Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things

A Continuing Thread – Number 2

So I watched this, after the fact, and it was something to behold. At the White House Correspondents’ Press Association annual dinner, comedienne Michelle Wolf rose to deliver the benediction. Actually, they may not have anything like a benediction at these functions, but they traditionally invite somebody in to roast popular people. It’s in the spirit of H.L. Mencken: “My job is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” There is no evidence Mencken ever said such a thing, but it is good reading. Anyhow, Wolf saw her duty Saturday night to afflict the comfortable, and afflict she did, not so much with a prick but with a blackjack. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a particular target:

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful,” Wolf said. “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.

I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” the comedian continued. “Is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women?

Yeah. I’m noted at times for being crude and lewd, but I probably could have finessed this one. Predictably, Wolf caught some flak over this and other bludgeonings of the night, definitely from the Left, but from the Right with a vengeance. I’m going to give the Left a pass on this and direct my attention to comments from the Right. Let’s start with prominent conservative politician Mike Huckabee, a close relative of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. A sample response from Governor Huckabee:

The WHCD was supposed to celebrate the 1st Amendment. Instead they celebrated bullying, vulgarity, and hate. They got all dressed up so they would look nicer when they had a hired gun savagely attack their guests. Do they really wonder why America has no respect for them? Sad!

Yes… This is the kind of thing I long to hear (read). It’s the yodel of the congenitally indignant. It’s the defense of  the indefensible. Missing from Governor Huckabee’s self-righteous lament is a vast amount of perspective. It may be time for a review of what it is that Mrs. Sanders does for a living. From all appearances her daily routine consists of attempting to explain away a flood of massive lies and insults. Let us not allow the sun to set before visiting some of this ripe fruit:

Katie Couric, the third rate reporter, who has been largely forgotten, should be ashamed of herself for the fraudulent editing of her doc.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana. If he doesn’t he should drop out of the race-stop wasting time & money

. was one of the worst performing stocks on the S&P last year, plunging 46%. Very disloyal company. Another win for Trump! Boycott.

I gave a woman named Barbara Res a top N.Y. construction job, when that was unheard of, and now she is nasty. So much for a nice thank you!

I know Mark Cuban well. He backed me big-time but I wasn’t interested in taking all of his calls.He’s not smart enough to run for president!

Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers. Disgruntled, he, McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!

Watched low rated for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show

. is a total low life— read his past tweets. A dummy with no “it” factor. Will fade fast.

The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use….

That’s enough of Twitter. President Trump’s candor in assessing various people out of favor is legendary. From earlier this year:

Self-obsessed billionaire Donald Trump earlier snatched the campaign torch from the Republican Party by scooping up conservative America’s low-hanging fruit. Full disclosure: it’s something I proclaimed over a year ago could not be done. I was wrong! How wrong? Very wrong. Donald Trump is the one candidate who displays an astonishing degree of class:

In the article, I wrote that Trump could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman said the man’s comments were “categorically untrue.”

The story ran below the fold in the business news section with the headline: How a Curious Visitor Beat Trump at the Casino Game.

And now I was holding for Mr. Trump.

There was no hello. But there was yelling, lots of yelling.

The word “shit” was used repeatedly as a noun and adjective.

I had shit for brains.

I worked for a shitty newspaper.

What sort of shit did I write.

Before I could reply, he hung up.

Then he called my editor in Philadelphia, Craig Stock. Now it was Craig’s turn to “Hold for Mr. Trump.”

Craig was treated to the same Trumpian wordplay, but got an added treat. Trump referred to me as “that cunt.”

There is more from that same post:

A cute nickname for a United States senator:

Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.

Characterization of a rival candidate.

Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years!

NFL players who protest.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said at a rally for Republican senator Luther Strange, who is running in a special election next week to remain in the seat vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions.

A writer who writes unkind things about Donald Trump.

The Mercer Family recently dumped the leaker known as Sloppy Steve Bannon. Smart!

Most would envy Mrs. Sanders’ professional obligation to front for such as this. One might wonder whence comes the wherewithal. Here’s a hint:

Huckabee has voiced his support of intelligent design and he has stated that he does not accept the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He was quoted in July 2004 on Arkansans Ask, his regular show on the Arkansas Educational Television Network: “I think that students also should be given exposure to the theories not only of evolution but to the basis of those who believe in creationism.”

In April 2011, Huckabee said, “I almost wish that there would be a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, at gunpoint, to listen to every David Barton message,” in praise of the Christian revisionist historian David Barton.

Within hours of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Huckabee made headlines in the U.S. and abroad for stating on Fox News: “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” and further asked, “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

In September 2014, Huckabee said, “Fire the ones who refuse to hear not only our hearts, but God’s heart” (for which he was criticized by Richard Dawkins).

Support for Intelligent Design? Disdain for modern theories of modern biology? Praise for David Barton? Defiance of the rule of law? Add to that a deliberate distortion of American history:

The story starts in a class room where the teacher has the kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, with the “under God” wording. One kid refuses because of the under God language, and later the teacher is threatened with dismissal for this breach of school protocol.

OK, right there I hit a snag. I’ve been around the sun a few times, and I recall the time before the “under God” language was added, and I as yet unaware of any public school that disallows the “under God” language. Actually, a few years back Michael Newdow sued his daughter’s school, the United States Congress, et al, over the use of the “under God” language. The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed Newdow’s suit, since he was not the custodial guardian of his daughter and really had no legal standing in the matter. More recently, a family in Massachusetts has sued over the pledge as a violation of that state’s own equal protection clause in its constitution. So far as I know, all attempts to prohibit the “under God” language have been thwarted. So, where did the producers of One Nation get this scenario. We may have to ask learned historian Mike Huckabee.

Yes, it would appear the fruit does not fall far from from the tree, and for the Huckabees the truth is a sometime thing. Setting the crude and lewd aside for a moment, on Saturday night it was obvious to all the slings and arrows were well directed. That Mrs. Sanders has not resigned her unenviable position speaks for itself. In case I have not made my point, here it is. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a lying sack of shit, a trait that seems to run in the family.

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Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 32 in a series

People ask me, “How come you don’t do one of these every day?” Actually, nobody asks. But if they did ask I would have to concede I am at the point where I’m running low on energy. But for an ambitious landscaping project, I might have posted this Friday while it was still hot. Which reminds me, I need to be sure to get Barbara Jean a birthday present.

Anyhow, the following image, a screen shot from MSNBC streaming on YouTube, shows some people desperately in need of assistance.

These are the hosts (Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade) of Fox and Friends on (where else) the Fox network, and if they appear distressed to you, then you are imagining things. That’s because I watched this episode, and I can tell you that at this point in a thirty-minute sequence these people were desperate to not appear distressed, but they were squirming, and they were trying mightily to get a caller off the phone. They were also trying mightily to conceal that fact. The reason for their discomfort is the caller was their supreme, exalted patron, the President of the United States, who had just spent the major part of half an hour demonstrating why I call him the Schlemiel-in-Chief.

If you just returned from a trek through the desert on a horse with no name, then I need to inform you what the rest of the nation already knows. The Fox network show Fox and Friends comes on at 6 a.m. Eastern Time, and sometimes the President of the United States phones in, and the hosts are always glad to have him, they being his chief cheer leading squad. Last Thursday that joy appeared to last all of ten minutes. Some explanation as to why:

TRUMP: People have to understand how dishonest the news is. And in all fairness to Fox, you guys don’t always treat me great. But you treat me fairly. It’s not like Fox is perfect for me. They’re not! They’re tough. But at least it’s fair. When you look at some of the others, you look at like a CNN, they’ll have a council of seven people [audibly becoming enraged] and of the seven people, every one of them is against me! I’m saying, where do they even find these people?

BRIAN KILMEADE: I’m not your doctor, Mr. President, but I would recommend you watch less of them.

TRUMP: I don’t watch them at all! I watched last night, I tell you what. I watched leaking lying Comey last night [Steve Doocy guffaws sycophantically] and I did, I hated to do it, you know, one of the reasons, people say, “You’re still looking good, Mr. President—how do you do it?” [Ed.: No one says this, I hope]

DOOCY: All right—

There is more from Fortune:

Trump criticized the Obama administration and former Secretary of State John Kerry for not handling tensions with North Korea sooner.

“This should have been settled long before I came into office,” he said, calling Kerry “the worst negotiator” he’s ever seen.

The president said he did watch the interview with former FBI director James Comey on CNN Wednesday night.

“His performance, by the way, was horrible,” Trump said. He blasted Comey as a criminal, calling him a “leaker and a liar.”

“He is guilty of crimes,” the president said. “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him.”

On Michael Cohen pleading the fifth

“This doesn’t have to do with me, Michael is a businessman,” the president said. “I have nothing to do with his business.”

He emphasized the small role Cohen played in his own legal affairs.

“Just so you understand, I have many attorneys. So many attorneys you wouldn’t even believe it,” Trump said. “He represented me on this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, and from what I can see he did absolutely nothing wrong.”

The president hit his favorite highlights in the interview with Fox and Friends, criticizing CNN and NBC, among others, as “fake news,” and bragging about his electoral college win.

“The electoral college is set up perfectly for the Democrats,” he said, “They should never lose the electoral college and they did.”

Trump repeated the claim that the Russia investigation is an effort by Democrats to save face after an embarrassing loss, citing the number of electoral votes he won.

On how he would grade his time in office so far

“I would give myself an A+,” Trump said. “Nobody has done what I’ve been able to do and I’ve done it despite the fact that I have a phony cloud over my head that doesn’t exist.”

He spoke about accomplishments like deregulation and the Republican tax bill, but mostly emphasized the challenges he’s faced during his first year.

“I’m fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people — drain the swamp — that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me and they’re not bringing up real charges against the other side,” the president said. “So we have a phony deal going on and it’s a cloud over my head. And I’ve been able to really escape that cloud, because the message now everyone knows now it’s a fix, it’s a witch hunt.”

From Vanity Fair:

Doocy, Kilmeade, and Earhardt endured the deluge heroically, fidgeting slightly at times, and offering small laughs as they encouraged the president and tried to keep him on track. The interview went off the rails, however, when the Fox hosts asked Trump about the Russia investigation dogging his presidency, and whether he would agree to interview with Mueller:

“Well, if I can. The problem is that it’s such a—if you take a look, they’re so conflicted, the people that are doing the investigation. You have 13 people that are Democrats, you have Hillary Clinton people, you have people that worked on Hillary Clinton’s foundation. They’re all—I don’t mean Democrats. I mean, like, the real deal. And then you look at the phony Lisa Page and [Peter] Strzok and the memos back and forth and the F.B.I.—and by the way, you take a poll at the F.B.I. I love the F.B.I.; the F.B.I. loves me. But the top people at the F.B.I., headed by Comey, were crooked.”

“You look at the corruption at the top of the F.B.I.—it’s a disgrace,” Trump continued, practically yelling, as the Fox hosts stared ahead nervously. “And our Justice Department—which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t—our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia. There is no collusion with me, and everyone knows it.”

As the Fox & Friends control room may have guessed, Trump’s burning anger could come at the expense of his current legal-defense strategy. With Mueller reportedly investigating the president and his associates for obstruction of justice in the Russian collusion probe, Trump’s lawyers have urged him to stay quiet about the special counsel’s work and allow his investigation to go forward. By impugning the F.B.I. and threatening to intervene at the Justice Department, Trump may have just given his adversaries more legal ammunition. He may also have undermined his case in more roundabout ways: at another point, he referred to his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen as having done a “tiny, tiny little fraction of my legal work”—an apparent attempt to distance himself from Cohen, who he admitted represented him in “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.” Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, immediately called the admission a “gift from the heavens” and “hugely damaging”: not only did Trump’s statement suggest he was aware that Cohen had paid hush money to Daniels, it also undercut Cohen’s argument that his communications with Trump, recently seized by the F.B.I., are protected by attorney-client privilege.

I find it breathtaking that three Fox TV hosts grasped something the President of the United States failed to. That is when Fox host Steve Doocy spoke words that may eventually be carved in granite.

Meyers unpacked what he called the “truly crazy rant” that was Trump’s phone interview with Fox & Friends on Thursday morning. It was a conversation in which the Commander-in-Chief “rambled on for so long about so many random topics that at one point the Fox & Friends hosts said they were the ones who were running out of time,” Meyers said — before cutting to footage of the Fox & Friends hosts’ deflating expressions and Steve Doocy interrupting Trump to say, “We’re running out of time.” [Emphasis added]

On the first level Doocy was wanting to get the President of the United States off the air, back into his box, and safe from American ears. On another level Doocy may have offered up a prophecy. We [Fox and Trump] are running out of time. There is only so much longer this comedy can go on before it is dragged down by the sheer weight of its lunacy.

In the meantime, President Trump has trapped himself with his own words. Two hours after this bit flapped publicly, Justice Department lawyers handed into a judge an argument that the President’s words have unraveled his claims for attorney-client privilege in the investigation of his lawyer, Michael Cohen.

 

In particular, the letter to Kimba M. Wood United States District Judge Southern District of New York, government lawyers used the President’s language from the Fox and Friends interview against his case.

2 If Cohen’s request for a privilege log were to be granted, there is no reason the Government’s Investigative Team could not review the privilege log.
3 As the Court is aware, after originally stating that the Government seized “thousands, if not millions,” of pages of privileged documents, Cohen subsequently identified three current clients.Of those three clients, one, Sean Hannity, has since said that “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees.” Another, President Trump, reportedly said on cable television this morning that Cohen performs “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work. These statements by two of Cohen’s three identified clients suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here.

If ever there was a definition for Schlemiel-in-Chief, then this should be enshrined.

Houston, we have a problem.

First of a series

Yes, Texas junior Senator Ted Cruz is up for re-election, and it’s time to start taking an assessment. Let’s begin here:

President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature.

The person Donald Trump two years ago was calling “Lying Ted” has since drunk the Kool-Aid—his praise for, and his subservience to, the grandest clown to ever grace the presidency appears unabashed. We would expect no less, or should that be “no more.” I will take a few turns at unpeeling the onion that is Rafael Edward Cruz. I have a feeling it’s going to be fun to watch.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 31 in a series

The question should not be why I have been posting so many of these, rather the concern should be why I have not posted one every day. There is a daily supply of material coming in volume and absent of any prompting, courtesy of our national Schlemiel-in-Chief. Schlemiel is defined as an inept and clumsy person, also a dolt, also a bungler. It’s from the Yiddish shlemil, which comes from the Hebrew word for ineffective. Yes, that fits, and the joy is ours to behold. Here’s the latest.

Sanctions Flap Erupts Into Open Conflict Between Haley and White House

Apparently, Haley had gotten the idea that President Trump was about to impose new sanctions on Russia in response to that country’s complicity in a Syrian gas attack. We now wonder where the U.N. ambassador got such an idea. Where, indeed?

Haley created a firestorm Sunday when she said the new sanctions would be imposed by the Treasury Department on Monday, when, in fact, no such announcement was planned, according to two officials familiar with the matter.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to clarify the situation, but her explanation created more confusion and led to suggestions that President Donald Trump had personally intervened to halt the sanctions from taking effect Monday.

“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” Sanders said in a statement.

In response to allegations that Ambassador Haley was “confused” about when and if sanctions will be imposed, she let those in charge know that she does not ordinarily get confused:

This is a real sequence of events that have unfolded over the course of the past 72 hours or so:

  • On Sunday, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley went on CBS’s Face the Nation and, relying on White House talking points, announced the US would impose new sanctions on Russia.
  • President Donald Trump, who was apparently watching TV, became furious. He hadn’t yet approved the sanctions, and apparently hadn’t seen talking points his own administration had produced, so he immediately demanded to know what Haley was talking about.
  • On Monday, the White House announced that Haley was not correct and that sanctions weren’t approved. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow then told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that Haley had had an episode of “momentary confusion.”
  • On Tuesday night, Haley issued a statement blasting Kudlow, saying, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
  • Kudlow apologized to Haley and clarified in a comment to the New York Times that she wasn’t confused — just out of the loop on a vital policy initiative. “As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy,” Kudlow said. “The policy was changed, and she wasn’t told about it.”

The saga of the schlemiel administration will continue to entertain us so long as there is a God in Heaven.

The Golden Shower

Number 30 of a Series

The matter of Donald Trump, current President of the United States, and some supposed Russian prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room keeps coming up. I try to avoid the topic as much as I can. Not really:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

What brings us back to the matter of the Golden Shower is a book due out next week by fired FBI Director James Comey. It’s A Higher Loyalty, and it will be on sale Tuesday. I will get a Kindle edition and report on some of the juicier sections. In the meantime from The Mirror we have some insight into Director Comey’s interchange with President Trump on the matter:

Donald Trump wanted the FBI to prove claims Russia had evidence of lewd behaviour in a hotel room were untrue, it has been reported.

Former Brit spy Chris Steele compiled the so-called ‘Dirty Dossier’ which alleged Russian security services had successfully obtained compromising material on Trump.

It included video of Trump being given a ‘golden shower’ by prostitutes on a hotel bed in Moscow, Steele claimed.

Now former FBI director James Comey says Trump asked if the agency could publicly prove the claims untrue, because it bothered him if there was “even a one per cent chance” his wife Melania believed them.

As much as I lament the advent of President Trump, if these allegations—the allegations about Mr. Trump paying Russian prostitutes to pee on a bed while he watched—are eventually demonstrated to  be untrue, then I will be one of the first to report the story. Of course that is unlikely, because

  • The facts may never be known.
  • Even if the facts are never known, Donald Trump’s moral character is such that people are going to accept the story as true in any event and say, “So what?”
  • The facts are true, and the truth will come out.

Anyhow, join me in holding our collective breath.

I have mulled this matter for months, and a few thoughts (feeling lonely) entered my mind. Here is one.

Suppose Donald Trump, having found Jesus, went to that hotel room to pray for forgiveness. Suppose then, while he was kneeling beside that still unstained bed, former KGB agents left over from the Soviet Union picked the lock to the door and entered with drawn guns. They also brought prostitutes.

Now, while born-again Donald Trump sits, guns pointed to his head, in a chair, he is forced to watch as prostitutes despoil the immaculate bed. The KGB guys make a video.

I bring this up, readers, to remind us that anything is possible, and we should withhold judgment on President Trump until such time he gets together with Billy Bush and tells him in the presence of an open mic, “You know, when you’re famous you can get away with anything. You can hire prostitutes to pee on a bed. Don’t believe me? Let me tell you about what I did one time in Moscow.”

Like you, I am waiting.

The Government You Paid For

Number 33

It seems like only last month I was discussing Scott Pruitt, the person picked by President Trump to be in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Actually, it was last month. That item highlighted that Mr. Pruitt has been  working to ensure we are getting the government we are paying for. Actually it has been more like ensuring we are paying for the government we are getting.

Scott Pruitt, now heading up the Environmental Protection Agency, celebrates the exuberance of government employment by accumulating a history of lavish travel. Last June travel expenses for him and his entourage recorded $90,000 in expenses, and that included first class travel from Washington to New York. Yesterday he was observed flying first class from Washington to Boston, apparently on the government nickel.

And that was the end of that. Only kidding. There’s more.

Here are a few facts. The government pays employees according to a published scale, exceptions being made for people whose work for the government is confidential. A scale that I have seen shows that the scale is tilted according to geography. Where living expenses are high, the tilt is up. For example, if you work in the Washington, D.C., area you are paid more if you live within the city of Washington, because rents are higher. More specific are these numbers:

Pay Grade:

ES-1
Yearly Pay:

$199,700

That’s the best I was able to do using minimal research to pin down EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s government compensation. Let’s assume he gets paid $199,700 per year, and he lives in  Washington, D.C. Actually, we don’t have  to  assume he lives in  Washington, D.C. We know that for a fact, because  his living arrangements have recently reached the headlines. ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, where I obtained these screen shots, provided a run down in Friday nights edition, and here is what brings us such joy. Pruitt, who has been prominently unbridled when it comes to  exploiting available government largess, notably pulls in the reins when it comes to  his personal expenses. See the image above.

That’s right.

In March 2018, it was reported that Pruitt had leased a bedroom in a Washington D.C. condo from a lobbyist couple at $50 per night, which amounted to $6,100 over a six-month period. The condo was owned by a health care lobbyist, and her husband was also a lobbyist, representing clients in industries regulated by the EPA. Other apartments in the building complex, which is in a prime location and less than a block away from the US Capitol – have rented for as much as $5,000-a-month. Pruitt’s daughter also stayed for months in the other bedroom in the condo while doing an internship in D.C., but was not charged anything for her stay. According to Airbnb, the average price for lodging per night in the same neighborhood is $142 per night (the average price is $113 per night in D.C.).

Up front let me concede, there is nothing wrong with working the best available deal in any business arrangement. If you can get a room that ordinarily runs $142 for $50, I say go for it. If the sweet deal is offered by a lobbyist who has business before your department, then don’t feign alarm when the stench of quid pro quo permeates the deal.

Lobbyist Steve Hart

In his previous life Scott Pruitt was never  known to be an enemy of American industry, and he was ever compared to a polluters’ handmaid.

After winning election in 2010, Pruitt dissolved the Environmental Protection Unit in the Attorney General’s office. He stated a desire to increase operational efficiency and shifted the attorneys responsible for environmental protection to the Attorney General’s Public Protection Unit and the Solicitor General’s Unit. Pruitt stated that “the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality – not the Office of Attorney General – has primary responsibility for implementing and enforcing environmental laws in Oklahoma.”

Pruitt instead created a “Federalism Unit” in the Attorney General’s office dedicated to fighting President Barack Obama’s regulatory agenda and suing the administration over its immigration policy, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Pruitt was successful in raising campaign contributions from the energy industry, helping him to become chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association. The oil and gas industry contributed over $300,000 to Pruitt’s campaigns over the years.

Call me cynical, but I fully appreciate these are the reasons President Donald Trump selected Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, and these are also the reasons a large block of Americans voted for candidate Trump in 2016. For polluters there could hardly have been a better choice, as EPA Administrator Pruitt continues to live up to promised expectations. Again from Wikipedia:

On March 9, 2017, in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Pruit stated that he “would not agree that” carbon dioxide is “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see” backing up his claim by stating that “measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact.” This was in direct contradiction with EPA’s public stance that was published on their official website which stated: “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change”.[79] By April 28—the day before the climate change mass protests—EPA announced that the website “would be ‘undergoing changes’ to better represent the new direction the agency is taking” which included “the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information” including the site that “had been cited to challenge Pruitt’s Squawk Box statements.” A March 9 analysis by fact-checking website Snopes.com found that “Pruitt’s statements to CNBC are misrepresentative of the scientific consensus on carbon dioxide’s role as a greenhouse gas — a consensus that has essentially existed for more than a century.” The Atlantic published an article on the same day, pointing out that in 2007, the United States Supreme Court had acknowledged the link between carbon dioxide and global warming—in 2013 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated the probability of carbon dioxide causing global warming was at least 95%.

Does this give the appearance that Scott Pruitt is enjoying his just rewards in the form of a $100 a day discount on a pricey apartment rental? Just ask the President of the United States. The ABC News story concludes by noting the President is becoming increasingly annoyed with his prime pick.

Washington (CNN) — Senior White House aides are exasperated with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, the already embattled Cabinet secretary who now finds himself at the center of an expanding controversy over his decision to rent a room in Washington, DC, from the family of an energy lobbyist.

Past experience has shown that when the President becomes annoyed, the solution is a tweet away.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!

Enough said about that. Later we may have an opportunity to ask Mr. Pruitt whether he thinks we’re getting the government we paid for.

People Unclear

This is number 39 of a long series

Sunday morning, and I was catching a video on YouTube, and all I can say is, “Holy shit!” Somebody is totally unclear, and that person would be Kathleen Hartnett White:

Kathleen Hartnett White is a Republican American government official and environmental policy advisor. Currently serving as a senior fellow at the free-market think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation. She was nominated by President Donald Trump to lead the Council on Environmental Quality; the nomination was later withdrawn.

I watched the clip—you should, as well—and was astounded. I know it’s a favorite pastime of liberals to paint all Republicans as scientifically illiterate and environmentally backward, but I need to remind readers this is most unfair. There are many in the ranks who see what is for what it is and might deserve your vote. Others, whether real or not, may be pretending to be illiterate and backward. White appears to be neither of these. She scorches the Earth to establish an absence of clarity.

Another in the video, which depicts a Senate confirmation hearing, is Andrew Wheeler:

Andrew R. Wheeler is an American lawyer and lobbyist who specializes in energy and environmental policy. Since 2009, he has been a co-leader of the energy practice at the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels. Wheeler was previously an aide to U.S. Senator James Inhofe and a staffer on the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Wheeler is a critic of nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions and has supported the continued use of fossil fuels.

In October 2017, Wheeler was nominated by President Donald Trump to become Deputy Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). His nomination was returned to the White House on January 3, 2018 under Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6.

Passing over Wheeler for the moment, White’s performance before the Senate committee led me to purchase her book, Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy. I obtained the Kindle edition, deciding not to wait for a price drop, and took a few minutes to read through the introduction. The book is co-authored with Stephen Moore, a writer credited with a famous body of nonsense:

Stephen Moore (born February 16, 1960) is an American writer and economic policy analyst. He founded and served as president of the Club for Growth from 1999 to 2004. Moore is a former member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board. In 2014, The Heritage Foundation announced that Moore would become its chief economist. In 2015, Moore’s title at The Heritage Foundation changed from Chief Economist to his current title, Distinguished Visiting Fellow. Moore is known for advocating free-market policies and supply-side economics. In 2017, he left Fox News Channel to join CNN as an economics analyst.

His Wikipedia entry also notes a lack of candor, leading to The Kansas City Star to quit using stuff he writes.

Whether White or Moore wrote the book’s intro, I am going to lay it all on White. A few passages are worth some Skeptical Analysis and some comment. Start with this. She kicks off the intro with the tale of a liberal family beset by a black out, a loss of electrical power, for several days. For a while they enjoy the experience, knowing their carbon footprint has been reduced. The situation soon becomes tiresome as electric power in modern day life is not only a convenience but a necessity. She warns of dire consequences coming out of renewal energy.

But we are convinced that rolling brownouts are coming— especially in states like California, which are trying to rely on unreliable green energy sources— thanks to the radical environmentalists who have achieved a choke-hold on our politics.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 88-90). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

White is alluding to times when the sun does not shine, and the wind does not blow. It turns out (my analysis) that such outages will become vanishingly small with the scaling up of the renewable energy industry. Dark days in one region will be offset by sunny days elsewhere, and guess what, wind turbines work on as little as three mph wind, besides which, wind is a given and is constant all over.

White discusses the “war on coal.”

Technological progress is making this cheap and domestically abundant energy source cleaner all the time. Yet the global-warming alarmist James Hansen, a scientist at NASA, has compared the railroad cars carrying coal across our country to the “death trains” that transported Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 92-94). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Actually, no. Coal is not becoming less clean. Early environmental pressures required (some) coal fired plants to reduce particulate emissions, and that progress has since bottomed out. No improvement is currently being experienced. What White does not let on is that burning coal, a fossil fuel, continues, unrelenting, to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Appearances are that the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump will be relaxing emissions regulations for coal-fired plants. Whatever scientist James Hansen said about “death trains,” assuming he did say such, has no relevance to the argument against eliminating the use of coal.

White writes unknowingly about greenhouse emissions.

Natural gas is our second major source of electrical energy. The technological miracle of hydraulic fracturing—“ fracking”— has given us hundreds of years’ worth of this clean-burning fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 94-96). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

To be clear, natural gas is a fossil fuel, and burning natural gas puts extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. White seems to take the point that, when burned, natural  gas produces less carbon dioxide than does coal for the same amount of usable energy, and then she runs with it, much too far.

Watch the video. White concedes at her (non-) confirmation hearing that she is not a scientist. She reassures us of that fact in the following statement.

If global warming is a threat, we will be saved not by building windmills or riding our bicycles to work, but by applying advanced technology and electrical power to find ways to keep the planet cool.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 103-104). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes. Yes! Advanced technology and electrical power to keep the planet cool. Lady, the way to keep the planet cool is to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Please do not laugh. Here is this.

Almost all other inventions— the steam engine, the printing press, life-saving medicines, the microchip, the iPhone, you name it— are derivatives of electric power. Where electricity is in wide use, there is prosperity. Where electricity is lacking, poverty and deprivation are the norm.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 115-117). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Technically, no. In most cases, absolutely no.

  • The invention of the steam engine came many decades prior to the development of electric power.
  • The printing press was developed in the 15th century, perhaps 300 years prior to the advent of electric power.
  • Life-saving medicines, e.g., the small pox vaccine, were developed independently and often in advance of the advent of electric power.
  • The microchip and the iPhone typically run off 5-volt supplies, obtainable from chemical batteries, and not really part of the electric power grid. True, you will not have a cell phone grid without an electric power grid to support it.

White is correct on one point. I will not cite the source, but I will simply state that quality of life roughly tracks energy consumption. Energy consumption moves goods to market, performs the heavy work in factories, and keeps us warm and safe in our homes. The electrical power grid has turned out to be the best way to support most of this activity. We need electrical power, and the cheaper and the more reliable the better for all concerned.

White makes this point.

And the data recently gathered by economic historians surveyed in this book show that wind and water wheels never provided much power. It wasn’t until man harnessed fossil fuels— predominantly oil, gas, and coal— that industrialization achieved unprecedented productivity.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 119-121). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Duh, yes. She is talking about the pre-industrial days, and there was not much in the way of available power, wind, water, anything back then. The advent of the steam engine, burning wood or coal, made the industrial revolution. White wants to impute that we cannot go back to wind and water as a source of power. Actually, hydro-electric power is about maxed out in this country. We may have tapped all the available rivers for that purpose. However, the Dutch windmill has been replaced by giant wind turbines that produce mega watts.

Every now and then she gets something right.

Energy, in short, is the wellspring of mankind’s greatest advances.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 125-126). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

What she fails to acknowledge is that proponents of renewable energy are not against energy production. They are against energy production that produces damage to the environment. Coal, for instance.

Barely correct:

Today, hundreds of years after the Industrial Revolution began, most of the human population is dependent on fossil fuels for 80 to 90 percent of its energy supply.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 130-131). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The industrial revolution started in England a little over two hundred years ago, so technically it is hundreds of years since the advent of the industrial revolution.

She appeals to the masses, supposedly her working-class base.

Throughout history, elites, of course, have enjoyed comfortable wealth. They were rich; they could afford expensive energy. They weren’t the ones who did without light or heat or transportation or enough food and leisure time. Someone else did the back-breaking and time-consuming work for them.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 133-135). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

So, it’s the elites who want renewable energy at whatever price. Actually, you might want to review Senator Cory Booker’s comments made in the video. He discusses the particulate pollution that plagues those in his state, New Jersey. They are poor and also working class constituents, who often have to endure the lower quality of life and the health damage wrought by industrial pollution. These people are definitely not “elites,” and they would appreciate having cleaner sources of energy.

As the close of the intro approaches, White prepares to escalate the rhetoric.

The inherent limitations of wind and solar are physically intractable.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 140-141). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

No. Simply no.

She closes with a flourish.

Green energy policies assume centralized control of the sources, production, and consumption of energy, and that means centralized control over all economic activity and consumer choice. Name a product that doesn’t depend on affordable and reliable energy. United Nations bureaucrats talk about “wisely planned [energy] austerity,” guided by apparently omniscient “planetary managers.” Not only is our material prosperity in peril; freedom itself is at stake.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 145-148). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Actually, a following paragraph urges us to read the book to get the full story, but those are her closing remarks, laced with fabrication and hyperbole. She seems to agree that if you say it often enough and loudly enough, then it will become true.

No it does not, and I am hoping this sets the stage for the remainder of the book, because I will be reading it and applying some analysis.

It is difficult to reconcile the flamboyant and straight-forward language in the book with White’s performance before the Senate committee. Watch the video. Asked a straight question, she seems unable to find the answer, any answer. For example, when asked whether she believes scientists are lying about global warming, all she needed to do before the committee was to  repeat the language from the book. Yes, those scientists are a bunch of self-serving liars, and maybe they should be put in jail. At every point she pivots and equivocates, leading senators to wonder what they are doing wasting their time watching this spectacle. The only thing I found recently more painful to watch was Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos floundering through her (barely) confirmation hearing. From Wikipedia again:

At White’s Senate confirmation hearing in November 2017, she stated that her top three environmental concerns are air quality, the potential failure of waste water and drinking water systems, and climate change. During her hearing she said: “I am not a scientist, but in my personal capacity I have many questions that remain unanswered by current climate policy. We need to have a more precise explanation of the human role and the natural role.”

In February 2018, the White House confirmed their intention to withdraw their nomination of Hartnett White as a senior advisor on environmental policy.

Yes, we could stand more clarity from the people we hire to work at the highest levels in our government.

The Government You Paid For

Number 32 in a Series

Don’t you just hate it when you jump the gun, lead off with what you thought was the latest and the hottest, only to wake up five hours later and wish you had held off a while longer? All the time, right? Like yesterday.

Yeah, I ran that. It’s the story about APNSA R.H. McMaster slipping President Trump urgent and explicit instructions to not congratulate Vladimir Putin on  his re-election, followed immediately by the President congratulating Vladimir Putin on his re-election. I should have waited for the other shoe to drop. Actually, for the other domino to fall.

And that was so many minutes ago and so many comings and goings at the Trump White House.

We paid for it. We got it. What a prize it has turned out to be. And we just received the bill. $1.3 trillion. Worth every penny in entertainment value alone.

Codswallop 201

Number 3 in a series

Apparently I am not finished with Hillsdale College. It’s been so long since I started following this topic that I now forget what first caught my attention. Anyhow, they offered for free a very short on-line course, and the topic was the United States Constitution. As mentioned previously, I took the course, and I came away with the impression that what is advertised as a small institution of higher learning is, in fact, a propaganda mill for conservative causes. That impression has been reinforced.

I get regular emails from Larry P. Arnn, twelfth and current president of Hillsdale College. The Wikipedia entry contains a defining point:

In 2013, Arnn was criticized for his remarks about ethnic minorities when he testified before the Michigan State Legislature. In testimony against the Common Core curriculum standards, in which Arnn expressed concern about government interference with educational institutions, he recalled that shortly after he assumed the presidency at Hillsdale he received a letter from the state Department of Education that said his college “violated the standards for diversity,” adding, “because we didn’t have enough dark ones, I guess, is what they meant.” After being criticized for calling minorities “dark ones”, he explained that he was referring to “dark faces”, saying: “The State of Michigan sent a group of people down to my campus, with clipboards … to look at the colors of people’s faces and write down what they saw. We don’t keep records of that information. What were they looking for besides dark ones?”[11] Michigan House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel condemned Arnn for his comments, which he called “offensive” and “inflammatory and bigoted”, and asked for an apology.[12] The College issued a statement apologizing for Arnn’s remark, while reiterating Arnn’s concern about “state sponsored racism” in the form of affirmative action policies.

I also receive by postal mail regular copies of Imprimis, which seems to be a monthly Hillsdale newsletter, the title translating to “in the first place.” Most recent was the February 2018 issue, Volume 47, Number 2. There is an indication this operation has been around for nearly half a century.

The headline on the very front, that caught my attention, reads:

The Politicization of the FBI

Jesus help me, but I immediately recognized what this was all about. The issue is on-line, but to save you the bother of following the link, I am posting the text of the article by Joseph E. diGenova:

Joseph E. diGenova
Former U.S. Attorney

Joseph E. diGenova is a founding partner of diGenova & Toensing, LLP. He received his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati and his J.D. from Georgetown University. He has served as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Independent Counsel of the United States, Special Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and Counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Church Committee).

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on January 25, 2018, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., as part of the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series. 

Over the past year, facts have emerged that suggest there was a plot by high-ranking FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials in the Obama administration, acting under color of law, to exonerate Hillary Clinton of federal crimes and then, if she lost the election, to frame Donald Trump and his campaign for colluding with Russia to steal the presidency. This conduct was not based on mere bias, as has been widely claimed, but rather on deeply felt animus toward Trump and his agenda.

In the course of this plot, FBI Director James Comey, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, FBI Deputy Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok, Strzok’s paramour and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, FBI General Counsel James Baker, and DOJ senior official Bruce Ohr—perhaps among others—compromised federal law enforcement to such an extent that the American public is losing trust. A recent CBS News poll finds 48 percent of Americans believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia collusion probe is “politically motivated,” a stunning conclusion. And 63 percent of polled voters in a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll believe that the FBI withheld vital information from Congress about the Clinton and Russia collusion investigations.

I spent my early legal career as a federal prosecutor. I later supervised hundreds of prosecutors and prosecutions as a U.S. Attorney and as an Independent Counsel. I have never witnessed investigations so fraught with failure to fulfill the basic elements of a criminal probe as those conducted under James Comey. Not since former Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray deep-sixed evidence during Watergate has the head of the FBI been so discredited as Comey is now.

The Case of the Clinton Emails

The Hillary Clinton email scandal began in 2013 with the U.S. House of Representatives investigation into the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. It was during that investigation that accessing Secretary of State Clinton’s emails became an issue. But it wasn’t until The New York Times broke the story on March 2, 2015, that Clinton had a secret, personal server that things really took off.

Thousands of emails that the House at first requested, then subpoenaed, conveniently disappeared—remember those reports about BleachBit and the smashing of Clinton’s numerous phones with hammers? Clinton and her aides were, to say the least, not forthcoming. It was clearly time for the FBI and DOJ to act, using the legal tools at their disposal to secure the emails and other materials the House had subpoenaed. But that didn’t happen.

One tool at their disposal was the grand jury—the sine qua non of a criminal investigation. Grand juries are comprised of 16 to 23 citizens who hear a prosecutor’s case against an alleged criminal. The subject of the investigation is not present during the entire proceeding, which can last up to a year. A grand jury provides investigators with the authority to collect evidence by issuing subpoenas for documents and witnesses. FBI agents and prosecutors cannot themselves demand evidence. Only a grand jury can—or a court, in cases where a subpoena recipient refuses a grand jury’s command to provide documents or to testify.

Incredibly, FBI Director Comey and Attorney General Lynch refused to convene a grand jury during the Clinton investigation. Thus investigators had no authority to subpoena evidence or witnesses. Lacking leverage, Comey then injudiciously granted immunity to five Clinton aides in return for evidence that could have been obtained with a subpoena. Even when Clinton claimed 39 times during a July 2, 2016, interview—an interview led by disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok—that she could not recall certain facts because of a head injury, Comey refused the case agents’ request to subpoena her medical records.

Comey claims he negotiated the immunity deals because of his concern about time. Yet the investigation was opened in the summer of 2015, nearly a year before he cut these deals. Compare this to the DOJ’s handling of four-star Marine General James E. Cartwright, who pleaded guilty in October 2016 to a false statement about leaking classified information to The New York Times. In that case, the DOJ bragged about its use of subpoenas and search warrants.

Not only was there no grand jury, the FBI never issued a search warrant—something it does when there is concern a person will destroy evidence. Clinton deleted half her emails and then claimed, under penalty of perjury, that she had turned over to the government all emails that “were or potentially were” work-related. The FBI later found email chains classified as “secret” or “confidential” that she had not turned over. Still no search warrant was issued.

Comey’s dereliction did not stop at the failure to utilize essential prosecutorial tools. He violated several rules that prosecutors consider sacrosanct:

  • Comey allowed one lawyer to represent four material witnesses, an arrangement ripe for the four to coordinate testimony.
  • After needlessly giving immunity to two lawyers representing Clinton, Comey permitted both to sit in on her July 2, 2016, FBI interview—a patent conflict. He claimed he could not control who sat in on the “voluntary” interview. That’s nonsense. He could have convened a grand jury, subpoenaed Clinton, and compelled her to appear and be questioned without a lawyer or else plead the Fifth Amendment.
  • Comey authorized the destruction of laptop computers that belonged to Clinton’s aides and were under congressional subpoena.
  • Comey ignored blatant evidence of culpability. It is ridiculous to the general public and risible to those who have security clearances for Clinton to claim she thought that “(c)” placed after paragraphs in her emails meant the material was in alphabetical order rather than meaning it was classified. If she thought (c) indicated alphabetical order, where were (a) and (b) on the documents? Clinton and her supporters touted her vast experience as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, positions requiring frequent use of classified information and presumably common sense. Yet neither experience nor common sense informed her decisions when handling classified materials.
  • Comey and the FBI never questioned Clinton about her public statements, which changed over time and were blatantly false. “I did not email classified information to anyone” morphed into “I did not email anything marked ‘classified,’” which morphed into the claim that (c) did not mean what it clearly meant. False and changing statements are presented to juries routinely by prosecutors as evidence of guilt.
  • Breaking DOJ protocols, violating the chain of command, and assuming an authority he never had, Comey usurped the role of the U.S. attorney general on July 5, 2016, when he announced that the case against Clinton was closed. He justified his actions saying that he no longer trusted Attorney General Lynch after her June 27, 2016, meeting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport. This meeting took place at the height of the so-called investigation—just days before Peter Strzok interviewed Clinton on July 2. Thanks to the efforts of Judicial Watch to secure documents through the Freedom of Information Act, we now know that Comey was already drafting a letter exonerating Clinton in May 2016—prior to interviewing more than a dozen major witnesses. We also know that the FBI’s reaction to the impropriety of the tarmac meeting was not disgust, but rather anger at the person who leaked the fact of the meeting. “We need to find that guy” and bring him before a supervisor, stated one (name redacted) FBI agent. Another argued that the source should be banned from working security details. Not one email expressed concern over the meeting. An FBI director who truly had his trust shaken would have questioned the members of Lynch’s FBI security detail for the Arizona trip about how the meeting came to be. Comey didn’t bother.

Comey described Clinton’s handling of classified information as “extremely careless,” a clumsy attempt to avoid the legal language of “gross negligence” for criminal mishandling of classified information—and we later learned that Peter Strzok, again, was responsible for editing this language in Comey’s statement. But practically speaking, the terms are synonymous. Any judge would instruct a jury to consider “gross negligence” as “extremely careless” conduct.

Comey claimed that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring the case against Clinton. I have spent many years investigating federal crimes, and I can tell you that a reasonable prosecutor would have utilized a grand jury, issued subpoenas and search warrants, and followed standard DOJ procedures for federal prosecutions. In short, Comey threw the case. He should have been fired long before he was.

In late spring 2016, just weeks prior to Comey’s July 5 press conference clearing Clinton of any crime, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe ordered FBI agents in New York to shut down their investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Their objections were overruled. Sources have told me that McCabe also shut down an additional Clinton investigation. This is the McCabe who, while he was overseeing the Clinton email investigation, had a wife running for the Virginia State Senate and receiving more than $460,000 in campaign contributions from a longtime Clinton loyalist, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Moreover, it was only after the news of Clinton’s private server became public in The New York Times that McAuliffe recruited McCabe’s wife to run for office. McCabe eventually recused himself from the Clinton probe, but that was one week before the 2016 election, after the decisions to clear Clinton and to pursue the Trump-Russia collusion investigation had already been made. So his recusal was meaningless.

In clearing legal impediments from Clinton’s path to the Democratic nomination, Comey and his senior staff thought they had helped Clinton clinch the presidency. Their actions put an end to a decades-long tradition of non-political federal law enforcement.

The Case of Trump-Russia Collusion

Rumors of collusion with Russia by Trump or the Trump campaign surfaced during the primaries in 2015, but gained in strength soon after Trump secured the Republican nomination in July 2016. Thanks to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, we now know that high-level FBI officials were involved in promoting these rumors. Among Horowitz’s discoveries were text messages between FBI Deputy Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page that suggest an illegal plan to utilize law enforcement to frame Trump. The most revealing exchange we know of took place on August 15, 2016. Concerned about the outcome of the election, Strzok wrote:

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in [Andrew McCabe’s] office—that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.

No amount of sugar coating or post hoc explanation of this and other texts can conceal the couple’s animus against Trump and support for Clinton. Strzok’s messages illustrate his commitment to Clinton’s victory and Trump’s defeat or, if Trump won, to an “insurance policy.”

The term “insurance policy” obviously refers to the Trump-Russia collusion investigation, which to this day remains a probe with no underlying crime. This is not the talk of professional investigators, but of corrupt agents who have created two standards of justice based on their political leanings. It looks like a reprise of the schemes undertaken during an earlier era, under FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, that led to the creation of the Church Committee—a committee on which I served, and which tried to reform the FBI to prevent it from meddling in domestic politics.

At the heart of the Russia collusion scheme is the FBI’s utilization of a document paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Called the Steele Dossier because it was written by former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele, this document contains unsubstantiated information designed to taint Trump and his presidency. While Clinton partisans point out that candidate Clinton never referred to the Steele Dossier in her speeches, the fact is that she did not have to—the FBI hierarchy was doing it for her! Indeed, FBI General Counsel James Baker was recently reassigned because of his having leaked information about the Steele Dossier to the magazine Mother Jones.

Not one claim concerning Trump in the Steele Dossier has ever been verified by the FBI, according to Andrew McCabe himself in recent testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. The only confirmed fact is unsurprising: former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page traveled to Moscow on his own dime and met with various Russians—all perfectly legal.

Comey and then-CIA Director John Brennan laundered the Steele Dossier through the U.S. intelligence community to give it an aura of credibility and get it to the press. It was also used by the FBI and senior DOJ officials to secure wiretap warrants from a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. Then its contents, via court-authorized FISA warrants, were used to justify the illegal unmasking of the identities of wiretapped Trump officials. The contents of these National Security Agency intercepts were put on spreadsheets and presented to members of President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC)—specifically Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes—and subsequently leaked to the press. According to former NSC staff, President Obama himself read the FISA intercepts of Trump campaign personnel. Unsurprisingly, there was no request for a leak investigation from either the FBI or the DOJ.

In sum, the FBI and DOJ employed unverified salacious allegations contained in a political opposition research document to obtain court-sanctioned wiretaps, and then leaked the contents of the wiretaps and the identities of political opponents. This was a complex criminal plot worthy of Jason Bourne.

The Pall Over the Special Counsel and the FBI

Layered over this debacle is a special counsel investigation unfettered by rules or law. Not surprisingly, James Comey triggered the special counsel’s appointment—and he did so by design. According to Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, having been fired on May 9, 2017, he leaked official documents to his friend, Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman, with the specific intent that Richman would leak them to the press. Reportage on that leak is what led Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller—a former FBI director and Comey’s good friend—as special counsel to investigate allegations of Trump-Russia collusion.

Mueller’s reputation has been damaged by a series of decisions that violate the ethical rules of appearances. For instance, he hired Democratic partisans as lawyers for the probe: Andrew Weissmann, who donated to Clinton and praised Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for disobeying Trump’s lawful Presidential Order regarding a travel ban for residents of certain nations that harbor terrorists; Jeannie Rhee, who donated to Clinton and represented Ben Rhodes in the email probe and the Clinton Foundation investigation; and Aaron Zebley, who represented Clinton IT staffer Justin Cooper in the email server probe.

Mueller also staged a pre-dawn raid with weapons drawn on the home of Paul Manafort, rousing Manafort and his wife from their bed—a tactic customarily reserved for terrorists and drug dealers. Manafort has subsequently been indicted for financial crimes that antedate his campaign work for Trump and that have nothing to do with Russia collusion.

Then there’s the fact that when Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation in July 2017, he didn’t tell anyone. The removal and its causes were uncovered by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Why was such vital information concealed from the public? It is not, as is often claimed now, that Strzok was a minor figure. All the major decisions regarding both the Clinton and the Trump-Russia collusion investigations had been made under Strzok.

Significantly, Strzok also led the interview of General Michael Flynn that ended in Flynn pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI. It is important to recall that Flynn’s FBI interview was not conducted under the authority of the special counsel, but under that of Comey and McCabe. It took place during Inauguration week in January 2017. Flynn had met with the same agents the day before regarding security clearances. McCabe called Flynn and asked if agents could come to the White House. Flynn agreed, assuming it was about personnel. It was not.

Flynn had been overheard on a FISA wiretap talking to Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. There was nothing criminal or even unusual about the fact of such discussion. Flynn was on the Trump transition team and was a federal employee as the President-Elect’s national security advisor. It was his job to be talking to foreign leaders. Flynn was not charged with regard to anything said during his conversation with Kislyak. So why was the FBI interrogating Flynn about legal conduct? What more did the FBI need to know? I am told by sources that when Flynn’s indictment was announced, McCabe was on a video conference call—cheering!

Compare the FBI’s treatment of Flynn to its treatment of Paul Combetta, the technician who used a program called BleachBit to destroy thousands of emails on Hillary Clinton’s computer. This destruction of evidence took place after a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives issued letters directing that all emails be preserved and subpoenaing them. Combetta first lied to the FBI, claiming he did not recall deleting anything. After being rewarded with immunity, Combetta recalled destroying the emails—but he could not recall anyone directing him to do so.

The word in Washington is that Flynn pleaded guilty to take pressure off his son, who was also a subject of Mueller’s investigation. Always the soldier. But those who questioned Flynn that day did not cover themselves with law enforcement glory. Led by Strzok, they grilled Flynn about facts that they already knew and that they knew did not constitute a crime. They besmirched the reputation of federal law enforcement by their role in a scheme to destroy a duly elected president and his appointees.

A pall hangs over Mueller, and a pall hangs over the DOJ. But the darkest pall hangs over the FBI, America’s premier federal law enforcement agency, which since the demise of J. Edgar Hoover has been steadfast in steering clear of politics. Even during L. Patrick Gray’s brief tenure as acting director during Watergate, it was not the FBI but Gray personally who was implicated. The current scandal pervades the Bureau. It spans from Director Comey to Deputy Director McCabe to General Counsel Baker. It spread to counterintelligence via Peter Strzok. When line agents complained about the misconduct, McCabe retaliated by placing them under investigation for leaking information.

From the outset of this scandal, I have considered Comey a dirty cop. His unfailing commitment to himself above all else is of a pattern. Throughout his career, Comey has continually portrayed himself as Thomas Becket, fighting against institutional corruption—even where none exists. Stories abound of his routine retort to anyone who disagreed with him (not an unusual happening when lawyers gather) during his tenure as deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush. “Your moral compass is askew,” he would say. This self-righteousness led agents to refer to him as “The Cardinal.” Comey is no Thomas Becket—he is Henry II.

A great disservice has been done to the dedicated men and women of the FBI by Comey and his seventh floor henchmen. A grand jury probe is long overdue. Inspector General Horowitz is an honest man, but he cannot convene a grand jury. We need one now. We need our FBI back.

And that is a load. I hope by now you have read through the foregoing, because some Skeptical Analysis is in order. There is a bunch, and life is short. I will hit some high points, but the conclusion is that this is a shining example of political propaganda. Here are a few items.

Massive Irony

The headline writer’s sense of irony seems to have gone AWOL. Recent events demonstrate attempts by the Trump administration to work against the FBI for political gain. Since that time the FBI (and other government intelligence services) started looking into Russian government interference with the 2016 elections and Donald Trump’s connections with the Russian government, Mr. Trump and his allies have, with little success at concealing, been putting pressure on the FBI to cease and desist all such inquiries. First FBI Director James Comey was fired on 8 May, and, more recently, Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe was also fired, this time by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, transparently at the direction of President Trump. Please let not Hillsdale College speak of politicization.

The Clinton Emails

DiGenova wants to use the matter of Hillary Clinton’s emails to make a case that James Comey was corrupt in the execution of his duties. He asserts that Comey should have convened a grand jury, as he (diGenova) would have done as a prosecutor. Really? An examination of all the evidence—and there is a boat load—that has been publicized indicates that, while Clinton was derelict in her use of a private server, there was no intent to break the law, and there is in fact no evidence laws were broken. Yes, any responsible prosecutor would have kicked this case and freed up FBI resources for serious matters. From the viewpoint of any thinking person, if Clinton had been a low-level clerk and not somebody with the last name Clinton running for public office, this matter would have been cause for a letter of reprimand and possible dismissal from employment. At most. Mr. Trump has been President and in control of the Department of Justice, and to date no charges against Mrs. Clinton have been forthcoming from the DOJ.

Trump-Russia Collusion

The most interesting quote from this section is, “Thanks to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, we now know that high-level FBI officials were involved in promoting these rumors. Among Horowitz’s discoveries were text messages between FBI Deputy Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page that suggest an illegal plan to utilize law enforcement to frame Trump.” Then diGenova proceeds to quote a passage from an email between two intimate friends making a joke. He wants to take this seriously, and he hopes his readers do, ignoring the context. Hint: the context makes it clear the remarks were in jest.

DiGenova also notes the two held Mr. Trump in low regard, going so far as disparaging him. DiGenova fails to note this is not from an official government correspondence, but it is simply two friends expressing rightly-held and possibly private views, said views being held by a majority of American citizens. I need to emphasize the term rightly-held, because there is no measure by which Donald Trump comes off as a worthy person. And I do not make that remark in jest.

The second interesting quote from this section is, “At the heart of the Russia collusion scheme is the FBI’s utilization of a document paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.” Most interesting  is that diGenova points out the Clinton campaign paid for Steele’s research. He overlooks the reason the Clinton campaign paid for it. That’s because I failed to step forward and pay for it, myself. Dude, any right-thinking person would have paid to find out what The Donald was up to in that Moscow hotel and elsewhere:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

More important, diGenova ignores that the Steele dossier was not, in fact, critical to launching the investigation. The investigation was already in the works when the FBI received this information. DiGenova’s warping of the truth at this level amounts to fabrication of facts, otherwise known as lying.

The Pall Over the Special Counsel and the FBI

Finally, this quote is worthy: “Mueller also staged a pre-dawn raid with weapons drawn on the home of Paul Manafort, rousing Manafort and his wife from their bed—a tactic customarily reserved for terrorists and drug dealers. Manafort has subsequently been indicted for financial crimes that antedate his campaign work for Trump and that have nothing to do with Russia collusion.” I can’t vouch for the “weapons drawn” part but there is nothing remarkable about the pre-dawn raid part. Paul Manafort, by all indications, is an international criminal. He is being charged with money laundering, failing to pay taxes owed to the government, and conspiracy against the United States. He stands to spend the remainder of his life in prison if found guilty of these charges. This is not a case of unpaid traffic tickets, and diGenova is being disingenuous, even highly deceptive. He is a liar.

This article, appearing in the February issue of Imprimis, derives from a talk diGenova presented for the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies, as it says up front. This was apparently in conjunction with the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series. The apparent theme of diGenova’s talk bears scant semblance to the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation’s stated goals:

Giving primarily in four major areas: 1) environmental concerns, with emphasis on programs that strive to preserve the land and educate our children on the importance of protecting and caring for our natural heritage; 2) animal welfare, with emphasis on the protection and humane treatment of both wild and domestic animals; 3) social concerns, with emphasis on helping Native Americans help themselves; and 4) the fine arts, with emphasis on renovation or the visual and performing arts. The foundation may also fund other charitable organizations or programs as deemed appropriate by the board of directors.

This has all the marks of a political smear laid on those currently making trouble for President Donald Trump. Would that it be more effective, because, as matters unravel daily, the President is going to be needing some backup, fabricated or otherwise.

The Real Thing

The campaign season is now open.

I never said anything about this blog being non-partisan. Read the fine print. My interests are science, religion, politics, and my own opinion, not necessarily in that order. For the next eight months my interest is getting Beto O’Roarke elected to replace the insufferable Ted Cruz as Texas senator.

Last year candidates started campaigning to represent the Democratic Party in Texas. One was Derrick Crowe, hoping to represent Texas District 21, now occupied by Lamar Smith, a major Texas embarrassment. In November Crowe held a rally at The Pod, a modest eatery in north San Antonio, over in District 21. I live in District 20.  I made a video and touted his energy, but he was defeated in the primary by Mary Wilson. Crowe has thrown his support to Wilson, and so will I.

When O’Roarke held a rally at VFW Post 76 in San Antonio I drove down and listened to what he had to say. Again, a candidate of  considerable commitment and energy. He spoke on several topics, taking questions from the attendees. I made several videos, attempting to cover each topic in a separate clip. You can see them on YouTube.

He won the primary and will be running against Ted Cruz. I will vote for him, and I will also contribute to his campaign. You should, too.

I am hearing that O’Roarke has an uphill road against the very conservative Cruz in a conservative Texas, and most think he will not win. However, strong support for O’Roarke will force conservative donors to spend resources in the state, much as happened in Pennsylvania this month. I would truly like to drain those coffers, and it will be doubly satisfying if the money goes wasted. Do your part.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Government You Paid For

Number 30 in a Series

This series of posts is supposed to be about people getting the government they paid for. Sometimes that is not the case. Please follow this humorous story.

Republican Tim Murphy represented Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District until last year. Then he apparently got a woman pregnant (artificial insemination I presume) and subsequently encouraged her to abort the pregnancy. Then, for reasons left for the reader to figure out, he resigned his office. So the Commonwealth of  Pennsylvania figured it needed a replacement to represent its 18th district, and a special election was scheduled for the 13th of this month. Democrats pounced.

Eager to get back into  the game, maybe even to obtain a majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats put up a candidate to run for the open position. That was Conor Lamb. The Republican Party fielded candidate Rick Saccone.

Saccone is critical of welfare spending and is considered a budget hawk. He supports large-scale cuts to K-12 education, childhood education programs, public libraries, child welfare, and other state programs in order to pay back the federal government’s debt. Saccone’s beliefs are strongly influenced by Christian reconstructionist and author David Barton, who also introduced Saccone’s 2018 special election run.

Yes! Rick Saccone is everything the Republican Party has come to  stand for, and his association with Texas religious crank David Barton demonstrates he has well and truly drunk the Kool-Aid.

Conor Lamb is a Marine Corps Reserve officer, having served an active tour as a judge advocate general. Prior to the congressional campaign he was a federal prosecutor.

This was shaping up as an election to  define the political landscape for the remainder of the year. District 18, shortly to disappear as lines are redrawn, was represented by Republicans for the past 15 years, and President Trump carried the district by a 20-point margin in 2016. Turning this district would be a grand prize for the Democrats. They poured in the resources. Full disclosure: I have contributed money to the Democratic Party, and I  receive several times daily email solicitations for funds. Prior to the election on Tuesday I am sure I received at least a dozen appeals to donate to the District 18 race.

And that’s what this is all about. It’s a prime example of how American politics is about money. There seems to be something about the American voter, maybe voters all over the world. So many do not take a look at the facts available, make a decision, then vote their conclusions. It’s either they must be told how to vote, or else they are prone to follow the most recent and the loudest voice. It’s this latter case where money comes in. Money buys the voice. The more money, the longer and the louder the voice speaks.

And the money came in, not from me. Despite the flood of emails, I kept a tight fist, saving my salvo for a pair of  Texas races coming up later this year. But others did. Apparently, Conor Lamb pulled heavily from individual donors like me. Rick Saccone had tremendous outside help. Rather than reconstruct the story from pieces, I am posting what was published on-line by Time.

Republicans and Democrats are employing very different fundraising strategies ahead of the midterm elections, but the results of a special election in Pennsylvania show the GOP strategy may have some drawbacks.

As in other races, a higher amount of Democratic dollars went straight to candidate Conor Lamb, while more Republican money went to outside groups backing state Rep. Rick Saccone. Lamb’s official campaign committee outraised Saccone’s 3 to 1, according to Issue One, a non-partisan group that tracks spending in politics. But outside groups backing Saccone outspent outside groups backing Lamb 6 to 1.

Regarding money raised by Lamb’s campaign, Rick Saccone was quick to mention this. His campaign touted, for voters’ appreciation, his opponent’s fund-raising success. Critically, Saccone failed  to mention the tremendous flow of cash from outside sources. That would be money not spent by his campaign but by groups supporting his election. The NRA made its weight felt:

The National Rifle Association has engaged in an under-the-radar spending campaign for Republican candidate Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s Tuesday special election.

It is the only federal political spending the pro-gun group has reported since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., according to FEC reports.

The NRA spent $7,868 in support of Saccone but the money wasn’t seen in a high-profile venture like TV ads or get-out-the-vote efforts. Most of it – $7,532 – was spent on mailings scheduled to be distributed in the district on Monday. The remaining $336 was spent on phone banking earlier this month, according to campaign finance filings.

Nobel Prize laureate Bob Dylan has been  noted for pointing out that “money doesn’t talk, it swears.” In this case it whispered. Despite the lop-sided [UNDERSTATEMENT ALERT] spending, Conor Lamb eked out a win by a handful of votes. A recount is in progress, but it’s apparent Mr. Lamb is heading for Washington.

Conor Lamb ran as a conservative Democrat, but Republicans can expect little help from him. While he may vote against the Democrats’ more liberal social ideals, there are a number of things he can be counted on not  to  do:

  • Vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.
  • Vote funding to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
  • Vote to disassemble the Affordable Care Act.

And more.

The big difference between Rick Saccone and Conor Lamb is that President Trump did not come to Pennsylvania to campaign for Conor Lamb. He did for Rick Saccone. The Trump brand is daily becoming more toxic, and we are wondering, come November, whether Republican candidates will look to keep their distance from this rogue leader. Having elected a president from the least qualified, Republicans may have come to think they have some sort of mandate, forgetting in the short term that their candidate was the less popular of the two top contenders.

Powerful lobbying groups such as the NRA and high-pocket industrial interests such as the Koch Brothers can be counted to back Republican candidates in the coming months. Whether they will obtain the government  they paid for is now open for question.

The Government You Paid For

Number 29 in a Series

The United States Government spends in the order of $3.65 trillion a year. At first glance that’s a heap of money, but you have to consider this. We are getting the government we paid for. And paid for. Give or take $31,000 more or less.

Chris Cillizza is a political analyst for CNN, and he put some of that analysis to work recently, updating as recently as this morning, where I obtained these screen shots. The analysis concerns the person picked by President Donald Trump to head up the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. That person would be retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. For the moment I am going to pass over a bunch of what I said about Dr. Carson prior to his entry into government employ, and I am certainly not going to  mention the matter of the Egyptian pyramids. I will get straight to a certain HUD office dining set, which dining set the government was set to pay for, on top of the other $3.65 trillion.

First off, government employee Helen Foster, working at HUD, noticed the planned expense for refurbishing the Secretary’s office went over the $5000 maximum allowed by budget rules. She pointed out this oversight and refused to authorize the expense. Pressure was applied. Words to the order of “Find the money somewhere,” were issued. She complained. As with all government complainers, she was moved to a position where her complaints would be appreciated.

Then it came to light that the government was prepared to pay $31,651 for the now famous dining set.

And what a nice dining set it would have been. It would look especially nice sitting in the government bureau whose proposed task is to provide relief to citizens in financial distress. Possibly the nation’s downtrodden would have taken turns sitting in these chairs at would likely to have been an absolutely stunning dining table. Would there also be food? We will never know. The order was canceled. The Secretary disavowed the purchase and laid blame where it is always laid in such situations:

“Mrs. Carson and the secretary had no awareness that the table was being purchased,” said HUD spokesman Raffi Williams at the time. Added a HUD official: “The secretary did not order a new table. The table was ordered by the career staffers in charge of the building.”

And that was that. At least that was that until somebody did some poking around and found this:

Were this email to be as it appears, then we are left to conclude that Mrs. Carson, who is not a government employee, picked the $31,000 dining set. There is denial all around.

That leaves in question which government employee, if any, did make the purchasing decision. The Egyptian pyramids are beginning to look better all the time.

This is your President speaking.

Number 71 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!

 A polite way of telling you that you’re fired.

The Government You Paid For

Number 27 in a Series

You may find this hard to believe, but former ExxonMobil CEO is arguably the most qualified person confirmed to President Donald Trump’s cabinet. As Secretary of State, he brings an understanding of world politics, a level head, and the experience of managing a large organization.

Never mind.

It is becoming apparent we now have the government we paid for.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 30 in a series

Repeating from a previous post:

It would appear this is not going to end anytime soon. For the record:

schlemiel: an inept clumsy person; a bungler; a dolt (Yiddish שלעמיל shlemil from Hebrew שלא מועיל “ineffective”) (OED, MW)

When Donald Trump set out on his pretend run for the presidency, he knew exactly how to go about it. I say “pretend” because there are concerns he never intended to take office, launching and prosecuting an outrageous campaign for reasons beyond the present scope. Anyhow, he seemed to know his target audience thoroughly, either by instinct or benefiting from excellent advice. To this audience he promised everything.

Inspired, he started by promising a border wall would be built along the Mexican border. And Mexico would pay for it. Apparently he promised to raise tariffs to protect American companies (and American workers) from unfair trade practices. On this latter last week he  announced to deliver.

NEW YORK — The Dow and S&P 500 registered a third straight day of more than 1 percent declines on Thursday after President Donald Trump said the United States would impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum, raising concern about higher prices and a trade war.

The declines put the Dow into negative territory for the year and drove the Cboe Volatility Index to its highest close since Feb. 13, denting the market’s recent recovery from deep losses in early February.

It is possible someone told Donald Trump previously, “Dude, there’s some of this shit you really do not want to do.” Only possible. We are mindful that solid business practices were never Donald Trump’s strongest asset. Nor clear thinking. Consequences ensued.

(Reuters) – Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin urged President Donald Trump to reconsider a tariff hike on steel and aluminum imports on Friday, saying the move will hurt Americans.

“If the president wants to protect good-paying, family-supporting jobs in America, especially here in Wisconsin, then he should reconsider the administration’s position on these tariffs, particularly on ultra-thin aluminum,” Walker said in a statement.

This from someone who always seemed to echo Donald Trump’s most strident tones. But wait. The drama features multiple plot twists:

SAN FRANCISCO — Billionaire investor Carl Icahn sold nearly 1 million shares of stock in a company tied to the steel industry leading up to President Donald Trump’s decision to impose costly tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the U.S.

Icahn also has ties to Trump; he was an unpaid adviser to the president before resigning last August.

Gee, Donald. Thanks much for the heads up.

And twists:

LONDON — Share markets in Asia and Europe regained ground on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump faced growing pressure from political allies to pull back from proposed steel and aluminum tariffs and a potential global trade war.

European sentiment was also supported after Germany reformed its coalition government to end more than five months in political limbo and as initial unease caused by a hefty election vote for anti-establishment parties in Italy began to ebb.

And turns:

Ryan Criticizes Tariff Plan as Trump Issues Nafta Threat

Admit it. We would not be having this much fun if we had elected Clinton. And the show is only now getting up to speed.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 29 in a series

Repeating from a previous post:

It would appear this is not going to end anytime soon. For the record:

schlemiel: an inept clumsy person; a bungler; a dolt (Yiddish שלעמיל shlemil from Hebrew שלא מועיל “ineffective”) (OED, MW)

Yes. We do have a Schlemiel-in-Chief. And, as much money as it is costing me, it’s worth it for the entertainment value. Let’s get to the story.

Yes, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is resigning, leaving her position, leaving government service, going to seek other career opportunities. And there is no doubt that a brilliant future awaits, for she, as opposed to others, has exhibited talent and promise. She follows Sean Spicer (acting), Mike Dubke, and  Anthony Scaramucci through the door, at 170 days beating them all in length of tenure. A problem has been that her job included papering over Donald Trump’s ass with fabricated statements.

Yes, when the story broke that Trump campaign people met with a Russian lawyer close to the Putin government in June 2016, she helped craft the statement that it was “all about adoption.” And how did that play out?

“Adoption” has acquired a new meaning since those days.

So Hicks is leaving, coincidentally scant hours after testifying under oath that her job included telling “white lies” for the President of the United States.

 

For all Schlemiel-in-Chief fans, Hicks will stay on for possibly a few more weeks before exiting through that notorious revolving door. She will need to  avoid the traffic jam. Let’s take a look at that list again. Warning: this was captured a few minutes ago. It may no longer be current.

In all fairness, some of these departures should have been expected in the normal  nature of such jobs. Not all of those on the list have been charged with crimes, nor even indicted, nor currently serving time. But, again, that is yesterday’s news.

The Government You Paid For

Number 24

Don’t you just hate it when you fire your guns prematurely and don’t have time to reload when a much larger target pops up? Today I know the feeling. Yesterday I made fun of administration officials bouncing about the airways in grand style on the taxpayers’ nickel. One of the recipients was Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. I should have waited:

Washington (CNN) — The chief of staff for Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin altered an email and made false statements to a department ethics official that led to taxpayers covering expenses for Shulkin’s wife on an official trip to Europe last summer, the agency’s inspector general found.

Vivieca Wright Simpson, Shulkin’s chief of staff, altered language in an email regarding the logistics of the trip that made it seem as though Shulkin and his wife had been invited to a “special recognition dinner” held by the Danish government. That led to the department paying for Shulkin’s wife’s more than $4,000 in airfare, according to the report which was released Wednesday.

Shulkin, who was previously the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health under the Obama administration, was nominated for the top post by President Trump. This apparently was not Shulkin’s first trip to the public trough. Apparently Shulkin used his government-paid aid, James Gough, to perform work he should have handled for himself. Gough was asked to and did perform tasks related to setting up side trip arrangements for the Secretary and his wife during the Denmark trip. CNN reports an email to Gough asking, “Is there earlier flight from Copenhagen? Wimbledon tickets? High tea?” And more.

The Wimbledon tickets may have been a bit more. Gough received free tickets to the Wimbledon tennis matches. Victoria Gosling provided the tickets because she is a friend of Merle Bari, Shulkin’s wife. Actually not. When interviewed, Gosling could not recall Bari’s name. The implication is Shulkin and spouse received the tickets because of Mr. Shulkin’s high position, something of a violation of federal law. Lying about the matter is additionally problematic.

If you ever worried about it, then you can put your mind at ease and relax. You are now getting the government you paid for.

Darwin Day

The following appeared in essential the same form in Sunday’s edition of the San Antonio Express-News opinion section.

Monday is the birthday of British scientist Charles Darwin. He was born on this day in 1809, the same day as Abraham Lincoln. Science fans now celebrate it as “Darwin Day,” and for a reason.

Charles Darwin is recognized as one of the pre-eminent scientists of the 19th century, and his remains rest in Westminster Abbey, near those of Isaac Newton. The thing that earned Darwin this distinction was his work earlier in the century—establishment of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Biological evolution was not a novel concept at the time. Anaximander of Miletus (610-546 B.C.) was an early thinker who proposed that one species could descend from another. Medieval Islamic science also included the concept. But by the early 19th century scientists still had no mechanism to drive the process.  Darwin’s contribution was the idea that random variation, coupled with natural selection, provides this capability. Destined as a young man for the clergy, his life was changed by a voyage around the world, a scientific expedition underwritten by his government. His observations on the trip started him to thinking about what could drive evolution, but he did not publish until 1858, when Alfred Russel Wallace hit upon the same idea. The two published concurrently, and the following year Darwin’s seminal book, “The Origin of Species,” set the world on fire.

What Darwin had done was to demolish the remaining link between religion and the natural world. Previous scientists had demonstrated our planet is not the center of the universe, and the earth is millions (later billions) of years old—in direct contradiction to the Genesis story that was the foundation for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Darwin removed any need for supernatural processes, especially anything resembling the God of Abraham, to explain human existence. To many people this undercut the very basis for human morality, and it cast their lives adrift in a purposeless world. The tension extends to this day.

Well into the 21st century rational-thinking people continue to find it necessary to defend truth and reason against attack. It is now barely seven years prior to the Scopes Trial centennial, and scientists and scholars daily endure challenges by creationists of a wide spectrum, all pushing some challenge to established science. The governor of Texas appoints a known creationist to head the State Board of Education, and three prominent creationists are observed reviewing biology text books for the Texas Education Agency. A known fan of Intelligent Design is appointed Secretary of Education. And biology is not the only science under attack.

An Oklahoma senator displays a snowball as evidence against human-caused global warming. Worse, applause comes from a like-minded base of American voters. A disgraced physician publishes a fraudulent paper linking vaccines to autism. Millions of parents withhold vaccines from their children, with tragic results.

Disregard for verifiable fact now permeates the American political landscape. An outlandish rumor takes life about the time of the presidential election and quickly engulfs a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor. Accurate reporting puts the lie to the story, but, against all reason, a person caught up in the frenzy goes so far as to barge into the restaurant, brandishing a firearm and discharging it. The story retains life to this day, due to people’s willingness to believe in the face of contrary evidence. A participant in an Arizona rally in January is heard saying this story requires further investigation.

An American presidential candidate lays a carpet of false statements, continuing into his tenure as the country’s leader. News outlets print the truth, which is then proclaimed to be fake news. Millions of voters pick up the chant.

This lack of respect for the verifiable fact is a malaise that threatens the health of a great industrial nation. The solution will not come from the top. A well-informed citizenry needs to push back against attacks on logic and reason. Clear-thinking people need to come forward when they see or hear something that is obviously not right. A lone voice of resistance should become a million. And the voice should be loud, clear, and firm. There must be no backing down in defense of what is demonstrably true.

The freethinker movement has a history in Central Texas. Immigrants from Germany settled here in the mid 19th century, and their legacy of resistance to absolutism in religion and government has seeped into our society. The Freethinkers Association of Central Texas (FACT) continues this tradition, championing open discussion and insisting on respect for rational thinking. More than an anti-religious gathering, it serves as a channel for many who hold compassion and respect for human dignity above the exigencies of political power. On Darwin Day we resolve to continue Darwin’s legacy of championing fact before fable.

The Freethinkers Association of Central Texas meets informally for lunch the first and second Tuesday each month, and for breakfast at Denny’s on Fredericksburg Road the last Saturday each month. The next meeting is Tuesday, 13 February, at Hacienda Vallarta on Bandera Road at 1:00 p.m. Public welcome.

The Government You Paid For

Number 22

If you ever wondered whether your tax money is well-spent, wonder no longer. The matter is being settled daily. Here’s the latest:

CIA director: Trump grasps intelligence at same level as 25-year veteran

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Tuesday praised President Trump’s grasp of intelligence briefings, saying he has the same depth of understanding as agency veterans.

“I have seen 25-year intelligence professional receive briefings. I would tell you that President Trump is the kind of recipient of our information at the same level that they are,” Pompeo said during an interview with the American Enterprise Institute.

That should lay to rest any concerns our President is not mentally up to the task. The concern now shifts to CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Are we getting more than we are paying for with this amazing government employee?