Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Iran Roundup for January 2, 2018

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Widespread protests against the corrupt theocratic regime continue across Iran, so here’s a roundup of news. Here’s a liveblog on the protests, courtesy of Austin Bay at Instapundit.

  • This piece makes the case that Iran’s corrupt theocratic government has used up all its remaining legitimacy:

    As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival. That is deadly for a theocracy, by definition an ideological construct. Ideological authoritarian states need a vision of the future by which their enforcers can condone their own violence. The theocracy’s vast patronage system will not cure this crisis of legitimacy. In many ways, Mr. Rouhani was the ruling clergy’s last gasp, a beguiling mullah who could enchant Westerners while offering Iranians some hope. That hope has vanished.

  • “US gives Israel go-ahead to kill powerful Iranian general.” The would be the same Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani Obama saved three years ago in pursuit of his precious, asinine Iran deal. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • How President Donald Trump saw the Iranian protests coming. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Some pessimism about protestor’s chances:

    In Iran, the obstacles to success are daunting. Whereas most Middle Eastern countries are ruled by secular autocrats focused on repressing primarily Islamist opposition, Iran is an Islamist autocracy focused on repressing secular opposition. This dynamic—unarmed, unorganized, leaderless citizens seeking economic dignity and pluralism, versus a heavily armed, organized, rapacious ruling theocracy that espouses martyrdom—is not a recipe for success.

    And yet, against this inauspicious backdrop, Iran’s mushrooming anti-government protests—although so far much smaller in scale than the country’s 2009 uprising—have been unprecedented in their geographic scope and intensity. They began December 28 in Mashhad, a Shiite pilgrimage city often considered a regime stronghold, with protesters chanting slogans like “leave Syria alone, think about us.” They soon spread to Qom, Iran’s holiest city, where protesters expressed nostalgia for Reza Shah, the 20th-century modernizing autocrat who ruthlessly repressed the clergy. They continued in provincial towns, with thousands chanting, “we don’t want an Islamic Republic” in Najafabad, “death to the revolutionary guards” in Rasht, and “death to the dictator” in Khoramabad. They’ve since spread to Tehran, and hundreds have been arrested, the BBC reported, citing Iranian officials.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Iran Charges Russia With Selling Out its Air Defense Secrets to Israel. The Islamic Republic says Russia sold codes to Israel that neutralize its air defenses.” Attacking your primary arms supplier, and your ally Syria’s effective air force, is a pretty desperate look. If true, it also means that America (and probably Saudi Arabia) have those codes as well… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Obama toadies vs the Iranian people:

    In the US, former members of the Obama administration and the liberal media have determinedly downplayed the importance of the protests. They have insisted that President Donald Trump should stop openly supporting the protesters and so adopt former president Barack Obama’s policy of effectively siding with the Iranian regime against the Iranian people who seek its overthrow.

    These talking points have been pushed out into the media echo chamber by Obama’s former deputy national security adviser and strategic communications chief Ben Rhodes, his former national security adviser Susan Rice and former secretary of state John Kerry.

    Obama’s Middle East coordinator Philip Gordon stated them outright in an op-ed in The New York Times on Saturday. Gordon called on Trump “to keep quiet and do nothing” in response to the protests.

    In Gordon’s view, no matter how big their beef with the regime, the protesters hate the US more. And they really hate Trump.

    Gordon wrote, “Whatever Iranians think of their own government, they are unlikely to want as a voice for their grievances an American president who has relentlessly opposed economic relief for their country and banned them from traveling to the United States.”

    Just as Obama’s surrogates have repeated Gordon’s claims, so the Obama-supporting liberal media have gone out of their way to diminish the importance of the protests in their coverage of them and use Obama’s surrogates as their “expert” analysts to explain what is happening (or rather, distort what is happening) to their audiences.

    Obama administration officials have been so outspoken in their defense of the Iranian regime because they rightly view the prospect that the protesters will succeed in overthrowing the regime as a mortal threat to their legacy.

    Obama’s foreign policy rested on the assumption that the US was a colonialist, aggressive and immoral superpower. By their telling, the Iranians – like the Cubans and the Russians – were right to oppose the US due to its legacy of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. This anti-American worldview informed the Obama administration’s conviction that it was incumbent on the US to make amends for its previous decades of foreign policy.

    Hence, Obama traveled the globe in 2009 and 2010 apologizing for the policies of his predecessors. Hence, Obama believed that the US had no moral right to stand with the Iranian people against the regime in the 2009 Green Revolution. As he saw it, anyone who stood with the US was no better than an Uncle Tom. Truly authentic foreign regimes were be definition anti-American. Since the Green Revolutionaries were begging for his support, by definition, they didn’t deserve it.

    Since the current wave on anti-regime protests began last Thursday, the liberal media have parroted the Obama alumni’s talking points because they feel that their war against Trump requires them to embrace Obama’s legacy just as they embraced his talking points and policies for eight years.

    After all, if Obama is not entirely infallible, then Trump cannot be entirely fallible. And if Trump may be partially right and Obama partially wrong, then their dispute may be a substantive rather than existential one. And so, the New York Times’ coverage of the most significant story in the world has deliberately distorted and downplayed events on the ground in Iran.

  • A relevant Twitter thread:

  • The Deafening Feminist Silence on Iran Protests

    Monday, January 1st, 2018

    Having implemented Sharia law, Theocratic Iran is one of the most repressive regimes in the world when it comes to women’s rights, and a wide variety of activities are prohibited to women simply because they are women.

    Now that widespread protests have broken out In Iran over the rejection of the Islamic Republic and greater rights for women, you might think that feminists organizations would be in the forefront of those clamoring for greater women’s rights.

    You would be wrong. They are, as usual, nattering on about the standard array of far-left causes having nothing to do with women’s rights.

    To drill down even further, I thought I would check the Twitter feeds of several prominent feminists. They too are silent on Iran:

    Once again, the unwillingness to speak out on Islam’s demonstrable treatment of women as second-class citizens has left American feminists with nothing to say about the most important woman’s rights struggle of the day. (That, and the Democratic Party’s insistence on defending Obama’s disasterous (and unconstitutional) Iran deal.)

    Feminism is only about “women’s rights” when they align with a far-left agenda.

    Anti-Government Protests Across Iran

    Saturday, December 30th, 2017

    Widespread protests against the corrupt theocratic regime have spread across Iran. Women are removing their oppressive hijabs. Protests have even spread to the religious city of Qom, where “demonstrators shouted ‘Death to Hezbollah’ and ‘Aren’t you ashamed Khamenei? Leave the country.'”

    The people of Iran are obviously chafing under the repressive Islamist regime, and are tired of money being spent on foreign adventurism and a proxy war in Saudi Arabia rather than on domestic needs.

    Similar protests occurred during the “Green Revolution” of 2009, which Obama generally ignored and which was crushed in short order. Instead of regime change, the Iranian people saw the Obama Administration prop up Ayatollah Khamenei’s theocratic regime via the asinine Iran Deal.

    Could real change be coming with President Donald Trump in the White House?

    Stay tuned…

    Edited to add:

    Edited to add 2: Protestors chant “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!”

    Updated to add 3:

    Obama Let Hezbollah Sell Cocaine in U.S.

    Monday, December 18th, 2017

    This should take still more of the shine off Obama’s plastic halo:

    In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

    The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

    Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.

    They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

    But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

    The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

    How high did drug trafficking evidence go?

    As a result, the U.S. government lost insight into not only drug trafficking and other criminal activity worldwide, but also into Hezbollah’s illicit conspiracies with top officials in the Iranian, Syrian, Venezuelan and Russian governments — all the way up to presidents Nicolas Maduro, Assad and Putin, according to former task force members and other current and former U.S. officials.

    The network was extensive:

    For decades, Hezbollah — in close cooperation with Iranian intelligence and Revolutionary Guard — had worked with supporters in Lebanese communities around the world to create a web of businesses that were long suspected of being fronts for black-market trading. Along the same routes that carried frozen chicken and consumer electronics, these businesses moved weapons, laundered money and even procured parts for Iran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

    As they pursued their investigations, the DEA agents found that Hezbollah was redoubling all of these efforts, working urgently to raise cash, and lots of it, to rebuild its south Lebanon stronghold after a 2006 war with Israel had reduced it to rubble.

    Dating back to its inception in the early 1980s, Hezbollah, which translates to “Party of God,” had also engaged in “narcoterrorism,” collecting a tariff from drug dealers and other black-market suppliers who operated in territory it controlled in Lebanon and elsewhere. Now, based on the DEA’s extensive network of informants, undercover operatives and wiretaps, it looked like Hezbollah had shifted tactics, and gotten directly involved in the global cocaine trade, according to interviews and documents, including a confidential DEA assessment.

    “It was like they flipped a switch,” Kelly told POLITICO. “All of a sudden, they reversed the flow of all of the black-market activity they had been taxing for years, and took control of the operation.”

    Operating like an organized crime family, Hezbollah operatives would identify businesses that might be profitable and useful as covers for cocaine trafficking and buy financial stakes in them, Kelly and others said. “And if the business was successful and suited their current needs,” Kelly said, “they went from partial owners to majority owners to full partnership or takeover.”

    Hezbollah even created a special financial unit that, translated into English, means “Business Affairs Component,” to oversee the sprawling criminal operation, and it was run by the world’s most wanted terrorist after Osama bin Laden, a notoriously vicious Hezbollah military commander named Imad Mughniyeh
    Imad MughniyehA Hezbollah mastermind who oversaw its international operations and, the DEA says, its drug trafficking, as head of its military wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization.
    , according to DEA interviews and documents.

    Mughniyeh had for decades been the public face of terrorism for Americans, orchestrating the infamous attack that killed 241 U.S. Marines in 1983 in their barracks in Lebanon, and dozens more Americans in attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that year and an annex the year after. When President Ronald Reagan responded to the attacks by withdrawing peacekeeping troops from Lebanon, Hezbollah claimed a major victory and vaulted to the forefront of the Islamist resistance movement against the West.

    Over the next 25 years, Iran’s financial and military support for Hezbollah enabled it to amass an army with tens of thousands of foot soldiers, more heavy armaments than most nation-states and approximately 120,000 rockets and ballistic missiles that could strike Israel and U.S. interests in the region with devastating precision.

    Socialist “hero” Hugo Chavez was also involved in the operation up to his ears:

    In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez was personally working with then-Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hezbollah on drug trafficking and other activities aimed at undermining U.S. influence in the region, according to interviews and documents.

    Within a few years, Venezuelan cocaine exports skyrocketed from 50 tons a year to 250, much of it bound for American cities, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime statistics show.

    And beginning in 2007, DEA agents watched as a commercial jetliner from Venezuela’s state-run Conviasa airline flew from Caracas to Tehran via Damascus, Syria, every week with a cargo-hold full of drugs and cash. They nicknamed it “Aeroterror,” they said, because the return flight often carried weapons and was packed with Hezbollah and Iranian operatives whom the Venezuelan government would provide with fake identities and travel documents on their arrival.

    From there, the operatives spread throughout the subcontinent and set up shop in the many recently opened Iranian consulates, businesses and mosques, former Project Cassandra agents said.

    So what was the result of all this painstaking case-building?

    Senior Obama administration officials appeared to be alarmed by how far Project Cassandra’s investigations had reached into the leadership of Hezbollah and Iran, and wary of the possible political repercussions.

    As a result, task force members claim, Project Cassandra was increasingly viewed as a threat to the administration’s efforts to secure a nuclear deal, and the top-secret prisoner swap that was about to be negotiated.

    Snip.

    In addition, the briefings for top White House and Justice Department officials that had been requested by Holder never materialized, task force agents said. (Holder did not respond to requests for comment.) Also, a top intelligence official blocked the inclusion of Project Cassandra’s memo on the Hezbollah drug threat from being included in Obama’s daily threat briefing, they said. And Kelly, Asher and other agents said they stopped getting invitations to interagency meetings, including those of a top Obama transnational crime working group.

    That may have been because Obama officials dropped Hezbollah from the formal list of groups targeted by a special White House initiative into transnational organized crime, which in turn effectively eliminated DEA’s broad authority to investigate it overseas, task force members said.

    Snip.

    “When it looked like the [nuclear] agreement might actually happen, it became clear that there was no interest in dealing with anything about Iran or Hezbollah on the ground that it may be negative, that it might scare off the Iranians.”

    Hey, what are the lives of some black kids hooked on crack compared to the glory of Obama’s Iran deal?

    Remember the fantasy floated by liberals in the 1980s that the CIA was secretly behind the Central American cocaine trade? Obama actually did that, letting Hezbollah off the hook despite an iron-clad case of narcoterrorism, in order to do the Iran deal.

    This is a long, detailed piece in a mainstream media outlet. Read the whole thing.

    (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)

    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.