Request: A weekend of prayer

The next couple of days may prove to be “the deep breath before the plunge.”  Not to be melodramatic, but as Gandalf told Pippin, “the board is set, the pieces are moving.”  I believe the weeks ahead, between now and the 2020 election, are some of the most critical our country has faced.  As many of our past leaders have noted, our greatest dangers come not from external enemies, but rather from within.

So how is the board set, and what pieces are in play?  First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a public statement today, finally publicly directed her party’s committee chairs to begin drafting formal articles of impeachment against President Trump, despite the fact any fair observer of the “inquiry” thus far would note it has hurt, rather than helped, their case.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler announced the committee will hold hearings toward that end, beginning Monday morningBut that’s not the only piece moving on Monday.  That same day, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is scheduled to finally release the report on his investigation into possibly serious improprieties by the previous administration to justify spying on the Trump campaign in 2016.  These are suspected to include, according to many sources, FBI personnel tampering with interview documentation and concealing potentially exculpatory evidence from their requests to the FISA Court for warrants on various Trump allies.  The IG’s semiannual report to Congress at the end of September noted it had 48 open cases regarding official misconduct by Department of Justice employees.  It’s not unreasonable to think that might be related.  The new report due Monday is rumored to be around 1,000 pages.  As some commentators have noted, it doesn’t take 1,000 pages to say there was no wrongdoing.  But if one is making a detailed case… or in fact has already referred charges to U.S. Attorney John Durham for prosecution, such a lengthy report would be expected.

The release of the report will be followed by an appearance by IG Horowitz before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, two days after the report’s release.  These two dates — December 9th and 11th — have been public for a while.  So it’s likely not a coincidence Speaker Pelosi told her House to get moving with impeachment today.  The Democrats’ own day of reckoning may be imminent, and it’s been clear this week they’ve been counter-programming the public narrative against any potential negative revelations.

What I can’t understand is why the Democrats would formally impeach the president, forcing a trial before the GOP-controlled Senate.  The Democrats have been patently unethical in their conduct of the “inquiry” to date, refusing to allow the GOP to call their own witnesses (with one exception), limiting GOP members’ access to interviews and documentation, and generally riding roughshod over any notions of fairness to the accused.  This, of course, is now standard procedure for the Left (see: Brett Kavanaugh).  Pelosi’s partisans deliberately have presented a warped, one-sided perspective of the issues at hand (much as they’re alleged to have done with the FISA Court), and their allies in the press have been their megaphone.  Representative Nadler’s opening assertion that “the facts are not in dispute” is about as true as “the science is settled” when it comes to global warming climate change climate crisis.

The Senate, as the Founders intended, tends to be more sober and dignified about such things, so there’s not likely to be a “payback is a b–ch” approach to their own proceedings when the ball lands in their court.  But I strongly suspect there’ll be a concerted effort to make sure America gets, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.”  That possibility alone should make the Democrats think twice about handing off the baton to the Senate.  There’s already enough evidence that’s been made public that puts the lie to the narrative they’re selling.  But as Glenn Reynolds has said repeatedly about the odds of a Trump reelection, “all the Democrats have to do is not act crazy… and they can’t even do that.”  So here’s hoping they try to hand the Senate a lit stick of dynamite, only to have it blow up in their own face, like Wile E. Coyote.

While I could be wrong, I only see two possible outcomes at this point.  One is that the president is removed from office.  Such a result will, I believe, only convince many (including me) who love this country that it no longer represents them and will not tolerate them interfering with the agenda of their self-declared betters.  The Democrats underestimated the anger that helped propel Trump into office.  I don’t think they have any notion of the anger that would result from his removal, either.

The second outcome is for the administration to successfully pull the covers off the Deep State shenanigans that began even before Trump took office, and to do so in a way the public and press cannot ignore.  There is every reason to believe that if a full public accounting took place, the outcry for justice would be deafening.

Either way, the result will occur in a nation that is armed to the teeth.  I generally see that as a good thing.  But given the chasm that has opened among us, it’s also a sobering thing to remember.  Sure, the “side” I identify with likes to joke that we have most of the guns since the Left finds them icky.  I enjoy ribbing the other side as much as the next guy.  But as a historian I also know in 1860 both the Union and Confederates held each other in martial as well as social contempt, convinced the war would be quick and easy over their “deranged” opponents.  How’d that work out for them?  Most wars start with such ill-considered bravado.

The day may come when ballots fail and bullets are required, if we are to remain free.  Americans have faced such situations before, and must be prepared to face such again.  But let no one kid themselves about what that may mean for all we hold dear.

So I ask that this weekend be one of prayer — a deep breath before the plunge of next week.  Prayer for the truth to be fully revealed, no matter where it leads.  Prayer that our country will once again value truth over shading information for partisan or personal advantage.  Prayer for our leaders — on both sides of the aisle — that they will be honest with us, sober, and careful with the governance of our nation.  Prayer that our disputes will be resolved peacefully, rather than in the streets (*).  Prayer that for each of us, God may guide our words and our actions, balancing the requirements of justice and mercy, passion and restraint.  And most importantly, prayer that the Spirit may bring revival in this land, restoring the fellowship and discipleship of repentant believers that was so vital to its founding.  For everything, we are told, there is a season.  May God show us what this season is, and what is required of us in response.

God bless you, and God bless America.

(*) I believe many in our nation fail to realize how the peaceful resolution of the disputed election in 2000 was a historical anomaly for the world, and a testament to the strength of our society.  We should never take such for granted.  

Today’s readings

Two related readings I highly recommend today.  The first one is a bit long (including helpful infographics), but is an excellent summary of all we know to date regarding the efforts by bureaucrats to protect Her Hillariness, and later, attempt to overturn a duly elected administration.  The second reading places this knowledge in the light of broader trends that show the rule of law is, at best, on life support in this country.

Spygate: The Inside Story Behind the Alleged Plot to Take Down Trump.”  Excerpts:

This article builds on dozens of congressional testimonies, court documents, and other research to provide an inside look at the actions of Obama administration officials in the scandal that’s become known as Spygate.

To understand this abuse of power, it helps to go back to July 2011, when DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz was appointed.  From the very start, Horowitz found his duties throttled by Attorney General Eric Holder, who placed limitations on the inspector general’s right to have unobstructed access to information…

It is against this backdrop of minimal oversight that Spygate took place.

Starting in October 2015 and continuing into early 2016, FBI Director James Comey made a series of high-profile reassignments that resulted in the complete turnover of the upper-echelon of the FBI team working on the Clinton email investigation… Comey is the only known senior FBI leadership official who remained involved throughout the entire Clinton email investigation. McCabe had the second-longest tenure…

In order for Clinton to be prosecuted, the DOJ required the FBI to establish evidence of intent—even though the gross negligence statute explicitly does not require this…

As the Clinton investigation wound down, interest from the intelligence community in the Trump campaign was ramping up. Sometime in 2015, it appears former CIA Director John Brennan established himself as the point man to push for an investigation into the Trump campaign…

During this time, Brennan appeared to have employed the use of reverse targeting, which refers to the targeting of a foreign individual with the intent of capturing data on a U.S. citizen…

Meanwhile, another less official effort began. Information paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign targeting Trump made its way to the highest levels of the FBI and the State Department, with a sophisticated strategy relying on the personal connections of hired operatives…

Most definitely, read the entire piece.  Next, Kurt Schlichter places this labyrinthine conspiracy in a broader context of a two-tiered system of injustice:

The media hacks failed for two years-plus, nonstop and without equivocation, but are they ever going to be held to account? No, they’re just going to gather in a big circle and Pulitzer each other…

Imagine you committed a racial hate crime where you falsely accused people who didn’t look or think like you of a horrible atrocity… Now, what are the chances the DA is going to transform your 16 felony counts into a $10K fine and a couple days community servicing? Your chances of said outcome are poor. They are poor because your pals are neither Mrs. Obama or Willie Brown’s gal pal.

Now imagine that you studied really hard while the rich kids partied and smoked dope… Now imagine how you feel when Durwood Richguy IV gets admitted to Harvard when he can’t count past 10 with his Gucci loafers on and you get slotted on a waiting list for Gumbo State…

Imagine you handled classified information and you took it home and put it on your iPad. Do you think the FBI would be super-concerned with your feels about it and give you a pass, like Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit got from Jim Comey…?

Our elite is not elite. Instead, it’s a bunch of bums who somehow got a little money and took the reins of power and are now shaking-down our great nation for every penny they can wring out of it. We owe them nothing – not respect, not gratitude and certainly not obedience.

If you still wonder how we got Trump, just look around you. He’s a cry for help, a scream against the injustice we’re surrounded by. This injustice is poison to our country. (emphasis added) This injustice is what makes republics fall apart, when the worthless ruling class pushes its contempt in the people’s collective face so hard and for so long that the population finally screams “The hell with this!”

It can’t continue. It won’t continue.

I hope Schlichter’s correct, and that The Reckoning is about to happen.  A friend of mine used to say “nobody is completely useless; they can always serve as a bad example.”  The underhanded, scheming fifth columnists in government who facilitated the abuses included on the list above, can still serve their country well — if we make a proper example out of them.  Where we find evidence of wrongdoing, we need to be sure to respect judicial process and the presumption of innocence (something that should distinguish us from the modern Left).  But if found guilty, Lock Them Up!

Paying for the sins of others

Our self-proclaimed ‘elites’ have so rigged the system that taxpayers pick up the tab for their crimes:

The federal government in recent days has been issuing settlement checks to 100 right-of-center groups wrongfully targeted for their political beliefs under the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service, according to an attorney for the firm that represented plaintiffs in NorCal v. United States.

“This is really a groundbreaking case. Hopefully it sets a precedent and will serve as a warning to government officials who further feel tempted to discriminate against U.S. citizens based on their viewpoints,” Edward Greim, attorney for Kansas City, Missouri-based Graves Garrett LLC told MacIver News Service.

About $2 million of the [$3.5 million] settlement goes to cover the legal costs of five long years of litigation. IRS attorneys attempted delay after delay, objection after objection, trying to use the very taxpayer protection statutes the plaintiffs were suing under to suppress documents.

The agency has admitted no wrongdoing in what a federal report found to be incidents of intrusive inspections of organizations seeking nonprofit status. Greim has said the seven-figure settlement suggests otherwise.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment.

Disgraced former bureaucrat Lois Lerner led the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt groups. A 2013 inspector general’s report found the IRS had singled out conservative and tea party organizations for intense scrutiny, oftentimes simply based on their conservative-sounding or tea party names. The IRS delayed for months, even years, the applications, and some groups were improperly questioned about their donors and their religious affiliations and practices.

Lerner claims she did nothing wrong. In clearing her of wrongdoing, an Obama administration Department of Justice review described Lerner as a hero. But she invoked her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to answer questions before a congressional committee. The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit took the first and only deposition of Lerner, a document that the former IRS official and her attorneys have fought to keep sealed.

Exactly how would this court settlement be a ‘warning’ to government officials?  The public face of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner, was allowed to retire with full pension and has the IRS still fighting to keep her testimony in the lawsuit secret “for her own safety.”

Former IRS executive Lois G. Lerner told a federal court last week that members of her family, including “young children,” face death threats and a real risk of physical harm if her explanation of the tea party targeting scandal becomes public.

Such legal stalling tactics by the IRS account for nearly 2/3 of the settlement cost.  Meanwhile, where does the settlement money in this case come from?  The IRS budget?  Guess who provides that.  That’s right: we, the American people do.  Nor is this an unusual event.  We still don’t know the names of Congresscritters who used taxpayer money to pay off various accusers of sexual or discriminatory improprieties.  While there was enough of a blip of outrage that Congress allegedly prohibited that practice going forward, the identities of those who previously made the payoffs are still protected.

Finally, despite mouthing such support for all the Federal employees not getting paid during the partial government shutdown, many Democrats in Congress went to Puerto Rico this weekend to party with lobbyists instead of seeking a deal with Trump.  Why is Congress still getting paid unless they’ve had the conviction to refuse their paychecks during the standoff?  They certainly haven’t done their job!  Maybe this will cause all the minions in Mordor and elsewhere to reconsider their reflexive support of the donkeys.  I’m not holding my breath, however.

The “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, wrote in Federalist #51, “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”  (Emphasis added)  When the penalties of government misconduct are transferred to the governed, what obliges those in government to control themselves?  There is a saying, often erroneously attributed to Thomas Jefferson, that “Where the people fear the government, you have tyranny.  When government fears the people, you have liberty.

Does our governing class show any signs of ‘fearing the people,’ or consequences for their actions?  Are you beginning to see why we have a Second Amendment, and why it is under such attack by these same miscreants?  Our founders were wise enough to realize Leviathan can slip the bounds of any constitutional shackles they could devise.  The Second Amendment provides a final safeguard should all else go wrong.

Sadly, if we have to avail ourselves of that safeguard, the entire country will still be paying for the sins of others.

A reminder: vote

…and vote against this kind of thuggary (list courtesy of Instapundit):

Joe Manchin: Struggle Not to “Beat the Living Crap Out Of” Republican Opponent

Hillary: ‘You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for.’

Former Attorney General Eric Holder: “Michelle [Obama] always says, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them.”

Politico: After failing to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Democrats wonder if it’s time to be more ruthless.

Democrat Doxxer Threatened To Reveal Senators’ Children’s Health Information.

DC restaurant: We’ve received death threats after Ted Cruz, wife forced out by protesters.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ): We Are Less Than 60 Days From Totally ‘Kicking the S–t Out of the Republicans.’

Networks Silent On Attempted Stabbing of GOP Candidate By Anti-Trump Attacker.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Jokes About Threatening Trump Supporters ‘All The Time.’

Bernie Bro James T. Hodgkinson, Attempted Assassin Of Steve Scalise, Already Being Erased From History.

Plus:

Republican Party Office In Wyoming Set on Fire Two Days After It Opens

Florida County’s GOP Office Vandalized by Gunfire

 

Remember: Jobs, not Mobs.

Book review: “Skin in the Game”

I recently finished reading Skin in the Game – Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  It was a thought-provoking read, boiling down observations about the impact of personal vestment (or lack thereof) in decision-making and social interactions, producing frequent pithy remarks such as this:

“Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.”

The gem above appears at the end of a section discussing the consistently foolish policy of interventionism the U.S. has maintained overseas.  Our national leaders never seem to learn proper lessons about the consequences of their actions, largely because they are insulated and isolated from those consequences.  Not so, unfortunately, for many people on the ground where their policies have impact (and for the Americans put in harm’s way to enact those policies).  He notes that more than 2,400 years ago the Athenian Isocrates wrote “Deal with weaker states as you think it appropriate for stronger states to deal with you.”  Application of that thought would certainly result in some change to our foreign policy.  The author’s discussion of a perceived distinction between “the Golden Rule” and what he terms “the Silver Rule” makes for interesting reading as well.

Taleb later labels the worldwide political developments of 2014-2018 (Brexit, the election of Trump, etc) as “a rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking ‘clerks’ and journalist-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy League, Oxford-Cambridge or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think, and … 5) whom to vote for.”  Couldn’t have put it better myself.

The book applies the concept of personal interest in a wide-reaching manner, far more broadly than the two quotes I’ve provided would indicate.  He uses the lens to examine everything from the positive roles of risk-taking to “the dominance of the stubborn minority,” and whether a society can afford to tolerate an intolerant system such as Salafi Islam. The prose is highly readable, specifically summarizing premises as it goes along.  But it’s not a quick read if you’re engaging the material and thinking about larger implications.  I found myself breaking out the highlighter and bending page corners repeatedly so I could go back and review.

The concept of the book first interested me because I believe the loss of “skin in the game” for our political, business, science and educational leaders is a key reason why our institutions are in such decline.  Taleb seems to agree.  As I’ve put it on this blog more than once, accountability seems to be out of favor.  Businesses deemed “too big to fail” are allowed to reap profits while saddling taxpayers with losses.  Government officials seem to have a different legal system applied to their actions than would the common citizen.  Politicized “science” drives policymaking with few, if any repercussions to the industry when the “settled” view is later shown to be in error.

At any rate, if you’re looking for something weightier to read than the usual New York Times bestseller lightweights, this one is worth your attention.

 

On laws and the flouting thereof

Every day brings new evidence that the desired state of being “a nation of laws, not of men,” is no longer true of America:

Federal immigration agents arrested more than 150 people in California in the days after Oakland’s mayor gave early warning of the raids, it was announced Tuesday…

On Saturday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned residents that “credible sources” had told her a sweep was imminent, calling it her “duty and moral obligation” to warn families.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, about 800 individuals sought for arrest eluded the organized crackdown, most with criminal records and multiple previous deportations.  So how is the mayor’s warning not a case of obstruction of justice?  In fact, why isn’t the entire “sanctuary state/city” nonsense chargeable as conspiracy to obstruct justice?

While we’re talking about illegal immigrants, let’s note that Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago has created a municipal identification card “for undocumented <read: illegal> immigrants and others” that will be considered valid ID for voter registration and votingMeanwhile, 12 States and the District of Columbia issue drivers licenses even to illegal immigrants who cannot provide previously required documentation such a Social Security card.  When you add this to the nationwide push of “motor-voter” laws, it’s easy to see how we could have tens or hundreds of thousands of foreigners voting in our elections each cycle.  Indeed, Pennsylvania currently faces accusations that about 100,000 illegal immigrants are registered to vote in that State.

Here’s the irony: the investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign is allegedly supposed to determine whether it “colluded” with Russian influence to win the election.  In other words, foreign interference is undesirable (on that, at least, we can agree).  But if that’s the whole point of the investigation, why are there not similarly prominent efforts to look into and prosecute the facilitation of foreigners living and voting illegally in the United States?

Immigration and naturalization are the purview of the Federal Government under the Constitution.  Any State or local official who deliberately interferes in these matters should be held to account.  Many do so today because such “virtue signalling” to our invaders and their domestic supporters carries a nonexistent personal cost.  Sure, a few would be willing to act as “martyrs” if we got serious about accountability, but the vast majority are crybullies who would think twice if others hit back.  It would send a tremendous signal if Federal agents arrested the mayor of Oakland for harboring fugitives with her warning of ICE raids.

Don’t worry, though — I’m not holding my breath that such true accountability will occur in these lawless times.  *IF* the rule of law ever returns to this country, it likely will only be after a harsh period of restoring discipline and individual accountability.  The pendulum has swung too far for it to be otherwise.

Stop looking to government to save you

Because it’s plain that is its last priority.  Our nation’s Federal law enforcement has now spent over a year investigating politically charged claims that President Trump somehow colluded with Russia to “steal” the election away from Hillary Clinton.  (After all, how else to explain the anointed one’s failure to ascend to the throne?)

But apparently that same apparatus had no resources to spare when told specifically and repeatedly about the threat posed by Nikolas Cruz.  More than FIVE MONTHS before the troubled young man shot up a school on Wednesday, a YouTube channel owner alerted the FBI to online comments Cruz made under his own name about wanting to be a “professional school shooter.”  Today the FBI admitted it was also given very specific threat information about Cruz SIX WEEKS ago… and did NOTHING:

‘The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,’ said the FBI in a  statement on Friday.

The agency went on to state that this information, which came in over their Public Access Line, should have been classified as ‘a potential threat to life’ and the Miami field office notified about the information.

Those protocols were not followed however for reasons that are still not clear, and on Wednesday Cruz shot dead 17 people.

Maybe too many agents were busy trying to trap Trump associates.  Maybe they were all busy sending thousands of text messages to their lovers.  The truly cynical part of me can no longer dismiss the possibility some in our government allow such things to happen because the public then willingly surrenders more of their rights in an elusive quest for security from Uncle Sam.  Whatever the reason, Florida Governor Rick Scott is right to call for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray.  But accountability shouldn’t stop at that mostly symbolic gesture.  EVERY agent who was privy to the information that citizens had provided should be fired and prosecuted for gross dereliction of duty resulting in loss of life.

We’re constantly told we need a perpetual surveillance society, and that if we “see something, say something.”  But what good does it do to surrender our rights to privacy and accept an Orwellian panopticon if those in authority fail in their part of the devil’s bargain and refuse to protect us?

And the Left wants us to give up even more of our rights by disarming?  I think not.  In fact, it’s plain the opposite needs to occur: more citizens need to arm and train themselves.  At the same time pundits are praising the willingness of Coach Aaron Feis to give his life shielding students, they’re asking what needs to be done to prevent such tragedies.  It shouldn’t be so hard to connect the dots: train and arm willing teachers so schools stop being inviting soft targets.  No teacher who is willing to risk their life for their kids as Coach Feis did should have to face an attacker unarmed.  I saw this graphic online recently and it speaks for itself:

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Nothing in the above list is more precious than our children — our future.  The utter failure of the FBI in this case reinforces the adage that “when seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”  We have a God-given right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and that includes the right to defend those things.  We may delegate some of that authority to police agencies, but one of the first things I learned as a military officer is that while you can delegate authority, you cannot delegate responsibility.  All of us, as citizens and parents, are ultimately responsible for the defense of our families and communities.  That responsibility means facing head-on the fact there is evil in this world that requires the average person to be prepared to confront it at any moment.

It also includes the responsibility to punish those we empower to act on our behalf, but who fail to do so.  There MUST be a revival of accountability — and personal responsibility, including self-defense — in this country!

Calling them out

The corporate press in America preens about being an agent of accountability for public officials.  In recent years, though, many Americans have come to wonder “who watches the watchers?”

Thanks to the internet, the answer can be: everybody.  Knowing this, President Trump executed a genius communication move last night by announcing his “1st Annual Fake News Awards.”  While some may have laughed at the claim these were “highly anticipated,” events bore the description out as the hosting GOP website crashed for approximately two hours after the tweet (from all the incoming traffic), and on Twitter the hashtag #FakeNewsAwards trended globally (it still is as of this writing, more than 14 hours later).

Some in the press are trying to counter by pointing out the mistakes on the list were later acknowledged and corrected.  And for the most part, they’re correct — while still being disingenuous.  Any student of journalism knows the first copy is what gets the attention — retractions almost never get the same level of resonance.  What Trump’s compilation does is remind and show overall just how sloppy/slanted/partisan the news coverage was in 2017 as the press hurried to seize on anything that might remotely make him look bad, without taking time to verify or research context.  (Hint to media executives: when your only source is that another news outlet is reporting something, you’re on very shaky ground.)  It is a very damning list.

By releasing the compliation on Twitter, Trump circumvented the media gatekeepers.  His public stature prevents Twitter from blocking such a move, but it’s worth noting plenty of voices on the Right are being silenced deliberately there and on other prominent internet platforms.  The press is working overtime to respond to Trump today, but that means they are reacting to his messaging, rather than producing their own biased news cycles.  And in doing so, they are giving the compilation even more coverage, potentially showing more Americans the sum total of what the epithet “fake news” really means.

As I said, it was a genius communication move.

In desperation, some have taken to claiming that Trump’s effort to point out media errors amounts to attacking the First Amendment, and equating it to various dictators’ muzzling of opponents.  This childishness trivializes the very real dangers advocates of free speech, criticism and accountability face around the world today.  Let’s be blunt: the First Amendment does not provide anyone the right to print whatever they want without being challenged for it.  When corporate news have to have the administration’s prior permission to run their stories, or CNN’s Jim Acosta is arrested or killed I might reevaluate the vacuousness of this whining, but not until.

I still shake my head in amazement that our nation’s reached the point where Donald Trump could become president.  But as others have pointed out, he looks a lot better if you evaluate him by what he’s done, versus what he says or what’s said about him.  In the meantime, Trump is showing how to play offense in this struggle, the media are getting a dose of their own medicine and it’s clear they don’t like it one little bit.  To which I can only say:

It’s about time.

Making a list, checking it twice

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations plans to note who’s naughty or nice:

America First

This is long overdue in our international relations, and should be a key plank of the new National Security Strategy to put American interests first (see pages 19 and 40 here).  Much of the foreign aid we give out yields dubious returns for America.  And unlike other nations (*cough* China *cough*), we aren’t exactly smart in our use of “soft power.”  Much of the “aid” we supply all too often ends up in the hands of local thugs in power, while China’s efforts produce visible changes and local goodwill.  No doubt if the locals balk, China is not reluctant to tighten the purse strings.

So why do we not do the same with our spending overseas?  At its most blatant, foreign aid is about “winning friends and influencing people.”  But how much influence do you really wield if the recipients of your largesse habitually spit in your eye, knowing they can get away with it?

We are not in the financial position we were after World War II, where America accounted for nearly one-quarter of the global economy.  The Marshall Plan of the late 1940s was unprecedented in scale for American foreign policy, but it also seemed a relatively small price to pay to stabilize Europe and inoculate it against further communist encroachment.  Today, advocates of foreign aid like to point out that it makes up “about one percent of the federal budget” — but that still amounts to billions of dollars that produce scant results compared to the Marshall Plan.

Here’s hoping those countries put on Nikki Haley’s “naughty list” Thursday feel the choking off of unappreciated American dollars.  Since the Federal Government currently borrows nearly 1 in every 5 dollars it spends, those dollars are more appropriately spent at home.

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.