Monday, January 27, 2020

John Ratcliffe On Schiff And Ciaramella

This came out in a Sunday interview with Maria Bartiromo. Here's the key part of what Ratcliffe had to say:

"The House managers kept putting up charts talking about the 17 witnesses," Ratcliffe began. "But there were 18 ... I was there. It's the one transcript out of 18 that hasn't been released. It's a 179-page transcript ... It's the one transcript that talks about Adam Schiff and the whistleblower. Now, everyone knows by now that Adam Schiff was not truthful about his contacts with the whistleblower. What they don't know and what's in that transcript is that the whistleblower wasn't truthful about his contacts with Adam Schiff. This whole thing started, Maria, when the whistleblower filed a complaint with the inspector general under penalty of perjury that wasn't true and correct, made representations in writing and verbally that weren't true and correct. And when we found that out and tried to get into the details of that, Adam Schiff, who was in charge of this investigation, shut it down, and now he's trying to bury that transcript."


The Infantilized Left

Michael Lind, certified liberal--

a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Politico, The Financial Times, The National Interest, Foreign Policy, Salon, and The International Economy. He has taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins and has been an editor or staff writer for The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic, and The National Interest

has written a mildly interesting article for Salon. I'll admit I was mostly attracted by the title, although his theme is serious--even if it's not exactly news. He unfortunately doesn't get into the reasons why the left is susceptible to infantilization. My own view is that Leftism itself is a product of an infantile outlook on reality--a less than reasonable, adult worldview.

In any event here are some excerpts. Lind has written a book on this topic, but I won't be bothering. His overall goal is to somehow relegitimize the neoliberal managerial (read: progressive) elites, by waving the magic wand of "shared power" over them. My one substantive comment here is that Lind mentions only one "intermediary institution" that "neoliberalism" has destroyed: labor unions. In fact, he should have included two other significant institutions: mass education and the establishment religious bodies.

The debunked "Russian influence" nonsense is infantilizing liberals
The Russian money spent to influence the election was negligible. Its persistence as an explanation is bad for Dems

The populist wave in politics on both sides of the Atlantic is a defensive reaction against the technocratic neoliberal revolution from above that has been carried out in the last half century by national managerial elites. Over the last half century, the weakening or destruction by neoliberal policy makers of the intermediary institutions of mid-twentieth century democratic pluralism, particularly labor unions, has deprived much of the working class of effective voice or agency in government, the economy, and culture. Populist demagogues can channel the legitimate grievances of many working-class voters, but they cannot create a stable, institutionalized alternative to overclass-dominated neoliberalism. Only a new democratic pluralism that compels managerial elites to share power with the multiracial, religiously pluralistic working class in the economy, politics, and the culture can end the cycle of oscillation between oppressive technocracy and destructive populism.

That is the thesis of this article. It is a minority viewpoint within overclass circles in the US and Europe. A far more common view among transatlantic elites interprets the success of populist and nationalist candidates in today's Western democracies not as a predictable and disruptive backlash against oligarchic misrule, but as a revival of Nazi or Soviet-style totalitarianism. One narrative holds that Russian president Vladimir Putin's regime, by cleverly manipulating public opinion in the West through selective leaks to the media or Internet advertisements and memes, is responsible for Brexit, the election of Trump in 2016, and perhaps other major political events. A rival narrative sees no need to invoke Russian machinations; in this view, without aid from abroad, demagogues can trigger the latent "authoritarian personalities" of voters, particularly white working-class native voters, many of whom, it is claimed, will turn overnight into a fascist army if properly mobilized. These two elite narratives, promulgated by antipopulist politicians, journalists, and academics, can be called the Russia Scare and the Brown Scare (after earlier "brown scares" in Western democracies, with the color referring to Hitler's Brownshirts).

Go Figure: Yevgeniy Vindman In Charge Of NSC Pre-Pub Review?

But he probably wouldn't have been the only one with access:

Why Is Joe Pientka Under A Protective Order?

And from whom is Joe Pientka being protected?

I really have no idea, but to me the most likely explanation is that he's a key cooperating witness in some sort of an investigation. Peter Strzok's right hand man 'Friday,' Bruce Ohr's handler, Michael Flynn's sly stalker and interrogator. What else?

It's almost like he's getting whistleblower treatment! I wonder what's going on?

UPDATED: The Bolton Leak

Obviously the substance of the leaked portions of Bolton's book, as reported by the NYT, amounts to much ado about nothing. As always. Like all the "bombshells" about this president.

The simple facts, that too many lose sight of in all the yammering about a "quid pro quo", are these:

1. The Constitution makes it abundantly clear that foreign policy is the exclusive responsibility of the president. There are two explicit exceptions enumerated in the Constitution: Declarations of War and Confirmation of Treaties. That's it. We recently covered these constitutional principles (by republishing Professor Turner's outstanding law review article, with comments) in our give part Unconstitutional FISA series. FISA and foreign intelligence gathering generally, of course, is just one more aspect of foreign policy.

2. Foreign policy is always conducted according to the mutual interests of the parties (nations) involved. As such, there is always a quid pro quo than can be enunciated.

3. Legitimate law enforcement concerns of the United States do not stop at our borders--that's the reason we have extradition treaties, embassies and consulates, and FBI Legat offices overseas.

4. Running for office does not exempt a US person from the laws of the United States, nor from the operation of the president's powers and responsibilities in the field of foreign relations. Only the tin foil hat crowd of the Left--for who their ends justify any means no matter how damaging to our constitutional order--imagine otherwise.

Not long ago--January 19, 2020, to be precise--we commented on the Top NSC Staffer Escorted From WH. That NSC staffer was reporter Liz Peek's son, Andrew Peek, who had only recently been appointed as head of European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council (NSC). At the time we cited at length CTH's revelations about Peek's close ties to Deep State (Never Trump) figures. The assumption, of course, was that Peek had been removed from his position for leaking--and we all awaited revelations about what his leaks were.

Today CTH expresses the suspicion that most of us harbored as soon as the Bolton leak came out "officially"--that Peek was behind the leak of Bolton's book to the NYT: Another Carefully Timed National Security Council Leak? – John Bolton Book Manuscript Leaked to New York Times.

Bolton had, as was required, submitted his book to the NSC for pre-publication review regarding any possibly classified material. I will add one fairly obvious factor which offers strong circumstantial support for CTH's view that Peek leaked Bolton's book: Peek, as head of European and Russia affairs at the NSC, would have had responsibility over the review of Bolton's book.

The bottom line is that, while this may lend support to those who wish Bolton to testify at the Senate's Impeachment Theater, it adds nothing at all to the legal and constitutional issues. It does, however, also lend strong support to those who also wish to bring the Bidens and other witnesses to the Ukraine Hoax before the Senate. To include Vindman, Ciaramella, and all the rest. Maybe even such Ukraine involved figures as Glenn Simpson and Nellie Ohr. I'd be very much surprised if Trump's team is not fully prepared for this, so the leak--and Schiff's predictable call for Bolton to testify--may turn out to be another object lesson in being careful what one wishes for.

UPDATE 1: (H/T one of my brothers) Ann Althouse--former professor of Constitutional Law--has a (mostly) pretty shrewd blog on all this today: Why can't John Bolton's publisher just release the book ahead of schedule so we're not subjected to second-hand reports of what's in it?  Excerpt:

Saturday, January 25, 2020

UPDATED: How Bad Is It For Dems?

In the comments we've been puzzling over, What's going on? Is there a game plan? Is there a hidden method to Dem madness? Or is it just madness?

There have been a variety of theories put forward to explain Dem Impeachment Theater. For example:

1. Impeachment Theater will drag Sanders back to DC and allow a "moderate" like Joe Biden to surge ahead and grab the nomination.

2. Or, maybe Impeachment Theater is something to keep the Dem base fired up--but that might mean that the base, which is gravitating toward Sanders, will get out and vote for Sanders! And that's a multi-dimensional problem.

I've suggested that there's an insoluble dilemma to this type of strategery, which is that #1 will alienate much of the Dem base, which is increasingly gravitating toward Sanders, and #2 will alienate the independents the Dems need to get past ~40% in the general election. Not only that, but the alienated Sanders supporters are unlikely to support any other Dem if Sanders is somehow denied.

I know this isn't exactly news, but Steve Hayward at Powerline (The State of Things for Dems: Gloomy & Getting Gloomier) provides some numbers and analysis to put it all in perspective:

The Saudi Connection: Inside the 9/11 Case

Is anyone else totally sated with Impeachment Theater? As far as I'm concerned life is too short to waste valuable time reading the endless commentary on a hoax. The serious constitutional issues of what the Dems are attempting have all been recognized and dealt with.

So, I offer--h/t emailer Jim--the following article on the continued Deep State efforts to prevent fuller details on the Saudi connection from being made public.

Let me be clear on where I stand. I recognize that there can be valid national security reasons for restricting access to some information. Nevertheless, we're approaching 20 years after this most devastating terrorist attack. That attack has served as the justification for the resulting GWOT and almost incalculable expenditures and suffering. In my view, if the United States is to function as a republic rather than an empire, the citizenry deserves more transparency in order to give informed consent to the policies that continue to flow from that traumatic event.

This article--

The Saudi Connection: Inside the 9/11 Case That Divided the F.B.I.
A small team of agents spent years investigating whether one of Washington’s closest allies was involved in the worst terror attack in U.S. history. This is their story.

recounts at considerable length the background of the continuing efforts to make the details of the Saudi connection public. Those efforts include the participation of FBI agents who worked on the 9/11 related cases, but who believe that the government is refusing to reveal details without sufficient justification. Excerpt:

On the morning of Sept. 11 last year, about two dozen family members of those killed in the terror attacks filed into the White House to visit with President Trump. It was a choreographed, somewhat stiff encounter, in which each family walked to the center of the Blue Room to share a moment of conversation with Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, before having a photograph taken with the first couple. Still, it was an opportunity the visitors were determined not to squander. 
One after another, the families asked Trump to release documents from the F.B.I.’s investigation into the 9/11 plot, documents that the Justice Department has long fought to keep secret. After so many years they needed closure, they said. They needed to know the truth. Some of the relatives reminded Trump that Presidents Bush and Obama blocked them from seeing the files, as did some of the F.B.I. bureaucrats the president so reviled. The visitors didn’t mention that they hoped to use the documents in a current federal lawsuit that accuses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — an American ally that has only grown closer under Trump — of complicity in the attacks. 
The president promised to help. “It’s done,” he said, reassuring several visitors. Later, the families were told that Trump ordered the attorney general, William P. Barr, to release the name of a Saudi diplomat who was linked to the 9/11 plot in an F.B.I. report years earlier. Justice Department lawyers handed over the Saudi official’s name in a protected court filing that could be read only by lawyers for the plaintiffs. But Barr dashed the families’ hopes. In a statement to the court on Sept. 12, he insisted that other documents that might be relevant to the case had to be protected as state secrets. Their disclosure, he wrote, risked “significant harm to the national security.”

Surely more could be revealed at this point?

Friday, January 24, 2020

What's The Point Of Being A Dictator?

I mean, if a dictator can be voted out of office, why would anyone bother? Impeachment Theater has reached it's destination: Theater of the Absurd:

No wonder people like John Hinderaker are asking: What If They Gave an Impeachment and No One Came?

The Democrats are getting their anti-Trump headlines, of course, but once again, there is little evidence that anyone cares. This isn’t surprising: on the list of reasons why we should evict from office a duly elected President, “He didn’t give military aid to Ukraine for a while, and then he did” ranks near the bottom. 
The polls offer no evidence that voters are impressed by the Democrats’ performance. At Rasmussen Reports, Trump stands at 49% approval/49% disapproval, pretty much where he always does. 
Then, too, the Democrats are playing without an endgame. There is no possibility of getting a 2/3 vote in the Senate, and never has been. So what will be the reaction of persuadable voters, when the whole impeachment farce turns out to be a colossal waste of time? Presumably those few who ever believed that what is happening in the Senate is serious will also see it as serious when the Democrats lose. It is hard to see this as a positive outcome for the Democrats. 
Don’t despair, though. Somewhere in the bowels of the House of Representatives, Democrats are already hard at work, preparing their second term articles of impeachment.

MSM Pushing On A String

Having flushed their credibility down the toilet, the MSM is finding that they're unable to influence anyone except the tinfoil hat crowd when it comes to Impeachment Theater. Via Greg Jarrett:

New Poll Shows Dem’s Impeachment Hopes are Doomed 
A new Hill-Harris poll shows that 60% of Americans do not believe that any new information will be revealed during the Senate impeachment trial.

A new Hill-Harris poll shows that 60% of Americans do not believe that any new information will be revealed during the Senate impeachment trial. As expected, the poll shows that Democratic individuals are much more hopeful that something significant will come out during the proceedings. 
In fact, an astonishing 61% of Democrats who were polled thought something potentially explosive will come out. Independents and Republican individuals were more realistic in their expectations with only 30%, and 25% of them respectively thinking that new important information will be revealed. 
After the first two days of the Senate trial not revealing any new information, the left-wing media has apparently sold the narrative of the Democratic party very well only to Democratic party supporters.

There could be a very rude awakening when the Trump team puts on their case.

UPDATE: Here's a perfect example of the MSM irretrievably flushed their credibility away. Can you imagine that the MSM is acclaiming Schiff's performance as "dazzling"?

What Are Flynn's Chances For Withdrawing His Guilty Plea?

Undercover Huber has an interesting thread today regarding Michael Flynn's chances to prevail on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. You can view the thread unrolled here. What prompts UCH to these reflections is that Judge Sullivan has asked the parties

to address whether there needs to be an evidentiary hearing on Flynn's effort to withdraw his guilty plea.  
Hearing may include "testimony from Mr. Flynn and other witnesses under oath, subject to cross-examination"

As UCH puts it:

Might as well reschedule this to the 4th of July because if it happens, they'll [sic] be no need for any other fireworks

Sullivan cites the DC case of United States v. Cray (1995) as controlling precedent. Here's UCH's summary of the Cray holding, re what the standards are to allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea:

There will be 3 main components that Sullivan will use when deciding whether to accept Flynn's motion to withdraw his guilty pleas. Flynn will need to satisfy all three. 
1. Make a "legally cognizable defense" to the charges against him.
This will need to be an *affirmative* defense of being *innocent* (not just not guilty), that is legally sound, as well as factually accurate. Flynn has never done this - yet - to the lying to FBI charge. 

My guess is that Flynn's attorney, Sidney Powell, will rely heavily on two factors: The lack of predication behind the interview of Flynn, and the government's failure to produce the "original" 302--this would amount to the contention that Flynn was tricked into pleading to a set of facts in a "revised" 302 that misrepresented to him what actually took place at the interview. Flynn, of course, didn't take notes at the interview, but the TWO agents did.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Briefly Noted: Two Terrific Reads

You've probably read about Chuck Grassley pressing DoD for more information on Stefan Halper and the Office of National Assessment (ONA). Halper is also being sued by Svetlana Lokhova for falsing smearing her as having an affair with Michael Flynn. Zerohedge has a terrific summary of it all, including this angle:

Russiagate Spy Paid $1 Million By Obama Was WaPo Deep Throat

Over at AmThinker this afternoon Monica Showalter asks Will an Arkansas stripper finally shut down the Schiff show? Showalter goes through the whole sordid story--not just the sex and drugs, but the Ukrainian and Chinese money, too. Funny, isn't it, how the MSM doesn't seem interested in how Joe Bidens relations get rich off foreign governments?

There's a lot in the article, but the part I enjoyed was this quote from Andrew McCarthy. Most observers have thought that part of the reason for the Impeachment Theater is to draw attention away from the Biden family, but as McCarthy points out, Adam Schiff has done just the opposite:

In sum, the House’s chief prosecutor represented to the American people that President Trump had asked his Ukrainian counterpart to fabricate a false case against Biden. In any court in America, that would open the door to the Trump defense team to show that this was not the president’s intention at all; he was simply asking Zelensky to look into a situation that cried out for an inquiry. 
In light of Schiff’s explicit allegation, the president is entitled to an opportunity to show that there was reason for him to believe that a notoriously corrupt Ukrainian energy company had retained Hunter Biden and paid him a fortune despite his lack of qualifications; and that later, despite the blatant conflict of interest, then–vice president Biden extorted Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, threatening to withhold $1 billion in desperately needed funds. 
Schiff insists that Trump’s claims in this regard are false. But his mere say-so does not prove falsity, no more than his mere say-so proves that Trump wanted Ukraine to “make up dirt” on Biden. Figuring out who has the better of a factual dispute is what a trial is about. If a litigant does not want to create a dispute, it’s up to the litigant to steer clear of the issue. 
Adam Schiff steered his case straight into the Bidens.

UPDATED: FISC Opinion: At Least Two Page FISA Warrants Invalid

I'm busy right now, but will write more later. For now I'll paste in three links to articles about this development, plus commenter Cassander's comment and my (edited) response:

FISA Court Confirms Two Carter Page Surveillance Applications ‘Not Valid’

DOJ says surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Page lacked evidence

BREAKING: Spy Court Admits FISA Warrants Against Carter Page Were ‘Not Valid’


FISC finds absence of predication for Carter Page FISA applications ##3 and 4. This is big. Techn Fog is also tweeting this development.
  1. Yes, I was reading about it elsewhere. The important part is what is most likely:

    The last two warrants--to include the one obtained by Team Mueller--were the warrants invalid that were stated to be "not valid. " I've made no secret of my view that they were ALL invalid, because there was never any real Probable Cause (PC) that Page was an agent of a foreign power (Russia). What was ALWAYS known by the FBI was that Page was an agent of the FBI and the CIA.

    I say that the last two warrants being found to be invalid was always the  most likely initial outcome as a simple matter of common sense. If the FBI didn't have PC for the first two, it's unlikely that they'd later develop PC--in the circs. After all, since Page knew in the late summer or fall of 2016 that the FBI were leaking that he was a spy, a Russian agent, how likely is it that he'd START working as a Russian agent at that point?

    Of course it was ALWAYS a no brainer that they NEVER had PC that Page was a Russia agent. I assume that this opinion is based on Clinesmith's forgery, which came with the last two renewals.

    OTOH, NR says the earlier warrants are still under investigation. I'll repeat: It has ALWAYS been a no brainer that the FBI NEVER had PC that Page was a Russian agent.

    What's big about this development, of course, is that it gives Durham what he needs to turn Team Mueller inside out. Or at least to start that process. It's called predication.

This is a nice development coming up in the midst of the Impeachment Theater. Kinda like a big fish thrown onto the stage while Schiff and Nadler are trying to peddle their warmed over Russia Hoax lies.