Whom or what is he for and against?
Whom, in his own mind, does he serve? To what end?
Bizpac Review reports:
Rep. Trey Gowdy [R-SC] questioned FBI Director James Comey Monday [March 20, 2017] during a House Intelligence Committee hearing about leaks of classified information to the media.
In reference to the taped call between Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador, the South Carolina lawmaker grilled Comey about who can “unmask” a U.S. citizen when collecting intelligence.
Gowdy would later point out that making a person’s identity publicly known when protected by law is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He asked how many people are able to unmask a person and what other agencies have the authority to do so — besides the FBI, Comey named the NSA, CIA and the Justice Department.
He also said the White House can request the agency collecting the intelligence to unmask a person, but said they can’t do it on their own.
Gowdy named a number of people from the Obama administration, to include former national security adviser Susan Rice, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, all of whom Comey confirmed would likely have had access to the name of an unmasked U.S. citizen.
He asked Comey if he briefed former President Barack Obama on any calls involving Flynn, but the director would not comment on his conversations with Obama.
Gowdy proceeded with the precision of a surgeon in discussing “nefarious motives” for leaking Flynn’s name, none of which reflected well on the last administration.
Regardless, Comey would not confirm whether an investigation into who unmasked Flynn is underway, although he confirmed earlier the bureau is investigating Trump campaign ties to Russia.
So he was happy to confirm that the FBI is investigating “Trump campaign ties to Russia” – which have not been found, though the investigation has been going on since July 2016. By doing so he is thickening the cloud of suspicion that the Democratic Party has created in its efforts to destroy the Trump presidency.
But he would not say whether an investigation is underway into the only known felony that has certainly been committed in connection with this evil Leftist conspiracy – the betrayal of the American citizen Michael Flynn to the Democratic Party’s toady press; the “betrayal” being a report of a perfectly legitimate conversation between Flynn as a member of the Trump campaign when Donald Trump was president-in-waiting and a diplomat with whom he had official business. The crime was the leaking of the intercepted conversation to the New York Times and the Washington Post. It needs to be investigated, the leaker needs to be arrested and tried – but that is something that the head of the FBI does not feel he can talk about to the people’s representatives in a Congressional hearing.
So there is a long ongoing investigation into alleged nefarious activity where not a trace of evidence for any wrong-doing has been found in eight months, and the head of the FBI can announce that fact to all the world. But he cannot say whether or not his bureau of investigation is looking into a serious crime, known to have taken place, that affects the democratic processes on which the government of the country depends?
Why? Why is the great detective openly chasing after a shadow while apparently ignoring a crime?
And why has President Trump kept this man Comey in his job?
President Trump has beautifully, elegantly, brilliantly finessed his enemies.
By taking the New York Times at its word that his communications were intercepted last year, Trump has forced the NYT either to take responsibility for exposing Obama’s scandalous activity, or to say that it was lying.
According to Andrew McCarthy (see our post immediately below, Now, President Trump, hit back), the Obama administration sought and eventually obtained FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) authorization to conduct the wire-tapping.
For what purposes can such FISA authorization be obtained? And by whom?
The President may authorize, through the Attorney General, electronic surveillance without a court order for the period of one year, provided that it is only to acquire foreign intelligence information, that it is solely directed at communications or property controlled exclusively by foreign powers, that there is no substantial likelihood that it will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party, and that it be conducted only in accordance with defined minimization procedures.
The code defines “foreign intelligence information” to mean information necessary to protect the United States against actual or potential grave attack, sabotage or international terrorism.
“Foreign powers” means a foreign government, any faction of a foreign nation not substantially composed of U.S. persons, and any entity directed or controlled by a foreign government. The definition also includes groups engaged in international terrorism and foreign political organizations. The sections of FISA authorizing electronic surveillance and physical searches without a court order specifically exclude their application to groups engaged in international terrorism.
A “U.S. person” includes citizens, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, and corporations incorporated in the United States.
“Minimization procedures” is defined to mean procedures that minimize the acquisition of information concerning United States persons, allow the retention of information that is evidence of a crime, and require a court order be obtained in order to retain communication involving a United States person for longer than 72 hours.
The Attorney General is required to make a certification of these conditions under seal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and report on their compliance to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Under the FISA act, anyone who engages in electronic surveillance except as authorized by statute is subject to both criminal penalties and civil liabilities.
So if the New York Times was correct, President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, authorized electronic surveillance of communication devices in Donald Trump’s offices, on the grounds that her Department of Justice had provable grounds for suspicion that Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for the presidency, was one side of a conspiracy to mount “grave attack, sabotage, or international terrorism” against the United States – even though there was “substantial likelihood” that by doing so she would “acquire the contents of … communication(s) to which a United States person” – Donald Trump personally or an associate of his – was a party”.
If that’s what she did, she broke the law.
If she gathered any information from FISA-authorized wire-tapping, and retained it for more than an allowed 72 hours, or disseminated it to persons who illegally leaked it to the media, she broke the law.
If any of this happened, then there was a deep-laid plot by the Obama administration to destroy Donald Trump’s reputation and wreck his presidency should he be elected.
But then again, maybe the wire-tapping never happened, in which case the New York Times was lying – not at all an implausible probability.
Matthew Vadum writes at Front Page:
President Donald Trump caused a media firestorm by claiming over the weekend that then-President Obama wire-tapped telephones at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the final leg of last year’s election campaign.
Seeing the writing on the wall, tainted FBI Director James Comey promptly and publicly urged the Department of Justice to reject Trump’s claims. Although it is an attempt at a cover-up, it is an admirably transparent one.
Now the outlines of a Watergate-like conspiracy are emerging in which a sitting Democrat president apparently used the apparatus of the state to spy on a Republican presidential candidate. Watergate differed in that President Nixon didn’t get involved in the plot against the Democratic National Committee until later as an accomplice after the fact. Here Obama likely masterminded, or oversaw someone like the diabolical Benghazi cover-up artist Ben Rhodes, masterminding the whole thing.
Throughout his agonizingly long presidency, Obama serially abused his powers as the nation’s Chief Executive to undermine his political opponents. It might be said that every day of his presidency he committed at least one impeachable offense.
Obama used the IRS to target conservative and Tea Party nonprofits, along with Catholic, Jewish, and pro-Israel organizations. He brazenly lied about it, too. His Justice Department surreptitiously obtained telephone records for more than 100 reporters. … Books have been written about his corruption and many more such volumes will follow. …
A spokesman for Obama, who now lives in former Bill Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart’s walled mansion with Valerie Jarrett on Washington’s Embassy Row so he can pursue his unprecedented, taxpayer-subsidized post-presidential war against Trump, denied Obama ordered that Trump Tower be wiretapped.
“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” according to a carefully-worded statement. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
Of course, as others quickly pointed out, the denial is misdirection.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote yesterday that the denial “seems disingenuous on several levels”. When a warrant is obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), “it is technically the FISA court that ‘orders’ surveillance”. Moreover, under the law, “it is the Justice Department, not the White House, that represents the government in proceedings before the FISA court”.
McCarthy wrote presciently on Jan. 11: “The idea that FISA could be used against political enemies always seemed far-fetched. Now it might not be.”
Besides, Obama and his gang have generally been smart enough to hide their tracks when carrying out political dirty tricks. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, and NSA, aren’t headquartered in the White House. Obama could wage war against Trump by creating multiple layers of plausible deniability. That’s what a community organizer from Chicago does.
Predictably, former Obama speechwriter [Ben] Rhodes went on Twitter to lie. Replying to a Trump tweet, the Iranian mullahs’ best friend wrote, cheekily, that, “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.” …
Most mainstream journalists were loath over the past eight years to call the exhaustively documented and at times bald-faced lies and misdeeds of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, and HHS Secretary Sebelius. It would seem uncovering government corruption is only a journalist’s duty when a Republican resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. …
Let’s recount what former British Member of Parliament Louise Mensch reported at Heat Street on Nov. 7, the day before the U.S. election.
Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.
Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.
The FBI agents who talked to the New York Times, and rubbished the ground-breaking stories of Slate (Franklin Foer) and Mother Jones (David Corn) may not have known about the FISA warrant, sources say, because the counter-intelligence and criminal sides of the FBI often work independently of each other employing the principle of ‘compartmentalization’.
… We already knew that days before Trump’s inauguration, it was reported that Obama green-lighted a disturbing relaxation of the rules regulating the National Security Agency’s ability to circulate globally intercepted personal communications among the other 16 intelligence agencies, some of which are more politicized than the NSA, before applying important longstanding privacy-protection protocols. Before the policy was altered, the NSA [had] screened out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information before passing intercepted communications along to other agencies like the CIA or the FBI’s intelligence units.
Put another way, 17 days before President Trump was sworn in, NSA was unleashed against his embryonic administration, newly empowered to share raw intelligence gathered from telephone calls and emails that go through network switches outside the country, as well as messages between people outside the U.S. that go through domestic network switches.
WikiLeaks offered a refresher course in Obama’s treachery on Twitter Sunday, noting that “Obama has a history of tapping & hacking his friends and rivals”, and providing plenty of examples. …
And despite the growing mass media hysteria, there is still no publicly available evidence the Trump campaign somehow colluded with the Russian government last year. Sources in newspaper articles are never identified.
There is not a scintilla of proof of improper conduct.
All we have is the alleged say-so of faceless CIA spooks whose motives are questionable, to put it charitably.
Tom Shattuck writes at the Boston Herald:
In what has already been a historically bad year for Democrats, it just may be that they’re about to lose again to Donald Trump, this time in a high-stakes game of Russian roulette.
The Dems’ Putin smear was supposed to paint President Trump as a friend of the tyrant and beneficiary of Russian meddling in the election. Instead, it is the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party, former President Barack Obama, who may take the fall.
Snooping on a presidential candidate is serious business.
The Democrats want you to think this is a crazy conspiracy theory for an unhinged tweeting president.
But Obama has a rich legacy of using the federal government as a political weapon and it would be foolish to think he suddenly started restraining himself, when he was never held to account by either the media or Democrats in power.
Remember, Obama’s Justice Department secretly subpoenaed the private phone records of Associated Press editors and reporters. It was pure spying.
Fox News reporter James Rosen and his family were wiretapped.
Former CBS news reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was hacked by the government.
Add to these incidents the harassment of conservative organizations by Obama’s IRS, and the mercenary nature of the Obama administration reveals itself.
We’re told Obama administration officials went to the FISA Court twice last year for warrants to conduct electronic surveillance on candidate Trump. Why?
The DNC leaks show that DNC staffers were formulating “Russia” attacks on Trump as far back as last April, with one email between two committee members reading “the pro-Russia stuff ties in pretty well to idea that Trump is too friendly with Putin/weak on Russia”.
Then there is the infamous “dossier” — anonymous reports that Trump campaign members were speaking to Russian officials with some frequency last year and the existence of wiretapped audio. …
The left wants to play the Russia game and President Trump should oblige.
There should be an immediate investigation, and we’ll see where the espionage trail leads.
President Trump has requested the congressional intelligence committees “to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016”.
Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch would be foolish not to be afraid.
The Left was able to make its “long march through the institutions” and finally achieve supreme power as the bureaucratic dictatorship of the European Union and the administration of Barack Obama in the United States, because the conservative Right let it.
The Left fights low and dirty. Conservative politicians, almost without exception, will not “descend to their level”. Conservatives and Republicans fight like gentlemen (and that includes the women except for Margaret the Great of England); which means to fight cleanly, respectfully, obeying the rules – of etiquette! The result was, the thugs on the Left won power.
Then Donald Trump barged on to the political stage.
Donald Trump wants to win, win he does, and win he shall.
But even now, one of his own chosen team, newly-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has let him down with etiquette! So of course President Trump is furious with Sessions for surrendering to the enemy, who is fighting lower and dirtier than ever.
Andrew McCarthy explains, writing at the National Review:
So, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. Great! Just one question: From what? Yes, yes, Sessions is a good and decent man. He is a scrupulous lawyer who cares about his reputation. Thus, in stark contrast to Obama administration attorneys general, he strictly applied — I’d say he hyper-applied — the ethical standard that calls on a lawyer to recuse himself from a matter in which his participation as counsel would create the mere appearance of impropriety.
The standard is eminently sensible because the legitimacy of our judicial system depends not only on its actually being on the up and up but on its being perceived as such. If it looks like you’re conflicted, you step aside, period. Simple, right? Well . . . Much as I admire our AG’s virtue (and you know I do), let’s pause the preen parade for just a moment. There’s a tiny word in that just-described ethical standard that we need to take note of: matter. A lawyer doesn’t just recuse himself. He recuses himself from a legal matter — from participation in a case. When we are talking about the criminal law, that means recusal from a prospective prosecution. You need a crime for that. Prosecutors do not recuse themselves from fishing expeditions or partisan narratives. So . . . what is the crime?
We need to ask this question because, rest assured, this does not end with Jeff Sessions. No more than it ended with Mike Flynn. No more than it would end if the media-Democrat complex were to obtain the much coveted scalp of Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Seb Gorka, or one of the other Beltway gate-crashers we’ve come to know over the last six improbable months. The objective is President Trump: preferably, his impeachment and removal; but second prize, his mortal political wounding by a thousand cuts just in time for 2018 and 2020, would surely do. …
Impeachment cases do not just spontaneously appear. They have to be built over time, and with vigor, because most Americans — even those who oppose a president politically — do not want the wrenching divisiveness and national instability that impeachment unavoidably entails. The reluctant public must be convinced that there is urgency, that the [targeted] president’s demonstrated unfitness has created a crisis that must be dealt with. …
In the matter of Barack Obama, the GOP had an actual case based on systematic executive overreach and the empowering of America’s enemies, the kind of threat to the constitutional framework that induced Madison to regard the impeachment remedy as “indispensable”. Yet agitating for upheaval is against the Republican character (a generally good trait, though paralyzing in an actual crisis). …
Republicans had no stomach for mentioning impeachment, much less building a case. Democrats, by contrast, have an iron-cast stomach and an unseemly zeal for upheaval. They’re ready to build. All they lack is a case. No problem: They have made one up, and they are confident not only that they will build it into a national crisis of confidence in the presidency but that the Republicans will help them.
And lo and behold, Republicans are helping them. Unwittingly perhaps, but helping all the same.
Let’s try to keep our eye on the ball here. The “Russia hacked the election” narrative is laughably false. Russian intelligence, at most, hacked e-mail accounts of prominent Democrats during the campaign. That is not hacking the election, which would require manipulating the voting process. And it almost certainly had zero impact on the outcome of the election. Remember, these are the same Democrats who spent nearly two years telling you that Hillary Clinton’s own scandalous e-mails made no difference — she was going to glide to victory. Do they really expect you to believe she lost because of John Podesta’s comparatively benign e-mails? (Thought experiment: Outside us political wonks, what percentage of the American electorate actually knows who the hell John Podesta is?)
Let’s look hard at the farcical “Russia hacked the election” narrative and ask: Have any crimes been committed, and by whom? Yes, we know that crimes of hacking were committed. Again, this was not hacking of the election; it was hacking of Democrats, during the campaign, months before the election. Not only do we know there were hacking crimes; government investigators tell us they know exactly who did it: Russian intelligence services. That was what the FBI pronounced in the largely content-free report it released jointly with the CIA and NSA. Thus, the only apparent crimes have already been solved.
Not so fast,” you’re thinking, “what about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians?” And why wouldn’t you ask that? After all, the media and Democrats have been hammering “Russia hacked the election” non-stop for three months; Mike Flynn has been ousted from his perch as national security adviser after meeting with a Russian ambassador; and now we have Jeff Sessions, after meeting with the very same Russian ambassador, recusing himself from . . . er . . . well . . . um . . . something, I guess. But what something? Is there any fire under all that smoke?
Start with this: There is no evidence — none, not a speck, not even a little one — that Donald Trump or anyone associated with him had anything whatsoever to do with the hacking of Democratic accounts. Remember, that’s the only crime here. And the Trump campaign had utterly nothing to do with it. We know this for two reasons.
First, in its ballyhooed report, the FBI told us not only that the Russians are the culprits but also that the Democrats were not the only targets. Putin’s regime, we are told, targeted both major parties. This was a Russian-government effort to compromise the American government, no matter which candidate ended up running it. It should come as no surprise, then, that the FBI made no allegation that Trump and his associates were complicit.
Second, it’s not like the FBI and the Obama Justice Department didn’t try to make a case against Trump. In fact, they scorched the earth. Besides the illegal leaks of classified information that have fueled the “Russia hacked the election” scam, this is the most outrageous and studiously unmentioned scandal of the election. While the commentariat was rending its garments over the mere prospect that Trump might have his political adversary, Hillary Clinton, investigated if he won the election, Obama was actually having Trump investigated.
To rehearse briefly, in the weeks prior to June 2016, the FBI did a preliminary investigation, apparently based on concerns about a server at Trump Tower that allegedly had some connection to Russian financial institutions. Even if there were such a connection, it is not a crime to do business with Russian banks — lots of Americans do. It should come as no surprise, then, that the FBI found no impropriety and did not proceed with a criminal investigation.
What is surprising, though, is that the case was not closed down. Instead, the Obama Justice Department decided to pursue the matter as a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
In June, it sought the FISA court’s permission to conduct surveillance on a number of Trump associates — and perhaps even Trump himself. It has been reported that Trump was “named” in the application, but it is not publicly known whether he (a) was named as a proposed wiretap target, or (b) was just mentioned in passing in the application. Understand the significance of this: Only the Justice Department litigates before the FISA court; this was not some rogue investigators; this was a high level of Obama’s Justice Department — the same institution that, at that very moment, was whitewashing the Clinton e-mail scandal. And when Justice seeks FISA surveillance authority, it is essentially telling that court that there is probable cause to believe that the targets have acted as agents of a foreign power — that’s the only basis for getting a FISA warrant. In this instance, the FISA court apparently found the Obama Justice Department’s presentation to be so weak that it refused to authorize the surveillance. That is telling, because the FISA court is generally very accommodating of government surveillance requests.
Unwilling to take no for an answer, the Obama Justice Department came back to the FISA court in October — i.e., in the stretch run of the presidential campaign. According to various reports (and mind you, FISA applications are classified, so the leaks are illegal), the October application was much narrower than the earlier one and did not mention Donald Trump. The FISA Court granted this application, and for all we know the investigation is continuing. There are two significant takeaways from this.
First, a FISA national-security investigation is not a criminal investigation. It is not a probe to uncover criminal activity; it is a classified effort to discover what a potentially hostile foreign government may be up to on American soil. It does not get an assigned prosecutor because the purpose is not to prove anything publicly in court — indeed, it is a major no-no for the Justice Department to use its FISA authority pretextually, for the real purpose of trying to build a criminal investigation.
Second, remember when the New York Times gleefully reported in mid January that three Trump associates — Paul Manafort (who was ousted as campaign manager in August), Manafort’s associate Roger Stone, and Trump’s investor friend Carter Page — were being investigated over alleged ties to Russia? Well, deep into the report, after all the heavy breathing about potential Trump–Russia ties, the Times report conceded that this investigation may very well have nothing to do with Trump, the presidential campaign, or Russian hacking. …
Bottom line: The Obama Justice Department and the FBI spent at least eight months searching for Trump–Russia ties. They found nothing criminal, and clearly nothing connecting Trump to Russian hacking. …
Where’s the crime?
And what else is propping up the “Russia hacked the election” narrative? First there is General Flynn. He had a conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, during which Kislyak raised the subject of sanctions imposed earlier that day by Obama. But there was nothing illegal or improper about this conversation: Flynn was part of the Trump transition and about to become national security adviser, so he was supposed to be reaching out to foreign governments. And, as the New York Times acknowledged, though the FBI has a recording of the conversation (because the Russian ambassador was under surveillance), and though the Bureau, the Obama Justice Department, and what the Times gingerly called Obama’s “advisers” carefully combed over every word of it, Flynn made no commitments to address the Russian concerns — the Times: “Obama officials asked the FBI if a quid pro quo had been discussed on the call, and the answer came back no.” That is the main point. Flynn was not fired for speaking with the Russian ambassador. He was fired for failing to provide a competent summary of their conversation to senior Trump officials. Again: no crime, nothing to do with hacking, and nothing to do with the election.
And now, finally, we have Jeff Sessions. He, too, met with the Russian ambassador. But so, it appears, has most of Washington — including Democratic Washington and, in particular, the Obama White House, which Ambassador Sergey Kislyak evidently visited at least 22 times. Ironically, the overblown controversy surrounding Sessions this week was caused primarily by his haste to deny, forcefully, that he had any participation, as a Trump campaign surrogate, in communications with the Russian government regarding the 2016 election. This was the upshot of his response to a loaded question from Democratic senator Al Franken, who was relying on salacious allegations in a goofy and discredited dossier compiled for Trump opponents. Several media outlets had had access to the dossier for months but had not published it, despite their loathing of Trump, because its outlandish claims could not be substantiated.
In any event, Sessions, like Flynn, made the error of mis-describing his contacts with the Russian ambassador. That is unfortunate, but there was nothing remotely criminal or inappropriate about the contacts themselves.
To summarize, there is no crime here except the ones committed by Russian intelligence. There is no evidence that Trump or his associates had any complicity in those hacking crimes.
When all of the smoke is cleared away, the Democrats’ beef is that Trump may have benefited from Russia’s crimes. In reality, it is highly unlikely that the Russian hacking of Democratic e-mails had any effect on the outcome of the election. Even if we indulge the fantasy that it did, however, here’s the sad news the media won’t tell you: It is not a crime to benefit from other people’s crimes. No one should know this better than Democrats. They could not have been more thrilled when, during the late stages of the campaign, someone — perhaps not the Russians — illegally leaked some of Trump’s tax-return information. Had Mrs. Clinton won, no one would have said Trump was denied because of Clinton-campaign ties to tax outlaws. Nor would Trump have been heard to complain about Clinton-campaign ties to NBC, which leaked the infamous Trump–Billy Bush tape. Washington would have yawned, and then snickered that Republicans lost because they nominated a lousy candidate. Instead, Democrats lost because they nominated a lousy candidate. To end where we started, what is the crime? What is the crime Sessions must be recused from investigating?
What is the crime that a special counsel must be appointed to probe? There isn’t one. There’s nothing. But as the Democrats are showing, when your opposition is running scared, you can go a long way on nothing.
But President Trump is not “running scared”.
Remember this part of Andrew McCarthy’s article?:
The Obama Justice Department decided to pursue the matter as a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In June, it sought the FISA court’s permission to conduct surveillance on a number of Trump associates — and perhaps even Trump himself. … Understand the significance of this: Only the Justice Department litigates before the FISA court; this was not some rogue investigators; this was a high level of Obama’s Justice Department … When Justice seeks FISA surveillance authority, it is essentially telling that court that there is probable cause to believe that the targets have acted as agents of a foreign power — that’s the only basis for getting a FISA warrant. In this instance, the FISA court apparently found the Obama Justice Department’s presentation to be so weak that it refused to authorize the surveillance. … Unwilling to take no for an answer, the Obama Justice Department came back to the FISA court in October — i.e., in the stretch run of the presidential campaign. According to various reports (and mind you, FISA applications are classified, so the leaks are illegal), the October application was much narrower than the earlier one and did not mention Donald Trump. The FISA Court granted this application.
It gives President Trump mighty cause for complaint. And complaining he is.
Fox News reports:
President Trump tweeted:
How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergage. Bad (or sick) guy!
The White House has called for the US Congress to investigate President Donald Trump’s claim Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower to be “wiretapped” during the US election.
Former President Obama on Saturday denied President Trump’s accusation that Obama had Trump Tower phones tapped in the weeks before the November 2016 election.
No surprise there. Of course Obama denies it. But this time, at last, he may be caught out in a lie that even his toady media will not be able to cover up.
“Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false,” said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president … A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice.”
Oh, a “cardinal rule”! Really? And what is any sort of rule to the Left? A thing to be broken.
And the wire-tapping is a scandal that is not merely to be complained about.
These quotations come from various articles at PowerLine:
This is the most explosive political allegation in many years, far more explosive than Watergate.
If the Obama administration abused the FISA process to wiretap a political opponent, it is a scandal of the first order – the worst political scandal of my lifetime, easily. And the press has known about it and covered it up? Unbelievable.
All too believable, we would say – though we agree it is a scandal of the first order.
There is no doubt that Obama’s Justice Department – the most corrupt and politicized Department of Justice in modern American history – obtained a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump associates, and possibly Trump himself, in the heat of the presidential campaign.
It is too late to impeach Obama, but the FISA application should be carefully reviewed, and if appropriate, the judges who issued the warrant should be investigated. If it was issued on partisan grounds, it is not too late to impeach the judges who authorized the improper wiretap.
This scandal cries out for aggressive investigation. Let’s see the initial FISA application, and the court order denying it. Then let’s see the second application, and the order that approved it. Let’s put the Obama administration officials who signed the applications under oath, and find out who put them up to it. Let’s find out what judges denied the first application, and what judges granted the second one. Let’s get the details on the Obama administration’s spying. Did they tap the Trump campaign’s telephones? If so, which lines? Did they hack into the Trump campaign’s servers? If so, which ones?
Obviously, as President Trump said, the Obama administration learned nothing of significance from its spying on the Trump campaign. But it now appears that the election of 2016 may have been hacked after all, in a far more meaningful way than an intrusion into [DNC chair] Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s email account. It may have been hacked by the Obama administration. We need to find out what happened. Congress should give top priority to this investigation.
TRUMP NEEDS TO APPOINT A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO INVESTIGATE. THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS CHARGE. [Capitals in the original]
The opportunity has come for Donald Trump to hit back at the slime-besmirched Obama gang.
Let him hit hard!
Why was the corrupt and undemocratic European Union (EU) brought into existence?
The Germans wanted to dissolve their guilt – for starting two world wars and perpetrating the Holocaust – in the sea of a European superstate. Which they knew they could dominate through their economic strength.
The French wanted to be part of an entity that was more populous, more prosperous, and more powerful than the United States of America, even though it meant sharing power.
The ambitious politicians of Western Europe wanted a bigger stage to strut on. As well as a perpetual ride on a gravy train.
Eastern European nations had a more respectable motive for joining the EU after the collapse of the Soviet Union, under whose heel they had suffered for some 40 years: they saw the EU as a shelter from renewed Russian imperial ambition. Some of them – notably Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – are now defying dictatorship from Brussels, the EU capital, by refusing to admit unlimited numbers of Muslim “refugees”.
The annual budget of the EU is about 145 billion euros ($153 billion US dollars). By its own accounting, 4.7% of the budget is lost in fraud and corruption. That is some 6.97 billion Euros.*
It employs 33,000 people.
There are 28 member states and 24 official languages. Every document has to be put out in all 24 languages.
The EU leaders see their supra-national, “post-nationalist” union as a model for world government.
The Council of the European Union governs by decree. The European Parliament consists of elected members but they do not have the power to legislate. They can approve or reject a legislative proposal, or propose amendments. In other words they give advice, but the Council is not legally obliged to take it. It is treated as mere opinion. For appearance sake, and as a result of case-law decisions by the EU Court of Justice, the Council must receive that opinion before it can act on its own decision. This is pure gesturism. The ritual salutes democracy without adopting it.
In sum, the EU is a political and economic monstrosity. It cannot and will not endure.
Elections this year in the Netherlands may well bring Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom into power. If so, there could be a referendum on whether the country should leave the EU (though legislation would be necessary to make this possible), and a majority vote in favor.
Nationalist movements in France and Italy may also bring those countries to leave the EU.
All of which threatens the continued existence of the rotten, superfluous, and positively harmful European Union.
From Gatestone, by Timon Dias:
At its core, what is the EU? And why, despite its vast resources, does it seem perpetually unable to make sense of the world and meet its objectives? …
First, there’s the EU’s primary internal contradiction: EU federalism is an ideology that propagates post-ideologism; a culturally amorphous post-ideological world. … It is acting as if the world has already arrived at this so badly coveted post-cultural/ideological end station.
This is why the EU’s foreign minister is convinced political Islam should be part of the solution for Europe’s bicultural malaise. It is why for almost a decade now, the EU is maintaining it is reasonable to expect a German fiscal discipline from Greece ― a country in which tax evasion has been a central pillar of its culture ever since it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire some 600 years ago. It is why the EU fails to grasp the fact it’s deepening the migration crisis by acting as a ferry service for human traffickers. It is why the EU refuses to acknowledge an inherently expansionist religion like Islam views Europe’s open borders as an invitation to conquest. And it is why it was caught off guard by the mass rapes in Cologne etc. …
In short, the EU is treating the world as if it’s already an earthly EUtopia in which everything can be solved through dialogue and the right subsidies. And that’s why it will keep on chasing facts until its imminent demise.
But there’s something even more fundamental obstructing the EU’s ability to solve crises.
The EU is artificial and unnecessary.
What is the EU? The EU is a government looking for people to govern. It didn’t evolve organically from a community’s desire to be governed.
It was an elitist ideological hobby project ― one that European Commission first Vice-President Frans Timmermans a few weeks ago referred to as:
Arguably the most successful peace project in human history.
This, however, is a deception. A deception so pervasive, it has become the most pivotal element of the Eurocrats’ belief system. But the EU is no peace project. It neither caused nor consolidated peace.
True peace is being able to hurt one another, but simply not wanting to. In 1945, after centuries of conflict, European nation states finally reached this status. Subsequently, the European Economic Community (EEC) consolidated this peace in 1958 by entangling the French and German economies.
The EU came afterwards, without there ever being an actual need for it ― the continent was peaceful and that peace was consolidated. …
So, if the EU neither caused nor consolidated peace, what is the EU’s fundamental raison d’être? The simple answer is: it has none.
There is nothing fundamentally positive about Europe, that could not exist without the EU.
This is no trivial matter.
Because the EU is a highly artificial and non-organic governing body, one without a fundamental raison d’être, the EU’s priority objective, at all times, is self-preservation. Even when this means not solving problems at all.
The euro and migration crises serve as prime examples. The EU is not only not solving the euro crisis, it’s prolonging it by insisting fiscally dysfunctional member states remain member states, simply because their ejection from the EU would endanger and obscure the EU itself.
The same is true for the migration crisis. It’s not hard to solve. To simply stop being a ferry service for human traffickers and implement the very straight forward Australian model, is hardly rocket science. It’s no coincidence Australia’s migration architect claims Europe doesn’t even seem to be trying to solve this crisis.
In 2016, 490,547 migrants reached Europe. The total number of asylum applicants is almost 2.5 times higher at 1.205 million, which is a modest drop from 2015’s 1.323 million. During the first months of 2017, almost 13,000 arrived by sea.
So what is the EU’s priority during the migrant crisis?
Instead, the EU’s highest priority seems to be preventing nation states from bypassing the EU, by taking their own measures against the crisis.
For if that were to happen, the EU would lose its “greatest achievement”: the federal control of European national borders, without which, the EU is nothing.
The EU must go.
The nation-state with strongly defended borders must be resurrected as an ideal.
The British showed the way with Brexit – its majority vote last year to leave the EU.
President Trump lights the way for the European nations with his slogan, “Make America Great Again!”
*We quote an article on EU corruption by Richard Milton.
Have the EU’s accounts for the past 19 years been signed off by the auditors or not? The EU says they have been signed off, while critics in parliament and the media say they have not. So who is telling the truth about the accounts? What are the real facts?
First, a little background to the controversy. Since 1977, the EU’s budget has been audited annually by a body called the European Court of Auditors, based in Luxembourg. The Court is nominally independent, although it is funded by the EU.
In the 1980s, the EU’s budget became the subject of allegations of fraud, so in 1988 the EU formed UCLAF – the Unit for the Co-ordination of Fraud Protection.
A decade later, In 1997, the Court of Auditors investigated UCLAF and discovered that it was dealing with 40 cases of potential corruption, conflict of interests, favoritism or just bad management. Many of the cases had been brought to UCLAF by members of staff of the Commission reporting their suspicions about other officials.
In a report described as “devastating”, the Court revealed that no-one had been prosecuted for fraud and no-one was likely to be prosecuted, because UCLAF had no powers of investigation or arrest and there was no European prosecutor to take on such cases. It recommended that UCLAF be replaced by, in effect, an economic FBI with the staff and the powers to police the EU’s huge budget – a fully fledged operational fraud squad.
Later the same year, 1998, Paul van Buitenen, an assistant internal auditor in the European Commission’s Financial Control Directorate, turned whistleblower and wrote directly to the European Parliament expressing his “discontent with the way the Commission services are dealing with irregularities and possible fraud”.
His whistleblowing led ultimately led to the resignation of the Commission presided over by Jacques Santer. His reward was to be suspended with his salary halved. He fought back and his exposures triggered the collapse of Santer’s Commission.
In the wake of the “Santergate” scandal UCLAF was replaced by a new organization, OLAF [Office européen de lutte anti-fraude]. This was said to be an improvement since OLAF had more staff, more money and clearer guidelines and was described as representing a move towards a more serious investigative prosecuting body. But it remained the case that only national member states could take legal action against suspected fraudsters – the same central weakness that had defeated UCLAF.
OLAF is notified of some 12,000 cases of possible fraud every year, and says that it adopts a “zero tolerance” policy towards corruption and fraud in EU institutions. In reality, OLAF must be somewhat more tolerant than “zero” as it investigates only some 200 cases per year – that is to say 98% of reported cases go uninvestigated.
This is the most likely explanation of the fact that, since 1999, OLAF has sent only 335 people to jail and recovered only 1.1 Billion Euros of EU money – less than one-thousandth of the amount unaccounted for.
One other obstacle to OLAF nailing anyone inside the EU is that EU law gives EU officials immunity from prosecution both while they work in the EU and then for the rest of their lives for any acts committed in the course of their duties. Even if OLAF managed to put together a case against an EU employee, he or she could not be prosecuted anyway.
This long history of corruption and fraud brings us to the case of Marta Andreason, who in 2002 was appointed the EU’s first Chief Accountant, the director responsible for budget execution and the EU’s accounting officer.
From the start, Andreasen was critical of the EU’s accounting system for being open to fraud, criticisms she raised with her superior but to no effect. She voiced her doubts to Commissioner Michaele Schreyer and the Commission President Romano Prodi, and when she got no reply approached members of the EU Parliament’s Budget Control Committee.
Because of her doubts, she refused to sign off the 2001 European Commission accounts and went public with her concerns. She suffered a similar fate to Paul van Buitenen before her, and was sacked for speaking out (“failure to show sufficient loyalty and respect”.) In reality she was fired for refusing to sign the account and embarrassing the Commission by letting the cat out of the bag about the extent of fraud.
A series of other EU officials tried to blow the whistle on the fraud and corruption of their colleagues and all received similar treatment, Dorte Schmidt-Brown, Robert Dougal Watt and Robert McCoy. …
At this point, in 2002, EU officials realized that they could no longer conceal or ignore the extent of fraud and corruption in the EU budget and that they must act to try to restore public confidence in the EU’s financial affairs. So they did what most large bureaucratic organizations do in these circumstances. When you cannot change the facts, you change the way the facts are presented. So the EU turned to public relations to solve their problem.
From 2002 until the present, the Court of Auditors continued to audit the budget annually, but they no longer signed off the accounts as a whole. Instead, they have split the budget into two sections – the part to which they are willing to give a clean bill of health, and the part to which they are not willing to give a clean bill. The Auditors refer to this second part as its “opinion on the underlying payments which have been negative or adverse”.
To justify this change in established auditing procedure it came up with a number of arguments. The budget is too big and too complicated for us to expect them to account for every penny. Every large organization has amounts missing and unaccounted for. We can’t expect the EU Auditors to know every little thing that goes on inside member countries. The bit that’s not signed off is “only” a few per cent of the budget so it’s not worth making a fuss about. And, in any case, said the Auditors, although we do not know where the money went or who took it, we can say that it definitely wasn’t fraud or theft.
“Errors”, said the auditors, “do not mean that EU money is lost, wasted or affected by fraud.” When asked to give an example of some money that had gone missing that wasn’t fraud, the EU said, “A farmer was granted a special premium for 150 sheep. The Court found that the beneficiary did not have any sheep. The corresponding payment was therefore irregular.” The missing money is accounted for by changing the word “fraud” to the word “irregular”. …
Remember, the question we are trying to answer here is … “Have the EU accounts been signed off for the past 19 years?” And the only honest answer to this second question is clearly, “No, they have not been signed off.”
What the EU has done is not to make extra efforts to get to the bottom of its accounts and sign them off, but to change the normal rules of accounts auditing so that they no longer apply to the EU, and to change the meaning of ordinary English words to try to persuade us that this procedure is acceptable. …
The amount not signed off by the Court of Auditors was “only” 4.7% of the budget. The problem is that 4.7% of the budget is 6.97 billion Euros …
The defeated Democrats and their furious supporters of the fourth estate have not tried to find out what Donald Trump and his like-thinkers actually think. They accuse him and his supporters of being everything they consider vile. So it’s a welcome development if some journalists try to find out what he believes, what he stands for, what he aims at.
Two researchers, apparently already convinced that President Trump’s own ideas are not discoverable at present (a conviction stated with a hint that he doesn’t have any), studied instead his closest adviser, a man with a philosophical turn of mind, and investigated him through what he had said and done in the past. If there is to be such a thing as Trumpism, it would be formed by this thinker, they deduce.
The adviser is Stephen Bannon. His official position in the White House is Chief Strategist. Democrats use their whole vocabulary of five or six political insults to denigrate him: “bigot”, “racist”, “xenophobe”, “Islamophobe”, “Nazi” (a favorite screech by mobs who are increasingly Nazi-like), and even one label not always used as an insult by the Left – “anti-Semite”.
But the two researchers, Gwynn Guilford and Nikhil Sonnad, tried to find out what Bannon’s ideas really were. And they wrote an article about him, to be found at Quartz:
What does Donald Trump want for America? His supporters don’t know. His party doesn’t know. Even he doesn’t know.
If there is a political vision underlying Trumpism, however, the person to ask is not Trump. It’s his éminence grise, Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist of the Trump administration.
… Through a combination of luck (a fallen-through deal left him with a stake in a hit show called Seinfeld) and a knack for voicing outrage, Bannon remade himself as a minor luminary within the far edge of right-wing politics, writing and directing a slew of increasingly conservative documentaries.
“The far edge of right-wing politics” they say. So Bannon is on the “far right”? We conservatives only say that someone is on the “far right” if we mean someone like Mussolini, or the Black Hundreds, or Vlad the Impaler, or Genghis Khan. To us conservatives, Mr. Bannon does not sound or behave like any of them.
So now we expect that this article might not be a friendly portrait of its subject.
Bannon’s influence reached a new high in 2012 when he took over Breitbart News, an online news site, following the death of creator Andrew Breitbart. While at Breitbart, Bannon ran a popular talk radio call-in show and launched a flame-throwing assault on mainstream Republicans, embracing instead a fringe cast of ultra-conservative figures. Among them was Trump, a frequent guest of the show.
Trump “an ultra-conservative figure”? A lot of conservatives complained that he wasn’t conservative enough. Many insisted he wasn’t conservative at all.
And the question arises – why not examine what Trump said as a guest on that show? Is it not possible that something Trump said now and then influenced what Bannon thought?
They established a relationship that eventually led Bannon to mastermind Trump’s populist romp to the White House, culminating in his taking the administration’s most senior position (alongside the chief of staff, Reince Priebus).
“Populist”, we suspect, is a pejorative to the authors. And what of “romp”? What is a romp? A caper, a frolic, a bout of jolly play – nothing serious like standing for election as the president of the United States with a smart strategy for winning.
It’s impossible to know for sure what Bannon will do with his newfound power; he honors few interview requests lately, ours included. (The White House did not respond to our request to speak with Bannon.) But his time as a conservative filmmaker and head of Breitbart News reveals a grand theory of what America should be. Using the vast amount of Bannon’s own publicly available words — from his lectures, interviews, films and more — we can construct elements of the vision for America he hopes to realize in the era of Trump.
Bannon’s political philosophy boils down to three things that a Western country, and America in particular, needs to be successful: Capitalism, nationalism, and “Judeo-Christian values”. These are all deeply related, and essential.
We will be commenting on that below.
America, says Bannon, is suffering a “crisis of capitalism”. … Capitalism used to be all about moderation, an entrepreneurial American spirit, and respect for one’s fellow Christian man. In fact, in remarks delivered to the Vatican in 2014, Bannon says that this “enlightened capitalism” was the “underlying principle” that allowed the US to escape the “barbarism” of the 20th century.
Since this enlightened era, things have gradually gotten worse. (Hence the “crisis”.) The downward trend began with the 1960s and ’70s counterculture. “The baby boomers are the most spoiled, most self-centered, most narcissistic generation the country’s ever produced,” says Bannon in a 2011 interview.
Is there a good argument that he is wrong about this? If so, we would like to hear it.
He takes on this issue in more detail in Generation Zero, a 2010 documentary he wrote and directed. The film shows one interviewee after another laying out how the “capitalist system” was slowly undermined and destroyed by a generation of wealthy young kids who had their material needs taken care of by hardworking parents — whose values were shaped by the hardship of the Great Depression and World War II — only to cast off the American values that had created that wealth in the first place. This shift gave rise to socialist policies that encouraged dependency on the government, weakening capitalism.
Again, we would like to hear a refutation of that judgment.
Eventually, this socialist vision succeeded in infiltrating the very highest levels of institutional power in America.
It did indeed. It was in pursuit of a long-term plan of the New Left which its adherents called “the long march through the institutions“. Nothing fictitious about it. Not an invention of paranoid “far-right” conservatives but of the Italian Communist leader, Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), eagerly taken up by the New Left in the late 1960s everywhere in the Western world.
“By the late 1990s, the left had taken over many of the institutions of power, meaning government, media, and academe,” says Peter Schweizer, a writer affiliated with Bannon’s Government Accountability Institute, a conservative think tank, in Generation Zero. “And it was from these places and positions of power that they were able to disrupt the system and implement a strategy that was designed to ultimately undermine the capitalist system.” …
Anything untrue there? Anything misleading? Not that we can see.
Underlying all of this is the philosophy of Edmund Burke, an influential 18th-century Irish political thinker whom Bannon occasionally references.
It figures that he would. Edmund Burke is generally considered one of the foremost philosophers of conservatism.
In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke presents his view that the basis of a successful society should not be abstract notions like human rights, social justice, or equality.
Indeed not. Those are the political obsessions of the contemporary Left: “human rights” for some by imposing obligations on others; “social justice” at the cost of justice itself which can only be applied to individuals; “equality” at the price of liberty, through tyrannical state enforcement.
Rather, societies work best when traditions that have been shown to work are passed from generation to generation. The baby boomers, Bannon says in a lecture given to the Liberty Restoration Foundation (LRF), failed to live up to that Burkean responsibility by abandoning the tried-and-true values of their parents (nationalism, modesty, patriarchy, religion) in favor of new abstractions (pluralism, sexuality, egalitarianism, secularism).
Now obviously we have a difference of opinion with both Burke and Bannon on one of their preferred values: religion. But it certainly was valued by Burke, and is valued by most American conservatives. (Burke had a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. He believed strongly in the importance of Christianity as the foundation of conservative politics. And Bannon is a Catholic.)
By “modesty” the authors mean chasteness. We gather that, because the authors name its opposite as “sexuality”. As sexuality is not a value, we have to understand it to imply “immodesty” or promiscuousness as one of the “new abstractions” opposed to Burkean conservatism.
By “pluralism”they can only mean multiculturalism and globalism.
By “egalitarianism” they mean socialism.
For both Burke and Bannon, failure to pass the torch results in social chaos.
Once in power, the liberal, secular, global-minded elite overhauled the institutions of democracy and capitalism to tighten its grip on power and the ability to enrich itself. The “party of Davos“, as Bannon long ago dubbed this clique, has warped capitalism’s institutions, depriving middle classes everywhere of the wealth they deserve.
Leaving aside that secularism does not interfere with democracy or distort capitalism, did that not happen? It did.
This pattern of exploitation came to a head in the 2008 global financial and economic crisis. Wall Street — enabled by fellow global elites in government — spun profits out of speculation instead of investing their wealth in domestic jobs and businesses. When the resulting bubble finally burst, the immoral government stuck hardworking American taxpayers with the bailout bill.
An incomplete description of what happened. The house-owning bubble was not caused by Wall Street; it was caused by Democratic governments insisting that financial institutions give mortgage loans to people who could not afford them. So yes, Wall Street was “enabled by global elites in government”.
This is the kind of thing that led Bannon to say in that 2011 LRF lecture that there is “socialism for the very wealthy”. The rest of the country, he says, is [sic] “common sense, practical, middle-class people”.
There is also “socialism for the very poor,” he adds. “We’ve built a welfare state that is completely and totally unsupportable, and now this is a crisis.”
Bannon wants all of this liberal-sponsored “socialism” to end. He celebrates CNBC host Rick Santelli’s famous 2009 tirade about “those who carry the water and those who drink the water”, which sparked what became the Tea Party, a populist movement focused on tax cuts, fiscal scrimping, and a narrow interpretation of constitutional rights. Channeling the spirit of the Tea Party, Bannon blames Republicans as much as Democrats for taking part in cronyism and corruption at the expense of middle class families.
What Guilford and Sonnad call “fiscal scrimping” we, like the Tea Party, call “fiscal responsibility”.
What they call “a narrow interpretation of constitutional rights”, we call “rights according to the Constitution”.
But, yes, there were Republicans as well as Democrats who took part in cronyism and corruption at the expense of the middle class.
So far, the authors’ attempt subtly to convey a portrait of a stuff-shirt bigot would convince only those who already think of conservatives as stuff-shirt bigots. But nothing that has been said (except to us the mention of religion as a good thing), actually puts a single black mark against Mr Bannon in conservative eyes.
“We don’t really believe there is a functional conservative party in this country and we certainly don’t think the Republican Party is that,” says Bannon in a 2013 panel in which he discusses Breitbart’s vision. “We tend to look at this imperial city of Washington, this boomtown, as they have two groups, or two parties, that represent the insiders’ commercial party, and that is a collection of insider deals, insider transactions and a budding aristocracy that has made this the wealthiest city in the country.”
In short, in Bannonism, the crisis of capitalism has led to socialism and the suffering of the middle class. And it has made it impossible for the current generation to bequeath a better future to its successors, to fulfill its Burkean duty.
So what exactly are these traditions that Americans are meant to pass along to future generations? In addition to “crisis of capitalism,” one of Bannon’s favorite terms is “Judeo-Christian values*.” This is the second element of his theory of America.
Generation Zero, Bannon’s 2010 documentary, has a lot to say about “American values”, and a lot of this matches closely the ideals of the Tea Party. But since 2013 or 2014, Bannon’s casual emphasis on American values has swelled to include a strong religious component. The successful functioning of America — and Western civilization in general — depends on capitalism, and capitalism depends on the presence of “Judeo-Christian values.” …
The article continues to discuss Bannon’s views on the connection between capitalism and “Judeo-Christian values” at some length. We’ll cut most of it out, but will also stress that our disagreement with Stepehen Bannon on this point in no way weakens our agreement with his historical analysis, his advocacy for capitalism, or his strong preference for nationalism over globalism.
In obstinate opposition to a universal assumption, we deny that there is any such thing as “Judeo-Christian values”. The values of Judaism and the values of Christianity are not only different, they are contradictory. (See our post, Against “Judeo-Christian values”, August 26, 2014.) The very fact that we agree with the rest of the Burke/Bannon political philosophy without being religious, disproves their contention that “Capitalism, nationalism, and Judeo-Christian values … are all deeply related, and essential”.
(To be continued)
Maybe four of the 17 [US Intelligence agencies] could have or should have had an opinion on the Russian hacking. The rest having an opinion is either because of coercion or it is simply false that they had any direct knowledge of the hacking of the DNC by anyone.
From Townhall, by Bruce Bialosky:
The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. This all started when Hillary Clinton reversed what Barack Obama had started four years earlier in a debate with Mitt Romney who actually stated the Russians were a problem. The only thing is that she stated that all 17 intelligence agencies agreed that the Russians had hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Though technically correct there are “17” intelligence agencies, Ms. Clinton knows that these agencies “agreeing” is a hoax.
My initial reaction to the statement was a logical and rational one. I stated Mr. Trump should have replied to her: “Why do we have 17 intelligence agencies and why can they not stop the Russians from hacking?” I thought this issue would go away after Hillary was sent into retirement, but the sore loser Democrats keep making a big deal about this.
We only reluctantly mention, or quote someone else’s mention of Hillary Clinton. We want the Clintons to fade out of memory – unless either of them is brought to public attention again by being indicted, tried, and sentenced to a long period in jail. But to deal with the present subject – the failures of US Intelligence over the last two decades – we cannot avoid mentioning her, the Liar of Benghazigate, the Taker of Bribes, the Seller of Her Country.
There are actually 17 government entities considered part of our “Intelligence Community”. That is if you consider the Office of the Director of National Intelligence one of them. That position goes back to 1955 when our sprawling intelligence community was determined to be too big and too diverse so they needed another person (and all their staff) to oversee all the operating entities. Ten of the 17 agencies were formed after the director position was established. The coordination did not seem to work because Attorney General John Ashcroft stated his biggest challenge after 9/11 was synchronizing efforts between the various intelligence agencies.
The 17 agencies are broken into three groups. The first are ones within the different arms of the military. There is the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and that could be considered warranted, but why do we need separate departments within every branch and why would they not just be considered part of the DIA? The Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard do not need separate intelligence departments. No wonder we can’t get anything right when just our Defense Department has eight separate intelligence agencies.
If we go back to the claim that all 17 agencies agreed it was the Russians who were hacking, please explain to me what information the Coast Guard had on that. Or, for that matter, any of the other four wings of our armed forces. Why would they be following domestic matters like this? That would seem improper or illegal to me.
Then there are the agencies that are part of cabinet departments. Energy, State, Treasury, Homeland Security and Justice all have intelligence agencies. Why do any of these departments except for maybe Homeland Security need their own agency? The Justice Department, which has the FBI (an important domestic intelligence agency), has another agency (Office of National Security Intelligence) that was created in 2006 under the DEA. What a waste.
All these departments should have their efforts coordinated through one entity – the FBI. If the FBI needs people assigned to these departments they should do so, but everything should run through one central point. Back to the Clinton claim, why would the agency under the DEA have any knowledge about Russian hacking of the DNC? Or the agency in the Energy Department? Again, obviously a ridiculous claim.
Then there are the Big Five of the intelligence community. They are the CIA, DIA, National Security Agency (NSA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (GEOINT). We all know what the CIA does (as much as we are allowed to know). But why is there the DIA and NSA? They are both part of the Defense Department. The NSA was formed in 1952, and the DIA in 1961 and I cannot tell why it exists. It seems we allow our government to create overlapping entities so they can all miss out on accomplishing their mission.
The ones that baffle me totally are the NRO and the GEOINT. GEOINT states “Geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT, is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and geographically-referenced activities on the Earth. GEOINT consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial information.” What exactly is that? Maybe this should be a separate agency feeding the others, but they should be under either the CIA or NSA and not another separate operation.
When you look at the description of what the NRO does it certainly seems like it is splitting hairs between what it does and GEOINT. Both are part of the Defense Department and provide services to other intelligence agencies. These are certainly two entities that by definition should have no clue whether the Russians hacked the DNC nor an opinion.
In conclusion, there maybe should be three or four separate intelligence agencies: CIA, FBI, NSA and maybe the director of national intelligence. The other agencies should be folded into these. One would be independent (CIA), one part of Justice (FBI) and one part of Defense (NSA). All the confusing overlap and inefficiency will be eliminated. …
Now that President Trump has appointed Mike Pompeo to replace John Brennan as head of the CIA, will something of that sort happen?
From Front Page by Lloyd Billingsley:
John Brennan … should not have had that job or any intelligence post, not even to make coffee.
In 1976, year of the American Bicentennial, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) ticket of Gus Hall and Jarvis Tyner got 58,992 votes. One of them came from college student John Brennan and that requires some context. The CPUSA has always been a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviet Union, and in 1976 that was evident to all but the willfully blind. …
Gus Hall [was] a slobbering Stalinist who defended the USSR during the worst of its atrocities and remained faithful to the end. So it took a special kind of person to vote for Gus Hall and the Communist Party USA in 1976, but John Brennan was up to the task.
Brennan said he voted Communist because he was unhappy “with the system” and saw “the need for change”. … The CPUSA at that time was dedicated to gaining support for Soviet foreign policy, with the intent of defeating the United States in the Cold War. …
Yet Brennan “got the job [of CIA director], which makes sense, given the person who chose him”.
Namely, President Obama. He put the US agency whose duty it was to keep Americans safe from its enemies, under the directorship of a man who had voted for the victory of the USSR over the US, and was an admirer of Islam even after 19 Muslim terrorists had killed close on 3,000 people in New York and Washington, D.C., on 9/11/2001.
The signs of where Brennan’s sympathies lay were not hard to read – and they were not the United States:
In 2012, Brennan played a role in fabricating the false narrative that Benghazi was a spontaneous protest of a video.
After Brennan became CIA boss in 2013, he transformed the agency into a partisan propaganda service for [Obama] and his designated successor Hillary Clinton. She was the Secretary of State who dismissed the four American dead in Benghazi with: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Mike Pompeo, by all indications a capable man, understands that the Central Intelligence Agency is the eyes and ears of the United States against all enemies, radical Islamic terrorists prominent among them. The CIA does not exist to function as a private Comintern for any politician.
Stalinist-voting John Brennan, who believes Islam is a “faith of peace and tolerance,” is out but questions remain.
Brennan’s moles remain in place. As with corrupt Justice Department and IRS officials, they need to be exposed, fired, and prosecuted.
Director Pompeo should also take a hard look at anyone hired on the watch of John Brennan and [Obama]. Neither [of them] was properly vetted, so check out whom they let slip in. …
In the war for the nation’s future, this will be a crucial battle. … The Trump administration … might consider scrapping the CIA and starting afresh with a new agency. As President Trump says, the nation has deep needs in infrastructure.
Brilliant as always, Trey Gowdy on (some of) Hillary Clinton’s lies – to the discomfort of a State Department official:
Tony Blair was a prime minister of post-Thatcher Britain for 10 years (1997-2007).
As such, he was a prime member of the leftist elite that has done so much harm to the world. They call themselves the “globalists”. They expected to extend their rule over the whole world, modeling their new world order on the corrupt undemocratic European Union.
But the first and only genuine workers’ revolution in history has brought a patriotic capitalist, Donald Trump, to power in America. And the British people voted to leave the European Union. And now the days of the globalist cabal are numbered.
They won’t go quietly. They are beginning to make a clamor. They think that somehow they can mount a serious threat to the new US government and all the new patriotic governments that will soon be elected in Europe.
They call the rise of the people against them “populism”. Well, so it is. It could also be called democracy. The demos – the people – have voted, or soon will vote, to reclaim their countries and their liberty.
So it’s “populism” against “globalism”.
The weak outgoing US president, Barack Obama – a globalist – is promising to be the leader of an American resistance movement against the Herculean incoming president, Donald Trump.
And Tony Blair is setting himself up as Obama’s counterpart on the other side of the Atlantic.
Nick Hallett at Breitbart reports:
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to invest £9.3 million of proceeds from his lobbying business in a new institute that he is setting up to fight populism.
Mr Blair said last month he was creating the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) aimed at combatting populism and “making globalisation work”. On Wednesday, he confirmed he has given £9.26 million net assets of his company Windrush Ventures limited to the new institute …
Mr Blair said last month the TBI would be a “platform” offering “thought leadership” on anti-populist, pro-globalisation policies.
He added it would “build a new policy agenda” for what he called the “centre ground” of politics, as well as allowing “a reasonable and evidence based discussion of the future which avoids the plague of social media-led exchanges of abuse.”
Oh, those pestilential social media, which ordinary people use to spread their opinions – and information that the globalist-supporting mainstream media do their best to keep hidden!
In terms of actual policies, he hinted it would champion the continuation and strengthening of the European project, and also open borders.
Part of its focus will plainly be around the European debate; but this will not be its exclusive domain. It has to go far wider than that since in many ways the Europe debate is a lightning rod for the whole of politics.
Mr Blair has said several times that Britain should consider holding a second referendum on Brexit, just in case the public change their minds and want to remain in the European Union.
In October, he said:
If it becomes clear that this is either a deal that doesn’t make it worth our while leaving, or a deal that is so serious in its implications that people may decide they don’t want to go, there’s got to be some way, either through parliament, through an election, possibly through a referendum, in which people express their view.
He is a true believer that the globalists’ new world order is the only way for the human race to go if it wants to save itself from “serious implications”. To him, Brexit was a disaster of the same order as Trump’s election was for Obama and his party.
They both seem to believe that because they once had the power of government, they themselves are intrinsically powerful.
We expect they can be little more than a nuisance, and that only for a short time, and then – no more of Obama and Blair.
Although it would be good never again to see or hear anything of the Clintons, we hope that Mrs. Clinton will yet be brought to justice.
Here is the list of 15 felonies for which she ought to be indicted drawn up by Rudy Giuliani in November 2015:
- 18USC§201 Bribery
- 18USC§208 Acts Effecting A Personal Financial Interest (Includes Recommendations)
- 18USC§371 Conspiracy
- 18USC§1001 False Statements
- 18USC§1341 Frauds And Swindles (Mail Fraud)
- 18USC§1343 Fraud By Wire
- 18USC§1349 Attempt And Conspiracy (To Commit Fraud)
- 18USC§1505 Obstruction Of Justice
- 18USC§1519 Destruction (Alteration Or Falsification) Of Records In Federal Investigation
- 18USC§1621 Perjury (Including Documents Signed Under Penalties Of Perjury)
- 18USC§1905 Disclosure Of Confidential Information
- 18USC§1924 Unauthorized Removal And Retention Of Classified Documents Or Material
- 18USC§2071 Concealment (Removal Or Mutilation) Of Government Records
- 18USC§7201 Attempt To Evade Or Defeat A Tax (Use Of Clinton Foundation Funds For Personal Or Political Purposes)
- 18USC§7212 Attempts To Interfere With Administration Of Internal Revenue Laws (Call To IRS On Behalf Of UBS Not Turning Over Accounts To IRS)
The first charge in the list, Bribery, presumably refers to the scam she and her husband ran under the name of a charitable foundation, when they took large sums of money from governments and individuals in exchange for favors from the United States government that were not in the interests of the United States. These immense bribes were given on the mistaken understanding by the “donors” that Mrs. Clinton would soon be president of the country she was willing to betray in exchange for money. Of course such donations stopped when she lost the presidential election on November 8, 2016. But the offenders will not be punished by poverty. There’s plenty in the kitty to pay their “executive expenses” to the end of their lives and for generations to come.
The magnanimous President-elect, Donald Trump, has said that he “does not want to hurt” the Clintons. But as President he should have nothing directly to do with it. The FBI, under a new head appointed by him, needs to recommend the prosecution of Mrs. Clinton – the family member who actually sold the favors which as Secretary of State she was in a position to sell – to the Department of Justice which will also be under a new head appointed by him.
Among our many political wishes for the New Year, most of them looking forward to the implementation of new policies by the new government, is this wish left over from the past: in the case of Mrs. Clinton, may these auld offenses be brought to mind, prosecuted, and never forgot.
“Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem esse delendum” – “Apart from all this, Carthage must be destroyed“.
That was the statement Cato the Elder (234-149 BCE) made at the end of every one of his speeches in the Roman Senate during the Punic Wars (Rome against Carthage), no matter what the rest of the speech had been about.
The statement became a slogan, often shortened to “Carthago delenda est”.
For years we have copied Cato the Elder by writing “The UN must be destroyed” at the end of every post that mentions that evil institution.
Now the need for it to be wiped off the face of the earth, or at the very least expelled from American soil and denied American tax-payers’ money, has been made urgent by the iniquitous action of its “Security Council”, initiated by the perfidious outgoing Obama administration of the US government, against the state of Israel. (See our post Obama’s parting act of extreme vindictiveness, December 23, 2016. For the harm the resolution will do see here.)
Daniel Greenfield writes at Front Page:
The United States pays 22% of the total UN budget. What we get for our $3 billion a year is a corrupt organization whose dysfunctional and hostile agencies are united in opposing us around the world.
The United Nations does only two things consistently and effectively: waste money and bash Israel. Sometimes it manages to do both at the same time.
After an extended, and no doubt costly, visit to the region, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women blamed Muslim men beating their wives on Israeli settlements.
No wonder the UN Security Council just condemned them. Who wouldn’t rightfully be upset that Jews living in Jerusalem somehow causes poor Mohammed to batter his wife?
The Jewish State is the UN’s scapegoat for anything and everything. The Palestinian Authority blamed Israel at the UN for Global Warming. WHO [the World Health Organization, a UN agency] denounced Israel for violating “health rights”.
Israel is one of the foremost inventors and manufacturers of advanced life-saving medical technology in the world. Extremely effective Israeli teams rush to places where disasters occur to provide medical assistance, always free of charge. Israel even cures its enemies free of charge, and returns them to enemy territory to continue plotting its destruction.
And even when Muslim terrorists stab Israelis, it’s still Israel’s fault.
The latest anti-Israel vote at the UN has led to calls to defund the corrupt organization which, even when it isn’t actively trying to hurt us or our allies, is making the world worse every which way it can.
Just this summer the UN admitted that it had spread cholera that killed tens of thousands in Haiti. Sexual abuse allegations against its staffers were up 25% last year. In the spring, the UN admitted that peacekeepers from three countries had raped over 100 girls in only one African country. …
Here’s what we get for our $3 billion.
UNRWA schools are turning out students who want to fight for ISIS. The UN’s email system has been used to distribute child pornography. UN staff members have smuggled drugs, attacked each other with knives and pool cues, not to mention a tractor. This month the UN marked Anti-Corruption Day despite refusing to fight its own corruption. The former President of the UN General Assembly was arrested on bribery charges last year. He had also headed UNICEF’s executive board. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is battling accusations of bribery.
Some of this might be defensible if the UN did anything useful. It doesn’t. It’s just a slush fund for redistributing our money to a vast UN bureaucracy and anyone willing to bribe it for benefits.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the UN vote by beginning the process of defunding the UN. And there’s every reason in the world for us to also stop tossing money at the United Nations.
It’s something that we and every sane country should have done decades ago. If you give money to the UN, it will end up anywhere and everywhere except where it’s supposed to go. But defunding the UN isn’t enough. There is no reason for us to remain there at all.
The United Nations has never met any of its lofty goals. During the Cold War it became a playground for the Communist powers. The USSR, the second signatory to the UN charter, helped force out the first signatory, Taiwan. Even while the treaty was being signed, it was taking over Poland, the 51st signatory.
These days, the United Nations is a forum for Islamist powers and the rotting remains of the Communist front to continue its war against the free world while seducing weak-minded nations into going along.
We are not making the world a better place by being members of this anti-American organization which vacillates between being evil and useless.
You can always count on UN peacekeeping troops to run away whenever they might be called on to use force. The head of the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan was fired by the UN for refusing to protect aid workers, including Americans, who were being raped and assaulted. …
The UN was brought into being in the aftermath of the horrors of World War II. Instead of ending “the scourge of war”, the UN has a solid track record of uselessness and complicity in the face of genocide.
Israel was the first to alert the UN to Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia. But Moscow and its Syrian ally conspired to protect the Communist dictatorship. The UN did not condemn the killing. And only a generation later did it convene the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which has been running for almost twenty years. It took ten years to arrest Brother Number Three, the Foreign Minister of the Communist terror state, whose lies the United Nations chose to believe when the butchery was taking place.
He died six years later while still on trial.
The UN has been apologizing for its non-response to the Rwandan genocide for decades. But apologizing for not doing anything is what the United Nations does best. That and condemn Israel.
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council couldn’t even manage to pass a ceasefire resolution on Syria.
Venezuela, which championed the anti-Israel resolution, took time out from starving its own people to protect Assad. Why in the world would anyone take this vote, or any UN vote, seriously?
The UN’s Human Rights Council members include China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia and, of course, Venezuela. UN Women, the body dedicated to empowering women, includes China, which forces women to have abortions; Pakistan, where women can be murdered by their male relatives for marrying on their own; and Iran, where it’s practically illegal for a woman to leave the house.
The United Nations does not promote its own ideals. Or ours. Instead, it sanctimoniously violates them. Providing every brutal dictatorship with equal representation hasn’t ushered in an age of human rights. Allowing Islamic terrorists and the radical left to denounce their enemies hasn’t made the world better. And throwing $3 billion a year at the towering UN swamp on Turtle Bay only wastes our time and money. …
The UN doesn’t share our ideals. It’s time to build our closest alliances with the countries that do.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the 2030 agenda a “Declaration of Interdependence.” We must declare our independence from the UN’s interdependency of corruption and tyranny.
We should defund and withdraw. Where quarreling diplomats once preened in the tower above Turtle Bay, seagulls will soar and young couples will walk with their children. The billions we waste on the UN will go toward taking care of our people. And once we are free of the UN, we will actually be able to promote real human rights instead of pandering to the dictators and Islamists of the United Nations.
Like the League of Nations, the United Nations is a failed experiment. The only difference is that, despite decades of wars, genocides and terror, we still haven’t pulled the plug.
President Obama has betrayed his own country – the country he has led for eight years – by colluding with the UN against Israel.
President Trump will have the opportunity to pull out of the UN and drain the swamp in Turtle Bay.
UN delenda est.