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  • Jack 4:00 am on December 14, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: dick morris, political corruption,   

    Proof: The Deep State & Bruce Ohr Orchestrated The Dossier! 

  • Jack 3:57 am on December 14, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: Alabama special election, political corruption,   

    Voter Fraud? 

    Election security experts question Alabama’s decision to destroy ballot copies.

    Link: http://bit.ly/2ksPT6X

  • Jack 3:39 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: ap, political corruption, , ukraine politics   

    Little Hope 

    KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — An anti-corruption agency established in Ukraine two years ago was expected to be the driving force that would uproot the endemic graft that depleted the nation’s resources and worried its Western allies.

    But the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine instead has come under fire from allies of President Petro Poroshenko who are trying to curtail its operations and authority. NABU chief Artem Sytnik told The Associated Press in a weekend interview that fear is behind the recent attempts by political and business elites to weaken the agency that was supposed to be a visible symbol of reform in Ukraine.

    “The old and new elites are quite scared” after realizing “there are no untouchables anymore,” Sytnik said. Last month, the Security Service of Ukraine and the prosecutor general’s office derailed a sting operation by undercover NABU agents to catch a State Migration Service official suspected of issuing passports and residence permits for bribes. The agencies accused NABU of illegal eavesdropping and released the names of its agents, blowing their covers.

    Poroshenko’s faction and its allies in parliament also have submitted a bill that would allow lawmakers to fire the anti-corruption agency’s director with a simple majority vote. Under current law, NABU’s chief can only be fired for a criminal conviction, a provision that was intended to ensure independence.

    “Those attacks are directly linked to the fact that we investigate an increasing number of criminal cases involving people who are in control of the media, material or administrative resources, which they turn against us,” Sytnik said.

    Since its creation in 2015, NABU has investigated 461 cases involving business executives, government officials and judges accused of involvement in corrupt schemes. Sytnik thinks the current campaign against his agency results from a probe that targeted the son of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov for alleged involvement in a scheme to embezzle 14 million hryvnias (about $520,000) allocated for purchasing police rucksacks.

    Avakov has insisted his son was innocent and alleged that NABU of falling under political influence. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde expressed concern about the recent developments “that could roll back progress that has been made in setting up independent institutions to tackle high-level corruption, including the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.”

    “Fighting corruption is a key demand of the Ukrainian society, is crucial to achieving stronger and equitable growth, and is part of the government’s commitment under the program with the IMF,” Lagarde said in a statement last week.

    She urged the Ukrainian government and parliament to safeguard NABU’s independence and to move quickly to set up an independent anti-corruption court “to credibly adjudicate high-level corruption cases.”

    IMF made the establishment of a court where corruption cases could be prosecuted a condition for releasing further installments of a $17.5-billion aid package as Ukraine grapples with the separatist conflict in the east.

    In what was seen as another attempt to block anti-corruption efforts, lawmakers from Poroshenko’s faction and their allies voted Thursday to dismiss the chairman of the anti-corruption committee in parliament.

    “The former and present corrupt elite have colluded,” the ousted committee head, Yegor Sobolev, said. “Their plan is to break the independence of anti-corruption bodies, replace them with fake ones and stop the process of cleaning the government,” he added.

    Popular anger over corruption was a factor in months of protests that drove Ukraine’s former Russia-leaning president from office in February 2014. Poroshenko’s failure to oversee progress has caused growing impatience and triggered calls for his impeachment led by Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgia president turned Ukrainian opposition leader.

    After leading several rallies in Kiev, Saakashvili was arrested Friday on allegations that he colluded with Ukrainian businessmen tied to Russia to topple the president. Saakashvili scoffed at the charges, alleging they resulted from longtime hostility between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    “The detention of Saakashvili shows how far Poroshenko is ready to go to muzzle his opponents and those who expose corruption,” Sobolev said. Thousands of Saakashvili’s supporters marched across the Ukrainian capital Sunday, demanding his release and calling for Poroshenko to be impeached.

    “Poroshenko is continuing the worst traditions of the old nomenklatura,” said Vitaly Shabunin, the head of watchdog group the Center for Fighting Corruption. “The same old elites, the same people have taken different political slogans, but their way of thinking and their goals have remained the same.”


  • Jack 3:26 am on December 10, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , political corruption, , ,   


    A short three hours after US President Donald Trump phoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to inform him of his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a number of Palestinian photojournalists received a phone call from Bethlehem.

    The callers were Palestinian “activists,” who invited the photographers to come to the city to document an “important event.” When the photographers arrived, they discovered that the “important event” was a handful of Palestinian “activists” who wanted to burn posters of Trump in front of the cameras.

    The “activists” waited patiently as the photojournalists and cameramen set up their equipment to get the “important event” on film. Shortly thereafter, the media was abuzz with reports about “angry Palestinian protesters taking to the streets to protest” Trump’s intention to move the embassy to Jerusalem and his recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. The five Palestinians who were filmed burning the Trump pictures were made to look as if they were part of a mass protest sweeping Palestinian communities.

    The incident represents yet another example of the collusion between the Palestinians and the media, whose representatives are always more than happy to serve as mouthpieces for the Palestinian propaganda machine and provide an open platform for broadcasting Palestinian threats against Israel and the US.

    Had the photographers and cameramen not shown up to the erstwhile “spontaneous” poster-burning event, the Palestinian activists would have been forced to quietly slink back to one of Bethlehem’s fine coffee shops.

    Yet, there was no worry on that score: the Palestinian activists are well aware that local and foreign reporters are starving for sensationalism — and what better fits the bill than posters of Trump going up in flames in the middle of the birthplace of Jesus, on the eve of Christmas and as thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists are converging on the city?

    By misrepresenting the poster burning “ceremony” as a reflection of widespread Palestinian rage concerning Trump’s policy on Jerusalem, the international media is once again complicit in promoting the propaganda of Palestinian spin doctors. Palestinian leaders and spokesmen strive to create the impression that Trump’s policy regarding Jerusalem will bring the region down in flames. They also seek to send a message to the American people that their president’s policies endanger their lives. In effect, the media has volunteered to serve the Palestinian campaign of intimidation. And the media convergence on the poster-burning farce in Bethlehem is just the beginning.

    Now that the Palestinians have managed, with the help of the media, to burn these images into the minds of millions of Americans, they are planning more staged protests. The goal: to terrify the American public and force Trump to rescind his decision regarding the status of Jerusalem. This tactic of intimidation through the media is not new. In fact, it is something that has been happening for decades, largely thanks to the buy-in of the mainstream media in the West.

    Now, Palestinian and Western journalists have been invited to cover a series of protests planned by the Palestinians in the coming days and weeks in response to Trump’s policies. The journalists, including photographers and camera crews, have been handed detailed schedules of events that will take place in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The journalists have been promised more scenes of burning photos of Trump and US flags. Some of the journalists have even received tips as to the locations where “clashes” are supposed to take place between Palestinian rioters and Israel Defense Forces soldiers. In other words, the journalists have been told precisely where they need to be in order to document Palestinians throwing stones at the soldiers — and the predicted the IDF response.

    Here is the funny part. If, for whatever reason, the cameras are a no-show, the “activists” are likely to be as well. In the Palestinian world, it is all about manipulating the media and recruiting it in favor of the cause. And the cause is always bashing Israel — with bashing Trump not far behind.

    Yes, the Palestinians will protest in the coming days against Trump. Yes, they will take to the streets and throw stones at IDF soldiers. Yes, they will burn pictures of Trump and US flags. And yes, they will try to carry out terror attacks against Israelis.

    But when we sit in our living rooms and watch the news coming out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, let us ask ourselves: How many of these “events” are, in fact, media burlesques? Why are journalists allowing themselves to be duped by the Palestinian propaganda machine, which spews hatred and violence from morning until night? And, why are the journalists exaggerating and compounding the Palestinian threats for violence and anarchy?

    First, many of the journalists want to appease their readers and editors by offering them stories that reflect negatively on Israel. Second, some of the journalists believe that writing anti-Israel stories paves the way for them to win awards from assorted professed “virtue-signaling” organizations. Third, many journalists believe that writing anti-Israel reports give them access to so-called “liberals” and a supposedly “enlightened” coterie who romanticize being “on the right side of history.” They do not want to see that 21 Muslim states have been trying for many decades to destroy one Jewish state; instead, they appear to think that if journalists are “liberal” and “open-minded,” they need to support the “underdog,” who they believe are “the Palestinians.” Fourth, many of the journalists see the conflict as being between bad guys (supposedly the Israelis) and good guys (supposedly the Palestinians) and that it is their duty to stand with the “good guys,” even if the “good guys” are engaged in violence and terrorism.

    Recently, more than 300 Muslim worshipers were massacred by Muslim terrorists while praying in a mosque in Sinai, Egypt. That tragedy was probably covered by fewer journalists than the orchestrated Trump-poster episode in Bethlehem. Where was the outcry in the Arab and Islamic world? Now, Arabs and Muslims are talking about “days of rage” in protest against Trump. Why were there no “days of rage” in the Arab and Islamic countries when more than 300 worshipers, many of them children, were massacred during Friday prayers?

    It is high time for some self-reflection on the part of the media: Do they really wish to continue serving as a mouthpiece for those Arabs and Muslims who intimidate and terrorize the West?

    Journalists are actively colluding with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to create the false impression that World War III will erupt if the US embassy is moved to Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians have been massacred since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” more than six years ago. They were killed by Muslim terrorists and other Arabs. The bloodshed continues to this day in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

    So, make no mistake about it: the “rivers of blood” we are being promised are flowing as we speak. Yet, it is the knife that Arabs and Muslims take to one another’s throats that is the source of this crimson current, not some statement made by a US president. Perhaps that could finally be an event worth covering by the roving reporters of the region?

    Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


    See Also:

    (1) Trump’s Jerusalem move triggers a global chain reaction as nations follow his lead

    (2) Trump Teaches Palestinians About the New Middle East

    (3) Trump Puts Fact Ahead of Fiction in Israel

  • Jack 3:06 am on December 9, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , political corruption, , , , ,   

    Trumpophobic Idiocy 

    It is hard to believe that Trumpophobic idiocy can plumb depths more profound than it has reached in the last few days. Just as the Russian-collusion argument, which was never supported by anything except Hillary Clinton’s sulky evasions of her own responsibility for her electoral defeat, was sinking beneath the ripples the Trump-hating media had strenuously created for it, the Flynn indictment came. To anyone with any legal insight, such as Alan Dershowitz, Trey Gowdy, and Andy McCarthy (one of them should be the attorney general), it was the barefaced admission by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that, after nine months in charge of an investigation that had already been under way for eight months, he has absolutely nothing to justify continuing this charade within its original mandate to explore a Trump-Russian connection. Flynn was indicted for precisely the reason President Trump dismissed him as national-security adviser: lying about discussions with the Russians.

    The relief of the anti-Trumpers when the Flynn indictment gave them a lifeline to keep the impeachment dream alive in the minds of the fervent was inflated by ABC News’s bulletin that Flynn had alleged that Trump had told him to contact the Russian government before the election. This in itself would not have been worrisome — anyone can speak to Russians if they want — but it led to window-rattling ululations of Trumpophobic joy. Typical of it was the action of semi-comedienne (about as humorous as Al Franken) Joy Behar (whose book, The Great Gasbag, is, surprisingly, not autobiographical): She burst into applause and generated a standing ovation from the studio audience of her daytime television program. But it was fake news: Flynn claimed nothing of the kind. The reporter who produced the story, Brian Ross, had previously been reprimanded for suggesting that a mass murderer in Colorado several years ago was a member of the Tea Party when there was no evidence for that; and, in 2001, he suggested that Saddam Hussein was behind anthrax attacks in the U.S. when there was no evidence for that, either. Last week he was forced to recant and to withdraw his story, and was suspended without pay for four weeks. Ms. Behar was left with one hand clapping. The president, as has been his custom for two years, vehemently attacked fake news, with accuracy and effect. He debunked CNN by Twitter, eliciting the righteous falsehood of the egregious Wolf Blitzer that that network had served truth to the world for “nearly four decades.” Media solidarity fragmented on that whopper, as it was pointed out by several commentators that CNN had whitewashed Saddam, in order to maintain its bureau in Baghdad after other Western media had fled or been expelled by the Iraqi tyrant in 2003. Competitor Rupert Murdoch hit home when he claimed about 15 years ago that CNN’s Havana correspondent was Fidel Castro.

    When the president tweeted on the weekend that Flynn had been fired for lying to the FBI as well as to the vice president, he succeeded in stirring up another hornets’ nest of absurd confected outrage. Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal (the latter of whom had campaigned in 2010 referring to his service in Vietnam, a complete fabrication) torqued themselves up to agitation about a possible prosecution of the president for violating the Logan Act, and for obstruction of justice. The Logan Act of 1799, which prohibits private citizens from unauthorized attempts to conduct U.S. foreign policy, is nonsense constitutionally, and has never yielded a conviction or even been invoked since 1852. It does appear to have been a bugbear of official anti-Trumpism, having been bandied about for some time by many Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and the beleaguered John Conyers. There has been some speculation that its potential violation was the pretext used by the Obama administration to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign, an activity which, when revealed by Trump in March, led to much derision. It is a contemptible, nonsensical insinuation. No one officially complained when Senator Teddy Kennedy asked Soviet leader (and former KGB head) Yuri Andropov to join sensible Americans in opposing President Reagan’s foreign and defense policy, or when former special prosecutor Archibald Cox wrote every government in the world asking them not to cooperate with President George H. W. Bush in the Gulf War in 1991. MSNBC’s synchronized foamers-at-the-mouth, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, tried to breathe new air into the flat tire of the 25th Amendment for replacing mentally and physically incompetent presidents.

    Launched on slightly sturdier legs was the claim that Trump had obstructed justice, because, if he knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI, his statement to Comey on January 27 that he hoped the FBI director would be able to avoid prosecuting Flynn was an attempt to obstruct justice, compounded by his subsequent dismissal of Comey. As Representative Gowdy explained in a television interview — having read all of Comey’s memos over the period — if Comey had thought he was being tampered with by the president, he withheld that from himself (and Comey has publicly stated that he did not feel that).

    The anti-Trumpers have been engaged in a demeaning mousetrapping exercise for a very long time. The Justice Department (in the person of subsequently fired deputy attorney general Sally Yates) apparently asked to interview Flynn, and specifically asked him about conversations with the Russians, only to check his responses against what they had already ascertained from tapping into telephone conversations of the Russian ambassador, seeking a discrepancy. Flynn was so relaxed about it that he was not accompanied by a lawyer — unusual for someone who might be accused of treason — and he probably mistakenly forgot the conversations (as the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, claimed he did with the same ambassador). But Flynn pleaded guilty to lying as a single count, presumably to get rid of the expense and strain of Mueller’s persecution in exchange for a shoestring to the special counsel to keep this sham investigation going.

    The Democratic retreat was impossible to disguise. Virginia senator Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who nine months ago was claiming there were a thousand Russian agents planting anti-Clinton comments in swing states in the election campaign, and that Russia had won Wisconsin for Trump (complete falsehoods), and claimed until recently that the Steele dossier was “taken seriously by Britain, our ally,” bumbled almost incoherently out of our television screens on the weekend about obstruction of justice. This must be the last trench of defense for this bedraggled cabal of myth-makers and slanderers. Allegations about Trump’s tax returns, the infamous Clinton-commissioned Steele dossier, the whole collusion nonsense, and the 25th Amendment foolishness have all crumbled, and we are left with a statutory relic from John Adams and an obstruction scenario that Trump described persuasively as “more fake news about another Comey lie.” This rubbish can’t have been much consolation in a week when Trump got his tax bill through the Senate; the Supreme Court allowed his immigration executive order to proceed, pending determination of the main issue; it came to light that Mueller had had to fire an overt Trump-hater, Peter Strzok (who had helped push Comey into letting Hillary Clinton go unprosecuted for more serious lies to the FBI than Flynn committed); and Roy Moore regained the lead in the Alabama Senate election.

    It is difficult to know whether President Trump deliberately pours gasoline on the fires of Democratic and conventional-media frustration with provocative tweets, or is just reckless; the most likely option is a combination of tactics and insouciance. His enemies almost always overreact and crunch their teeth into another nothingburger. He is clearly winning the long battle: Almost the entire congressional Republican caucus now accepts his leadership and is working to enact the Trump agenda that most of them opposed up to the election, and, as the tax bill shows, he is breaking through; the Democrats will shut the government down at their peril. But as he takes hold, the president should consider whether he doesn’t owe the country and his great office a de-escalation of the tweet-wars. By all means, communicate with the vast Trump constituency and ignore the dishonest media — but he could graciously forgo answering the most insignificant critics (like the ungrateful father of the basketball player he sprang from prison in China) and throwing raw meat in the faces of the Maddows, Blitzers, and Scarboroughs, entertaining though it is.

    It is also time for the visceral snobs and deranged Trump-haters to subside and allow a serious opposition to arise, that offers alternatives and does not start swinging before the ball is pitched and strike out every time. America deserves a dignified chief and a loyal opposition.

    © 2017 Conrad Black

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  • Jack 3:06 am on December 9, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , political corruption, , , , ,   

    Massive Coverup 

    Here’s something you don’t hear every day — but an inspector general who was actually appointed by Barack Obama told Tucker Carlson of Fox News that there was “strategic coordination” taking place among the State Department, Campaign Team Hillary Clinton, certain key legal minds and politicos on Capitol Hill, regarding the behind-scenes talk of The Emails.

    Yes, those emails — the ones that were marked classified and top secret and that were found on Clinton’s private and unsecured email system.

    Thud. That’s the sound of Democrats’ jaws dropping.

    From the mouth of former Inspector General Charles McCullough III, as reported by Mediaite: “I’m well aware there was a strategic coordination between the campaign, the State Department, certain officials at the State Department, certain law firms in town and people on Capitol Hill.”


    About, for instance, what he told Carlson on Fox was a “deliberate effort” to mislead the public about Clinton’s emails. And who was driving that effort?

    In McCullough’s view — the Obama administration and Team Clinton.

    This isn’t exactly shocking to political watchers. After all, conservatives in particular watched with dismay as the FBI’s James Comey came out and on one hand, announced Clinton’s email server was dangerously improper and on the other, that he recommended no charges against her.

    But in the face of Clinton’s complete skirt of accountability on the private email server she was allowed to operate in her New York home — a private server that compromised State Department communications, and therefore, the safety and security of the American citizenry — it’s double face-slapping to hear McCullough speak of the politicizing of the whole investigation.

    McCullough, for instance, claimed he faced “personal backlash” while investigating the emails on the 2016 campaign trail — and that when he told then-DNI head James Clapper that he found Clinton’s email correspondences “extremely reckless,” nothing but coverup ensued.

    He said a “deliberate effort” went forth to mislead the American people about the seriousness of the email scandal and that he personally faced “nothing but contention” for his attempt to sift through the emails and discern the true level of compromise to national security.

    “[I was] chided [for] not considering the political consequences,” he said, Mediaite noted. “I’m an inspector general. That’s my job — to not consider the political consequences. … As an IG, you’re not a D, you’re not an R. You’re an I — you’re an IG. Those are the letters that matter to you.”

    And when McCullough tried further to bring forth his findings into the light?

    He said he was dismissed “as a shill of the right,” his character, “attacked” and sullied.

    That’s got Team Democrat written all over it — Team Clinton, for sure. Attack the messenger — distract from the scandal. America’s politically savvy already knew this was taking place over the investigation of Clinton’s emails. But McCullough’s statements on Fox underscore and confirm. The coverup was massive, the behind-door whispers and strategizing, extensive. And what’s clear is that Clinton will never face accountability, in this lifetime at least, for the compromises to America’s security she shoulder-shrugged with her private email server.


    See Also:

    (1) Justice Dept. lawyer who met with dubious Trump dossier author to be hauled before Congress

    (2) House committee presses FBI chief on political bias within agency

    (3) TIME Holds Bill Clinton Accountable as it Honors Victims of Sexual Assault

  • Jack 3:23 am on December 8, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: bruce g. ohr, , , , , , , , , , political corruption,   


    EXCLUSIVE: A senior Justice Department official was demoted this week amid an ongoing investigation into his contacts with the opposition research firm responsible for the anti-Trump “dossier,” the department confirmed to Fox News.

    Until Wednesday morning, Bruce G. Ohr held two titles at DOJ: associate deputy attorney general, a post that placed him four doors down from his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a program described by the department as “the centerpiece of the attorney general’s drug strategy.”

    Ohr will retain his OCDETF title but has been stripped of his higher post and ousted from his office on the fourth floor of “Main Justice.”

    Initially senior department officials could not provide the reason for Ohr’s demotion, but Fox News has learned that evidence collected by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., indicates that Ohr met during the 2016 campaign with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the “dossier.”

    Later, a Justice Department official told Fox News, “It is unusual for anyone to wear two hats as he has done recently. This person is going to go back to a single focus—director of our organized crime and drug enforcement unit. As you know, combatting transnational criminal organizations and drug trafficking is a top priority for the Attorney General.”

    Additionally, House investigators have determined that Ohr met shortly after the election with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS – the opposition research firm that hired Steele to compile the dossier with funds supplied by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. By that point, according to published reports, the dossier had been in the hands of the FBI, which exists under the aegis of DOJ, for some five months, and the surveillance on Page had been commenced more than two months prior.

    Glenn Simpson met with a top DOJ official after the election, Fox News has learned.

    Former FBI Director James Comey, testifying before the House in March, described the dossier as a compendium of “salacious and unverified” allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump and his associates. The Nunes panel has spent much of this year investigating whether DOJ, under then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, used the dossier to justify a foreign surveillance warrant against Carter Page, an advisor to the Trump campaign.

    The contacts between Ohr and Steele, and between Ohr and Simpson, have not been publicly disclosed nor shared with HPSCI staff.

    The panel has issued numerous subpoenas for documents and witnesses related to the dossier but claims DOJ and FBI have “stonewalled,” an assertion that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., seconded in a rare public statement in October.

    While the agencies say they have cooperated extensively with Nunes and his team, including the provision of several hundred pages of classified documents relating to the dossier, it was only last weekend that DOJ and FBI agreed to make available to the committee for questioning Peter Strzok, the high-ranking FBI official who was disciplined in July for having sent-anti-Trump texts to a colleague while playing a decisive role in last year’s investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private server.

    Strzok was removed from the staff of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and demoted to a position on the FBI’s human resources division. The agencies’ decision to make Strzok available to House investigators came on the same day the New York Times and Washington Post disclosed the existence of the anti-Trump text messages, and Fox News disclosed that Strzok’s conduct in the Clinton case was under review by the FBI’s Office of Inspector General.

    The demotion of Ohr thus marked the second time within a matter of months that the Justice Department and the FBI have disciplined for misconduct a senior official connected in some form or fashion to the Trump-Russia case.

    According to congressional sources, Simpson and Ohr met sometime around Thanksgiving last year, when President-elect Trump was in the process of selecting his Cabinet, and discussed over coffee the anti-Trump dossier, the Russia investigation, and what Simpson considered the distressing development of Trump’s victory.

    How exactly Simpson and Ohr came to know each other is still being investigated but initial evidence collected by the House intelligence committee suggests that the two were placed in touch by Steele, a former FBI informant whose contacts with Ohr are said by senior DOJ officials to date back to 2006.

    Nunes, who has instructed HPSCI staff to draft contempt-of-Congress citations against Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray – preparatory to a House vote on whether the citations should be enforced – issued a fresh subpoena on Thursday specifically covering Ohr and his files.


    See Also:

    (1) House Judiciary Republicans Call on FBI to Explain ‘Special’ Status for Clinton Email Probe

    (2) FBI agent Peter Strzok’s anti-Trump texts demanded by Senate

    (2) DOJ Reviewing More Than 10,000 Text Messages Between Anti-Trump Mueller Investigators: Report

    (3) Ex-CIA: Trump should just pardon ‘everyone’

    (4) ‘Resistmas’: the Hillary Christmas tree topper

    (5) Jerry Seinfeld Endorses Roy Moore?

    (6) Team Obama attempted ‘stealth coup’ by undermining Trump

  • Jack 3:23 am on December 8, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , makini brice, political corruption, , , , ,   


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken announced his resignation from office on Thursday, bowing to pressure from party colleagues after a series of sexual misconduct allegations against him.

    Franken, 66, a former comedian who had been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, said on the Senate floor he would be leaving in a few weeks.

    “I know in my heart that nothing I’ve done as a senator – nothing – has brought dishonor on this institution,” Franken said. “Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.”

    Franken is one of several prominent American men in politics, media and entertainment to be accused in recent months of sexual harassment and misconduct.

    “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently,” Franken said.

    The departure of the Minnesota Democrat presents an opening for Republicans to recapture a seat they lost when Franken won election in 2008, and to build on their slim 52-48 Senate majority.

    The election to succeed him, however, will not be held until November 2018. In the interim, Minnesota’s Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, will appoint someone to take his place, ensuring Democrats hold the seat for now.

    “I have not yet decided on my appointment to fill this upcoming vacancy. I expect to make and announce my decision in the next couple of days,” Dayton said in a statement.

    Allegations that Franken had groped and tried to kiss women without their consent began to surface three weeks ago.

    After the initial accusations, Franken said he was embarrassed and ashamed by his behavior but would not resign. Rather, he said, he would cooperate with a Senate ethics probe and work to regain the trust of the people of Minnesota.

    However on Wednesday, calls for him to resign came from the majority of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, including Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and almost all of the Democratic women in the chamber. That pressure came as a new allegation hit the news.

    Politico reported that a congressional aide said Franken had tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006, before he was elected to the Senate. Franken denied the allegations, Politico reported.

    Reuters has not independently verified the accusations against him.


    U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) arrives at the U.S. Senate to announce his resignation over allegations of sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein


    Striking a somewhat defiant tone, Franken sought to contrast himself with two Republicans – President Donald Trump and Senate candidate Roy Moore.

    “I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate, with the full support of his party,” he said.

    In a 2005 videotape that surfaced last year as he was running for the White House, Trump was heard bragging about kissing and touching women. Trump apologized for the remarks, but called them private “locker-room talk” and said he had not done the things he talked about. Trump also denied allegations at that time by at least 12 women of sexual advances and groping in the past.

    Reuters has not independently verified the accusations.

    Moore, who is running for the Senate in Alabama, has been accused by several women of sexual assault or misconduct when they were teenagers and Moore was in his early 30s. Moore, 70, has denied the accusations, which Reuters has not independently verified.

    Moore has been backed by Trump but Senate Republicans have been cooler toward his candidacy ahead of a special election on Tuesday.

    In pressing Franken to step aside, Democrats have tried to capture the moral high ground and draw a distinction between their party and Republicans.

    Democrat John Conyers, the longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives, stepped down on Tuesday after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, the first member of Congress to leave his seat during the wave of high-profile harassment allegations. Conyers has denied the allegations against him.

    Several of Franken’s Democratic colleagues dabbed tears from their eyes while he spoke. His family watched from the balcony.

    Afterward, his Democratic colleagues lined up to embrace him, including many of the women who had called for his resignation.

    The election to fill Franken’s seat next year could be close.

    When he ran in 2008, the race was decided after an extensive recount, with Minnesota’s Supreme Court weighing in. In the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton, won the state by less than two points.

    Before he switched to politics, Franken rose to national prominence as a cast member on the long-running television program “Saturday Night Live.”

    Reporting by Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Amanda Becker, Maria Caspani and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Frances Kerry


    See Also:

    (1) It Took Way Too Long for Senate Democrats to Demand Franken’s Resignation

    (2) Star Tribune Editorial Board: Franken should resign

    (3) Al Franken’s resignation gives Republicans ‘huge’ opportunity to win seat: GOP leader


  • Jack 10:44 am on December 6, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , hugh hewitt, , , , , political corruption, public anger, , , , , , washington post   

    Action Required 

    The Post reported that a former top FBI official, Peter Strzok, who had been assigned to and then removed from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, had “exchanged politically charged texts disparaging [President] Trump and supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton” and that Strzok was “also a key player in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.”

    This is a blockbuster revelation, carrying the possibility of shattering public confidence in a number of long-held assumptions about the criminal-justice system generally and the FBI and the Justice Department specifically. The Justice Department should appoint a special counsel to investigate Strzok’s actions as soon as possible.

    The Strzok report comes on the heels of the widely derided Justice Department investigation into IRS discrimination against conservative groups, including the disposition of allegations against IRS senior official Lois Lerner, and after the wildly erratic behavior of then-FBI Director James B. Comey during 2016. It also follows the vote to hold then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress — the first ever against a sitting member of the Cabinet — with 17 Democrats voting in support. Mix into this battering of the Justice Department’s and FBI’s reputations the still-murky charges and counter-charges of abuse of “unmasking” powers during the waning days of the Obama era.

    As a result, a large swath of responsible center-right observers are demanding a full review of the investigation and prosecution powers wielded by the Obama-era Justice Department and FBI. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote in National Review on Saturday that President Trump should call for a second independent counsel to investigate abuse of the counterintelligence authorities under President Barack Obama, abuses he suggests were undertaken to protect the controversial Iran deal on nuclear weapons.

    This is an excellent idea. The new special counsel could also review Strzok’s texts and, more crucially, his conduct throughout 2015 and 2016. Strzok may be completely innocent of everything except an offhand joke that the straight-laced Mueller deemed necessary to punish in a display of a “Caesar’s wife” sort of purity of purpose. But if his texts to FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal a partisan animus toward Trump or admiration for Clinton, then the bureau and the department have a huge problem on their hands and not just with Strzok and Page.

    When FBI Special Agent Robert Hanssen was revealed to have committed espionage against the United States, it didn’t mean that even one other member of the bureau was guilty of Hanssen’s sins, but it did require a painstaking review of all of Hanssen’s activities and inputs, as all of them had to be reconsidered in light of his treasonous behavior.

    If Strzok’s texts reveal deep animus toward Trump or an operational effort to tilt one or more investigations, then all of his actions have to be reviewed to assure the public’s confidence in the bureau. That one or two agents or officials of the bureau are discovered to have been acting from improper motives would be bad enough. To try and sweep those activities under the rug would be worse. Against the backdrop of other recent controversies, it would be disastrous.

    Step one is a quick publication of the questionable texts. All of them. The public has a right to know what the predicate for Mueller’s extraordinary action was. The public also deserves a detailed account of Strzok’s (and Page’s) duties and authorities during the years in question. If an NBA official was discovered to have purposefully thrown even one game, every game in which he had carried a whistle would be under the microscope. That’s how it works.

    Unless there’s a coverup.

    Nevertheless, just as Hanssen was “one bad apple” who didn’t spoil the bunch, so even an out-of-bounds Strzok doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the FBI beyond him. To get to the truth, and restore confidence in federal law enforcement, a special counsel should conduct an inquiry, bring any necessary charges and make a report — someone without ties to the president or his opponents.

    They do exist, such men and women. Former federal judges make excellent candidates. But we need one appointed right now.


    See Also:

    (1) Robert Mueller’s credibility plunging as Donald Trump probe implodes

    (2) The Incredible Tale of a Reckless, Partisan FBI Agent and Our Partisan Bureaucracy

    (3) Exclusive–Former Independent Counsel Slams ‘Brazen and Blatant Political’ Investigation of President Trump

    (4) Discovery of FBI Official’s Political Bias Clouds Hillary Clinton and Mike Flynn Investigations

    (5) Enough: FBI and Justice Department Corruption Needs to End

    (6) Is Flynn’s Defection a Death Blow?

    (7) Why weren’t Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills charged when they lied to Peter Strzok and the FBI?

    (8) Another One! Mueller Deputy Was Personal Attorney of Ben Rhodes, Represented Clinton Foundation

    (9) Mueller deputy praised DOJ official after she defied Trump travel ban order: ‘I am so proud’

    (10) Report: House Intelligence Committee to Begin Writing Contempt Resolution for FBI, DOJ Officials


  • Jack 11:21 am on December 5, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: alan m. dershowitz, , , , lt. gen. michael flynn, , , , political corruption, , ,   

    Legal Opinion 

    The charge to which retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty may tell us a great deal about the Robert Mueller investigation.

    The first question is, why did Flynn lie? People who lie to the FBI generally do so because, if they told the truth, they would be admitting to a crime. But the two conversations that Flynn falsely denied having were not criminal. He may have believed they were criminal but, if he did, he was wrong.

    Consider his request to Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., to delay or oppose a United Nations Security Council vote on an anti-Israel resolution that the outgoing Obama administration refused to veto. Not only was that request not criminal, it was the right thing to do. President Obama’s unilateral decision to change decades-long American policy by not vetoing a perniciously one-sided anti-Israel resolution was opposed by Congress and by most Americans. It was not good for America, for Israel or for peace. It was done out of Obama’s personal pique against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rather than on principle.

    Many Americans of both parties, including me, urged the lame-duck Obama not to tie the hands of the president-elect by allowing the passage of a resolution that would make it more difficult to achieve a negotiated peace in the Middle East.

    As the president-elect, Donald Trump was constitutionally and politically entitled to try to protect his ability to broker a fair peace between the Israelis and Palestinians by urging all members of the Security Council to vote against or delay the enactment of the resolution. The fact that such efforts to do the right thing did not succeed does not diminish the correctness of the effort. I wish it had succeeded. We would be in a better place today.

    Some left-wing pundits, who know better, are trotting out the Logan Act, which, if it were the law, would prohibit private citizens (including presidents-elect) from negotiating with foreign governments. But this anachronistic law hasn’t been used for more than 200 years. Under the principle of desuetude – a legal doctrine that prohibits the selective resurrection of a statute that has not been used for many decades – it is dead-letter. Moreover, the Logan Act is unconstitutional insofar as it prohibits the exercise of free speech.

    If it were good law, former Presidents Reagan and Carter would have been prosecuted: Reagan for negotiating with Iran’s ayatollahs when he was president-elect, to delay releasing the American hostages until he was sworn in; Carter for advising Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to reject former President Clinton’s peace offer in 2000-2001. Moreover, Jesse Jackson, Jane Fonda, Dennis Rodman and others who have negotiated with North Korea and other rogue regimes would have gone to prison.

    So there was nothing criminal about Flynn’s request of Kislyak, even if he were instructed to do so by higher-ups in the Trump transition team. The same is true of his discussions regarding sanctions. The president-elect is entitled to have different policies about sanctions and to have his transition team discuss them with Russian officials.

    This is the way The New York Times has put it: “Mr. Flynn’s discussions with Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, were part of a coordinated effort by Mr. Trump’s aides to create foreign policy before they were in power, documents released as part of Mr. Flynn’s plea agreement show. Their efforts undermined the existing policy of President Barack Obama and flouted a warning from a senior Obama administration official to stop meddling in foreign affairs before the inauguration.”

    If that characterization is accurate, it demonstrates conclusively that the Flynn conversations were political and not criminal. Flouting a warning from the Obama administration to stop meddling may be a political sin (though some would call it a political virtue) but it most assuredly is not a crime.

    So why did Flynn lie about these conversations, and were his lies even material to Mueller’s criminal investigation if they were not about crimes?

    The second question is why did Mueller charge Flynn only with lying? The last thing a prosecutor ever wants to do is to charge a key witness with lying.

    A witness such as Flynn who has admitted he lied – whether or not to cover up a crime – is a tainted witness who is unlikely to be believed by jurors who know he’s made a deal to protect himself and his son. They will suspect that he is not only “singing for his supper” but that he may be “composing” as well – that is, telling the prosecutor what he wants to hear, even if it is exaggerated or flat-out false. A “bought” witness knows that the “better” his testimony, the sweeter the deal he will get. That’s why prosecutors postpone the sentencing until after the witness has testified, because experience has taught them that you can’t “buy” a witness; you can only “rent” them for as long as you have the sword of Damocles hanging over them.

    So, despite the banner headlines calling the Flynn guilty plea a “thunderclap,” I think it may be a show of weakness on the part of the special counsel rather than a sign of strength. So far he has had to charge potential witnesses with crimes that bear little or no relationship to any possible crimes committed by current White House incumbents. Mueller would have much preferred to indict Flynn for conspiracy or some other crime directly involving other people, but he apparently lacks the evidence to do so.

    I do not believe he will indict anyone under the Logan Act. If he were to do so, that would be unethical and irresponsible. Nor do I think he will charge President Trump with any crimes growing out of the president’s exercise of his constitutional authority to fire the director of the FBI or to ask him not to prosecute Flynn.

    The investigation will probably not end quickly, but it may end with, not a thunderclap, but several whimpers.

    Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of “Trumped Up: How Criminalizing Politics is Dangerous to Democracy.”

    Reprinted from The Hill with permission. Copyright 2017 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.


    See Also:

    (1) ABC News president excoriates staff over Brian Ross’ Michael Flynn error

    (2) Why is Robert Mueller even investigating the presidential transition?

    (3) Instapundit makes notes…

    (4) Trump calls Flynn treatment ‘unfair,’ claims Clinton ‘lied many times’ with impunity

    (5) Exclusive: Trump lawyer claims the “President cannot obstruct justice”

  • Jack 3:35 am on December 4, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , political corruption, , , , ,   

    Mission Impossible 

    Two years ago in Kiev, I met with Artem Sytnik and his colleagues at the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, along with the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, of Ukraine, and wrote a profile headlined, “Can this man save Ukraine?” Mr. Sytnik at the time had just been installed as the head of NABU.

    The two newly minted organizations, part of a group of four anti-corruption agencies set up in concert with Western partners, were fresh, shiny entities filled with hope and promise. Young, newly hired prosecutors and detectives roamed the halls, radiating a fascinating yet naive energy to correct their country’s course in preparation for eventual association with the European Union. I wondered at the time what the future would bring. Mr. Sytnik even asked me to return and follow up on the unit’s progress at some point.

    To the disappointment of the European Union and American and European diplomats in Kiev, it seems the promise of these organizations has fallen victim to the old ways of the Soviet Union. Anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine are on the brink of collapse.

    The image of NABU and its sister service, the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption, have been badly tarnished, possibly irreparably. This is in spite of good funding, good salaries for the employees and support of the West.

    No senior Ukrainian government official has been convicted on corruption charges. The NAPC has yet to set up a functioning system to track assets of government officials.

    With NABU in particular, high-profile corruption cases have simply been sidelined. Corrupt officials in Ukraine want nothing better than to curb the organization’s work, and it seems they are succeeding.

    A perfect example of this is the case of the Privat Group of oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. The state nationalized the PrivatBank to prevent its collapse. However, it was found out later that on the eve of the nationalization, the owners withdrew all the money.

    Mr. Sytnik put the losses at approximately $600 million, a massive amount for the national financial system. NABU detectives seized relevant documents, but no action has been taken in the case. Mr. Sytnik has not mentioned the case for over two months. There are rumors of a lucrative secret deal between Mr. Sytnik and Mr. Kolomoisky to keep the case under wraps.

    Then there is the case of the large energy company Zaporozhye Oblenergo, one of the first actions initiated by NABU after its creation. The estimate of internal losses resulting from corruption is $12.8 million. Shareholders of the company include the oligarchs, the Surkis brothers, one of whom is the president of the famed Kiev soccer club Dynamo. According to parliamentary member Serhiy Leshchenko, appointments in power companies run by the Surkis brothers are vetted by Igor Kononenko, deputy chairman of the faction loyal to President Petro Poroshenko.

    Again, Mr. Sytnik and his office have not mentioned the situation for over six months, blocking the prosecution of one his first high-profile cases. Again, there are whispers of large bribes being paid to stop NABU in its tracks.

    Now a public feud between NABU and NAPC has erupted after a review of Mr. Sytnik’s activities was initiated by NAPC. Mr. Sytnik responded by launching a probe of NAPC’s chief, Natalia Korczak. Both sides subsequently hurled confrontations, threats, lawsuits and allegations. As the infighting continues, any momentum to fight corruption in Ukrainian society seems to be lost.

    An audio recording has come to light in which Mr. Sytnik disparages NAPC in comments to a colleague. Mr. Sytnik confirmed the conversation took place. NABU also has leaked classified information, causing possible legal problems for the agency and its leader. Calls for Mr. Sytnik’s resignation have begun to be heard, in Ukrainian public circles and in Western embassies in Kiev.

    The West may very well push to replace the leadership at NABU with more impartial figures in order to preserve the agency’s future capability, or even existence.

    The alleged corruption in the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office has been widely discussed in Washington, Brussels and Kiev. It now seems the anti-corruption agencies in Ukraine also deserve more scrutiny. The Ukrainian people deserve as much. The fate of future aid from international agencies also rests on Ukraine’s ability to put the legacy of Soviet corruption behind it.

    I wonder if that invitation from Mr. Sytnik still stands.

    L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.


  • Jack 3:35 am on December 4, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: chicago debt, , , , nicole gelinas, , ohio debt, ohio state, , political corruption, , , , rahm emanuel   

    Ohios’ Problem 

    The Windy City is using complex bonds to delay a financial reckoning and avoid cleaning up its fiscal mess.

    Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama...

    Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama, the consummate cause of all of Chicago’s troubles.

    Chicago is in the throes of a New York-circa-1970s-style fiscal crisis, with a widening chasm between revenues and spending. Abetted by Illinois’ state government, the Windy City is adopting one of the borrowing tools that helped New York get its finances in order decades ago: a complex municipal bond, structured to protect investors in a possible bankruptcy. But unlike New York, Chicago and Illinois are using this invention to delay necessary budget reform—particularly to unaffordable retirement benefits for public-sector workers—instead of to enable it.

    Chicago has spent at least two decades digging itself into a massive financial hole. Back in 2000, the city had racked up $12.3 billion in debt, in current dollars; now, it owes $20.2 billion. Back then, the debt burden per person was roughly $4,400; these days, it’s $7,500. Even scarier is what Chicago owes to current and future pensioners: $31.5 billion, up from a $5 billion estimate in 2000. Last year, Chicago’s pension funds took in $900 million from the city and its employees and earned nearly $541 million in investment income, but the fund paid out more than $2 billion. Chicago actually has less money set aside in its pension funds today than it did a decade and a half ago. As of last December, the funds were less than 25 percent funded—perilously close to becoming another government expense (and a big one) instead of a pension system.

    Chicago has zero practical hope of fixing this mess if it keeps to its current path. Since 2000, it has run a budget surplus only once (in 2002), and ended last year $500 million in the red. Though Chicago’s annual pension payments have risen from $500 million to $800 million, the city should be making an additional $1.6 billion payment every year to cover future obligations. Perhaps the reddest flag: Chicago’s school district has been borrowing long-term not to fund infrastructure improvements or maintenance but to pay immediate expenses—a practice that New York City showed in the 1970s doesn’t end well and that no responsible municipality does today.

    Illinois and Chicago did try to reform the city’s pension plans, starting in 2014, by reducing benefits and requiring higher worker contributions. But last year, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the changes, observing that, though “fiscal soundness is important,” the state and city could “not utilize an unconstitutional method”—impairing certain benefits that the state constitution protected—“to achieve that end.”

    You would think that bondholders would worry about this unsustainable fiscal reality. Yet last February, they lent Chicago a fresh $1.2 billion, despite warning in bond documents that “the retirement funds have significant unfunded liabilities and low funding ratios” and despite the city holding a junk credit rating from Moody’s for more than two years. Customers were willing to buy the bond, maturing in 2029, at about 6 percent annual interest—considerably above the 3 percent rate that New York could borrow with over the same period, but not sufficient to deter Chicago from borrowing altogether. Increasingly, though, Chicago is worrying that interest rates will rise even higher, making it hard for the city to keep borrowing. The credit cutoff would serve as a powerful signal. Chicago keeps telling retirees and workers, including recent hires, that it can pay pensions that it can’t afford. The city apparently won’t stop doing that—until it is forced to.

    Rather than heed the marketplace’s muted alarm, Chicago and Illinois are trying to turn the alarm off. In August, to maintain the city’s ability to borrow cheaply, Illinois passed a law allowing Chicago to issue debt under a far more complex structure than regular “general-obligation” bonds. Some background: a city borrows, in general, to build or to maintain infrastructure. It typically has two ways to give investors confidence that it will repay that debt. One is via a “revenue bond,” backed by specific user revenues. If a city builds, say, a water-treatment plant, residents and businesses would pay a fee for the water that they consume, and investors can count on that money to repay the debt. Second, in cases where infrastructure doesn’t pay for itself—local roads, for instance—the city will borrow under a “general obligation” and pledge its “full faith and credit” to repay the bond. The implication is that the city will raise taxes or slash spending, or both, if all other repayment efforts fail.

    When investors no longer believe in that “full faith and credit,” a city can still borrow money through a third method, pioneered by New York during the 1970s fiscal crisis. Saddled by expanded social-welfare obligations, New York had reached the point where it could no longer repay its short-term debts, yet it needed to borrow more money to fund those obligations, as well as to provide other key services. New York’s financial industry solved this seemingly insoluble problem by inventing a hybrid bond that combined the strongest features of revenue and general-obligation bonds. Albany would set up a new nonprofit entity, known as a “Municipal Assistance Corporation.” MAC, as people soon called it, would borrow the money—and then give it to the city. To repay the debt, MAC would first collect the city’s sales taxes from the state, use those revenues to pay its debt obligations, and only then deliver any leftover money to the city. The sales taxes, in other words, were “securitized”—pledged to protect a certain kind of debt. The new instrument comforted bondholders. They no longer trusted New York City to pay back its borrowing with general tax revenues. But they felt that they could depend on the new state-chartered corporation to collect the money to pay the debt.

    The structure, in legal terms, was “bankruptcy remote.” New York could file for insolvency—as was then a real risk—but the sales taxes would continue to repay the special MAC debt, even in such a bankruptcy. Ratings agencies approved the new financial instrument, awarding it healthy “A” ratings even as they suspended the city’s credit ratings in the face of imminent default.

    Unfamiliar with the new bonds, investors initially showed minimal interest in buying them. New York State had to win federal guarantees for the city’s debt to help Gotham avoid a sustained default. But instead of being an aberration, New York’s MAC bonds became a template. “The idea of carving out revenue streams that might normally be used for general obligation [bonds] took hold in the New York City financial crisis,” says Joseph Krist, a veteran of that era and a partner at Court Street Group Research, a consulting firm. “We see this same structuring philosophy applied to other situations.”

    The structure can have real benefits. First, the ability to borrow through a safer instrument can buy a distressed municipality time to reduce its spending in an orderly fashion. After its 2013 bankruptcy, for instance, Detroit turned to a MAC-style mechanism to issue debt backed by sales- and income-tax revenue. State governments can also use the power that the mechanism affords to oversee local finances, whether through bankruptcy, as in Detroit, or outside of it, as in New York. Yet this form of structured finance has real drawbacks, too—above all, that it can make it possible for municipalities to avoid tackling serious problems for years. In New York State, debt-ridden Nassau County turned to a MAC-type organization, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, to fund itself when it got into fiscal trouble two decades ago. It’s not clear what has been “interim” about the arrangement—Nassau officials have done zilch since the authority’s creation to get the county finances in order, including failing to cut unpayable future benefits for public-sector workers.

    The potential for this kind of irresponsibility is particularly evident in Chicago. Thanks to the new Illinois law, Chicago has followed New York’s 1970s lead, creating a MAC-like organization that is issuing bonds this autumn. Like Gotham, Chicago is securitizing the bonds with its share of state sales-tax revenues. Because the state will pay the interest on the new debt before sending the remaining funds to Chicago, “the city’s hope is to achieve higher credit ratings and reduce debt-service costs,” noted The Bond Buyer, a financial industry publication. “The program is designed to bypass the city’s weak bond ratings by insulating the bonds and assigned revenues from the risk of being dragged into bankruptcy.”

    The new bond structure marks the second time in a year that Chicago has issued such tightly structured debt. Last winter, Chicago’s school district—a legally separate municipality, despite relying on the same tax base as the city—issued a half-billion dollars in bonds through a new instrument designed, as Reuters put it, “to separate the debt from the district’s severe financial woes and protect it in a potential bankruptcy filing.” Investors in the new school bonds rely on revenues from a specific capital-improvement tax, again avoiding Chicago’s junk-level credit. Chicago constructed “what they consider this strong bankruptcy-remote structure because of the acute and growing risks perceived by investors related to the general-obligation pledge,” says Bill Bonawitz, director of municipal research at PNC Capital Advisors. Bond raters rewarded the school bonds with a grade of “A,” eight steps above the city schools’ credit rating at the time; as of mid-September, the bonds traded at just above 4 percent annual interest, lower than the school district’s overall cost of borrowing.

    Yet this kind of financial mechanism works only if big fiscal reforms accompany it, and, in Chicago’s case, there are reasons to worry. New York State let New York City issue MAC bonds only if it acceded to a state takeover of its finances. Gotham had to pare spending and hike taxes—and then the city struck luck in the early 1980s, when Wall Street took off, bringing in lots of revenues. Chicago, by contrast, will continue to manage its own finances.

    Further, the city faces a far more severe long-term financial outlook than New York did. Seventies-era New York experienced a liquidity crisis, which could be solved with higher tax revenues and a reduction in public services. Chicago is looking at a solvency crisis: even with giant tax increases and serious service cuts (both of which could drive away wealthier and middle-class residents), the city is unlikely to be able to make good on its pension commitments. And Illinois, with its own credit rating hovering just above junk and with pension problems in other municipalities, is in a much weaker position to help its marquee city than New York State was decades ago. Indeed, in early September, the state was itself preparing to borrow $6 billion to pay its bills.

    Illustration by Robert Pizzo
    Illustration by Robert Pizzo

    It’s not clear that this “bankruptcy-remote” structure really would protect against losses if Chicago defaults on its general-obligation bonds. “The corporate bankruptcy code is very well established,” says Bonawitz, with “a clear line of who gets paid and how.” With the government, he observes, the case law is “very, very limited.” Even with bond prospectuses running to 568 pages, as was true of Chicago’s new school-financing plan, “there’s still a good chance” that issuers and investors “won’t get it right,” Bonawitz adds.

    True, New York’s novel bond structure worked; investors were repaid. In fact, the city, despite a AA credit rating and record tax haul, continues to issue MAC-type bonds today, through a public corporation called the “Transitional Finance Authority.” Through the 20-year-old TFA, New York owes $38 billion—almost equivalent to its general-obligation debt. The TFA bonds, backed by the city’s personal income tax and by state payments for school construction, garner a AAA rating—the highest possible—letting New York borrow more cheaply than it can on its general-obligation bonds. But these bonds may work less because of their airtight design than because New York is in such a solid fiscal position, at least for the moment. Elsewhere, municipal borrowers that issued similar bonds and subsequently found themselves in weaker fiscal positions aren’t faring so well—and offer a warning for Chicago.

    Take Puerto Rico, even before Hurricane Maria hit. In 2007, the territory’s economy was seemingly doing well, with five straight years of growth, and unemployment falling. Still, it owed 70.2 percent of its GNP, and the government had shut down the previous year in a battle over how to fund a nearly billion-dollar deficit. Officials approved the territory’s first-ever sales tax to finance that gap, but Puerto Rico didn’t trim its bloated budget with the proceeds. Instead, it issued $1.3 billion in new bonds, backed by the sales tax, via a MAC-style outfit, Cofina. The government warned investors that the borrowing was not backed “by the full faith, credit and taxing power of the commonwealth”—but it reassured them, too, that it would collect more than enough from the sales tax to cover payments on the bonds. Investors bought the bonds later that year at below 6 percent interest, similar to Chicago’s cost last February.

    Investors comfortable with Cofina made it possible for Puerto Rico eventually to raise $17 billion in new debt, almost as much as it owed in general-obligation bonds. By 2012, the territory owed nearly 100 percent of its GNP—and now its economy was in trouble. Five years later, it would be bankrupt, under a new version of legal default that the federal government authorized for it. Cofina’s structure failed to help Puerto Rico establish financial stability, and it failed to protect investors, too—the territory defaulted not only on its general-obligation bonds but also on Cofina debt. It may be years before Cofina bondholders know whether they will do better or worse than the territory’s general-obligation investors.

    Another warning sign for Chicago comes from closer to home. Illinois has done its borrowing through a AAA-rated, tax-backed mechanism called “Build Illinois” for decades. Thanks to the cheap financing, Illinois borrowed more than it otherwise could have. In June, Standard & Poor’s bond-rating agency downgraded Build Illinois’ bonds from AAA, noting that “with the negative pressure on the state’s creditworthiness intensifying, the risk of interference with the flow of revenues pledged to the repayment” of the sales-tax bonds “has increased.” Even without a default, investors in these bonds paid a higher price for a sterling rating, which has been lost. If this tax-backed structure won’t work as advertised on the state level, how can anyone be sure that it will work on the city level?

    With no clear precedent to guide them, bond analysts are debating whether structured municipal finance offers much, if any, protection to investors. The pro-protection argument goes as follows. Even if investors in Puerto Rico’s Cofina, say, or in Chicago’s securitized-tax debt suffer losses, they will suffer less than other bondholders. A bankruptcy judge will respect the fact that the elected local government designed the bonds to offer greater protection. “Nothing is absolutely bullet-proof,” acknowledges one top municipal-bankruptcy attorney, but “if you’ve got a lien” in the form of securitized tax revenue, the borrower defaulting on this debt, and thus diverting the collateral behind that lien to other purposes, represents “an unconstitutional violation of the takings clause, the impairments clause.” These structures, he believes, should work “most of the time.”

    Contrarians, though, contend that no matter how tangled their borrowing, a state or city has just one tax base and, in a crisis, will have no reason to protect one set of bondholders over another. A bond secured by tax revenues is different, too, from one secured by a more traditional kind of asset, such as a parking garage. As Cate Long, who leads a private research service for Puerto Rico bondholders, notes, a key element of the territory’s insolvency proceedings is whether Cofina funds are “available resources” under the Puerto Rico constitution—“available,” that is, to fund public services and payments to public-sector retirees. If they are available, “then the lien and trust will be broken and Cofina sales-tax revenues will revert to the Puerto Rico general-treasury account,” says Long. The same scenario could arise in Chicago.

    In fact, cities and states might have an incentive to favor their general-obligation bondholders. After all, an entity like the one that Chicago is about to create to issue sales-tax-backed debt has no real purpose but to issue such bonds. Like a corporation, it could default, and vanish; Chicago, by contrast, will stick around. The city will want to maintain its ability to issue debt after any bankruptcy, by making good on its general-obligation bonds.

    Further, one precedent set in Detroit likely will affect tax-backed bonds. Many investors once thought that municipalities in severe distress would favor bondholders over public-sector workers and retirees. But, as William Sims of the H. J. Sims bond-underwriting firm observes, “the old days of the bonds coming before labor, that has gone.” Concurs Bonawitz, “it’s a lot easier to disrupt bondholder payments than it is to affect employees and pensioners and service recipients. If you’re a bondholder, no matter what the documents say . . . you’re an outsider.”

    MAC-style securitized debt for municipalities is a good idea only if it helps them avoid abrupt, radical change—shutting off streetlights at night, for example, to save money. It’s not a good idea when it delays needed change and makes any eventual adjustment—for citizens, taxpayers, and public workers alike—even harsher when it becomes inescapable. In devising legal structures to protect bondholders from a crisis, Chicago may wind up making that crisis worse, when it hits.


  • Jack 2:21 pm on December 3, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , political corruption, , , , ,   

    Entrapment? Possibly! 

    Ed. Note:  As a matter of general interest I once read cover to cover Sun Zu’s epic treatise “The Art Of War” followed since time immemorial by wise military and business tacticians.  The short story (aside from many other good ideas): In brief it describes the prospect of letting the enemy think they are winning,  all the while leading them exactly where you want them to go…and when the proper time arrives you turn on them and beat them to death with a very big club.

    Ghengis Khan and his armies were famous for this tactic and he conquered most of the known world of the time through it’s use.  Closer to the present, it is clear Bannon has read that book and so has Trump.

    Apparently, Mueller and Rosenstein have not, much to their NOW occurring embarrassment.  Finally we get to watch the much encouraged “fish” fight on the end of the baited hook they so eagerly devoured “lo these many months”.

    Big fish, yes (it’s a whopper).

    Bigger hook definitely (they can’t escape).

    Folks, it’s peanuts, popcorn and lot’s of beer time.

    Christmas has arrived early for Trump supporters.

    Two senior Justice Department officials have confirmed to Fox News that the department’s Office of Inspector General is reviewing the role played in the Hillary Clinton email investigation by Peter Strzok, a former deputy director for counterintelligence at the FBI who was removed from the staff of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III earlier this year, after Mueller learned that Strzok had exchanged anti-Trump texts with a colleague.

    A source close to the matter said the OIG probe, which will examine Strzok’s roles in a number of other politically sensitive cases, should be completed by “very early next year.”

    The task will be exceedingly complex, given Strzok’s consequential portfolio. He participated in the FBI’s fateful interview with Hillary Clinton on July 2, 2016 – just days before then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was declining to recommend prosecution of Mrs. Clinton in connection with her use, as secretary of state, of a private email server.

    As deputy FBI director for counterintelligence, Strzok also enjoyed liaison with various agencies in the intelligence community, including the CIA, then led by Director John Brennan.

    Key figure

    House investigators told Fox News they have long regarded Strzok as a key figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” and launched a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign associate.

    The “dossier” was a compendium of salacious and largely unverified allegations about then-candidate Trump and others around him that was compiled by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The firm’s bank records, obtained by House investigators, revealed that the project was funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, D-Calif., has sought documents and witnesses from the Department of Justice and FBI to determine what role, if any, the dossier played in the move to place a Trump campaign associate under foreign surveillance.

    Strzok himself briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, the sources said, but within months of that session House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier.

    In early October, Nunes personally asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – who has overseen the Trump-Russia probe since the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions – to make Strzok available to the committee for questioning, sources said.

    While Strzok’s removal from the Mueller team had been publicly reported in August, the Justice Department never disclosed the anti-Trump texts to the House investigators. The denial of access to Strzok was instead predicated, sources said, on broad “personnel” grounds.

    When a month had elapsed, House investigators – having issued three subpoenas for various witnesses and documents – formally recommended to Nunes that DOJ and FBI be held in contempt of Congress. Nunes continued pressing DOJ, including a conversation with Rosenstein as recently as last Wednesday.

    That turned out to be 12 days after DOJ and FBI had made Strzok available to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own parallel investigation into the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

    Contempt citations?

    Responding to the revelations about Strzok’s texts on Saturday, Nunes said he has now directed his staff to draft contempt-of-Congress citations against Rosenstein and the new FBI director, Christopher Wray. Unless DOJ and FBI comply with all os his outstanding requests for documents and witnesses by the close of business on Monday, Nunes said, he would seek a resolution on the contempt citations before year’s end.

    “We now know why Strzok was dismissed, why the FBI and DOJ refused to provide us this explanation, and at least one reason why they previously refused to make [FBI] Deputy Director [Andrew] McCabe available to the Committee for an interview,” Nunes said in a statement.

    Early Saturday afternoon, after Strzok’s texts were cited in published reports by the New York Times and the Washington Post – and Fox News had followed up with inquiries about the department’s refusal to make Strzok available to House investigators – the Justice Department contacted the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan to establish a date for Strzok’s appearance before House Intelligence Committee staff, along with two other witnesses long sought by the Nunes team.

    Those witnesses are FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the FBI officer said to have handled Christopher Steele, the British spy who used Russian sources to compile the dossier for Fusion GPS. The official said to be Steele’s FBI handler has also appeared already before the Senate panel.

    The Justice Department maintained that the decision to clear Strzok for House interrogation had occurred a few hours prior to the appearance of the Times and Post stories.

    In addition, Rosenstein is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 13.

    The Justice Department maintains that it has been very responsive to the House intel panel’s demands, including private briefings for panel staff by senior DOJ and FBI personnel and the production of several hundred pages of classified materials available in a secure reading room at DOJ headquarters on Oct. 31.

    Behind the scenes

    Sources said Speaker Ryan has worked quietly behind the scenes to try to resolve the clash over dossier-related evidence and witnesses between the House intel panel on the one hand and DOJ and FBI on the other. In October, however, the speaker took the unusual step of saying publicly that the two agencies were “stonewalling” Congress.

    All parties agree that some records being sought by the Nunes team belong to categories of documents that have historically never been shared with the committees that conduct oversight of the intelligence community.

    Federal officials told Fox News the requested records include “highly sensitive raw intelligence,” so sensitive that officials from foreign governments have emphasized to the U.S. the “potential danger and chilling effect” it could place on foreign intelligence sources.

    Justice Department officials noted that Nunes did not appear for a document-review session that his committee’s ranking Democrat, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., attended, and once rejected a briefing by an FBI official if the panel’s Democratic members were permitted to attend.

    Sources close to the various investigations agreed the discovery of Strzok’s texts raised important questions about his work on the Clinton email case, the Trump-Russia probe, and the dossier matter.

    “That’s why the IG is looking into all of those things,” a Justice Department official told Fox News on Saturday.

    A top House investigator asked: “If Mueller knew about the texts, what did he know about the dossier?”

    Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, said: “Immediately upon learning of the allegations, the Special Counsel’s Office removed Peter Strzok from the investigation.”

    Carr declined to comment on the extent to which Mueller has examined the dossier and its relationship, if any, to the counterintelligence investigation that Strzok launched during the height of the campaign season.


    See Also:

    (1) Mueller Investigation: Politics, Not Law Enforcement or Counterintelligence

    (2) Mulvaney scrutinizing 125 CFPB cases opened by liberal predecessor

    (3) Deep State Russia Meddling Cover-Up

    (4) Flashback: Obama State Department – ‘No Problem’ with Trump Transition Team Contacting Foreign Officials

  • Jack 3:06 am on December 2, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , california justice, , , political corruption, susan d. harris   

    Globalist Justice 

    While most decent Americans are lamenting the fact that our court system failed Kate Steinle and her family, I can’t help but think of people like George Soros and organizations like the Center for American Progress.  How large is our fight, and how determined are our foes!

    It may seem like a far-fetched connection, but it’s not.  Kate Steinle’s death and the ensuing nauseating injustice of her trial verdict are part of a much larger picture: the globalist push for open borders and mass immigration bent on destabilizing the West.  Soros is using his money and influence to make sure that destabilization happens, which will only ensure more Kate Steinles.

    Kate Steinle saw no unusual behavior and heard nothing odd before she was murdered.  She was just walking leisurely on a pier with her father, a fatal walk that would end with “Help me, Dad.”  She had no idea that her imminent murder would spark a debate that wouldn’t even have been possible twenty years ago.  Twenty years ago, George Soros and Interfaith organized progressives (private or institutionalized, like the Catholic Church) hadn’t yet spent millions of dollars conditioning Americans (and the E.U.) to tear down their international borders and private boundaries – this as a prerequisite to accepting any and all immigrants.  Twenty years ago, progressives wouldn’t have posthumously mocked Steinle as “Beautiful Kate,” as they did in Slate.com – even to make a point.  While Slate claimed that Trump was exploiting Steinle, those at Slate themselves called her murder “the most convenient of tragedies.”

    Slate went on to explain:

    Steinle’s death … gave Trump an opening to stoke the fears of primary voters.  If “beautiful Kate in San Francisco” – a young, innocent white woman – could be murdered in cold blood by a Mexican “animal,” so could any young, innocent white woman in any town in the United States.

    (It’s still disgusting to me that so many progressive outlets disapproved of calling a cold-blooded killer an “animal.”)

    Slate then made the case that Steinle’s murder was Trump’s ace in the hole.  They quoted David Frum in the Atlantic saying, “Something happened in July to send Trump’s numbers soaring…that something may have been the murder of Kathryn Steinle.”

    While Slate was busy resenting that “beautiful Kate” had been murdered at such a convenient time as to help Trump’s poll numbers, Matthew Vadum at Frontpagemag.com was penning the more accurate observation:

    Left-wingers in San Francisco should be hanging their heads in shame after their borderline seditious, destructive immigration policies allowed an illegal alien felon to murder a young woman randomly in broad daylight.

    How much more shall we say now?  Now – when defense attorney Matt Gonzalez decided to immediately thumb his nose at the U.S. attorney general, the vice president, and President Trump – by telling them:

    Let me just remind them: they are themselves under investigation by a special prosecutor in Washington D.C. and they may soon avail themselves of the presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, so I ask that they reflect on that before they comment or disparage the results of this case.

    From Gonzalez’s characterization, it seems to me that the Steinle verdict was payback for a Trump presidency, and setting a murderer free for political payback is such an egregious act that it’s nearly inconceivable.  But Kate Steinle is just one person, and the truth is that so many people – in so many countries – are in danger of similar payback for not submitting to globalists forcing mass immigration upon them.

    Jack Montgomery at Breitbart is documenting how Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán is fighting George Soros’s Open Society Foundations’ plan to “flood the continent with an unlimited number of third-world migrants.”  Orbán “has warned that the elites plotting a United States of Europe are using mass migration to engineer a post-Christian, post-national super-state.”

    Just this past October, Hungary detained a Pakistani wanted in his home country for murdering about 70 people.  This came after a tip from Austria…but how many more murderers, rapists and those bent on harm have already entered Europe and yes, the United States?  How many more are to come?

    The verdict on the murder of Kate Steinle did not happen in a vacuum.  There is a globalist push for Western destruction of what Hungary’s Orbán calls “conservative values centered on country, family, and tradition.”  Hungary is holding firm in their stance against forced acceptance of unchecked migrants, and the Hungarians must have George Soros rattled, because he issued a rare rebuttal of Hungary’s policies just days ago.

    The immigration war still rages across Europe and America, and only time will tell if Hungary will succeed in leading the resistance on that front.

    Right now, the U.S. is heavy laden with a populace that are themselves aliens.  We are fighting an uphill battle.  President Trump said it best on the campaign trail:

    American cities should be sanctuaries for law-abiding Americans, for people that look up to the law, for people that respect the law, not for criminals and gang members that we want the hell out of our country.

    For now, all we can say is, “We tried, Kate.”  Yet we must also add that such a miscarriage of justice has only sharpened our seething teeth against Soros organizations and progressives across this country who are willing to legalize murder in some deluded effort to promote social justice, peace, and harmony.

    Susan D. Harris can be reached at http://www.susandharris.com.


    See Also:

    (1) Editorial: Justice not served in slaying trial of Kate Steinle

    (2) DOJ considering federal charges against illegal immigrant acquitted in Kate Steinle case

    (3) AG Sessions says Steinle verdict should force rethink for sanctuary cities

    (4) Donald Trump: ‘Build the Wall!’ — Verdict in Katie Steinle Case ‘Travesty of Justice’

    (5) Steve King Pledges to Block ‘Every Form’ of Amnesty for Illegal Aliens in Kate Steinle’s Honor

    (6) Left Smothers Kate Steinle Verdict with Progressive Narratives

    (7) Sarah Sanders on Kate Steinle Murder Verdict: Politicians Who Fail to Secure Borders ‘Share Responsibility for Preventable Crimes’

    (8) Exclusive- Kris Kobach on Kate Steinle Verdict: ‘Open Borders Liberals’ Continue ‘Putting American Lives at Risk’

    (9) ‘They Have Now Deified Criminal Illegal Aliens:’ Steve King Calls Out Dems After Kate Steinle Verdict

  • Jack 3:06 am on December 2, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , political corruption, scott powell, , ,   


    Few would deny that the ascendance of the United States from colonial poverty to the world’s top economic and military superpower in just 200 years is largely attributable to principles and rule of law in our founding documents enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. And so it should come as no surprise that America’s decline in the last 25 years has coincided with the erosion of the U.S. Constitution and the corruption of the nation’s law enforcement and judicial system.

    What has most greased the skids of America’s decline toward the ways of a banana republic is the emergence and acceptance of two-tiered justice and attendant cronyism and political corruption. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the pass given to the Clintons, and particularly former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    When the Clintons left the White House in 2001, taking with them over $190,000 worth of heirloom china, flatware, rugs, and furniture as they cleared out—much of which they later had to return—they claimed they were flat broke. Today their net worth exceeds $150 million, accumulated not by traditional means of work and investment, but rather by pay-for-play influence peddling through speeches and Clinton Foundation fundraising — with the tacit understanding that the Clintons would be in a position to return favors to donors after Hillary won the 2016 presidential election.

    A key function of our law enforcement and justice system is of course the punishment of lawbreakers. But perhaps more important is the judicial system’s function in preventing repeat or escalated lawbreaking and deterring other would-be copycat lawbreakers.

    It is a felony, punishable by fine and imprisonment up to 20 years, according to 18 U.S. Code 1519, to destroy, conceal, cover up or falsify any record or document whether on paper or on any digital device with the intent to impede or obstruct the investigation of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States.

    The pattern of deceit through withholding and destroying documents and records in order to obfuscate and facilitate self-dealing and political crime started early in Hillary’s career. While her husband would face impeachment, stiff monetary fines and a near million dollar settlement as well as disbarment for five years, Hillary Clinton skated with no accountability for anything in her checkered career.

    There were the missing records documenting the statistically impossible profits from cattle futures trading, the disappearance of Hillary Clinton’s billing records from the Rose Law Firm—under subpoena by Federal and Congressional investigators (which were found some two years later in the First Family quarters of the White House)—where she previously worked on matters related to the Whitewater real estate sham, the removal and destruction of a hard drive from the computer of her former Rose Law Firm partner and then White House Deputy Legal Counsel Vince Foster, whose death by gunshot wounds was ruled a suicide in the midst of the Whitewater investigation. And then there were the missing documents from the White House Travelgate firings—documents that would also surface after the scandal passed—showing Hillary’s duplicity and contradiction of her prior statements.

    As egregious, scandalous or unlawful as these were, it was small time and a warm-up for what was to come after Hillary became Secretary of State and insisted on using a private computer server and email address—about which she was warned would be vulnerable to hacking and security breaches. Her purpose in so doing was ostensibly to evade Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and Federal Government record keeping laws and obfuscate conflicts of interest such as indirectly helping the Clinton Foundation raise enormous sums from governments and parties with whom she was also interfacing as Secretary of State.

    But it all began to unravel after Hillary left office and was required to testify before a House committee on Benghazi in October 2015 and answer questions about the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate on September 11, 2012. It was those hearings that brought to light the existence of Hillary Clinton’s secret, unsecured, do-it-yourself server. And then it was learned that she not only stored classified and top secret information in an unsecured location, but that she had also authorized the destruction of subpoenaed evidence—some 33,000 emails—after she was put on notice of the existence of the subpoena. These violations are felonies with stiff penalties and there were at least six other laws that appear violated for which Hillary could be indicted.

    What is now waking up Americans about the seriousness of Clinton family self-dealing and the need for prosecution is the realization that the Clintons were at the center of what appears to be the biggest political corruption scandal in U.S. history. The fact that the Clinton Foundation’s single largest aggregate donation of some $145 million came from various parties linked to the Uranium One sale to the Russian government nuclear agency Rosatum makes this the mega-case of Russian influence and corruption.

    Before the Declaration and the U.S. Constitution were even written, Samuel Adams observed that, “neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.” Political corruption in America has now become a cancer destroying people’s trust in government and their respect for the rule of law.

    The inclination to give a pass to high profile politicians once out of office would be a grave mistake. Boldness is needed and there is simply no more important or cathartic action to take to restore equality before the law and bring an end to cronyism and double standards than the prosecution of the masters of political corruption—the Clinton crime syndicate.

    Please adhere to our commenting policy to avoid being banned. As a privately owned website, we reserve the right to remove any comment and ban any user at any time.


    See Also:

    (1) FBI investigating people animated by ‘Antifa ideology’

  • Jack 3:10 am on November 30, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , katie grimes, political corruption, , , , ,   


    If Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Al Franken ‘deserve’ due process as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats insist, isn’t that a privilege provided to citizens held to all of the laws of the United States?With every Congressional session, lawmakers violate Federalist #57:

    “they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together.”

    The practice of Congress exempting itself from the laws it writes emerged as Congress began to adopt broad social policy legislation. From exempting themselves from insider trading rules, to Obamacare, to the Freedom of Information Act, to being exempted from prosecution for retaliating against employees who report safety and health hazards, to having to train employees about workplace rights and legal remedies, and record-keeping requirements for workplace injuries and illnesses, Congress gets a pass on important laws private sector businesses and states are required to adhere to – or be sued.

    As Federalist #57 said, one of the strongest points behind “they can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society,” was this: “This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interests and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.”

    And what have we today?

    “In 1964, with great fanfare, President Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act, including Title VII, which for the first time protected all Americans from employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” attorney Gerald Skoning wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2013. “But the law exempted Congress from its coverage, so thousands of staffers and other employees on the Hill were left with no equal-opportunity protection. Staffers could be discriminated against or sexually harassed with legal impunity.”

    Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012

    For decades, critics tried to get Congress to eliminate the exemption. Finally, when it looked as if real reform would take place and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 would be passed and Congress could remove the exemption, they punted. Efforts to eliminate the exemption failed.

    Skoning points out that it took Peter Schweizer’s book, “Throw Them All Out,” and a “60 Minutes” episode for Congress to pass the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, which banned insider trading by lawmakers and their staffs. “But just last week, while voters were focused on emotional issues such as immigration and gun control, House and Senate members voted to repeal a key provision of the so-called Stock Act—the one that required online posting of their staffs’ financial transactions,” Skoning reported in his 2013 op ed.

    As recently as 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Congress for insider trading however, Congress moved to block the investigation, undermining its own ethics rules, the Intercept reported.

    President Donald Trump has threatened to take away the Obamacare exemption from the 535 lawmakers and the more than 13,000 Congressional staffers, granted by former President Barack Obama. The bogus cries from Congress of “Health Care For All” ring hollow knowing they are exempted from the disastrous law.

    One surefire way to drain the swamp would be for Congress to lose all exemptions to laws they pass

    “Congress would be a very different institution if it were truly covered by the laws that apply to the rest of Americans,” Heritage Foundation scholar Dan Greenburg said in a 1993 speech. “Congressional coverage would give congressional employees the same workplace and equal opportunity regulations as the private sector. Congressional offices would have the same duties of record-keeping and disclosure that executive agencies have, allowing the public greater access to information about Congress. Members of Congress would share directly in the burdens and impositions of the laws they pass.”

    One surefire way to drain the swamp would be for Congress to lose all exemptions to laws they pass, and President Donald Trump is just the guy for the job.

    As for due process for Sen. Franken and Rep. Conyers, they deserve due process every bit as much as Judge Roy Moore does.


    See Also:

    (1) California Fornication…

    (2) Democrat Raul Bocanegra Resigns over Sexual Harassment; Activist Runs for Seat

    (3) NPR Top News Editor David Sweeney Out over Sexual Harassment Accusations

    (4) Matt Lauer dismissal puts harsh new focus on NBC News boss Andy Lack after Trump tweet

    (5) NBC fires senior executive, who was Matt Lauer’s booker, for ‘inappropriate conduct’ with women

    (6) President Trump: ‘Investigate’ Joe Scarborough’s Dead Congressional Intern

    (7) John Conyers Is the Albatross that Democrats Deserve

    (8) Report: Congressional Black Caucus Members Trying to Convince Conyers to Resign

    (9) Donald Trump Scorches Joe Scarborough, Phil Griffin, and Andy Lack at NBC after Matt Lauer Firing

  • Jack 3:10 am on November 30, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , neil macdonald, political corruption, , , ,   

    Sex and Money 

    As required, I’ve read and consented to updates of CBC’s regulations covering sexual harassment and other venality.

    The rules are exceedingly clear, and similar to those governing employees at other Crown corporations or public servants in government departments.

    Basically, it spells out unacceptable behaviour: bullying, unwanted sexual advances, uninvited physical contact, sexual innuendo, demeaning language, discrimination based on bigotry, etc., and warns that offenders will be disciplined, or fired. Period.

    The document seems sensible, unremarkable. But then I’m not an elected politician. I’ve never enjoyed the “privileges, powers and immunities” (to use Parliament’s own jargon) that come with election to federal office.

    Human nature being what it is, it isn’t hard to imagine what happens when powerful, privileged and immune people get to write rules governing their own behaviour.

    Governing Congress and Commons

    The United States Congress is a superb example. And the Canadian House of Commons isn’t much different.

    As an old acquaintance who once worked at the very apex of the Canadian public service puts it, politicians have enacted specific policies to protect themselves against their victims.

    Under Congressional rules, an employee who tries to complain about sexual misconduct by a politician is quickly hogtied and silenced. It’s atrocious.

    The very act of submitting a complaint is characterized as a “request for counselling,” as though the victim is the one in need of counselling. And, of course, there’s a non-disclosure agreement.

    If the complainant can’t be counselled out of complaining, she or he must participate in a month or so of mandatory mediation. With the offending boss. And, of course, continue to show up for work.

    There’s then a month-long “cooling-off” period, which, presumably, allows her or his unthinking anger to cool, and to perhaps further consider dropping the matter.

    Only then, 90 days later, can an investigation begin. Oh, and the taxpayer pays the legal bills of the accused politician, but not the complainant.

    It’s like a bunch of guys got together and made Congress a great place to be a sexual harasser. Actually, that’s exactly what happened.

    To be fair, there are politicians trying to change the system. Naturally, they’re all women.

    Democrat Jackie Speier says the system in Congress is designed to protect harassers. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

    Republican Barbara Comstock and Democrat Jackie Speier have publicly (and most unwelcomely, no doubt, where their male colleagues are concerned) accused unnamed fellow politicians of grabbing and fondling to their hearts’ content, sometimes on the actual floor of Congress.

    Speier has called it a system set up to protect harassers. Sen. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said the secrecy must end.

    Perhaps it will. Doubtful, but maybe.

    And Canada? I spent a day this week asking officials in Ottawa about the accountability of MPs and senators. The answer: see above reference to powerful people writing rules for themselves.

    Policy on Parliament Hill

    The House of Commons does have a policy.

    It’s a most discreet policy. Discretion, not the offence itself, is clearly the paramount concern. Almost every paragraph begins with an admonition to everyone involved about maintaining total confidentiality.

    Like Congress’s policy, it gags the accuser and lends enormous benefit of the doubt to the accused. Unlike CBC’s policy, or the rules of the public service, it doesn’t even mention punishment. That sort of distasteful stuff is left to the discretion of party whips. Perhaps the loss of a committee chair, or a parliamentary secretaryship.

    The Canadian code begins by strongly urging the complainant to engage first and directly with the harasser, basically hoping to high heaven things can be settled quietly and privately.

    That must be comfortable for a woman who’s been groped. Gropers are such sympathetic listeners, especially when they’re your boss.

    The two sides can even seek advice from the coordinator of the “Finding Solutions Together Program.” Seriously. Such a thing exists. Formal mediation is also “strongly encouraged.”

    Eventually, though, if the complainant is stubborn enough, the complaint can be investigated. The investigation must be secret, and both sides have to agree to secrecy, and the witnesses have to keep their testimony secret.

    The complainant does have the right to know the investigator’s final finding, but only if he or she agrees not to discuss it with anyone else, because, you know, it’s secret.

    Gag, gaggity, gag, gag.

    Now, anyone who’s ever worked on Parliament Hill has heard stories of what goes on. It’s not really much different from Washington. Power seeks sex and money.

    So. Since this code of conduct was adopted three years ago, how many investigations have there been?

    The answer, from a senior official speaking on background: it’s secret. The House has acknowledged the existence of exactly one inquiry, and another is apparently reaching its conclusion. The party affiliation of the members involved, of course, remains secret.

    The official reason is that MPs are special. So very special. They’re not employees, so cannot be subject to the rules that govern ordinary public service plebs. They cannot be fired or even disciplined by anyone other than their party leadership.

    Remember, they enjoy “privileges and powers and immunities” that must be respected if democracy is to survive in this country.

    The whole process is overseen by the Commons Board of Internal Economy, which could instruct CSIS on keeping information secret.

    “It’s quite gross,” says Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “The Board of Internal Economy is the ultimate protective mechanism for the three main parties.”

    May says, with some understatement, that the MPs code of conduct is “weak,” and that you’d think an elected member’s conduct is a matter of public interest. But: “The rules around here don’t tend to tilt toward ‘we should make this public.’

    “No party is going to approve any policy that can blow back and hurt them. There is solidarity.”

    Senate code

    Then there’s the Senate. Senators are effectively hired — not elected — help, but they have powers and privileges, too.

    The Senate has had a policy in place since 1993.

    Unlike the one adopted by the House down the hall, the Senate code actually does address punishment and discipline for misbehaviour.

    Alison Korn, Senate spokeswoman, passed on a long quote from a senator praising the system.

    I asked how many investigations have taken place since then, and how many complaints were upheld. The answer: “…the Senate does not disclose information pertaining to these matters. Thank you.”

    Korn then wrote back to say that three formal harassment complaints have been received by Senate human resources within the past two years. The senators involved, the offences and the outcomes? Secret.

    All this said, we are not America. We don’t have the touchingly feminist breast-grabbing Sen. Al Franken, we don’t have what appears on strongly corroborated evidence to be a child molester running for high office with the chief executive’s endorsement, and we don’t have a self-described genital-grabbing enthusiast in charge of the country who has an army of rabid supporters standing between him and justice for all the women who’ve accused him.

    But then, we don’t really know what we have, do we? Other than a political class whose privileges, powers and immunities swaddle it in secrecy and gags complainants.

    This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.


  • Jack 3:32 am on November 29, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , political corruption, rep. raul m. grijalva, , secret hush fund,   

    Another One? 

    Rep. Raul M. Grijalva quietly arranged a “severance package” in 2015 for one of his top staffers who threatened a lawsuit claiming the Democrat was frequently drunk and created a hostile workplace environment, revealing yet another way that lawmakers can use taxpayer dollars to hide their misbehavior on Capitol Hill.

    While the Office of Compliance has been the focus of outrage on Capitol Hill for hush-money payouts in sexual harassment cases, the Grijalva payout points to another office that lawmakers can use to sweep accusations under the rug with taxpayer-funded settlements negotiated by the House Employment Counsel, which acts as the attorney for all House offices.

    The employment counsel negotiated a deal for taxpayers to give $48,395 — five additional months’ salary — to the female aide, who left her job after three months. She didn’t pursue the hostile workplace complaint further.

    The arrangement appears to run contrary to House rules that constrain severance packages, and it caught the eye of watchdogs who were already demanding answers about payouts in the wake of harassment complaints.

    “It seems like all of these House bodies are designed to help cover for members of Congress,” said Melanie Sloan, an ethics lawyer in Washington. “A large part of the problem is that each member of Congress can treat their staff as their own fiefdom and also know that it will remain silent.”

    In the case of Mr. Grijalva, the senior employee left after three months on the job. Her position was filled immediately by another worker, and her email and cellphone were deactivated.

    When the woman hired a lawyer and threatened a lawsuit, Mr. Grijalva halted her salary as part of the House Employment Counsel’s strategy to force her to settle the matter, according to Capitol Hill sources.

    The agreement provided for her pay to resume at her full salary for five months after she left the office.

    Mr. Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, told The Washington Times that the pay was a severance package and that the agreement was reached without a complaint lodged with the Office of Compliance, which handles workplace grievances by congressional employees.

    “On the advice of House Employment Counsel, I provided a severance package to a former employee who resigned. The severance did not involve the Office of Compliance and at no time was any allegation of sexual harassment made, and no sexual harassment occurred,” Mr. Grijalva said in an email to The Washington Times.

    “Under the terms of the agreement, had there been an allegation of sexual harassment, the employee would have been free to report it. Regrettably, for me to provide any further details on this matter would violate the agreement,” he said.

    Mr. Grijalva did not respond to repeated inquiries about why he agreed to a more than $48,000 severance package for an employee on the job for just three months.

    The woman, whose name is being withheld by The Times, declined to comment for this article.

    The payoff in the Grijalva case appeared to violate House rules that prohibit a Congress member from retaining “an employee who does not perform duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate with the compensation such employee receives.”

    A legitimate severance package also should be paid in a lump sum and reported separately, according to House rules.

    The role of the House Employment Counsel in squelching workplace complaints emerged amid flurry of sexual harassment accusations and shock that Congress has covered it up for years.

    Most of the focus has been on Congress’ Office of Compliance, which over the past 20 years paid out $17.2 million to settle 264 complaints of sexual harassment and other workplace violations on Capitol Hill, The Washington Post reported this month.

    In the absence of a human resources department for Congress, the Office of Compliance handles sexual harassment and other workplace grievances. The settlements are secret, and the complaint process is arduous and can drag out for months with mandatory counseling for victims and other requirements.

    Victims also are required to sign a confidentiality agreement before the matter can be resolved.

    That appears to have happened in the Grijalva case with the Employment Counsel as well.

    Peter Flaherty, president of the watchdog organization National Legal and Policy Center, said the secrecy of the congressional offices makes it difficult to figure out how widespread the problems are.

    “Sexual harassment settlements are sometimes disguised as other transactions, like severance payments. These are very hard to unravel,” he said. “These settlements were made with public funds. Since we taxpayers were parties to these agreements, we have the right to know who on whose behalf we settled.”

    Mr. Flaherty said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, should make public all the names of all the lawmakers accused of sexual harassment and the amounts of settlements paid in each case, while preserving the anonymity of the victims.

    Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania Republican, called for the House Ethics Committee to investigate every use of taxpayer dollars to settle harassment claims in Congress.

    “It’s unbelievable — and unacceptable — that elected officials have been using taxpayer dollars to cover up sexual harassment suits for years,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “As if the American people needed another example of politicians playing by a different set of rules, this is an affront to the hardworking taxpayers forced to foot the bill for these heinous actions.”

    His office said the demand for investigation applied to the House Employment Counsel, the Office of Compliance and any other method of settling claims.

    The complaints against members of Congress are piling up.

    Ms. Sloan, the ethics lawyer, said she was victimized in 1998 while working for Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat. She said she was verbally abused and one occasion was called into the congressman’s office, where she found him in his underwear.

    Her complaints at the time were largely ignored, and Mr. Conyers’ office said she was “mentally unstable.”

    Ms. Sloan is among three women who have come forward with complaints of inappropriate behavior by Mr. Conyers.

    One female staffer was paid $27,000 in 2015 as part of a confidentiality agreement after she accused Mr. Conyers of firing her when she refused to have sex with him, BuzzFeed reported.

    The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the sexual harassment accusation against Mr. Conyers, who denied wrongdoing but stepped down from his position as ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

    On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Al Franken also faces a possible ethics investigation after radio newscaster Leeann Tweeden accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a USO tour in 2006, before the Minnesota Democrat was elected in 2008.

    Another woman came forward to accuse the senator of grabbing her buttocks while they were at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.

    Mr. Franken has made several apologies.

    “I know that I’ve let a lot of people down,” he said Monday when returning to work in the Senate.

    It’s part of a flood of sexual harassment accusations against powerful men that began with women speaking out about movie producer Harvey Weinstein and spread through Hollywood to journalism and Capitol Hill.

    The Senate voted this month to institute mandatory training to combat sexual harassment, and Mr. Ryan ordered all House members and staff to receive training.

    At the time, Mr. Grijalva applauded the move and called for more action.


    See Also:

    (1) Accusing Moore’s Accusers

    (2) Voters increasingly skeptical of allegations against Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race

    (3) Why Roy Moore Matters (Read it all-Roe vs Wade)

  • Jack 2:53 pm on November 26, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , jane wilson, , , political corruption, , , , wind farms   

    I Don’t Know 

    Every time I am interviewed by the media, or speak at a public meeting, I am asked: Why is Ontario continuing to push ahead with its program of industrial-scale wind turbines and wind power, when all the facts seem to argue against it?

    I don’t know.

    I don’t understand why Ontario’s Liberal government never did a cost-benefit analysis, or why it has ignored the admonitions of two auditors general about impacts and costs, or why it seems unable, or unwilling, to look at the real-world experience of its wind power experiment.

    I don’t know why the government signed contracts in 2016 for 600 megawatts of wind power when we already have a power surplus.

    In 2016, Ontario paid $2.7 billion for generators of electricity from nuclear, gas and hydro not to produce power, because we were forced to accept wind power (when it shows up) to the grid.

    In September, a new 100-megawatt wind power facility started commercial operation, but that same month, 42% of wind power in Ontario’s west region was curtailed (surplus, not added to the grid).

    Ontario’s electricity customers paid for that power, anyway.

    When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, the government already knew there were problems, but it pushed ahead anyway, going so far as to remove local land use planning power from municipalities seeking to protect their residents.

    Of those thousands of reports, more than 50% received no response from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Only 1% resulted in a priority response.

    On the formal Pollution Incident Reports kept by the government, there is space to name the “client”.

    Who might that be, for the ministry whose pledge it is to protect the environment and human health?

    Not the people of Ontario.

    On each report, the “client” listed is the wind power developer.

    New noise protocols were released earlier this year but guess what?

    The newly contracted projects don’t have to abide by the new rules.

    There are concerns about the effect of the vibration from wind turbine construction and operation (picture a giant tuning fork stuck in the ground).

    But the environment ministry appears to have abdicated its role as regulator, and relies instead on self-regulation by the multi-billion-dollar wind power industry.

    What is the reason behind these social, economic and environment costs that so moves the Ontario government to keep pressing ahead with this problematic program?

    I don’t know. The government is not answering.

    Wilson is a Registered Nurse and health care writer; she is volunteer president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of 30 community groups and hundreds of Ontario citizens


    See Also:

    (1) Delingpole: Exposed – the Liberal Astroturfers Behind the Global Warming Scare

    (2) AGAR: Refuse to be part of the herd


  • Jack 4:05 am on November 26, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , elfego baca, , political corruption, , , senate procedure,   

    On “Pro Forma” 

    The most interesting question about the Alabama Senate race is why would the REPUBLICAN majority spend $30 million of precious money trying to defeat an established, conservative brand name politician in the state who is likely to mostly vote with the Republicans? After all, name recognition is half the battle, party affiliation the other half. In a state that voted 62.9% for Trump vs. 34.6% for Hillary, why not just accept a cake walk? It is a mystery…

    What is the reason for this Gatling gun friendly fire? Would a nominal 53rd Republican senator really be so frightening? Say for a moment, as distasteful as it may be, that you are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and that in order to sabotage the repeal of Obamacare you have to find another no vote beyond McCain and the female Senator from Maine. It should be easy. The aptly named Senator Flake? The traitorous Corker who enabled Iran? Once you have sided with Iran, it should be pretty easy to be a no vote on complicated tax stuff, and pretend it is for the good of the party, and of course, the country.

    No, the fear of having a larger majority alone, with fewer plausible explanations for defeats and failures to investigate the crimes of the last eight years, cannot explain the panic among the Republican Establishment that Judge Roy Moore might win. You see the problem with Roy Moore is not his lack of character, but rather, the presence of his character and his demonstrable willingness to do what is called for and what is right. He believes in God. He believes in America. Like Roe v. Wade, he thinks that killing viable seven-month-old fetuses is murder. He goes by the book, the Good Book. He takes his responsibilities personally, and seriously. And therein lies the problem.

    Judge Roy Moore will do what is right for Alabama and for America. And when Majority Leader McConnell calls for a unanimous vote to declare the Senate to be in a Pro Forma Session, Senator Moore will not mislabel it. If Congress is in recess, and no serious business is being conducted, he will vote to call it a recess. You see, Congress has these “pro forma” sessions that pretend Congress is still in session so the President cannot make any recess appointments to any position. But I suspect the key to these votes is that they have been unanimous. Under Senate rules, if just one senator doesn’t play ball, a vote is required on the record. Senator Moore is likely to be that one senator. And the other senators don’t want to be on the record, sabotaging their President. And therein lies the $30 million problem….

    Once upon a time, Presidents routinely made recess appointments. President Clinton made 139 recess appointments, and President George W. Bush made 171. But when he was majority leader, Senator Reid used the pro forma rules to stymie President Bush. Turnabout is fair play. Senator McConnell used the same technique to stymie President Obama appointees. Of course, President Obama, with no respect for tradition or rules, appointed people anyway, only to have his appointments struck down by the Supreme Court.

    Now comes Senator McConnell, and in a scene out of Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards, is using the “pro forma” vote to sabotage his own party’s President, which happened in August of 2017 when Senator Murkowski set up a series of pro forma sessions to prevent President Trump from making any recess appointments. Meanwhile, according to CNN, by November 19 of the year following their election, President Bush had 455 confirmed appointees, and President Obama had 310 confirmed appointees, but President Trump only had 249 appointees confirmed. Altogether, President Trump is supposed to appoint 4,000 employees. At this pace, he will place less than 25% of the positions allotted to the Executive Branch. The Democrats and the Republicans are working together to stop Trump from getting his people into position.

    If Judge Moore is elected, however, Trump will get some daylight to run the government instead of being tied up by the Lilliputians. In addition, perhaps the real threat is that the people currently serving under Trump will realize that they can be quickly replaced. The phrase “You’re fired!” comes to mind. The fear of that may get some of his appointees to do what Trump actually wants them to do.

    Pro forma sessions rarely are initiated by the House of Representatives. There are just too many straight up guys like Louie Gohmert that come from an 80% majority district and can actually just vote what is good for the Republic. Senator Moore will likely do the same, and, to mix metaphors about a man who went to West Point and served as a Captain in Vietnam, the torpedoes be damned. And Alabama, which for years has been considered a backwater by our betters on the Coasts, will get to weigh in on what’s really important, and whether Alabama’s social culture is boorishly crude or actually superior to that, say, of Hollywood. To which I say, Thank God.


    See Also:

    (1) Congressional Sexual Harassment Settlements in Spotlight as Pressure to Lift Veil of Secrecy Grows

    (2) Shaky Allegations Against Roy Moore Are Not Enough to Disqualify Him

    (3) New John Conyers accuser: He showed up to a meeting in his underwear

  • Jack 2:42 pm on November 24, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , political corruption, , treason, , us-iran relations   


    Iran is determined to terrorize and weaken American interests, whether it is helping proxies fire missiles at the Saudi Arabian capital, trying to kill Americans, attacking Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, or supporting Sunni-terrorist groups such as the Taliban.

    Only now are we learning how diverse the mullah’s malevolence really is. A trove of hundreds of thousands of documents from the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan has at last been declassified, after years being kept under wraps for grossly deceitful and dangerous political purposes by former President Barack Obama. The documents show that Iran retained a close relationship with al Qaeda, proving a safe haven for its officers, plus training and support for its murderers.

    Why are we only seeing these documents six years after the bin Laden raid? The answer is simple and a disgraceful stain on Obama’s administration. He feared that if voters knew the truth about how Iran worked to support al Qaeda after 9/11, they would oppose his nuclear deal with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    President Trump deserves credit for letting Americans see the truth, and he must continue acting to constrain Iran’s international predations. Two incidents from last Saturday underscore the reasons why.

    First was the ballistic missile attack on Riyadh, conducted by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Iran almost certainly had an intimate role in its deployment. We can say this confidently, because Houthi commanders would not risk jeopardizing Iran’s longstanding command and control, logistics and training support by taking such aggressive action against the Saudi capital without Iran’s blessing.

    Then there was Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s decision to resign, claiming Iran and its ally, Hezbollah, were plotting to assassinate him. Hariri’s position had become increasingly tenuous in recent months, as Hezbollah assumed greater influence over the Lebanese armed forces and senior political figures such as President Michel Aoun. Hariri evidently concluded that his resistance to Hezbollah interests had become life-threatening. It’s a justifiable concern; in 2005, Hariri’s father was assassinated when Iran’s puppets, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah, blew up his motorcade.

    Saturday’s events reveal escalating Iranian efforts to weaken American allies. They deserve a proportionate U.S. response.

    First, in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. should support Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s attempts to remake his nation as a westward-looking, opportunity-driven society.

    Second, in Lebanon, the U.S. should work to ensure that only military officers independent of Hezbollah receive American aid. We should also sanction officers who kneel to Hezbollah’s flag.

    Third, recognizing that Iran may believe America is distracted by North Korea, Trump should consider deploying a carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf.

    As it confronts these latest challenges, the Trump administration must be aware of history. Following the 2011 Iranian bomb plot against a Saudi ambassador and other diners in a Washington restaurant, the Obama administration responded with characteristically limp inaction. In 2013, Jim Mattis, who is now defense secretary, explained the risks of Obama’s appeasement.

    The “[Iranian revolutionary guards] are like children balancing lightbulbs full of nitroglycerin, you get the picture … One of these days they’re going to drop one and it’s going to knock out the London stock exchange or Wall Street, because we never drew a line and said you won’t do it. Now it’s very important we stand up as Americans and say this is what I stand for, but it’s also very important once in a while that we say this is absolutely what we won’t tolerate.”

    Whether plotting against America or our allies, Iran never encountered the pushback that we so urgently needed to administer. Now, as Iran now rolls the dice again, the Trump administration must not make the same mistakes as its predecessor.


    See Also:

    (1) Iran’s Gen. Soleimani takes personal command of Abu Kamal battle. His deputy killed.

    (2) Saudi Prince Muhammad is on eve of accession, plans war on Iran, with Israeli attack on Hizballah

    (3) Madrassa molestation: Investigation unveils pervasive sexual abuse at Pakistan Islamic schools


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