Posts Tagged ‘Media Watch’

SchadESPNfreude

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

You may have heard that ESPN has laid off at least 100 on-air employees. ESPN is the latest company to choose between being liberal and being profitable, and choosing liberal.

You want to watch the Lakers game? Okay, but first you’re going to hear about Caitlyn Jenner. Want some NFL highlights? We’ll get to those eventually, but coming up next will be a discussion about how North Carolina is run by racist, homophobic bigots. You want to see the box scores of today’s baseball games? You can watch those at the bottom of the hour, but right now some D-list network talent would like to lecture you about gun control. After that we’ll have a panel discussion about how much courage it takes to turn your back on the American flag.

The most interesting aspect of the mass layoffs on Wednesday isn’t that they happened, it’s who the network targeted. Not the high-priced carnival barkers and the know-nothing loudmouths doing their best to make Rachel Maddow proud. Nope. ESPN targeted sports reporters. In an effort to cut some fat from its bottom line, ESPN exchanged a scalpel for a chainsaw, skipped the fat entirely, and went straight to cutting out muscle.

If ESPN wants to once again be the worldwide leader in sports, it should refocus on covering sports, which used to be a refuge from politics and the news. America is politicized enough already, and if its citizens want political news, several cable outlets do political news far better than ESPN ever could. Instead of doing sports and politics poorly, perhaps the network could return to the thing that it used to do better than everyone else in the world: cover live sports.

To be sure there were a lot of other contributing factors (rising fixed costs from overpaying for sports, people dropping cable, etc.), but the relentless left-wing culture war slant was among the most avoidable of all ESPN’s self-inflicted wounds.

More reactions:

Texas vs. California Update for April 20, 2017

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

This didn’t get done while I was doing my taxes, but here, at last, is another giant Texas vs. California update:

  • Appeals court finds San Diego’s pension reform legal. “California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a 2015 state labor board ruling that said the cutbacks were illegal because of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ involvement in the successful citizens’ initiative that made the changes.” San Diego transitioned to a 401K style program. Naturally public employee unions screamed bloody murder and sought to have the reforms overturned. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Unions attempts to role back San Diego’s pension reforms amounted to an attempt to retroactively apply collective bargaining to older laws.
  • More: It’s “shocking the agency’s officials would have even argued that a union’s right to negotiate pay and benefits trumps the public’s right to hold an election.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “The number of people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in California alone exceeds the total populations of 44 of the other states of the union, according to data published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Census Bureau.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • California exports its working poor to Texas.

    Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.

    About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000. During the same period, the state experienced a net gain of about 20,000 residents earning at least five times the poverty rate – or $100,000 for a family of three.

    Snip.

    The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

  • Hat tip for the above is this Zero Hedge piece, which notes “By some measures, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. And as more and more residents leave, the burden to fund the state’s welfare exuberance will fall more and more on the wealthier (that actually pay taxes). Rather than secession, perhaps it’s time for the wealthy to join ‘the poor’ exodus and beat the crowd out of California…”
  • A look at a California tent city of 1,000 people.
  • Kevin Williamson on why Houston’s diversity is different than the liberal ideal of same:

    Living in a place where it is less of a struggle to pay the rent or make the mortgage payment does indeed chill most everybody out a little bit. But it is not at all obvious that what Houston — or Texas at large — enjoys is in fact a culture that is generally welcoming to immigrants in a way that is different from Scottsdale or Trenton or Missoula. What Texas does have is something close to the opposite of that: a large and very well-integrated Mexican-American community. Anglos in Texas aren’t welcoming to Latinos because we are in some way uniquely open to the unfamiliar, but because they are not unfamiliar.

    This matters in ways that are not obvious if you didn’t grow up with it. My native West Texas, along with the whole of the border and much of the rest of the state, has a longstanding, stable Anglo–Latin hybrid culture. Houston does, too, but Houston, being a very large city, is a little more complicated; I had lunch yesterday with a conservative leader who chatted amiably with the staff in Spanish at . . . an Indian restaurant.

    That robust hybrid culture ensures that the people Anglos hear speaking Spanish are not always poor, not mowing the lawn or cleaning a hotel room, that they are not usually immigrants, not people who cannot speak or read English — not alien. They are neighbors who, if you are lucky, make Christmas tamales. And they might be your employer or your employee, the guy who sells you a car or approves your car loan, a pastor at your church, a professor, a member of your Ultimate Frisbee team . . . or an illegal immigrant, or a criminal, or someone who is in some way unassimilated, alien, or threatening. When one out of three people in your county is “Hispanic” — a word that in Texas overwhelmingly means “Mexican-American” — then you tend to know Hispanic people of all descriptions: the good, the bad, and the ordinary.

    That is not the case in, say, Arlington, Va., which does not have a large and well-assimilated Mexican-American population but does have a large and poorly assimilated population of Spanish-speaking immigrants. The two things are not the same — more like opposites. Add to that the fact, sometimes lost on Anglos, that there is no such thing as a “Hispanic” culture or population, that people with roots in Mexico do not think of themselves as being part of a single cultural group that includes people from Central America and South America. A while back, I heard an older fellow of Mexican background complaining about the Guatemalans moving into his area — and he was an illegal immigrant. That’s a funny reality: In Texas, even some of the illegals don’t think that we can let just anybody cross the border. But ethnic politics is a strange business: In West Texas, young whites without much money (college students and the like) who would never for a moment seriously consider moving into a low-income black neighborhood will not give a second thought to moving into a largely Hispanic neighborhood.

    All of which is not to say that Texas does not have a fair number of poorly assimilated Spanish-speaking immigrants: It surely does, especially in the big cities. (People forget how urban Texas is: Six of the 20 largest U.S. cities are in Texas.) But it is easier to accommodate — and, one hopes, to assimilate — those newcomers when you have a culture of mutual familiarity and trust, which is based not on newcomers but on oldcomers. Texas’s ancient Mexican-American community — whose members famously boast, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!” — is a kind of buffer that makes absorbing newcomers less stressful.

  • Leaving coastal California is a ‘no-brainer‘ for some as housing costs rise.”

    Huntington Beach residents Chris Birtwistle and Allison Naitmazi were about to get married and decided it was time to buy a home.

    They wanted to stay in the area but couldn’t find a house they both liked and could reasonably afford — despite a dual income of around $150,000.

    So they decided to go inland — all the way to Arizona, where they recently opened escrow on a $240,000, four-bedroom house with a pool just outside Phoenix. Their monthly mortgage payment will be about $500 less than what they paid for a two-bedroom apartment in the Orange County beach community.

  • “California again leads list with 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities.” Versus zero for Texas. So they have the nation’s most stringent pollution laws…and the nation’s worst air pollution. (Golf clap) (Hat tip: Chuck DeVore’s Twitter feed.)
  • 16 Reasons Not To Live In California. Samples (snippage implied):

    #2 Out of all 50 states, the state of California has been ranked as the worst state for business for 12 years in a row…
    #3 California has the highest state income tax rates in the entire nation. For many Americans, the difference between what you would have to pay if you lived in California and what you would have to pay if you lived in Texas could literally buy a car every single year.
    #4 The state government in Sacramento seems to go a little bit more insane with each passing session.
    #5 The traffic in the major cities just keeps getting worse and worse. According to USA Today, Los Angeles now has the worst traffic in the entire world, and San Francisco is not far behind.

  • CalSTRS’ funded status falls to 64% as deficit grows $21 billion following rate reduction.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas is on its way to passing a conservative budget.
  • A Democrat-sponsored bill in the California legislature guarantees free healthcare for all, without specifying a way to pay for it. Maybe they’ll institute a unicorn tax… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Leslie Eastman at Legal Insurrection spells out exactly what Californians would actually get under the plan:
    • With no choice, there is no competition, unless you are wealthy enough to leave the state for medical care. However, this is a golden opportunity for medical tourism companies!
    • There will be a limited supply of doctors, as those who don’t want to go through the bureaucratic hoops for procedures and payment will also leave the state.
    • Clinicians will be forced to make their treatment decisions based on the state-run rules: Why choose surgery when a pill will do?
    • Shockingly, some funds need to be directed to other budget items instead of perks for illegal aliens (refer to Oroville Dam for a handy reference).
    • Medicare, the system that is the foundation for this proposal, is rife with waste, fraud and abuse (e.g., 3 Floridians bilked the system for $1 billion).
    • Co-pays and deductibles will be transformed into monies paid for non-state government healthcare services (like the Canadians who cross into the United States to obtain MRI’s and other innovative treatments).
    • Public oversight will translate into political wheeling-and-dealing strictly for the benefit of those plugged into the rigged system. An indication that Sacramento may be headed for such a system, I offer this piece published in The Sacramento Bee for consideration: Why California must accept more corruption.
    • The cost of drugs has soared, despite Obamacare. As an example, I had a skin medication that would cost me $150 for an annual supply. The same medication now costs nearly $1000 a year, and I no longer use it.
  • In order to further bestow members of the ruling Democratic coalition with rights and privileges mere citizens don’t enjoy, California’s Senate Bill 807 proposes making teachers exempt from state income tax. Some pigs are evidently way, way more equal than others…
  • Teacher’s unions have helped create California’s teacher shortage. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California hikes its gas taxes yet again, making them the highest in the nation.
  • Pension liabilities are pinching in Gilroy, California: “Gilroy’s three biggest public employers have amassed more than $183 million in unpaid pension liabilities. That’s likely more than ever, and a figure that, absent major reform, will grow and siphon budget funds from essential public services, say officials and pension experts. In Gilroy, 23 city pensions exceed $100,000 and more than 60 exceed $70,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Court to determine whether California’s public employee union members can simply continue to buy years of service rather than actually working them.
  • Silicon Valley slows down. “Tech companies in San Francisco and San Mateo counties lost 700 jobs from January to February and tech employment has dropped by 3,200 jobs since hitting a peak last August.”
  • What the lords of Silicon Valley actually think: “Inequality is a feature, not a bug.”
  • Hold on to your seats for this one: California’s government actually did something right, legalizing the selling of home-made food. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Hotel construction continues apace in the United States, and dozens of new properties are expected to open this year in two major corporate and tourist destinations, New York and Los Angeles. But the three other cities with the most hotels projected to open in 2017, according to the industry research company STR, are all in Texas — Dallas, Houston and Austin.” Notice the implied condescension in the NYT piece: New York and LA are real places, whereas Dallas, Houston and Austin are “other cities.”

    More:

    The number of new hotels in Texas is notable. In 2017, Marriott plans to open eight hotels in Austin, seven in Houston and 23 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the company. Ninety-two other Marriott hotels are in the planning stages for the three metro areas. Hilton says it is planning for 75 new hotels there. InterContinental Hotels Group has more than 100 hotel projects in the Austin, Dallas and Houston metro areas, including the Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts and Staybridge Suites brands.

    Austin is home to the state capital; the University of Texas at Austin, a campus with 50,000 students; and a long list of technology companies. Its growing recreation and dining scene is attracting more leisure travelers, filling guest rooms on weekends and making the city “more of a seven-day-a-week hotel market,” according to Tim Powell, the managing director for development for Hilton’s southwest region.

  • A bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of California plays Santa Claus with a bank’s money.
  • Just what illegal aliens cost California.
  • “L.A. To Worsen Housing Shortage With New Rent Controls.”
  • “California Dems Promise Taxpayer Dollars to Defend Illegal Immigrants.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Calpers Is Sick of Paying Too Much for Private Equity…Pension fund’s private-equity returns were 12.3% over 20 years, but they would have been 19.3% without fees and costs.” (WSJ hoops apply.) (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Texas top state for number of new, expanded corporate facilities for fifth consecutive year.”
  • It’s not just Oroville Dam that needs maintenance: a section of Highway 50 collapsed in February. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Jerry Brown wants to spend nearly $450 million on flood control following dam emergency.”
  • “A state senator is removed from the chamber for her comments about Tom Hayden and Vietnam.” Namely for noting that Hayden supported “a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family.” Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) came to America as a Vietnamese refugee, and Democrats were incensed she was allowed to speak truth to power when it came to hagiography for one of their own. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Crime Increasing in California After ‘Prison Reform.'”
  • Selling carbon indulgences just isn’t what it used to be under Trump:

    February’s quarterly auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances under California’s cap and trade program was another financial washout for the state.

    Results for last week’s auction were posted Wednesday morning, revealing that just 16.5 percent of the 74.8 million metric tons of emission allowances were sold at the floor price of $13.57 per ton.

    The state auctions emission allowances to polluters and speculators as part of its program to reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds are supposed to be spent on public programs to slow climate change.

    February’s auction is being closely watched by market analysts because the last three quarterly auctions in 2016 posted sub-par results.

    Almost all of February’s proceeds went either to California’s utilities, who sell allowances they receive free from the Air Resources Board, or the Canadian province of Quebec, which offers emission allowances through California. Both are first in line when auction proceeds are apportioned.

    The ARB was offering 43.7 million tons of state-owned emission allowances, but sold just 602,340 tons of advance 2020 allowances, which means the state will see only $8.2 million, rather than the nearly $600 million it could have received from a sellout.

    (Hat tip: Chuck DeVore on Twitter.)

  • California’s high speed train-to-nowhere is still doomed.
  • “Six former LA safety officers collected pension payouts of over $1,000,000 apiece last year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Oakland Fire Chief Announces Retirement Days After Pension Vested, Warehouse Fire Probe Continues.”
  • San Rafael has the the highest pension costs in California by percentage of their total budget (18%). “Money that goes to one thing can’t go to another thing, so if you’re spending almost $1 out of $5 on pension payments, that is a lot less money available for tangible public services such as filling potholes, keeping the library open and making sure there is sufficient police protection.”
  • Remember Anthony Silva, mayor of formerly bankrupt Stockton? He’s been arrested again, this time for embezzling “at least $74,000 from the Stockton Kids Club over the past five years.” That would be the same Anthony Silva who is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, whose own guns were stolen and used in crimes, and who was also arrested for “for playing strip poker with minor and giving them alcohol while at a youth camp.” Given such august leadership, I can’t imagine how Stockton went bankrupt… (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • New survey of the Permian Basin in Texas shows that there’s another 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil than previously thought.
  • More on the fracking boom:

  • Minimum wage hike watch: Wendy’s to try out more than 1000 self-serve kiosks.
  • San Francisco’s wage hike is already closing restaurants. Especially those that serve affordable food. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • California’s “hide actor’s age” law struck down.
  • “Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca found guilty on obstruction of justice and other charges.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • I would like to celebrate Austin Austin having the shortest commute time in this study of major cities except, since I now experience that commute time every weekday, I can tell you that 16 minute estimate is utter crap. Maybe Austin is the best if the commute time for other cities is similarly underestimated. By contrast, the Austin rental rate of $476 a week seems slightly high, while the London rate of $489 a week seems way too low…
  • Kubota Tractor Corp. finished its’ U.S. headquarters from Torrance, California, to Grapevine, Texas. (Previously.)
  • “West Plano’s $3 billion Legacy West development has landed another big name business. Boeing will locate the headquarters for its newly formed global services division in the 250-acre mixed-use project at the Dallas North Tollway and State Highway 121.”
  • Los Angeles-based fashion company Nasty Gal declares bankruptcy. Also, nice proofreading on this subhead, LA Times: “Why couldn’t they the company hold on to shoppers?” Note: That’s still up for a story published February 24th…
  • Los Angeles clothing brand BCBG Max Azria Group, owner of Hervé Leger, also filed for bankruptcy.
  • The City of St. Louis sues the NFL, and all 32 NFL teams, over the Rams relocation to Los Angeles.
  • “L.A. County Sheriff’s Department switches from silver to gold belt buckles at a cost of $300,000.” That’s some might fine resource allocation there, Lou… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • 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.
  • 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 24, 2017

    Friday, March 24th, 2017

    This week I started a new job and started working on my taxes, so expect scattered patches of Light Blogging for the next few weeks…

  • Everyone in Washington hates Donald Trump’s new budget. So it must have something going for it. This is a budget plan that will surgically remove trillions of dollars of wasteful spending from the obese $3.9 trillion federal budget. Many agencies will have to live with cuts of 5, 10 and 30 percent, while other outdated, duplicative or unproductive programs will go to the graveyard.”
  • Neil Gorsuch appears to be headed toward confirmation to the Supreme Court.
  • The Obama Administrations was carrying out surveillance of the Trump transition team:

    “First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Second, details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. Fourth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”

    One wonders if his data collection was as “incidentally” as the IRS auditing conservatives…

  • Borepatch has a handy summary of the global warming controversy, with just enough technical details to provide a nice overview.
  • London: “You are entering a Sharia controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced.” Also this: “According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, every year 17,000 Muslim women in Britain become victims of forced marriages, are raped by their husbands or subjected to female genital mutilation.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Italians used to look to Europe as a kind of savior: the Italian state was corrupt and inept, but Brussels would set a higher standard, and by loyal support for the EU, Italy could rise above its own problems. These days, the EU looks more like an anchor than a lifejacket.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Philadelphia’s Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams indicted on corruption and bribery charges. Oh, he also allegedly stole more than $20,000 from his own mother’s Social Security and pension funds. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he appointed a general counsel to the NLRB after the Senate refused to confirm him.” Notable: 6-2 Supreme Court decision. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “I would argue that Pakistan’s history teaches at least three lessons. The first: Elections alone do not produce democracy. The second: Majority rule without minority rights leads to egregious illiberalism. Third: A state committed to the pursuit of religious ‘purity’ will always find some of its subjects in need of ‘cleansing.’ Down that path despotism lies.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Denmark doesn’t want to become Sweden.
  • The shape of battles to come.
  • Kurt Schlichter imagines how a second Korean War would unfold. Not so hot for the norks…
  • He came to America illegally with a dream…of raping a two year old. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • I’m still not tired of all the winning.
  • “Molecule kills elderly cells, reduces signs of aging in mice.” Faster please.
  • Texas to eliminate legal bribery in Brown County.
  • Karl Rehn on beyond the 1%. “93% of the 3.2 million adult gun owners in Texas likely do not train. 4% of them take the mandatory new permit course, at best 3% of them take some kind of NRA course, and only 1%, less than 30K, take any kind of post-CHL level course or shoot any kind of match, including all kinds of pistol, NRA high power, and all the shotgun sports.”
  • Dwight blogged about a case where a convenience store robber was found not guilty of aggravated assault because he was using an Airsoft pellet gun in the robbery. Evidently the reason for the verdict was the DA’s decision not to seek a lesser charge. It seems that the possibility of convicting on lesser charges is subject to instructions from the judge. The question that occurs to me: Is a criminal jury empowered to find a defendant guilty of one or more lesser charges if they were given no instructions regarding lesser charges from the judge?
  • London jihad-attack tweet:

  • Scott Adams describes how Bloomberg assembled a hit piece on him by taking things out of context, all because he was predicting a Trump victory in 2016. Remember: Every MSM hit piece on a conservative you see is constructed and slanted in similar ways.
  • Exit fat Barbie.
  • Statistical analysis of writer’s work. Elmore Leonard hates exclamation points, but James Joyce loves them…
  • Bad Gun Reporting From Fox News

    Saturday, March 11th, 2017

    Here’s one of those articles where the headline implies a lot more than the facts of the story: “Chicago’s violent gangs looting freight cars filled with guns.”

    Did you hear that? Freight cars filled with guns!

    The actual statistics are considerably less dramatic: “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that since 2013, more than 150 firearms have been reported stolen from freight trains.” That’s not freight cars filled with guns, that’s a little over one gun stole from trains every ten days nationwide.

    Read deeper and it turns out that Chicago gangs hit one big score of 100 Rugers in 2015. Which means that discounting that, just over one gun a month is being stolen from trains.

    The entire article looks like the writer tried to tart up a very prosaic story with a sensationalist slant and a bucket of pulp fiction adjectives: “brazen,” “shiny, new guns” (so they were nickle plated?), “ransacking,” “blood-soaked streets” (“Honey, better get out the squeegee! The streets are blood-soaked again today!”), etc.

    And then there’s this sentence describing the Ruger score: “In one instance, thieves stole more than 100 new Ruger handguns described as ‘pretty’ in comparison to the shoddy, makeshift guns criminals in Chicago’s rough streets often use.”

    Shoddy? Fine. There are plenty of pot metal guns the firearms community regards as shoddy (Lorcin comes to mind). But “makeshift?” Does the author think significant numbers of Chicago gangbangers are using zip guns? Or 3D printed guns?

    Chicago has very real crime problems it’s antiquated gun control laws are doing nothing to address. Outside the 2015 Ruger theft, there’s nothing in the piece to suggest that guns stolen from freight trains are a significant part of it.

    Scenes From Securing the Border

    Thursday, March 9th, 2017

    What happens when you actually start enforcing the law? Oddly enough, lawbreaking goes down.

    The same is true of enforcing laws for border control and immigration.

    There’s been a lot of news on the border control and immigration front, starting with President Trump issuing a revised executive order banning travelers from terrorism-exporting nations. This version is more narrowly tailored, excludes Iraq, and spells out that it does not apply to existing visa and green card holders.

    Daniel R. DePetris at the National Interest thinks the new Executive Order is much improved. “Overall, the second version of the ‘Presidential Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States’ is far and away a better product than the first. It’s more detailed, comprehensive and bureaucratically vetted than the original.”

    Other border control news:

  • Illegal alien border crossings were way down during President Trump’s first month in office. “In January, 31,575 individuals were taken into custody between ports of entry on the southwest border. That contrasts with an average of more than 45,000 for each of the previous three months, according to a CPB report released Monday.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • And that trend appears to be continuing. “The Homeland Security Department said Wednesday night that people caught crossing the border illegally had plummeted from 31,578 in January to 18,762 in February.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Half of all border crossing apprehensions were in the Rio Grande region. The question is whether most illegal alien border crossings occurred there, or where it is an artifact of increased Texas Department of Public Safety border enforcement there.
  • But there are significant declines in illegal alien crossings there as well, as indicated by the closing of a temporary holding facility.
  • Enforcement is starting with over a million illegal aliens who already have removal orders filed against them.
  • The New York Times is shocked, shocked that illegal aliens who are here illegally are being deported because they’re here illegally.
  • Likewise, the illegal aliens themselves are “panicking” over the possibility of being deported. Let’s let Professor Rock break down how people may avoid this fate:

  • Further: If you’re already breaking the law, maybe you shouldn’t appear at a pro-illegal alien press conference and tell people how you’re breaking the law, or you might get deported.
  • The crackdown has led to what conservatives have said would happen all along: self-deportation. “Trump talks tough about a crack down on illegals and a step up of deportations. ICE goes out, does a few raids and deports a few illegals and the dolts in the press publicize it everywhere, wholly unaware that they have become unwitting allies of Trump. Illegals witness the hysteria in the press and decide to turn tail and run.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • It seems that a lot of sanctuary cities that loudly proclaimed they were going to defy President Trump over border enforcement are backing down. “Miami-Dade county rescinds ‘sanctuary’ status over Trump’s threat to withhold federal funds.”
  • Although increased enforcement is attracting all the attention, another big part of President Trump’s immigration reform is selecting immigrants based on skill rather than family preferences.
  • Day laborers support President Trump’s crackdown on illegal aliens. Even some of the illegal aliens:

    Pacheco supports Trump even though he’s one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who could be deported. “Trump for me is a good president,” he says. “He has to fix things here. There’s a lot of drugs being sold around here. A lot of people sell drugs. And they hide within the workers. They even come here, or hide other places around here. They hide among us.”

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • As promised at his joint address, President Trump has created Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement, an office to serve U.S. victims of illegal alien crime.
  • Illegal alien arrested for chopping off his own mother’s head. “Oliver Funes-Machado, 18, is originally from Honduras and is accused of repeatedly stabbing his 35-year-old mother in their Zebulon home Monday. He allegedly beheaded her and then walked outside, holding her head in one hand and the knife in the other as he waited for Franklin County deputies to arrive. He was the one who called 911.” No word on whether he was one of Obama’s “Dreamers” or not… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Finally, a weird little story from earlier this week: Washington Post Employee Arrested On Charges Of Impersonating ICE Agent. Remember: No matter how much you may want to help, impersonating a federal officer is a felony. Here’s Professor Rock with that handy tip again:

    Advice so nice it bears repeating twice…

  • NRA Sticks It To The New York Times

    Sunday, March 5th, 2017

    Via Ace of Spades comes this masterful NRA slam of the New York Times: