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

Monday, February 19, 2018

Astonishing

The trained hamsters of the mainstream media refuse to stray from their tired narrative of Russian collusion, event after the vaunted Mueller investigation announced on Friday that there is no evidence of collusion. "13 Russians Indicted" screamed one headline, and newsreaders breathlessly implied that there's a there, there. Those of us who have argued for over a year that the allegation of collusion between Trump and the Russians was fantasy, driven by Trump Derangement Syndrome and the inability of Democrats to accept the fact that Hillary Clinton lost the election, have been vindicated. The again, there was never any doubt that the fantasy claims were just that—fantasy.

The Wall Street Journal outlines the facts:
The Justice Department on Friday indicted three Russian companies and 13 individuals for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the man who should be most upset is Donald J. Trump. The 37-page indictment contains no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but it does show a systematic effort to discredit the result of the 2016 election. On the evidence so far, President Trump has been the biggest victim of that effort, and he ought to be furious at Vladimir Putin.

The indictment documents a broad social-media and propaganda campaign operating out of Russia and involving hundreds of people starting in 2014 that “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system.” It certainly succeeded on that score, as Democrats and the media have claimed that Mr. Trump’s election is illegitimate because he conspired with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. The charge has roiled American politics and made governing more difficult.

The good news for Mr. Trump is that the indictment reveals no evidence of collusion. The Russians “posted derogatory information about a number of candidates,” the indictment says, and by 2016 “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” and “disparaging Hillary Clinton.” But it adds that the Russians “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,” and it offers no claims of a conspiracy.
Moving quickly, the grand poobahs of the Democratic party, who for over a year have claimed "collusion!!!" have now done an Emily Latella. They now ask why Trump isn't more concerned about the Russian interfernce.

Odd, isn't it, that they don't ask why Barack Obama, who was POTUS at the time, wasn't more concerned? Why his Justice Department, intelligence agencies, and FBI didn't act to stop Russian interference, or at least announce it so the general public was aware. They also seem notably unconcerned that the Clinton campaign indirectly colluded with the Russians (and paid to do so), through a collection of cut-outs (e.g., her legal firm, Fusion GPS), of course, to develop a phony dossier trashing her opponent. Nah ... that's just politics, right?

It is astonishing that a Democratic party that roiled American politics with blatantly false claims of collusion for over one year has received no criticism in the main stream media for its dishonest claims, now that they have been proven false. Actually ... it's not astonishing at all.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Shots Fired

Yesterday morning, a man in his early 40s visited our production and fulfillment facility in Deerfield Beach, FL. We're not a brick and mortar retail outlet, but he wanted to see some of our Tesla aftermarket products which we do have displayed in our entrance. He looked, we talked, and he left. Four hours later, his teenage daughter was hiding under a desk in a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School classroom as an insane 19-year old open fire on ex-classmates and teachers. A student in her class was hit by gunfire. All of this occurred not more than 16 miles from our offices. Seventeen dead, many others wounded—it's a story that seems to repeat itself with frightening regularity.

Almost immediately, the media asked important but at the same time inane questions: Why did Nikolas Cruz (the shooter) kill random students and teachers? How could his apparently insane behavior, known to many, not have resulted in some mechanism for controlling him? How could he get a semi-automatic weapon? How can these tragic and violent events be stopped?

At the same time, politicians on both the Left and the Right leaped into the fray. On the Left, there were calls for "gun control." On the Right, there were calls for stricter oversight of troubled individuals along with warning that no gun control law could prevent this tragedy. Both arguments are disingenuous. Not all "crazy people"* are dangerous, but dangerous people are often crazy. Not all mass murders are perpetrated by people with semi-automatic weapons, but people with semi-automatic weapons are far more capable of committing mass murder that those with other weapons.

Here's what needs to happen, but won't.

1. Any person who has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, has been prescribed anti-psychotic medication, or has been accused of a crime that has mental health overtones (e.g., violent spousal abuse, killing small animals) should be placed into a nationwide data base. That database should be developed using modern technology and should be integrated with other data bases that encompass know criminals and those on the terror watchlist. The combined database should be queried before every gun purchase. If the name of the purchaser is flagged, the sale cannot be finalized until detailed vetting (often by machine learning algorithms that can scan social media, do background checks, and otherwise lighten he burden on law enforcement) of the person occurs.

2. Semi-automatic weapons should be available to the public, but by special permit available only to those over 21 years of age. The permitting process would require a mental health evaluation and demonstration of appropriate training and safety knowledge. The permit would have to be renewed every two years. obviously the databases and vetting noted in item 1 would be used.

3. First-person shooter games should be carefully scrutinized by the mental health community to determine if the games are a trigger for unballanced individuals. Unlike violent movies, first-person shooter games allow active participation in violence and in my opinion, desensitize an unbalanced person to the carnage that results from a mass shooting. If such games are found to be dangerous to some, they should be banned or controlled rigorously. It is, I suspect, more than a simple coincidence that such games first became popular at about the same time that early school shootings began.

Of course, none of this will happen. The left will object because—metal health and privacy. The right will object because—2nd Amendment. The media industry will object because—censorship.. And the same important but inane questions will be asked over and over again.

FOOTNOTE:
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* Please, spare me the politically correct nonsense, the word "crazy" seems perfectly appropriate in this context.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Jockey and the Horse

Yesterday's post on Venezuela got me to thinking about socialism in general. In many other posts over the years (e.g., here, here, and here), I've commented on the continuing failure of the socialist model everywhere it has been tried. And yet, Democrat politicians like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tom Perez insist that their brand of socialism will work. Polls indicate that many progressives and millennials agree, more out of ignorance and emotion than a detailed examination of just what socialism is.

Paul R. Gregory dissects the history of the socialist experiment. He begins with this reality:
The analogy of the jockey and the horse explains the continued appeal of socialism. Socialists believe that socialist regimes have chosen the wrong jockeys to ride the socialist horse to its deserved victory. Bad jockeys such as Stalin, Mao, Fidel, Pol Pot, and Hugo Chavez chose tactics and policies that led their socialist horse astray. But actually, a look at how the Soviet Union actually worked reveals that it’s the horse itself that’s the problem.

After gaining power a century ago and then holding onto it through a civil war, the Soviet communists were intent on building a socialist state that would overwhelm capitalism. State ownership and scientific planning would replace the anarchy of the market. Material benefits would accrue to the working class. An equitable economy would supplant capitalist exploitation and a new socialist man would rise, prioritizing social above private interests. A dictatorship of the proletariat would guarantee the interests of the working class. Instead of extracting surpluses from workers, the socialist state would take tribute from capitalists to finance the building of socialism.

The basics of the Soviet “horse” were in place by the early 1930s. Under this system, Stalin and his Politburo set general priorities for industrial ministries and a state planning commission. The ministers and planners worked in tandem to draw up economic plans. Managers of the hundreds of thousands of plants, factories, food stores, and even farms were obligated by law to fulfill the plans handed down by their superiors.
And therein lies the fundamental and irreparable flaw in the socialist model—the conceit than any central group can control something as enormously complex as an economy and establish "plans" that would lead to robust growth that benefits the "workers." Even more ridiculous is the notion that government, you know, the government that does almost everything in a plodding, inefficient, and cost-ineffective manner, can somehow execute the "plans" and the economy to near perfection.

Everywhere this conceit has arisen, it has failed and failed miserably, sometimes catastrophically (think: Venezuela), yet socialists blame the jockey.

It's the horse, and despite the emotional appeal of a worker's utopia, the horse should once and for all be sent to the glue factory.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Venezuela—A Quick Check

It's time for another quick check on a story that American media tries hard to bury on the back pages or ignore altogether—Venezuela. Venezuela is a classic example of how socialism fails a country, its people, and their future. When Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez took power he was praised as a visionary who would lead his oil-rich and generally prosperous country to a new utopian future. Left-wing editorialists predicted that Venezuela would become a South American powerhouse, yet one that was socially conscious and cared about its people. Progressives loved Chavez' attacks on then-president George W. Bush, they loved his power-to-the-people rhetoric, they loved the idea of socialism writ large. They were either too ideologically driven or too historically ignorant (or both) to recognize that doctrinaire socialism doesn't work—never did, never will.

Venezuela began to crumble and today, Juan Forero reports:
CÚCUTA, Colombia—Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing their country’s misery and pouring across borders into nearby countries, particularly Colombia, creating a sharpening challenge for the region.

As the collapse of Venezuela’s economy deepens, the number of those fleeing is accelerating. Nearly 3 million Venezuelans—a 10th of the population—have left the oil-rich country over the past two decades of leftist rule. Almost half that number—some 1.2 million people—have gone in the past two years, according to Tomás Páez, a Venezuelan immigration expert at Venezuela’s Central University.

Some 550,000 Venezuelans were in Colombia at the end of 2017, a 62% increase from a year before, according to the Colombian government, with another 50,000 entering so far this year.
There is no better indicator of the health of a country and its political philosophy than the number of citizens who are leaving. That's really all you need to know. When things get so bad that the economy collapses, medical care is close to non-existent, food is scarce, dissent is crushed, and the government is brutish and unresponsive, people vote with their feet.

That's what's happening in Venezuela. Progressives who lionize Bernie and Liz and their visions of a socialist utopia in the USA should take note.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Hamsters

I often refer to the majority of modern "journalists" as trained hamsters, given their allegiance to the Democratic Party. Their bias is palpable, refusing to investigate wrong-doing or scandals when they're tied to the Dems, omitting stories that might reflect badly on Dems, promoting a narrative that is defined by Dems, and generally parroting a progressive world view. The majority of "journalists" exhibit full blown Trump Derangement Syndrome, but that's to be expected.

Ben Domenech pulls no punches when he writes:
It’d be nice to say that American media doesn’t hate this country. It’d be nice to claim that the American press, while maintaining objectivity and balancing against bias, is still inherently American – that they are patriots who love this country even as they report on its defects. Recall the quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan while Ambassador to the United Nations: “Am I embarrassed to speak for a less than perfect democracy? Not one bit. Find me a better one. Do I suppose there are societies which are free of sin? No, I don’t. Do I think ours is, on balance, incomparably the most hopeful set of human relations the world has? Yes, I do. Have we done obscene things? Yes, we have. How did our people learn about them? They learned about them in the newspapers.” And that is important.

But we cannot say these things when the American media, time and again, illustrates its utter hatred for the nation and its people in those newspapers and on television. Having judged the American project kaput after the election of Donald Trump, they are now stooping to the level of defending the North Koreans – perhaps the most brutal and heinous regime in the world today – thanks to some side-eye from its minister of propaganda, the sister of Kim Jong Un. If the headlines are to be believed, “North Korea heading for diplomacy gold medal at Olympics” is the story American media want to tell about this moment.
To set the record straight, North Korea is a brutal dictatorship that starves its own people, threatens its neighbors, brutalizes, imprisons or murders those that are foolish enough to criticize it from within. Yet the main stream media gets the vapors when Vice President Mike Pence refuses to engage with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of dictator Kim Jong Un, the murderous psychopath who is North Korea's strongman.

Bre Payton provides a few examples:
Kim Yo Jong’s brother is starving his own people in order to develop nuclear weapons he’s threatening to use against the United States and other countries, but you might not know that about her based on these headlines.

CNN: “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics”
YAHOO: “All swagger and smiles, Kim Jong Un’s mysterious sister gets her star turn at Winter Olympics”
YAHOO: “Kim Yo Jong: N. Korea’s political princess”
BBC: “Kim Jong-un’s sister: ‘Sweet but with a tomboy streak'”
WASHINGTON POST: “The ‘Ivanka Trump of North Korea’ captivates people in the South”
ASSOCIATED PRESS: “At Olympic Games, Kim Jong Un’s sister takes VIP seat”

Yes, these are real headlines that western news reporters actually wrote.
It's hard to understand the fevered thinking of "journalists" and media in this situation. Do they actually want to turn the NoKos into some heroic country that is resisting the evil Donald Trump? Is that the undercurrent that precipitates headlines like these? Sadly, it's astounding, but not the least bit surprising.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A World of Hurt

With each passing day, the news gets worse for the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd who now recognize that they have opened a Pandora's Box by insisting that the government must investigate the Russian collusion fantasy. Their fervor is so intense that they honestly believe that a smoking gun will be found and Trump will be impeached for fantasy "crimes." Yet Pandora's box is full of very bad and often very incriminating news for the Dems. Roger Simon comments:
After years of non-stop virtue signaling as the party of "truth, justice and equality," the Democrats are slowly, inexorably being revealed to be the reverse. They are being hoisted on the petard of their own moral narcissism. It has made them blind.

So convinced of their own righteousness were they that it allowed them to participate in, even instigate, the subversion of our justice system to the extent of lying to and deceiving a FISA court in the name of what they assumed was "good." They did this in concert with people who claimed to be Republicans or "independents" working for that system in the supposedly noble cause of upending Donald Trump, before and after his election, but ended up being the deluded agents of government corruption the likes of which we have never seen in this country.

It comes down to something as crude as this: Trump's a bad guy, therefore I'm a good guy and can do or say anything I wish to destroy Trump. This is moral narcissism taken to a pathological extreme.

Practically with each passing day, as more and more largely arbitrary redactions are pried away from documents that were deliberately hidden from public view in the first place by endless stonewalling, the venality of their true motivations -- and of their cohort's actions -- becomes more evident.

The ramifications of that unmasking (note the word) will be more extensive than expected and will reach into every aspect of our culture, even to the last lines of liberal/progressive defense -- the media, entertainment and education. The results won't go in a straight line -- they rarely do. And many will remain true believers, no matter what. That's what true believers do. Their defenders will also become increasingly shrill as the wagons continue to circle. But the Democrats -- and I strongly suspect many of them are starting to realize it (hence that shrillness) -- are headed for a world of hurt.
I'm not sure that's the case. The Democrats trained hamsters in the mainstream media continue to ignore this scandal studiously. They have willingly jettisoned journalistic professionalism, omited important facts, ridiculed and character assassinated those who are doing honest and thorough investigations, and otherwise acted as the Dem's Praetorian guard.

And because the media, despite it's general dishonesty and blatant bias, continues to sway millions of opinions, the Democrats may once again escape punishment at the polls. They might win the mid-term elections in 2018; they might regain the House and/or the Senate; they might even impeach and remove Trump as a consequence. There's only one problem. Does a political party that has demonstrated repeatedly over the past year that it will stop at nothing to regain power actually deserve to regain power? And if it does, will the country be better off as a result?

Friday, February 09, 2018

Steele

Since the very beginning, I have contended that the allegations of "Russian collusion" leveled at Donald Trump and his presidential campaign were a hit job that could be traced to the Hillary Clinton campaign and here rabid supporters. And yet, those phony allegations have been an enormous win for the Democrats who have succeeded in using them to stoke the fires of Trump Derangement Syndrome and to pressure the Congress (including many #NeverTrump members of the GOP) to establish a special counsel, Robert Mueller. Meuller's sole focus is to substantiate the phony claims or, when that fails, to indict Trump on some other legal technicality. All of this designed to destroy Trump's presidency and provide a road for evidence-free impeachment.

Most of this nonsense has been preciptated by one document—The Steele Dossier. The scandalous behavior of the FBI is now public knowledge as it used the document as "evidence" to encourage the FISA court to approve surveillance on Trump. Kim Strassel reports:
To the extent the U.S. press has focused on Mr. Steele, it has been to portray him in heroic epic style. A Washington Post profile told how Mr. Steele, a former MI6 agent who left in 2009 to start his own firm, felt “professional obligations” to take his dossier to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That’s how “worried” and “rattled” and “alarmed” he was about the Trump -Kremlin “plot.” The FBI welcomed this “well-trusted” source, who had provided information in the past, as a “peer”—only later to let our hero down.

This is the narrative put forward by Mr. Steele and his paymaster, Fusion GPS. They and their press friends have an obvious interest in propagating it. But the new facts about Mr. Steele’s behavior destroy this tale, and show how badly the FBI got snookered.

To be sure, the FBI should have known better. Even if Mr. Steele had previously been helpful, the bureau had every reason to be wary in 2016. This wasn’t like prior collaborations. He was coming to the FBI as a paid political operative, hired by Fusion, as a subcontractor for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Opposition researchers are not retained to present considered judgment. They are retained to slime an opponent and benefit a client.

The FBI also had reason to view his research with skepticism—on grounds of its tabloid-like allegations, and also on the near-fantastical claim of skill that underlay it. To wit, that a man who had been out of official spy rings for seven years was nonetheless able, in a matter of weeks and with just a few calls from London, where he lives, to unravel an international conspiracy that had eluded the CIA, FBI, MI6 and every other Western intelligence agency, all of which have access to the globe’s most sophisticated surveillance tools.

But rather than proceed with caution, the FBI swallowed the whole package. According to Sen. Chuck Grassley’s declassified criminal referral, former Director James Comey testified that the bureau couldn’t meaningfully corroborate the dossier, but used it in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court proceedings anyway because Mr. Steele had previously provided “reliable” information.
Contemporaneous text messages from senior FBI officials indicate that there was a covert effort inside the executive offices of the Obama administration, FBI, and DoJ to hurt Trump's campaign during the election season and then to destroy his presidency once he was elected.

The media, always the protectors of Democrats, has decided that there's no need to investigate any of this and has pulled their usual three-monkeys (see, hear and speak no evil when Dems are caught with their pants at their ankles). Vast abuse of government apparatus including the weaponization of the nation's law enforcement agency has occurred. Dishonesty and corruption is evident. But "journalists" have decided to look the other way. To quote a tweet by Jim Treacher:
Modern journalism is all about is deciding which facts the public shouldn't know because they might hurt the Democrats.
And yet, it appears this major scandal isn't going away. At least a few journalists are doing their job. Tick, Tick, Tick.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Tick, Tick, Tick

Richard Fernandez recounts events in 2016 that led the Obama administration to learn that the Russians were hacking the DNC with the intent of roiling the election. Rather than confront the Russians, the Obama administration decided to do nothing, worrying that any overt action or accusation would serve to support candidate Donald Trump's claim at the time that the election was "rigged." This contention is supported by a report in the Obama-friendly New York Times:
The Obama administration feared that acknowledging Russian meddling in the 2016 election would reveal too much about intelligence gathering and be interpreted as “taking sides” in the race, the former secretary of homeland security said Wednesday. “One of the candidates, as you recall, was predicting that the election was going to be ‘rigged’ in some way,” said Jeh Johnson, the former secretary, referring to President Trump’s unsubstantiated accusation before Election Day. “We were concerned that by making the statement we might, in and of itself, be challenging the integrity of the election process itself.”
Fernandez comments:
They [the NYT] apparently saw Russian efforts as so ineffectual or indecisive they could afford to ignore them. Or perhaps they thought that Fusion GPS could pull off a Google [that Fusion GPS would make the accusation for the Obama administration]. No matter, Hillary Clinton was certainly going to win. "Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power hosted all of her fellow female ambassadors to the U.N. at her apartment on election night in 2016 for what she anticipated would be a celebratory evening watching Hillary Clinton win the presidency." The confidence in Hillary's victory was apparently shared at the FBI. In August 2016 FBI agent Peter Strzok the challenged his superior's assumption that Trump would surely lose.
The hysteria that followed Clinton's upset loss to Trump precipitated the fantasy claim by Democrats that Trump "colluded" with the Russians. That claim in turn has led to 15 months of investigations that have turned up no credible evidence but lots of political points that aid the Dems in their overt attempt to destroy Trump's presidency.

It is supremely ironic, therefore, that the Democrats' demand for "investigations" has lead to actual evidence—and lots of it—that indicates dishonesty and corruption within the Clinton campaign and inside senior levels of Obama's FBI and DoJ, not to mention creepy illusions in texts by senior FBI and DoJ officials to "an insurance policy" in the unlikely event of a Trump win. Even more important, it appears that senior levels of both FBI and DoJ used a dossier funded by the Clinton campaign as one of the key pieces of evidence that lead to surveillance of the Trump campaign by the feds. The Dems, in what now appears to be a state of panic, are in full attack mode, impugning not only a memo summarizing all of this [their alternative facts memo will be released later this week], but the integrity of the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee that wrote it.

Today, a new release of texts indicates that the investigation is getting closer to Barack Obama himself. In a text between the now infamous Peter Strzok (FBI) and Lisa Page (DoJ), both avid Clinton supporters and Trump haters, we learn that "potus wants to know everything we're doing." Hmmm. Vague no doubt, but in the context of their efforts to discredit and surveil the Trump campaign, interesting nonetheless. Was Obama aware of the FBI-DoJ efforts to use the Fusion GPS dossier as evidence for a FISA warrant? And if he wasn't, who in authority approved that move? Given the political impact, it surely wasn't a low level functionary, as Obama dishonestly claimed after he earlier weaponized the IRS against his political opponents.

It's also worth noting Barack Obama's own words in April, 2016, "I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or the FBI, Not just in this case but in any case. Period. Full stop. Period. Nobody gets treated differently when it comes to the Justice Department because nobody is above the law." Based on hard evidence now known to the public, that was a lie.

Thomas Lifson comments:
Tick, tick, tick… we’re getting closer and closer to the “What did the president know and when did he know it?” moment in the biggest political scandal in American history. What looks like a sitting president authorizing the use of the vast spy apparatus of the federal government on the opposing party candidate for president would, if proven, be far bigger than Watergate – a mere burglary intended to spy on the opposition.
Of course, we don't yet know that to be true, but in the fevered throes of Trump Derangement Syndrome, it looks increasingly like the Dems may have unleashed information that they would much prefer had remained hidden from public view. Their trained hamsters in the media will work in overdrive to keep that information from being widely understood, but it's out there, and it isn't complementary to the Democrats themselves, to Obama, or to his would-be successor, Hillary Clinton.

Tick, Tick, Tick.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

"Made Things Worse"

Slate is not known for its love of conservatives. It's writers lionized Barack Obama and believed that everything his administration touched turned to gold. They consistently papered over the many scandals that were woven into the fabric of the Obama era, claiming that his years were "scandal free."

Now, in a lengthy analysis of the Iran Deal, Obama's "signature" foreign policy "achievement," Joshua Keating in Slate states: "I supported Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. Now I think it may have made things worse."

Gee. Ya think?

Those of us who are on record as strong opponents of the Iran deal since its inception, have argued repeated that Obama and his foreign policy Team of 2s, acted out of extreme naivete or abject stupidity when they cut the deal. It is unverifiable, and far more important, unable to reign in Iran's nuclear ambitions, not to mention its hegemonic intent in the Middle East and beyond. Obama and his people were fools for entering into the deal.

Keating writes:
Obama always made clear that an agreement on nuclear weapons wouldn’t necessarily change Iran’s larger pattern of behavior or that of its rivals. “If they don’t change at all, we’re still better off having the deal,” he argued. Still, he suggested that the diplomatic opening provided by the deal could change the dynamics of the region. “It would be profoundly in the interest of citizens throughout the region if Sunnis and Shias weren’t intent on killing each other,” he told the New Yorker’s David Remnick in 2014. “And although it would not solve the entire problem, if we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion—not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon—you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.”

This is not what happened on either side of the Middle East’s sectarian divide. Instead, the deal has more often contributed to escalating tensions. In retrospect, this was foreseeable: Iran was perfectly capable of projecting power across the region with or without a nuclear arsenal. As for its rivals, they never trusted Iran’s assurances and saw warming relations between Tehran and Washington as a new and potentially even greater threat.

Iran is an Islamofascist state with all of the problems and threatb that implied. To enter into a "deal" with such an entity is risky. To craft a very bad deal with such an entity is something that only idiots or incompetents would do. Obama entered into a very bad deal.

Rather than moderating its behavior, Iran has, if anything, become more aggressive in the region. It's worth noting that since the election of Donald Trump, Iran's aggressiveness against the United States [think: Obama era U.S. sailors captured and made to kneel for the cameras] in the region has abated significantly. I wonder why?

Keating continues:
I fully supported the Iran deal, and the trade-offs involved, in 2015. In the face of sustained attack from the current administration, I have consistently defended it. But just because the deal was struck for the best of reasons, and just because Trump is against it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t face retroactive scrutiny. An honest account of the consequences of the deal, and the assumptions that led to it, is necessary if we are to have better policies going forward.

No country in the Middle East should have nuclear weapons. No country in the world should have nuclear weapons. The risks are far too high, and the slow and steady work of nonproliferation must continue. Without downplaying the risks in any way, it’s still fair to say that if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon, it probably wouldn’t use it, just as other nuclear powers have not. It’s a very real, but theoretical, danger. Nuclear weapons have done far less damage in the last 70 years than the wars in Syria and Yemen have in just the last two. Placing nuclear nonproliferation above all else is not always the right call and may have been motivated by an overly fatalistic view of the region.

To his credit, Keating has the humility to get past his progressive ideology and take a hard look at results. Undoing the damage that Obama's Team of 2s did in the Middle East will take a generation, if it can be undone at all. A good place to start is with the Iran deal.

Monday, February 05, 2018

"War on ..."

With the release of the congressional memo, the latest meme from Democrats and their media hamsters expresses horror that the GOP is “undermining public trust in lawn enforcement." Both the The New York Times and The Washington Post (among many sources) published commentaries that reinforce the notion that anyone who is gravely concerned about the gross abuse implied by the congressional memo was somehow anti-FBI or anti-law enforcement.

Somewhere, inside a Democratic smear shop in Washington DC, this meme was developed and distributed to friendly media to try to blunt any criticism of increasingly more disturbing evidence that the past administration weaponized important government agencies against its opponents. To borrow a phrase that progressives love to use—"that's counter to our values."

One of the problems with the "war on law enforcement" meme is that it can come back to bite the politicians who express it. It’s interesting that neither the New York Times or the Washington Post are at all concerned about a year long effort to undermine public trust in a presidential election (that their candidate lost). Both publications seem completely at ease with a daily onslaught of often deranged articles and commentary that are intended to undermine public trust in a duly elected President of United States. They're even less concerned about factual accuracy, context, or purposeful omissions that might provide better insight into their claims.

In summary, the continuing stream of unsubstantiated claims, evidence-free accusations, and politically biased leaks don’t seem to concern the trained hamsters in the media at all. But criticism based on clear evidence of bias, documented instances of dishonesty by high government officials, and abuse of the FISA courts by senior members of the DoJ and FBI—oh my, that criticism is a "war on law enforcement." I seem to recall the same media sources that hyperventilate today were the first to support the Black Lives Matter movement when it conducted its war on street cops in cities across the United States—a "war" that actually resulted in dead cops (think: Dallas).

If there is a "war on law enforcement" it's being conducted by corrupt officials from the FBI and DoJ that acted to subvert the FISA courts to enable surveillance of the Trump campaign while the Obama administration looked the other way. And those who now try to subvert an investigation into that wrongdoing are themselves complicit in that "war." They should be ashamed of themselves, but that's simply not in their DNA.

UPDATE:
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The Democrats have crafted their own memo in response to the GOP Congressional memo. That's a good thing, allowing us to evaluate the conflicting claims in the open.

It's interesting to note that every single GOP member of the House Intelligence Committee voted in favor of releasing the Democrat memo. It's also interesting to note that every single Democrat member of the House Intelligence Committee voted against of releasing the GOP memo. Heh.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Just Ask Them

In the run-up to the release of the Congressional memo that summarizes the findings of an investigation into the surveillance of American citizens who just happened to be part of the Trump campaign in 2016, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media were apoplectic. The memo was a threat to national security, they claimed. It would review "sources and methods," they cried. It would precipitate a "constitutional crisis" by eroding public trust in the FBI and DoJ, they cautioned.

Then I read the memo in its entirety. I couldn't find anything that was even close to classified information. There were no sources and methods revealed. And nowhere in the document was the FBI as an agency criticized. Its appointed executives—you know, the ones that lied to the FISA court—were skewered, but the agency itself came under no criticism. In other words, the Democrat9c spokespeople and the hamsters ... lied.

Roger Simon comments:
Unless they were lobotomized, those Democrats and their dependable PR team (aka the media) must have realized they were blatantly lying to the American public. Evidently, they didn't care. How're we now supposed to trust what these people say about anything? Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.

Their latest meme is "cherry picking." The memo was cherry-picked and therefore to be ignored. That's like saying a murderer who has a clean driving record and is a good cook is not a murderer. Whatever else happened, the FBI clearly used a slanderous fictional document to get a FISA ruling to surveil Carter Page without telling the court the document was a pack of lies paid for by the Clinton campaign and written by a creepy spy with old-line Soviet connections. And they did it multiple times.
In their hysteria over Hillary Clinton's upset loss, the Democrats unleashed blatantly false claims about "Russian collusion" and "Obstruction of Justice"—all intended to drive a never-ending series of investigations that would wreck the presidency of Donald Trump. In their hubris, they never thought that the investigations might uncover significant wrong-doing on the part of the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton's campaign. Now, the worm has turned, and the Dems are scared that the current wrong-doing might only be the tip of an iceberg of dishonesty and corruption that pervaded the Obama administration and at the same time, exonerates the hated Donald Trump.

Simon continues:
It seems this particular lie was a last line of defense — for now — against a coming potential Armageddon for their party. This memo, bad as it is, is apparently only the first of many, a small percentage of what is to come. And the Democrats know it.

Fear is operative. Maybe panic. An entire weltanschauung is under threat — jobs, friends, self-image, who knows what. If this goes on much longer and much more comes out, some Democrats -—not apparatchik Schiff, needless to say, but others — might have to face reality and say something. A few journalists (not at CNN, but maybe someplace else) might have to report the truth. It happened with Watergate. Republicans turned against Nixon. But, of course, they're "the stupid party."

But speaking of stupid, something else occurred that few are mentioning, but may be of more significance than anything. What were these FISA judges thinking who allowed for the surveillance? They actually read the Steele dossier, one would assume. Were they imbeciles or as biased as McCabe, Strzok and the rest of that seedy FBI cabal? Whether they were told that document came from the Clinton campaign or not, it read like an outtake from the back pages of the National Enquirer — and not one of the good issues (John Edwards, etc.). The dossier was ludicrous on its face, yet the supposedly great legal minds of the FISA court accepted it as what appears to be the most important evidence for the case.
And so the Dems and their hamsters hyperventilate trying to argue that what happened didn't really happen. That it's all just "partisan politics." Note, of course, that the Dems never indulge in partisan politics, like, say, using a bought-and-paid-for phony dossier to submarine a political opponent. Oh, no. They'd never do that.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The Memo

The Congressional memo outlining significant abuse of power by the Obama-era DoJ and appointees at the FBI was released yesterday. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Democrats and a few #NeverTrumpers in the GOP have leaped into the fray, using their now-standard process to discredit even the most compelling evidence. If the memo is to be believed (and there is absolutely evidence to suggest otherwise), Donald Trump was right in his much ridiculed claim that the Obama DoJ/FBI surveilled (he used the term "wiretapped") his campaign before the presidential election. But that's only part of this sordid story.

The DoJ/FBI got FISA court permission to do this surveillance based in part on a dossier prepared by an ex-spy who was paid by the Clinton campaign through a series of cut-outs including a Clinton law firm and a Democratic smear shop, Fusion GPS. Add to that the fact that the DoJ/FBI knew that Clinton paid for the dossier and didn't tell the judge who approved the FISA warrant. It may not have mattered, but it certainly was information for the judge to consider.

The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media are already quoting a law professor who claims that failure to disclose the provenance of the dossier is immaterial. Seriously? One campaign pays for damning, yet phony evidence against another and then goes to the administration in power (that just happens to be of the same political party). That administration gets approval to surveil their mutual opponent, and that's not a big deal?

James Freeman comments:
If this [disclosing the provenance of the dossier is immaterial] is accurate, and if it’s also acceptable to include uncorroborated information in warrant applications, this means that the bar for approving government spying against domestic political opponents is significantly lower than most Americans have been led to believe.

A former government official, having read the Kerr argument, writes via email:
In meth cases, the judges all know the informants are dirtbags. But as Kerr admits, context is everything in these fact determinations. It’s hardly irrelevant that one presidential campaign is being spied on with the collusion of the existing administration and its candidate. Perhaps prosecutors should be mindful of their high ethical obligations in such a unique case. After all, there is the small matter of the credibility not only of law enforcement but the entire democratic process riding on it.
The Democrats on the Intelligence committee seem eager to release their own memo so perhaps we’ll learn more, but based on today’s release it appears either that the Obama administration engaged in historic abuse or that the FISA court cannot be trusted to protect our liberties, or perhaps both.

Readers concerned about the government’s surveillance authority may be interested to know about one current member of the Intelligence committee who began focusing on this issue all the way back in the George W. Bush administration. He was dismayed by the ease with which surveillance could be ordered on U. S. citizens using FISA warrants. He was outraged that George W. Bush would countenance such practices.

Freeman adds:
This lawmaker said that his legislation “will help ensure we have true checks and balances when it comes to the judges who are given the responsibility of overseeing our most sensitive intelligence gathering and national security programs.”

Oh, by the way, do you know who the lawmaker is? I'll let James Freeman provide the answer:
His name is Adam Schiff, and he is now the ranking member on House Intelligence. But oddly he doesn’t seem to want to take credit for his early concern for civil liberties.
And therein lies the problem. Schiff is the Democrat front man on all of this and he is also a partisan hack and a hypocrite, who suddenly became very sanguine about corrupt practices in the FISA process when those corrupt practices reflected badly on his party's past president and his supposedly slam-dunk successor, Hillary Clinton.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Rage

Donald Trump's State of the Union address wasn't extraordinary, but few SOTU addresses are. He touted his many significant economic accomplishments and possibly surprised a few viewers who haven't heard much about them given the main stream media blackout on anything positive associated with Trump. But that wasn't the story.

In the view of many, the story was the Democrats in the Chamber—sullen and angry—the perfect image for the #Resistance. Peggy Noonan, a keen observer of the American scene, comments:
The Democrats in the chamber were slumped, glowery. They had chosen to act out unbroken disdain so as to please the rising left of their party, which was watching and would review their faces. Some of them were poorly lit and seemed not resolute but Draculaic. The women of the party mostly dressed in black, because nothing says moral seriousness like coordinating your outfits.

Here it should be said of the rising left of the Democratic Party that they are numerous, committed, and have all the energy—it’s true. But they operate at a disadvantage they cannot see, and it is that they are loveless. The social justice warriors, the advancers of identity politics and gender politics, the young who’ve just discovered socialism—they run on rage.

But rage is a poor fuel in politics. It produces a heavy, sulfurous exhaust and pollutes the air. It’s also gets few miles per gallon. It has many powers but not the power to persuade, and if anything does them in it will be that. Their temperament is no better than Mr. Trump’s. It’s worse. But yes, they are intimidating the Democratic establishment, which robs itself of its dignity trying to please them. It won’t succeed.
Trump Derangement Syndrome is a real thing and it's fueled by rage—rage at losing an election they were certain they would win, rage that 60+ million citizens rejected their leftist world view, rage that their allies in the media couldn't swing the election, rage that they, their trained hamsters in the media, and the denizens of the deep state couldn't derail Trump presidency in its first year, rage that the Hollywood glitterati couldn't convince the common people to follow their lead ... rage, rage, rage.

Noonan is right. At the end of the day, "rage is a poor fuel in politics. It produces a heavy, sulfurous exhaust and pollutes the air."

But rage is so much easier to do than developing pragmatic policies that offer a path to economic prosperity and strength in the world; policies that are different than the tired and failed tropes that the rage-mongers have been offering since the 1960s; policies that would actually improve the lot of minorities and poor people and move them out of dependency and into self-reliance. As crass and off-putting as Donald Trump can be, he has done exactly that, and the left responds to his success with rage and delusional accusations of collusion or obstruction. It's toxic for the country, but like small children who insist on throwing a tantrum, the Left simply doesn't care.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Shame

A Congressional memo summarizing the allegations of government corruption is to be released soon. It is said to outline still another Obama era scandal—this one involving corruption and possible criminal overreach at senior levels of the FBI and justice department. In anticipation of the bombshell memo, the Democrats do what they always do:
  1. Work hard to delay disclosure and stonewall any pertinent information;
  2. Circle the wagons with every Dem member of the House and Senate seemingly disinterested in the truth, but at the same time, absolutely certain despite clear evidence to the contrary that the allegations are false,
  3. Obfuscate by introducing irrelevant information and nit-picking any issue that make the might confuse the public, and
  4. Question the integrity and honesty of any person who suggests that the scandal might be real and that the truth should come out.
Here's Dem point man, Congressman Adam Schiff on the subject:
On Monday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) moved to release a memo written by his staff that cherry-picks facts, ignores others and smears the FBI and the Justice Department — all while potentially revealing intelligence sources and methods. He did so even though he had not read the classified documents that the memo characterizes and refused to allow the FBI to brief the committee on the risks of publication and what it has described as “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” The party-line vote to release the Republican memo but not a Democratic response was a violent break from the committee’s nonpartisan tradition and the latest troubling sign that House Republicans are willing to put the president’s political dictates ahead of the national interest.
Okay, then. This is the same Schiff who told us months ago that there was clear evidence of Trump's Russian collusion. None has been found. He then told us breathlessly that "obstruction of Justice" was the real concern, except there has been none.

Schiff is a partisan hack who will do or say exactly was is required to promote the Dems four step strategy for handling scandals that might reflect badly on them. He seems oh-so concerned about the "national interest" (i.e., keeping the Dem scandal buried). Yet, he is curiously uninterested in determining whether there is truth in the serious allegations that had the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign colluding with Obama appointees in the FBI and Justice Department to surveil an opposition candidate—Donald Trump.

What about the truth and the distinct possibility that the deep state acted aggressively to undermine a presidential candidate? Meh!

Sara Hoyt comments:
Most of us are eagerly awaiting the release of the House Intelligence Committee’s memo on abuse of the FBI by the Obama administration. It should happen in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, the Bureau is worried, as always, about its public image. The Associated Press headlines: “FBI clashes with Trump, has ‘grave concerns’ on Russia memo.” I’m so old, I can remember when liberals were in favor of revealing corruption in institutions like the FBI. Those days, of course, are long gone.

In a remarkably public clash of wills with the White House, the FBI declared Wednesday it has “grave concerns” about the accuracy of a classified memo on the Russia election investigation that President Donald Trump wants released.

Yeah, well, you know what? I have grave concerns about the politicization of the Department of Justice and the FBI under the Obama administration, which I have been writing about since 2010.

“As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said.

If there are “material omissions of fact,” the Democrats’ responsive memo no doubt will reveal them. Good: let’s lay the cards on the table. The relevant fact here is that the FBI is no longer claiming that there is a national security problem with releasing the memo, only that it will put the FBI in a bad light.
It's kind of sad, actually. It seems that every government agency that matters was sullied by partisan politics during the Obama era—every one. Even worse, many were weaponized against Obama's opponents. That's a significant cause for concern—for everyone, including Democrats.

And yet, there are no profiles in courage among modern day Democrats in Washington. No Democrat who asks whether there might have been wrong-doing among Obama appointees.  No Dem who states that government surveillance of a presidential candidate is wrong at so many levels it boggles the mind. And that's a shame.