The sleight of hand by the swamp – or the deep state, or whatever you want to call the embedded forces that have actually been running the federal government while the American people were lulled into believing that the people they elected wielded the real power – is coming to light.
The whole Russian collusion story was brilliant, and having a special prosecutor appointed was such a stroke of good fortune that it is possible it still might work.
It’s an epic battle that is being fought for the very soul of this country. The swamp has the special prosecutor who is quick, nimble, has an unlimited budget and, it appears, unlimited authority to investigate, bring charges and make deals. He is mainly up against House oversight committees that are large, ponderous, unwieldy and not designed to do this kind of investigation.
The House oversight committees may be moving with glacial speed, but they keep moving forward. This week the House Judiciary Committee interviewed Justice Department attorney Bruce Ohr, who was once the number four man at the Justice Department but has been demoted several times.
It has long been known that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS on the investigation of then candidate Donald Trump for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, who wrote the now infamous Steele dossier about Trump that fired FBI Director Jim Comey called “scurrilous and unverified.” After a year of investigation the report remains unverified. But that didn’t stop the FBI from using the Steele dossier to get Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants approving electronic surveillance of Trump associates.
At the same time that Steele was working for the Hillary Clinton campaign, he was working for the FBI. However, the FBI fired Steele because he leaked information to the media. So the FBI stayed in touch with Steele through Bruce Ohr, who met with Steele and also met with the head of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson.
It wasn’t part of Bruce Ohr’s job at the Justice Department to be involved with the Fusion GPS investigation of Trump, but he evidently provided a handy conduit for the FBI to remain in touch with Steele.
Reportedly in his closed testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Bruce Ohr told a very different story than former FBI attorney Lisa Page, who was FBI agent Peter Strzok’s lover and is now famous in her own right for the thousands of text messages between her and Strzok.
Sometimes the juxtaposition of headlines says more than the headlines themselves. I saw two stories recently, one after another. One said a man in Raleigh had been sentenced to 85 years for raping a child. The other that Paul Manafort was facing over 300 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
The rapist deserves every year he got, but how can Manafort be facing more time than a child rapist for some financial shenanigans that when the FBI investigated him before he worked for Trump decided that the crimes weren’t worth pursuing?
The main reason all of those charges were piled on Manafort was in an attempt to get him to flip and give testimony against Trump. It’s the same tactic special prosecutor Robert Mueller used to get Manafort’s right hand man Rick Gates to serve as the main witness in the Manafort trial.
It’s also the reason Manafort is the first person indicted by Mueller to take the case to court. Most of the others when faced with a vast number of charges and the possibility of huge legal bills have pled guilty to one offense.
The news media are treating the campaign finance violations that they think were committed by Trump as some huge impeachable offense. I haven’t done the research, but I doubt if there has been a presidential campaign in the past 20 years that didn’t have some campaign finance violations.
I say that because local candidates dealing with far less money and less complicated campaigns have them all the time. The campaign finance laws are incredibly confusing, convoluted and nitpicky.
Something gets turned in late, someone makes a donation then forgets and makes another donation that puts them over the limit but the check is from a different account or on one the middle initial is listed and not on the other so it isn’t caught. And then they change the rules or the interpretation of the rules.
But the idea that any money Trump spent during his campaign that would have an effect on his campaign is therefore a campaign expenditure is absurd.
A lot of candidates would like to see the law interpreted like that. They could go out and buy a new Mercedes with campaign money because they bought the car to impress voters and win support. They could go on a two-week vacation to Hawaii on campaign money because they needed to be well rested before they went out on the campaign trial.
Pretty much everything a presidential candidate does during the campaign can be interpreted as affecting the campaign, but for other candidates that hasn’t made all their expenditures campaign expenses.
Even if the courts determine that this was a campaign expenditure, not reporting it for most candidates would result in a fine, not a criminal case.
For it to be a crime, Trump would have had to have known that it was a campaign expenditure, and he can find plenty of attorneys who will argue that it is not and that they would have advised Trump that it was not a campaign finance expense.
Look at it from the other angle. Imagine if Trump had used campaign funds to pay off women who were threatening to go public with their stories? Can you even imagine the uproar if a payment to Stormy Daniels had been on Trump’s campaign finance report?
I don’t know why people are outraged that Alex Jones has been banned from some social media sites. Those sites are privately owned and have no constitutional requirement to post anything for anybody.
It’s the government that is not allowed to infringe on freedom of speech or freedom of the press.
As an editor, I have banned people from the Letters to the Editor page and some from the Beep. As a privately owned publication I was well within my rights. Freedom of the press doesn’t mean that if you own a press you have to print whatever anyone sends you. It means you get to print or not print what you want and the government can’t stop you.
You can be sued if you print something libelous, but I can’t imagine someone winning a lawsuit because a publication didn’t print something that was submitted and claiming that their freedom of speech was violated because someone else wouldn’t pay to publicize what they said. It doesn’t even make sense.
I understand that Hillary Clinton and her supporters are still mad as wet hens about the election of Trump. They had fixed the election, done everything they could do and cannot believe that the fix didn’t hold.
First they had fixed the Democratic primaries and, although it almost came unglued, the party elite held together and Hillary got the nomination over her much more popular opponent.
Then they had everything in place to win in November and evidently miscalculated on how many votes they would need. It doesn’t make sense to have two graveyards vote if you’re going to get enough votes from one.
There is a reason why the Democrats are totally against any kind of voter identification or election reform; those laws make it far more difficult for them to use the resources they have to fix elections.
Voter ID makes it much more difficult for people to vote two, three, 10 times in an election. Without voter ID all you need is a list of registered voters who haven’t voted in 10 years, maybe because their dead, maybe because they moved, maybe because they haven’t felt like voting. All someone has to do is know their name and address.
The only chance of getting caught is if they unfortunately pick the name of the election registrar’s father who she knows is dead or happens to stand in line behind the person who hasn’t voted in 10 years.
In other words, the odds are infinitesimal.
It is admittedly difficult to prove voter fraud. One reason is that nobody is looking for voter fraud and without voter identification how would you prove it.
If I went to three different early voting polling places and voted under three different names, none of them my own, how would anyone catch me? Unless someone saw me at the polls and knew I wasn’t Allen Johnson, how would anyone know?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be a lot of things, like a horrible attorney general, but he’s not dumb. He gave up a safe seat in the Senate to become attorney general and evidently, despite a massive amount of evidence to the contrary, he wants to continue to be attorney general.
What he is counting on is that Trump won’t fire him. Trump, as evidenced by his tweets and statements, would love to fire Sessions and get someone in the attorney general’s position who would work with rather than against his administration.
This idea of the attorney general somehow being independent has been concocted by the mainstream media. How independent was former Attorney General Loretta Lynch? She did exactly what she was told to do by the Obama White House. So did former Attorney General Eric Holder. Look back at President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno, who was not at all qualified for the job, made disastrous decisions and remained attorney general because she did what she was told.
Trump can’t fire Sessions because the Republicans keep telling him that if he fires Sessions they will lose the House in the midterms. Of course, the media are predicting that the Republicans will lose the House anyway. The polls don’t actually indicate that, but the mainstream media, like pretty much everyone else, use the polls when they support their beliefs and ignore them when they don’t.
So Trump can’t fire Sessions until after November. If Sessions is still in office on Nov. 7, it will take a miracle to get him through the day. But, if Sessions decides to retire, it’s not Trump’s fault, which is why Trump has publicly chastised Sessions over and over. Most people whose boss publicly said they were doing a terrible job, would quit. But this is all politics.
Sessions is, to date, Trump’s absolute worst appointment and if Trump could go back and do it over again, no doubt Trump would fire Sessions as soon as Sessions recused himself.
But it’s useful to put the appointment in context. Trump at the time didn’t know what he was up against. He appointed Sally Yates, who hates Trump and everything he stands for, as acting attorney general.
It’s idiocy that is hard to reconcile with Trump, who is not dumb, but he was a babe in the woods in the ways of Washington. He evidently thought that winning the White House was like a corporate takeover, and once you take over all those people work for you and most want to keep their jobs.
He apparently had no idea how hostile the swamp was going to be to him just because he said he was going to drain it.
In fact, even if you ignore the whole Mueller investigation and only look at what Sessions has done as attorney general, you could come up with good reasons to fire him. In Session’s defense, it’s hard to get much done when you spend all day hiding under your desk.
Sessions certainly proves that you have to be careful of what you ask for because you might get it. He was one of Trump’s earliest supporters, and as a reward Trump let him pick his job. No doubt at this point Sessions wishes he stayed in the Senate or asked to be appointed ambassador to France, or maybe the Bahamas.
Speaking of the Steele dossier, I went back and read it again. If that is really worth over a million dollars as an opposition research document, I’m in the wrong business. It is mostly nothing of note and constantly repeats the same statements over and over again.
There is certainly no proof in it that Trump did anything other than, as a businessman and private citizen, visit Russia several times, and some of his so-called foreign policy advisors, like Carter Page, who work in Russia, also went to Russia and were seen talking to Russians.
The fact that this document was used to obtain FISA warrants to spy on American citizens is nothing but an indication that the entire FISA system is utterly and completely corrupt.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as much as admitted that he didn’t read the FISA warrant application that he signed. So what is the point of having a senior Justice Department official sign the document, if it’s not to indicate that they read it and approved it?
If Rosenstein didn’t read it, you have to wonder if anyone in the Justice Department ever read a FISA warrant. Even though Rosenstein may not have realized just how high profile the FISA warrants would be, he must have known that spying on the campaign staff of a presidential candidate had the potential to be extremely high profile and should be handled with the utmost care.
Of course, Rosenstein like everyone in the Justice Department and the FBI was convinced that there was no chance that Trump would ever get elected and wind up being their boss. As long as Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president, why not win some points by spying on her opponent? Why not help buy some insurance for her to make certain that she wouldn’t lose?
Pope Francis may have to resign. First he defended child molesters in Chile. He backed down from that far too late. Now he is accused of ignoring the sanctions placed on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by Pope Benedict and more or less promoting Cardinal McCarrick to a position of influence in the church.
This is actually not a question of what the pope knew and when he knew it, but rather what he should have known and when he should have known it.
Pope Francis cannot simply say he hadn’t heard about the abuses of McCarrick because it’s his job to know, not about the abuses of every single priest, but certainly about those leaders of the church in the College of Cardinals. Plus, Archbishop Carlo Vigano says he personally told Pope Francis about it.
I like some of the things Pope Francis has done. I like the fact that he rides around in a Fiat and that he lives in a relatively simple apartment in the Vatican.
But I don’t like the way he has become involved in politics. He never should have become involved in the American 2016 presidential race, and if he were to remain true to the teachings he espouses, he never would have promoted Hillary Clinton, who is in favor of partial birth abortion, over Trump, who is opposed to abortion.
If Pope Francis really believes in open borders and that the western industrialized nations should take in unlimited refugees from the third world, then Vatican City, which is an independent country ruled by Pope Francis, should be filled with refugees.
At last count, Vatican City contained no refugees. Pope Francis brought a few back to Italy with him, but then got them settled in Rome, not in Vatican City. So he brought back refugees but then deposited them in another country, not his own.
Pope Francis should also tear down the wall that separates Vatican City from Italy. If he truly doesn’t believe in walls, why does he insist on living behind one?
But those mistakes pale in comparison to his repeated support of powerful men in the church hierarchy who abuse children and support others who abuse children.
Pope Francis is human and makes mistakes. Chile was a mistake. Supporting McCarrick is a pattern.
No one has accused Pope Francis himself of behaving inappropriately, but by endorsing and empowering those who have, he might as well. It appears that he is not only guilty of being an accessory after the fact, but also of before and during the fact.
Perhaps Pope Francis can convince the world that McCarrick is just another case of poor judgment. But to convince the world of that, he is going to have to clean house. That doesn’t mean sending a couple of the worst offenders to monasteries where they can live out their lives in relative luxury. It means turning them and the evidence against them over to the legal establishment wherever they are and letting these men spend what little time they have left in prison. (It would be little time because prisons are not kind to child abusers. Accidents often happen to child abusers in prison. Weights fall on them, they accidentally stab themselves 45 times in the shower and the like.)
One thing we now know that we didn’t earlier is that child abusers are never cured. If given the opportunity they will do it again and again. Prison removes that opportunity and it is where they belong.
It hasn’t gotten a lot of press, but China is suffering because of Trump’s trade policy that placed tariffs on items imported from China. It is being reported that consumer confidence is way down. The middle class has stopped buying cars, stopped going out to eat and generally cut all the expenses they can while waiting to see what happens.
By contrast, the tariffs have had an effect on some industries in the US. Farmers are taking a hit as are some companies like Harley Davidson, but it has not had an overall effect on the US economy and consumer confidence is reportedly as high as it has ever been. The American middle class has not pulled back or stopped spending money. The stock market is hitting record highs.
Of course, in the US the middle class has a lot of clout and in China not so much. The Chinese government may not care what’s going on with the middle class, but if it wants its economy to flourish, it cannot ignore the growing middle class.
So it appears that, as Trump predicted, the tariffs have hurt China much worse than they have hurt the US. The question is, how much pain is China willing to put up with and how can Trump negotiate this so that the trade balance between the US and China is restored and China is able to save face.
The European Union caved in a matter of days.
President Barack Obama’s own economic advisers said that Obama didn’t understand economics at all. That would make sense. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Obama never had a full time job in the private sector. He taught part time, worked for a law firm part time and was elected to the Illinois state Senate, which is a part-time job. Where was he supposed to learn about economics?
Trump by contrast has made billions of dollars working in the private sector and in international deals. Part of the whole Russian collusion accusation is that private citizen Trump made trips to Russia in an attempt to do business there. It’s amazing that a businessman trying to expand his business into Russia is therefore accused of colluding with the Russians to fix an election.
Congress created the federal court system. The only court established in the Constitution is the Supreme Court.
Time and time again federal judges are deciding to create laws rather than enforce the laws created by Congress and they are overruling the elected president of the United States.
The system has gotten entirely out of hand. Judges appointed for life are not supposed to be running the country. The people elect representatives, senators and a president to do that.
There should be a bipartisan effort to rein in the judiciary. The Republicans should be in favor of it because of what federal judges appointed by Obama have done and the Democrats should be in favor realizing what the conservative judges appointed by Trump are likely to do.
The truth is that judges need to go back to being judges and Congress has the ability to force them to do it. Congress could abolish all the federal courts in the country except the Supreme Court and start over. The federal circuit court districts are way out of whack based on population and Congress could start there.
It would be a great bipartisan project and the country is in desperate need of judicial reform.
Last week the lights in Dodger Stadium went out during a game for the second time this year. The cause was a disruption in the power supply.
Trends good and bad seem to start in California and move east. We have serious electrical power supply issues in this country, which are not very sexy, not environmentally correct and don’t get much play in the mainstream media.
The country already had problems and then the Obama administration decided to close down a bunch of coal fired power plants. The left cheered because they believe coal is evil, but coal is a steady, reliable source of electrical power. Unfortunately for consumers, the coal plants weren’t replaced with other forms of reliable electrical production. Mainly it created more stress on the already stressed electrical grid.
For the most part it hasn’t hit the home consumer yet, but some large users of electricity, meaning industry, have been told they have to cut back.
What about solar and wind? Aren’t those forms of electrical production supposed to pick up the slack? In theory, yes. But solar only produces electricity when the sun is shining.
In California the solar plants coming on and off line has nearly brought the whole grid down at times.
California sells some of the excess production caused when solar is operating at full capacity while some is discarded.
Wind operates at peak capacity in a relatively narrow band of wind speeds, which also makes it unreliable.
Solar and wind are fine as supplemental sources of electrical production, but the utility still needs to be able to replace that power with coal, oil, gas, nuclear or hydroelectric – some source that is reliable and works day and night and regardless of the weather.
The District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro this week ruled that the congressional districts drawn for the 2016 election and approved need to be redrawn because they were drawn along partisan lines. This is despite the fact that the courts have recognized that the majority party drawing districts for its benefit is legal.
Here is a suggestion that will save the state, the federal government and a the organizations like the League of Women Voters and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice a pile of money: When a challenge to Republican-drawn districts is made by Democratic institutions, there is no need for a court hearing, legal briefs or any of that; the Middle District is always going to find in favor of the Democrats so it should automatically be approved and passed up to the Fourth Circuit.
This would reduce the time and expense spent on these challenges. All the Middle District federal court needs to know to determine who is right is that it is Democrats challenging a Republican decision.
Why go through all of that expensive legal rigmarole? No one in the court is paying any attention to the actual legality of the challenge or the precedence; the decision is based on the political parties of those involved.
In fact, why not send it directly to the Supreme Court? That’s where it’s going to end up anyway, at least until some of the Obama appointees retire and are replaced by some Trump appointees.
The Daily Caller is reporting that a company associated with the Chinese government hacked into Hillary Clinton’s homebrew email server and sent itself copies in real time of all of her emails.
In one way this isn’t really news. Hillary Clinton was using an unprotected server when she was secretary of state for both classified and unclassified documents.
The idea that the US secretary of state could be using an unprotected server for her regular email traffic and it not be hacked by a foreign government is ridiculous. It’s like putting the information on a billboard and claiming that nobody read it.
Foreign governments are constantly attempting to hack into the US government systems, which are heavily protected. Hillary Clinton was giving them a gift by using an unprotected server.
What is surprising is that the evidence of that hack was discovered.
What will be even more interesting is to see what the mainstream media do with this information.
We now know that the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a homebrew email server was rigged. The decision was made long before the investigation was complete that Hillary Clinton would be exonerated.
Hillary Clinton turned over about 30,000 emails to the FBI and destroyed what she said was about 33,000 emails about her mother’s funeral, her daughter’s wedding and yoga. It has already been determined that some of those 33,000 were about State Department business. Destroying government property is supposed to be a crime, but the FBI doesn’t see it that way if the destroyer is Hillary Clinton.
Also, we now know that when an additional 394,000 Hillary Clinton emails were discovered on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, which, when he wasn’t sending obscene materials to a 15-year-old girl, he shared with his wife, Hillary Clinton’s long time top aide and companion, Huma Abedin, the FBI wasn’t interested.
In fact, FBI agent Strzok, who was in charge of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, couldn’t even be bothered to obtain a search warrant to look at the new trove of emails for a month after he was told of their existence. What pushed Strzok to finally get a warrant was the fact that the US Justice Department in New York was threatening to go public with the discovery of the emails about a month before the 2016 election.
Strzok and his team then spent one night looking through the estimated 394,000 emails and determined that there was nothing new – an amazing piece of work for a couple of FBI agents.
Strzok may be extremely partisan and dishonest but he isn’t stupid. He narrowly defined the emails that could be looked at in the search warrant so that the ones that had the potential to be most damning were not covered. There appears to be no rational basis for narrowly defining the emails to be searched other than to protect Hillary Clinton, who Strzok infamously texted should win the election 100 million to zero.