Saturday, August 31, 2019

Seven Days In May

Tonight shows sundance at his best. He provides us with a fascinating timeline of events between the firing of James Comey and the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel. What we see from this timeline is that DAG Rod Rosenstein's appointment letter was a subterfuge. That letter claims that Mueller's mandate was simply to continue the investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane. This was supposedly about Russian interference in the 2016 election, but the reality was quite different. The reality was that Mueller was appointed in order to force President Trump from office--whether via resignation (probably preferred) or by providing grounds for impeachment. Russian "collusion" had long been known to be a fairy tale or pipe dream at best. Nevertheless, hiding the ball, as an investigative strategy for entrapping Trump, contrary to the requirements of the Special Counsel regulations can't change the regulations. Which means that the predication for initiation of the Special Counsel must be evaluated on the facial meaning of Rosenstein's letter--that Mueller was continuing Crossfire Hurricane, an "enterprise" counterintelligence investigation. If that investigation lacked predication, then so did the Team Mueller operation.

Here is a summary of the timeline that I've extracted from sundance's much longer and fuller post. I provide it in this way because I believe it speaks for itself, and because I also believe that sundance's focus on the Comey memos distracts from the larger picture to some extent. That said, however, I agree with sundance that the leaking of the memos--or portions of them--played a role in instigating the Special Counsel appointment and justifying a decision that had already been made.

Here are those seven days in May, 2016--if we omit the first day:

Tuesday May 9th: 
FBI Director James Comey fired @ 5pm
Wednesday May 10th:
- DAG Rod Rosenstein called Robert Mueller to discuss the special counsel appointment @ 7:45am. 
- Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe immediately began a criminal ‘obstruction’ investigation. Wednesday May 10th; he immediately enlisted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. 
- A few hours after the Rosenstein-Mueller phone call James Comey’s office was being searched; the searching FBI officials know nothing about Comey's memos. 
Thursday May 11th: 
- The New York Times prints an article, based on information seemingly leaked by Comey and Comey's lawyer friend Daniel Richman, about a dinner conversation between the President and the FBI Director. This is the so-called “Loyalty” article re Trump asking Comey whether Comey will be loyal. 
Friday May 12th: 
- McCabe meets with Rosenstein to discuss the ongoing issues with the investigation and firing. Discuss appointment of Special Counsel, which McCabe strongly favors. 
- Mueller meets “in person” with Rosenstein. 
- FBI agents go to Comey’s house to retrieve FBI property; neither James Rybicki (Comey's chief of staff, who is present) nor Comey inform the agents about the memos.
- May 12th, is the date noted by David Archey when FBI investigators had assembled all of the Comey memos as evidence.  However, no one in the FBI outside the “small group” knows about the memos.
Saturday May 13th: 
- Another meeting takes place between Rosenstein and Mueller, this time with AG Jeff Sessions also involved. 
Sunday May 14th: 
- Comey transmitted copies of Memos 2, 4, and 6, and a partially redacted copy of Memo 7 to Patrick Fitzgerald, who was one of Comey’s personal attorneys.  Fitzgerald received the email and PDF attachment from Comey @ 2:27 p.m. 
Monday May 15th: 
- Per McCabe, he and Rosenstein confer again about the Special Counsel approach. 
- Rybicki calls the FBI official in charge of recovering FBI property from Comey to notify him of Comey’s memos. The memos were “stored” in a “reception area“, and in locked drawers in Rybicki’s office. 
Tuesday May 16th: 
- Comey takes photographs of both pages of Memo 4 with his personal cell phone. Comey then sent both photographs, via text message, to Richman. 
- Rosenstein takes Mueller to the White House for a meeting in the Oval Office between President Trump, VP Pence, Mueller and Rosenstein. While the meeting is ongoing the NYT publishes a story re Trump asking Comey "to end Flynn investigation (NYT)." The story was based on Comey memo leaks to Richman. 
- An evening meeting is held at DoJ. Tashina Gauhar takes notes. Others present: Lisa Page, Rosenstein, and McCabe. This is the meeting when Rosenstein suggests recording President Trump. 
Wednesday May 17th: 
- Rosenstein and McCabe give an afternoon briefing to the Intel “Gang-of-Eight” on Rosenstein's intention to appoint a Special Counsel: Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Devin Nunes, Adam Schiff, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Richard Burr and Mark Warner. 
- After the meeting Rosenstein announces the appointment of Mueller.
What is clear from a review of all the related and released information is the FBI small group (McCabe, Page, Strzok, Rybicki, Baker) were hiding the ongoing FBI investigation from other FBI officials (including the SSA Whistleblower), inside the department after Comey was fired.

Sundance rightly stresses that what we see here is the immediate initiation of an obstruction investigation--on the bogus notion that Trump's exercise of his constitutional powers to fire executive officials could somehow be a criminal act. We also see an immediate reaching out to Mueller by Rosenstein. The wheels of the Special Counsel appointment process are set in motion without delay--although we can only speculate at this point as to the details of their discussions. In the meantime, right up to Mueller's appointment, Comey and his allies are leaking to assist that process, which strongly suggests that there may have been coordination between the fired Comey and the small group of plotters.

UPDATED: Sidney Powell Shakes Up The Flynn Case

Team Mueller thought they were pulling a smart maneuver when they farmed out the Concord Management and Flynn cases to friendly local US Attorney offices--in New York and DC. This ploy was clearly intended to thwart the supervision of those cases that would result from the anticipated appointment of Bill Barr as Attorney General. The Attorney General exercises direct supervision over a Special Counsel--as we saw in Barr's handling of the Mueller Dossier--but there is little that the AG can do when local US Attorneys (presidential appointees, as I keep reminding one and all) prosecute an indictment that has been returned by a grand jury in their district. Little did Team Mueller anticipate what would happen!

In the Concord Management case, Team Mueller obviously never expected that the Russian defendants would actually contest the case in court. Instead, Concord's US lawyers have done yeoman work exposing the absurdity of the claim that "the Russians" had any measurable impact on the 2016 election through internet activities--or that their activities were even intended to have such an impact.

In the Flynn case it appeared for a long time that Team Mueller would have its way against Flynn. Flynn was framed, indicted, and pressured into a guilty plea that made little sense. The only thing left was sentencing, and in the initial stages of that final step Flynn steadfastly maintained his guilt, even under what appeared to be clearly skeptical questioning by Judge Emmett Sullivan.

However, Flynn may have been saved by unforeseen circumstances. Sentencing was repeatedly delayed while Flynn continued his "cooperation" against his former Turkish associates. And then, for reasons we are not privy to, Flynn dumped his DC establishment legal team and hired Sidney Powell to lead a team that includes prominent legal ethics experts. Powell herself, an experienced former prosecutor and current criminal defense lawyer with extensive appellate experience, has literally written the book on modern DoJ prosecutorial abuses: Licensed to Lie. That book included extensive documentation relevant to key players in the Team Mueller operation as well as--very pertinently--on the Ted Stevens case.

Powell's initial moves made it clear that, as expected, she was examining the possibility of seeking a dismissal of the charges against Flynn based on the same types of prosecutorial misconduct she documents in her book. In particular, it was clear that Powell believed that Team Mueller had withheld exculpatory information that should have been provided to the defense under the Brady Rule and in accordance with Judge Sullivan's standard blanket Brady order.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

UPDATED: The Bottom Line Of The OIG Comey Report (Part 1)

This is the bottom line, at least for me. David Harsanyi gets it perfectly this morning in the NYPost: James Comey is proof the ‘deep state’ is something to fear. This is the importance of what Comey did, even if it wasn't prosecutable. Not per se prosecutable, but it's powerful evidence of the big picture crime:

Comey, the report found, had leaked “investigative information, obtained during the course of FBI employment, in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.” 
That outcome, as Comey had admitted to Congress, was to “prompt the appointment of a special counsel” to investigate the president’s alleged conspiracy with the Russian government to win the 2016 election. By doing this, the DOJ inspector general, who is widely considered both meticulous and unbiased, found that Comey had “set a dangerous example” and “releas[ed] sensitive information” to “create public pressure for official action.” 
It worked. And by manufacturing an investigation into the president — one that he didn’t have enough evidence to pursue in an official capacity — Comey had not only abused his power but plunged the nation into two years of hysterics about Russian interference.

Abusing the trust of one's office--and remember, the FBI Director is nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed with the advice and consent of the US Senate--to knowingly plunge the nation into two years of hysterics based on a hoax may not be an actual crime. In my book, it's worse than most crimes. If John Durham and Bill Barr do their job, they'll expose this whole conspiracy to the American public and those who were complicit will pay the penalty for their perfidy.

UPDATE 1: Gregg Jarrett gets a lot right. Prescinding from the upcoming issue of FISA abuse, he focuses on the abuse of trust that Comey engaged in almost programatically as Director of the lead Law Enforcement and Counterintelligence agency in the United States, who had to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate:

Only the audaciously arrogant fired FBI Director James Comey would demand the equivalent of an apology in the wake of a blistering denunciation of his actions by the Justice Department’s inspector general Thursday. 
As usual, Comey has it backwards. Comey is the one who owes the American public a sincere apology for abusing his position as FBI director, violating government rules, concealing information from his former agency, leaking sensitive documents without authorization, mismarking memos without classification banners, improperly retaining records in an unsecured location, failing to surrender those records to the FBI, and assuming “carte blanche authority” he did not have. 
All of this is contained in the IG’s report disparaging Comey’s behavior. Yet, the fired director has chosen to play the victim by tweeting, “I don’t need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a ‘sorry we lied about you’ would be nice.”

I forget who it was, but someone recently said that the world isn't big enough to contain James Comey's ego. If we ever doubted that assessment, doubt is no longer possible.

UPDATE 2: James Freeman at the WSJ hits on an important point:

Adopting the public-relations strategy that earned Bill Clinton the admiration of communications executives worldwide, former FBI Director James Comey is treating as vindication a government report which details his misconduct but doesn’t yield a criminal indictment.

This is now part of Liberal America's civic culture. The only bar for misconduct--unless you happen to be a non-liberal of any sort--is the criminal law. If it's not a violation of the criminal law, it's no-harm-no-foul. Unless you're a non-liberal. That in itself seems to rise to the level of a criminal act.

Freeman concludes:

Now who wants to bet that the Comey FBI followed the rules when it came to spying on the political campaign of the party out of power?

With an example like that at the top, all bets are very obviously off.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

MAJOR UPDATE: First Comey Report Due From OIG Soon

Hannity's reporting it, saying the first OIG report on Comey could be out as soon as tomorrow. I think we've heard this kind of thing before. Anyway, this first report will deal with Comey's theft of government documents in the form of his memos re his meetings with Trump. The report will also document Comey's "lack of candor" in the inquiry and will recommend prosecution. Hannity states that AG Barr will hold off on prosecution on these matters pending the completion of several additional reports, all focusing on Comey--prominent among them the FISA report. Makes sense to wait for the full package, rather than start the Speedy Trial Act clock ticking at this point.

UPDATE: After listening to Hannity last night I listened to and read some other material and a clearer picture began to emerge. I'll provide transcripts and article excerpts below to explain what's going on, but first an overview.

First, Barr decided not to prosecute Comey on the mishandling (theft) of classified documents--Comey's memos on his conversations with Trump. The reason had to do the classification levels. Remember: "classified" doesn't mean "Secret" or "Top Secret" per se, and the Espionage Act has very specific requirements regarding what sort of intent must be proved. "Leaking" does not necessarily constitute espionage, even in the case of classified documents. That's simply the law, and Barr has to abide by that.

UPDATED: Where Are We With Declass?

Paul Sperry has a comprehensive article today at Real Clear Investigations on the state of play re declassification: U.S. Intel Gatekeeper Dragging Feet on Trump-Russia Files, Insiders Say. It's worth reading but, overall, if I were the suspicious sort I'd say that this is an article that was fed to Sperry because he's been a bit of a squeaky wheel lately. Hey, nothing wrong with that. I'm always glad for information. The fact is, August is always a slow news time, with most of the big players gone from Washington, so we're all waiting to put Labor Day behind us and get some real news. Anyway, here's what's going on.

We all know that Trump gave Bill Barr authority to declassify whatever he needs, so why hasn't that happened? Why aren't we rolling in documentation? Has Barr been revealed to be a Deep State operative who doesn't really care about telling the American people what really happened with the Russia Hoax?

Of course not. His remarkably deft handling of the Mueller Dossier shows that. But as with everything else, the fact that Trump gave Barr all that authority doesn't mean the other agencies in Washington have ceased to exist and that all the regulations and guidelines no longer have any effect.

In reality, however, we've seen some real progress, although it's mostly in the setting-the-table stage. Dan Coats and Sue Gordon are both gone from ODNI. That's real progress. It's progress because, when ODNI was set up in 2005 it "became the gatekeeper of virtually all classified information in the federal government." That was done legislatively, so even the president--and ipso facto, Barr--has to jump through a few hoops. It's also progress because Coats and Gordon were totally creatures of the Intel Community and were ignoring Trump's legitimate interests--not to mention the legitimate interests of the oversight committees in Congress, who were irate at Coats' stonewalling:

How To Live Not By Lies

The title is Rod Dreher's, this morning, but the contents are basically Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's. Here Dreher introduces Solzhenitsyn's essay excerpts:

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in a 1970s essay collection called From Under The Rubble, wrote that the worst thing about the Soviet system was not its material oppression. “A man can live in such conditions without harm to his spiritual essence,” said Solzhenitsyn. Rather, the Soviet system is “unique in world history” because it compels everyone to participate “in the general, conscious lie.” He went on to say that the most essential task is not achieving political freedom, but winning one’s “inner freedom” from entanglement in the lie. Those who “voluntarily run with the hounds of falsehood” will not be able to justify themselves to the living, to history, to their friends, or to their children.

Again, this is the dilemma so many of us and those we know and love find ourselves in. And this is Solzhenitsyn's advice. The question is as old as Plato or older--as old as the human nature that liberalism denies:

From “Home-Alone America” to “Primal Screams”

That's the title of an article by Mary Eberstadt this morning, touting her new book: Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. It helps to explain why the problems faced by Trump, Barr, and America generally are likely so intractable--how it got this bad, as explained by Patrick Deneen and others. The law of shoulda been expected consequences--even if they were unintended. Excerpt (from the article):

Primal Screams argues in part that the signature political movement of our time – identity politics – is rooted in the post-revolutionary erasure of self, brought on by the shrinkage and implosion of the family. 
Pace conservatives who dismiss such politics as mere theater, I argue that the anguish behind identity politics is real. But its foundation does not lie in abstractions like “whiteness” or “patriarchy” or the “binary.” What the timeline and other evidence shows instead is that identity politics cannot be understood apart from the familial dislocations and fractures endured by generations of homo sapiens since the 1960s. 
Divorce, cohabitation, fatherlessness, abortion, reduced family size: all of these phenomena have left post-revolutionary souls with fewer people to call our own – fewer people who can be trusted to do what families are supposed to do: have our backs, teach us, and love us no matter what. 
And with that radical diminution of the family and its protections has come an unexpected consequence: humanity is ever more unsteady, and ever less able to answer the question “Who am I?” as it always used to be answered before – relationally, with reference to one’s place in the natural social order. Deprived of this elemental way of constructing identity, many people now flee, ever more frantically, to collective “identities” that are inferior simulacra for the real thing. 

Does The Left Have Barr On The Run?

CNN is reporting that Bill Barr is coming under fire from ethics experts. Or should I say ethics "experts"? Or maybe "ethics experts"? Come to think of it, it could actually be "ethics" experts.

It seems Barr is planning a holiday bash at his boss' hotel in downtown Washington. His boss, of course, being Donald Trump.

The party at the Trump International Hotel, Washington, DC, could wind up costing more than $30,000, according to The Washington Post, which first reported on the party and its details. A Justice Department official told CNN that the party is not an official Justice Department event and will be paid out of Barr's pocket. 
Still, it is raising concerns from ethics experts and comes as the Justice Department defends President Donald Trump's businesses in court over claims that they're benefiting unlawfully from his position. 

I'll bet!

"On the letter of the law, this isn't a violation, however it doesn't look good. That's not nothing when we're talking about the chief law enforcement officer of the country and his private activity," said Liz Hempowicz, the director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group. 

Nope, but when did that stop the usual suspects?

"It contributes to this idea that you have to be putting money into an entity that will benefit the President -- if not today, then down the road -- personally to stay in his good graces," Hempowicz said. 
Barr consulted career ethics officials at the Department of Justice, who determined that ethics rules did not prohibit him from hosting the event at the Trump hotel, the Justice Department official said.

And there's more! For example:

Barr, a longtime advocate for strong presidential authority, has had his independence as the country's chief law enforcement officer called into question by the left throughout his tenure.

No kidding! Barr's likely response?

Classic Transgressive Behavior

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Highly Recommended Read: Ressentiment As Religion

This is a blog by Rod Dreher today, and it fits in with the Patrick Deneen thoughts: Ressentiment As Religion. Teaser quotes:

Driven by ressentiment, they seek to impose their own egalitarian ideology on history by tainting the achievements of those not like them. Never mind the fact that no society has been completely egalitarian, and that we will never know about the white men of scientific genius who spent their lives pushing a plow because rigid class inequalities, or other obstacles, prevented them from rising as far as their talents would take them. Once you go down that historical hole, you will never come out.
The pseudo-religious madness will not be stopped until those who recognize it for what it is put a stop to it. They will destroy every institution, until they are stopped. As Mitchell has clearly understood, the end game is not finding a more just way to live together amid our common human brokenness; it is about identifying and purging the body politic of the transgressors.

Is AG Barr Stonewalling Comey Related FOIA Requests?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request under consideration has to do with CNN's attempt to obtain the so-called "Archey Declarations", which are descriptions of of the contents of the, apparently, very detailed notes that disgraced former FBI Director James Comey took after each meeting with President Trump. CTH has been repeatedly claiming that "DOJ" is stonewalling a legitimate FOIA request. Since Bill Barr is the Attorney General and, therefore, the head of DoJ, the implication seems to clearly be that Bill Barr is personally stonewalling CNN's righteous request. That clear implication is strengthened by the fact that CTH has taken to concluding these posts with this image:

CTH seems to be saying that Barr is telling FOIA requesters that they can shove a bagpipe chanter in their ... ear.

Here's the problem. Actually, we can break this down into a couple of problems.

UPDATED: A Marriage Made In Heaven

That's how Joe diGenova describes CNN's hiring of Andy McCabe.

DiGenova's interview from yesterday is well worth the listen: WMAL Interview - JOE DIGENOVA - 08-26-19.

The hosts presented a tweet from a listener asking whether John Durham is in possession of the missing 30,000 Hillary emails and the missing Strzok/Page texts. DiGenova gave the very obvious answer: NSA has it all. If Durham wants it, he has it. If I (Joe diGenova) were Durham, I would have it all. This is true. The legal justification is there, and diGenova concludes his response by saying that his operative assumption is that, yes, Durham has that stuff.

DiGenova also says that he can "categorically state" that Michael Horowitz and OIG have concluded that all four FISA applications on Carter Page were "illegal." Including the application--diGenova emphasizes this--signed by Rod Rosenstein. The report is done and it's being circulated. Everyone knew the applications were illegal, it was a no-brainer (as I've been saying).

DiGenova doesn't go into this, but what this most likely points to is that the underlying investigations can almost certainly be shown to be "illegal" as well, since they rest on the same bogus predication.

DiGenova confirms that there was in fact an initial FISA application on Carter Page that was denied. Further, diGenova states that the only new information contained in the applications that were approved was the dossier material. That's very big and also goes to the illegality, demonstrable, of everything touching on these FISAs--including Crossfire Hurricane.

Briefly Noted: Video Footage Near Epstein's Cell 'Unusable'

No, this development doesn't prove Jeffrey Epstein was murdered, but it certainly does give one pause to consider. There's really not much to say at this point. You can read about it at Gateway Pundit and American Thinker. The investigation continues. Thomas Lifson's account at American Thinker includes the key considerations:

In order to evaluate this, we would need a diagram of the floor of the Metropolitan Correctional Center showing the location and coverage area of each camera. If it turns out that the actual entrance to Epstein’s cell is not covered, that is exceedingly suspicious. The question then becomes would anyone be able to access that doorway without being observed by the functioning cameras.
There are no details now available about the nature of the flaw, whether the camera was not functional for an extended period, or just for a limited time surrounding the death of Epstein.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The McCabe Test For Bill Barr

The NYT is reporting today that prosecutors are nearing a decision on whether to indict Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI: Prosecutors Near Decision on Whether to Indict Andrew McCabe. According to the article there has been turmoil in the DC US Attorney's office surrounding the case. Two prosecutors have left the case and the case itself has dragged on without a decision for so long that the Grand Jury has expired. One assumes that this is connected to the Swamp Creature Jesse Liu--US Attorney for DC. Liu was responsible for the coverups in the Awan Brothers and James Wolfe cases. In an unusual move, the Deputy AG, Jeffrey Rosen is now involved in the decision. At CTH, sundance is framing this all as "a moment where we can determine the intents and motivation of U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr." Sundance doesn't say it in so many words, but I have to assume he means: If McCabe is not prosecuted, that means that Barr's "intents and motivation" are corrupt--he's covering up to protect the reputation of DoJ and the FBI. It's part of the "two-tiered justice system" in DC. Here's the link to CTH: Bill Barr’s Test – U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu Punts McCabe Indictment Decision Back to Main Justice.

There's a lot wrong with sundance's reporting here. You can start with his acceptance of the NYT headline. Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that if McCabe isn't indicted at this juncture he's home free. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Briefly Noted: David Axelrod Anticipating RBG's Demise

David Axelrod, speculating on the likelihood of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's imminent death or disablement--in other words, the likelihood that she is not much longer for the SCOTUS bench--tweeted a few days ago:

David Axelrod

If there is a SCOTUS vacancy next year and @senatemajldr [i.e., Mitch McConnell] carries through on his extraordinary promise to fill it-despite his own previous precedent in blocking Garland-it will tear this country apart.
11:49 AM - 23 Aug 2019

I take that as essentially a threat rather than a warning. And it's a threat that is overwhelmingly likely to backfire in a major way against the Dems.

Consider the public revulsion against the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh--the Dems did themselves no favors with those antics. Presumably the Trump legal team has been vetting candidates ever since and will have another solid choice ready. We know from polling that the SCOTUS issue is always a winner for the GOP, and that it played a significant role in Trump's victory in 2016. If the Dems attempt to tear this country apart, as they attempted in the Kavanaugh hearings, if they once again attempt to stage a lynching the public revulsion might well lead to a Trump landslide.

The betting is that Amy Coney Barrett will be the next nominee. The spectacle of a qualified mother being savaged by the likes of Maizie Hirono and Dick Blumenthal for the crimes of being not only an articulate conservative, a Catholic, amd a mother as well will, IMO, make the backlash occasioned by the Kavanaugh hearings pale in comparison.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

UPDATED: Germania Delenda Est

Yes, for you Latinists, I know the original, re Carthage, runs a bit differently--but this will do.

Everybody's talking about the Trade War with China, but that's only half of the story. Just like WW2, American is engaged in a Two Ocean War. If you listen to the news about how China's economy is tanking under Trump's pressure, you may also hear a second story line: Germany's economy is also struggling to stay above water.

Germany first became a problem for Europe and the world in 1870, although I suppose you could trace it all back to the French Revolution. In a sense you could say that there's been a Great European War ongoing since 1870, and that WW1 and WW2 were simply inflection points. With the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany it looked like the German Empire had finally and definitively won that war--subjugating all of Europe, even Britain, to its iron will and its economic engine. Our post Cold War presidents acquiesced to the state of affairs, and turned the other cheek to German aggression.

Then came Trump.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Briefly Noted: Barr In Charge

Email correspondent Jim sent me a NYT article that describes AG Barr's reaction to the Epstein investigation: Barr Seized on Epstein Case as Doubts Mounted About Justice Dept. This being the NYT, while they didn't accuse Barr of racism or of having enslaved anyone, they did try to assign blame to him. Laughably, they used David Laufman to criticize Barr, describing Laufman simply as "a former Justice Department official." One might never guess that Laufman had been former counterintelligence chief at the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and deeply involved in framing Michael Flynn.

Nevertheless, we do get a picture of Barr as deeply involved, in ways that few AGs would be:

After Mr. Epstein killed himself, Mr. Barr moved to quell doubt that the department would seek justice. 
He immediately determined that prison employees and the warden had broken protocol several times. Mr. Epstein’s cellmate had been removed. The employees overseeing him had stopped their regular checks into his cell the night he died, even though prison supervisors and officials knew that he was to be constantly watched. And the prison had yet to officially determine whether he had earlier tried to commit suicide. 
Mr. Barr put on leave the two employees who were responsible for watching over Mr. Epstein the night he died and moved the warden, Lamine N’Diaye. And when he asked Kathleen Hawk Sawyer last Friday to return to run the Bureau of Prisons — a job he had appointed her to in 1992, during his first stint as attorney general — she was impressed by the amount of detail he had gathered about Mr. Epstein’s death and the conditions at the prison where he died, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation who was not authorized to share details. 
Ms. Sawyer told Mr. Barr that she took the job in large part because she believed she would have Mr. Barr’s support to make difficult decisions necessary to address the Epstein case and the bureau’s continuing struggles with staff and funding shortages, prison violence and workplace discrimination issues at its 120 facilities, according to the person.

No doubt, in hindsight, Barr wishes he had done a few things differently with Epstein, but the fact of the matter is simply this: The Attorney General is not head of the Bureau of Prisons. He isn't in charge of day to day operations. Barr apparently traveled to New York to express his concerns about guarding Epstein, although it's not known whether he actually toured the prison facility. There is no reason why an AG should do so. The personal trip to New York was quite sufficient to drive home the point that Epstein required extra caution.

Ball Of Collusion: It's About Hubris

Commenter Unknown could have done much worse than to present the Andy McCarthy "theory of the case," the big picture narrative, this morning. According to this version of events, the Ball of Collusion tied both the Hillary pay to play scheme--a witches' brew of connections between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary's gig as Secretary of State, facilitated and concealed by a private communications network--to the War on Trump. The Mueller Inquisition was the attempt to cover up when the Russia Hoax failed to prevent Trump from becoming President.

There's a lot to recommend this theory. I won't argue against it in detail, although I'm skeptical, except to note that the Patrick Byrne story works against it. It seems to me that the use of Byrne to target Rubio and Cruz as well as Trump would always have been a long shot in terms of "Russian collusion," although perhaps useful for gathering political intelligence. It certainly played no discernable role in the Russia Hoax before Trump's election. I still incline toward the view that Trump himself was an existential threat to the Washington Establishment in ways that Rubio and Cruz were not, and that the over-the-top lawlessness of the Russia Hoax was therefore more than just an attempt to protect and continue the Clinton pay-to-play scheme. Any GOP administration would have been a potential threat to Hillary's operation, but Trump was something way out of the ordinary and so all the stops were pulled out to destroy him. Whatever. You can call my view "weak linkage" and McCarthy's "strong linkage."

For your reading pleasure this morning I've excerpted some of John Kass' review of "Ball of Collusion", in which that theory is presented: Andrew McCarthy’s book ‘Ball of Collusion’ thoughtfully connects the dots on Clinton and Obama. Even if you don't fully agree, it's worth the read:

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Patrick Byrne Bombshell

By now I imagine everyone has heard of the series of interviews that Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne gave yesterday. These interviews, which followed on his stepping down from Overstock, were forshadowed by his remarks to Fox just about two weeks ago. At that time we provided a transcript of those remarks in Overstock CEO Tells Fox The Russia Hoax Is About To Blow Wide Open:

Patrick Byrne: I ended up in the center of the Russian and the Clinton investigations. I have all the answers. I have been sitting on them waiting for America to get there. Last summer I figured out… what they all are is all about political espionage. It had nothing to do with law enforcement, it was all political espionage. Here’s the bottom line. There is a deep state like a submarine working just beneath the waves of the periscope depth watching our shipping lane. And a nuclear ice breaker called the USS Bill Barr has snuck up on them and is about to ram midship. 
That’s about to happen and I think we’re about to see the biggest scandal in American history as a result. But it was all political. Everything you think you know about Russia and Clinton investigations is a lie. It’s all a cover-up. It was all political espionage. 
David Asman: You think Bill Barr is going to get to the bottom of it. 
Patrick Byrne: I think he has gotten to the bottom of it.

Obviously, the most intriguing aspect to Byrne's remarks is his contention that AG Barr has the big picture, he knows what went on. The implication would be that Barr, John Durham, and Michael Horowitz are assembling the evidence--documentation of all sorts above all, but also witness statements--in order to prepare prosecutable cases, to assign prosecution priorities, assessing witnesses, negotiating deals. All the things that have to be in place before a major investigation can move to the prosecution stage.

The glaring problem with what Byrne had to say at that time was: How does he know all this? Why should we believe him? Yesterday, on the whole, I believe he provided the answers to those questions. I won't attempt to summarize what Byrne said in his interviews yesterday. Those details are available at several sites, but I will say that I believe sundance's assessment is judicious (links below):

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Barr Has Initiated Criminal Investigation Of Epstein Death

Well, I don't know that Barr personally did that. I just said that to yank the chains who are always ragging on Barr. But the bottom line is that DoJ--probably the FBI and the USA office in New York--has initiated a criminal investigation of Epstein's death. But the bottom line is that grand jury subpoenas mean one thing--a criminal investigation. CNN is reporting:

As many as 20 correctional officers who work at the federal detention center where Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide received grand jury subpoenas last week relating to an investigation into his death, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. 
More subpoenas could be in the works as the investigation widens, CNN's source added. 
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment Thursday. 
Both the FBI and the Justice Department's Inspector General are investigating the circumstances around Epstein's death.

It's possible that the criminal investigation was simply prompted by Epstein's death, but CNN's exact words are "an investigation into his death." I assume that DAG Rosen (who supervises the FBI) and Barr are being continually updated, but that the local DoJ (FBI and USA) are handling the investigation.

UPDATED: Liberal Self-Criticism In Response To Failure?

I don't think so. I don't think it's possible, for all the reasons and more that Patrick Deneen cites in his book, Why Liberalism Failed. Basically, liberalism is a denial of reality--and I say this on a very fundamental, philosophical level, not as snark. That's the level Deneen is working on, too. The only self criticism of denial of reality that can possibly work is--to embrace reality. And if you do that you'll no longer be a liberal.

So, this morning the WSJ ran with an article by a writer who "reports on race and politics." I think you get the picture. Here's the title and subhead:

We Liberals Need Self-Criticism
We won’t beat Trump by blaming others and boasting about our own supposed virtue.

I think you can tell from the title that this is really just an exercise in tactics--the "self criticism" really only amounts to: if we want to win we have to somehow stop alienating normal people and make them think we're normal too. Kinda. Notice that he doesn't suggest changing anything fundamental about the Liberal worldview. It's about how to fool more people more of the time.

Here are the five points of his "self-criticism". He basically seeks to answer the question: Why is Trump winning so much and on course to win the Big Enchilada in 2020?

Red Meat For Unknown

I'm sure it's been noticed that in the comments I've been getting some pushback to my narrative of optimism. Commenter Unknown is the most prominent, but there have been others.

I don't want to be accused of hiding the ball, so here's my baseline for success--for Barr as AG in the biggest political crisis America has ever faced:

1) Truly significant prosecutions, i.e., prosecutions of major figures like Comey, Brennan, and players on a similar level at DoJ, in the White House, and in the Hillary campaign structure (Glenn Simpson, Nellie Ohr, possibly lawyers); and/or (because I always try to be reasonable,

2) Truly significant revelations of the complete shape of the coup plot via declassification.

Less than this--one or the other will do, but preferably both--will constitute failure. For Barr, not necessarily for Trump. Success for Trump at this point is reelection. He has his own ways of getting the truth out. And I repeat what I've said recently: Trump gives every indication of being very pleased with Barr's performance thus far. I have to assume that that means Trump knows things we don't.

With that said, here's the Red Meat for the Nabobs of Negativity, and it comes from a real veteran observer of the Washington Swamp Inside Game, Paul Sperry. Sperry went on an absolute tear on Twitter last night, and I reproduce below his highly negative, even defeatist, tweets--although, you'll see that they're intermixed with truth continuing to come out. My only comment is this: Sperry appears to believe that if the NYT and WaPo decline to cover the Russia Hoax story as it is--rather than serving as propaganda organs for the Dems--then defeat is around the corner for conservatives. To me, his attitude seems ironic. Here he is, a journalist, tweeting this negativity yet not appearing to understand the power of the new media, which Trump revealed to stunning effect by his very election and by his continued successes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Why Liberalism Failed (5)

Below I'm presenting excerpts from the conclusion to Patrick Deneen's Why Liberalism Failed. The previous excerpts were from the preface to the paperback edition. That preface was written in 2019 and it was intended to clarify matters that may have been somewhat unclear as well as to respond to the reaction to the book when it was first published. The Conclusion is from the original edition, written in 2018. Having argued that liberalism has failed due to its own inner contradictions, Deneen speculates regarding what type of regime might replace our current failing liberal regime. I highly recommend this brief video of Piers Morgan, whose diagnosis of the current state of the liberal regime closely tracks some of Deneen's analysis: Piers Morgan: "The Left Have Become Unbearable".

Liberty after Liberalism

Liberalism has failed because liberalism has succeeded. As it becomes fully itself, it generates endemic pathologies more rapidly and pervasively than it is able to produce Band-aids and veils to cover them. The result is the systemic rolling blackouts in electoral politics, governance, and economics, the loss of confidence and even belief in the legitimacy among the citizenry, that accumulate not as separable and discrete problems to be solved within the liberal frame but as deeply interconnected crises of legitimacy and a portent of liberalism's end times. 
The "Nobel Lie" of liberalism is shattering because it continues to be believed and defended by those who benefit from it, while it is increasingly seen as a lie, and not an especially noble one, by the new servant class that liberalism has produced. Discontent is growing among those who are told by their leaders that [liberalism's] policies will benefit them [the servant class], even as liberalism remains an article of ardent faith among those who ought to be best positioned to comprehend its true nature. But liberalism's apologists regard pervasive discontent, political dysfunction, economic inequality, civic disconnection, and populist rejection as accidental problems disconnected from systemic causes, because their self-deception is generated by enormous reservoirs of self-interest in the maintenance of the present system. This divide will only widen, the crises will become more pronounced, the political duct tape and economic spray paint will increasingly fail to keep the house standing. The end of liberalism is in sight. 
This denouement might take one of two forms. In the first instance, one can envision the perpetuation of a political system called "liberalism" that, becoming fully itself, operates in forms opposite to its purported claims about liberty, equality, justice, and opportunity. Contemporary liberalism will increasingly resort to imposing the liberal order by fiat--especially in the form of the administrative state run by a small minority who increasingly disdain democracy. End runs around democratic and populist discontent have become the norm, and backstopping the liberal order is the ever more visible power of a massive "deep state," with extensive powers of surveillance, legal mandate, police power, and administrative control. These methods will continue to be deployed despite liberalism's claim to rest on consent and popular support. Such a conclusion is paradoxical, not unlike Tocqueville's conclusion in Democracy in America, in which he envisions democracy culminating in a new form of despotism. 

This certainly describes exactly what we see happening in the Russia Hoax--the disdain of the Comeys, Brennans, and their ilk for the rest of the country, while they continue to spout bilge that they think the "deplorables" will perceive as high minded. But of course the Russia Hoax is simply the most egregious example of many of the way the American Republic has been transformed into a "soft" despotism," as envisioned by Tocqville.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"Step By Step, Day By Day, Throughout The Fall"

Tonight Hannity had Andy McCarthy on, along with Sara Carter. Quite frankly, McCarthy shocked me. I never thought that Andy would get this far out in front of the news. But he "went there." Here's the partial transcript--Andrew McCarthy: Counter Intelligence Investigations Are Done for the President -- Obama KNEW:

Sean Hannity: Does that mean Obama had to know? 
Andrew McCarthy: Sean, what I’m saying is not that the president sits there and directs that there be counter-intelligence investigations. What I’m saying is that, unlike criminal investigations, counter intelligence investigations are done for the president. The only reason to do them is to inform the president with the information he needs to protect the United States from foreign threats. They’re not like criminal investigations in that regard. So, in principle, the information from a counterintelligence investigation is for the president. And here we know at various junctures, we have actual factual information, that this investigation was well known to president Obama. 
Sean Hannity: So, if he knew, and this is all happening, he had to know about it from the get-go. Doesn’t that also imply that he would have been updated on this? If he’s the one that needs it for national security decision making? 
Andrew McCarthy: Sean, if things were working properly the president should have been alerted about it and informed. It was a very important investigation. If they actually believed what they were telling the court that it was a possibility that Donald Trump was actually a plant of the Kremlin, it would have been derelict on their part not to keep the president informed.

 After Sara agrees that Obama had to have known, the colloquy continues:

UPDATED: John Solomon's Declassification Wish List

This evening John Solomon speculates regarding the most likely upcoming reveals on the Russia Hoax--ten of them: 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall. Since Solomon appears to be the go-to guy for new revelations from OIG and DoJ, it warrants paying attention to what he says. Follow the link for the full list, but below are the items that interest me the most. Obviously, most of us need no convincing about most of this stuff, but the important thing is that these documents provide documentary evidence for use in prosecutions. Also bear in mind that Barr and Durham have seen all of this:

Behind the scenes, some major events were set in motion last autumn that could soon change the tenor in Washington, at least as it relates to the debunked Russia collusion narrative that distracted America for nearly three years. 
It was in September 2018 that President Trump told my Hill.TV colleague Buck Sexton and me that he would order the release of all classified documents showing what the FBI, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other U.S. intelligence agencies may have done wrong in the Russia probe. 
About the same time, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, under then-Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), voted unanimously to send 53 nonpublic transcripts of witnesses in its Russia review to the director of national intelligence (DNI) for declassification. The transcripts were officially delivered in November. 
Now, nearly a year later, neither release has happened. 
To put that into perspective, it took just a couple of months in 2004 to declassify the final report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks after a presidential commission finished its work, which contained some of the nation’s most secretive intelligence revelations. 
But the long wait for transparency may soon end. 
The foot-dragging inside the intelligence community (IC) that occurred under now-departed DNI Dan Coats and his deputy, Sue Gordon, could halt abruptly. That’s particularly true if Trump appoints a new IC sheriff, such as former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the current ambassador to the Netherlands, or longtime national security expert Fred Fleitz. 
Likewise, the president has an opportunity to speed up and organize the release of declassified information by simply creating an Office of Transparency and Accountability inside his own White House, run by a staffer empowered at the level of a formal assistant to the president. That would prevent intelligence agencies from continuing their game of public keep-away. 
Here are the documents that have the greatest chance of rocking Washington, if declassified:

Briefly Noted: OIG Delay Is Good News

We noted previously that Joe diGenova had stated that the reason for the delay in OIG's release of its reporting was caused by the alarm among witnesses/targets by John Durham's aggressive investigation. The alarm was causing these persons to flock back to OIG to "get their stories straight."

Last night Catherine Herridge on Fox confirmed that this is indeed the reason for the delay, but she also pinpointed a specific reason for the alarm: the decision of Christopher Steele to cooperate with US authorities. This, Herridge reports, is the reason these witnesses are now seeking to "deconflict" their previous testimony.

The deconfliction process itself takes some time, but beyond that there is a further reason for the reporting delay. The deconfliction may have opened up new avenues for productive inquiry.

Monday, August 19, 2019

John Solomon On The Status Of The Russia Hoax Investigations

I say "investigations" in the plural, because technically there are several investigations ongoing--all related. John Solomon appeared on Hannity last Friday night (August 16), then on Maria Bartiromo's Sunday morning show (August 18), covering related topics. Taken together, the two interviews give a decent picture of the overall status of the Russia Hoax investigations. That, in turn, will provide an indication of the shape of developments we should expect to see going forward. We'll start with the Hannity interview:

The first part of the interview makes clear that there are, in essence, several investigations and there will therefore be several reports:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

What Bill Barr Is Fighting For

Earlier today I did a post on Bill Barr--why we should trust him to be doing the right thing in investigating and prosecuting the Russia Hoax plot as well as combatting the impeachment related legal ploys of the Dems. That elicited a number of pointed, but measured, comments. First I'll paste in those comments, and my responses, and then I'll provide some fairly extensive excerpts from a Politico article that came out at the beginning of May, 2019. I think readers here will find the article quite fascinating. It shows that the Trump White House was courting Barr almost from the first days of the new administration. It also includes revealing details about Barr's personality and the reason he finally agreed to come on board with Trump. And I think you'll see from it why I wrote: 

Barr's perspective on his current service as AG is that he took the job primarily to defend the institution of the presidency.

That said, while I agree broadly with the concept of the unitary executive, I'm not sure I would take it to the lengths that Barr has done in the past. On the other hand, the issues involved, especially with regard to the president's powers as commander in chief, can be exceptionally sticky.

So, first, here are the comments--bolding is mine:

Why Should We Trust Bill Barr?

In these slow news days, it may be useful to revisit the extensive interview that AG Bill Barr gave to Jan Crawford of CBS on May 30, 2019. The interview was very professionally handled by Crawford and, toward the end, elicited some remarks from Barr that have a direct bearing on the question of what he is seeking to accomplish as Attorney General--and why we should trust him. Recall that at the time of his confirmation Barr stated that he wanted to be of help in this circumstance--which, of course, could only be taken to mean the crisis of the Russia Hoax:

“I feel I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences. In the sense that I can be truly independent,” Barr said.
He added: “I had a very good life. I have a very good life. I love it. But I also want to help in this circumstance, and I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong. ... I’m going to do what I think is right.”

We saw the results of that determination to do what's right in Barr's handling of Team Mueller's attempt to sabotage the Trump presidency. His lack of concern for the firestorm of slander against him was apparent. That's the backdrop to the closing exchange of question and answer with Crawford:

JAN CRAWFORD: You are only the second Attorney General in history who's served twice. I think the first one was back in 1850. 
JAN CRAWFORD: But you are working for a man who is- I mean you are an establishment figure in a way. You've had a long career in Washington but you are working for a man who is not establishment. And some of his tweets about officials and the rule of law, how do you react when you see those? Are you on Twitter? Do you read his tweets?

Friday, August 16, 2019


That's the only way to describe the way Jeffrey Epstein is supposed to have committed suicide. I borrowed the quote from CTH, who borrowed it from the NYT:

(New York) The official results of an autopsy showed that the financier Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell, the city’s medical examiner’s office said on Friday, determining that the cause of death was suicide by hanging. 
[…]  Guards on their morning rounds found Mr. Epstein at about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, prison officials said. He appeared to have tied a bedsheet to the top of a set of bunk beds, then knelt toward the floor with enough force that he broke several bones in his neck, officials said. 
His suicide came after he appeared to have made another attempt to kill himself in late July, and days after prison staff had recommended he be removed from suicide watch and returned to the special wing in which he was being housed. 
[…] he had been left alone after his cellmate was transferred, and the two employees assigned to guard him had not checked on him for about three hours before he was found. 
Officials said the employees, who have been placed on leave, were sleeping for some or all of that time.

It's not clear whether Russians or racism played any role.

Time to ban bunkbeds? And sheets?

Plan A: Russia Mania. Plan B: Racism Mania

It's what everyone's talking about today: Somebody at a NYT in-house townhall recorded the whole thing and Slate published a transcript. What's revealed is that the NYT was caught totally flatfooted when the Russia Hoax collapsed, and they're now scrambling to formulate a new narrative about Trump. Guess what? It's racism! No, really! All racism all the time. Starting with the founding of America in 1619. Ha ha--you thought the Pilgrims got here first? That just shows you don't know what it means to be a Nacirema. The whole thing is about how unhappy the staffers are that they can't call Trump a "racist" in every single story. Including, apparently science stories (nope, not kidding).

So here are two blogs that cover this story about the people who write the stories. Both are excellent in there own ways:

NYT Editor: After Failure of Our Russia Mania Plan A to Get Trump, We've Launched Our Racism Mania Plan B

I really liked this excerpt:

Shifting some of the excerpts in different order: 
… Staffer: Hi. Thank you so much for doing this. I guess I have a two-part question. The first part is: Would it be fair to say that, if [contributing op-ed writer] Roxane Gay hadn’t tweeted out what she tweeted out, that we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now? And if that is true—or, regardless of whether it’s true—I think that something that some people have been wondering is: Do you feel that there is a person in a high position of power who can be as explicitly self-critical of this organization as Roxane Gay has, and is in a position to be, because she’s on the outside? Do you think that we would benefit from that? 
This is about the spat in which NYT columnist Roxane Gay (who enjoys Intersectional Pokemon Points for being black, a woman, and obese) called the NYT’s deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman “unqualified” and he demanded an “enormous apology” from her. He wound up demoted, which probably tells you something about who is higher up on the diversity totem pole.

I really luv that: "I'm 'unqualified'? OK, just for that, you give me an Enormous Apology! Demoted? Huuuuhhhhh?"

And there's lots more good stuff.

A Newspaper, Or The Oberlin Faculty Senate?

It's long, but here are excerpts:

If you keep your eye on media news, you know that The New York Times, the most important newspaper in America, has been roiled internally over whether or not a headline it published over a Trump story (about his post El Paso speech) exonerated the president from racism. The original headline read “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism.” After a staff revolt, the headline was later changed to “Assailing Hate, But Not Guns”. 
The paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, met with the staff about the headline, and the paper’s coverage of race. Slate published the transcript of a leaked recording. I encourage you to read it to get an idea of how the people who put out the most influential newspaper in the world think about this stuff. They go on and on and on, torturing Baquet over this one measly headline that accurately and neutrally described Trump’s speech. 
I bet he actually believes that his team is “independent,” and actually wants to “understand the segment of America that probably does not read” the Times. To be fair, I know a handful of people who work at the paper, and I trust their journalistic integrity. But overall, I don’t trust the Times (though I’m a subscriber) to tell this story anywhere remotely close to straight and honest. Read the transcript of that meeting, and tell me that The New York Times is prepared to understand this country outside blue precincts!

Byron York weighs in:

Byron York

Did it sometimes seem like the New York Times' entire focus was Trump-Russia? Like it built its newsroom around one story? Now, top editor says it did just that. But after Mueller report, paper has had to retool. New focus? Trump racism.
5:26 AM - 16 Aug 2019

UPDATED: What Was Up With Bruce Ohr's Bonus?

After a brief hiatus, John Solomon is out with another provocative article. I take nothing away from Solomon's hard work, but his recent string of stunning revelations has the definite appearance of DoJ deliberately feeding information to Solomon, or pointing out available information that needs emphasis. And I love it! That seems to again be the case with New evidence shows why Steele, the Ohrs and TSA workers never should have become DOJ sources.

I'll dispense with some of the more or less extraneous information in the article and focus on what I view as essential. Solomon, for our purposes, first points out abuses in informant programs runs by federal agencies. Note that the abuse involves paying a federal employee for reporting information that he should be reporting in the first place:

Some examples of the DOJ’s problems with informers fall outside the Russia case but mirror the same issues unmasked in the now-debunked probe of Trump. 
Take, for example, the DOJ inspector general’s finding this month that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was paying other government officials at the Homeland Security Department’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to work as informants.  
The IG spared few words in decrying the idiocy of allowing government security officers collecting a federal salary to double-dip into taxpayers’ money by receiving informant pay to report criminal activity they were required by their jobs to disclose.

What does this have to do with the Russia Hoax? Was Bruce Ohr an actual informant for the FBI? A paid informant? At this point I believe the answer is, No. No, but only because DoJ and the FBI were a bit more clever than DEA.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland--Cool!

I've just finished a four part series on the Patrick Deneen's book Why Liberalism Failed. A key part of Deneen's presentation is the ironic way in which liberalism, by espousing total liberty for the individual, actually paves the way for a vastly expanded and authoritarian state apparatus:

Liberalism reconceives liberty as the opposite of this older conception. It is understood to be the greatest possible freedom from external constraints, including customary norms. The only limitation on liberty, in this view, should be duly enacted laws consistent with maintaining order of otherwise unfettered individuals. Liberalism thus disassembles a world of custom and replaces it with promulgated law. Ironically, as behavior becomes unregulated in the social sphere, the state must be constantly enlarged through an expansion of lawmaking and regulatory activities. "The Empire of Liberty" expands apace with an ever-enlarging sphere of state control. 

Deneen seems to envision a sort of "soft" totalitarianism. However, we've also noted the FBI's recent claim that vaguely identified "conspiracy theories" are breeding grounds for domestic terror. The FBI report is notable for identifying virtually any "antigovernment" ideas--including "belief in a deep state" and ideas that fall outside "official" explanations--as potentially terroristic. The FBI report is thinly reasoned; it's main point appears to be a thinly disguised attack on the Trump demographic. While actual authorities were quick to debunk the FBI report (follow the link, above), it's important to note that this report was not written in a vacuum. Nor has it just been filed away. The FBI is, in fact, seeking greatly enhanced surveillance powers.

Today, Angelo Codevilla notes similar reports (The White Supremacy Hoax) that have been appearing in recent years, all warning about "white supremacists" and advocating the use of the US military--that's right!--against the threat. It's important to be aware of this context as we listen to the enormously increased chatter about the supposed threat of "white supremacists." Incredibly, one of the authors of such articles was featured very recently in the "mainstream conservative" WSJ:

UPDATED: Epstein Autopsy: Strangulation Probable?

Fox, citing the WaPo, is reporting suspicious results from the Epstein autopsy: Jeffrey Epstein autopsy reveals broken bones in neck, cause of death pending:

An autopsy on the body of Jeffrey Epstein revealed the convicted sex offender had several broken bones in his neck, including the hyoid bone, according to a report.
The hyoid bone, which is near the Adam’s apple, can be broken in a suicide by hanging -- especially in older people -- but is more common in strangulation murders, The Washington Post reported.

Anyone with more medical knowledge than I have is free to correct me on this. When they say that a broken hyoid bone is especially common in "older people", they mean a lot older than Epstein's 66 years. For example, a broken hyoid is common in falls suffered by the elderly. My mother died in the aftermath of such an incident--a fall at night in an assisted living home that caused a broken hyoid. My mother was 92.

Moreover, the Fox report says "several broken bones." Epstein was found hanging by a sheet from an upper bunk. In other words, his feet were touching the floor. IMO, the likelihood is that a trauma sufficient to break neck bones probably didn't come from the strangulation that caused his death--he was young enough that his bones shouldn't have been unduly brittle, and the hanging was probably not sufficiently traumatic in nature. The circumstances at this point certainly appear to indicate murder by strangulation.

Then there are the reports--unsourced at this point--of screaming from the direction of Epstein's cell. Epstein resisting? Or screaming in the efforts to revive him? It's clear that there had to have been video of corridors leading to his cell, since we're told:

Guards at the facility are suspected of falsifying log entries, to make it look like they were checking on Epstein more with more regularity than they were, as surveillance video suggested the checks weren't done as scheduled. 
Per protocol, guards were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes, but the video reportedly showed some guards didn't do so for up to three hours, even falling asleep on duty.

All very odd.

ADDENDUM: Via Don Surber:

ITEM 3: Rasmussen reported, "The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that only 29% of American Adults believe Epstein actually committed suicide while in jail. Forty-two percent (42%) think Epstein was murdered to prevent him from testifying against powerful people with whom he associated. A sizable 29% are undecided." 
But the media that pushed Russiagate for 2 years is shocked that people believe a conspiracy theory the media did not push.

UPDATE 1: The original WaPo reporting is worded more strongly than the Fox version:

An autopsy found that financier Jeffrey Epstein sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones, ...

Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam’s apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said.


…People familiar with the autopsy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive stage of the investigation, said Sampson’s office is seeking additional information on Epstein’s condition in the hours before his death. That could include video evidence of the jail hallways, which may establish whether anyone entered Epstein’s cell during the night he died; results of a toxicology screening to determine if there was any unusual substance in his body; and interviews with guards and inmates who were near his cell.

Jonathan Arden, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, said a hyoid can be broken in many circumstances, but is more commonly associated with homicidal strangulation than suicidal hanging

UPDATE 2: More from WaPo--h/t Monica Showalter at the blacklisted AmThinker:

A handful of studies conducted over the past decade have produced conflicting results about the likelihood of a hyoid break in a suicide. In a study of 20 suicidal hangings in Thailand, published in 2010, one-fourth of the men who hanged themselves had broken hyoids. In a larger study of suicidal hangings of young adults and middle-aged people in India, conducted from 2010 to 2013, hyoid damage was found in just 16 of 264 cases, or 6 percent. The study addressed the discrepancies in academic reviews, saying wide variations in findings of hyoid breaks are “possibly due to factors like age of the victim, weight of the victim, type of suspension and height of suspension.”

I have no expertise, but I'll go out on a limb. The type of suspension (a sheet) and the height of suspension (very low) seem to militate against a broken hyoid (and thus against suicide) in the Epstein. The softer, wider, material used and the low height of suspension make sudden, sharply directed trauma, less likely. Strangulation, even with a sheet, would strongly tend to provide the factors conducive to breakage of the hyoid.

UPDATE 3: Dr. Mark Siegel agrees with me:

Dr. Mark Siegel: It certainly increased the chances that this was a murder than a suicide. Let me tell you why. The hyoid bone which is right here in the neck, a U-shaped bone… In his case the autopsy is now revealing that multiple bones were broken in his neck including the hyoid. The hyoid bone might break in strangulation about one-third to one-half of the time. In suicide, hanging, it might break 6-10% of the time, depending on which study you look at… Much less percentage. But in order to break that bone and multiple bones in the neck, David, you’ have to exert a lot of force if it’s a hanging. I don’t want to get to graphic here but he supposedly hung himself off a bunk bed with sheets. I’m thinking more a rope from a height. Something where there's a lot of torque.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

UPDATED: Why Liberalism Failed (4)

Liberalism As Borderlessness 

In the chapter entitled "Liberalism as Anticulture," I identify several key features of liberalism: the conquest of nature, timelessness, and placelessness. To these three, I perhaps should have added an implied fourth: borderlessness. A core feature of liberal philosophy and politics is recognition of the arbitrariness of almost every border. This runs as a golden thread in considerations not only of the political understanding of borders--primarily national borders--but of any existing differentiation, distinction, boundary, and delineation, all of which come under suspicion as arbitrarily limiting individual freedom of choice. All such "borders" are interrogated for their arbitrariness, and few can ultimately withstand the pressure of such interrogation--even those that are not arbitrary but are nevertheless limiting. Borders and boundaries based in geography, history, and nature must increasingly be erased under the logic of liberalism.
As Tocqueville noted, liberal democracy tends to scorn "forms." Forms in a literal sense have a distinct shape and content, separating what is inside from what is outside (the glass that holds the water I am drinking fortunately has a form that separates the water from my keyboard). Liberal philosophy is universal, applying in theory to all people in all times and all places. While it was launched with a view to justifying a nation's political purpose ("to secure these rights, Governments were instituted among Men," reads the United States Declaration of Independence), its basic logic ultimately would make even national boundaries suspect, regarded as unjustly limiting the universal dominion of liberalism.

What Were Bruce And Nellie Ohr Sending To The FBI?

Judicial Watch has a doc dump today. We've all seen that Bruce Ohr delivered some thumb drives with Nellie's "research" on it to the FBI. What was on those thumb drives? Was it just the Steele dossier? Judicial Watch can tell us: NEW DOJ DOCS SHOW NELLIE OHR SENT DOJ/FBI ANTI-TRUMP RUSSIA DOSSIER MATERIALS THROUGH HER HUSBAND BRUCE OHR. The main excerpt:

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch today released 330 pages of Justice Department documents showing Bruce Ohr, who was demoted from his position as U.S. Associate Deputy Attorney General in December 2017, discussing information obtained through his wife Nellie Ohr. This information included anti-Trump dossier materials, including a spreadsheet that tries to link President Trump to dozens of Russians. 
On December 5, 2016, Bruce Ohr emailed himself an Excel spreadsheet, seemingly from his wife Nellie Ohr, titled “WhosWho19Sept2016.” The spreadsheet purports to show relationship descriptions and “linkages” between Donald Trump, his family and criminal figures, many of whom were Russians. This list of individuals allegedly “linked to Trump” include: a Russian involved in a “gangland killing;” an Uzbek mafia don; a former KGB officer suspected in the murder of Paul Tatum; a Russian who reportedly “buys up banks and pumps them dry”; a Russian money launderer for Sergei Magnitsky; a Turk accused of shipping oil for ISIS; a couple who lent their name to the Trump Institute, promoting its “get-rich-quick schemes”; a man who poured him a drink; and others. 
On December 5, 2016, Bruce Ohr emails himself a document titled “Manafort Chronology,” another Nellie Ohr-Fusion GPS document, which details Paul Manafort’s travel and interactions with Russians and other officials. 

This was absurd oppo research. Read the bolded portion again. Has anything, anything, come of any of that nonsense?

This is a remarkable view of how completely politicized the FBI/DoJ had become under Obama.

We also have to ask, Are we seeing in this an early stage of the push either 1) to prevent Trump's inauguration, or 2) for a Special Counsel ASAP? Perhaps slightly inchoate at this point, but ...

Court Puts A Stop To Nadler's Judge Shopping

What's interesting in this is that the judge who put a stop to Nadler's judge shopping is Beryl Howell who--trust me on this--is super liberal. Fox's article, Judge slaps down Dem gambit in Trump impeachment probe, is clear and explains the legal issues very nicely.

The short version is that Nadler tried to link the their subpoena for former White House counsel Don McGahn to a matter that was already before Howell--Nadler's attempt to subpoena secret grand jury information from the Team Mueller inquisition. Given Howell's know political predilections, Nadler thought it would be a good idea to have Howell also hear the McGahn case, rather than take a chance on the usual random assignment of judges. Howell said no: "connections between the two cases are too superficial and attenuated" to bypass random assignment. Nice try, Jerry.

Howell agreed with DoJ and rejected Nadler's arguments all up and down the line. For starters, the Team Mueller grand jury material is controlled by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, while the McGahn subpoena is a civil matter. Howell pointed out that there were no issues of fact or law in common. Here's the interesting part:

The House Judiciary Committee claimed that the cases are related because they both tie into what they are now calling an “impeachment investigation” of Trump. Their complaint against McGahn calls him the "most important witness, other than the President, to the key events that are the focus of the Judiciary Committee’s investigation" into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 
The DOJ, however, argued that the term “related” refers to cases that have “common issues of fact” or stem from a “common event or transaction.” They claimed the committee “gets it backwards” because they are “trying to relate completely unrelated cases simply because it filed them in service of its overarching desire to bring various matters together in its investigation of the President.” 
The existence of an “impeachment investigation” has also been called into question. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has stated that “formal impeachment proceedings” are underway, but the committee’s ranking Republican Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said that is impossible because the House never voted to approve such an investigation. 
Several House Democrats have claimed that a vote is not necessary, either because the Constitution grants them the power to conduct impeachment investigations or because a recent expansion of committee powers allows it.

UPDATED: Google And The Power Elite

Earlier today in The Power Elite I provided a synopsis of Patrick Deneen's view of the unholy alliance between the cultural and corporate elites. That was background for Sara Carter's important article (reported elsewhere, as well): Google Insider Turns Over 950 Pages Of Docs And Laptop To DOJ. What's important about Carter's article is that she provides quotes from the whistle blower that tie in with the idea of a corporate and cultural Power Elite, and also tie in with the Russia Hoax and its aftermath--the plot to never let another Trump happen again. These are all among Deneen's themes. 

So, with that brief intro, here are key excerpts:

A former Google insider claiming the company created algorithms to hide its political bias within artificial intelligence platforms – in effect targeting particular words, phrases and contexts to promote, alter, reference or manipulate perceptions of Internet content – delivered roughly 950 pages of documents to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust division Friday.
He told this reporter on his recent trip to Washington D.C. that the documents he turned over to the Justice Department will provide proof that Google has been manipulating the algorithms and the evidence of how it was done, the insider said. 
“... People can hear that it is bad but that can be bias. But when they see what Google has actually written with the documents, this will actually be taught in universities of what totalitarian states can do with this type of capability.” 
He said he’s asked himself many times if he’s overreacting “and every time I simply look back at the documents and realize that I am not.” 
“It’s that bad,” he said. “Disclosing Google’s own words to the American public is something I am, must do, if I am to consider myself a good person. The world that google is building is not a place I, or you or our children want to live in.”

UPDATE: American Thinker is reporting that they were blacklisted by Google. The article has good discussion:

 Google blacklists American Thinker

The Power Elite

The Power Elite is an article that Patrick Deneen wrote in June 2015--so, pre-Trump. It's obviously drawing on the C. Wright Mills classic of the same name--which I read as a sophomore in college. It's interesting Deneen's 2015 article with with the results of the 2016 election as well as with what he's writing in 2019. The article was written

As the dust from the recent explosion over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act begins to settle, ...

Remember that? It was a very big deal in the leadup to the 2016 Presidential elections. Very big.

And Deneen adds, to set the narrative:

Mike Pence, Asa Hutchinson, and the Republican party were not blindsided by opposition to RFRA by gay rights activists. What knocked them back were major corporations, such as Apple, Walmart, and Angie’s List, and organizations such as the NCAA that denounced the law, ..., which was an idiotic miscalculation given the fact that establishment outrage scuttled the Arizona RFRA last year. 
The decision by corporate leaders to take a political stand over a controversial issue is therefore of great interest. Corporations and business leaders almost always avoid political statements and announcements, recognizing that such declarations have the effect of unnecessarily alienating potential customers. Corporations live in constant fear of bad pub­licity that can ruin a brand carefully erected through millions of dollars of advertising and publicity. Why step into a heated political debate and ­unnecessarily turn half of your customers away? Corporations exist to make money, not to advance political and social causes—except for those that help them make money, of course. 
And that’s just the point: The decision by Apple, Walmart, Eli Lilly, Angie’s List, and so on was a business decision—even more, a marketing decision.

But then came the 2016 election. The same companies and cultural groups opposed Trump. And now the GOP looks to be taking a deep dive into the role of Big Tech in attempting to deliver America to a Progressive One Party state. Maybe opposition to RFPA was the beginning of a backfire?

But here's Deneen's reasoning. Understand that what Deneen seems to mean by Republicans is "Libertarians." He also recognizes that Libertarianism is--yes!--ascendant in the Democrat party, as well. As I like to put it, America's default public philosophy is a "mushy libertarianism."

UPDATE: Why Liberalism Failed (3)

Nonliberal Democracy

I devote a chapter to liberalism's co-optation of democratic energies. Liberalism at once seeks theoretical democratic legitimation (in the form of a notional "social contract") while limiting actual democratic practices. Liberalism's origins were marked by often explicit efforts to establish forms of democracy while largely forestalling actual democratic participation and rule. In that chapter, however, I do not emphasize enough how this bottling of democratic energies is likely to produce a backlash. Liberalism's defenders respond first by giving this phenomenon a pejorative name--"populism"--which is intended to distinguish such electoral energies from legitimately "democratic" ones. More often than not, what are called "democratic" are those policies and politicians that accord with liberal commitments--regardless of whether they garner the support of a democratic majority. Thus one will often encounter condemnations of populist electoral victories as antidemocratic. What is signaled here is liberalism's effort to maintain the appearance of democratic legitimation, even amid evidence that democracy no long supports it. 
Democracy, in fact, cannot ultimately function in a liberal regime. Democracy requires extensive social forms that liberalism aims to deconstruct, particularly shared social practices and commitments that arise from thick communities, not a random collection of unconnected selves entering and exiting an election booth. The political scientist Peter Mair described these preconditions of democracy in his posthumous book, Ruling the Void:
     "[Relatively] closed political communities were built on a foundation of closed social communities, in which large collectivities of citizens shared distinct social experiences, whether these were defined in terms of occupation, working and living conditions, religious practices, to name the most important. These social collectivities were in their turn cemented by the existence of vibrant and effective social institutions, including trade unions, churches, social clubs, and so on." 
As Montesquieu pointed out long ago, democracy is the most demanding regime, given its demands for civic virtue. The cultivation of virtue requires the thick presence of virtue-forming and virtue-supporting institutions, but these are precisely the institutions and practices that liberalism aims to hollow and eviscerate in the name of individual liberty. In a deep irony, liberalism claims legitimacy based upon democratic consent, yet it ultimately hollows out the prospects for functioning democracy. 
Today's liberals are divided between those who seek to claim that democracy is legitimate only when affirming liberal commitments, and a growing number who are willing to jettison any residual claim that democracy is a necessary feature of liberalism. Some, such as Jason Brennan, author of Against Democracy, explicitly call for minimizing actual democratic participation--floating proposals for limiting the franchise--concluding that any apparent benefits from democratic legitimation are undermined by democratic decisions that run against liberalism. While such explicit antidemocratic calls remain in the distinct minority, their practical equivalent is found in the strong stress among liberals on the centrality of courts, the executive branch, and the administrative state as main bulwarks against the threat of democratic energies that might undermine liberal commitments, both social and economic.