Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

LinkSwarm for December 8, 2017

Friday, December 8th, 2017

Last night mother nature dumped a bunch of snow on Austin…very little of which stayed on the ground through this morning. Which is just fine for those of us who have jobs.

I’ll still sorting out the latest DOJ/FBI revelations to have them all filed in the next Clinton Corruption update, which should be ginormous.

  • California is on fire.
  • “Traffic through central Mordor is slow but steady.”

  • The Wisconsin Witch Hunt was even worse than even conservatives feared:

    Wisconsin’s infamous John Doe investigation was more sinister and politically driven than originally reported.

    A Wisconsin Attorney General report on the year-long investigation into leaks of sealed John Doe court documents to a liberal British publication in September 2016 finds a rogue agency of partisan bureaucrats bent on a mission “to bring down the (Gov. Scott) Walker campaign and the Governor himself.”

    The AG report, released Wednesday, details an expanded John Doe probe into a “broad range of Wisconsin Republicans,” a “John Doe III,” according to Attorney General Brad Schimel, that widened the scope of the so-called John Doe II investigation into dozens of right-of-center groups and scores of conservatives. Republican lawmakers, conservative talk show hosts, a former employee from the MacIver Institute, average citizens, even churches, were secretly monitored by the dark John Doe.

    State Department of Justice investigators found hundreds of thousands of John Doe documents in the possession of the GAB long after they were ordered to be turned over to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    The Government Accountability Board, the state’s former “nonpartisan” speech cop, proved to be more partisan than originally suspected, the state Department of Justice report found. For reasons that “perhaps may never be fully explained,” GAB held onto thousands of private emails from Wisconsin conservatives in several folders on their servers marked “Opposition Research.” The report’s findings validate what conservatives have long contended was nothing more than a witch-hunt into limited government groups and the governor who was turning conservative ideas into public policy.

    “Moreover, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponization of GAB by partisans in furtherance of political goals, which permitted the vast collection of highly personal information from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans without even taking modest steps to secure this information,” the report states.

    Snip.

    The Department of Justice, however, recommends the John Doe judge initiate contempt proceedings against former GAB officials and the John Doe probe’s special prosecutor for “grossly” mishandling secret evidence. Schimel also recommends that Shane Falk, who served as lead staff attorney in the John Doe probes, be referred for discipline to the Wisconsin Court System’s Office of Lawyer Regulation. Falk took a job with a private law firm in August 2014, just as allegations of investigative abuse began to surround the political investigation.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Perspective: Nancy Pelosi seems to think the GOP tax bill is worse than the Fugitive Slave Act
  • Another sexual harassment followup on Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen: “Hey, Nancy Pelosi knew all about my sexual harassment charges last year, and threw money at me anyway. So why’s she getting her knickers in a knot now?”
  • “Eye Doctor Tied to Bob Menendez Case Convicted in $100 Million Fraud Scheme.” And Democrat Menendez is still, as of this writing, a Senator.
  • Months after the Las Vegas shooting, and there are still dozens of unanswered questions about what actually happened.
  • 92 percent of illegal aliens arrested this year had ‘criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, were an immigration fugitive, or were an illegal reentrant.'” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Man Deported 20 Times Sentenced to 35 Years for Sexual Assault.” So when is San Francisco throwing him his parade?
  • “Swedish Government to Ban Websites that List Ethnic Origin of Criminal Suspects.”
  • Related: “Swedish lawyer Elisabeth Fritz claims that in the majority of rape cases she has had to work on the suspects have been individuals from migrant backgrounds.”
  • “Swedish Chief Prosecutor: No-Go Zone Rinkeby Is Like a ‘War Zone.'”
  • “You know who doesn’t have a refugee problem? Japan.” This year Japan has taken in three refugees. Last year it was 28.
  • Hmmmm: “A federal judge in Argentina indicted former President Cristina Fernandez for treason and asked for her arrest for allegedly covering up Iran’s possible role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people, a court ruling said.”
  • Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks to resign over asking staffers to consider being a surrogate mother for him and his wife? Franks, unlike Al Franken, has actually resigned, not merely promised to resign at some unspecified date in the future.
  • More on how Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to revitalize the kingdom:

    Last Sunday premiered the newly formed Islamic anti-terrorism coalition, putting together leaders from Sunni Arab nations to denounce and combat fundamentalist terrorism throughout the Middle East and the world. It was another bold initiative towards the West of the young and energetic Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, coming on the heels of other bold moves that have looked to consolidate political and religious power in the Kingdom.

    Together, all of these initiatives couldn’t be more transparent. They represent a movement of the most economically powerful nation in OPEC towards social, cultural and economic change, the realization of the Saudi “Vision 2030”. It is a top-down Arab Spring movement that likely has a better chance of success than the populist movements that resulted in more chaos than change in 2010.

    However, the ultimate success for Vision 2030 will rely upon achieving the main economic goal of this revolution – the divestiture of Saudi Arabia from the singularity of oil revenues. Because we know that ultimately money – and lots of it – will be needed to drive the engines for change, we get a far better picture of just how important these latest production extensions agreed to in Vienna were for the young Prince.

    And here we’re brought back to the upcoming IPO of Saudi Aramco, still on tap for 2018.

    Even the planned 5 percent offering of the Saudi state oil assets could yield an instantaneous $100 billion dollars, if the $2 trillion-dollar valuation of Saudi Aramco is accurate. That’s a lot of capital to start the process of rebuilding a Saudi economy from one that is now virtually completely reliant upon the State. 75 percent of the Saudi public is under 35 years old, and they are starving for a new economic infrastructure that will bring job opportunities, cultural diversity, music, education – global access of all kinds – the kind of freedoms that the 2010 Arab Spring uprisings were supposed to deliver. Only this time, the push for change is coming from the top down, not as a populist movement from the people upwards.

  • “Tesla – which lost $619 million in Q3 – delivered only 3,590 vehicles in November in the US, down 18% from a year ago.”
  • In a rare moment of sanity for Sports Illustrated, they named J. J. Watt and the Houston Astro’s Jose Altuve as co-sportsmen of the year. Next week I’m sure they’ll get back to their usual Social Justicing…
  • Texas writer Bill Crider enters hospice care. Bill’s not particularly political, but he is a friend of mine, and I have frequently stolen some of the lighter LinkSwarm items from his blog. He’s a prince among men and he will be missed…
  • You’ve got to admire the designers of http://www.theworldsworstwebsiteever.com for having the courage of their convictions.
  • “Opossum breaks into liquor store and gets drunk as a skunk.”
  • Hell to the no
  • A tweet that tells you all you need to know to evaluate forthcoming legislation:

  • A shot of yuletide Archer cheer:

  • Israel Hits Iranian Base in Syria, World Shrugs

    Monday, December 4th, 2017

    Remember how every time Israel committed an act of self-defense, a chattering array of The Usual Suspects would freakout and accuse Israel of “risking war,” “escalating tensions,” “derailing the peace process,” or whatever standard platitudes the global political establishment use to make anytime Israel did something other than pretend to make nice with those Arabs trying to kill them?

    Those days appear to be over.

    In a follow-up to last week’s story about Israel threatening to hit Iranian bases in Syria, guess what happened? Israel hit an Iranian base in Syria.

    Israeli warplanes attacked an Iranian military base near the Syrian city of ​​Al-Kiswah early Saturday morning, according to Sky News Arabia and other Arab media outlets. The construction of the base, which was the target of the airstrike, began last year and had accelerated in recent months.

    According to the reports, the Israeli fighter jets fired from Lebanese airspace and the Syrian defense systems responded by firing anti-aircraft missiles. It was also reported that the Syrian missiles were fired from Damascus’ Mezzeh base and that the Israeli aircraft were flying at a low altitude above the Lebanese city of Baalbek. Media outlets affiliated with the Syrian regime confirmed that several missiles were fired at the Iranian base, which was apparently used for storing ammunition.

    Israel has an extraordinarily good air force, and they usually hit what they aim at. And like most Middle East operations since the U.S. withdraw from Iraq in 2011, reporting is so sparse that it’s hard to judge how successful the operation was.

    But Israel’s latest strike is most notable for all the dogs that didn’t bark after it occurred. This is the sort of story that used to dominate media cycles for a day or two, but this time around, if you blinked, or weren’t scanning Twitter shortly after it happened, you very likely missed it.

    So what’s changed? I can think of two possibilities:

    1. America’s liberal media is so consumed with Trump Derangement Syndrome that they can’t expend the usual time, space and energy on reflective anti-Israel/pro-Arab pieces anymore. Call it Freakout Fatigue.
    2. Maybe all Mohammed bin Salman’s actions in Saudi Arabia has sidelined various royal family factions that were actively bankrolling anti-Israeli agitation among the chattering classes.

    Mark this down as yet another thing that the Trump Administration has changed, though most likely indirectly. Less indirect is the fact that relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel are probably the warmest they’ve been since Israel’s founding (having common enemies will do that for you).

    There appears to be more real reform afoot in the Middle East right now than the “Arab Spring” ever unleashed…

    Israel Threatens to Destroy Iranian Positions Near Its Border

    Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

    If you’re tired of all this Arab-on-Arab fighting, Israel is indicating it may have to do some direct clobbering itself:

    Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida revealed on Sunday that an Israeli source disclosed a promise from Jerusalem to destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Israel’s Golan Heights.

    The source, who remains unnamed, said that during Syrian President Bashar Assad’s surprise visit to Russia last week, Assad gave Russian Premier Vladimir Putin a message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Damascus will agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, but only if Israel does not work to remove Assad’s regime from power.

    The report also claims that Putin then called Netanyahu to relay the message, and that the Israeli prime minister said he would be willing to accept the deal, but that Israel’s goal of eradicating Iran and Hezbollah from the country would remain.

    According to the source, Jerusalem sees Assad as the last president of the Alawite community, indicating that a change of regime in Syria – at least towards a government less-linked to Iran – would be favorable for Israel. The Alawites are a minority Shi’ite community in Syria, and have long been supported by Iran, which seeks to extend its influence from the Gulf across the region to the Mediterranean.

    Here’s your regular reminder that Alawites are Shiite in the same sense that Mormons are Jews.

    The source also commented that after the defeat of the Islamic State, the conflict in Syria would become ”more difficult,” likely pointing towards a vacuum that would be left without the group. Russian, Syrian and Iranian-backed forces have been fighting against ISIS, while also seeking to knock out rebel groups that oppose the current regime. Russia’s stated interests have been in line with Iran’s in wanting to keep Assad in power.

    Israel has participated mostly on the periphery of the war in Syria, responding to fire on the northern border and occasionally bombing positions, including a weapons depot and scientific research center that allegedly produces chemical weapons. Damascus and Jerusalem have exchanged heated remarks as well, with Netanyahu threatening to bomb Assad’s palace, and Syrian officials warning of ”dangerous repercussions” to Israeli strikes on Syrian targets.

    Naturally Hezbollah says it’s perfectly willing to fight if its Iranian masters snap their fingers:

    The head of a large Iranian-backed Iraqi militia that has been fighting in Syria said his group was “fully prepared” to fight Israel if Damascus asked it to.

    Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi, the leader of Iraq’s Hezbollah al-Nujaba, told the Lebanese news network Al Mayadeen Friday night his group would participate in a Damascus-led attack on Israel’s Golan Heights.

    “We are fully prepared to participate in any war with the Syrian Arab Army to liberate the Golan if the Syrian state agrees or requests so,” Ka’abi said.

    He said this would be done through the militia’s newest branch, the Golan Liberation Brigade, which was formed in March of this year.

    Hezbollah al-Nujaba is reportedly controlled by Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite foreign operations unit, the Qods Force.

    Ka’abi, who controls a reported 10,000 men in Syria, also said his group was prepared to defend the Lebanese terror group and fellow Iranian proxy Hezbollah from any Israeli attack.

    I doubt either Assad or Russia wants to tangle with Israel right now, especially with the Saudi’s making threats and President Donald Trump being both far more pro-Israel (and unpredictable) than the previous occupant of the White House.

    Meanwhile, Israel’s leadership is openly talking of war with Hezbollah and bumping off its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

    Interesting times…

    Middle East News Roundup for 11/19/17

    Sunday, November 19th, 2017

    Want to know what’s happening in the Middle East and why?

    Ha! Good luck with that.

    But this roundup will should at least elevate you to a slightly higher level of informed incomprehension.

  • Syrian Army takes Abu Kammal again.

    The Syrian army and its allies took complete control over Albu Kamal, Islamic State’s last significant town in Syria, a military news service run by Hezbollah said on Sunday.

    The army had declared victory over Islamic State in Albu Kamal earlier this month but the jihadists then staged a counter-attack using sleeper cells hidden in the town.

  • What’s going on in Lebanon? Even Michael Totten doesn’t seem to know.
  • Saudi Arabia and its allies are meeting in Cairo to talk about what to do about Iran, Lebanon and Hezbollah. “The emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting was convened at the request of Saudi Arabia with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss means of confronting Iranian intervention, Egypt’s state news agency MENA said.”
  • “The Trump administration said Friday it will shut down the Palestinian Liberation Office (PLO) in Washington, D.C., unless the Palestinians get serious about peace talks with Israel.”
  • Iraqi Kurds are backing down off their demands for independence.
  • No link, but suddenly the entire Washington MSM seems to be wringing their hands about the Saudi blockage of Yemen in precisely the way they weren’t when Iran was destabilizing the country with a proxy war the last three years.
  • Confused? You probably will be, even after this week’s episode of Soap

    Clinton Corruption Update For November 12, 2017

    Monday, November 13th, 2017

    I keep waiting for Clinton Corruption revelations to die down enough to do a lengthy update in leisure, but the hits just keep on coming.

    Part of the reason is that revelations from Donna Brazile’s Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House continue to reveal just how corrupt Hillary Clinton’s takeover of the DNC was, and just how arrogant her entire campaign apparatus was. (Something to put on the shelf next to Shattered and Clinton Cash.)

  • The other big source of Clinton corruption news? The Mueller investigation:

    Republican investigators had two big questions about the dossier. One was who paid for it, and that now seems answered. The other was: Did the FBI or other agencies use any information from the dossier as a basis for warrant requests before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court? In other words, did, say, the FBI use the dossier’s “salacious and unverified” information to make the case that the bureau should be granted the authority to conduct intercepts?

    Nunes, as well as Grassley and Senate Judiciary Committee colleague Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have been pushing for months for the FBI to answer that question.

    So far, they’ve gotten nothing.

    When the Post story broke Tuesday night, some journalists noted that Democrats involved in the story had been lying about their role. “When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong,'” tweeted the New York Times’ Ken Vogel. “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,” added the Times’ Maggie Haberman.

    Yes, they did. But the importance of the Democrats’ involvement in the dossier is that it could be one step on the road to a bigger story. What did the FBI do with the dossier material? Did judges make surveillance decisions in the Trump-Russia investigation based in whole or in part on the dossier? To what degree is the “salacious and unverified” dossier the source of what we think we know about allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign?

    In the end, a House subpoena squeezed the information out of key players in the who-funded-the-dossier side of the story. But so far, the FBI has been much harder to crack.

  • One reason media has such a hard time reporting on the Fusion GPS story: they’re implicated in it:

    Americans may find that this one has a third parent: Beltway journalists, who may have allowed themselves to be manipulated by a political intelligence operation in exchange for peer praise, the warmth of social media tribalism and clicks.

    This hurts the many journalists putting partisanship aside to follow stories wherever they lead.

    And it hurts the republic, which depends on credible, rigorous media oversight of the powerful, especially the imperial presidency.

    But once you lose your name and credibility, where are you?

    I hope all this worries you, no matter what political tribe you belong to, because for more than a year now, that Democratic Media Complex has been shrieking about Russia this and Trump that and collusion this and collusion that.

    The Trump-Russia collusion theme has been a chorus of barking dogs everywhere you turn, in online news hyped to feed anti-Trump appetites, on cable, where the appetites are sated, and even in happy-talk banter of radio and TV news anchors.

    The driving force has been a partisan desire to excuse Hillary Clinton for losing her 2016 election to Trump. It’s been aggressive and passive and all Russia-Trump all the time.

    Many, but not all, of the Russia stories have been debunked, and precious little, if any, evidence has come out of the congressional investigations directly linking the president to an alleged effort by the Russians to steal Clinton’s presidency.

    Will Mueller pick his teeth with the bones of creepy former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort? That seems likely. And Tony Podesta — of the Democratic Chicago Podestas — has come under scrutiny too.

    Many pro-Hillary pundits avoid the Fusion GPS explosion altogether, just as they’ve avoided examining the equally toxic Uranium One deal.

    Uranium One is the mining company controlled by the Russians. More than $140 million was donated to the Clinton Foundation by Uranium One board members and associates. And Bill got a $500K chunk for related speaking fees in Moscow, because, well, he was such thrilling speaker when his wife was favored to win the White House.

    What’s appalling is that the Obama administration quietly approved the deal handing 20 percent of American uranium reserves to the Clinton-friendly Russian mega-company, so that President Barack Obama could curry favor with Russia to win support for his Iran nuclear policy.

  • Little did we know that “Clinton secretly controlling the DNC” story had already been broken (at least for the state level) by Margot Kidder (yes, that Margot Kidder) at least a year-and-a-half ago in the left-wing Counterpunch.

    Finding deceit, dishonesty, lies, and corruption involving Hillary Clinton is like finding sand at the beach. It is everywhere the eye can see.

    The challenge faced by the Corrupt Clinton Cronies was that, even with Citizens United, political donations to presidential candidates are limited by federal law. No matter how rich the donor, nor how much she wishes to give, the law prohibits such gifts exceeding $2,700. When Democrat hypocrites, led by the Clintons, bemoan the Supreme Court’s Citizens United opinion and pledge “campaign finance reform,” know that their meaning is to reduce avenues for Republicans to raise and give money. Don’t believe for a moment that the ethics deviants who run the Democrat fund-raising machines intend to reform their own fundraising apparati. So here is what Lois Lane [Kidder, natch – LP] exposed:

    Under federal law, an individual may donate up to $10,000 annually to a “political committee established and maintained by a State committee of a political party.” 52 U.S.C. § 30116(a)(1)(D). Accordingly, thirty-three separate State Democrat Committees throughout the land agreed, one by one, to manipulate furtively with Hillary by accepting $10,000 hand-offs passed to them from outside donors — and then dutifully to shift the loot to Hillary’s campaign. For example, the Montana Democrat Committee received $64,100 in donations from people who have no connection to Montana. The Utah Democrat Party likewise received $64,100 in donations from people who have no connection to Utah. Same amount, same story with the Alaska Democrat Party. And the Mississippi one. And Oregon and South Carolina and Tennessee and Massachusetts — all $64,100 a piece. And Georgia and Idaho and Michigan and Minnesota and Missouri and Rhode Island and West Virginia and Wyoming. All the same exact $64,100. Texas — being Texas — took in an extra five grand — $69,100. Evoking images from any scary meeting with a loan shark — a few came in $100 short: North Carolina, Louisiana, and Indiana forked took in only an even 64K. Arkansas fell yet a grand shorter than that. (Proving that the correct answer to the question “What did Tenne… ssee?” may not be “The exact same that Arkan…sas.”)

    So, if the “Sixty-Four Thousand [and One Hundred] Dollar Question” is: What in the world was going on? — here is the answer, as reported in April 2016 by Lois Lane:

    Under the Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Court divided 5-4 in holding that, while no one may contribute more than $2,700 to a candidate’s campaign, donors otherwise are not limited in the aggregate amount of political giving they may do in federal elections. Thus, if a $2,700 donor to Hillary wants to give $10,000 respectively to each of 33 separate Democrat State Committees, he or she may infuse $330,000 more into the political pot. And then — wink, wink — if each of those state committees thereupon write $10,000 checks to their Corrupt Clinton Cronies — well, where does it say that you can’t do that? And if the donor does that in both Year 2015, as the primaries start taking shape, and again in presidential election year 2016, that moves $660,000 into the pot. And if the donor sets it up that, hey, the hubby is giving $660,000 and the wifey is giving $660,000 — well, now that donor has passed $1,320,000 (One Million and Three Hundred and Twenty Thousand Dollars) to Hillary… and, oh yeah, also a $2,700 “federal maximum gift” plus one from the spouse. In this way, Hillary’s own basketful of deplorables passed along $26 million to her in 2015. And along the way, scores of critical outcome-changing Hillary Clinton “Super Delegates” were bought and paid for well in advance of the primaries, faster than Bernie Sanders could mutter that “the American people are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails.”

    No wonder all those prostituted Democrat “Super Delegates” were wearing buttons saying “I’m with her”! She bought their state committees.

    (And yes, Kidder actually was in other movies that Superman. A few weeks ago I saw her in Brian De Palma’s Sisters, which is not great, but is a reasonably solid, creepy, low-budget thriller where she played a formerly conjoined twin.)

    (Hat tip: DirectorBlue.)

  • The Wall Street Journal thinks Mueller is too compromised and should step down. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of which, the MSM attacked WSJ for criticizing Fusion GPS while leaving out the tiny little detail that one of the sources for the attack piece was a Fusion GPS employee.
  • And remember: The FBI used the Fusion GPS Steele dossier to get a FISA warrant for Trump’s campaign. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • As reported back in April by CNN.
  • Hillary’s health problems were so bad that Brazile contemplated replacing Hillary at the top of the ticket with Joe Biden. That would have been something worth seeing her attempt. But how would most Democrats feel about having the candidate a majority of them voted for replaced by the DNC board?
  • And if her health was that bad, why did the press refuse to report on it?

    How is it possible that the leader of the Democratic Party was talking to colleagues about trying to replace its nominee during the general election because of health concerns, and none of the thousands of journalists covering the campaign got wind of it?

    It’s not possible — if the media had been playing it down the middle and holding both candidates to the same standard of scrutiny. But big media missed a big story because so much campaign “news” coverage was tilted toward defeating Donald Trump and electing Clinton.

    Anything that could possibly suggest Trump was unfit for the Oval Office — bingo, front page, top of the broadcast.

    On the other hand, anything that could hurt Clinton was downplayed or ignored. Nothing to see here, move along.

  • Hillary Clinton cronies are building a new super-PAC that looks a whole lot like a parallel organization to the DNC. Could this be the groundwork for yet another Clinton Presidential run? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Did Brazile publish her book just to forestall another Clinton run?
  • According to Brazile, Clinton’s inner circle was like a cult that she couldn’t get through to.
  • “Clinton Emails, Trump Dossier, Russian Nukes: All Point To Corruption In Obama’s Justice Department.” Including Uranium One and the unmasking scandal. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.
  • Funny how the Trump Russia probe differs radically from the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s Emailgate:

    Obama had knowingly participated in the conduct for which Clinton was under investigation — using a pseudonym in communicating with her about classified government business over an unsecure private communication system.

    Obama prejudiced the emails investigation. Long before it was formally ended, he publicly pronounced Clinton innocent. He theorized that she had not intended to harm the United States. Even if true, that fact would be irrelevant — it is not an element of the statutory offenses at issue, under which several military officials, who also had no intent to harm our country, have nevertheless been prosecuted. (It also had nothing to do with her quite intentional destruction of thousands of emails, many relating to government business — also a serious crime.)

    As night follows day, the FBI and the Justice Department relied on Obama’s errant and self-interested rationale in dropping the case against Clinton and her accomplices. What did Obama’s subordinates do after he patently interfered in the investigation? Well, then-FBI director James Comey began drafting a statement exonerating Clinton months before the investigation ended — i.e., before over a dozen key witnesses, including Clinton herself, had been interviewed. Indeed, it has now been reported that Comey’s draft initially declaimed that Clinton had been “grossly negligent” in handling classified information — an assertion that tracked the language of one of the statutes Clinton violated. Later, in the statement he made publicly on July 5, 2016, Director Comey instead used the term “extremely careless” — substantively indistinguishable from “grossly negligent,” but the semantic shift appeared less tantamount to a finding of guilt.

    In the aftermath, we extensively examined the Clinton investigation’s hyper-sensitivity to the attorney-client privilege.

    Note that the lawyer for Manafort and Gates was forced to testify against her clients based on the theory that she had participated — however unwittingly — in their scheme to cover up their lobbying efforts on behalf of a Ukrainian political party. Aggressively, Mueller’s team contended that even if the lawyer had not intended to help her clients mislead the government, their use of her services was intended to dupe the government. That, Mueller argued, brought their communications with the lawyer under the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege. Chief Judge Howell agreed. As a result, the lawyer’s communications with Manafort and Gates lost their confidentiality protection, such that Mueller could compel her to reveal them to the grand jury.

    Compare that with the Justice Department’s treatment of the lawyers representing Mrs. Clinton and her accomplices. Actually, I shouldn’t really put it that way because . . . Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers were her accomplices.

    As we’ve previously explained, the Justice Department refused to invoke the crime-fraud exception to explore what advice Clinton lawyers gave her information technology contractor before he supposedly took it on himself to delete and destroy her emails.

    Furthermore, the Justice Department and the FBI tolerated unlawful arrangements whereby subjects of the investigation were permitted to act as private lawyers in the probe regarding matters in which they had been involved as government officials. Perhaps more astonishingly, subjects of the investigation — such as Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, who participated directly in the process by which Clinton decided which emails to surrender to the State Department and which to withhold as “private” — were permitted to act as attorneys for the principal subject of the investigation, Clinton herself.

    This arrangement was not merely unethical; it would have badly compromised the case if there had been any real intention to prosecute. As the highly experienced government investigators and attorneys involved had to know, if there had been an indictment, prosecutors would have been accused both of bringing the witnesses together to get their story straight, and of undermining Clinton’s right to prepare a defense by having government witnesses participate in the formulation of her legal strategy.

    While Mueller’s prosecutors subpoenaed Manafort’s lawyer to the grand jury to testify against him, the Obama Justice Department largely shunned the grand jury while colluding with lawyers representing the Clinton emails subjects. The FBI, for example, was foreclosed from pursuing obvious lines of inquiry in an interview of Cheryl Mills.

    Even though Manafort was cooperating with congressional investigators, providing them with hundreds of pages of documents, Mueller did not request documents from him and his lawyers. Instead, his prosecutors and investigators obtained a search warrant to rifle through Manafort’s Virginia home, which they executed in a predawn raid, reportedly breaking in with guns drawn while the Manaforts were sleeping and not allowing Mrs. Manafort to get out of bed before checking her for weapons.

    In stark contrast, the Obama Justice Department would not even issue grand-jury subpoenas to compel the production of physical evidence — such as the private laptop computers used by Clinton’s subordinates to store her emails (a number of which contained classified information). Instead, investigators politely asked lawyers to turn over pertinent items, and they made extraordinary agreements to restrict the information they would be permitted to look at (such as an agreement that prevented agents from looking at information on the Mills and Samuelson computers during the time frame when attempts to obstruct congressional investigations may have occurred).

    It is worth noting that, very similarly, the Obama Justice Department and the FBI did not seize the servers of the Democratic National Committee, even though much of the collusion case hinges on the conclusion that these servers were hacked by Russian operatives. Instead, the FBI politely requested that the servers be surrendered so the Bureau’s own renowned forensic investigators could examine them. When the DNC refused, the Justice Department did not issue a subpoena or obtain a search warrant; to the contrary, the FBI and DOJ agreed to accept the findings of CrowdStrike, a private investigative firm retained by the DNC’s (and the Clinton campaign’s) attorneys.

    Manafort has been charged with multiple felonies for failure to register as a foreign agent, an offense the government almost never prosecutes — the Justice Department’s practice is to encourage foreign agents to comply with the law rather than indict them for failing to do so. By contrast, the FBI and Justice Department rationalized their failure to charge Clinton for mishandling classified information by claiming that her offense was so rarely prosecuted that it would be unfair — it would smack of invidious selective prosecution — to charge her with even a single offense. Clinton’s homebrew server system stored well over 2,000 emails that contained classified information, including over 100 that were undeniably classified at the time they were sent. Eight of those involved chains of communications classified as top secret, the classification the government assigns to information the mishandling of which could be expected to cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security (and seven of these were designated as “special access program,” meaning mishandling could be expected to expose critical intelligence programs and endanger the lives of intelligence sources).

    George Papadopoulos is a low-level subject of the collusion investigation who did not commit any crimes in his many contacts with Russia-connected sources. Yet Mueller induced him to plead guilty to a felony count of lying to investigators about the timing of his first meeting with such a source. In stark contrast, while a number of Clinton subordinates asserted their Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions on the ground that truthful answers could incriminate them, none of them was prosecuted. Instead, the Obama Justice Department gave them immunity.

    Mueller alleges that Manafort lied to the Justice Department when he finally (in late 2016 and early 2017) filed paperwork under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Although Congress has made the making of false statements in FARA submissions a misdemeanor, Mueller charged Manafort with both this misdemeanor offense and a separate felony (under the statute that generally makes lying to government investigators a crime). Thus, he turned a single offense into two crimes and drastically inflated the potential penalty — well beyond what Congress intended for the offense.

    By contrast, several subjects of the Clinton emails investigation made blatant misrepresentations in FBI interviews but were not prosecuted at all. For example, Secretary Clinton’s former top aides, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, claimed not to have known about Clinton’s private server system when they were working for her at the State Department — even though there is an email exchange in which they discussed it (and Abedin had an email address on the system).

    For her part, Mrs. Clinton claimed not to know what the designation “[C]” means in classified documents. As a longtime consumer of classified information, Clinton obviously knew it means “confidential.” Upon becoming secretary of state, Clinton signed an acknowledgment that she had been indoctrinated in the rules and procedures governing the secure handling of classified information. In it, she represented that she had read and understood an executive order — signed by her husband when he was president — that describes the levels of classification, including confidential. Yet, Clinton ludicrously told interviewing agents she thought “[C]” might have something to do with putting information in alphabetical order.

    Clinton further claimed that she could not recall the indoctrination in the handling of classified information. Not only had she signed the acknowledgment; she had also written in her memoir, Hard Choices, about the extraordinary measures national-security officials are required to take when reviewing and storing classified information.

    In addition, Mrs. Clinton also testified under oath at a congressional hearing that she had provided the State Department with “all my work-related e-mails.” She knew she had done this, she explained, because her lawyers carefully “went through every single e-mail.” Both of these statements were patently false.

    But that’s the way it goes. Often, the Justice Department is so hell-bent on making the case, it will play an intimidating game of hardball if that’s what it takes. On rare occasions, though, it works just as hard to not make the case — to see no evil. We can all be thankful, I’m sure, that politics has nothing to do with it.

  • For all Brazile’s “not illegal” blather, there’s a good chance Hillary’s team broke campaign finance laws paying for the Fusion GPS dossier and listing the line item as “legal fees.”
  • You know what else broke the law? The Clinton campaign shoving its hand into the puppet DNC to bypass campaign contribution limits:

    Donna Brazile has confirmed Bernie Sanders’s worst suspicions. Ms. Brazile, who served as interim chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the fall 2016 campaign, says in a new book that during the primaries, the DNC was controlled by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Ms. Brazile claims the arrangement was “not illegal,” but that is far from clear.

    Ms. Brazile reports that when she arrived on the job in July 2016, Gary Gensler, the campaign’s chief financial officer, told her the DNC was fully under the control of the campaign. In September 2015, 10 months before Mrs. Clinton’s nomination, the party had moved its bank account to the same bank in New York used by the Clinton campaign and created a joint fundraising committee, the Hillary Victory Fund, whose treasurer, bank account, and control were vested in the campaign.

    Then, in an August 2015 memorandum of understanding, the DNC essentially handed over its operations to the Clinton campaign for the next 15 months.

    The purpose of joint fundraising committees is to allow more than one entity to collaborate in raising money and share in the costs. Each participant is subject to federal contribution limits. When the party itself is a participant, its committee (in this case the DNC) normally handles accounting and financial controls. Not here. The Hillary Victory Fund was controlled by the Clinton campaign, with a campaign employee as treasurer and the fund’s bank account established at the Clinton campaign’s bank. According to Federal Election Commission reports, the Hillary Victory Fund has raised more than $526 million.

    The DNC asserted its “neutrality” by also entering into a joint fundraising committee with the Sanders campaign. It raised a total of $1,000. And the Bernie Victory Committee treasurer was the DNC’s designee.

    “Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state,” Ms. Brazile writes, “but all the other states funneled that money directly to the DNC, which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn”—i.e., Clinton headquarters. She says state parties raised $82 million, of which they kept less than 0.5%.

    The memorandum of understanding promised the Clinton campaign, among other things, “complete and seamless access to all research work product and tools” paid for by the DNC, despite Federal Election Commission regulations that prohibit privately sharing such research with a candidate without either reporting the costs as an in-kind contribution or allocating them against the party’s coordinated spending limits for that candidate.

    The memo also tied transfers of funds raised for the DNC by the Hillary Victory Fund to operational control of the DNC’s expenditures: “The release of the Base Amounts each month are conditioned on the following: . . . hiring of DNC Communications Director . . . DNC senior staff . . . joint authority over strategic decisions . . . alerting HFA”—Hillary for America, the campaign—“in advance of . . . any direct mail communications that features a particular Democratic primary candidate or his or her signature.”

    Contributions to the DNC, even though made through the Hillary Victory Fund, were required by law to be transferred to the party and could not legally be withheld by the Clinton-designated treasurer. Nor does the law allow a single candidate to control a political party’s operations and expenditures.

    National party committees have higher contribution limits than candidates do—$334,000 a year vs. $2,700 for each election. The memorandum raises the possibility that Clinton campaign took advantage of the DNC’s higher limits, then availed itself of all the resources the DNC could buy—without having any of the attendant costs or expenditures assessed against the campaign.

    There are strict statutory limits on what a party committee can contribute to any candidate and what a party can spend in coordination with its candidates. We don’t like limits on the ability of parties to support their candidates. But campaign-finance zealots, egged on by media outlets (which are not subject to any limits), made certain that the McCain-Feingold law of 2002 stringently limited coordination between candidates and political parties. Although the Supreme Court struck down parts of McCain-Feingold in the 2010 Citizens United case, the coordination limits still apply. The FEC and the Justice Department should investigate the Clinton-DNC arrangement.

  • 7 Uranium One facts every American should know.”
  • “7 Questions the Justice Department Must Answer About Uranium One and Clinton Foundation.”
  • Former FBI Director: Hillary Clinton’s crimes 20 times worse than Watergate.”
  • “New Documents Show FBI Deputy Director McCabe Did Not Recuse Himself from the Clinton Email Scandal Investigation until Week Before Presidential Election.” Despite the fact his wife’s campaign received $700,000 from Clinton “friends.”
  • Bill Clinton’s looming reckoning as a sexual predator. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Heh: “DNC Unveils Clinton Institute For Campaign Ethics Reform In Response To Corruption Allegations.”
  • And in case you’re coming into this post directly, here are three recent posts that cover Clinton Corruption topics:

  • “Donna Brazile Admits Hillary Clinton Gutted the DNC And Wore Its Skin To Shovel More Campaign Cash Into Her Gaping Maw.”
  • Russian Lawyer Met With Fusion GPS Before and After Trump Jr. Meeting.
  • Podesta Lawyer Tries to Silence Tucker Carlson.
  • What The Hell Is Going On In Saudi Arabia?

    Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

    I’m hardly the most astute of Saudi-watchers, but a tremendous amount of upheaval has wrecked Saudi Arabia in a very short period of time:

  • Dozens of the Saudi royal family have been arrested on corruption charges, presumably for opposing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who seems hellbent on dragging Saudi Arabia into at least the 15th Century. (When he starts arresting or sidelining Whabbist clerics, I’ll start believing that he’s a real reformer.) The Saudi government is sayng that these anti-corruption moves are just a start.
  • In a remarkable coincidence, roughly the same time arrests were being made, a helicopter carrying “Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Asir province,” crashed while he was returning from an inspection tour. Given that Mansour was the son of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, a former intelligence chief who was crown prince between January and April 2015, before Mohammed bin Salman’s father King Salman pushed him aside for his own son, the chances that this was a mere coincidence would seem remote.
  • Saudi Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan stated that Lebanon has “declared war” against the kingdom, which is more than a little loopy. The tiny kernel of truth here is that Hezbollah is, in fact, part of the current ruling Parliamentary majority in Lebanon, and that Hezbollah is backing Assad and Iran in the Sunni-Shia civil war that’s raging across multiple fronts. This followed the resignation of Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s Saudi-backed prime minister over the weekend.
  • The Saudis are also threatening open war (rather than the current proxy war) with Iran over the Houthi in Yemen firing long range missiles at them. Can’t say as I blame them.
  • So what’s going on? Here’s my half-assed guess:

    The Saudis are getting their asses kicked on two fronts:

    1. They’re slowly losing the proxy war against a newly emboldened Iran, which is breathing much easier thanks to the billions Obama foolishly handed them and the sanctions he lifted not so much for a handful of magic beans, but rather the vague promise that Iran might possibly send him a picture of said magic beans.
    2. Their plan to drive American oil sands frackers out of the market by ruthlessly driving down prices backfired, and now they’re hurting on the oil revenue front as well.

    Because America is the Saudi’s unipolar patron and main weapon supplier, there’s fark all they can do about Problem 2. Either they need to take the war directly Iran, or they need to buy themselves some economic breathing room and hope oil prices rise again.

    My guess is that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is about to lay a serious perestroika-style smackdown on the largely hidebound, stagnant Saudi economy, along with just enough glasnost to make the whole thing palatable to the non-royal Saudi masses. If this theory is correct, the “hey, woman can drive” thing was actually a trial balloon designed to smoke out the most fervent traditionalists out of the woodwork so he can sideline them while he puts his plan into action.

    Of course they could very well be bracing for more direction action against Iran as well. There’s a lot more they could do against Iran, including more direct support for the largely-Sunni Kurds.

    The Saudis are not our friends, just the least bad of various options in the region (just imagine theocratic Iran or a revitalized Islamic State in charge of Mecca). It will be a significant improvement if Mohammed bin Salman can merely make them a bit less loathsome.

    LinkSwarm for November 4, 2017

    Saturday, November 4th, 2017

    Welcome to an out-of-band Saturday LinkSwarm! Between Halloween, dental work, and a runaway dog (since recovered), this week has been a bear. So let’s jump right in:

  • “A former portfolio manager for an investment fund founded by financier George Soros sexually abused women at a Manhattan penthouse dungeon, according to a $27 million Brooklyn federal suit.” “Abused” as in “needed serious medical attention.” Also, here’s the “he’s a real sweetheart” money quote: “I’m going to rape you like I rape my daughter!” (Hat tip: Ace.)
  • Today’s second example of a prominent liberal turning out to be a sexual harassing sleaze comes to you from David Corn at Mother Jones. Maybe they should rename it Velvet Jones
  • Instapundit wonders: Where were all those vaunted Hollywood and D.C. truth tellers when Harvey Weinstein and Mark Halperin were doing their thing? “‘Like firefighters who run into a fire, journalists run toward a story,’ MSNBC’s Katy Tur told us. Well, unless it’s a story that reflects badly on their profession or their politics. Then they keep it quiet.”
  • President Trump on pace to appoint a record number of circuit court judges during his first year.
  • The DNC needs IT people. Tiny problem: straight white males need not apply. Sort of like saying “Professional basketball players needed, but no tall black people need apply.”
  • How the Obama Administration lied about documents seized during the Bin Laden raid. In particular, Obama hid close links between al Qaeda and Iran that might have derailed his asinine “Iran deal.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “How Google and MSM Use “Fact Checkers” to Flood Us with Fake Claims.” Basically it involves one tentacle of the Democrat-Media Complex creating a fake version of a real story, then having another tentacle debunk the fake version claiming it’s the real version. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • New York City jihad murderer came to U.S. on a “diversity” visa program sponsored by Chuck Schumer. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • The UK’s gun control laws didn’t prevent assailants from opening fire during an illegal rave with automatic weapons in north London.
  • Owner of Gothamist: “We’ve lost money every month.” Staffers: “Screw you! We’re unionizing!” Owner: “Enjoy some pink slips. I’m shutting everything down.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Speaking of publications shutting down, “Teen Vogue Shutters Shortly After Publishing ‘Guide to Anal Sex’ for Teen Girls.” How’s that flipping off your own readers working out for you, Conde Nast? (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Papa Johns would like the NFL to stop screwing up their sales with the disrespecting the national anthem bullshit.
  • Broadcom expected to offer $100 billion merger with Qualcomm, which would make it the third largest chipmaker in the world after Intel and Samsung. Note that Qualcomm is already in the midst of a merger with NXP (formerly Philips Semiconductors, which just finished merging with Freescale, formerly Motorola’s fab business until it was spun off). Also note that, unlike Intel and Samsung, Broadcom currently owns no wafer fabrication plants of its own, outsourcing production to foundries like TSMC or Global Foundries. (Though merging with Qualcomm would get them the former NXP fabs.)
  • French butter shortage. Tout le monde panique!
  • Cahnman looks at possible successors for Jeb Hensarling’s U.S. congressional seat. By and large he’s not enthused…
  • Wendy Davis is now running…some lefty feminist thing. Unclear whether it’s actually designed to do anything, or just line Davis’ pockets. Judging how poorly her 2014 gubernatorial campaign was run, I don’t foresee it accomplishing much.
  • Bonus! Davis is actually thinking about running again! “Oh, please do, Ms. Davis. Then, we can watch this clown show all over again.”
  • Want to put up a garage sale or lost pet sign? Not in Fort Worth, comrade! “People who break the sign law could be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined up to $2,000 per day for each violation.”
  • Evidently there’s a sport called “baseball,” and Houston has a team called the “Astros.” Evidently they just won something called “the World Series, which supposedly some sort of big deal.
  • LinkSwarm for September 8, 2017

    Friday, September 8th, 2017

    It would be swell if I could stop leading the LinkSwarm off with hurricane-related news, but Irma is now a class five hurricane headed straight at Florida. If you’re in any evacuation zones, heed authorities, as this does not look like a storm you want to ride out in place unless you have to. Hsoi’s preparedness checklist is also a good thing to go over earlier rather than later.

  • One reason President Donald Trump had to act on DACA: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states were threatening to sue to end Obama unconstitutional backdoor amnesty program.
  • “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Obama lawyer who worked on DACA admits it’s probably unconstitutional.” And yes, the ASCII Shrugging Emoji is actually in the headline, so it just wouldn’t have felt honest to leave it out…
  • “Trump’s Crackdown on Illegal Aliens is Driving Wage-Growth in US Construction Industry by up to 30%.” In other news: Basic economics have not been repealed by liberal talking points. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Congress passes hurricane relief bill and debt ceiling hike. Both John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted in favor of the bill. I haven’t read the bill, but I’m hoping it’s less stuffed with pork than the Sandy bill.
  • J.J. Watt’s Hurricane Harvey flood relief fundraiser hits $29 million.
  • What it takes to keep HEB stores up and running after a hurricane.

    One of my stores, we had 300 employees; 140 of them were displaced by the flooding. So how do you put your store back together quickly? We asked for volunteers in the rest of the company. We brought over 2,000 partners from Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley. They hopped into cars and they just drove to Houston. They said, we’re here to help. It’s shitty work. For 18 hours a day, they’re going to help us restock and then they’ll go sleep on the couch at somebody’s house.

  • The bribery trial for New jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez gets under way.
  • “It Appears That Out-of-State Voters Changed the Outcome of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Israel had to bomb Syria’s chemical weapons complex. For one thing, it looks like Iran, Assad and Hezbollah will all emerge strengthened from the Syrian civil war…
  • Speaking of Iran, they’re amassing new weaponry. “While all eyes are on North Korea, Iran is advancing its weapons technology. The country recently tested and announced the success of their new Bavar 373 long range, mobile, anti-missile defense system. Everything in the system is manufactured in Iran; it requires no support from outside sources.” However, since Iran has (to my knowledge) no wafer fabrication plants to produce integrated circuits, this statement is almost certainly false, at least as far as electronics goes. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Bulgaria is projected to have the fastest-shrinking population in the world.” I suspect this is a combination of communism (and its aftermath) sucking, of it wrecking disproportionately more damage on backward, mostly rural countries, and of the general trend in Europe toward a modern, unchurched, welfare state society, with its attendant population decline.
  • Betty DeVos vows to dismantle the Obama-era campus kangaroo rape courts. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Twitter Bans Activist Mommy for Tweeting Her Dislike of Teen Vogue’s Anal Sex Guide.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • This is disappointing.
  • Texans handled Harvey better than Louisianans handled Katrina because both their governments and societies are more functional.
  • Another day, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The American Railway union was founded on segregation. “George Pullman famously hired African Americans to work for him. Eugene Debs infamously did not allow African Americans to join his union striking against Pullman’s company.”
  • Al Gore’s new book being outsold by scientist’s book debunking Al Gore.
  • I laughed.
  • LinkSwarm for July 28, 2017

    Friday, July 28th, 2017

    Supposed to hit 104° in Austin today, and 106° tomorrow. Try to keep your cool…

  • “Why Was Wife of DWS’s Swindler Staffer Allowed to Leave the Country?”

    In early March [Imran’s] wife, Hina Alvi, suddenly left the country for Lahore, by way of Doha, Qatar. Notwithstanding the return flight she booked for a date in September 2017, the FBI believes that she actually has no intention to return to the U.S. She had abruptly pulled the couple’s three daughters out of school without alerting the school’s staff, and brought them with her — along with lots of luggage and household goods — to Pakistan.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Mark Steyn on Tucker Carlson: Everything Democrats have looked for and not found in the Russia wild goose chase is actually, demonstrably present in the Imran Awan case:

    Steyn also notes: Why worry whether Vladimir Putin gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks when Debbie Wasserman Schultz just gave Imran Awan her DNC iPad password? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore a bizarre, serious, and colorful story, but it’s not going to work.” Also: “Occam’s Razor suggests that DWS and the Dems were being blackmailed. For what? And what secrets, if any, were compromised by the members of the House Intelligence Committee who employed the Awan ring?” Note that both Steyn and American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson invoke Occam’s Razor to conclude that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was being blackmailed. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • This eye-opening Lee Smith piece in Tablet mag not only details how Fusion GPS came to gun up the Trump Russian fantasy (and how it’s plating both sides of the fence on Russia), but how deep research is now outsourced to opposition research firms:

    Donald Trump, Jr. appears to be the latest figure in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to be caught in the giant web of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. Trump the younger said he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that all he got in his June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was an earful about dropping the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials involved in the death of a Russian lawyer who was killed in detention.

    If the Trump, Jr. meeting is just another chapter in the Beltway telenovela about Trump selling out America to the Russians through an ever-changing cast of supposed intermediaries—come back, Mike Flynn and Carter Page, we hardly knew ye—it sheds valuable light on the ways and means by which the news that fills our iPhone screens and Facebook feeds is now produced. You see, the Russian lawyer—often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin”—Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.

    Steele’s report, a collection of anonymously-sourced allegations, many of which were said to come from “high-ranking former Russian government officials”—i.e. not exactly the kinds of people who seem likely to randomly shoot the shit with ex-British spooks—detailed Trump’s ties to Russian officials and strange sexual obsessions. Originally ordered up by one of Trump’s Republican challengers, the dossier circulated widely in D.C. in the months before the 2016 election, pushed by the Clinton campaign, but no credible press organization was able to verify its claims. After Clinton’s surprise loss, the dossier became public, and it’s claims—while still unverified—have shaped the American public sphere ever since.

    Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers.

    Snip.

    For the past seven years, I’ve reported on and written about American foreign policy and what I saw as troubling trends in how we describe and debate our relationship to the rest of the world. What I’ve concluded during that period is that the fractious nature of those arguments—over the Iran Deal, for instance, or the war in Syria, or Russia’s growing role in the Middle East and elsewhere—is a symptom of a problem here at home. The issue is not about this or that foreign policy. Rather, the problem is that the mediating institutions that enabled Americans to debate and decide our politics and policies, here and abroad, are deeply damaged, likely beyond repair.

    The shape of the debate over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action illustrated this most clearly. The Obama White House turned the press into an instrument used not only to promote its initiatives, but also to drown out and threaten and shame critics and potential opponents, even within the president’s own party. Given the financial exigencies of a media whose business model had been broken by the internet, mismanagement, and the rise of social media as the dominant information platform, the prestige press sacrificed its independence for access to power. If for instance, your beat was national security, it was difficult at best to cross the very few sources of power in Washington that controlled access to information. Your job depended on it. And there are increasingly fewer jobs in the press.

    Read the whole thing.

  • Breakdown of Fusion GPS toes to Russia. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Another day, another failed ObamaCare repeal vote in the Senate, although the “skinny repeal” was nothing to write home about, Republicans John McCain, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against it.
  • While we were concentrating on the Islamic State, the Taliban seized three districts in Afghanistan:

    The Afghan Taliban has overrun three districts previously held by the Afghan government in the provinces of Paktia, Faryab and Ghor over the past several days. The Taliban is demonstrating that it can sustain operations in all theaters of Afghanistan. The three districts are located in three different regions of the country.

    The district of Jani Khel in Paktia, a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network – the powerful Taliban subgroup that is based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas – fell to the Taliban earlier today after several days of heavy fighting, according to Afghan officials and the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the district headquarters buildings, the police headquarters and all security checkpoints are under his group’s control. Fighting is underway at a nearby military base.

    Jani Khel was effectively under Taliban control. At the end of March, the group claimed that all but six percent of the district, including the district center, was under Afghan government control.

    The districts of Taywara in Ghor in central Afghanistan, and Kohistan (or Lolash) in Faryab in the northwest fell to the Taliban on July 23 after several days of fighting. TOLONews confirmed that the two districts are now Taliban controlled and “government forces have not yet launched military operations to re-capture these districts.”

    The Taliban has also claimed it seized control of Pusht Koh in Farah province and Guzargah in Baghlan, however the reports cannot be independently confirmed. However Taliban reports on the takeover of districts have proven accurate in the pasts.

    The loss of the three districts shows that the Taliban is capable of conducting operations in all regions of the country. Even as the three districts fell, the Taliban is on the offensive in all of the other regions. Afghan security forces, which are sustaining record highs in casualties and desertions, is largely on the defensive in most areas of the country.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • The awful time Yazidi girls have recovering from Islamic State sexual slavery.
  • Liberals freak out over President Trump’s no trannies in the military policy. I don’t think most of America realized our military had trannies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Defense of same ban by wounded Iraq veteran.
  • Texas special session update. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has gotten the Senate to consider and pass 18 bills in just the first week. Meanwhile, Speaker Joe Straus’ House hasn’t even considered most in committee yet.
  • Kid Rock can win.
  • Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke outraised Ted Cruz in Q2 for the 2018 Texas Senate race, but Cruz still has $5.7 million cash on hand.
  • Flashback: Trump has no path to 270 electoral votes. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • We were close to nabbing Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2015 until a leak to the New York Times dried up information.
  • Congress passes veto-proof sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • Sweden now has 61 “no go” zones, up from 55 last year. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Convicted felon Brett Kimberlin loses in court yet again. “Nearly four years after Brett Kimberlin sued Patrick Frey, myself and numerous other defendants (including Michelle Malkin, Breitbart.com and Red State) in a bogus federal RICO suit, the case has finally concluded with Judge George Hazel granting Frey summary judgment.”
  • Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to build $10 billion display plant in Wisconsin.
  • President Trump gets a huge welcome in Youngstown, Ohio. Bonus: People interviewed are sick and tired of hearing about Russia. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Greece Arrests Russian ‘Mastermind’ Behind $4 Billion Bitcoin Laundering Scheme.”
  • Dwight has DEFCON and Black Hat rundowns for you computer security boffins. Plus regular updates.
  • Appeals court invalidates D.C.’s ‘good reason’ constraint on public carry of firearms.”

    Because the District’s good-reason law merits invalidation under Heller regardless of its precise benefits, we would be wasting judicial resources if we remanded for the [lower] court to develop the records in these cases. … We vacate both orders below and remand with instructions to render permanent injunctions against enforcement of the District’s good-reason law.

  • NSA expert hacks “smart gun” with $1.5 million supercomputer. And by “NSA expert” I mean a random hacker and by $1.5 million supercomputer I mean $15 worth of magnets. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • 15 pro-illegal alien protestors arrested for blocking traffic near the capitol in Austin. Bonus: Only five actually reside in Texas.
  • Swarthmore commies disband after realizing they were all middle upper class white people. Also, “Swarthmore Commies” would make a good name for a rock band.
  • My piece on ISIS-pledged terrorist groups made it to Zero Hedge. Which I’m happy about. But the comments do seem to be much more Israeli/Jewish conspiracy theory-heavy than I’ve seen there in the past…
  • Speaking of which, no, Edward Snowden did not say that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s is really an Israeli Jew named Elliot Shimon. In fact, he specifically denied saying that through his lawyer.
  • Charlie Gard, RIP.
  • “A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper…an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes.”
  • Nice house, lots of room. The decoration scheme is a little…wait a minute…”
  • LinkSwarm for July 21, 2017

    Friday, July 21st, 2017

    I’m getting to the point where my eyes automatically skip over stories with the words “Russia” or “Mueller” in the same way they skip over stories with the word “Kardashian.” So be advised the smattering of Russia news here is of the non-imaginary variety:

  • Hillary is even more unpopular than President Trump.
  • Liberals: “Democratic voters are fired up and ready to vote against Trump!” Polls: Eh, not so much.
  • To win back voters, Democrats need to be less annoying:

    No item in your life is too big or too small for this variety of liberal busybodying. On the one hand, the viral video you found amusing was actually a manifestation of the patriarchy. On the other hand, you actually have an irresponsibly large number of carbon-emitting children.

    All this scolding – this messaging that you should feel guilty about aspects of your life that you didn’t think were anyone else’s business – leads to a weird outcome when you go to vote in November.” The central premise is probably valid, but the piece itself is larded with lies and half-truths.

    True, but this piece comes with a very large caveat: In this course of describing why Social Justice Warriors annoy the living shit out of ordinary Americans, author Josh Berro (a registered Democrat) makes several sweeping assertions about the supposed popularity of tranny bathrooms, gay marriage and gun control that are simply false.

  • The real lessons of the Natalia Veselnitskaya affair. Including this:

    It’s clear that Natalia Veselnitskaya pulled a bait-and-switch on Donald Trump, Jr. She induced him to a meeting with the promise of information that could be used against Hillary Clinton, but delivered no such information. Instead, she used the meeting to lobby the son of the presumptive Republican nominee for president on the supposed evils of the Magnitsky Act.

    And this:

    Second, the pro-Russia element in Washington, D.C. is substantial and cuts across party and ideological lines. Dana Rohrabacher, dubbed Putin’s favorite congressman, is a conservative. Ron Dellums was among the most liberal members of Congress.

    Shame to hear that about Rohrabacher, who I did an interview with a long, long time ago.

  • The damage the Obama Administration did to the criminal justice system in America. “Under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice pushed the states to pass new laws. The goal was to make it impossible to hold repeat offenders in jail before trial. Why? Because so many repeat offenders are black.”
  • Still more about the madness at Evergreen State College. “I was told that I couldn’t go into the room because I was white.”
  • Trump ends Obama’s asinine CIA-run guns for Syrian jihadis program (though we’re still arming the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces). Naturally the MSM is spinning this as “Putin wins!”, but as I’ve argued before, we never had any national interest in arming anti-Assad jihadis in the first place.
  • President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are evidently telling Qatar and Saudi Arabia to play nice.
  • Iran says we’re violating the agreement Obama never bothered to have the Senate ratify. See if they can spin their centrifuges until the world’s smallest violin tumbles out.
  • Russia can’t modernize it’s one aircraft carrier because doing so might take ten years.
  • Turkey leaks secret locations of U.S. troops in Syria. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Turkey is long overdue for a reassessment of it’s NATO membership anyway… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of Turkey, here’s the latest on their tiff with Germany. (Also via Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Poland on verge of passing a law forcing all their supreme court justices over a certain age, except those reappointed by the justice minister, to retire. The EU is complaining it’s a “blow to a independent judiciary,” while the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party is saying its getting rid of a lot of holdover communist judges.
  • “The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago).”
  • Even if Congressional Republicans still can’t repeal ObamaCare (in which case we need to replace them), the Trump Administration still has many options to chip away at it.
  • Sen. John McCain diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Best wishes for his speedy recovery.
  • Kurt Schlichter says we must elect Kid Rock Senator, chiefly due to the conniptions it will induce in Never Trumpers like George Will and Bill Kristol.
  • Have Clinton donors lined up behind California Senator Kamala Harris as heir 2020 Presidential nominee? On the plus side, she would help shore up the Obama coalition among black voters. On the minus side, she does a much poorer job than Obama of hiding just far out on the left wing of the party she is. After all, this was a woman who preferred seeing Catholic hospitals serving the poor close unless they agreed to perform abortions.
  • The Washington Post is very, very upset that all their fake news isn’t moving their fake polls. “Maybe you shouldn’t have cried wolf all those other times. Or was this one another crying of wolf? You squandered your credibility, trying so hard to get Trump. You built up our skepticism and our capacity to flesh out the other side of any argument against Trump.”
  • “US Special Operators Are Moving Closer to the Fighting in Raqqa.” Evidence? “On July 17, 2017, pictures began to appear on social media of flat bed trucks carrying M1245A5 M-ATV mine protected vehicles. On July 20, 2017, additional images emerged of another convoy with more M1245s, as well as a number of up-armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.” The M1245A5 M-ATV is evidently only used by U.S. special forces. Bulldozers were also crucial to the battle of Mosul.
  • Up yours, Islamic State: bar reopens in Qaraqosh, Iraq, southeast of Mosul, liberated nine months ago.
  • This week Palestinians are rioting over (rolls dice) metal detectors.
  • Texas Speaker Joe Straus has received a no confidence vote from his hometown Bexar County Republicans.
  • “Nearly four out of every five dollars that Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren (D.) reported last quarter came from donors outside of her home state.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government’s regulatory footprint.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The Juice is loose. Well, not really: O.J. Simpson will not be released on parole until at least October. While I believe Simpson did indeed get away with a double homicide, he was acquitted of that charge, and his current parole is in line with his time served on the robbery and kidnapping charges of which he was actually convicted. Now Simpson can get back to paying off his civil lawsuit judgment.
  • “Newsweek Settles with Journalist Smeared by Kurt Eichenwald.” So. Much. Stupidity. “Eichenwald inferred that the only possible means by which Trump could have come across the misattributed quote was purposeful collusion with the Russians, and that the Wikileaks documents themselves had been altered.” Although, to be absolutely fair to everyone’s favorite seizure-prone tentacle-porn fan, plaintiff Bill Moran did not exactly cover himself in glory either… (Hat tip: Lee Stranahan’s Twitter feed.)
  • Sting hardest hit.
  • The story behind the hundred most iconic movie props of all time. I would have gone with Stonehenge rather than the 11 knobs from This is Spinal Tap… (Hat tip: VA Viper.)
  • “DC Comics Reboots Snagglepuss as ‘Gay, Southern Gothic Playwright.'” Honestly, I have so little interest in the original character this actually strikes me as an improvement. (Imagine the outrage if they brought back Scrappy Doo as an “antifa” agitator. That’s right, there wouldn’t be any, because everybody hates Scrappy Doo.) Though one wonders just who the audience is for this reboot; I doubt many urban hipsters will make their way to a comic store for the irony value…
  • No, get all the way off my lawn, you stupid kids!