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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Uncredibly efficient

You read that title right.  I didn’t mean “incredible.”  After taking a year to review the 60,000 emails Her Hillariness deigned to turn over (after selectively culling about 33,000 out — don’t try such a trick if YOU get a subpoena), the FBI only took just over a week to declare there is nothing new in the batch of 650,000 emails discovered on Anthony Weiner/Huma Abedin‘s laptop.

Well, except for showing that Hillary frequently had her maid print out emails with sensitive national security information (likely including classified emails that should never have been outside the government’s SIPRnet (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network).

So: a brief list of some of the rules that don’t apply to the would-be Empress of the American Empire:

  • Requirements to keep classified and confidential information in its proper places
  • Taking a subpoena as a mere suggestion, and not turning over everything required
  • Accepting large sums of money from foreign donors without reporting it
  • Using your “charity” to throw a wedding party

And that’s just the recent revelations.  Imagine what’s been going on during her 30 years of public “service.”

Here’s why Comey’s announcement today is “uncredible.”  There is no way he or his team have examined all the information found on that laptop.  The math:

650,000 Emails
9 Days
72,222 A Day
3000 An Hour
50 A Minute 
About 1 A Second   (H/T: Vox Day)

The one thing I’ve gotten out of all of this is a better explanation for my single encounter with Clinton and Abedin.  While I was in the service, I was part of a team that set up a visit for them to another country.  My duties put me in the room with both of them, and Abedin tried to strike up a small talk conversation with me.

Only one other time in my life have I had the same sense of every fiber of my being screaming to get out of a situation.  I could not excuse myself fast enough.  Concentrate evil enough and it becomes palpable.  As Forrest Gump would say, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

In many respects I believe America is dead, and ours is simply a zombified version (or parody) of what it was meant to be.  Nobody in Washington D.C. Mordor is even pretending to be on the up and up anymore.  If on Tuesday Hillary is placed on the throne she’s sought for so long, I think we know what final year to place on America’s tombstone.  If you think Obama was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

I’ve done what I can to prepare my family for Wednesday.  Have you?  And if you aren’t praying fervently, why?

Who is creating the problem?

With the meteoric rise of Bernie Sanders, we’re seeing an accompanying increase in class warfare rhetoric (part and parcel of the Marxist worldview, which relies on creating envy to generate much of its appeal).  One side effect of this “soak the rich” battlecry is that it presumes most, if not all material success in life is achieved through undeserved and ill-gotten gains.

The problem with this approach is that being wealthy is no more a reliable sign of insidious living than being poor automatically confers virtue.  Below is a much better perspective:

CLASSWARFARE

There are many who have worked hard, been creative, stayed “in bounds” of the law, and still achieved material success and social status.  Then there are those who have lobbied and bought influence to bend the system to their ends, using government force to exclude potential rivals, or to hire cheaper foreign labor to displace hardworking Americans… all to squeeze a few more cents per share of profit from their corporate cash cow.  But despite Bernie’s bellowing, those CEOs are the minority.

At the same time, there are those Americans who make use of a publicly provided “hand up” to get their life back on course after a disaster (loss of job or spousal support, or a bout with substance abuse or crime).  But there are also those who make public assistance a way of life, seeing no incentive to become self-supporting instead of living off the goodwill of others.

The problem we have is not one of “rich versus poor.”  It’s one of “workers versus looters” that crosses the spectrum of income.  It’s one of people at all levels of society who use government to take from others what they would not otherwise give.  CEOs and their companies who spend each day making themselves more profitable by providing better value for society should be applauded, not demonized.  The same is true for those who are saved by the “social safety net” but show the determination to climb back off of that net and start moving upward on their own power again.  These are the ‘workers.’

But those of any income who increase their worth primarily at the calculated expense of others — looters — should be rightfully condemned, whether they live in Manhattan, New York, or Manhattan, Kanasas.  This is yet another issue where Democrats and Republicans each decry a selected part of the problem, while both make it worse.  Republicans complain (rightfully) about those who purposefully live off the welfare system, while simultaneously supporting H1B visas, offshoring and other corporate goodies that force vulnerable workers onto unemployment and other forms of public assistance.  Democrats rightfully attack Uncle Sam’s “corporate handouts” (of which there are many), but then promise to hand out so many “goodies” to the citizenry that they promote individual dependency and an entitlement mentality.

Here’s a radical thought: how about EVERYBODY stop looking at government as Santa Claus?  How about we stop empowering government to pick the winners and losers at all levels of living?  This is supposed to be the land of opportunity, not the land of who-has-the-most-organized-lobby.  (By the way, if you truly want to study and go to college, the opportunities exist.  Stop waiting for government to make it “free.”)  Government should be a referee, not a retailer of tax loot.

Solving any issue effectively means first defining the problem accurately.  That is one reason why socialism ultimately fails.  It substitutes blind jealousy for incentives and a work ethic.  I suspect its growing appeal to the current generation is based in no small part on the failure of America to prevent the corruption of what was once a successful attempt at free market capitalism into a blatant and corrupt system of cronyism based on an alliance of Big Business, Big Government and a Bi-factional ruling party.

Neither of these is the answer to the problem.  Where are the candidates promoting individual freedom and personal opportunity?

Organized crime pays

At least, that’s the message that keeps getting sent when one pays attention to what’s happening in the financial industries:

Traders who were rigging the £3.5trillion-a-day foreign exchange market boasted to each other about making ‘free money’ in a scandal that has today cost five banks a record £2billion in fines.
The bankers, who called themselves as the ‘A-Team’, ‘Three Musketeers’ and ‘The Players’, colluded online by sharing sensitive information to make millions for their banks and bag big bonuses themselves.
Other messages reveal how the cartel feared being caught, telling eachother on forums: ‘Don’t want other numpty’s in mkt to know… is he gonna protect us like we protect each other?’
State-owned Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined £217million ($344million) by the London-based Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as well as £182million ($290million) by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
The others involved in the settlement are Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and UBS, who will also pay up to £500million each. Barclays said it continues to hold discussions with regulators.
More than 30 traders have been fired, suspended, put on leave, or resigned since the probes started, and the Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation – but there have been no arrests.

Why is that? Why is it that police will confiscate the life savings of an ordinary citizen on a whim, without bothering to establish any criminal activity, but bankers and financiers can break all regulatory law and simply write off a negotiated fine as the cost of doing ‘business?’  (Wouldn’t it have been informative if the media had bothered to figure out what small percentage these ‘fines’ represented, compared to the billions in illegal gains?  I’m betting it’s a mere rounding error, and it’s no accident such context is lacking in the coverage.)

This is not an isolated story, and is yet one more example of why I get irritated with people who look at conditions today and consider it an indictment of capitalism.  We don’t HAVE capitalism today.  We have corporatism — a condition in which well-connected interests such as the financial sector have coopted the very regulators that are supposed to constrain their ability to use their position to screw the common man.  This is another reason I said yesterday I’m no longer convinced we live in a free country.  Not when this kind of thing is considered ‘justice.’

In recent years we’ve seen the robo-signing scandal (which, in a just world, would have resulted in the voiding of ALL affected mortgages), large banks found guilty of laundering money for criminal syndicates (professional courtesy, it would seem), and now this.

As Karl Denninger is fond of saying, “where are the handcuffs?”  Not to mention the long stretches in a general prison population for these captains of industry, not some Club Med Behind Bars.  This is why there is no trust in government OR the business world today.  And rightfully so.  Nor SHOULD there be any until some “big fish” are held to hard account, with a clear message this flaunting of the rule of law will no longer be tolerated.  These banks keep claiming in recent years they are “too big to let fail.”  Fine.  Maybe the government that currently coddles them needs instead to seize and auction them off in smaller parcels to people who will compete fairly in a market environment, rather than create oligarchies.  Come to think of it, that would help considerably with some other issues, too… like our national debt.

That would, however, require government to be interested in justice, rather than cronyism.  And that will only happen, dear reader, when YOU demand it.

(HT: Vox Day)

A tale of two countries

In “the land of the free, home of the brave,” if the government thinks you have too much cash on hand for an ordinary serf citizen, it reserves the right to relieve you of it:

For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

“How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

I’ve written before about these types of “civil forfeiture” laws, and how they are an example of the way our militarized social policy (i.e. the ‘war on drugs’) has eroded basic freedoms.  Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?  It’s come to this: if a bureaucrat deems your financial transactions to be unusual, they can just take your money.  This is freedom?  Other nations have certainly noticed this and raised an eyebrow.  Why haven’t we?

Between forfeiture and the rampant abuse of eminent domain, no American should feel secure that their own government won’t simply try arbitrarily to take away years of work and savings.  This nation simply is not as free as it thinks it is.  The irony is that other nations we’ve been conditioned over generations to believe are hopelessly less free than us may, in fact, now be doing better on this score:

the Vietnamese view of capitalism is based on their experience, while the American view, sadly, may be based on our own. The Vietnamese have their recent experience with the lies and deprivation that always accompany communism to contrast with the growth and opportunity that a newly opened free market has provided. Many Americans, on the other hand, look at our free market and see that it’s not all that free sometimes, and that a lot of what passes for capitalism is really what Jason Mattera calls Crapitalism, a politicized crony-capitalism in which insider connections and government subsidies and compulsion play a bigger role than they should.

Vietnam has a flat tax that makes life easy for small businesses; America has a convoluted code that requires professional help to understand — and that is administered by a politicized IRS that people don’t trust anymore. The Vietnamese see small businesses as essential to the country’s future; the American government is made up of politicians who meet objections to their policies by saying things like “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized entrepreneur in America.”

But the Vietnamese advantage may boil down to this: Free markets are new there, whereas America has had them for a long time. Scientist Thomas Ray once said that every successful system accumulates parasites, and the free market in America has been successful for a very long time. Established businesses get tied down with regulations that keep out new innovations — like Michigan’s GM-backed anti-Tesla law that bars carmakers from selling directly to the public — while politicians line up to line their pockets with taxes and fees and campaign contributions.

Don’t believe the rhetoric and the rah-rah that ‘Merica is the world’s greatest bastion of freedom, capitalism and self-governance.  Instead, take a good look at what’s going on around you — even if it’s not happening to you… yet… — and ask some hard questions about how we got here.  Who benefits from the way things are run now… from “Crapitalism?”  Why are Americans tolerating the level of lawlessness we currently do?

I’m not quite to the point of believing elections no longer matter here (though I’m getting there rapidly), so I’ll close with this: once you’ve asked the questions above, act accordingly next week.

NO INCUMBENTS, PLEASE!