Questions that need public answers

The end of the Mueller investigation appears to have answered the main question: there is no evidence President Trump or any of his campaign officials attempted to collude with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election.  Democrats will continue to point to the handful of indictments handed down, but it’s important to keep reminding them these have nothing to do with foreign collusion, and mostly amount to “process fouls” committed during the investigation.

The investigation lasted nearly two years, during which time many leading Democrats either alluded or outright stated there was direct evidence of collusion driving the Special Counsel’s activity.  We now know that to be categorically false (which should utterly destroy the credibility of those, like Rep. Adam Schiff, who continually dabbled in such statements).  The end of the investigation leaves open more questions than it answers, primarily concerning how the allegations of collusion were made in the first place.  Sharyl Attkison, one of the few professional journalists left in our country, has compiled a list of questions Americans deserve answers to.  Excerpt:

If, in the end, Mueller found no convincing evidence that Americans colluded with Russia, how did top current and former U.S. intel officials supposedly become so convinced otherwise?

In fact, one might ask, were they really convinced, or were they promulgating a narrative they knew was at best unproven and quite possibly false?
And if so, why?

Who thought it was a valid idea to continue to wiretap Page, time after time after time, as if he were a Russian agent, while they apparently turned up no evidence that he was?

Did any Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges question the FBI’s relentless pursuit of Carter Page and the dragnet the wiretaps allowed them to secretly cast for those around him, including, quite possibly, Trump?

Who was behind the campaign of anti-Trump leaks—frequently including false information—that became ubiquitous in the news media?

What does it say about the judgment of some of our one-time top intel officials if they really believed Trump colluded with Russia? This includes former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and former ambassador Samantha Power.

What other mistakes did they make, and what actions did they take based on any such mistakes?

Were any of the “unmaskings” of American citizens by these intel officials in 2016 politically motivated?

What did the Justice Department ever do about the criminal referral Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made against (ex-MI6 spy Christopher) Steele in January 2018?

James Comey, who would be keeping a low public profile if he had any sense of shame, tweeted “So many questions.” after Attorney General William Barr released his summary of the Mueller Report.  While this was a transparent attempt to keep the anti-Trump focus alive, he’s actually correct that many questions remain.  Just not the ones he’s dreaming up.  Senator Lindsey Graham had the appropriate response to Comey:

Graham

Here’s hoping Senate Republicans haul all the Obama-era officials involved in this witch hunt before Congress and bore into the woodwork on these questions.  Perhaps we’ll finally get the real “bombshells” if they do so.  The weaponization of the IRS under the last administration was just the start.  Americans deserve to know just how far that corruption spread.

Keep the pressure on

President Trump’s re-election campaign communications director throws the gauntlet down to the misleading mainstream press (click to enlarge):

I find the use of the phrase “reckless statements” to be interesting.  I don’t know that it’s the intent, but the phrase immediately brought libel law to mind.  Generally speaking, public figures have a harder time bringing libel suits than average citizens.  But libel has a very specific definition: “…making of defamatory statements (false and reckless) in a printed or fixed medium, such as a magazine, newspaper or online such as a website or a social media site like Twitter.”

The memorandum cites specific examples of various Deep State critters repeating the “collusion” and “treason” mantra, having claimed before the release of the Mueller Report that there was “clear evidence” of such.  Now that the report is out, the false and reckless nature of these claims would seem apparent.  Could it be Trump’s team is putting the Mainstream Media on notice that continuing to facilitate these fevered conspiracy dreams might result in expensive legal action taken against them?  If that’s the case, I say it’s long overdue.  Having a free press means it’s free to follow the facts wherever they lead, and to express opinions that are presented as such.  It should not mean freedom to build a public echo chamber of propaganda that lacks any semblance of evidence to support it.

The Left has had it rough the past few days: the Mueller Report, the arrest of Michael Avenatti, the Justice Department concurring with a Federal Judge that Obamacare is unconstitutional…  I pray it’s only the smallest beginning of a much needed reckoning.  And if it seems like I’m merciless in my current calls for vengeance, it’s only because the other side has clearly shown they will give no quarter in their pursuit of power.  All well and good, then: let’s hoist the black flag and get to work.  The Left must be destroyed.

There must be a reckoning

We finally have the Special Counsel’s report regarding whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russia to rig the 2016 election.  As I expected, Attorney General Barr’s summary to Congress reveals the last two years of breathless media hype amount to much “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  It was, in short, “a tale told by idiots:”

The Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) MUST face consequences for this unprecedented attempt to use “lawfare” to overturn a legitimate presidential election. DO NOT let them blithely pivot to another talking point to distract you. DO NOT let them self-absolve of any responsibility for two years of hamstringing the president, even as he demonstrably acted in the nation’s best interest on many fronts. DO NOT forget how far the Left is willing to go and who they are willing to destroy to gain and maintain power.

Sean Davis

In 2020, DO. NOT. FORGET. The Left has revealed both their goals and their willingness to use any means, however illegitimate and evil, to obtain them. They must not be simply defeated. They, and the fake media that sustain them, must be destroyed politically beyond any chance of recovery.  Our nation’s continued survival depends on it.

Now that they’ve “struck at the king and missed,” I look forward to the investigation of the Mueller investigation’s origins and conduct.  I suspect that’s where we’ll find the real “bombshells.”  Stay tuned.

A shift in the narrative?

I can only hope that Conrad Black is correct, and that the majority of people are waking up to the fact the Left and the media (but I repeat myself) have been projecting false realities as smokescreens since late 2016:

For more than two years, the United States and the world have had two competing narratives: that an elected president of the United States was a Russian agent whom the Kremlin helped elect; and its rival narrative that senior officials of the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, and other national intelligence organizations had repeatedly lied under oath, misinformed federal officials, and meddled in partisan political matters illegally and unconstitutionally and had effectively tried to influence the outcome of a presidential election, and then undo its result by falsely propagating the first narrative. It is now obvious and indisputable that the second narrative is the correct one.

The authors, accomplices, and dupes of this attempted overthrow of constitutional government are now well along in reciting their misconduct without embarrassment or remorse because—in fired FBI Director James Comey’s formulation—a “higher duty” than the oath they swore to uphold the Constitution compelled them. Or—in fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s words—“the threat” was too great. Nevermind that the nature of “the threat” was that the people might elect someone he and Comey disapproved of as president, and that that person might actually serve his term, as elected.

Black concludes that “Without realizing the proportions of the emergency, America has survived the greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War.”  Call me a jaded pessimist, but I think it might be too early to say that with any certainty.  Just because Trump’s enemies’ narratives are unravelling doesn’t mean they are any less committed to removing him from power, or at the least trying to hobble his freedom of action through “lawfare.”  Their actions over the past two years define the term “subversion.” Meanwhile, Trump’s base (including me) is increasingly exasperated that those miscreants have yet to see any semblance of justice applied to them, and that States and cities continue to defy the Federal government by declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for unauthorized invaders.

No, we haven’t “survived” anything yet.  We just don’t know how long the fuse is on this particular powder keg, or whether anybody can unlight it.  And yes, it’s appropriate to compare it to the crisis of the Civil War.  These are not ordinary political differences.  They are instead existential in nature.

Stay tuned, boys and girls.  In the meantime, ask yourself how prepared you and your loved ones are if the explosion does occur, and take action accordingly.

A worthwhile New Years resolution

…would be for the United States to admit we’ve achieved everything we’re likely to in Afghanistan (i.e. not much), and end the operation:

No other country in the world symbolizes the decline of the American empire as much as Afghanistan. There is virtually no possibility of a military victory over the Taliban and little chance of leaving behind a self-sustaining democracy — facts that Washington’s policy community has mostly been unable to accept…

Indeed, Afghanistan represents the triumph of the deterministic forces of geography, history, culture, and ethnic and sectarian awareness, with Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras and other groups competing for patches of ground. Tribes, warlords and mafia-style networks that control the drug trade rule huge segments of the country…

The United States’ special adviser to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is trying to broker a diplomatic solution that allows the United States to draw down its forces without the political foundation in Kabul disintegrating immediately.

That may be the real reason the United States keeps spending so heavily in Afghanistan. The Pentagon is terrified of a repeat of 1975, when panicked South Vietnamese fled Saigon as Americans pulled out and North Vietnamese forces advanced on the city. The United States military did not truly begin to recover from that humiliation until its victory in the Persian Gulf war of 1991. An abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan could conceivably provide a new symbol of the decline in American hard power.

There is also the fear that an Afghanistan in chaos could once again provide a haven for an international terrorist group determined to perpetrate another Sept. 11-scale attack. Of course, Yemen, Somalia and a number of other places could also provide the setting for that.  The point is, we remain in Afghanistan out of fear of even worse outcomes, rather than in the expectation of better ones.

Afghanistan has become America’s “tar baby.”  The more we try to do there, the more we seem “stuck” with no vision or endgame in sight.  The writer of the linked article is correct that our misadventures there are likely to signal to our adversaries we aren’t the power we used to be.  But what is far worse is that our indecision and inability to know “when to fold them” demonstrates poor strategic judgment as well.  Nothing encourages aggression like thinking your potential opponent is both weak AND a fool.

(Chinese) Rear Admiral Lou Yuan has told an audience in Shenzhen that the ongoing disputes over the ownership of the East and South China Seas could be resolved by sinking two US super carriers.

His speech, delivered on December 20 to the 2018 Military Industry List summit, declared that China’s new and highly capable anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles were more than capable of hitting US carriers, despite them being at the centre of a ‘bubble’ of defensive escorts.

“What the United States fears the most is taking casualties,” Admiral Lou declared.
He said the loss of one super carrier would cost the US the lives of 5000 service men and women. Sinking two would double that toll.

Our extended presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan underscored our country’s emphasis upon what the military calls “force protection.”  It’s natural for any military to seek to limit casualties, but when it becomes apparent that even a few deaths are enough to change national policy, outside observers begin to doubt one’s resolve.  The thoughts expressed by Admiral Lou Yuan echo those of the Japanese militarists in 1940: the U.S. is a paper tiger, and will acquiesce to its rivals if smacked hard enough on the nose.  Japan’s miscalculation led to a brutal Pacific War that ended in atomic fireballs over two of its cities.  To see the line of thought being resurrected by the Chinese, whose potential to oppose the U.S. dwarfs that of Russia, should give plenty of people pause.

Afghanistan is known as “the graveyard of empires” for a reason.  The sooner we recognize that, and take steps to restore the deterrent credibility we’ve lost there, the better.  The misguided 17-year (and counting) occupation may have sought to avoid another 9/11.  But at this point, it risks far worse outcomes by emboldening rivals who believe they’ve taken our measure by watching us there.  Perhaps America in 2019 lacks the ability to muster the resolve shown after Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Then again, perhaps not.

The only certain thing is it’s better to ensure we never have to find out.

Why are we buying from China?

It’s no secret the U.S. and China are increasingly at odds with each other.  China fully recognizes — even embraces — this development, pouring effort into projects like the Confucious Institutes and developing spies among the key staff of important members of Congress.  China holds a significant fraction of the U.S. public debt — a potential lever in any showdown, given our nation’s reliance on deficit-spending.  While we’ve heard nothing but “Russia, Russia, Russia” since the 2016 presidential election, it’s China that poses the most long-term threat to U.S. national security.

And yet, we continue to enable them:

There are two ways for spies to alter the guts of computer equipment. One, known as interdiction, consists of manipulating devices as they’re in transit from manufacturer to customer. This approach is favored by U.S. spy agencies, according to documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The other method involves seeding changes from the very beginning.

One country in particular has an advantage executing this kind of attack: China, which by some estimates makes 75 percent of the world’s mobile phones and 90 percent of its PCs

Supermicro had been an obvious choice to build Elemental’s servers. Headquartered north of San Jose’s airport, up a smoggy stretch of Interstate 880, the company was founded by Charles Liang, a Taiwanese engineer who attended graduate school in Texas and then moved west to start Supermicro with his wife in 1993. Silicon Valley was then embracing outsourcing, forging a pathway from Taiwanese, and later Chinese, factories to American consumers, and Liang added a comforting advantage: Supermicro’s motherboards would be engineered mostly in San Jose, close to the company’s biggest clients, even if the products were manufactured overseas.

Today, Supermicro sells more server motherboards than almost anyone else. It also dominates the $1 billion market for boards used in special-purpose computers, from MRI machines to weapons systems. Its motherboards can be found in made-to-order server setups at banks, hedge funds, cloud computing providers, and web-hosting services, among other places. Supermicro has assembly facilities in California, the Netherlands, and Taiwan, but its motherboards—its core product—are nearly all manufactured by contractors in China…

“Think of Supermicro as the Microsoft of the hardware world,” says a former U.S. intelligence official who’s studied Supermicro and its business model. “Attacking Supermicro motherboards is like attacking Windows. It’s like attacking the whole world.”

The entire, detailed article, is worth reading. As you do, consider that our government increasingly uses server-enabled cloud computing, even for the most sensitive of information. Does it make sense for our government and military to use hardware produced by our all-but-in-name adversary? What carefully implanted surprises now await us in an actual showdown with this emerging power? Shouldn’t our policy be to encourage cost-effective manufacturers here at home?

Over the past 30 years the world became obsessed with obtaining cheap products from China. We’re finding out now they may have cost more than we ever suspected.

Make America great again — make America self-reliant, manufacturing its own goods again.

Time and place… Time. And. Place.

Donald Trump will never win an award for being a silver-tongued orator.  It’s his willingness to say what he thinks, however, that endears him to many of his supporters.  In Monday’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump disappointed many when he declined to press Putin publicly on the accusation of cyberspace meddling in the 2016 election.  This resulted in shrieks of “treason” from his detractors in the U.S. (note to these: take a tranquilizer and calm down; your constant Chicken Little hysterics are embarrassing).  Being civil with Putin, however, doesn’t mean being in his pocket:

[Trump] is, as Greg Gutfeld noted on The Five, his own good cop and bad cop all rolled into one.  The good cop part is what we saw with Kim Jong-un and now with Putin — complimenting tyrants to an almost uncomfortable degree.  It’s oddly a Christian love-the-sinner-but-hate-the-sin kind of thing.

The bad cop part is what Trump actually does concretely — and, as Putin certainly knows, this is far more important than photo ops and press conferences with all the attendant words.  Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Russia have been considerably more stringent than his predecessor’s — opening the energy spigots, increasing sanctions, arming the Ukrainians, ejecting 60 Russian agents, etc.  As Walter Russell Mead pointed out, if Trump is in Putin’s pocket, he’s doing a terrible job of it.

Barack Obama — although the New York Times would burn down its own building rather than admit it — did an abysmal job with Putin and was indeed the one who was truly “owned” by the Russian.  And it wasn’t just the silly reset button and the embarrassing video of Barack whispering into Medvedev’s ear to tell Vlad he — Barack — would be more flexible on missiles after the election.  (What a toady!)  Even worse, in his Chamberlainesque ardor to make a deal with Iran’s mullahs, Obama let Putin play him in Syria, agreeing not to honor his redline against Assad’s use of chemical weapons in order not to endanger the  deal.  Trump never did anything nearly that pathetic.

Too many in our government find purpose only in confronting adversaries, whether it’s Russia, Iran, Syria or North Korea (or for warmonger John McCain — who still hasn’t resigned his Senate seat despite terminal cancer that allegedly prevents his being in D.C. — all of the above).  If things are too calm they’ll create the next Hitler of convenience (see: Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Ghaddafi).  Keeping these pots on a low boil is useful to the ruling class; when people start catching on to Uncle Sam’s misdeeds, they simply turn up the heat on one of the burners as a “rally ’round the flag” distraction.

If the various “Q”-related rumors are true, the administration is about to unmask considerable — possibly unprecedented — malfeasance within our own country’s leadership.  In such a case it would be prudent to wall off any potential foreign distractions, which may underpin Trump’s focused efforts with North Korea and Russia these days.  Putin’s revelation that Hillary Clinton received $400 million in questionable campaign funds from Russian sources, and Trump’s comments at the press conference about the missing DNC computer server and other unresolved scandals serve to underscore what fights our president has chosen to pursue at this time.  Regardless what success he has on that front, Trump is absolutely right in responding to those who urged him to cross swords with Putin or refuse to meet him at all:

“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.”

Trump’s foes have consistently underestimated both him and his base of support.  This tends to downplay in my mind all the pundits who claim Trump is either coopted or naïve about Putin.  They may find he was simply ensuring a fight on only one front at a time, fully aware that he still needs to keep Putin under a watchful eye.  “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” as the saying goes.

Such wisdom is to be desired in a chief executive.