A greater tragedy

In no way is this post meant to take way from the fact nearly 60 people died, hundreds more were injured, and thousands subjected to terror in Las Vegas Sunday night.  But after reading and watching this, I realized there is a much greater loss we’ve sustained as a nation:

FBI special agent Aaron Rouse said at a press conference Wednesday that the FBI has leads in the investigation of the Las Vegas shooting “all across the United States and all across the world.” …

“This is about informing on an investigation, this is about resolving an investigation, so specifics regarding any individual contact cannot be answered. You need us, you trust us, and the way we have that trust is by using good discretion about what we share.”

At that point I realized: “I DON’T trust the FBI.”  Or the Justice Department.  Or the Department of Homeland Security.  Not at all.  Not anymore.  And I’m certain I’m far from alone.

Isn’t it odd our investigators insisted within 12 hours of the attack that despite the terror organization’s repeated claims, the gunman had no connection to ISIS — but after more than several months and more than 100 witnesses testifying, the Senate Intelligence Committee is still clinging desperately to the idea the Trump campaign colluded with Russia somehow?  How can they be so sure in either case, unless it’s a predetermined outcome?  Isn’t it odd the FBI can remain tight-lipped about investigating Las Vegas, but leaks like a sieve when it comes to investigating a sitting president?  Isn’t it odd that last year the former Director of the FBI, James Comey, could read off what was in essence an indictment of Hillary Clinton and her team’s use of an unauthorized email server, and yet claim there was no need to press charges?  Isn’t it odd that despite conclusive evidence the IRS illegally discriminated against conservative political groups that former IRS official Lois Lerner won’t face any penalties?  Isn’t it odd that a man who boasted to employees on Capitol Hill about his ability to get people “worked over” in Pakistan was allowed to remain in charge of the Democratic National Committee’s information technology support? (And isn’t it odd how supportive–even threatening–the former DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has been of Awan, considering he was in a position to know a lot of unpleasant secrets?)

It’s sad that in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history I have no confidence our government will level with the public about what happened.  It’s sad that I believe the most sincere participation by concerned citizens in our process of governing is unlikely to produce the desired changes, because of the action of unknown, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who thwart any attempt to “drain the swamp.”

What’s saddest is that being patriotic may soon mean choosing between country and government.  That’s what happens when the latter forfeits the public’s trust.

 

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Reality check

Though the sources conflict, there is a general sense among historians that ancient Rome did, indeed, have a practice of keeping the subject of their triumphal processions humble.  While being praised and celebrated by the citizens of of the city, a returning conqueror is said to have been subjected to the presence of either a close associate or an assigned slave, who continually whispered into his ear something along the lines of “remember, you are mortal.”

Regardless how the actual practice occurred, this is an imminently practical idea for any nation that desires the rule of law, and not of men.

One of the largest criticisms during the rise of Donald Trump has been that it seems dangerously close to a cult of personality.  It’s no secret many people voted for him despite of his character traits, not because of them, believing (correctly, in my humble opinion) he was still a better alternative than Her Hillariness.  There is always a danger in such a scenario that people become too willing to overlook faults and flaws in “their” candidate.

Yesterday’s runoff election in Alabama should be taken as an encouraging sign that Trump does not quite enjoy such unquestioning support:

Former judge Roy Moore won the Republican nomination on Tuesday evening in the Alabama special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, defeating the Trump-endorsed former state attorney general Luther Strange.

A strong argument can be made that endorsement by Senate GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did more to damage Strange than Trump’s did to help him.  In the eyes of many (including me), McConnell personifies much of what is wrong with today’s mendacious GOP “leadership.”  That he would strongly advocate (and send significant resources) to Strange after only working with him in an interim capacity of a few months indicates he’d taken the candidate’s measure and decided he fit right in with the business-as-usual crowd.

That is not what the electorate, at least in Alabama and other comparable places, wants. The GOP has demonstrated they are not serious about fulfilling years-long promises to repeal Obamacare, secure the border, protect the American economy or simply put America first.  So it should surprise nobody their conservative base has had enough. That Trump endorsed Strange seems to indicate he was trying to work with McConnell, possibly in hopes of getting the Obamacare repeal or some other agenda item moving forward.  If so, the recent second failure to get a healthcare repeal bill to his desk demonstrates the value of such an effort.  This should be a lesson to the president: the Congressional GOP leadership is less interested in cooperating than they are in co-opting him and his supporters, as they did with the Tea Party.  During the final runoff debate, Strange’s main selling point seemed to be his repetition of the mantra that “Trump picked me.”  That this was unsuccessful is a reassurance the president does not command blind loyalty.

Having been burned too many times by their promises, a large portion of the GOP’s base is now looking to clean house in the party rather than mend fences.  Some — like Tennessee Senator Bob Corker — appear to see the insurgent writing on the wall (Corker announced he will not seek reelection in 2018).  Here’s hoping a number of others–especially John McCain–get the message as well.  ALL of them, not just Trump, need to be reminded that they are mortal.  And since none of them are indispensable to the effort to restore America, they can–and should–be held accountable for failure to support that effort, particularly when the GOP controls the House, Senate, Presidency and most State governorships and legislatures.

Mr. Trump is far from certain to be reelected in 2020.  Yesterday’s special election results should serve fair notice he was sent to D.C. to accomplish specific things.  His next turn at the polls will hinge on whether he does, in fact, accomplish them.

  • Build the wall.  Deport those here illegally.  Period.
  • Return jobs and investment to the U.S. by voiding the globalist drain of disadvantageous trade agreements and corporatist tax policies on our economy
  • Restore American credibility by consistently acting in the best interest of the U.S. in our foreign and military policy.

It’s not rocket science, Mr. President.  Your move.

Land of infinite “second” chances

Last month, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General released a report about the Infernal Internal Revenue Agency.  That Agency, as you will recall, has been shown to have discriminated against conservative organizations trying to obtain certain tax statuses.  Nearly five years after the first revelation of this, there has been NO accountability.  Lois Lerner is gone, but was not penalized in any way for the wrongdoing on her watch (she was allowed to take full retirement).

Now the IG reveals the Agency rehired 200 (that’s “two hundred“) former employees who had either been terminated for cause or left while under substantiated investigation of wrongdoing.  That included four who were fired for “willful failure to properly file their Federal tax returns.”

To be fair to the IRS (…yeah, right…), they’re only following the example of the Veteran’s Administration, whose Human Resources department shuffles failing or criminal employees from post to post rather than letting them go.  (Yes, I know the VA now touts having fired 500+ employees recently… but the list shows these are mostly lower-level employees and a handful of physicians, not the highly paid failing leadership.)

THIS is the “swamp” many people elected Trump to “drain.”  THIS is why people have no faith in their government anymore.  Congress is bad enough, but the various Minions of MordorTM are like an infection you can’t cure.  In fact, much like an infection they seem to become more resistant every time there’s an attempt to fight them.

This permeates the whole of government.  As a supervisor I saw this first hand, as it took me over a year to discipline an employee who was unqualified to be in their position in the first place (and who made no effort whatsoever to become so).  There needs to be a wholesale overhaul of the Civil Service; one that ensures government “service” doesn’t become a lifetime gravy train regardless of performance (or misconduct).

I guess the Republican Congress could get around to that after finally fulfilling their pledge of many years to repeal Obamacare.  But that, of course, now has to wait until they’ve raised the debt ceiling (yet again). Oh, and a new fiscal year starts October 1st, but there’s no budget in place yet (status normal).  Then there’s the promise of trying for tax reform…   You get the picture: accountability isn’t very high on the list.

It never is…

A slow-motion coup

Pat Buchannan’s column today looks at how government officials are breaking the law to “leak” sensitive information in order to damage the Trump administration, and asks the question — where does this all lead:

Before Trump departed D.C., The Washington Post ran transcripts of his phone conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.
Even Obama administration veterans were stunned.
So, it is time to ask: If this city brings Trump down, will the rest of America rejoice?…

Our media preen and posture as the defenders of democracy, devoted to truth, who provide us round-the-clock protection from tyranny. But half the nation already sees the media as a propaganda arm of a liberal establishment that the people have rejected time and again.

Consider the (Washington) Post’s publication of the transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico’s president and Australia’s prime minister.  The Post was letting itself be used by a leaker engaged in disloyal and possibly criminal misconduct. Yet the Post agreed to provide confidentiality and to hide the Trump-hater’s identity…

…there is a far larger story here, of which this Post piece is but an exhibit. It is the story of a concerted campaign, in which the anti-Trump media publish leaks, even criminal leaks, out of the FBI, CIA, NSA and NSC, to bring down a president whom the Beltway media and their deep-state collaborators both despise and wish to destroy...

The Justice Department is now running down the leaks, and the ACLU’s Ben Wizner is apoplectic: “Every American should be concerned about the Trump administration’s threat to step up its efforts against whistleblowers and journalists. A crackdown on leaks is a crackdown on the free press and on democracy.”

That’s one way to put it. Another is that some of these “whistleblowers” are political criminals who reject the verdict of the American electorate in 2016 and are out to overturn it. And the aforementioned “journalists” are their enablers and collaborators.

Read the entire piece hereNot every leak qualifies as “whistleblowing.”  In fact, I’d say that most leaking in D.C. is done out of political motivation of some sort.  True whistleblowing is the release of information a government, business or organization is holding back simply because it reveals wrongdoing.  The classic case of this is, of course, the Pentagon Papers.  The Supreme Court upheld the publishing of the papers because they clearly showed the Johnson administration had lied multiple times to the American people about the progress (or lack thereof) in Vietnam, and because revealing the contents posed no direct national security risk (only a political risk!).  When such a concerted effort is being made to conceal the truth, going outside the system as a whistleblower can be justified.  There are, of course, many other examples of people who took great personal risk to expose wrongdoing.

But that’s not what’s happening today.  Nobody is claiming the release of presidential telephone transcripts reveals devious doings and attempted cover-up.  In fact, most of the “leaks” are more like the National Enquirer’s gossip-mongering (“you won’t BELIEVE what Steve Bannon and H.R. McMaster said to each other today!”).  It’s a scattershot rumor mill enabled by spineless weasels who put their vanity as an “unnamed source” to a reporter above their duty to the country.  The ACLU has it all wrong here.  Cracking down on leaks doesn’t threaten whistleblowing — it protects it from abuse.  Protecting whistleblowing means bestowing that status only on courageous individuals who see clear, unaddressed wrongdoing in a failing system and literally blow the public whistle on it.

Speaking of failing systems, that now seems to include our entire crony-infested government bureaucracy.  The public has a right to know a great many things, but their are legitimate reasons for the government to protect certain types of information.  Those who abuse that trust need to go to jail, period (including Her Hillariness and Huma Abedin, among many others).

The corporate press is also a failing system.  The Washington Post’s new motto is that “Democracy dies in darkness.”  Fair enough.  It can also be murdered in broad daylight by irresponsible officials working with reporters who simply want to delegitimize the last election because it didn’t go their way.

Because once the government is seen as completely and hopelessly illegitimate, it’s only a matter of time before the true “Resistance” begins. THAT’S where the road we’re on seems to be headed.

That this even has to be said…

…shows how much the media and public in general lack critical thinking.  There needs to be a thorough housecleaning regarding leakers.  It’s one thing to be a whistleblower; it’s something entirely different to abuse your position of confidence to score points on the gossip circuit.  Have the guts to come forward, or shut your yap.  As for the media: your credibility is already in the toilet, and some of us didn’t need the press release below to know that most of what you have to say these days must be taken with a grain silo of salt.

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Knowing how this ugly business works, I’m hoping this was just a reminder born of frustration at all the leaks to this point, rather than a pre-emption of a shoe likely to drop in the near future. Every day it seems there’s some new bizarre angle that will be “investigated.”  It’s like one side is throwing around as much poo as they can, hoping something will stick.  Our government is paralyzed by all these circuses… and that’s by deliberate calculation.

Final unrelated thought: the copycatting of yesterday’s shooting has begun.

Where are the grown ups?

So the former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress about his prior investigations and his dealings with President Trump (it’s still strange to type that).  Here’s how much of a circus this has become:

  1. The Director admitting leaking information to the NY Times via a friend
  2. The leak supposedly contained notes he wrote after meeting with Trump
  3. When asked for his notes, he claims he no longer has a copy
  4. Congress has to ask his friend for any copies he received

Really?  Really?  Either the former Director or the President (or, quite likely, both) is shading the truth considerably.  If it can be shown the Director broke rules on protecting information, or has perjured himself before Congress, there needs to be severe penalties.  Congress also needs to take Trump up on his offer to testify under oath.  And finally, it appears former Attorney General Lynch put more pressure on Comey than Trump ever did… something you likely won’t hear played up in the press.

Meanwhile, both Nancy Pelosi and John McCain are amply demonstrating in a bipartisan fashion how geriatric Congress has become (and how much we need term limits).

Any last vestiges of credibility our government may miraculously have seem to be vanishing right before our eyes.  At this point, maybe an EMP blast from North Korea would be an improvement.  At least then we wouldn’t have to listen to these idiots and their pageantry on radio or TV anymore.  And we’d all be too busy scratching out an existence to care about anything beyond the next town.

Quote of the day

“We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It’s worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time — not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine — and it will probably never be true again.”

Jerry Pournelle, noted Military-Science-Fiction author and occasional pundit, written shortly after the 2008 election.