Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

LinkSwarm for April 21, 2017

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Yesterday’s huge Texas vs. California update sucked up all my time, so today’s LinkSwarm is a little lite.

  • Texas residents should remember that tomorrow kicks off a preparedness sales tax holiday, giving you a chance to purchase batteries, fire extinguishers, etc. without paying sales tax on them.
  • How “diversity” is tearing France apart.
  • Another Paris shooting, another known wolf.
  • #Winning. “If your critics are reduced to complaining about what might be in your tax returns, you already won.”
  • USA Today staff too stupid to know the difference between tons and kilotons.
  • The real Russian stooge:

    The circumstantial evidence is mounting that the Kremlin succeeded in infiltrating the US government at the highest levels.

    How else to explain a newly elected president looking the other way after an act of Russian aggression? Agreeing to a farcically one-sided nuclear deal? Mercilessly mocking the idea that Russia represents our foremost geo-political foe?

    Accommodating the illicit nuclear ambitions of a Russian ally? Welcoming a Russian foothold in the Middle East? Refusing to provide arms to a sovereign country invaded by Russia? Diminishing our defenses and pursuing a Moscow-friendly policy of hostility to fossil fuels?

    All of these items, of course, refer to things said or done by President Barack Obama.

  • A strategy for repealing ObamaCare. How much inside baseball legislative wonkery can you stomach? Though it starts with full repeal. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nothing says “class” quite like Democrats openly cheering the news that suicides among white males are up. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Controlling the border: “It’s not that there’s a new sheriff in town – it’s the fact that after eight years of Obama’s open-borders lawlessness there finally is a sheriff in town.”
  • The Trump Administration has actually carried out several successful reforms that got very little press.
  • You know all that “polls show Ted Cruz could lose in 2018” blather? Not so fast.
  • Scott Adams. “The people who know the most about science don’t think complex climate prediction models are credible science, and they are right.”
  • Trump gets U.S. aid worker held in Egypt for three years released. Naturally NYT buries the story on page 10…
  • 1. India’s government does yet another stupid thing. 2. “Technically correct is the best kind of correct.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Hognose of WeaponsMan RIP.
  • Oxygen-deprived naked mole rats turn into plants. Sort of.
  • Woman misunderstands, brings therapy dog to furry convention. Happy ending: “Furrycon ended up raising $10,000 for Pets for Vets.”
  • No One Has A Functioning Mental Model of Trump

    Monday, April 17th, 2017

    For previous occupants of the White House, close observers could guess what actions a President might take in any given situation based on his ideology, personality, personal history, etc.

    No one seems to to have a working mental model for President Donald Trump.

    Let’s take a look at two sequential posts by Dilbert-creator and dedicated Trump-watcher Scott Adams. (And I’m picking on Scott Adams not because of his failings, but because he and his “Master Persuader” theory has heretofore been the best predictor of what Trump would do or say in any given situation.)

  • Post the First:

    My guess is that President Trump knows this smells fishy, but he has to talk tough anyway. However, keep in mind that he has made a brand out of not discussing military options. He likes to keep people guessing. He reminded us of that again yesterday, in case we forgot.

    So how does a Master Persuader respond to a fake war crime?

    He does it with a fake response, if he’s smart.

    Watch now as the world tries to guess where Trump is moving military assets, and what he might do to respond. The longer he drags things out, the less power the story will have on the public. We’ll be wondering for weeks when those bombs will start hitting Damascus, and Trump will continue to remind us that he doesn’t talk about military options.

  • Post the Second:

    As I blogged yesterday, the claim that Assad ordered a chemical attack on his own people in the past week doesn’t pass my sniff test. For Assad to order a gas attack now – while his side is finally winning – he would have to be willing to risk his life and his regime for no real military advantage. I’m not buying that.

    But let’s say the world believes Assad or a rogue general under his command gassed his own people. What’s an American President to do? If Trump does nothing, he appears weak, and it invites mischief from other countries. But if he launches 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian military air base base within a few days, which he did, the U.S. gets several benefits at low cost:

    1. President Trump just solved for the allegation that he is Putin’s puppet. He doesn’t look like Putin’s puppet today. And that was Trump’s biggest problem, which made it America’s problem too. No one wants a president who is under a cloud of suspicion about Russian influence.

    2. President Trump solved (partly) for the allegation that he is incompetent. You can hate this military action, but even Trump’s critics will call it measured and rational. Like it or not, President Trump’s credibility is likely to rise because of this, if not his popularity. Successful military action does that for presidents.

    3. President Trump just set the table for his conversations with China about North Korea. Does China doubt Trump will take care of the problem in China’s own backyard if they don’t take care of it themselves? That negotiation just got easier.

    4. Iran might be feeling a bit more flexible when it’s time to talk about their nuclear program.

    So in less than 24 hours, Adams went from “Trump is too smart to take that fishy bait” to “Trump is sure smart to have taken that fishy bait, and here’s why.”

    I opposed the Syrian strike but, like Adams, think it may have beneficial results in strengthening Trump’s hand in dealing with other world leaders.

    But the big takeaway here is that no one has a functioning mental model of what Trump is likely to do faced with any given situation. And that includes America’s foreign adversaries, who must of necessity tread more cautiously than they did under Obama.

  • LinkSwarm for April 14, 2017

    Friday, April 14th, 2017

    Good news, everyone! Your tax returns aren’t due until April 18th this year. So you can panic slightly later than usual…

  • How Trump won: by “consolidating the Republican base and then earning massive levels of support from whites without a college degree.” With lots of wonky demographic data goodness. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • More on that district-by-distract voting map in last week’s LinkSwarm.
  • The Beltway has a spending problem.
  • Republicans retain Kansas’ fourth congressional district.
  • Brian Krebs would like you to know thatches week’s Russian spammer arrest in Spain had nothing to do with election hacking.
  • Scumbag who killed Brian Terry with a Fast and Furious gun arrested in Mexico. (Insert innocent until proven guilty yada here.)
  • Hey Lois Lerner: If you want to seal your testimony because you think it might bring death threats, maybe you shouldn’t have used the IRS as a weapon against your domestic political enemies… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • BATF spending taxpayer dollars on NASCAR race suites.
  • Did Hezbollah take out their own second-in-command?
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott: build the border wall with funds withheld from sanctuary cities. (Hat tip: Dierctor Blue.)
  • Gavin McInnes at Taki’s Magazine thinks the Syria strike was five different 4D chessboard wins. Excerpts: “This shows women that America is in charge and we will keep the world’s children safe. Deep down, all they really want is a patriarchy.” And: “Obama’s legacy was the only death on April 6, 2017.”
  • U.S. forces drop a GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb on Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.
  • “Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than Bush.” Details: “A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries.”
  • Inside baseball account of the Gorsuch confirmation battle. Also:

    It turned out the open seat was an “electoral asset” for Trump. Voters didn’t like him or Hillary Clinton. But once filling the seat became the “principal issue,” Trump had the advantage. Everyone knew she would dump Garland, a moderate, for someone further to the left.

    “We didn’t know if the president would be a conservative or not,” McConnell said. However, he had promised to pick a nominee from a list of 20 conservative jurists. (McConnell had advocated such a list.) “This reassured conservatives.” The result: he got 90 percent of the Republican vote and won.”

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Daily Mail pays Melania Trump $2.9 million for calling her a whore.
  • Prisoners secretly build computers from recycled parts, hide them in the ceiling, hook them up to the prison network, and use them to commit fraud. “They were able to travel through the institution more than 1,100 feet without being checked by security through several check points, and not a single correction’s staff member stopped them from transporting these computers into the administrative portion of the building. It’s almost if it’s an episode of Hogan’s Heroes.” That’s some mighty fine correctional supervision there, Marion Correctional Institution…
  • Is the Trump dip over in gun sales? (Hat tip: Shall Not Be Questioned.)
  • Archeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars was attacked and shunned for offering up evidence that challenged the scientific consensus of the day. Good thing there’s no way that could possibly happen in climate research…
  • Why not a reverse auction for airline overbooking? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Ft. Hood brings the Funk.
  • Austin-area massage parlor turns out to be a front for prostitution. Try to contain your shock.
  • Enjoy your Easter weekend!

    LinkSwarm for April 7, 2017

    Friday, April 7th, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm!

    I’m still not wild about President Trump’s decision to strike a Syrian airfield with cruise missiles last night, but the decision makes more sense if you look at it less of a tool to make Bashar Assad mend his ways than as a warning shot across the bows of Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-Un and Xi Jinping, the latter of whom President Trump just happened to be meeting with while the missiles were hitting Shayrat.

    Now some links:

  • Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court today. How’d that Nuclear Option work out for you in the long run, Harry Reid?
  • The Obama/Kerry policy on Syrian chemical disarmament has been such an astounding failure that even Polifact has been forced to admit it.
  • Here’s a really interesting precinct-by-precinct map of the 2016 presidential election, along with analysis of changes from previous maps.

  • Susan Rice has changed her story twice. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Intelligence agencies are stonewalling congressional information requests on unmasking scandal.
  • Even Rolling Stone has noticed Putin derangement syndrome.
  • Russia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while recognizing East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
  • Russia has banned this image:

  • Jobless claims “are hovering near the lowest level since the early 1970s.” Now the trick is to produce enough sustained growth to get the Obama-discouraged long-term unemployed back into the workforce…
  • Dissecting the mainstream media’s dishonest response to every jihad attack.
  • “Conniving, spineless, duplicitous, misleading, double-crossing—Chuck Schumer is a fitting exemplar for the modern Democratic Party.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Intersectionality is a religion. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Marines test polymers to cut weight.
  • College student who was once in pictures with Bill Clinton busted for prostitution. What are the odds? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Justified shooting, unjustified indictment.
  • Mike Pence’s rules for not being alone with other women are probably less about preventing adultery than to prevent him from being framed and smeared by feminists.
  • “Ethicist” Pete Singer: Hey, let’s rape the retarded! It’s not like they’re real human beings…
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police can intercept your cell phone conversations.
  • Is Google prejudiced against ex-military employees?
  • ESPN is losing money hand-over-fist, but they’re still going shove the liberal culture war down your throat.
  • Oh the huge manatees…are doing just fine.
  • Hope you don’t need to use the stretch of I-35 near San Antonio this weekend: The Texas Department of Transportation is shutting it down for four days.
  • Don Rickles, RIP. With a great segment with him on the Tonight Show with Frank Sinatra.
  • Intervening in Syria is STILL a Bad Idea

    Thursday, April 6th, 2017

    Note: This post is 75% rerun by weight from this piece, because pretty much all the reasons listed there are still valid.

    Following a new report of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime in Syria, certain factions of the Washington establishment are demanding that President Trump “do something” to “punish” Assad.

    To which I reply: Why?

    Even assuming the report is true (at least some observers think the chemical attack report is a false flag), last time I checked, the United Nations had not made the United States the designated enforcer of Security Council Resolution 2118.

    We can’t back the good guys in the Syrian civil war because there are no good guys. Assad’s ruling faction are scumbags. The Russians backing Assad are scumbags. Hezbollah, fighting on Assad’s side, are scumbags. The Iranian mullahs backing Assad are scumbags. Turkey is currently ruled by Erdogan’s Islamist scumbags, and Turkey is more interested in attacking the Kurds than the Islamic State. The Free Syrian Army is riddled with Islamist scumbags. The al-Nusra front are scumbags. The Islamic State is made up of the very worst scumbags in the region (and world). The only notable faction that aren’t scumbags are the Kurds, who, as an ethnic and geographic minority, are in no position to rule Syria, or even a significant fraction of it.

    To the extent that Obama’s imaginary red lines and desultory, ineffectual backing of Syrian rebel groups harmed America’s reputation for competence in the region, the damage has already been done. (Indeed, the Obama/Clinton/Kerry strategy for fomenting regime change in the hope that things would turn out better, like a liberal funhouse mirror distorted reflection of George W. Bush’s far more limited regime change goals in Iraq, have made things worse across the region.) We have no pressing national interest at stake in the Syrian civil war, there’s not a contending faction (outside the peripherally-involved Kurds) worth backing, and it’s not apparent what such an intervention might reasonably achieve.

    All of which makes me incredulous when I read pieces that suggest that President Trump is considering military actions in Syria.

    Even some on the right have been agitating for the United States to “do something” in Syria, and S. E. Cupp’s Twitter timeline has (yet again) gone to an “all heart-tugging photos of Syrian children” format without saying why it is the United State’s interest to intervene in Syria or proposing anything concrete as to what form that intervention should take beyond vague talk of “safe zones.”

    A large part of the latest push to intervene in Syria still seems to be coming from an interest group called The Syria Campaign. Who is behind it?

    From that Zero Hedge piece:

    A careful look at the origins and operation of The Syria Campaign raises doubts about the outfit’s image as an authentic voice for Syrian civilians, and should invite serious questions about the agenda of its partner organizations as well.

    A creation of international PR firms

    Best known for its work on liberal social issues with well-funded progressive clients like the ACLU and the police reform group, Campaign Zero, the New York- and London-based public relations firm Purpose promises to deliver creatively executed campaigns that produce either a “behavior change,” “perception change,” “policy change” or “infrastructure change.” As the Syrian conflict entered its third year, this company was ready to effect a regime change.

    On Feb. 3, 2014, Anna Nolan, the senior strategist at Purpose, posted a job listing. According to Nolan’s listing, her firm was seeking “two interns to join the team at Purpose to help launch a new movement for Syria.”

    At around the same time, another Purpose staffer named Ali Weiner posted a job listing seeking a paid intern for the PR firm’s new Syrian Voices project. “Together with Syrians in the diaspora and NGO partners,” Weiner wrote, “Purpose is building a movement that will amplify the voices of moderate, non-violent Syrians and mobilize people in the Middle East and around the world to call for specific changes in the political and humanitarian situation in the region.” She explained that the staffer would report “to a Strategist based primarily in London, but will work closely with the Purpose teams in both London and New York.”

    On June 16, 2014, Purpose founder Jeremy Heimans drafted articles of association for The Syria Campaign’s parent company. Called the Voices Project, Heimans registered the company at 3 Bull Lane, St. Ives Cambridgeshire, England. It was one of 91 private limited companies listed at the address. Sadri would not explain why The Syria Campaign had chosen this location or why it was registered as a private company.

    Along with Heimans, Purpose Europe director Tim Dixon was appointed to The Syria Campaign’s board of directors. So was John Jackson, a Purpose strategist who previously co-directed the Burma Campaign U.K. that lobbied the EU for sanctions against that country’s ruling regime. (Jackson claimed credit for The Syria Campaign’s successful push to remove Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s re-election campaign ads from Facebook.) Anna Nolan became The Syria Campaign’s project director, even as she remained listed as the strategy director at Purpose.

    From The Syria Campaign’s own website:

    The Syria Campaign is a non-profit organisation registered as a company in the United Kingdom as The Voices Project—company number 8825761. (You can’t be a registered charity in the UK if most of your work is campaigning.)

    We have a Governing Board who are legally responsible for the organisation and oversee strategy and finance for The Syria Campaign. The board members are Daniel Gorman, Ben Stewart, Sawsan Asfari, Tim Dixon and Lina de Sergie.

  • Jeremy Heimans co-founded “a campaign group in the U.S. presidential elections that used crowd-funding to help a group of women whose loved ones were in Iraq hire a private jet to follow Vice-President Dick Cheney on his campaign stops, in what became known as the “‘Chasing Cheney’ tour” among other leftist activism.
  • Daniel Gorman heads “the UK’s largest festival of contemporary Arab culture.”
  • Ben Stewart is a Greenpeace activist who has a grudge against Russia for detaining 30 of his fellow travelers.
  • Sawsan Asfari is “active in various charities that help Palestinians across the Arab world” and is the wife of Syrian-born British billionaire Ayman Asfari.
  • Lina de Sergie seems to more commonly go by Lina Sergie Attar. “She is a Syrian-American architect and writer from Aleppo. She co-developed Karam’s Innovative Education initiatives: the creative therapy and holistic wellness program for displaced Syrian children and the Karam Leadership Program, an entrepreneurship and technology program for displaced Syrian youth.” Yes, I’m sure “holistic wellness” is a big priority for Syrian refugees. Karam’s Mission Statement: “We develop Innovative Education programs for Syrian refugee youth, distribute Smart Aid to Syrian families, and fund Sustainable Development projects initiated by Syrians for Syrians.”
  • Tim Dixon has quite an extensive resume, being a former speechwriter to two Australian Labor Party Prime Ministers and involved in a large number of causes:

    – a large-scale initiative to help change hearts and minds on the global refugee crisis;
    – The Syria Campaign, to move the world to action on the humanitarian crisis in Syria;
    – Everytown, the movement to tackle gun violence in America

  • Etc.

    So, to summarize: It’s run by international left-wing activists in favor of Europe accepting more “Syrian” “refugees”, soft jihadis, and gun banners.

    These are not the sort of people I want driving American national security decisions.

    The situation in Syria is horrible, but outside territory held by the Islamic State, it’s the same type of horrible that has plagued the Middle East pretty much constantly absent control by a ruling power with sufficient force to keep the endemic ethnic strife under wraps. Wars there are fought under Hama rules, not those of the Geneva Convention.

    It is not in the best interests of the United States to intervene militarily in Syria. We have no compelling national security interest in Syria right now, there’s no faction worth backing, and trying to “create safe areas” or “establish no-fly zones” would be dangerous, cost-prohibitive and unlikely to succeed.

    The fact that Barack Obama and John Kerry screwed up, drew a red line they were unwilling to enforce, pretended they got Syria to give up all their chemical weapons, and then walked away from their latest foreign policy disaster while loudly declaring victory doesn’t obligate President Trump to clean up their mess. Assad is a complete and utter bastard, but there is still no plausible candidate to replace him with that we could say with 100% certainty wouldn’t be just as big (or bigger) a bastard.

    Retaliating against Assad would be a huge distraction from something that is a compelling American (and world) interest: crushing the Islamic State so completely and thoroughly that it will arise again in our lifetime.

    Military intervention in Syria is still an amazingly foolish idea.

    Sometimes the best choice is doing nothing at all.

    Update: President Trump just launched a cruise missile strike at Syria. I suspect I hit post while the missiles were literally in the air. Word is this is a limited one-time strike. Is that’s the case, it may have a salutatory effect on the other bastards of the world like Kim Jong-Un, putting them on notice that President Trump is a whole lot more serious about using force than Obama was. If that’s the end of it, it may. turn out to be a net positive. But that’s a big if, and intervention in Syria is still a bad idea, for all the reasons listed above…

    More Susan Rice Domestic Surveillance Fallout

    Thursday, April 6th, 2017

    The fallout continues from the Susan Rice/Obama Administration domestic surveillance “unmasking” scandal:

  • The Trump campaign wasn’t the Obama Administration’s first use of America’s National Security intelligence gathering against domestic targets. They first used them against supporters of Israel and opponents of Obama’s Iran deal:

    “At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

    This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

    Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

    “According to a senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius wrote in his Jan. 12 column, “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”

    Nothing, the Times and the Post later reported. But exposing Flynn’s name in the intercept for political purposes was an abuse of the national-security apparatus, and leaking it to the press is a crime.

    This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.

    In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.

    During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.

    Snip.

    The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it. As The New York Timesreported last month, the administration distributed the intelligence gathered on the Trump transition team widely throughout government agencies, after it had changed the rules on distributing intercepted communications. The point of distributing the information so widely was to “preserve it,” the administration and its friends in the press explained—“preserve” being a euphemism for “leak.” The Obama team seems not to have understood that in proliferating that material they have exposed themselves to risk, by creating a potential criminal trail that may expose systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection.

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • The question of which (if any) laws the Obama Administration broke is secondary to the bigger question of abuse of power:

    Abuses of power are offenses against the public trust. They often overlap with a criminal offense, but they are not the same thing as a criminal offense. For example, a politician who accepts money in exchange for political favors commits both the crime of bribery and an impeachable offense of corruption. The jurors in the bribery case need not find that the politician breached his public trust; they need only find an intentional quid pro quo — payoff in exchange for favor. By contrast, the breach of public trust is central to the impeachment case: To remove the pol from office, there would be no need to prove the legal elements of a criminal bribery charge beyond a reasonable doubt, but it would have to be demonstrated that the politician is unfit for office. If it is a petty bribe, a prosecutor might ignore it, but the public should want to throw the bum out.

    This is why a “high crime and misdemeanor” — the constitutional standard for impeachment — need not be an indictable criminal offense. It may be a chargeable crime, but it need not be one.

    A famous example (though one not much remarked on during the last several years) is the second article of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon. It alleged (my italics):

    Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purpose[s] of these agencies.

    The impeachment allegation went on to describe how Nixon had, among other things, directed the FBI, CIA, and IRS to investigate innocent Americans for reasons unrelated to national security or law enforcement. For the most part, these directives were not violations of penal statutes. But they were, individually and collectively, heinous abuses of presidential power warranting impeachment.

    If the new reporting is to be believed, Rice orchestrated the unmasking of communications involving the Democrats’ political rivals — the Trump campaign. Her current stress on the lawfulness of the intelligence collection is a straw man. No credible commentator is claiming (based on what we currently know) that the intelligence-collection activities of the FBI, CIA, and NSA were illegal. As I explained yesterday in my aforementioned column, the surveillance and collection operations were undertaken pursuant to statute (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) as well as to the president’s constitutional authority to collect foreign intelligence (the exercise of which authority is laid out in a longstanding executive order, EO 12,333).

  • Susan Rice is a crummy liar.
  • “Funny how no ‘unmasking’ was done for the Hillary campaign:”

    CNN and a lot of the media aren’t covering the Rice story at all, but when the Associated Press, the New York Times, and others report it, many say the Trump administration is trying to divert attention from the Trump-Russia collusion story. The media present the Trump-Russia collusion story as true even though there is absolutely nothing yet to show that. They present the claim that Trump was spied on as a false story even though we have 100% proof that Trump people were listened to and that the information was leaked to the press.

    Anyone who believes that Trump wasn’t specifically targeted for political reasons probably still believes that the Benghazi killings were caused by a video, that Obama had no idea the IRS was targeting political opponents, that Obama had no idea Hillary was violating the law by using a non-secure server until three years after she left, that Obama had no idea his administration was gun-running to Mexico, and that Hillary and her aides had no intent to break the law.

    The media and Democrats should be absolutely ashamed that they haven’t had any concern about facts for a long time. If there is any collusion, it is between the media and Democrats to destroy Trump, no matter what the facts are.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “Why is mainstream media trying to cover up the Susan Rice story?”

    The New York Times, for example, didn’t feature the Rice story at all on Monday. And in the piece it did publish buried on page A16 that was hilariously titled, “Trump Tries to Deflect Russia Scrutiny, Citing ‘Crooked Scheme’ by Obama,” the paper of record shrugged off the controversy because the story came from “conservative news media outlets.”

    You know, “conservative” like the impossibly down-the-middle Eli Lake of Bloomberg View or via an objective reporter like Fox’s Adam Housley.

    The Washington Post also failed to feature the story in any capacity either, instead relegating it to a blog post that referred to the Rice story as a “fake scandal.” Democracy dies in darkness, as they say.

    “Fake scandal” was also the way CNN anchor Chris Cuomo described the story to viewers of “New Day” on Tuesday.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.) Of course, to ask the question is to answer it:

  • “The media only has an interest in intrigue when it involves Republicans.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • The House Intelligence Panel wants Susan Rice to testify.
  • Scott Adams: “We don’t know all the facts yet, but we do know that Trump’s claim of being “wiretapped” by Obama is starting to look dangerously close to something similar to the truth. CNN did not see that coming, and it would be awkward to walk-back all of their mocking. So they just sort of ignored it.”
  • Obama Rice Unmasking Scandal: Deeper in the Swamp

    Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

    After months of pushing the “Trump is a Putin stooge” fantasy, Democrats and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) have seen it blown up in their faces as an “Obama was using the national security apparatus to spy on his political opponents” scandal.

    Andrew McCarthy on the scale of the scandal:

    In general, it is the FBI that conducts investigations that bear on American citizens suspected of committing crimes or of acting as agents of foreign powers. In the matter of alleged Russian meddling, the investigative camp also includes the CIA and the NSA. All three agencies conducted a probe and issued a joint report in January. That was after Obama, despite having previously acknowledged that the Russian activity was inconsequential, suddenly made a great show of ordering an inquiry and issuing sanctions. Consequently, if unmasking was relevant to the Russia investigation, it would have been done by those three agencies. And if it had been critical to know the identities of Americans caught up in other foreign intelligence efforts, the agencies that collect the information and conduct investigations would have unmasked it. Because they are the agencies that collect and refine intelligence “products” for the rest of the “intelligence community,” they are responsible for any unmasking; and they do it under “minimization” standards that FBI Director James Comey, in recent congressional testimony, described as “obsessive” in their determination to protect the identities and privacy of Americans. Understand: There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked. If there had been a real need to reveal the identities — an intelligence need based on American interests — the unmasking would have been done by the investigating agencies. The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.

    Snip.

    It appears very likely that Susan Rice was involved in the unmasking of Michael Flynn. Was she also monitoring the FBI’s investigation? Was she involved in the administration’s consideration of (bogus) criminal charges against Flynn? With the subsequent decision to have the FBI interrogate Flynn (or “grill” him, as the Times put it)? The second point is that, while not a pillar of rectitude, Ms. Rice is not an idiot. Besides being shrewd, she was a highly involved, highly informed consumer of intelligence, and a key Obama political collaborator. Unlike the casual reader, she would have known who the Trump-team players were without needing to have their identities unmasked. Do you really think her purpose in demanding that names be revealed was to enhance her understanding of intelligence about the activities and intentions of foreign targets? Seriously? I’m betting it was so that others down the dissemination chain could see the names of Trump associates — names the investigating agencies that originally collected the information had determined not to unmask.

    Also this:

    In publishing the illegally leaked classified information about former national-security adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the New York Times informs us that “Obama advisers” and “Obama officials” were up to their eyeballs in the investigation.

    Susan Rice has conspicuously not denied unmasking Trump associates.

    McCarthy also notes that Obama had the rules on unmasking changed late in his presidency so more people could be unmasked. How convenient.

    It doesn’t help her cause that Rice’s own story has changed. “Back then Rice responded to allegations that the Obama administration was surveilling members of Trump’s camp for strategic gain by pleading ignorance. Hedging her bets after new reports from Bloomberg and the Daily Caller, Rice now says that any unmasking of identities was ‘absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, to expose or anything.'”

    The mainstream media, of course, is doing its lockstep best to avoid or downplay the scandal. “Notice they’re not calling it fake news. They’re not calling it untrue. They’re not labeling it made-up. They’re not saying that it isn’t accurate. They’re saying it’s unimportant. And, strictly speaking, their objectives being to get rid of Donald Trump, it is unimportant, and it is not helpful, and it is not useful.”

    Also amazing is the speed with which the scandal has gone from “fake” to “real but not a scandal” among Obama’s defenders. “One minute it’s ridiculous to think that the Obama administration was doing surveillance on the Trump campaign. The next minute the Obama administration was doing the right thing if it did surveillance on the Trump campaign.”

    The scandal also reminds us, yet again, of the incestuous relationship between the Democratic Party and the media, who are as intertwined as the Habsburgs and the Buorbons.

    The scandal reminds us that former ABC news producer Ian Cameron is married to Rice, and yet was still working at ABC well into the Obama Administration.

    Another thing the scandal reminded us was that CNN’s Jim Sciutto used to work for the Obama Administration. CNN being the network that hired Valerie Jarrett’s daughter to report on Trump.

    Still another thing the scandal reminded us, yet again, that Maggie Haberman of the New York Times is a Clinton shill.

    Trump won the presidency partially because he promised to “drain the swamp.” The unmasking scandal displays, yet again, just how badly the Democrat Media Complex swamp needs to be drained.

    Obama Surveillance Scandal Widens

    Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

    This seems to be the way the world works now:

    1. President Trump: Tweets something crazy.

    2. Democrats: Look at that! Trump’s crazy! And also SuperMegaHitler controlled by Putin!
    3. National Review writer: Trump must stop tweeting immediately.
    4. World: Hey look, that totally crazy thing Trump tweeted happens to be the truth! What are the odds?

    The latest example is that Obama National Security advisor Susan Rice ordered surveillance of President Trump’s transition team:

    White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

    The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

    The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

    The intelligence reports were summaries of monitored conversations — primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials. One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.

    That’s from Eli Lake at Bloomberg, but the person who first broke the story was Mike Cernovich at Medium. He was able to break the story because folks working at Bloomberg and the New York Times revealed that both Lake and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times were sitting on the story to protect the Obama administration. “‘Real journalism’ is that Bloomberg had it and the New York Times had it but they wouldn’t run it because they don’t want to run any stories that would make Obama look bad or that will vindicate Trump. They only want to run stories that make Trump look bad so that’s why they sat on it.”

    It seems that Rice ordered preparation of detailed spreadsheets “of legal phone calls involving Donald Trump and his aides when he was running for president”:

    “What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals,” [former U.S. Attorney Joseph] diGenova told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group Monday.

    “The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with,” diGenova said. “In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”

    Other official sources with direct knowledge and who requested anonymity confirmed to TheDCNF diGenova’s description of surveillance reports Rice ordered one year before the 2016 presidential election.

    Also on Monday, Fox News and Bloomberg News, citing multiple sources reported that Rice had requested the intelligence information that was produced in a highly organized operation. Fox said the unmasked names of Trump aides were given to officials at the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Defense, James Clapper, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, and John Brennan, Obama’s CIA Director.

    Joining Rice in the alleged White House operations was her deputy Ben Rhodes, according to Fox.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit. Also Instapundit at Instapundit. “I’ll leave both up, because it’s that big a story.”)

    So the Obama Administration was using the National Security state to illegally gather information on Trump and his associated a year before the election. A single break-in by Nixon’s bumbling plumbers are pathetically small potatoes by comparison.

    What are the odds that Rice just out of the blue decided to start gathering surveillance information on Trump and his associates rather than being told to by Obama?

    None of this should come as any surprise, since the Obama Administration has been caught conducting illegal domestic surveillance, including targeting Fox News reporter James Rosen, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Associated Press, to say nothing of their hacking Sharyl Attkisson’s computer.

    And add the previously revealed Trump wiretapping as the cherry on top of the “using the national security apparatus to surveil domestic political enemies” cake.

    Given all this, why on earth would President Trump stop tweeting? His hit rate seems higher than the Oracle at Delphi…

    LinkSwarm for March 31, 2017

    Friday, March 31st, 2017

    Welcome to April Fool’s Eve! Don’t believe anything you hear tomorrow. Especially if it’s from CNN…

  • Representative Moe Brooks of Alabama offers up a one sentence repeal of ObamaCare: “Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.” Get on it, GOP… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Why not give CruzCare a try?
  • Single-payer’s future is Venezuela’s present: “The communist model for healthcare will result in everyone having a right to healthcare and no one getting any of it. There will be black market health care for those who can afford it, a lovely parallel system for the politically well connected, and a crumbling system of overworked, over-regulated providers working to give some care to all the rest of us.”
  • Scott Adams: “With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme.”
  • CrowdStrike, Patient Zero in the “Russia hacked the Democrats” vector, backtracks key claims.
  • “Filibustering Gorsuch might be a pointless exercise when it comes to keeping him off the court, but it would have the advantage of giving angry Democratic activists something they desperately want: an opportunity to lash out in fury at Republicans.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Democratic senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) announced they will vote for Gorsuch.
  • Leftists are taking this fact with their usual grace and tact:

    Yeah, I have no idea who Mr. Checkmark Who Has Fewer Followers Than Me is either…

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has seven facts for Democrats to consider before filibustering Gorsuch. “There has never been a successful partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee.”
  • Hosni Mubarek freed in Egypt. But I mainly want to talk about the Times piece of an example of sins of omission by the newspaper of record. “The first democratic election, in 2012, brought to power a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi. But he lasted only a year, making a series of political blunders that cost him the support of the military, crucial parts of the security apparatus and millions of Egyptians, who gathered in the streets in June 2013 to call for his removal.” Yes, one might call “engineering a murderous rampage and instituting a dictatorship in order to fully Islamicize Egyptian society” a “blunder”…
  • So how’s that boycott against North Carolina over the tranny bathroom law panning out? Not so hot. “Tourism has thrived: Hotel occupancy, room rates and demand for rooms set records in 2016, according to the year-end hotel lodging report issued last week by VisitNC, part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.” (Hat tip: Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Twitter feed.)
  • “Former Obama Official Describes Last-Minute Rush to Spy on Trump Team, Conceal Intel Sources.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Someone in a small circle of Obama intelligence officials who knew the identity of that American No. 1 committed a felony by leaking Flynn’s name to media.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Chicago follows in Detroit’s footsteps.
  • Journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s baby parts selling scheme indicted on felony eavesdropping charges in California. By an amazing coincidence, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra received donations from Planned Parenthood. What are the odds?
  • There’s an actual Wikipedia article for a list of grenade attacks in Sweden, which have exploded (ha) since 2012. Many occurred in Malmo. Gee, what could possibly be driving all these grenade attacks?
  • Euroweenie to campaign for independence of the People’s Republic of Austin. Good luck with that. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.
  • Trump as The Mule from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Empire. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • President Trump reverses four Obama regulations. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • $15,000 of Soros money a month per team to fight Trump.
  • You know that “1973 Manhattan was a nightmare of smog” picture your liberal Facebook friends have been posting? Debunked.
  • Behind the scenes of 2016’s wipeout of Republicans in Harris County.
  • Texas Senate votes to end automatic union payroll deductions.
  • Attorney General Ken Paxton’s trial venue is being moved, which is a victory for the prosecution. Given the dismissal of the SEC charges the case is based on, I still think the long-term prognosis points to acquittal or dismissal.
  • Homeowner 3, Robbers 0.
  • Are your sexual fetishes social justice warrior approved, comrade? If not, then expect to be fired…
  • “Spiders could theoretically eat every human on earth in a year and still be hungry.” Obviously this cries out for a research grant and a pilot program…
  • Internet Security issue: “Typosquatting programming language package managers.”
  • Troll level: Godlike.
  • Five-year old suspended for imaginary gun.
  • An obituary for the author of The Anarchist’s Cookbook.
  • McSweeney’s on packing the liberal go-bag. (Hat tip: Gay Patriot’s Twitter feed.)
  • Don McLean’s “American Pie” added to the National recording registry. “I’m really delighted that the government has taken notice of me in this way, and not by tapping my phone or something.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Want. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Hakeem Olajuwon: Better than Jordan.
  • Speaking of shocking statistics: “Steven Seagal released seven films in 2016. Seven.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Oh no! Not the bees! They’re in my eyes!
  • Johnny Rotten Backs Brexit, Trump

    Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

    I’ll take things likely to make liberals heads explode for $200, Alex:

    British cultural icon and punk rock godfather John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) has hailed the “joy” of populist, anti-establishment movements across the West.

    Mr Lydon backed Brexit, claimed President Donald J. Trump was unfairly smeared by the “left wing” media, and said he wanted to shake “fantastic” Nigel Farage’s hand for taking on elites.

    Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the Sex Pistols frontman praised how the former UKIP leader led a flotilla of pro-Brexit fishermen in the so-called “Battle of the Thames” – when they faced off with a group of pro-EU millionaires and celebrities.

    “After that up-the-River-Thames argument he had with Bob Geldof, I wanted to shake [Nigel Farage’s] hand because it was silly beyond belief.

    “Where do I stand on Brexit? Well, here it goes: the working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them,” he said.

    The punk icon also said the unconventional outsider President Trump was a type of punk rock politician who was being unfairly attacked by the media establishment.

    He dubbed Mr. Trump “a complicated fellow”, adding: “As one journalist once said to me, is he the political Sex Pistol? In a way.

    “What I dislike is the left wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist, and that’s completely not true.

    “There are many, many problems with him as a human being but he’s not that, and there just might be a chance something good will come out of this situation because it terrifies politicians. This is a joy to behold for me.”

    When host Piers Morgan described Mr. Trump as “the archetypal anti-establishment figure”, Mr. Lydon said: “Dare I say, a possible friend.”

    All this will be quite a shock to American leftists who wore Anarchy in the UK buttons right next to their Mondale-Ferraro buttons back in the 1980s, figuring that punk was cool and anti-establishment and therefore automatically on leftism’s side.

    What liberals forget is that punk rock was itself a reaction to the discontents of the mid-1970s Wilson-Callaghan Labour governments of the UK, a period of high unemployment and labor unrest that would culminate (post-Lydon’s exit from the Pistols) in the “Winter of Discontent” that would bring Margaret Thatcher to power.

    It’s not like they sang “Bigger Government in the UK,” now is it?

    Punk was a rebellion against the establishment, and there are few establishments more entrenched than our political and media elites.

    Also note Lydon’s comment that “the working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them.” As I mentioned before, Brexit passed in large measure thanks to a working class who feel that global elites have abandoned them. In theory, the Labour Party should be able to capitalize on such working class resentment, but they can’t, because they’re largely part of that same global elite.

    Indeed, from “bitter clingers” to “basket of deplorable,” the defining characteristic of liberal parties in the West today seems to be their open contempt for the working class they once claimed to represent. Who among our nation’s Democratic Party elites could even plausibly claim to be “working class”?

    Note also Lydon’s dismissing media claims of Trump being a racist, a stance that will make Social Justice Warriors despise him (assuming they didn’t already).

    Lydon is nobody’s idea of a movement conservative, and I sincerely doubt he’ll be cutting campaign commercials for the Tories anytime soon. But he is his own man, and willing to call bullshit on politically correct lies, and that’s good enough for me.

    (Hat tip: BigGator5’s Twitter feed.)