Laying out the timeline

UPDATE: (Feb 8, 2018) – It seems Forbes took down the timeline after a couple of days.  No explanation I’m aware of as to why.  Nevertheless, the Internet is forever, and a copy of it remains available here.

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ORIGINAL POST:  One of the challenges for the American public right now is keeping up with the drip, drip, drip of scandalous information coming out of Washington.  The pieces of the puzzles are being slowly dribbled out, and thus it’s difficult for the average citizen to piece together a picture of just how bad the malfeasance of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is.

So Forbes has done the nation a great service by assembling the known pieces at this point.  The Epoch Times produced a visual summary in January, but Forbes’ product brings the chronology up to date and provides disturbing clarity.  Keep in mind while reading it there is considerable information that remains redacted or unreleased, and the parties involved will clearly go to great lengths to keep it that way.  The magazine rightly concludes (emphasis added):

It is right to say that this episode is the worst abuse of political power in American history related to elections. Watergate is nothing by comparison. That involved people not employed by the government.  Later it involved a cover-up in which Nixon participated.

Watergate did not involve the DOJ and the FBI – two institutions which must be non-partisans for this Republic of ours.

This case does involve the FBI and DOJ.  It also is foolish not to assume that Loretta Lynch and President Obama were ignorant of the goings on – if not involved in them.

Finally, the dishonest investigation of Hillary who committed actual crimes should not be acceptable. Nor should FBI or DOJ officials be allowed to alter events and Court proceedings for political purposes.

If we let this go, and people are not brought to justice, we will have forever damaged our Republic and the World’s view of us as a nation of laws.

Not to mention that in the eyes of those of us paying close attention, the credibility of our government has taken a body blow from which it may never recover.  Only seeing the key figures in this melodrama in handcuffs and behind bars will suffice to start the process of restoration.  Nothing short of that will matter.

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Saturday Sounds

The Oldest Musketeer found this and shared it with me. Considering yesterday’s release of the Congressional memo on the FBI, it’s a good reminder that few of us are likely able to predict where all of this is going. Just buckle up and stay tuned (and enjoy the mashup video).

“You may say I’m a Dreamer…”

“…but I’m not the only one.”

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I tuned in for the State of the Union speech last night and I’m glad I did, for several reasons.  First, watching the Democrats win the “Worst Performance by a Minority Party at a State of the Union Address” award was priceless.  You could see it on their faces: they expected at this point in history to be watching Her Hillariness make permanent the hard left agenda inflicted by Obama.  Instead, they’re watching the country back away from the cliff, for however long the reprieve lasts.

More pleasantly, Trump struck the right tones in his address, maintaining discipline in his comments and rarely seeming to wander from the script as he often does.  Sure, he’ll never be as polished a speaker as Ronald Reagan, but that doesn’t matter: he communicates effectively in his own way.  Reagan may have started the trend of inviting “showcase” guests to the SOTU address, but Trump took it to a whole new level last night.  He put faces to the issues of border security, economic reform, courageous service and American patriotism.  I’ve become as cynical as most when it comes to such stage shows, but it was hard not to feel something when the president introduced Ji Seong-Ho, who escaped the brutality of North Korea and now fights that regime as a broadcaster and aid to fellow defectors.  To all the Lefties who’ve preened they’re some kind of underground “#resistance” to Trump’s allegedly “fascist” administration, the president was saying “THIS is what real resistance to real tyranny looks like:”

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The line that most struck me, however, was this:

My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream.  Because Americans are dreamers too.

In one swift moment, Trump yanked the term “Dreamers” away from the open borders advocates, reminding them there are people already in this country whose dreams are threatened by unchecked immigration, both legal and illegal.  It highlighted the many ways in which the Democratic party has put the interests of foreigners above those of the people they are elected to serve.  It was a masterful rhetorical stroke.

I came away from the speech optimistic.  Not necessarily because I think the administration will achieve everything they’ve set out to do.  Not because I think Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  But because this unlikely president is doing something that’s needed doing for a long time:

He’s teaching the Republicans how to fight.  In doing so, he’s giving the country its best — and perhaps final — shot for recovering from its leftward drift toward becoming California writ large.

Lots of sound and fury…

…is building in Washington.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t ‘signify nothing.’  It would be nice if accountability is about to make a comeback:

The House Intelligence Committee on Monday evening voted to make public a GOP-crafted memo alleging what some Republicans say are “shocking” surveillance abuses at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

That memo was reviewed Sunday by FBI Director Christopher Wray.  Interestingly, on Monday Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe suddenly sped up plans to retire:

Andrew G. McCabe abruptly stepped down on Monday as the F.B.I.’s deputy director after months of withering criticism from President Trump, telling friends he felt pressure from the head of the bureau to leave, according to two people close to Mr. McCabe.

In a recent conversation, Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, raised concerns about a forthcoming inspector general report. In that discussion, according to one former law enforcement official close to Mr. McCabe, Mr. Wray suggested moving Mr. McCabe into another job, which would have been a demotion.  Instead, the former official said, Mr. McCabe chose to leave.

Note: the inspector general report and the Congressional committee memo are two separate products.  The latest news would seem to indicate both contain seriously damning information about abuses at the FBI.  It’s much to be hoped for that the authors of both documents took the time (as appears to be the case) to lay out meticulously their findings.  McCabe is a player in the Hillary email (non)investigation, the beginnings of investigation into the Trump campaign, and likely referred to (as “Andy”) in the now infamous Strzok-Page flurry of texts showing hyper-partisanship at the Bureau.  Representative Trey Goudy rightly says that Strzok and Page should be called to testify about their missives, their actions, and whether they worked with others in the FBI and DOJ to protect one presidential candidate while illegally surveilling the other.

Having voted to make the Congressional memo public, Congress should now authorize release of the inspector general report as well.  The public deserves to know the full extent to which national law enforcement has been compromised.

It also deserves a thorough house-cleaning in Washington.  We already know the IRS was politically weaponized under the previous administration.  May this FBI investigation be just the beginning of a multi-agency cascade of accountability.

Losing things

First, it was the Infernal Internal Revenue Service destroying files related to the investigation of partisan bias against conservative advocacy groups.

Then it was the loss of thousands of deleted emails and the industrial-strength wiping of a hard drive during the investigation into Her Hillariness’ unauthorized homebrew email server during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State.

Now, after intense Congressional scrutiny, the FBI “lost” thousands of text messages between two key agents who were both having an affair and talking about their mutual opposition to Donald Trump during the end of the election and the beginning of the transition period in 2016.

As they say: once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three or more times is a pattern.  Fortunately some grownups at the Justice Department stepped in after yesterday’s declaration by the FBI of “we can’t find the texts.”  Seems DOJ’s technical support is a bit more adept motivated to actually retrieve the information in question.  Maybe now the taxpayers can find out what it is the FBI would rather not be publicized (you don’t really believe they just couldn’t retrieve the data themselves, do you?).

The biggest loss, however, has nothing to do with emails, electronic files or text messages.  Rather, it’s the loss of both respect and trust in our Federal agencies.  No objective person can fail to note the many ways in which our government has acted in recent years to shield itself from criticism or potential prosecution.  We clearly have a two-tiered legal system in this nation now: one for the well-connected Beltway insiders (including Presidents), and one for everyone else.  Don’t believe me?  Try telling the IRS you “lost” your W-2 or other standard tax paperwork.  I bet you don’t get the mulligan our “public servants” get on such things.

Every American should be outraged at the brazen chicanery of our legal institutions.  What we’re seeing is more appropriate to a banana republic than to the would-be leader of the “free world.”  I have never thought the charges of collusion between Trump and Russia had any merit (one typically does not sell weapons to the enemies of the one you collude with).  There’s plenty of evidence, however, of collusion between Federal agencies to cover their own tracks.  A lot of housecleaning and swamp draining needs to be done.  It has to include robust punishment of the guilty, too, lest our self-professed bureaucratic betters continue to believe they can do whatever they want with impunity.

Playing fiscal chicken

The big discussion in the world of punditry today is whether Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution to keep funding the government, or whether budgetary authority will expire tonight, forcing a shutdown of “non-essential government functions.”

I’ve noted several times before that this annual dance shows just how disfunctional our government has become.   Passing an annual budget on time should be Job #1 for Congress.  Instead, we get year after year of sloppy half-measures and patchwork spending:

Far from being a new symptom of present-day Washington dysfunction, Congress’ chronic inability to follow its own appropriations process goes back decades. In fact, in the four decades since the current system for budgeting and spending tax dollars has been in effect, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only four times: in fiscal 1977 (the first full fiscal year under the current system), 1989, 1995 and 1997.

While the House passed a Continuing Resolution Thursday, there’s speculation the Democrats will torpedo a Senate concurrence over displeasure with not getting a DACA amnesty.  Fine.  If they want to burn the house down in a tantrum over not legalizing the presence of millions who came to this country illegally and uninvited, I say bring it on.

Then the President ought to permanently shut down all agencies that were deemed “non-essential” during the break in funding authorizations.  He can blame the opposition for highlighting again that much of what the Federal government does can be deemed “non-essential” when push comes to shove.  Having worked for Uncle Sam, I can verify there is indeed much nonessential nonsense the taxpayers fund year after year.  So let’s get rid of it.

If we’re going to play chicken with the budget every year, let’s play for keeps.

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.