Too many coincidences

Victor Davis Hanson does a good job today summarizing what to date has been a slow but steady drip of information indicating Special Counsel Robert Mueller grossly stacked the deck in terms of staffing his investigation of the Trump team’s activity during last year’s election.  Excerpt:

By now there are simply too many coincidental conflicts of interest and too much improper investigatory behavior to continue to give the Mueller investigation the benefit of doubt. Each is a light straw; together, they now have broken the back of the probe’s reputation.

In inexplicable fashion, Mueller seems to have made almost no effort to select attorneys from outside Washington, from diverse private law firms across the country, who were without personal involvement with the Clinton machine, and who were politically astute or disinterested enough to keep their politics to themselves.

It seems readily apparent from what has been revealed that the investigation is the logical culmination of the Obama administration’s partisan weaponization of government.  Much as the IRS illegally discriminated against Tea Party-affiliated organizations, there is evidence the FBI and other agencies improperly surveilled U.S. citizens during an election, selectively leaking information upon which to base an investigation.  The many media misfires in recent days is further indication this investigation is a conclusion looking for evidence, rather than the other way around.  Ironically (and most likely deliberately), much clearer evidence of mishandling classified information, and improper quid pro quos between Russia and the Clinton Foundation are completely free from any official scrutiny.

Such politicizing of governmental institutions to overturn or thwart the result of a presidential election is a grave and present danger to the health of what’s left of our representative government.  It has further polarized a heavily divided electorate.  Those who support the administration see a partisan witch hunt.  Those who oppose him readily grab onto whatever “bombshells” are illegally leaked to the press from within the investigation in an attempt to further delegitimize Trump and his team–even though many of those “bombshells” quickly turn out to be less than meets the eye.

As Hanson notes, the existence of special counsels is already a poor reflection on the ability of representative government to reach just and fair conclusions in some circumstances.  If that safety valve is itself compromised (which seems highly likely in this case), what options for resolution of the issues are left — short of social unrest and violence?

Our political class continues to lead us down a very dangerous road.

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Who needs credibility?

UPDATE: a good summary of a bad media week can be found here.

The mainstream press is tripping all over itself trying to manufacture scandals for the Trump administration — and in the process, shredding what little credibility they have left.  They are as uniformly hostile to Trump as they were protective of Obama, and anyone who believes their claims of objectivity is simply either not paying attention, or is beyond reasoning with.  The press is being aided in their efforts by Robert Mueller’s investigative politically partisan team, which is habitually (and illegally) leaking material to said press.

The Department of Justice would do well to look into both the leaking by the special counsel’s investigative team, and the editorial processes that keep producing these slanderous misfires by the press.

CNN thought it had a major scoop indicating Donald Trump and his inner circle coordinated with Russian-aligned operatives in 2016 to tilt the presidential election.

CNN was wrong

The CNN report hinged entirely on an email that was supposedly sent on Sept. 4. The September email to Trump and his team included a “decryption key and website address” for the WikiLeaks dump, the article added.

There’s a major, glaring error in this story, which CNN promoted all Friday morning and into the afternoon.

The email upon which the entire story hinges was sent on Sept. 14, not Sept. 4, meaning the email merely pointed Trump’s team to a trove of already-public hacked DNC documents.

The difference between Sept. 4 and Sept. 14 is difference between someone merely flagging already public information and someone quietly slipping the GOP nominee and his team advance access to hacked correspondences.

CBS News also misreported independently that the email was dated September 4.

The depth of the swamp

A few items for your reading attention today, each of which illustrate how deeply the rot goes in our current system:

1)Just How Corrupt is the FBI?”

At least three members of the Russia probe: Robert Mueller himself, attorney Andrew Weissmann and Agent Peter Strzok all have very clear conflicts of interest in this matter and/or histories of abuse of power.  One of the latest examples:

As reported by Fox News, FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok changed Director Comey’s earlier draft of the announcement that exonerated Ms. Clinton. He switched it from “grossly negligent,” which is the language in the criminal statute pertaining to the mishandling of classified material, to simply “extremely careless,” essentially getting Ms. Clinton out of criminal jeopardy. Agent Strzok also interviewed Ms. Clinton without recording the session after Mr. Comey was apparently planning to exonerate her. He was fired by Mueller presumably when Mr. Strzok’s anti-Trump emails to a fellow FBI colleague, lawyer, and lover, Lisa Page, came to his attention. Are we having fun yet? It only gets better…

2) Obama’s email involvement tanked the Clinton investigation

I noticed it when this first became public more than a year ago, but perhaps unsurprisingly very little attention has been focused on it: President Obama sent and received emails with Hillary Clinton via the insecure private server over which she demonstrably conducted classified business.  Obama did so using a pseudonym, which seems to indicate he knew this system was likely not on the up and up.

Bottom line: no conviction of Clinton and Huma Abedin for willful mishandling national security information could have been obtained without implicating the president himself.  This likely explains why the Clinton “investigation” and subsequent Russia probe were assigned to some of the most partisan members of what should be a politically neutral FBI.

3) Andrew Weissmann, as noted in some of the links above, heaped praise on then-Attorney General Sally Yates, who early in the Trump administration publicly refused to defend the administration’s new travel restrictions intended to enhance border security. (Trump rightfully fired her.)  Weissmann is now one of Robert Mueller’s senior advisors on the “Russia probe.”  (But I’m sure he’s objective…)  Additionally, it’s been learned that while the courts correctly ruled Trump had the authority to appoint the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a number of employees at said agency consider themselves “resistors,” taking the childish name “Dumbledore’s Army.”  Their intent, it seems, is to thwart the new leadership any way they can.  Were I Mick Mulvaney, I would try to identify every employee who considered themselves part of this group — and fire them immediately.

The entrenched bureaucracy is determined there will be no deep and lasting changes under Trump.  How that struggle goes will define his presidency.  The stakes? Powerline’s John Hinderaker put it best:

The most powerful branch of today’s government is the Fourth: the permanent federal bureaucracy that is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. The Trump administration can best be viewed, perhaps, as a struggle to the death between American voters and the federal employees who are paid to serve them.

 

Subsidizing official misbehavior

It must be nice to be able to flaunt the law and get somebody else to pay for it:

Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz gave taped depositions in a class-action lawsuit brought by tea party groups demanding answers and compensation for having been subjected to illegal targeting ((by the IRS)) for their political beliefs.

The government settled the class-action lawsuit in Ohio and another tea party challenge in the District of Columbia in two agreements last month, admitting to the illegal behavior. The Ohio settlement also called for the government to pay $3.5 million to the tea party groups, according to one of the plaintiffs.

Now, where does the government get $3.5 million?  That’s right: your wallet and mine. This practice of making Joe Taxpayer pay for Johnny Government’s misdeeds is not unique to the IRS debacle, either:

Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of Hillsborough said Wednesday that over the last 20 years, Congress has settled 260 complaints of workplace discrimination “at a cost to taxpayers of this country of $15 million,” reiterating a figure she quoted on NBC Tuesday. But it’s unclear how many of those complaints were related to sexual harassment, versus racial or other forms of discrimination, because Congress doesn’t release that information, nor is it subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Got that?  You and I are paying for the government to break its own rules, and those rules have been arranged so that we can learn nothing of the details.  This is the same Congress, incidentally, that has been preening morally about how “wrong” it would be for Alabama to elect Roy Moore to the Senate, since he’s been accused of misconduct. But the last I looked, Moore continues to deny the allegations and he has never paid out a settlement to shut somebody up.

These elected officials dodge the financial bullet for their misconduct under the concept of “official immunity,” which is a gross abuse of the public trust.  Official immunity is meant to protect public workers in the performance of their duties.  For instance, a military physician cannot be sued by a servicemember because the physician performed an amputation in a war zone.  This recognizes that even in the honestperformance of official duties, some injury may occur.

But what we’re seeing here is not a pattern of honest service.  Far from it.  Official immunity is instead being used to offload the penalty of malfeasance to the taxpayers — and that is an injustice of the highest order.

Lois Lerner and Holly Paz are also asking that their testimonies in the IRS mess be sealed permanently.  In other words, they want the taxpayers to be denied still more information about why they’re being bilked for these settlements.  They claim they fear the public’s wrath, should their testimonies be released.

GOOD.  It’s time the government came to fear the citizens again.  Fear is a powerful deterrent, and right now there doesn’t seem to be much deterring our ruling class from doing whatever the hell they want… and making US pay for it.  When the legal system is perverted to obstruct justice, as it has been with “official immunity” and the concealment of what should be public information, the system loses its legitimacy — and the people lose their patience.

It’s probably time to invest in some torches and pitchforks.  We’ve reached the point where instilling fear is about the only recourse we have left to reign in our out-of-control criminal ruling class.

A poor substitute for accountability

Today, 1,632 days after Lois Lerner planted a question with a reporter to head off an Inspector General report by revealing the Infernal Internal Revenue Service had discriminated against Tea Party-related groups seeking non-profit status, the government announced the IRS has issued an apology for improper behavior, and will pay out a settlement to the groups estimated at a total of $3.5 million.

No employees were fined, imprisoned, or otherwise inconvenienced as a result of their rogue agency undermining the electoral process in a blatantly partisan effort to help the re-election of Barack Obama in 2012.  The American taxpayer, however, is now on the hook for $3.5 million due to criminal activity by “public servants.”  (Where did you THINK the settlement money comes from?)

This is justice??

Some may take issue with my statement that nobody was inconvenienced by pointing out Lois Lerner retired as a result of the revelations.  I stand by what I wrote.  In the three years before she retired (when all of this came out), Lerner received total federal employee “bonuses” of $129,000 before settling down to collect an annual pension estimated at around $100,000.  (For comparison, that’s just shy of twice my military pension after 24 years of service and six deployments.)  That she was allowed to retire rather than face disciplinary action for clear violations of the law shows yet again the rule of law is dead in this nation.  So no, she wasn’t inconvenienced in the slightest other than losing the power to inflict misery on people with whom she disagreed politically .

It’s enough to make you wonder what happened to the American spirit, that we just accept such outcomes and assume we can do nothing about it.  The founding generation of Americans were not above using tar and feathers for tax collectors.  While I’m not in favor of resurrecting that practice, I *am* in favor of finding ways to make government agents more fearful of the peoples’ wrath at their abuses.  (Maybe a response like this to their “apology.”)  They clearly have no shame, so fear is the only way to keep them in check.  It’s clear these days that people such as Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch and Lois Lerner have no fear of legal repercussions to their actions.  For all intents and purposes, the legal system does not apply to them.

What they fail to realize is that when enough Americans decide the current system is merely a sham to protect those in power, the danger is the citizens will begin to take the law into their own handsShould that day arrive, the pent-up anger that elected Trump will go on to make tar and feathers look like child’s play.

Unfortunately, the denizens of Mordor D.C. don’t seem to think about such possibilities.  They’ve been overprotected for too long to think it could possibly happen to them.

At the rate things have been going in recent years, they may be in for a rude surprise.

Swamps, RINOs and Trump

Many in the press hope they see a big story developing: a Republican “civil war” between those aligned with the president or Steve Bannon and the “establishment” GOP.  But as one outlet has already realized, the momentum is with the president:

Traditional Republicans fancying the cracks in their party as an opening to primary President Trump in 2020 need to deal with one inconvenient fact: Republican voters aren’t interested.

The brawl for dominance in the Republican Party is certainly remarkable. Former President George W. Bush; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; the chairmen of two top Senate committees; and now Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; all have sharply rebuked Trump, questioning his fitness, integrity, and moral authority.

But their resistance, though hardly isolated, is missing one crucial element: a significant measure of enthusiasm from Republican voters. That’s a weak foundation from which to pursue a challenge to the renomination of a sitting president.

Why is Trump’s base willing to overlook his unorthodox presidential behavior? Here the article nails it:

…where Trump’s Republican opposition sees a dangerous political provocateur, the GOP base sees a fighter who is defending them and their values — against the cultural oppression of the liberal elites in New York and Hollywood and against a political establishment in Washington that bends the rules for everyone but them.

Trump’s coalition includes true conservatives (as opposed to the think-tank faux conservatives in D.C.) and blue-collar Democrats who are tired of seeing everything and everyone put ahead of the needs of honest Americans.  The “have you no decency” outrage from the GOP establishment is easily ignored when one remembers how often they have failed to keep their promises to the voters (Obamacare repeal?  Immigration enforcement?  Tax and regulation relief?).  The problem with most Republican members of Congress is they are “Republican In Name Only (RINO).”  The Tea Party movement was a “civil” attempt to protest this repeated betrayal, and the bi-factional ruling party attacked it — the Republicans by painting it unfairly as racist, and the Democrats by illegally unleashing the IRS and other government agencies on the various groups.  In the latter case, no accountability has been forthcoming against Lois Lerner and her helpers, either.

Is it any wonder a large part of the voting population now wants to burn the establishment to the ground?

Not only has the administration outlasted the Democrats’ frantic efforts to delegitimize it, the shoe is rapidly moving to the other foot as:

These stories are far more important than the manufactured distraction over presidential condolence calls to Gold Star families. Those who care about America should not allow the topic du jour to “move on” from them.

The real fight now is not over the survival of the Trump administration (even the NYT admits “he’s not going anywhere“). It’s over whether he will have a more cooperative Congress to deal with after 2018.  Steve Bannon is rallying insurgent candidates* across the country, and even sitting Senators are reading the tea leaves (finally).  The election of Trump represented a bursting point of extreme voter dissatisfaction with business as usual.  “Civil” didn’t get voters anywhere, so they went with the bull in the china shop. Whether that voter anger and focus can be maintained through the next election cycle is the question of the decade.  If it is, the Trump victory in 2016 will be seen not as a fluke, but as a pivotal moment in American politics when the Swamp was finally confronted head on.

* While Bannon rallies Republican insurgents with name recognition, there are also complete outsiders like Tony Monetti in Missouri, who is challenging established Republican candidates in the primary to run against vulnerable Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.  Be sure to pay attention to ALL the candidates in the races for which you can vote.

Pretty much says it all

russia hunters

From the New York Post:

Lefty cheers for Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in US politics may soon fade now that he’s reportedly looking into a top Democratic lobbyist.
NBC reports that Tony Podesta (the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta) and his firm are the subjects of a criminal investigation by the special prosecutor.

And this comes amid new reports that the FBI gathered evidence for two years as Russian agents — including a major sleeper cell — worked to gain access to then-Secretary of State Clinton, husband Bill and members of their inner circle…

…All this, of course, follows reports the Obama administration knew Russia was engaged in a campaign of bribery and extortion — yet allowed a deal to go through giving Moscow control of one-fifth of America’s uranium.

Yes, there’s something to investigate here. But it goes way beyond Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump should be asking his State Department exactly why they’ve only managed to release less than half of the content of the emails Hillary bothered to turn over to them (32,000 pages out of 72,000) — not to mention the additional 2,800 emails found on Huma Abedin’s laptop that were NOT turned over.  The election — and with it, Obama’s corrupt administration — has been over for nearly a year… why is State still covering for Her Hillariness?