international credit card validation software that allowed tens of millions of dollars in patently illegal international campaign contributions to Obama's presidential campaign (the campaign got a civil penalty of about $400,000), and the trained hamsters barely reported it. Nah, that was nothing compared to payout of personal money to a porn star. It's the hypocrisy and double standards that are galling, but it is what it is, I suppose.

Victor Davis Hansen comments:
Mueller and the New York federal attorneys were rightly upset that Cohen allegedly lied and admitted that he lied under oath. By all means, let us jail Cohen for subverting the entire foundation of our legal system that must rely on honest testimonies in all government inquiries.

And in that same spirit, let the Department of Justice also charge former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for lying under oath when he deliberately misled congress about NSA surveillance (and admitted to lying), and John Brennan as well, who as CIA director lied on two occasions about drone collateral damage and CIA surveillance of Senate staff computers (and admitted to such), and has serially misrepresented his efforts with then-Senator Harry Reid to seed the Steele dossier.

And let us indict either the former director James Comey or the deputy director Andrew McCabe of the FBI—or both—for making false statements to federal investigators and Congress, given their respective testimonies under oath about leaking to the press and the role of the Steele dossier in FISA warrants cannot be reconciled.

With all due respect to Michael Cohen, what is currently destroying the concept of the American system of jurisprudence are not the self-serving lies of such a minor shady operator, but rather the deliberate and more artful prevarication under oath of the nation’s top intelligence and law enforcement officers.
But we all know that none of that will happen. Trump must be undone, and it's Mueller's job (along with the NY state AG) to undo him. Witch hunt? It is, masked as a righteous search for justice, which it isn't.

Hansen continues:
What then is the Mueller chase all about?

In reductionist terms, in the midst of a political campaign, and as “insurance” for an expected Clinton victory, had Hillary Clinton not hired the Perkins Coie law firm (masking her own role) to hire Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS, to hire foreign national Christopher Steele, to hire foreign national Russian sources, to spin yarns about Donald Trump’s alleged “collusion” (spiced up for media leakage with lurid stories of Trump urolagnia), to create 11th-hour election anti-Trump hysteria throughout the media and federal government, then special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation would never have existed.

Or is it even worse than that?

Had Hillary Clinton just won the election as she was supposed to do, and Donald Trump, as he too was supposed to do, just sulked back in humiliation and media ridicule to his penthouse suite at Trump Tower, then the 2016 campaign’s sensationalized leaked yarns from the Steele dossier would have at best warranted a tiny lurid goodbye hit piece on Trump from the New Yorker or Vanity Fair. But simply by winning, Donald Trump brought untold misery upon his family, friends, associates—and himself.

What all the later unmaskings of U.S. citizens’ names by Obama officials, all the daily leaking of “bombshell” rumors to warp an election, transition, and presidency, all the lying under oath, all the texting of Page and Strzok, all the machinations of Andrew McCabe and James Comey, all the FBI insertions of informants, all the involvement of the CIA, Justice, and State Department in seeding the rumors and slander, all the collusion of a foreign national spying on a presidential candidate—what it was all about in the end was simple: In 2016, legions of bureaucrats wanted to score points in Hillary Clinton’s foreordained new administration by vying with each other to “insure” her blowout, to brag they had done in the ogre Trump, and to expect not so much impunity as adoration for their illegal but supposedly patriotic service beyond the call of duty. Trump was not just to be defeated but humiliated and destroyed as a lesson.

Then Clinton lost—or rather she blew a sure Electoral College victory.
And all hell broke loose.

UPDATE:
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As I mentioned, it's the double standard that is most galling. If Mueller and the Southern District of NY, along with every Democrat politician are so, so concerned about violations of campaign finance laws, why are they silent on Hillary's massive abuses during the 2016 campaign. Yeah, I know, Trump is president, but HRC ran for president, and her prosecution along with Trump's would be an object lesson for future candidates. Wait, what?!? Applying standards even-handedly—never!!

This tweet covers it nicely:


Friday, December 07, 2018

Retrograde Slide

Over the past month or so, I've been following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter, the Left's new telegenic, intersectionally acceptable (i.e., young, latin, female) celebrity. It's informative.

Although not a Democrat party leader (actually, not even a Congresswoman at this point), Cortez provides a important window into Democratic Socialist thinking and possibly, the direction of the Democratic party. She is unabashedly in favor of big government solutions for everything from healthcare, to income inequality, to climate change. She says all of the right things (if you're a progressive) and has a large following of mostly young progressives who idolize her in a way not seen since the fawning praise heaped on Barack Obama before he did anything as president. Recall that Obama was awarded a Nobel peace prize prospectively, yet after eight years of serial failure on the world stage, slaughters in Syria, Libya, capitulation to Iran, and other geopolitical missteps, his media hamsters still characterize the man as a transcendent figure. Oh well, I digress. Back to Cortez.

In a recent "climate summit" Tom Elliott reports that Ocazio-Cortez said:
“I believe that the progressive movement is the only movement that has answers right now,” she said. “We're the only ones that are drawing from the lessons of history, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from some of the most ambitious projects that we have pursued in American history. And that truly again is the scale that it's going to take.”
Hmmm. I suppose that depends on the questions.

I find it interesting that Cortez wants to go back to FDR's 1940s for direction, but refuses to acknowledge that a far a more recent socialist experiment in Venezuela has ended catastrophically. During the climate summit, she proposed nationalizing Tesla's EV technology in much the same way as Hugo Chavez suggesting nationalizing Venezuela's oil and gas industry. That did NOT work out well for Venezuela and it would NOT work out well for the United States, but Cortez is either too ignorant or too ideological to recognize the dangers (and failures) of centralized government control of an economy.

Cortez, her mentor Bernie Sanders, and the rest of the Dem Socialist crowd view the private sector as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Whether it's demanding centralized big government control of almost all aspects of our economy, dictating the wages that businesses should pay their workers, inventing regulations that strangle innovation, or demonizing capitalism, their Marxist-Leninist march toward the future is actually a retrograde slide into an ugly and failed past.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Look Deeper

George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st President of the United States, will be laid to rest today. He lived a life of accomplishment and by any standard, was a good and decent man. In death, Bush was praised in a bi-partisan manner, but there was a not-so-subtle edge to the praise, aimed squarely at the current president, Donald Trump. The tone was that Trump is the anti-Bush, and there's some truth to that. Here's what WaPo (certainly no friend of Trump) wrote: “Trump’s time in office, by contrast, has been defined by a war against virtually all of the norms and institutions that Bush held dear.”

But the WaPo's statement, although partially true, is hypocritical. Daniel Henninger comments on this:
Most of the Bush values can be found on any list of what are called—or used to be called—virtues. It is telling that these same simple virtues are now being praised by a media that has done so much in the past 30 years to undermine them.

Bush entered the White House in 1989. Since then, two overlapping currents have run through American life—one cultural, the other political. The big change that was coming in the political culture hit me hard at the Republican National Convention in Houston in 1992 ...

The novelist Norman Mailer covered the Houston convention for the New Republic and what he wrote about Barbara Bush spoke for repelled liberals everywhere:

“That was just what she did in her speech on Family Values. It was no rhetorical gem. On the page, it read like one of those decaffeinated pieces of prose that used to blanket the old Reader’s Digest, affirmative, highly simplified, and emotionally available to anyone whose I.Q. had managed to stay below 100.”

The media, or much of it, chose to conflate “family values” with “the right.” (While we’re on the subject, the right’s dismissal of “the Bushies” even now is cut from the same uselessly reductionist cloth.) That stereotyping of popular concerns about traditional values was one reason why a partisan political gulf began to open in those years ...

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who by the time of their presidential campaigns represented the victors in the culture wars, still took time to rhetorically slam the losers, who by then really were clinging to what was left from those battles ...

Times change. Family values have been displaced by a more media-driven agenda: racism, identity, gender, immigration, tariffs. Taxes are a constant, but if President Trump raises taxes next year in a compromise with the Pelosi Democrats, don’t expect the Beltway press to give him the same praise 41 is getting this week for reversing his no-new-taxes pledge.

Perhaps, like Bush, Donald Trump will be a one-term president, and for the same reason—a slowing U.S. economy. But if you want to discover why America lost the personal and political values of George H.W. Bush, forget Donald Trump. Look deeper.
The Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media don't want us to "look deeper." They would have us believe that Donald Trump is the source of all the political incivility, name-calling, bombast, and dishonesty we see in present day politics. But as Hennenger correctly states, Trump is the result of the political incivility, name-calling, bombast, and dishonesty that have been the modus operandi of the Democratic party and their media hamsters for decades. That's not an excuse for Trump's behavior, but it does help explain it.

The Bushes were vilified during their tenure in the White House, but they didn't fight back in any substantive way. They were gentleman in the old school tradition. Trump is different. He does fight back using the same political incivility, name-calling, bombast, and dishonesty that is directed at him. He is not the source of it, just the first president to return fire in kind. That isn't a good thing, but it's the reality of our current situation.

As I've mentioned in other posts, for the last 30 years, the Dems have used political incivility (think: Clarance Thomas), name-calling (think: Mailer above), bombast (think: pushing Grandma off a cliff) and dishonesty (think: "You can keep your Doctor") to bully anyone who challenged their positions or disagreed with their politics. They haven't been called on it because the media hamsters are nothing more than Democratic operatives with bylines. A bully never likes it when their target pushes back—hard. Trump, for better or worse, does just that and does it (via twitter) outside the control of the trained hamsters in the media. The Dems don't like it one bit.