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

Friday, August 31, 2018

Ohr ... What!?

As information associated with the FBI actions during the 2016 election dribbles out, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media apply their standard approach when significant scandals involving the Obama administration are uncovered: (1) ignore the story; (2) provide absolutely no investigative resources to uncover the truth; (3) obfuscate when facts begin to come out; (4) gaslight the public telling them that the facts are not the facts, but rather a GOP plot to "obstruct justice; (5) shout "conspiracy theory" over and over again; (6) suggest that only low level people were involved and they were "misdirected," (7) change the subject—"Russian collusion, Russian collusion;" (8) bury any new findings or revelations that they are forced to report on page 37.

The story of Bruce Ohr is typical. Kim Strassel comments:
This week’s news is that Mr. Ohr’s deliveries to the FBI came with a caveat. Congress already knew that Mr. Ohr had been aware of Mr. Steele’s political biases. In notes Mr. Ohr took of a September 2016 conversation with Mr. Steele, he wrote that the dossier author “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” Congressional sources tell me that Mr. Ohr revealed Tuesday that he verbally warned the FBI that its source had a credibility problem, alerting the bureau to Mr. Steele’s leanings and motives. He also informed the bureau that Mrs. Ohr was working for Fusion and contributing to the dossier project.

Mr. Ohr said, moreover, that he delivered this information before the FBI’s first application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a warrant against Trump aide Carter Page, in October 2016. Yet the FBI made no mention of this warning in the application, instead characterizing Mr. Steele as a “reliable” source. Nor does the application note that a senior Justice Department official’s spouse was contributing to the dossier and benefiting financially from a document the FBI was using in an investigation. That matters both because the FBI failed to flag the enormous conflict and because Mr. Steele’s work product potentially wasn’t entirely his own.

No reference to Mr. Ohr—direct or cloaked—can be found in any of the four applications for Page warrants, according to those who have seen them. This despite his more than a dozen conversations with FBI agents over the course of the probe that addressed the content in and sourcing behind the surveillance applications. I’m told Mr. Ohr made clear that these conversations variously included all the heavyweights in the FBI investigation—former lead investigator Peter Strzok, former FBI senior lawyer Lisa Page, and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. So senior people were very aware of his role, information and conflict.
For just a moment think about what would be happening if the political party roles were reversed but the facts remain the same. Can you imagine the Democrat outrage and the media frenzy that would result.

To wit: The FBI at its highest levels plotted against Hillary Clinton using information paid for by the GOP and associated with the Russians via a foriegn spy who worked with a smear shop (the equivalent of Fusion GPS) that employed the wife of a senior FBI official who warned other higher ups of conflict and was ignored while the phoney information created was improperly presented to a secret court (FISA) that then allowed surveillance on the Clinton campaign during the election run-up with the information gleaned from the surveillance used ultimately to appoint a special counsel who sole job it is to bring down Hillary's presidency. OMG!! The biggest scandal EVER!!

But since the roles are reversed—and Trump is a Nazi, Fascist, White Supremacist, meany who nobody likes—it's all okay. After all, the greater good and all that.

This entire episode is a travesty. It demonstrates corruption at a level that is breathtaking. It reinforces the notion that the Obama administration, working in league with the media, the deep state, and possibly a few GOP #Nevertrumpers, would stop at nothing to ensure that Trump didn't win. But Trump did win. So they then used their corrupt information as an insurance policy to cripple his presidency. Disgusting.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Dog Whistle

My adopted home state of Florida has a booming economy, very low unemployment, and outstanding employment figures for all communities, including the African American and Latino communities. It has achieved this even though it has no income tax, low corporate taxes, and a regulatory regime that does not suffocate existing businesses and the formation of new ones.

Apparently, state Democrats view this as a dystopian landscape and have decided to fix it by nominating a gubernatorial candidate that is a Socialist in the Bernie Sanders mold. The Democrat candidate, Andrew Gillum, has announced that he would work toward universal (think: "free") healthcare for all Floridians, free college, more accountability (think: regulations) for businesses, yada, yada. Like all socialists, Gillum believes that empty promises of free stuff, funded by additional promises to tax businesses will buy votes.

A debate on the details of that premise is worthwhile, but when you get beyond the notion of "free stuff" and the abstraction that Dems call "social justice," that debate will be difficult to win for the Dems. Small questions like:

-- How do we pay for the "free stuff?"
-- Are voters doing well today under a low tax, pro-business government?
-- Do you want to make it easier or harder for businesses to grow and prosper?
-- Are you in favor of stressing the state government in the same manner that governments in blue states like CT, IL, NJ, and CA are now stressed?

may create challenges for Mr. Gillum. In fact, it might also be interesting to hear Gillum's take of the current implosion of socialist policies in Venezuela, and why it is that tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled their country for South Florida.

It's for that reason that the Dems need to change the subject. It took less than 24 hours for them to use their old standby—"racism." Gillum's GOP opponent, Ron DeSantis, said the following (it's difficult to find the direct quote because the Dem's trained hamsters in the media want to reinforce the dishonest suggestion that DeSantis was talking about Gillum rather than socialist policies) about a socialist agenda for Florida:
“The last thing we need is to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
The left immediately called this a "dog whistle" even though it had nothing to do with Gillum, the man, but rather the socialist policies and programs he would institute. But heck, calling someone a "racist" is S.O.P. in modern leftist politics, particularly when it allows leftists to avoid any substantive debate on the issues. This repugnant tactic works because it demonizes. It poisons political discourse and is blatantly dishonest. But no matter.

It has forced DeSantis to spend time defending himself from this ridiculous charge, and as they say, when you're explaining, you're losing.

UPDATE (8-31-2018):

Charles Cooke comments on the DeSantis story:
I ... want to add my own exasperation at the rank dishonesty and profound irresponsibility on display from the media outlets that have run with the attack. This was not an honest mistake. On the contrary: Those who sold this lie knew exactly what they were doing, and they knew exactly why they were doing it. They did it to mislead, willfully, for clicks and for political advantage.

In pursuit of both, an enormous number of self-described “journalists” deliberately tied DeSantis’s use of “monkey this up”—which came attached to some praise for Gillum coupled with a warning that Gillum’s socialism would muck up Florida’s excellent economy—to the fact that Gillum is black, the obvious implication being that DeSantis believes that electing a black man as governor of Florida would “monkey this up” (whatever that means). But that is not what DeSantis said. It is not what DeSantis meant. And it is not what anyone really thinks he meant, either. It is a lie of the sort that is to be expected from explicitly political players, but not from those who believe they are Woodward and Bernstein in a firefighter’s hat. (Given his interest in “context collapse,” I’m sure that Ezra Klein is penning a defense of DeSantis for Vox as I type.)

We hear a lot about the “politics of division” these days. Indeed, that phrase was used in a few quarters as a criticism of DeSantis’s words. But I can think of fewer more “divisive” actions than falsely telling millions of people that the man who may well be their next governor believes that African Americans are monkeys. Those who did so should be ashamed.
Ashamed?? Cooke is kidding, right? The trained hamsters of the media are so biased, so unprofessional, and so incompetent that they no longer even consider "shame" as a aspect of their lives. To paraphrase Glen Reynolds, they are "Democratic operatives with bylines—partisan hacks who do the bidding of their masters without shame or self-awareness. The good news is that tens of millions now recognize that fact and discount their babbling.The unintended consequence is they are inadvertently helping Donald Trump get re-elected in 2020.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Maverick

John McCain died yesterday. He was a rare breed – a GOP politician who was a true centrist. He tried very hard to find accommodation between Democrats and Republicans and often represented the best in politics. He earned the nickname "Maverick" because he was not averse to finding compromise. Like all politicians, McCain was not without his faults, but I do think he was a good man, a true patriot, and a politician who should have been a role model for every member of the House and the Senate on both sides of the aisle.



Many media sources are lionizing McCain after his death. That’s a nice thing. McCain deserves that, but in a way it’s kind of ironic.

In the past few decades, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media have tried to vilify any opponent whose ideas threaten their narrative. With increasing frequency, the Left uses ad hominem attacks when it feels uncomfortable in debating the issues. After all, calling someone a “racist” tends to limit the possibility for debate, don’t you think?

Although the trained hamsters in the media have praised McCain after his death, the same was absolutely not true in 2008 and 2012 when he represented an electoral threat to Barack Obama. Consider these three headlines from the left-leaning Huffington Post:

2008: "Is John McCain mentally fit to be president?"

2012: "The unhinging of John McCain."

2018: "Politicians grieve for John McCain in a touching tribute."

The HuffPo was kind in 2018, but typical of most left-leaning publications in 2008 and 2012, they questioned McCain's mental stability in ad hominem attacks that were vicious and flat out wrong, given that he was a man who tried very, very hard to be bipartisan.

Sadly, I suspect that McCain‘s legacy of bipartisan effort is now lost. On the Left, there appears to be no room for compromise whatsoever. On the right, we are now experiencing an equivalent viciousness. Name-calling, personal attacks, and gross exaggeration of positions has become commonplace.

For their part, the Left’s trained hamsters in the mainstream media lament a "lack of civility," but in reality, what they really don’t like is their their own rules of engagement are being used by the other side. What goes around, comes around, and I think above all, that likely saddened John McCain in his final years.

UPDATE (8-28-2018):

My goodness. You'd think that John McCain was a Democrat. The left-leaning media (meaning most of the media) is giving McCain a "Lion of the Senate" sendoff, with hours of positive coverage. To be clear, McCain was a consequential politician, a true patriot, a war hero, and a centrist who did try to bring the parties together. That does deserve praise.

But there's something hypocritical about all of this. Now that McCain has passed, it seems that the trained hamsters are bending over backward to demonstrate how ecumenical they are. The problem is that their past actions belie their current unrestricted praise. Roger Kimball describes coverage of McCain's death by The New York Times and then writes:
What interests me now, however, are the hallelujahs of praise and commendation that surrounded his passing. He has always been a hero to the neo-conservative faithful. But here we have The New York Times running a fawning obituary with the title ‘War Hero, Senator, Presidential Contender.’ It was the full lion-of-the-Senate treatment: ‘proud naval aviator . . . climbed from depths of despair as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to pinnacles of power . . . two-time contender for the presidency,’ yada, believe me, yada.

Just how great was John McCain, according to the Times? This great: Despite his grave condition, he soon made a dramatic appearance in the Senate to cast a thumbs-down vote against his party’s drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
But it's also worth looking at the NYT's treatment of McCain in 2008, when he represented a threat to their chosen candidate. Again from Kimball:
It is instructive, then, to compare The New York Times’s coverage of McCain circa 2018 with what it had to say in 2008, when it actually mattered in more than a rhetorical sense. The Times was happy to support McCain during the primary season, doubtless understanding that he was the weaker candidate. But when it came down to it, the Times wrote that McCain was ‘aggressive,’ ‘erratic,’ possibly a bit touched in the head, to mention, old, old. In a piece titled ‘The Real John McCain,’ published in September 2008, as the campaign was approaching its white-hot finale, the Times wondered whether, as McCain took the stage, ‘there would be any sign of the senator we long respected.’
Gosh, McCain must have changed a lot in 10 years, or maybe he's praiseworthy not so much because of what he did over his 40 year political career but because of his recent vocal opposition to Donald Trump. Nah, that would be way to cynical on the part of the media ... wouldn't it?

War of Attrition—II

As the War of Attrition led by Robert Mueller and backed by the four constituencies rages on, Mathew Continetti makes at attempt to dissect the man that is one of the combatants. He writes:
[Donald] Trump’s fame, wealth, and marginal position in the worlds of government, news media, and finance exempted him, in the minds of his supporters, from the informal rules that had conditioned the words and actions of candidates and presidents for years. Such freedom allowed him to bring into the political arena methods and practices from the worlds he knew best: tabloid journalism, professional wrestling, and reality television.

Shocking claims, conspiracy theories, and hints of lurid revelations that never quite pan out are straight from Page Six and the National Enquirer. The tent-pole rally, the braggadocio, posturing, invective, and prowling around stage are drawn from the WWE, and Trump’s long ties, Brioni suits, and unmistakable hair are all part of his “character.” His flair for operatic and unexpected shifts in direction, ambiguity and unpredictability in relationships, Twitter as “confessional,” emphasis on appearance, and love of the cliffhanger made his job-competition game show remarkably successful and durable.

Trump went from star of reality TV to sole practitioner of reality politics. He turned Republican, national, then world politics into a riveting spectacle, a new sort of contest in which the stakes are nothing less than the fate of the United States and the protagonist must face down a staggering number of opponents to win the prize. And Trump had an advantage. He alone was familiar with the contents of the reality politics rulebook. Which meant that his antagonists, from Bob Corker to Robert Mueller, from Chuck Schumer to Elizabeth Warren, from the media to the NFL, from Ayatollah Khamenei to Xi Jinping, were on defense.
From small arms fire to heavy artillery, Mueller and his backers among the four constituencies have developed a strategy designed to figuratively wound or kill their enemy. The trained hamsters in the media tell us about Trump's bad day" or "bad week" and suggest that the end is nye. The Dems make hyperbolic accusations of "racism" or "fascism." The #NeverTrumpers clutch their pearls with every one of Trump's tweets, every insult, and every counterpunch. Robert Mueller threatens everyone around Trump with jail time while the Democrats salivate over the prospect of impeachment once they take the House. The deep state leaks anything that might damage Trump while it hamstrings the Trump administration whenever it can.

But Trump has not assumed the fetal position, has not stopped doing his job, has not backed away from his campaign promises, and most important, has accomplished much that is good for the country and good for its people—unless, of course, you believe that a roaring economy, low unemployment, more job openings than there are people to fill them, more money in people's pockets, and an assertive posture in the world don't count for much.

The Democrats think that the only policy position they need is opposition to and hatred of Trump. GOP #NeverTrumpers think that their opposition to Trump's candidacy will be vindicated. The deep state thinks that their conspiracy to destroy his candidacy and actively assist in the war of attrition will pay off soon. The Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd thinks they're winning the war of attrition, and maybe they're right.

But try as they might, they can't seem to kill their "monster." It's interesting that they've never considered that Trump, using the traits that Continetti describes, may be conducting his own war of attrition against them.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

War of Attrition

David Goldman asks a fundamental question:
Precisely how does Bill Clinton's main legal fixer turn up as Michael Cohen's attorney in a plea bargain with a special prosecutor?
Exactly. Cohen is a scum bag, and I have no doubt he cheated on his taxes and likely is guilty of bank fraud. As an afterthought, it appears that 'Dudley' Mueller and his team tacked on a bogus plea of campaign finance violations to provide an opening for the ever expanding witch hunt that is intended to bring down Donald Trump. It's so blatant, it's laughable, but the stakes are deadly serious, and the four constituencies think that with Cohen's pleas, blood is in the water.

Goldman goes on to write:
The outrage is not that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians -- the whole story is silly. The outrage is that a Clinton family operative, namely Mr. Davis, is playing tag team with special counsel Robert Mueller, to sustain a phony story about Russian collusion which, in turn, provides the pretext for more fishing expeditions in the Trump camp. If you want to find collusion, look for it between the special counsel, the Clinton mafia, and the swamp in the Intelligence Community.

There's no collusion, no smoking gun, no high crime or misdemeanor in all of this: There's no secret at the bottom of the garbage pile that will bring down the Trump presidency. It's not a criminal investigation. It's a war of attrition, intended to distract and ultimately exhaust the president.
And a war of attrition it is. Yesterday, it was Cohen, today it's other Trump aides, friends and confidants who are copping plea deals and grants of immunity from Mueller all with the specific intent of implicating Trump. Since no evidence of "collusion" or "obstruction" has been forthcoming, now it's on to "hush money," campaign finance violations, and charitable foundation irregularities. And if that doesn't work, I'm sure going back through 40 years of commercial real estate deals will uncover potential bribes or political payoffs. And if Mueller can't get an indictment, he'll team with the NY District Attorney's office (another bastion of Democrat supporters) who will punch through to the finish line. All in, we're witnessing an attempt at a soft coup being conducted by the four constituencies. It's unclear whether it will succeed, but it's ongoing.

The trained hamsters in the media are breathless over the "secrets" that Mueller has uncovered as he investigates every aspect of Donald Trump's life, going back decades. They're joyful that Mueller has investigated and intimidated (and sometimes jailed) almost every associate who Trump has come into contact with over the past 20-plus years. Remember when the political establishment in Washington told us this was supposed to be about Russian influence in our electoral process. Not sure how a payoff to a porn star qualifies, but ... Trump!

So the war of attrition continues. The Dems and the other three constituencies are gleefully applying scorched earth strategy, and they just might succeed.

But if they don't, bad things just might happen—to them. There is a mountain of actual evidence that implicates Obama-era Justice Department and FBI officials, along with Clinton campaign operatives, in a conspiracy to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. If Trump escapes the ongoing soft coup attempt, he just might appoint an attorney general who will pursue that evidence and indict a long list of Democrats and deep state operatives. If that happens, payback will be a bitch.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Hypocrisy on Steroids

It's hardly surprising that Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media suggest that Roger Cohen's guilty plea for making hush payments to two porn stars for decade-old consensual affairs between Donald Trump and those women is somehow "an impeachable offense." After all, special counsel Robert Mueller tells us that the hush payments were made "for the principal purpose of influencing the election.” Mueller is sending people to jail in his effort to somehow, someway bring down an elected president. One can only wonder whether the same would have been done had Hillary Clinton been elected.

Huh ... what?

First, the big picture: If an alleged campaign finance violation is good enough to bring down a president, one can only wonder how the Clinton email scandal would have played had it been adequately and fully investigated by an FBI controlled by James Comey.

But wait! cry Clinton partisans, the FBI investigation did Clinton in!

Uhhh. No.

In fact, the FBI "investigation was woefully incomplete, disregarded pivotal evidence, and was designed to exonerate Clinton, not find fault in her actions. James Comey lied when he claimed it was thorough and lied when he claimed that all relevant evidence had been examined. Paul Sperry explains:
RealClearInvestigations pieced together the FBI's handling of the massive new email discovery from the “Weiner laptop.” This months-long investigation included a review of federal court records and affidavits, cellphone text messages, and emails sent by key FBI personnel, along with internal bureau memos, reviews and meeting notes documented in government reports. Information also was gleaned through interviews with FBI agents and supervisors, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, as well as congressional investigators and public-interest lawyers.

If the FBI “soft-pedaled” the original investigation* of Clinton’s emails, as some critics have said, it out-and-out suppressed the follow-up probe related to the laptop, sources for this article said.

“There was no real investigation and no real search,” said Michael Biasello, a 27-year veteran of the FBI. "It was all just show — eyewash — to make it look like there was an investigation before the election.”

Although the FBI’s New York office first pointed headquarters to the large new volume of evidence on Sept. 28, 2016, supervising agent Peter Strzok, who was fired on Aug. 10 for sending anti-Trump texts and other misconduct, did not try to obtain a warrant to search the huge cache of emails until Oct. 30, 2016. Violating department policy, he edited the warrant affidavit on his home email account, bypassing the FBI system for recording such government business. He also began drafting a second exoneration statement before conducting the search.

The search warrant was so limited in scope that it excluded more than half the emails New York agents considered relevant to the case. The cache of Clinton-Abedin communications dated back to 2007. But the warrant to search the laptop excluded any messages exchanged before or after Clinton’s 2009-2013 tenure as secretary of state, key early periods when Clinton initially set up her unauthorized private server and later periods when she deleted thousands of emails sought by investigators.

Far from investigating and clearing [Clinton confident and aide, Huma] Abedin and [disgraced Democrat Congressman, Anthony] Weiner, the FBI did not interview them, according to other FBI sources who say Comey closed the case prematurely. The machine was not authorized for classified material, and Weiner did not have classified security clearance to receive such information, which he did on at least two occasions through his Yahoo! email account – which he also used to email snapshots of his penis.

Many Clinton supporters believe Comey’s 11th hour reopening of a case that had shadowed her campaign was a form of sabotage that cost her the election. But the evidence shows Comey and his inner circle acted only after worried agents and prosecutors in New York forced their hand. At the prodding of Attorney General Lynch, they then worked to reduce and rush through, rather than carefully examine, potentially damaging new evidence.

Comey later admitted in his memoir “A Higher Loyalty,” that political calculations shaped his decisions during this period.
Ya think?

The thing that concerns those of us who object to the "witch hunt" currently being conducted to unseat a duly-elected president is the clear evidence that the investigative powers of the government (and a Department of Justice that controls those powers and acts on the findings) are not being applied in an even-handed manner. Clinton was clearly guilty of significant wrong doing, but because she was from the right party under the right president, she essentially was allowed to skate "for the principal purpose of influencing the election” in her favor. That ... not a hush payment to a couple of porn stars ... is the big story of 2016 and yet, the media has no interest and the democrats? Well, what can one expect?

All politics is about hypocrisy, and what we see in the Mueller investigation is hypocrisy on steroids. If Robert Mueller can drift so far afield that he's looking at payments to porn stars (where's the Russian connection?), you'd think he might consider looking into the possibility that the Russians hacked Hillary's private server (and used their findings to target their trolling and hacking during the 2016 election). You'd also think that Mueller might have a modicum of interest in the Russians, Fusion GPS, and Hillary's opposition research intended, I might add, "for the principal purpose of influencing the election."

Nah, nothing to see there ... move along.


* Sperry provides some quantitative details:
[Comey] told Congress that “thanks to the wizardry of our technology,” the FBI was able to eliminate the vast majority of messages as “duplicates” of emails they’d previously seen. Tireless agents, he claimed, then worked “night after night after night” to scrutinize the remaining material.

But virtually none of his account was true, a growing body of evidence reveals.

In fact, a technical glitch prevented FBI technicians from accurately comparing the new emails with the old emails. Only 3,077 of the 694,000 emails were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information. Three FBI officials completed that work in a single 12-hour spurt the day before Comey again cleared Clinton of criminal charges.

“Most of the emails were never examined, even though they made up potentially 10 times the evidence” of what was reviewed in the original year-long case that Comey closed in July 2016, said a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation.


I am not alone in my growing concern about the manner in which "justice" is being applied as the Mueller probe continues. Kim Strassel, one of the few journalists who has been dogged in her investigations of the scandal that was and is the investigation into "Russian collusion" by the FBI pre- and post election and the Mueller probe after, writes:
U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami took a few moments in his Tuesday statement about Michael Cohen’s plea deal to sing neutrality’s praise: “His day of reckoning serves as a reminder that we are a nation of laws, with one set of rules that applies equally to everyone.”

Noble words, and they used to mean something. But a disparity of justice is at the heart of our current crisis of faith in institutions. Americans aren’t outraged that the Federal Bureau of Investigation felt obliged to investigate allegations leveled at campaigns, or that a special counsel is looking at Russian electoral interference. They are instead furious that Lady Justice seems to have it in for only one side.

The country has watched the FBI treat one presidential campaign with kid gloves, the other with informants, warrants and eavesdropping. They’ve seen the Justice Department resist all efforts at accountability, even as it fails to hold its own accountable. And don’t get them started on the one-sided media.

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.
Those of us who follow these events understand the blatant bias that pervades this investigation, but low information voters may not be so well informed. What they see and hear is the constant drumbeat of indictments and guilty pleas having nothing to do with the underlying investigative objective.

Already, the trained hamsters in the media are doing battlefield prep, readying the public for "impeachment" (the word has been used hundreds of times in the past few days) once the Dems take power in the House. Understandably, many voters think that something is rotten and the the GOP should be punished, because ... Trump is guilty (of what? who knows? but guilty, nonetheless). They may very well vote accordingly in November.

It's a brilliant strategy hatched by the Democrats and their deep state and media allies, and may very well work.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Manafort and Cohen

There's little doubt that Paul Manafort is a sleazy inside the beltway operator and is guilty as charged. He represents everything that's wrong with the Washington, DC swamp; Donald Trump showed political naivete and stupidity in having him associated with his presidential campaign (albeit for less than three months, after which, he was fired). Trump is certainly guilty of poor political judgement in the hiring of Manafort, but that is not a crime.

There is little doubt that Roger Cohen is a sleazy New York City lawyer and fixer and is guilty of both tax and bank fraud. There's also little doubt that he was involved in buying the silence of two porn stars who had consensual affairs with Trump many years before the election, but suggesting that those payoffs were illegal campaign contribution smacks more of gotcha politics on the part of special counsel Robert Mueller than anything resembling a violation of the law. Donald Trump showed extremely poor judgment in dealing with Cohen and even worse judgment and poor character in cheating on his wife and paying off the women who participated, but extremely poor judgement is not a crime.

If extremely poor judgment was a crime, Barack Obama's dealing with a convicted felon, Tony Resco, would have landed Obama in jail. But gosh, there was no special prosecutor appointed to go through years of Resco's dealing with Obama or for that matter, Obama's other political associates (Obama was hardly a businessman) over the decades before he was president. And considering the Cohen "hush money" allegation, if Cohen offered the porn stars hush money "for the principal purpose of influencing the election,” why wasn't Barack Obama indicted after he offered hush money to his pastor and mentor, Jerimiah Wright, after Wright made vicious anti-American statements from the pulpit. Heh, if there's any media and federal law enforcement standard at all, its a double standard.

I mention all of this because the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd along with #NeverTrumpers are ecstatic that both Manafort and Cohen went down. Predictably, they conflate the convictions with the still evidence-free allegations of Russian collusion and more recently, "obstruction of justice" that Robert Mueller has spent the past year investigating. And since there's no evidence to support either, they've now pivoted to campaign finance abuse.

I know I'm not alone in my feeling that both the Manafort and Cohen indictments and convictions were brought in an attempt to skewer Trump. The sleaze-balls get convicted, flip, and voila, Trump is impeached and then removed from office. Let the election be damned! That's what the TDS crowd and #NeverTrumpers have been waiting for since November, 2016.

Molly Hemingway comments:
Manafort had been previously targeted and examined by the federal government and never charged with anything. The FBI even in some cases examined the exact same records and documents that resulted in charges this time. Washington D.C. is teeming with political consultants engaged in similar shenanigans who walk free every day ...

A big problem for federal prosecutors is that public trust in their application of the rule of law is low because of how they handle political cases ... you can read the inspector general report into the Hillary Clinton investigation, where at every single step along the way, the FBI tread lightly and gently in the face of demonstrable crime, unquestionable lying to agents, and other prosecutable activity.

It’s not that Cohen and Manafort aren’t shady people. They are. It’s that the American public can see that Washington D.C. is teeming with shady people and those with the right connections get off scot-free. That is an extremely dangerous situation for the preservation of the republic and trust in her institutions ...

These cases are really about Trump, and those who helped him take on the establishment. The goal, of course, is to remove Trump from office some way, some how ... some are even calling for impeachment over — at best — an unreported campaign contribution. As Mike Doran puts it, “The crime, if it was one, is minor. It pales in comparison to the crimes committed to prevent Trump’s election & to annul it after the fact, Those crimes threaten our democratic institutions, & their magnitude is compounded by the active efforts of the press to cover them up.”
The real tragedy in all of this isn't that two sleaze-ball operators were convicted of crimes. Rather, it's the stench of selective prosecution with the clear intent by Robert Mueller of bringing down a duly-elected president.

No evidence of Russian collusion or obstruction of justice has been found—if it existed, you can bet your life that said evidence would have leaked to the trained hamsters in the media, all of whom are virulently anti-Trump. So instead, Mueller's team hopes that now-convicted men will flip and tell what they know. Here's the problem. If there was no collusion and no obstruction, the only thing that either Manafort or Cohen can do is make stuff up—and based on their character, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they do just that to save their own skins.

And with their testimony (if it ever comes to that), two dishonest sleaze balls, Manafort and/or Cohen, will immediately become exemplars of virtue and honesty whose testimony will be the catalyst that allows the Dems and #NeverTrumpers to move for Impeachment. Molly Hemingway sums up nicely when she states:
"Democrats, Never Trump, and some media voices have been calling for impeachment for months, if not years. The details for impeachment are unimportant since the real crime seems to have been winning the 2016 election.
Indeed. Trump is guilty of turning the Dems dream into a nightmare and threatening the power elite in Washington at the same time. In the through-the-looking-glass world of the Dems, that's "treason" by any measure.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The New "Untouchables"

When the caste system was entrenched in India, the "untouchables" were the lowest caste and deemed to have the lowest social status and virtually no ability to rise in society. Today, in the United States, Julie Kelly defines an entirely different kind of "untouchable." She suggests that the political elites in both the Democrat and Republican parties are the new untouchables—often above the law, almost always working only to consolidate their own power, rarely recognizing or addressing the needs of the common person, and playing fast and loose with the truth.

The new untouchables hate Donald Trump with a venom that is palpable.

Kelly writes:
A poll taken several months before the election revealed that neglected voters overwhelmingly favored Donald Trump above any other candidate: “Voters who agreed with the statement ‘people like me don’t have any say about what the government does’ were 86.5 percent more likely to prefer Trump. This feeling of powerlessness and voicelessness was a much better predictor of Trump support than age, race, college attainment, [or] income,” wrote Derek Thompson at The Atlantic.

This is the Trump appeal that the ruling political class refused—and still refuses—to acknowledge. It is why Republicans were willing to overlook his personal peccadillos, and why voters in 206 counties who twice chose Barack Obama helped elect Donald Trump. It is why rural moms, union toughs, small business owners, and soybean farmers fill steamy Midwestern assembly halls during summer’s peak to rally around a thrice-married, brash, egotistical Manhattan billionaire who is the working class’s most unlikely champion. It is why Republican candidates across the country are bragging about their Trump-BFF status in tight primary races.

Trump violates every sycophantic, mannerly rule that politicians and their handlers are taught to follow. The name-calling, the gloating, the fight-picking are precisely what any political consultant would advise their client not to do. “Act presidential,” the memo would say. Let others do your dirty work. Stay above the fray, don’t get in the mud. Keep on message. Politics is a game of addition, not subtraction. Yada yada yada. (Let’s add “Political Consulting Experts” to the long list of professional know-it-alls who’ve been wholly discredited in the Trump era.)

But the jig is up. Trump is a one-man battering ram against a powerful political apparatus—The Untouchables—that ruefully stacks the deck against the very people it purports to understand and protect ...

Nearly two years [after the 2016 election], the war between The Untouchables and The Deplorables rages on. Last week featured several more clashes, proving again that the president’s opposition remains stunningly and stubbornly tone-deaf. (As Peggy Noonan wrote last year, Trump has been lucky in his enemies.) The Untouchables brandished their revoked security clearances and their opinion pages and their GoFundMe campaigns as the latest weapons against a president they intend to destroy.

But instead of taking it on the chin, these martyrs of #TheResistance embrace their victimhood. They caterwaul about imaginary constitutional rights violations not because it’s legitimate but because their self-enacted 28th Amendment right—the Right to Infinite and Unchecked Power—is being trampled.
And at the end of the day, that's really what this is all about. Power lost and/or the threat of power lost, along with the intense need to regain it and/or eliminate the threat.

The new untouchables are a potent force. They will do everything necessary to bring down Trump, and their efforts will not cease until he's out of office. Manufactured outrage, evidence free "scandals," selective prosecution of Trump associates with the intent of entrapping Trump himself, dishonest predictions of catastrophe—all of that and more. If their agent, Robert Mueller, doesn't succeed, they'll try and try again. The big question is whether a man who "violates every sycophantic, mannerly rule that politicians are taught to follow" can vanquish an entrenched group of powerful elites or whether they will vanquish him. Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Article of Faith

Richard Fernandez comments of the frustration of the four constituencies as they experience continuing failure in taking down Donald Trump. No matter the crass, unprecedented, unpresidential, racist, misogynist, bigoted, white supremacist "outrage" of the day, Trump's poll numbers remain steady and in some cases are rising in groups (e.g., African Americans, Latinos, lower middle-class whites, suburban woman) that the Democrats cannot afford to lose. How can this be?

Fernandez writes:
One of the most puzzling things about the Trump presidency is the inability of the liberal establishment to make public opinion headway against him despite his attack on everything they hold sacred. Though several explanations can be advanced, perhaps the most plausible is that the establishment's revealed behavior shattered the trust once reposed in them.

"Love," John le Carre once observed, "is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love." And because the public loved the establishment, even worshiped it, the sense of betrayal caused by revealed behavior was profound. Every time a celebrity, media figure or editorial writer was shown to be secretly mocking the public, smugly secure in the cocoon of his own kind, it cut more deeply than if he had never been admired at all.
Trust is fragile. Secrets and lies jeopardize trust and can damage us and our relationships — sometimes irreparably. ... Honesty is more than simply not lying. Deception includes making ambiguous or vague statements, telling half-truths, manipulating information through emphasis, exaggeration, or minimization, and withholding feelings or information that is important to someone who has a right to know.
Fewer disillusions hit harder than discovering that an article of faith was a lie.
Of the four constituencies, the media is hardest hit by the erosion of trust, and others aren't far behind. Not more than 2 or 3 decades ago, people trusted the media, perceiving them as objective and unbiased. It was an "article of faith" that what you heard on network television newscasts or later on 1980s-era CNN was an accurate depiction of national or international events. With the election of Barack Obama and the upset election of Donald Trump, the media has done much to betray the trust of the general public. Inaccuracy, bias, and yes, "fake news," have become their calling cards, and the public now rejects them. They whine and blame Trump, but he isn't their real problem.

Another constituency, the Democrats, think that phony accusations that Trump colluded with the Russians to defeat HRC will buy them votes. They're too caught up in Trump Derangement Syndrome to recognize that exactly the opposite is occurring, that their evidence-free quest to destroy Trump's presidency makes them look dishonest and venal. Establishment GOP #NeverTrumpers think that quietly taking the body blows of vicious partisan attacks is the gentlemanly approach (think: George W. Bush) and that Trump's counter-punching style is unpresidential. Possibly so, but the general public sees things the other way around. You get attacked, you fight back in kind—that's Trump. And the deep state, (think: Brennan, Comey, Strock, Page, Clapper, Ohr, McCabe (all senior people who worked in the previous administration) and a cast of dozens who formed a partisan cabal to destroy Trump), have proven to be partisan liars and untrustworthy. People notice, even if they don't know the details.

All four constituencies keep telling us that catastrophe awaits in a Trump presidency. With wild-eyed hysteria, they talk about Nazis and dictatorships, threats to Democracy, and other bad, bad things. Back in the real word, the economy is humming, people have jobs and more money in their pockets, our position throughout the word is stronger, not weaker, than at any time in the past 30 years, and polling indicates that Americans think the country is headed in the right direction. Hmmmm.


A commenter on Fernandez' post writes:
GWB [George W. Bush] maintained a quiet dignity while his opponents torched him, and look where it got him (and the country). Trump may be a vulgar real estate developer from Queens, but he's a fighter, and that's good enough for this blue-state redneck.
It appears that it's good enough for a lot of people—maybe a lot more than the four constituencies are willing to admit.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Jordon Peterson

Establishment elites in both parties often have advanced degrees from prestigious institutions, are often published, are frequently quoted and interviewed, are well known in the arts and in entertainment, have become cultural influencers, and have a near monopoly on high government positions. They are our leaders, our diplomats, our commentators. It's odd therefore, that they are often wrong about the trajectory of our country, wrong in the guidance and leadership that they provide, wrong when they decide to confront our adversaries and often wrong when they don't. What the heck is going on? Are they, in fact elite? Are they people we should follow?

That's a question asked by author, professor, and clinical psychologist Jordon Peterson, the author of the #1 bestseller, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,. He's a man who questions many of the politically correct "rules" that have been established by leftist elites. To the surprise of those elites, he has become widely followed by millennials and as a consequence, represents a distinct threat to the power of today's entertainment, political, and media thought leaders. He has raised important questions about postmodernism, postmodern feminism, white privilege, cultural appropriation, and environmentalism. Because the left considers those topics to be sacrosanct, Peterson been vilified in the usual ways, dishonestly accused of alt-right leanings, racism, misogyny, the usual tedious list of ad hominem attacks.

Joy Pullimann explores Peterson's work and then writes:
At precisely the most credentialed moment in world history, we have a competency crisis, due to running things according to politically convenient lies rather than accuracy, competence, and efficiency. The evidence for this is plentiful and within nearly everyone’s common experience. Old dishwashers are more efficient and effective than new ones. So are old showerheads and toilets. Public infrastructure is degrading to shameful conditions despite our historic peak of technical power because, among other things, all the maintenance money has been spent on inflated pensions and pork.

Western education institutions now generally and self-evidently serve not as robust developers of young minds and souls, but of a ridiculously expensive, careerist version of virtue signaling. Schools and colleges routinely graduate people who can hardly read or do math at even an eighth grade level. Large percentages of would-be teachers, all of whom graduated high school and college, cannot pass licensing exams typically set at approximately a fifth- to eighth-grade level that completely ignore key competencies such as knowledge of how to teach reading.
All of this is painfully true, and much of it is due to the decades long leadership of the establishment elites whose every decision ultimate boils down to staying in power—at any cost. That's why they characterize "populism" as a dirty word. After all, if you're a populist, you will listen to elites with a newfound and fully justified skepticism.

Pullimann writes:
Peterson and many others note rightly that most of our universities, and the other cultural institutions they gatekeep such as media and public schools, are anti-education, anti-culture, and anti-American. They gain power by separating people, by not only refusing to cultivate the capacity for self-government, but also actively cultivating intellectual, economic, and spiritual dependency.
Ahhh ... dependency. Along with the cultivation of a victims' culture evident throughout identity politics, dependency gives the elites enormous power. After all, if you're dependent on government, they "got you." If you perceive yourself as a victim who deserves special treatment, they got you. The elites can offer up free stuff and special treatment in return for robotic compliance with their dictates. At the end of the day, they want nothing so much as control. Control imparts power and power can, if applied without constraint, lead to authoritarianism.

Pullimann quotes Caitlin Flanagan as she discusses Peterson, his ideas, and the people who are listening closely to them:
“These are people who aren’t looking for an ideology; they are looking for ideas. And many of them are getting much better at discerning the good from the bad. The Democratic Party reviles them [think: "deplorables"] at its peril; the Republican Party takes them for granted in folly.”
The last two years have accentuated the gulf that lies between the elites and the rest of us. The elites of both parties have rejected the Trump presidency (and the populism and rejection of the elites it implies). They have in essence implied that half the country (in voting for Trump) was/is wrong or stupid or "deplorable." The GOP elites are guilty of this, but the people who lean right reject their view out of hand. The Democrat elites are guilty of the same thing, but the people who lean left embrace the elites' view with little equivocation.

That's an interesting difference and something that just might blindside the Democrats going forward.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


In an obvious political move that is as much about payback as it is about national security, Donald Trump revoked ex-CIA director John Brennan's courtesy security clearance this week. If you listen to the establishment commentariat, including a gaggle of ex-CIA and intelligence directors, you'd think that Trump torched the entire Langley, VA operations center of the CIA.

It's worth noting that Brennan is one of the architects of Barack Obama's disastrous Middle East policies, you know, the policies that created a catastrophe in Syria (along with the deaths of half a million civilians), the policies that resulted in Libya becoming a failed state and the home of a variety of dangerous Islamist terror groups, the policies that isolated Israel—a true US ally, the policies that resulting (indirectly) in the Benghazi debacle, and the policies that lead to an "Iran Deal" that was so bad, so one-sided, and so ineffective that Obama refused to bring it before Congress, recognizing it would be rejected.

Steve Hayes has done an in-depth report on Brennan's tenure in the national security apparatus, and his conclusions do not depict Brennan in a positive light. Hayes, a prominent #NeverTrumper, disagrees with Trump's revocation of Brennan's security clearance, not because Brennan is an upstanding citizen (he isn't) but because Trump's move was vindictive. But on Brennan himself, Hayes is not kind. He relates how Brennan forced CIA operatives returning from Benghazi to sign an NDA on the day of their colleagues' funerals that effectively silenced them from discussing the scandal. He did this not to protect national security, but to protect his patron, Barack Obama, from obvious political fallout. He then denied that he had presented NDAs to the men in congressional testimony. Hayes writes:
This kind of mendacity in the service of politics was the rule for Brennan, not the exception. Brennan was one of the chief architects of President Obama’s “strategy” for fighting terrorism. That strategy hinged on the idea that the jihadists’ territorial ambitions didn’t really matter. Remember Obama’s remark that the predecessor to ISIS and other al Qaeda-affiliated groups were the “jayvee” of terrorism? Brennan laid the groundwork for that view. During a speech on June 29, 2011, Brennan claimed that al Qaeda’s "grandiose vision" of an "Islamic caliphate" is an "absurd" and "feckless delusion that is never going to happen." Three years later to the day, on June 29, 2014, ISIS declared itself to be a caliphate, ruling over a large part of Iraq and Syria. ISIS didn’t invent the idea of a jihadist caliphate out of thin air. Bin Laden and his men had preached it for years, including when the ISIS’ forerunner was part of al Qaeda’s global network.

Six months before the 2012 election, the Obama administration launched a comprehensive effort to demonstrate that the president had kept America safe ... The future CIA director [Brennan, then chief White House counterterrorism adviser] predicted that the global terrorist organization [Al Qaeda] would see its “demise” by the end of this decade. This wasn’t analysis, it was politics. Brennan made the claim despite a wealth of evidence—classified and open source—that al Qaeda was amassing more territory and recruiting more fighters ...

Obama officials, eager to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, claimed distance between the Taliban and al Qaeda. The documents demonstrated the opposite, as the two fought side-by-side on the battlefield. Obama White House officials, already laying the groundwork for the Iran nuclear deal, downplayed the threat posed by the Iranian regime. The documents showed the Iranian regime as a key facilitator of al Qaeda, despite ideological differences and antagonism between the two sides.

And Brennan not only fought the public release of these documents, as CIA director he blocked other elements of the U.S. intelligence community from access to them.

John Brennan didn’t suddenly become political with the election of Donald Trump, as his defenders in the intelligence community and the media would have us believe. He was an adviser on Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. He was political as a top White House counterterrorism adviser. And he was political as CIA director. He used intimidation tactics similar to the ones he now finds so objectionable and lied about it afterwards. He sold the country a misleading narrative about the demise of al Qaeda and worked to bury evidence that contradicted Obama administration claims.

None of this is offered as a justification of Trump’s revocation of Brennan’s security clearances. I share many of Brennan’s concerns about Trump’s temperament, his character, and his behavior in office. There are serious questions about Trump and Russia. I’m glad Bob Mueller is investigating them.

But portraying Brennan as a dispassionate, apolitical intelligence professional is misleading. It gives his pronouncements the appearance of detachment and objectivity; they have neither. Some reporters doing this are guilty of the black-hat/white-hat reporting that has infected political journalism in the Trump era. Trump so offends their sensibilities that they depict his critics as heroes almost by default. Other reporters are no doubt portraying Brennan this way out of genuine ignorance. After all, there wasn’t much reporting on his efforts to politicize intelligence during the Obama administration and what reporting there was routinely was ignored.
Of course it was. Brennan is now characterized by many in the media as a victim. He isn't. He's a liar, a partisan hack, and a man who has done much to damage the image of an objective, non-partisan, apolitical CIA. Revoking his clearance was ham-handed, but it couldn't have happened to a more disreputable guy.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Conspiracy Theory

The New York Times never ceases to be the laughably predictable protector of and mouthpiece for the Democratic party. It chooses to spin its stories to denigrate the GOP whenever possible. It chooses to tamp down coverage of any legitimate news events and/or scandals that might hurt the Dems or their candidates or elected officials, and most recently, it has embraced full-blown Trump Derangement Syndrome as if it is a religious quest.

Those who questioned the Democrat narrative on Benghazi—a slam dunk case of blatant executive level dishonesty and chain of command malfeasance (with copious evidence to support that characterization) were accused by the NYT of being "conspiracy theorists." Those who questioned the Obama administration version of the events leading to the IRS scandal—a slam dunk case of weaponizing a powerful government agency to act against the then-president's opponents (a claim recently vindicated by a lawsuit and government settlement) were again accused by the NYT of being "conspiracy theorists." Just today, a front page story in the NYT entitled, "Embracing Conspiracy Theory, Trump Escalates Attack on Bruce Ohr" again uses "conspiracy theory" to label yet another a slam dunk case of the weaponization of the FBI and intelligence agencies (under Obama) supported by so much irrefutable evidence it is mind-boggling.

Holman Jenkins comments on the media's obsession with protecting the Dems in the latter case when he writes:
... If you are not by now open to the suspicion that the blowhardism of former Obama intelligence officials John Brennan and James Clapper is aimed at keeping the focus away from their actions during the election, then you haven’t been paying attention. In his New York Times op-ed this week after being stripped of his courtesy, postretirement security clearance, the CIA’s Mr. Brennan finally put his collusion cards on the table: Mr. Trump’s ill-advised remark [it was a joke said with a smile] during the campaign inviting Russia to find the missing Hillary Clinton emails.

Really? This is it? Mr. Trump’s behavior was typically unpresidential in the fashion that we have now become used to, such as referring to a fired White House employee as a dog. But his jibe was at least as much aimed at the media, which he correctly noted would eagerly traffic in the stolen emails even as it deplored Russian meddling.

When Mr. Trump tweets and blurts out so many offhand things, are you really going to build a “treason” case (a term Mr. Brennan has used) out of just another free-form Trump campaign riff of 2016? If that’s all he’s got, the secret knowledge Mr. Brennan keeps hinting at is a fabulous fraud.

Which brings us to the press. The two stories outlined above are of legitimate, pressing interest, but editors and reporters say to themselves: “Might not looking into these matters be construed as pro-Trump? We can’t have that.” Not one U.S. paper, despite lavish coverage of the DOJ inspector general’s report, even noted the existence of a secret appendix. According to reports in his own Washington Post, Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book will be an upmarket “Fire and Fury” looking into the known knowns of Mr. Trump’s chaotic first year in office. Meanwhile, history is screaming at Mr. Woodward to dig into the known unknowns of U.S. intelligence activities in the campaign that elected Mr. Trump.
But every editor and every reporter who has an IQ higher than their golf score knows that 'looking into" anything associated with the actions of the Obama administration during the 2016 campaign, the FBI, the CIA, the Clinton campaign and the DNC, the phony dossier ginned up by smear shop Fusion GPS, and yes, the actions of Bruce Ohr among a cadre of anti-Trump FBI executives, knows deep down that what they find won't be good for the Dems or for Obama's already shredded legacy. So they choose not to look. Instead, they accuse, as the NYT does, those who do look as "conspiracy theorists."

Ya know what? Sometimes,
  • when evidence indicates a clandestine communications by supposedly non-partisan government officials (think: text messages outlined the FBI IG report) aimed at the opponents of the administration;

  • when a chain for facts indicates that 'evidence' was bought and paid for by your opponents and knowingly used by other supposed non-partisan government agencies against a political opponent (think: the Fusion GPS dossier);

  • when the spouses of government employees are bought and paid for by one party (think Andrew McCabe wife's political donations and Bruce Ohr's wife's job working for ... wait for it ... Fusion GPS);

  • when government agencies (e.g., the DoJ and FBI) do everything possible to derail any Congressional inquiry into their action (think: Obama era DoJ types and their slow-walking of important documents);

  • when senior intelligence officials (think: Clapper and Brennan) outright lie to congress about these events),

  • when the person (think: Trump) who was the target of these actions is broadly accused of "collusion" with absolutely no evidence to support that charge, and

  • when the trained hamsters in the main stream media along with far too many Democrat politicians keep accusing anyone who reports these facts as "conspiracy theorists" in an effort to gaslight the public,

  • what you have is clear and compelling evidence of a full-blown CONSPIRACY!

    And if the editors and reporters of the NYT, the Democrats, #NeverTrumpers, and virtually every progressive refuse to see it, that tells us more about their grasp on reality than it does about conspiracy theory.

    The famous line out of the classic movie, Cool Hand Luke, comes to mind: "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

    True, but let's add, what we have here is a failure to accept the obvious—during the 2016 presidential campaign and spilling into the presidency of Donald Trump, there was a conspiracy to delegitimize his candidacy and then his presidency. It is ominous in its breath and depth, but far more ominous is the complete and utter failure of the most of the media to even investigate it, much less work to ensure that this cancer within our government never again occurs.

    Friday, August 17, 2018


    Yesterday, between 70 and 350 newspapers and other online news sources (depending on which source you read) published coordinated editorials attacking Donald Trump for his attacks on the media. His attacks note the media's obvious left-leaning bias, its emphasis on "news" that depicts the current administration in a negative light (90+ percent of all news stories), its de-emphasis or omission of news (think: the economy) that suggests that Trump is doing a much better than average job when compared to past presidents and, of course, Trump's suggestion that "the press is the enemy of the American people."

    Nina Bookout writes:
    The New York Times offered this up:


    Oh. Ok. A free press needs us? Actually, yes, it does. And we do need a free press. What we ALSO need and expect is an OBJECTIVE free press. Which is difficult when you factor in human nature. But objectivity must be strived for. Temper tantrums in the White House press corps a la Jim Acosta-style is by no means objective and only serves to have us mistrust the press even more.

    Memo to the national media: We don’t like you because you are printing fiction and then throwing pearl clutching fits when we demand you print facts. If you want to be liked and trusted, then EARN it.
    My recent post on the media as a victim and their subsequent temper tantrums makes essentially the same point.

    For decades, the media was a bully when reporting on any GOP policies, politicians, or lawmaking. When the GOP screwed up, the media amplified the screwup invariably suggesting that the GOP didn't care about the common person or were racists, or bigots, or anti-Democratic. And the GOP largely took it, pushing back weakly when they pushed back at all. They allowed the media to define the narrative. And the media loved it. No more.

    In recent years, during the term of Barack Obama, the media went into gaslighting mode, telling us that everything was sweetness and light, that scandals didn't happen, that bad policy was good policy, that dishonesty was only a matter of misinterpretation, that a weak foreign policy with disastrous outcomes was strength, that allies loved what we were doing when they hated it. And when opponents suggested otherwise, the media created an image of "conspiracy theorists" who were opposing their lies for partisan advantage.

    Excuse those of us who view the media with skepticism. We think that the majority of "journalists" are biased, lazy, and often dishonest. We view the lack of objectivity and the prevalence of fake news (a.k.a. "mistakes" that always seem to favor the Democrats) as clear bias. We look askance at their selective leaks and investigations that often refuse to look at wrong doing when it reflects badly on Dems. We think that lack of context is akin to propaganda. And "we" are not a small number of people, but the majority, if you are to believe the polls.

    The media has a problem, and it has NOTHING to do with Donald Trump. My bet is that not a single editorialist noted the real problem even though it's easy to identify. All they have to do is look in the mirror.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    Dudley Mueller

    If you are to believe every Democrat and a significant number of GOP #NeverTrumpers, the Mueller investigation is the epitome of ethics and a forthright attempt to "get to the bottom of" claims of Russian collusion. Mueller, if you were to believe the establishment elites, is the Dudley DoRight of lawyers and investigators.
    It's odd, isn't it, that with all the leaks out of the Mueller-DoRight investigation, there has been no mention of any investigation of collusion between the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Russians, even with this week's major investigative report (ignored, as usual, by most of the trained hamsters in the media) that indicates clear and continuous contact between a Clinton cutout, Fusion GPS, and the Russians throughout the 2016 campaign and after.

    Lee Smith of RealClearInvestigations reports:
    The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between high-ranking members of the Republican presidential campaign staff and a Russian lawyer with Kremlin ties remains the cornerstone of claims that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election.

    A growing body of evidence, however, indicates that the meeting may have been a setup -- part of a broad effort to tarnish the Trump campaign involving Hillary Clinton operatives employed by Kremlin-linked figures and Department of Justice officials. This view, that the real collusion may have taken place among those who arranged the meeting rather than the Trump officials who agreed to attend it, is supported by two disparate lines of evidence pulled together for the first time here: newly released records and a pattern of efforts to connect the Trump campaign to Russia.

    The first line of evidence includes emails, texts, and memos recently turned over to Congress by the Department of Justice. They show how closely senior Justice Department officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with employees of Fusion GPS, a Washington-based research firm reportedly paid $1 million by Clinton operatives to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign.

    They reveal that then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, the fourth-highest-ranking official at DOJ, coordinated before, during and after the election with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, who did work for the Clinton campaign and Russians; and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who was employed by Simpson.

    ... In fact, the Russian lawyer at the center of the [infamous Trump Tower] meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was his [Glenn Simpson's] client.

    She has publicly stated that she used talking points developed by Simpson for the Russian government in that discussion. Kremlin officials also posted the allegations on the Prosecutor General’s website, and shared them with visiting U.S. congressional delegations.

    In addition, Simpson has testified that he had dinner with Veselnitskaya the night before the meeting and the night after.

    Accompanying Veselnitskaya to the meeting was Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, who had served in the Soviet Union’s military counterintelligence service. His role remains unclear, but evidence suggests he may have been the source Simpson was alluding to in December 2016 when Ohr recorded that Simpson told him, “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.”

    Veselnitskaya hired Simpson in spring 2014 for work that lasted, according to Simpson’s Senate testimony, until “mid to late 2016.”
    Gosh, you'd think because the New York Times and other trained hamsters in the media are so, so concerned about Russian collusion, they'd launch their own investigative resources to corroborate or refute the RealClear Investigations allegations, but nope. No interest -- none at all. You'd think the Dudley Mueller and his band of lawyers (patriots and Clinton stalwarts all) would be appalled by allegations that HRC worked with the Russkies and mount their own grand jury probe. Nope, no possibility of wrong doing, none at all. But Stormy Daniels or Omasosa ... oh, that's another story entirely.

    Dudley (err, Robert Muller) has broadened his probe to ensnare everyone from crooked lobbyist Paul Manafort to aging porn star Stormy Daniels to sleezy fixer-lawyer Micheal Cohen, to sleezy political operator, Roger Stone) all in an effort to bust Donald Trump. Yet, not one shred of credible evidence has been leaked to indicate that Trump colluded with the Russians. It does seem odd, does it not, that Mueller and his merry band of investigators seem unwilling to broaden their collusion probe to look at the only real Russian collusion that occurred during the 2016-2017 campaign and promoted by Hillary Clinton's campaign.

    Hmmm. Given Dudley's selective focus, it sure looks like a "witch hunt" to me.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2018

    Not Smart

    In a recent post, I noted that the main stream media has begun to characterize itself as a victim under attack by Donald Trump. According to the trained hamsters, Trump is berating them for no reason whatsoever.

    They, of course, have been perfectly objective in their coverage of all things Trump. Not. They de-emphasize the major accomplishments of the Trump administration (e.g., high GDP and low, low unemployment, tax breaks for the middle class, etc.) because they have to give Amarosa 24-7 coverage. They have purposely ignored the weaponization (against Trump) of major government agencies (think FBI, CIA, IRS) by the Obama administration because inveterate liars like James Clapper of James Comey tell us it isn't true. They use a double standard to cover malfeasance or ethical laps by Republicans and Democrats, breathlessly reporting alleged minor wrong-doing in a Trump charity while refusing to even acknowledge allegations of massive wrongdoing in a Clinton-related charity. They treat extremist groups on both the right and left differently; for example, this week's physical attacks by left-wing Antifa thugs in Charlottesville on their own media brethren (NBC reporters) were downplayed while a tiny demonstration (about 20 people) by alt-right extremists in Washington garnered hours of coverage. And of course, they are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Russian collusion did occur and that Trump was involved, even though the only hard evidence of Russian collusion occurred when Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for and colluded with Russian sources to vilify Trump by creating the infamous phony dossier.

    And now we learn that the left-leaning Boston Globe is coordinating anti-Trump editorials by 100 newspapers across the nation set to criticize Trump for attacking the media. After all, think of all the balanced and objective Administration-related journalism offered by the Globe and others over the past two years. The poor trained hamsters have been violated and attacked by a meanie president and their delicate feelings have been crushed. Gosh, CNN's Jim Acosta felt "unsafe" at a Trump rally.

    The Boston Globe coordinated attack caused @walterkern to tweet:
    Angered by Trump's charge that it feigns independence while acting as a unified coordinated attack machine, the press responds with a coordinated unified attack on Trump. Smart.
    Actually, no. Not smart, but biased and unprofessional, yes.


    The trained hamsters love to vilify Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the person who has embarrassed them repeatedly by uncovering critical information about the above mentioned scandal that normally would have been reported by the media (except it embarrassed their masters, the Dems).

    Mollie Hemingway writes:
    It is worth noting that Nunes’ and others’ work doing real congressional oversight has deeply embarassed the media. Without congressional oversight, the country would not know:
    • That Clinton and the DNC secretly funded Fusion GPS’s dossier.
    • That Trump affiliates were wiretapped during the campaign.
    • That a $50 million public relations operation is ongoing to feed Russia stories to the media and government even now.
    • That the FBI is working with this group running the PR operation.
    • That Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS.
    • That top officials were leaking to CNN.
    • That the unverified dossier was used to justify FISA warrant applications.
    • That no official intelligence was used in Peter Strzok’s electronic communication launching the investigation.
    And much, much more. Yes, Nunes makes the media’s role in this story look just terrible. Still, their derangement toward him is getting ridiculous.
    The WaPo's slogan is "Democracy Dies in Darkness." Heh. Looks like the WaPo "journalists" don't mind darkness as long as their Democratic friends can hide their scandalous wrongdoing in the shadows.

    Friday, August 10, 2018

    Sticks and Stones

    Social media giants like Facebook and YouTube have decided that they can be the arbiters of what speech is free and what speech can be banned. As private entities they have that right, of course. But that doesn't mean they're equipped—ideologically, intellectually, or emotionally—to make decisions that control what voices can be heard and what voices must be banned. Censorship is almost always a bad idea, and current attempts to censor speech are no exception.

    The case of Alex Jones is representative. Jones is a right-wing extremist, a conspiracy monger, and a bad guy generally, who often espouses hateful ideas. David Harsanyi comments on Jones and efforts to ban him from Facebook:
    Jones, who has made numerous hateful and reckless remarks, should make any reasonable person uncomfortable. In this regard, though, he’s certainly not alone. And if Facebook is now guaranteeing a platform free of unpleasant voices who break their vague terms of service, they have lots of work ahead.

    To some extent, I can understand how frustrating it is watching a bigoted conspiracy theorist who has destroyed lives be provided a voice on a large media platform. After all, I’ve been trying to ignore Al Sharpton’s cable show for years. Yet if I were running a social media platform, I’d like to think I would allow nearly anyone— minus those who threaten violence or otherwise break the law—to speak. It’s not as if users wouldn’t possess a block button. I can’t recall a single time in my decade using social media ever opening an [Alex Jones'] Infowars link. I doubt most of you have either. Even if you did, you wouldn’t melt. They’re just words.

    And while the ejection of Jones isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t necessarily portend a mass expulsion of less extreme voices, let’s stop acting like conservatives are foolish for harboring some concerns about the incrementalist goals of would-be liberal censors.
    And therein lies the problem. There are an equal number of left-wing extremists, conspiracy mongers (think: 9/11 was an inside job), and a bad guys generally who populate social media. They propose ideas that are truly extreme, they denigrate those who disagree with their world view using hateful labels like "racist" as if it was a description of eye color, they propose totalitarian/authoritarian solutions for everything from property rights to wealth transfer, they are objectionable by any reasonable standard. But that doesn't mean their speech should be banned.

    The interesting thing is that the speech of left-wing extremists is generally not banned. It appears that only those whose speech runs counter to the progressive narrative (championed by many of the founders and executives along with a majority of the employees of social media companies) become the targets of censorship.

    The danger is that voices that oppose the progressive narrative but are neither hateful or extreme (by any rational definition) will slowly fall under the "Alex Jones" label. And once that happens, censorship is the next step. Harsanyi continues:
    Every day, contemporary liberals run around accusing Trump supporters of being in league with white supremacists and social conservatives of being unrepentant bigots. Republicans are regularly charged with propagating fascist views or attempting to literally murder Americans.

    It’s implausible to imagine a future where liberal activists don’t demand Republican groups be deplatformed. We already see liberal groups targeting advertisers of popular conservative radio hosts and trying to have National Rifle Association, an organization regularly compared to terrorists, thrown off platforms on moral grounds. The slippery slope already exists ...

    People struggle—or, more likely, pretend to struggle—to make a distinction between defending the value of free expression and defending those who use it. Arguing that it’s preferable to err on the side of more speech on a giant user-generated website doesn’t make you an ally of Jones any more than defending the right of The New York Times editorial board to hire Sarah Jeong makes you a small-minded racist. What it might mean, though, is that you’re more troubled by the prospects of authoritarian ideologues who believe speech is tantamount to “terrorism” attempting to dictate what our discourse looks like than you are about some media-generated panic about Jones.
    Unless the speaker/writer directly advocates violence and murder against specific groups (think: ISIS), censorship is generally a bad idea. It turns bad guys into martyrs and forces their ideas underground, where robust debate and denunciation are more difficult to accomplish.

    It seems that the old aphorism, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me, has been rejected by the social media power elite. They think that by banning "words" they'll eliminate those who might ultimately use "sticks and stones" to permanently silence ideas they don't like. They're wrong.

    Thursday, August 09, 2018

    The Media As Victim

    A significant majority of all members of the national main stream media took their masks off after the upset election of Donald Trump. It wouldn't be so bad if they were simply biased and partisan—they're surely that. But they also reject the basic tenets of their supposed profession—selectively reporting or ignoring stories based on their impact to the prevailing progressive narrative, omitting context and crucial facts that might help people better understand a story, and making "mistakes" in reporting (with resultant retractions) that always seem to benefit Democrats and hurt the GOP. As a consequence they are sometimes the purveyors of "fake news." They are also extremely thin-skinned.

    Let me explain.

    Over the past three or four decades, the main stream media became an extension of the Democratic party, attacking every GOP president and every GOP presidential candidate during election years. Often dishonestly. But in those days, the people who were attacked simply turned the other cheek—they were gentlemen and women and never punched back. That allowed the media to become bullies—they thought they could deliver their bias with impunity—that no one would notice and certainly, that no national politician would dare call them on it.

    Boy, has that changed.

    Donald Trump has decided to fight back—hard. He demonizes the media, He points out their errors publicly, notes their bias with reference to specific reporters, and has suggested that they are "the enemy of the American people." Wow ... that hit a nerve.

    The usual cast of trained hamsters were apoplectic. Proponents of an ideology that sees far too many groups as "victims," they decided to become victims themselves. They argued that any demonization of the media "was a threat to democracy" and a weapon employed only by nazis or fascists. They called Trump's attacks "dehumanizing." After all, they were the important forth estate—a group that was supposed to keep dishonest politicians in check, reign in the excesses of government, investigate scandals when they arose, and inform the people. Over the past decade, far too many "journalists" have done none of those things—so many, in fact, that the few true professionals are notable exceptions to the norm.

    Every day, important stories (that conflict with the prevailing Democrat narrative) go un- or under-reported; every week, breaking news that validates the existence of government scandals is ignored or buried on figurative page 37; every month the main stream media becomes less and less objective and more and more partisan. And as they do those things, they become a threat—not to all Americans, but to those that still believe that the media delivers objective, honest reporting. They become a threat because they enable corruption by failing to investigate it, they encourage dishonesty on one side of the aisle by refusing to identify it, they warp the notion of "objectivity" by thinking they deliver it, and then they whine about attacks on their integrity when they have no integrity to defend.

    Yeah, Trump is a brute when he calls out the media. Maybe he's callous when he ridicules their objectivity, and maybe he's hyperbolic when he calls them a "threat." But maybe, based on a decade or more of irresponsible actions, that's exactly what the media deserves.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2018


    For the past year, the Democrat's trained hamsters of the main stream media have hyperventilated over a meeting that Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign staff had with a Russian lawyer, titularly to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton. In what amounts to a breathtaking level of disingenuousness, they are shocked, absolutely shocked, that one political campaign would want to gather dirt on another. They, of course, have decided that a one-off, 20-minute meeting that yielded no dirt on anyone is prima facie evidence of "Russian collusion." The hamsters, oddly, are absolutely uninterested in another set of paid activities and meetings, conducted by the DNC and the Clinton Campaign through Fusion GPS, in cooperation, it now seems, with the Obama DoJ and with direct cooperation of the Russians. Those activities resulted in a phony dossier that was used to initiate a surveillance campaign by Obama-weaponized FBI and intelligence agencies against an opposition political party. But media interest in all of that is nil, because ... Democrats were the perpetrators.

    In a comprehensive analysis (read the whole thing), John Solomon comments on the latest revelations gleaned from just-released documents that the DoJ and FBI refused to release for over a year. He writes:
    Hundreds of pages of previously unreported emails and memos provide the clearest evidence yet that a research firm, hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to find dirt on and defeat Donald Trump, worked early and often with the FBI, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official and the intelligence community during the 2016 presidential election and the early days of Trump's presidency.

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

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

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

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

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

    They also confirm that Ohr later became a critical conduit of continuing information from Steele after the FBI ended the Brit's role as an informant.
    In January, 2017, the trained hamsters characterized Yates political grandstanding (she refused to resign her position at the end of the Obama administration) as a heroic form of political protest. What we now see is she was a blatant political operator who was actively involved in an effort to undermine Trump before he election and delegitimize him after his victory.

    Ever so slowly, despite obfuscation by the Democrats and an active campaign to bury this major scandal by the media, the truth comes out. Drip, drip, drip.


    Just this morning, GOP Representative Chris Collins was indicted by the DoJ for insider trading. I suspect the charges are legitimate. CNN gave over two hours of coverage to the story, including broadcasting the complete news conference conducted by the DoJ announcing the charges.

    Interesting that a relatively unimportant indictment of a Republican gets massive coverage, while new revelations that have a bearing on a major national scandal involving Democrats gets virtually none. Heh.

    Monday, August 06, 2018


    Day after day, week after week, month after month ... the figurative volume of the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd escalates. They express their "outrage" in myriad ways, some simply comical, others rather more repugnant. A laughable example has Rosey O'Donnell and a group of Broadway singers performing songs of outrage on the streets outside the White House. A more repugnant example is an Antifa (a.k.a., leftist thugs) crowd that screamed at and threatened a black female, conservative writer as she ate breakfast. But I digress.

    Conservative historian Victor Davis Hansen eviscerates those progressives who have convinced themselves that they are morally, intellectually, and emotionally superior not only to Trump voters but to virtually everyone who resides in red states in the center and southern reaches of the country—about half the U.S population. He notes the example of Sarah Jeong, a recently hired NYT writer who has taken viciously anti-white positions on Twitter. Those positions are racist, except they can't be, because ... white privilege. Jeong claims her tweets were satire. Yeah, right, sort of like David Duke's racist comments were, what? Ironic?

    Hansen writes:
    Academic dogma postulates that white people cannot be the victims of racism, and such banal white demonization has now seeped into the larger liberal commentariat. With that bias comes the twin notion that one can smear the white working classes with impunity. [Politico reporter Marc Caputo [who referred to people at a Trump rally as toothless rubes], however, was not brave or stupid enough to visit a Trump rally and to suggest to the crowd around him to get to a Clear Smile clinic.

    If you are a non-white purveyor of such prejudice, venom like Jeong’s is contextualized through the lens of compensatory historical grievances. Someone’s grandfather mistreated your grandmother, so you can invert and then replay the roles with impunity. Or less charitably, life’s disappointments are always due to past cosmic injustice, not one’s own perceived tragic shortcomings or bad luck or just cruel fate.

    If you are an elite white liberal, you are a twofer: virtue signaling your identity politics bona fides, while psychologically squaring the circle of your own privilege. Those who ridicule less fortunate white others for their supposed racial privilege—themselves often the products of old boy networks, elite upbringings, inherited perks, prep schools and parental leveraging—end up as the privileged smearing the non-privileged for their privilege ...

    Is such ignorance of an entire class because of, or in spite of such, elite training?

    Does the university-bred cursus honorarium have room for real-world experience beyond the campus and laptop?

    Has Jeong ever worked welding alongside the grandchildren of Dust Bowl diaspora to adjudicate their actual skin-colored advantage? Did her class and gender studies work at Harvard Law constitute a tougher curriculum than a 12-hour shift at Denny’s? Is the soybean jack-of-all-trades farmer really denser than the Yale English major?

    A final irony. In answer to the now hackneyed question, who or what created Trump? All these purveyors of class and racial prejudice need only look in the mirror.
    As the volume of the TDS crowd increases, a single feeling permeates the atmosphere—contempt. As I've mentioned in an earlier post, people react poorly when they feel contempt. In fact, it's not at all unusual to feel anger, maybe even outrage. There's only one thing, though. The outrage by those who feel contempt is justified and real, but it hasn't yet surfaced. If it does, the faux-outrage TDS crowd will see their dreams of political power disappear like a mirage.

    Sunday, August 05, 2018


    The vast majority of all Democrats and a significant number of Republicans have become obsessed over Russian interference in our elections. The Dems work hard at conflating factually-based evidence of Russian hacking and social media manipulation with evidence-free allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. After all, it serves their political purposes in a futile effort to delegitimize Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton.

    The big question is what affect, if any, Russian interference had on voter attitudes and the election result. Common sense tells us that the effect would be very small, given the tsunami of 'legitimate' political adds and media commentary that washes over the electorate in the months before any election. But Dems and #Nevertrumpers are undaunted, clinging to the fantasy that were it not for the Russians, the election result would have been different.

    A major political study, out of the University of California and Stanford (certainly not bastions of pro-Trump sentiment), backs up common sense. Using typical academic jargon, the authors summarize their findings:
    Significant theories of democratic accountability hinge on how political campaigns affect Americans’ candidate choices. We argue that the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices in general elections is zero. First, a systematic meta-analysis of 40 field experiments estimates an average effect of zero in general elections. Second, we present nine original field experiments that increase the statistical evidence in the literature about the persuasive effects of personal contact 10-fold. These experiments’ average effect is also zero. In both existing and our original experiments, persuasive effects only appear to emerge in two rare circumstances. First, when candidates take unusually unpopular positions and campaigns invest unusually heavily in identifying persuadable voters. Second, when campaigns contact voters long before election day and measure effects immediately — although this early persuasion decays. These findings contribute to ongoing debates about how political elites influence citizens’ judgments.
    Heh ... the best estimate for the effects of campaign contact (by far the most common contact with voters in the run-up to an election) is "zero." The implication is clear. Russian on-line mischief is a tiny percentage of all contact that a voter expereiences during an election season. It's difficult to stop and generally annoying, but if you are to believe the Standford-Berkeley study, it's quite likely that it had "zero" impact on the election. ZERO!

    Of course, ginning up a phony contoversy over "Russian Collusion," demanding a special prosecutor to "investigate," and providing months and months of fake news stories to buttress the irresponsible allegations of collusion have served to further divide the country, exposed high level corruption in our law enforcement and intelligence communities, and indicated that the DNC and Clinton did in fact work with the Russians in an attempt to discredit Trump. All of that didn't effect the election (although not for lack of trying) but did much to cause tens of millions of people to lose faith in our political discourse, the FBI and the Congress. That is substantially more that a zero effect, and it's not good.