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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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.

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?

In summary…

Quite a number of headlines over the past few days while I’ve been away, enjoying some time offline.  As I caught up on some of the issues, it seemed appropriate to outline some of the recent developments.

As we all know, Robert Mueller has been appointed to investigate whether the Trump candidacy “colluded” with Russia during the 2016 campaign.  As part of that, Mueller is looking into the circumstances surrounding Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.  There were already questions about how impartial Mueller could be about the later, given his long personal and professional relationship with Comey.

Now it appears Mueller may have additional conflicts of interest regarding Russia.  You see, Mueller was Comey’s predecessor as head of the FBI.  During his tenure, the FBI had already discovered Russian efforts to influence the U.S.:

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

Despite having this information in 2009, the U.S. government approved in 2010 the purchase of Canada’s Uranium One (which itself controlled 1/5 of the U.S. uranium mining capacity) by Russia’s state-owned Rosatom.  As Investor’s Business Daily points out:

Does it seem strange that an American administration would OK the acquisition of 20% of America’s uranium resources by a hostile nuclear power? How could that be?

It only makes sense if you understand what else was going on, namely Hillary Clinton’s aggressive use of her State Department perch to raise money for the family “charity,” the Clinton Foundation. That Clinton used her office to the foundation’s advantage, there can be little doubt.

The Clinton Foundation took in some $145 million in contributions from Uranium One shareholders, much of it coming at about the time that deal won approval from CFIUS — the investment panel on which both Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder conveniently sat. Is that a coincidence? Or that the Justice Department waited until 2014, the year after Hillary left office, to take any action in the Russian criminal matters? Or that details of the Uranium One deal didn’t come out until 2015, the year Eric Holder left office? Was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “reset” with the Russian government in 2009 just part of a wider plan to enrich her own family foundation with Russian cash?

We’d sure like to know the answers to these and other questions. At the very least, there is a clear prima facie case to be made for an investigation into the pay-for-play behavior in the Obama administration.

So remember: when Democrats run around screaming “Russia, Russia, Russia,” it’s most likely an attempt at projection.  As for the Clinton’s “charitable foundation,” it’s clear there’s only one beneficiary: the Clintons.  They’ve made a career out of literally selling out the U.S.  For all Trump’s shortcomings (and they are many), he at least prevented Her Hillariness from being in a position to do even more damage.  It would be ironic if the investigation meant to hamstring his administration instead revealed many of the sordid details of the swamp Trump promised to drain.

Sir Hollywood the not-so-brave

It’s been decades since Tinseltown was content with just making entertainment.  No, today everybody has to have a message, an agenda and a cause, and these usually overshadow the actual business of TV and movie making (which is probably a large part of why very little worth watching comes out of there anymore).  The big names claim they have an obligation to speak out in support of others, to “speak truth to power.

Unless that power is someone like Harvey Weinstein.

The real story with Weinstein isn’t that an entertainment mogul has been revealed to have used his position to harass and abuse women in the industry.  Frankly, given the stories coming out of Fox News and elsewhere, that much is almost blasé.  No, the real story is why it took so long for this to be publicized.  Now that the dam has broken, it’s like more than half of Hollywood is saying “well, of course there was a problem.  Who didn’t know?”

In other words, when Weinstein was at the height of his power, nobody was speaking truth to him.  On the contrary, if allegations are true, a number of big names in the business were active enablers of his behavior.  Does anyone believe this is the only rock that needed kicking over?  Is it any coincidence that so many child stars (particularly those who work for Disney) seem to grow up and lose their mind?  If Congress can find the time to investigate the use of steroids in baseball, why can’t it find the time to investigate the toxic environment of Hollywood?

Probably because of the money involved.  Weinstein was a generous supporter of the Democratic Party and a very close friend of Bill and Hillary (whose judgement only appears more evil and self-serving by the day).  But money alone doesn’t explain it all.  Does anyone doubt if one or both of the Koch brothers were found in the same circumstances that the media would be demanding every Republican in Washington publicly denounce them?   So why hasn’t anyone brought Weinstein up with Hillary, who is still giving lucrative speeches well after her sell-by date?  Barack Obama, who seemed to be speaking as a shadow president during Trump’s early efforts to reverse his disastrous legacy, also seems strangely silent and out of sight.  He’s far from the only one who’s lost his usually overactive tongue.

It’s called partisan protection.  As Glenn Reynolds frequently says of the corporate media, “just think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines and it all makes sense.” There is so much overlap in the Venn diagram of Democrats, Hollywood and the Media that reporters risk being cast out of the bubble of their incestuous clan if they ask the difficult questions.  So much for “bravery:”

In the absence of personal risk, haranguing the powerful can be soul-satisfying, and sometimes it forges careers, but it isn’t brave by a long shot. Thomas More spoke truth to Henry VIII, and it cost him his head. Dietrich Bonheoffer spoke truth to Adolf Hitler and was hanged in a concentration camp. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spoke truth to the Soviet Union and suffered grievously for it. Stephen Colbert piddled on the president’s rug, and he’s been cashing big-bucks checks ever since.

See the difference?

The protection afforded Weinstein by his liberal enablers doesn’t stop at silence or the reluctance to make him the subject of standard late-night comedy roasts.  Donna Karan, a well-known fashion designer, was forced to walk back comments that perhaps Weinstein’s victims were ‘asking for it’ by the way they dressed!

Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it’s been a hard time for women.   To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?

If a conservative comments on how lasciviously many women dress today, it’s considered “victim blaming” by alleged Neanderthals.  But if such an examination is a way to help out a Hollywood mogul, it’s OK?  Is your head spinning yet at the audacious double standard?  Sure, Karan was pressured to disavow the statement, but the fact she made it shows it’s part of the toxic self-justifying entertainment industry’s environment. It’s easy for them to hold conservatives’ feet to the fire over standards.  It’s harder to do so for liberals, when it appears they have none other than the will to power.

The public has more reason than just simple decency and morality to be outraged. Hollywood derives tremendous benefit from tax breaks and government incentives to churn out their drivel.  In other words, cord-cutting or not We the People pay for this filth.  Just as the immature posturing of NFL players has caused some to look at the League’s anti-trust exemption and frequent use of municipal bonds to build their palatial stadiums, perhaps Weinstein’s downfall should cause America to truly confront the moral sewer that is Hollywood.  Public funding for both (including PBS) should dry up entirely.  Let them earn their profits by making edifying fare that Middle America actually wants, versus their tax-supported propaganda.

Final thought: what are the odds Weinstein actually goes to jail (versus some sort of high-profile “rehab”)?  Roman Polanski and Woody Allen after all, are still considered persecuted entertainers by many in Hollywood.  And there’s not exactly a tradition of holding Leftists criminally accountable these days (see: Hillary, Bill, Huma, Lois Lerner, Loretta Lynch, etc., ad nauseum).

Remember that, when Social Justice Warriors ask if we ‘normal Americans’ have any decency.  It’s called projection.  And they don’t really have the courage of their convictions when it comes to policing their own.