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Updated: 2017-11-24T09:37:49.811-05:00


Cruising the Web


I the hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are not going too crazy on Black Friday. And if you don't feel like braving the craziness of BLack Friday in person, feel free to use the Amazon links below. I do appreciate it when you use my Amazon links. I use the commission that Amazon pays for buying books and other materials for my classroom.elanie Sloan, the former executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), tells of her experience working for John Conyers more than 20 years ago. She worked as minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 1995 to 1998 in a period during which Conyers was the ranking Democrat on the committee.A high-profile Washington lawyer specializing in congressional ethics said Wednesday that Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) harassed and verbally abused her when she worked for him on Capitol Hill in the 1990s and that her repeated appeals for help to congressional leadership were ignored.“There was nothing I could do to stop it,” Melanie Sloan said in an interview. “Not going to leadership, not going to my boss, not going to a women’s group, not going to a reporter. I was dismissed and told I must be mentally unstable.”...Sloan said that Conyers routinely yelled at and berated her, often criticizing her appearance. On one occasion, she said, he summoned her to his Rayburn Building office, where she found him in his underwear.“I was pretty taken aback to see my boss half-dressed,” she said. “I turned on my heel and I left.”....Sloan is the first former Conyers staff member to speak on the record about the 88-year-old congressman, the longest-serving member of the House and the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. She said she kept quiet about the incidents for 20 years because her earlier complaints were not taken seriously. She agreed to speak about her experience with Conyers after a Washington Post reporter contacted her.“The reason I decided to go on the record is to make it easier for other people,” she said. “People are afraid to come forward. So much about working in Washington is about loyalty, and you are supposed to shut up about these things.”Sloan said she complained repeatedly about Conyers’s behavior to her supervisor and contacted a senior staff member in the office of then-Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), the House minority leader at the time.I would imagine that the Democrats would like to get Conyers out of the House. If they should win control of the House after 2018, which looks more likely than not, they might carry through with their intentions to file impeachment charges against Trump. Those charges would go through the Judiciary Committee where Conyers is the ranking member and set to be chairman if the Democrats win. If they did do go forward with impeachment, they don't want Conyers to be the face of their efforts to impeach the President.His lawyer is hinting that there are a lot more congressmen who would have to resign if Conyers had to resign over his behavior.The attorney for Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers, who is accused of continuously sexually harassing his female staffers, defended Conyers by indicating that there are allegations against “many members” of the House and Senate.Conyers’ attorney, Arnold E. Reed, released a statement defending the Michigan Democrat and pushing back against the “disturbing allegations.” The bizarre statement was written in all-CAPS and referred to both Reed and Conyers in the third person.“Reed acknowledged that while these allegations are serious, they are simply allegations,” the statement said. “If people were required to resign over allegations, a lot of people would be out of work in this country including many members of the House, Senate and even the president.”The statement said that Conyers has “no plans to resign” despite calls for him to do so. You know, at this point, I'm not seeing a huge downside if a lot of these guys had to resign.And I wouldn't miss Joe Barton either. Any congressman sending out p[...]

Cruising the Web


I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving and enjoys time spent with family and friends. I've been covering the Industrial Revolution in my European History class and the students had read excerpts from the 1832 Sadler Commission on labor conditions in textile factories. It's very depressing stuff. I had them go around the room and each give something that they were thankful for after having read it. For example, not having to work 14 hours a day since the time they were six years old. By the time we were done, we all had a great appreciation for having been born where and when we were. It gave me a sense of proportion for when I'm feeling disgusted about our nation's most prominent people.John Podhoretz laments the crazy times we're living in when partisans on both sides are excusing behavior they'd normally condemn simply because the perpetrator agrees with them on some issues. We're already seeing some on the left arguing that it would be wrong to chase Al Franken out of the Senate for behavior they dislike since he can stay there and vote for policies they do like. And we're hearing those on the right saying that it is worthwhile to vote Roy Moore into the Senate because of the way he'd vote on judges or taxes.If you believe Franken is an example of toxic masculinity and that toxic masculinity is an evil that must be extirpated, there’s no intellectual or moral excuse for supporting his continued presence in American politics. Even the effort to make such an argument reveals the way in which the virus of naked partisanship has overcome you.Similarly, if you believe America has rotted away morally, the idea you’d hand enormous political power to a morally rotted person like Roy Moore reveals your own spiritual and moral rot.Note, please, that that isn’t happening with the showbiz and media scandals. The powers-that-be that cut Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. loose may have claimed the moral high ground, but these were actually appropriately ruthless commercial decisions about protecting their “brands” from contamination.But there are no powers-that-be in politics, or there aren’t any longer. The party bosses are gone. Their places have been taken in part by ideologues, who now seem to exist to make the tough moral calls that just seem always to go one way — the party’s way.Roger L. Simon also is pondering the willingness of those on the left to forgive or ignore the sins of liberal men who have treated individual women in predatory fashion. The answer may be simply this. Liberalism does not exist. Not in a real way, anyway. There's no there there anymore. Or not much of a there. All that is left is identity politics.And the greatest identity group of all is, of course, women.But since women are defined as a group -- not individual human beings subject to assaults from rape to groping -- they only have to be addressed as a group. All that need to be made are "fervent" proclamations in favor of women's rights. Then you -- Ted Kennedy, Charlie Rose, etc. -- can do what you wish privately. You are entitled.In essence, liberalism is a charade. Only the surface counts. The reality is immaterial. You are what you say you are, not what you do. Even if that reality turns out to be the reverse of what you said it would be, or even causes a catastrophe, personal or political, it doesn't matter. You already said the "right thing." You're one of the good guys.That may well be an explanation. But then what explains the similar predatory behavior of a Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, or Donald Trump? They seemed to think that they were entitled also. Black Friday Deals Black Friday Deals of the Day Today’s Lightning DealsBen Shapiro is contemplating why, in a supposedly egalitarian society, we are experiencing this blizzard of accusations against so many prominent men.When it comes to sexual exploitation of women in particular, we treat our new aristocracy in the same way peasants treated the old aristocracy: with deference. In America, three things confe[...]

Cruising the Web


Gosh, this era of accusations of sexual misconduct against prominent men continues at a furious pace. It's as if the Weinstein story opened wide the doors of sleaze and more and more women are coming forward with stories of distasteful and repellent behavior by powerful men. Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Charlie Rose had habits of harassing women by groping them and walking around naked as well as calling them and telling them how he was thinking about them naked.The women were employees or aspired to work for Rose at the “Charlie Rose” show from the late 1990s to as recently as 2011. They ranged in age from 21 to 37 at the time of the alleged encounters. Rose, 75, whose show airs on PBS, also co-hosts “CBS This Morning” and is a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes.”There are striking commonalities in the accounts of the women, each of whom described their interactions with Rose in multiple interviews with The Post. For all of the women, reporters interviewed friends, colleagues or family members who said the women had confided in them about aspects of the incidents. Three of the eight spoke on the record....Most of the women said Rose alternated between fury and flattery in his interactions with them. Five described Rose putting his hand on their legs, sometimes their upper thigh, in what they perceived as a test to gauge their reactions. Two said that while they were working for Rose at his residences or were traveling with him on business, he emerged from the shower and walked naked in front of them. One said he groped her buttocks at a staff party.Ew. Just ew. But he's apologized and said that he's embarrassed.“In my 45 years in journalism, I have prided myself on being an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked,” Rose said in a statement provided to The Post. “Nevertheless, in the past few days, claims have been made about my behavior toward some former female colleagues.“It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.“I have learned a great deal as a result of these events, and I hope others will too. All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives.”So he had to learn now that it was wrong to walk around naked in front of employees? And CBS seemed to just shrug off complaints.Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, one of Rose’s assistants in the mid-2000s, recalled at least a dozen instances where Rose walked nude in front of her while she worked in one of his New York City homes. He also repeatedly called the then-21-year-old late at night or early in the morning to describe his fantasies of her swimming naked in the Bellport pool as he watched from his bedroom, she said.“It feels branded into me, the details of it,” Godfrey-Ryan said.She said she told Yvette Vega, Rose’s longtime executive producer, about the calls.“I explained how he inappropriately spoke to me during those times,” Godfrey-Ryan said. “She would just shrug and just say, ‘That’s just Charlie being Charlie.’ ”In a statement to The Post, Vega said she should have done more to protect the young women on the show.Ya think? What is the point of having standards for how to treat employees if those responsible for keeping those rules ignore complaints and an employee is fired after telling a friend about Rose's gross behavior. Apparently, there have been rumors about Charlie Rose's behavior for years and the Post decided to research those rumors and get women to go on record. In a way, the Post followed the same pattern that they did with Roy Moore. They were made aware of rum[...]

Cruising the Web


Perhaps General Kelly's appearance and somber, heart-felt words as a military man, but most of all as a man still grieving for the death of his own son in combat, will end the use of a family's grief for political purposes. The WSJ writes,As anyone who follows media reports knows, the President’s call to this mother grew into a personal feud between Mr. Trump and a Democratic Congresswoman who disclosed what the President said. It then produced long newspaper reports examining the President’s relationship with every identifiable Gold Star family during his term.It took awhile for Mr. Kelly to get around to talking about that phone call. Instead, he spent some time offering what we in journalism—or anyone purporting to be engaged in a serious line of work—would call context. Mr. Kelly described what happens when a U.S. soldier or Marine—“the best 1% this country produces”—gets killed in action. What he described was a military process that is graphic, emotionally intense and, most of all, untouchable.Untouchable, as Mr. Kelly made clear, in the sense that what has happened is so grave, so personal and so difficult that the reality of pushing through it comes down to an encounter between the fallen soldier’s family, the officer who informs them and, in time, support from those who served alongside their son or daughter.Mr. Kelly explained that a personal call from the President is in fact not what families expect or want. But it has become something of a presidential tradition, and Mr. Trump asked Mr. Kelly what he should say.Mr. Kelly related what his friend and “my casualty officer,” Marine General Joseph Dunford, told him when relating that Mr. Kelly’s own son had been killed in Afghanistan: “He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1%. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war.”That, essentially, is what Mr. Trump said to the Gold Star mother, no doubt less eloquently. Standing in the White House press room, reflecting on a political spat over a dead soldier, Mr. Kelly said, “I thought at least that was sacred.” His remarks are a rebuke to the Congresswoman for politicizing a private phone call, and to the press corps for attempting to turn grief and sacrifice into a hammer against Donald Trump—who, as usual, made things worse by lashing out in response.John Kelly made a lot of people look small Thursday. The man who led soldiers in combat in Iraq described spending an hour this week walking in Arlington Cemetery, collecting his thoughts and looking at headstones, some with names of Marines who Mr. Kelly said were there because they did what he had told them to do.Surely there is a sense in which the continuing political life of Washington is possible because of that sacrifice. That was John Kelly’s point. It would be nice to think the rest of the city could get it.His boss, Donald Trump, is not immune from criticism, especially after his spat with the gold-star parents who criticized him at the Democratic convention. But grief should not be exploited. It should be respected. I can well believe that Trump was trying to express what General Kelly had told him had helped when his son died and Trump spoke in a less moving and sympathetic manner. But who among us knows the best words to say to a grieving widow or is comfortable offering sympathy at such a time? There is plenty about which to criticize Trump, but let's leave this subject alone. As Ben Shapiro writes, At this point, it seems there’s enough blame to go around. Trump never should have suggested that Presidents Obama and Bush didn’t do an appropriate amount of outreach to Gold Star families; the media never should have responded by attempting to prove that Trump’s outreach has been insufficient; the White House never should have used Kelly’s son as fodder for response based on Obama’s failure to immediately call General Kelly; Wi[...]

Cruising the Web


The Hill is all over this story about the Obama administration's actions involving Russia's efforts to gain American uranium and the corruption involved. It keeps looking like a deliberate cover-up to help Hillary Clinton.An American businessman who worked for years undercover as an FBI confidential witness was blocked by the Obama Justice Department from telling Congress about conversations and transactions he witnessed related to the Russian nuclear industry's efforts to win favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton and influence Obama administration decisions, his lawyer tells The Hill.Attorney Victoria Toensing, a former Reagan Justice Department official and former chief counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday she is working with members of Congress to see if they can get the Trump Justice Department or the FBI to free her client to talk to lawmakers.“All of the information about this corruption has not come out,” she said in an interview Tuesday. “And so my client, the same part of my client that made him go into the FBI in the first place, says, 'This is wrong. What should I do about it?'” Toensing said she also possesses memos that recount how the Justice Department last year threatened her client when he attempted to file a lawsuit that could have drawn attention to the Russian corruption during the 2016 presidential race as well as helped him recover some of the money Russians stole from him through kickbacks during the FBI probe.The undercover client witnessed “a lot of bribery going on around the U.S.” but was asked by the FBI to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that prevents him from revealing what he knows to Congress, Toensing explained.When he tried to bring some of the allegations to light in the lawsuit last year, “the Obama Justice Department threatened him with loss of freedom. They said they would bring a criminal case against him for violating an NDA,” she added.It seems clear that this witness was key to the FBI investigation of what went on.Federal court records from 2014 and 2015 show that a wide-ranging FBI probe into Russian nuclear industry corruption was facilitated by an unnamed American consultant who worked for the Moscow-based nuclear energy giant Rosatom's Tenex subsidiary on a multiyear campaign to grow Moscow's uranium business inside the United States.Those efforts included winning U.S. approval of Rosatom's controversial purchase of Canada-based Uranium One's American uranium assets, securing new approvals to sell new commercial uranium to the federally backed United States Enrichment Corporation and winning billions in new U.S. utility contracts for Russian nuclear fuel....he records make clear he came to the FBI immediately after Russian officials asked him to engage in illegal activity in 2009....Sources told The Hill the informant's work was crucial to the government's ability to crack a multimillion dollar racketeering scheme by Russian nuclear officials on U.S. soil that involved bribery, kickbacks, money laundering and extortion. In the end, the main Russian executive sent to the U.S. to expand Russian President Vladimir Putin's nuclear business, an executive of an American trucking firm and a Russian financier from New Jersey pled guilty to various crimes in a case that started in 2009 and ended in late 2015.This is, apparently, the same person. But for some reason the Obama DOJ didn't want him to testify before Congress about what he witnessed. I wonder if this is why.The information the client possesses includes specific allegations that Russian executives made to him about how they facilitated the Obama administration's 2010 approval of the Uranium One deal and sent millions of dollars in Russian nuclear funds to the U.S. to an entity assisting Bill Clinton's foundation. At the time, Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of State on the government panel that approved the deal, the lawyer said.It has been previously reported th[...]

Cruising the Web


The Hill has an explosive story about how the Obama administration had learned that Russia was issuing bribes and involved in other illegal shenanigans in order to gain access to American uranium.Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened ... on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.You might remember that this was part of what Peter Schweizer alleged in his book, Clinton Cash.Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no [...]