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.

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Lies, damned lies, and the media

(With apologies to Mark Twain for the headline)

It would seem the surge in Trump derangement on the Left has gotten to the point they may have actually let some truth out.  After all the complaining, listen to the last thing Mika Brzezinski has to say in this clip:

This attitude should not surprise anyone who’s been paying attention.  Whether it’s the now-defunct (but certainly replaced) “Journolist,” or deliberate message coordination with a preferred candidate, or the uncanny consistency in how headlines read on a subject, there can be no doubt that the mainstream media’s definition of “objectivity” is to achieve an objective: pushing America to the left.  The corporate media have become the “Minitrue” of Orwell’s 1984, and jealously guard their assumed prerogative to program the American mind.

The internet threatened this stranglehold, so now the major platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are zealously guarding against content that might have “crimethink.”  (because allowing unfettered discussion would be doubleplusungood…)  It is probably only a matter of time before Blogger and WordPress begin deciding which blogs should be available to peruse.

The legacy media are the enemy of traditional America, and just as in the clip above they will sometimes accidentally admit the fact. Choose your sources of information and commentary accordingly.  As a famous TV show used to like to say, “the truth is out there…”

Doing the jobs Americans won’t do

Isn’t it funny how much clearer certain issues look when you bother to read about them in another nation’s media?

The extent to which Hillary Clinton’s key advisers are now the focus of major FBI investigations is becoming clear. The Clintons’ long-term inner-circle – some of whom stretch back in service to the very first days of Bill’s White House – are being examined in at least five separate investigations. The scale of the FBI’s interest in some of America’s most powerful political fixers – one of them a sitting governor – underlines just how difficult it will be for Clinton to shake off the taint of scandal if she enters the White House. There are, in fact, not one but five separate FBI investigations which involve members of Clinton’s inner circle or their closest relatives – the people at the center of what has come to be known as Clintonworld…

The FBI does not generally comment on investigations, so it is entirely possible there are more under way.

I firmly believe that if Her Hillariness is elected, there will be many more leaks by frustrated law enforcement officials who fully understand the depth of the rot, but have been stymied by a corrupt Department of Justice.  Should she be indicted after her inauguration, it poses serious and unprecedented Constitutional issues.

Best not to take the chance, America.  This woman and her cabal of cronies have no business wielding the levers of power, indictment or not.

Powers that should be separated

This is the latest “Exhibit A” as to why we do NOT have an objective, independent national press in this country:

CNN host Anderson Cooper, who is set to moderate tonight’s Democratic debate, was listed as a “notable past member” the Clinton Global Initiative’s website along with a number of other big name journalists:

The list includes: CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour, Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, NBC’s Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw, New York Times‘s Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof, Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Yahoo’s Katie Couric, The Economist‘s Matthew Bishop, and Financial Times‘ Lionel Barber.

The Clinton Foundation later told Mediaite that none of these journalists were asked to pay the $20,000 membership fee required of members. However, it’s safe to say that access to big name journalists was a key selling point for paying Clinton Global Initiative members. In a nutshell, Anderson Cooper helped Hillary Clinton raise money, and now he’s presented as an impartial moderator for tonight’s debate.

Members of the so-called “Fourth Estate” should have no such ties to political organizations, on either side of the aisle. One of the things I admired about the late Charlie Reese, a columnist I grew up reading, was his annual “full disclosure” of his political views and organizations with which he was affiliated. This should be a standard for ALL journalists.

And while we’re at it, how about we stop the revolving door, whereby ‘journalists’ become press secretaries to various politicians for a spell, then go back to the newsroom. Whether working for Democrats or Republicans, I should think just one such job is enough to blow through any pretentions of ‘objectivity’ on future issues. It should be a one-way street — once you go to work as a spokesperson or media advisor to any political entity, you should never be allowed to be a “regular” journalist again. Too much conflict of interest.

Somehow, though, people don’t seem to notice that. Hence we’ll have a campaign full of speechifying by the likes of Cooper and Stephanopoulos, among many other partisans both left and right. Have fun trying to get the facts there

Our government is founded in part on the principle of separation of powers. So how about we keep the Fourth Estate completely separate from, and thus independent of, the rest of the apparatus of Mordor?

In the meantime work to find the independent voices, not the megaphones of the bi-factional ruling party.

“Fighting” fire with fire

Several recent developments have called to mind the old question of whether “the ends justify the means.”  I believe in this day of popular TV shows like “24,” (a show, incidentally, that I refuse to watch) this is a question that isn’t asked nearly often enough.

Yesterday, the hoopla was over the Senate’s release of their ‘investigation’ into CIA interrogation methods.  I note it’s interesting that, six years into the current administration, the report just happens finally to be released on the day when Jonathan “Americans are stupid” Gruber was being grilled by a panel in the House of Representatives.  If you think this was a coincidence, you’ve not been paying attention to the “dense pack” strategy of scandal releases that obscure just how low Washington has sunk.  It is also the latest example of how “Blame Bush” is still this administration’s default get-out-of-jail-free card (never mind that much of what they blame him for has continued, or accelerated, under the current regime).

Suffice to say, our ‘government’ is all political theater and no substance whatsoever.  Which is why unelected bureaucrats of various stripes are now the real power.

Many of those unelected decision makers reside in the intelligence community which, by its very nature, is a paradox: to serve its function requires a certain level of secrecy and anonymity.  But for it to serve a free society, there must be limits and accountability.  Our nation has wrestled with this since cementing the national security state apparatus in place following World War II, and over time it seems the ‘balance’ has skewed ever farther towards latitude — particularly after 9/11.

I’m not going to debate the exact content of the Senate report, because it’s compromised by partisan hype.  That said, I don’t think there can be any doubt at this point that our government has engaged in behavior over the last 13 years that would have horrified earlier generations of Americans.  Let’s face it: if we’re now all but publicly strip-searching Americans at TSA checkpoints, what do you THINK we’re doing to non-Americans who become “of interest?”  Most of the arguments made by those who favor wide latitude in ‘interrogation’ are emotional, not rational ones.  Ignoring the evidence that torture rarely yields good information, there is something visceral about the public’s desire to treat our adversaries, real and imagined, with abuse that we can rationalize.  “Heck yeah, waterboard those so-and-sos,” goes the rallying cry of the “24” viewer demographic… never once questioning whether our public servants might occasionally round up the wrong people, or have bad information themselves.  (To think they don’t is to ascribe a level of perfection to our government that is dangerously naive.)

The same dynamic applies to law enforcement as well–we support levels of force against others for various petty offenses that we would never want turned on us.

We’ve forgotten the teaching: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  Speaking only for myself, I certainly would not want to be on the receiving end of these “enhanced interrogation methods.” If I were, whether innocent or not to start with, I would forevermore be the enemy of those who applied them to me (God is still working on me about the whole ‘forgiveness’ thing in some areas…)In short, it’s tragically myopic for former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to ask whether we are creating terrorists faster than we can kill them, while running torture centers that are hardening those already disposed to hate us, and quite possibly making new enemies of those who are the victims of bad information or circumstances (not to mention their friends and families…).

The ends alone do not justify the means.  The moment we accept that, we have become something far different than the ideal America portrayed in Schoolhouse Rock.  An America founded on the principle that “all men are created equal” by God should not decide that some can be treated less humanely than others.  One does not successfully fight barbarism by becoming barbaric, or crime by behaving in a criminal fashion.  This may be the greatest challenge of the various wars-without-end (including the War on Drugs) in which we’ve found ourselves.

It is not just government falling prey to this temptation of expediency, either.  Advocates across the political spectrum are trading truth and standards for whatever immediate political gain they believe can be had by cutting corners.  This is how you get advocacy theater masquerading as journalism, as with the recent Rolling Stone piece about the University of Virginia, or the ridiculously unfounded claims in a biography that are excused because she’s been annointed the “voice of her generation.”  Even as the details of the original story unravel, there is a chorus attacking those looking into it, as though somehow certain allegations are automatically above reproach.  Worse, some actually take the position that details don’t matter — that the ‘central narrative’ is true simply because it has been asserted.  This reminds me of the infamous “fake but accurate” summary retort when it was discovered Dan Rather’s hit piece on then-President George W. Bush’s former service in the National Guard turned out to be based on a falsified memorandum.  Whatever happened to admitting you’re wrong, and seeking to do better next time?

This is not just a problem on “the left.” The behavior may or may not be more prevalent there, but as partisanship has increased, both sides have become more likely to take the lower road to advantage.  Politics are now viewed as a war for power that has become far too concentrated, and the old saying is that truth is the first casualty of war.  It should be clear we no longer live in a culture that values dispasionate objectivity, truth, or compliance with a standard (such as the Constitution, for instance) that is larger than the whims and passions of the moment.  And we wonder why the nation is falling apart at the seams?

To those in the trenches: remember that if you choose to fight fire with fire, you’re mostly doubling your chances of getting burned.  It’s easy to be emotional and respond from your gut.  Be better than that.

Why interview him in the first place?

So CNN acts shocked that when bringing in a well-known radical British Muslim cleric to interview, he’d decide to have a little ‘joke’ with the sound check.

My question is, why even bring the guy on in the first place?  His views are well-known, and there’s no need to augment his reputation by giving him a platform.  There is no public purpose to be served by having him on air.

If you really want to educate the public about an issue, try bringing the Goreacle back on and ask him about his ‘prophecy’ that the polar ice caps would be completely melted by now.  (Hint: he was not just wrong but 180-out!)

 

This-n-that

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve had just enough time to sort of keep up with the broad brush of the latest shenanigans, but not a lot of time to comment on them.  Sadly, just pointing out all the shenanigans at this point would be a full time job.  There’s an idea: what if we had people whose occupational purpose in life was to report on new developments, to include ‘naming names’ for those who have been up to no good.  We could even call such people who reported such information ‘reporters.’  They could keep the average citizen, who has plenty of other things to do besides dig through webs of deceit and subterfuge, informed on what their government is doing.

If only

So… in the interest of augmenting what the Associated Press, local newspaper or 5 o’clock report might not have seen fit to add in recent days:

 

– Uncle Sam’s motto seems to be morphing from “E Pluribus Unum” to “The hard drive ate the email.”   One would think that if multiple Federal agencies are having so much trouble preserving records they are legally required to preserve, that heads would roll.  Not so much.  (Note that link is from TWELVE YEARS AGO… and it doesn’t seem to have gotten any better in the accountability department since then.  It’s enough to make you wonder if anything is a firing offense.)

– We may be under invasion, but our elites want to remind us that “it’s for the children.”  As always.  (Except when protecting them is considered less important than enabling predators, of course.)

– Still think there are really two different governing perspectives in Washington?  There is *only* the pro-government party, which wears “home” and “away” jerseys as convenient.  So who’s looking out for us, instead of the power of the ‘national parties‘?

– …and as the power of the ‘national party’ and its ruling class grows, so does the police state to support and protect it.  (What… you thought the police ‘served and protected’ YOU?)

– Current US foreign policy in a nutshell: keep throwing money at various fighting groups in the hope one of them might turn out not to be the planners of the next 9/11.  Isn’t there something better we could be doing with half a billion dollars?  Haven’t we “helped” that part of the world enough yet?

– Homeowners associations: breeding grounds for petty tyrants. And where’s the justice in a compact (or legal system) that can lead to a lien and foreclosure for a display of the nation’s flag? Seriously?

– Too bad Obamacare ‘snuck’ by the Supremes.  Hopeless Change, indeed…