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Updated: 2018-04-18T20:24:02Z

 



​Justice Gorsuch Joins the Liberals in Sessions v. Dimaya

2018-04-18T20:24:02Z

While the last few weeks have ratcheted up to an even higher level the swirling whirlpool that is the multiple news stories that emerge daily or even hourly from Washington, consider for just a moment Justice Gorsuch’s siding with the Supreme Court’s more liberal or outright liberal judges in Sessions v. Dimaya. James Dimaya is a […]

While the last few weeks have ratcheted up to an even higher level the swirling whirlpool that is the multiple news stories that emerge daily or even hourly from Washington, consider for just a moment Justice Gorsuch’s siding with the Supreme Court’s more liberal or outright liberal judges in Sessions v. Dimaya.

James Dimaya is a legal immigrant from the Philippines who arrived in America a few decades ago, and has since become a criminal. He’s been charged with a handful of burglaries and the issue at stake is whether Dimaya can be deported for having committed “crimes of violence.”

Surprisingly perhaps for the Trump administration, Justice Gorsuch agreed with Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan (who wrote the majority opinion). What the decision means is that the Supreme Court has struck down Section 16(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, because of the vagueness of the term “crimes of violence.”

In Breitbart of all places, Joel Pollak defends Gorsuch’s siding with the liberals, but Pollak bases his defense on what he views as Gorsuch’s originalist leanings. In other words, Justice Gorsuch’s decision was based on a deeply held suspicion of the broad net that was cast by the term, under which many acts could be considered violent and hence give the government the right to deport legal immigrants because their crimes were deemed a threat to society.

As Pollak details, Gorsuch’s opinion begins with the following words:

Vague laws invite arbitrary power. Before the Revolu­tion, the crime of treason in English law was so capaciously construed that the mere expression of disfavored opinions could invite transportation or death. The founders cited the crown’s abuse of “pretended” crimes like this as one of their reasons for revolution. See Declaration of Independence ¶21. Today’s vague laws may not be as invidious, but they can invite the exercise of arbitrary power all the same—by leaving the people in the dark about what the law demands and allowing prosecutors and courts to make it up.

How violent a criminal you have to be to have your legal status revoked is an important question to ask. It seems that Judge Gorsuch is worried that Congress has left it up to the courts, which means the prosecutors as much as the judges, to define what crimes are “crimes of violence.” And caution in the face of such prosecutorial power is warranted.

The problem is of course that this decision may very well at some point in the future be used to try and justify giving illegal immigrants who are also violent criminals 5th amendment rights. One would hardly be surprised if a Justice Kagan or Sotomayor took this position at some future date. Surely Gorsuch would never take such a position, but there is a flood of angry demands by immigration activists that seek to have anyone who makes it across the Rio Grande be as deserving of the Bill of Rights as a citizen of America. The White House surely feels that Gorsuch has chipped away at the legal barriers holding back such a flood.




​Righteous Jim Comey & The Coming Media Storm

2018-04-13T15:31:44Z

Here’s the list of people in the media that Jim Comey – former FBI Director and now soon-to-be wealthy and world famous author – will speak to or has already spoken to on his book promotion tour: George Stephanopoulos: a key Bill Clinton aide who ran communications for his 1992 election campaign and then became […]Here’s the list of people in the media that Jim Comey – former FBI Director and now soon-to-be wealthy and world famous author – will speak to or has already spoken to on his book promotion tour: George Stephanopoulos: a key Bill Clinton aide who ran communications for his 1992 election campaign and then became a senior White House advisor during Clinton’s first term. Stephen Colbert: the television late night host was in near tears when it was suddenly apparent that Hillary was going to lose the election to Trump. Rachel Maddow: Do we need to add anything? Not really. David Remnick: Editor of the New Yorker since the year of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. Has worked for the Washington Post. Wrote a book on Obama titled: The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama. The View: A show where you can be a cheerful part of The Resistance along with its hosts. Mike Allen: The man fronting Axios who functions much like a former Obama aide – think Favreau or Rhodes – by needling and reminding seemingly every member of Trump’s Cabinet about why their lives suck and they should quit. Comey will be speaking to this select list of nary a conservative or even moderate centrist. But Comey last year wouldn’t speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as he informed them in a curt letter on June 1st of last year, a couple of weeks after being fired by Trump. Read the details in Byron York’s piece in the Washington Examiner. Apparently Comey is a righteous man who liked to use Reinhold Niebuhr as a a Twitter handle until the cat was let out of the bag. I’ll leave it to those far better versed in theology, philosophy and their relationship to politics in America to explain Niebuhr’s views. But it seems to me it’s not a modest nickname. And it seems Comey did not intend his use of Reinhold Niebuhr to be taken ironically. Rather it seems to have been meant as a tribute to … James Comey. And his honesty, fortitude, and rectitude in a fallen world. The book will sell like crazy. Comey will be very rich. He may also become a target of both GOP enemies and Hillaryites who still blame him for the election loss. Even if it was the Russians, or one of Trump’s affairs that were hushed up. Because had they been revealed, his base would have been shocked and stayed at home that November night in 2016. What will it say on the Russia probe? What new, convincing evidence might it suggest as far as obstruction of justice charges flowing from Trump’s firing of our soon-to-be world famous author? Comey has surrounded the release of his book with security worthy of Mueller’s probe. Sorry, if Comey’s publishers leaked like Mueller’s prosecutors, Comey would have them fired and then immediately arrested for breach of contract. Because you see, James Comey is his own walking, talking compliance department. It’s what happens when you’re the last honest man standing in DC. But should Trump’s White House decide to remove Deputy AG Rosenstein and maybe even demand Jeff Sessions’ resignation, along with perhaps FBI Director Christopher Wray, the ensuing political storm will dwarf Comey’s tell-all book. And Trump’s presidency will hang in the balance, unfortunately. One can perhaps go out on a limb and imagine Trump doing something like that just to get back at Comey. The truth, however, is that the White House has far more pressing matters than to deal with Comey’s book, regardless of the media storm it will produce. We’re already getting the sneak previews on that and the storm is on its way. But in a Trump Presidency, even James Comey may[...]



​Senator, We Run Ads – How Facebook Works

2018-04-11T23:51:14Z

A phalanx of photographers tracking your every facial twitch with fingers on the trigger ready to shoot like a pack of wild-game hunters surrounding their prey. That’s what Zuckerberg faced before he even took a single question from Senators from both the Judiciary and Commerce committees. I suspect that Paul Ryan – who has finally […]A phalanx of photographers tracking your every facial twitch with fingers on the trigger ready to shoot like a pack of wild-game hunters surrounding their prey. That’s what Zuckerberg faced before he even took a single question from Senators from both the Judiciary and Commerce committees. I suspect that Paul Ryan – who has finally announced that he will be retiring come next January and who will therefore not run again in the upcoming midterms – may face slightly less of a phalanx of lens swiveling image-hunters over the next few days and weeks. Yes, Zuck is much much richer than Mr. Ryan, and just about everybody else on the planet except a few people like Jeff Bezos. But all that frantic zooming and clicking (inevitable pun) on Capitol Hill really has to do with social media and the desperation to get inside the head of the smiley global-hand-holding-connected-community-loving guy, who must also be a really smart businessman, right? Here’s what National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote today in the NY Post: Facebook can’t bear to admit that it has garnered the largest collection of data known to man to sell ads against and line the pockets of its founder and investors. The problem isn’t that Zuckerberg is a businessman, and an exceptionally gifted one, but that he pretends to have stumbled out of the lyrics of John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” To listen to him, Facebook is all about connectivity and openness — he just happens to have made roughly $63 billion as the T-shirt-wearing champion of “the global community,” whatever that means. In other words, while Zuckerberg and his top execs like Sheryl Sandberg might go on about their need to rigorously control their users’ data, Facebook makes it’s billions by selling the data all of us willingly (whether we actually stop to think about what we’re doing or not) give them permission to collect and share. And therefore to sell. And younger generations (and some older folks too) are simply not that careful about what they post online; which tends to be: Just. About. Every. Thing. But therer’s another angle to the fascination with Zuckerberg, and that’s a sort of contempt for those (the majority of people) who don’t understand even the basics of how social media acquires and sells data. Commentators running from Reason’s Robby Soave to The Federalist’s Ben Domenech to Vox’s Emily Stewart (that’s a reasonable range of political opinion right there) have been downright dismissive of our collective ignorance on the matter. Especially by some of the older people in Washington. For example consider some of the Senators’ questions. Poor Senator Hatch asked: How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service? To which Zuck replied: Senator we run ads. Ba-dum! One has to assume that Hatch’s aides understand a little better than the venerable Senator representing Utah how Facebook works, and a younger senator might have asked the same question but framed it like a prosecutor setting up a clever witness to then begin to chip away at Facebook’s business model and the risks it entails to its users and to society at large. Not Hatch. But we shouldn’t hide in shame if we don’t know how, for example, an API (Application Programming Interface) works. An API appears to be a tool that simplifies app creation for app developers. As Facebook explains on one of its pages dedicated to developers: The Graph API is the primary way to get data into and out of the Facebook platform. It’s a low-level HTTP-based API that apps can use to progra[...]



​The Difference to America Between Syria and the Southern Border

2018-04-07T16:57:04Z

They came at night, the Lakota choppers crossing the dry srcubland and setting down in a hostile, violent region where borders dissolved in the desert hills and those wishing to harm America moved quietly and quickly through the darkness. As U.S. Central Commander General Joseph Votel said: But again, the hard part I think is […]They came at night, the Lakota choppers crossing the dry srcubland and setting down in a hostile, violent region where borders dissolved in the desert hills and those wishing to harm America moved quietly and quickly through the darkness. As U.S. Central Commander General Joseph Votel said: But again, the hard part I think is in front of us, and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting people back into their homes, addressing the long-term issues of reconstruction and other things that will have to be done. Hence the National Guard arriving at night. Like in Iraq. Oh, right. General Votel wasn’t talking about the Southern Border. He meant Syria. And how silly to expect that the U.S. military would be concerned about securing its homeland’s borders when there is an urgent need to attempt the fool’s errand of building a nation state from the rubble of Syria. Here’s what Matthew Brodsky writes in National Review in the latest iteration of neocon-speak: Chasing every Sunni jihadist down a desert rabbit hole misses the larger and more threatening trend that the Pentagon already identified in January in its own National Defense Strategy, namely, that “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.” In other words, the decade-long U.S. focus on counterterrorism strategies enabled and empowered dangerous adversarial states such as Iran and Russia at the expense of America’s position in the world. That is why a premature withdrawal from Syria would likely match the disastrous and hasty American exit from Iraq and be far worse than President Obama’s efforts to “lead from behind” in Libya. In fact, it would double down on Obama’s worst mistakes, which set the table for the Islamic State’s rise and enriched and enabled Iran while allowing Russia to transform itself into the region’s chief powerbroker. The security experts will always find a compelling reason to increase and spread the presence of American troops around the world, like the blossoming of a thousand PhD theses detailing yet another new world order. Be wary of the wonks and cautious about extended stays in the Middle East. The Middle East dissolved in flames because of the Iraq War. Troops arrived in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, and then found their mission had expanded to include reconstructing a state that no longer existed and was deeply divided by hostile factions with the fatal fault line of Sunni-Shiite divisions running throughout the territory that was once a unified country. Unified by a bloodthirsty madman. Obama’s early withdrawl, in other words, may not have been as vital to the emergence of ISIS as is thought. But we really have no way of knowing if more boots on the ground for longer would have greatly helped stabilize Iraq. Remember the troops that helped crush ISIS did not go in there to help reconstruct Iraq or Syria. They went in to destroy ISIS. So moving those metaphors North and slightly West, and ahead in time by basically a decade, we now have Syria as the next must-fix nation in the region. With the bood-thirsty madman called al-Assad still in power. And supported by Russia as well as Iran. That should be a clear warning. To experts like Brodsky, it’s a wonderful new opportunity. But sending a few hundred National Guardsmen and women to help secure America’s southern border is seen as a foolish impulse on the part of President Trump. A crazed policy put into motion by a restless set of early morning Tweets. To be resisted by progressive governors who seem to care more about defending their [...]



​The Orlando Shooting May Not Be What it Appeared to Be

2018-03-30T21:39:25Z

In a courtroom in Orlando, there has been some surprising news over the last few days, in case you didn’t notice. It has to do with the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the shooter’s – Omar Matteen’s – wife. Noor Salman’s attorney’s were faced with a bombshell dropped by prosecutors just a few days ago. Omar’s […]

In a courtroom in Orlando, there has been some surprising news over the last few days, in case you didn’t notice. It has to do with the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the shooter’s – Omar Matteen’s – wife. Noor Salman’s attorney’s were faced with a bombshell dropped by prosecutors just a few days ago.

Omar’s father – Seddique Matteen – was an FBI informant for over a decade, from 2005 to 2016. And the FBI has information that he has sent money to Turkey and Afghanistan. As well the FBI had information in 2012 that Seddique played a part in helping fund or plan terrorist attacks on the Pakistan government, which, however, do not seem to have been carried out. As well, Seddique apparently managed to convince the FBI that his son Omar was not a threat despite being investigated by the FBI in 2013 for his possible ties to Hezbollah and his apparent online statements regarding the deaths of FBI agents.

There’s more.

The FBI considering grooming Omar himself as another confidential informant, alongside his father, around 2013 but decided against the idea. Interestingly former FBI Director James Comey described Omar as a “lone wolf” back in 2016 in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shootings. This now seems to be a deliberate misdirection on the part of Comey at the time.

One has to ask what the father knew of Omar’s possible plans, and if he covered up for his son both before and after the shooting. For now Judge Paul Byron has denied a motion by Noor Salman’s defense lawyers to dismiss the case because of this heretofore undisclosed evidence. According to Judge Byron it has no bearing on Noor Salman’s possible guilt of the charges of aiding and abetting her husband Omar and of engaging in obstruction of justice. There will likely be appeals by Salman’s defense team.

So if Seddique Matteen knew at least something about his son’s plans, are then the deaths of nearly 50 innocent people at the Pulse Nightclub reasonable collateral damage in terms of the information the FBI gleaned from Seddique?

That of course is an obscene question.

Of course those lives are not worth whatever information the father provided the FBI – and one doubts how useful someone like Seddique was in fact. Those 49 lives are precisely what Seddique Matteen’s information should have protected. The FBI and the intel community at large deal with people like Seddique Matteen in order, we hope and pray, to protect American lives. Not to cover up and protect their own bureaucracies. And it sure seems that Seddique as an informant chose to protect his son and not the victims of Orlando.

This needs to be investigated further. From the FBI to any other intel agencies possibly involved to every near and even more distant member of the Matteen clan. The Pulse Nightclub shooting is not what it appeared to be. It was something perhaps far worse.




​Two Nonagenarians Shake Things Up On Guns and the Weather

2018-03-29T20:32:08Z

Speak now, or forever hold your peace. And forever is a short time away when you’re 97 years old. Consider the case of two men who are 3 years (actually a little less) away from turning 100 years old, and what they have felt compelled to speak about recently. John Paul Stevens is the retired […]Speak now, or forever hold your peace. And forever is a short time away when you’re 97 years old. Consider the case of two men who are 3 years (actually a little less) away from turning 100 years old, and what they have felt compelled to speak about recently. John Paul Stevens is the retired Supreme Court Justice (1975 – 2010) who has written an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the repeal of the 2nd amendment. Here’s a quote from the article, a quote that refers to the SCOTUS case that explicitly enshrined or at least confirmed and supported an individual’s right to bear arms: In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters. That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option. In other words, prior to D.C. v Heller, and especially the period after 1939’s U.S. v. Miller, the Supreme Court’s view of the right to bear arms was essentially a collective right, one that was based on a narrow reading of the 2nd amendment and which placed emphasis on the 2nd’s opening two clauses: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, Never mind that – as David Harsanyi in the Federalist points out – for the Founders, the threat of disarmament of its citizenry was the real threat. And that overbearing government regulation of individual rights to bear arms is not what that the words well regulated refer to. After D.C. v. Heller an individual’s right to bear arms became the emphasis and John Paul Stevens – a dissenting vote on that case as he says – wishes to overturn that decision by repealing the 2nd. He says it would be easy, in fact. Ok, one can assume his mind is still fairly agile but to think that the legislative requirements to repeal an amendment to the constitution – especially the 2nd – would be “easy” seems a stretch to put it politely. Plus the left is furious at Stevens for giving the game away. We lied, we’re gunning for the 2nd! The other 97-year old is George P. Shultz – Reagan’s long-serving Secretary of State. And he also has a really big plan to deal with climate change: the Carbon Dividend Strategy. Here are its four pillars if you will: A rising carbon tax Carbon dividend payments “to all Americans” Rollback of environmental regulations now that the price of carbon-based fuels and products that use them would have the so-called externalities of their environmental costs included in their price Border adjustments to take into account the carbon content of imports Easy-peasy just like repealing the 2nd right!? Senator Tom Cotton for example would love how WalMart would have to pay way more for it’s imports from carbon-luvin’ China and the senator would never engage in legislative moves that stalled any and all attempts at bringing the legislation to a vote on the floor. To mention just one senator. Never mind state governments. And industry associations. What’s the carbon content of Facebook by the way? And do they use [...]



​Under Trump The New Equilibrium is Chaos

2018-03-23T23:17:39Z

It’s Friday and the Trump Tornado’s EF Scale (enhanced Fujita scale if you have to know) has blown through 100 mph and is heading towards 150 mph, indicating considerable damage ahead. At least to certain careers. And possibly much more damage than that, but that assessment will have to wait until November. It’s literally impossible […]It’s Friday and the Trump Tornado’s EF Scale (enhanced Fujita scale if you have to know) has blown through 100 mph and is heading towards 150 mph, indicating considerable damage ahead. At least to certain careers. And possibly much more damage than that, but that assessment will have to wait until November. It’s literally impossible to keep up, but some of the main events these past 48 hours are: McMaster is out as National Security Adviser and John Bolton is in. Here’s an interesting quote from Naomi Lim’s piece in the Washington Examiner: A White House spokesperson said the timing of McMaster’s exit had been discussed by the pair for some time, and was unrelated to the recent leak of briefing materials for Trump’s phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the Russian leader won re-election. So. They’re saying: yeah McMaster leaked but we were going to fire him anyway? Good morning Mr. Speaker! Did you read Trump’s tweet this Friday morning? The one that goes: I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded. That one? — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2018 Why did the President threaten a VETO? No DACA legislation (as part of an omnibus bill that would seem to be a tough ask to say the least) and also, almost no money (in D.C. terms one billion dollars is spare change) for the border wall. The latter complaint is much more understandable, but given SCOTUS’ refusal to bypass the 9th Circuit, DACA remains in place until next year likely. Good afternoon Mr. Speaker! Relax, The President signed the bill. John Dowd, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, has resigned and is to be replaced by the recently announced arrival to his team: Slugger Joe DiGenova. It is rumored that Dowd was not a fan of President Trump appearing personally before Mueller’s probe to answer questions. On Thursday the President said that he “would like to” appear before special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Bob Goodlatte, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, has subpoenaed the DOJ to pry more information out of the department regarding the investigation into Hillary’s use of a private server and possible hacking of the former Secretary of State’s emails while she was in charge at State. They are also seeking documentation on possible FISA Court abuses, which would likely indicate the search warrants obtained on Carter Page starting in the fall of 2016. Senate Republicans want to go nuclear on most appointments that are currently being held up in the Senate by Democratic Party opposition. Here’s a look into the detailed, obtuse rules of the upper chamber and how they are played to obtain maximum partisan advantage. Consider this from a story in The Hill: Under current rules, 30 hours must elapse on the floor every time the Senate votes to end dilatory debate and advance a nominee — unless there’s unanimous consent to yield back floor time.This forces GOP leaders to perform triage by making tough choices about what executive branch positions are important enough to deserve floor time, leaving some nominees in limbo for months. When procedural rules are abused by both sides to impede the party in power from executing on their agenda – especially in an area like n[...]



Cambridge Analytica Part II – So Maybe They’re Not Geniuses?

2018-03-22T21:24:39Z

A few fact-checks are in order – thanks in large part to the Vox story by Andrew Prokop – when it comes to Cambridge Analytica, the firm that is in the public and parliamentary eye on both sides of the Atlantic: Wunder-kid Christopher Wylie apparently left the firm in 2014, a year before Trump even […]A few fact-checks are in order – thanks in large part to the Vox story by Andrew Prokop – when it comes to Cambridge Analytica, the firm that is in the public and parliamentary eye on both sides of the Atlantic: Wunder-kid Christopher Wylie apparently left the firm in 2014, a year before Trump even declared his campaign for the presidency. Did Wylie’s psychological profile-based algorithms really guide Candidate Trump’s team to a shocking victory that no one predicted? Was it Wylie that put together the algorithms? Some doubt that apparently. The parent company – if you will – of Cambridge Analytica is Strategic Communication Laboratories Group or SCL Group, founded in 1993 by Englishman and advertising executive Nigel Oaks. It had (and perhaps still has) a geographically diverse group of clients in places like Thailand and Indonesia, and operated as a fairly straightforward communications shop, building messaging for it’s clients. Questionable ethics, secrecy, and dirty tricks were reputedly a part of it’s operating methods. After 9/11 SCL Group turned to Pysch-Ops to garnish some of the huge amounts of cash that were being offered to try and plan against the next possible terrorist attack. Alexandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic/psychologist at Cambridge University created the thisismydigitallife app and obtained Facebook’s permission to use it to gather data on FB users as well as their friends on FB. He ended up with around 50 million raw profiles after around 270,000 people directly consented to give their data and indirectly (and therefore perhaps unknowingly) consented to allow the app to harvest data on their friends. 30 million of those 50 million raw profiles were able to be cross-checked with other data to produce complete profiles. Facebook supposedly consented to Kogan’s data harvesting on the grounds that Kogan’s project was strictly academic. But there is skepticism about this given that social media make their money by gathering data on their users and then re-selling that data to third parties. Facebook had to have been aware of the huge profit potential provided by Kogan’s app and the data it had harvested. Cambridge Analytica was put together around 2013 with the involvement of Steve Bannon and the Mercers. Kogan’s data base of tens of millions of profiles was to be the jewel in their crown as well as the input data for Christopher Wylie’s algorithms. Here’s the big one: According to employees at Cambridge and staffers of Trump’s campaign, the Trump campaign did NOT even use Cambridge’s 30 million profiles. Rather the campaign team used the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) data set. Among political consultants and communication shops Cambridge Analytica and by extension SCL Group were seen as big-talking and under-achieving lightweights. With a history of angry and disappointed clients. Including both the Ted Cruz campaign team and the Trump campaign team. And while Facebook is now desperately trying to distance itself from Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, and the Mercers who provided the money for Cambridge on the advice of Steve Bannon, it seems that as the NYTimes’ Zeynep Tufekci states that all of this drama is an: all-too natural consequence of Facebook’s business model … by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors, and others. Alexander Nix the just-fired CEO of Cambridge Analytica may be a blowhard Brit who likes to b[...]



​The Promise of Power & The Divisions it Sows – Democrats Split Months Before Midterms

2018-03-17T00:42:37Z

How power, even just the promise of it, changes things and divides those who professed unity when power was a more distant goal. To wit, Democrats are already showing fractures that were at least previously papered over with the linked arms and pink hats of the Great Brave Resistance against the Bad Guy at the […]How power, even just the promise of it, changes things and divides those who professed unity when power was a more distant goal. To wit, Democrats are already showing fractures that were at least previously papered over with the linked arms and pink hats of the Great Brave Resistance against the Bad Guy at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. But now that Connor Lamb has shown you can be a very centrist – to not say rather conservative – candidate and win as a Democrat, the party is roiling as it sorts out the spoils of its eagerly anticipated wins in the coming mid-terms. Let’s leave aside the fact that nearly 8 months is a very long time in politics, especially with this administration, and maybe Democrats won’t retake the House, or especially the Senate. They’re already behaving as if they will, however, and so now Nancy Pelosi is coming under fire. All because a pro-life veteran faced the camera and said he wouldn’t (necessarily one assumes) support her. So we’re already getting speculation over Nancy Pelosi’s replacement as Speaker of the House come November. Guess who’s name is somehow being thrown around? Adam Schiff. Imagine: Speaker Schiff with a Democrat-controlled House. While New York Rep. Joe Crowley is being touted as the steady hand experienced guy to take the baton from Nancy, one feels Schiff is not bothered by the rumors that he’s a candidate, and likely encouraged some vigorous leaking by his aides to ensure those rumors started floating around as soon as it was clear that Lamb would win PA-18. And more than a few people had plenty to say, (anonymously of course), about Nancy Pelosi. Here’s a few quotes given to or passed on to Axios’ Mike Allen: She used to be retributional. Now she’s more inclusive. She could win the caucus vote [for Speaker] but lose the floor vote. That would give the House to the head of the Republicans. She’s the best vote counter this generation has ever seen. So she’ll know this scenario well in advance, and will figure out a way that will preserve her legacy. Preserve her legacy? Does that sound like a ringing endorsement?? They’re already chiseling in the epitaph on her political gravestone it would seem. But it is Nancy Pelosi we’re talking about, who’s also very good at counting the numbers written on the bundled checks that her fundraising skills rake in by the truckful for her party. So she retains a certain amount of agency here. It still is her call, but the whistle is slowly being pulled from her hands. Will she let go or angrily hang on? Meanwhile in the upper chamber, Senator Elizabeth Warren is in a standoff with more centrist Democrat Senators over the new banking bill that is being considered. Here’s what she said: This bill isn’t about the unfinished business of the last financial crisis. This bill is about laying the groundwork for the next one. So I will make a prediction: This bill will pass. And, if the banks kept their way, in the next 10 years or so, there will be another financial crisis. Senators like Missouri’s Claire McCaskill are of course more than a little frustrated by Warren’s stance on the banking bill. Will the Bernie Sanders tear-down-Wall-Street crowd be the leading voice on this heretofor invisible piece of legislation? Or will Lamb’s centrist yet politely cautious defiance of the identity politics wing prevail, allowing a Democratic Senator facing a tough re-election to vote f[...]



​Connor Lamb – Pro-life Gun-toting Centrist Wins in PA 18

2018-03-15T02:57:12Z

Nobody says thea-tuh anymore. Not even people my age. Maybe grandma when she’s making fun of someone or has had a tipple too many. So I won’t say that David Marcus works in the thea-tuh (as well as being a correspondent for The Federalist and publishing elsewhere, like the NYTimes occasionally.) I’ll just say he […]

Nobody says thea-tuh anymore. Not even people my age. Maybe grandma when she’s making fun of someone or has had a tipple too many.

So I won’t say that David Marcus works in the thea-tuh (as well as being a correspondent for The Federalist and publishing elsewhere, like the NYTimes occasionally.)

I’ll just say he runs a thee-tur company in Brooklyn apparently, and has an interesting take on Pennsylvania’s 18th District Special Election this Tuesday. The one in which Connor Lamb narrowly appears to have beaten Rick Saccone, the GOP’s disappointing candidate.

While the GOP and the media in general are anguishing, or delighting themselves, over the possibility of a Big Blue Wave in the coming mid-term elections, Marcus points out quite reasonably that the Democrat party has to decide what kind of platform they’re going to run on this fall.

  • Hard-left identity politics? Or …
  • Moderate and centrist policies like those held by Connor Lamb?

That would include pro-life positions or at least, in Lamb’s case, a stance that identifies as pro-life while accepting the left’s idea that Planned Parenthood should continue to receive funding from taxpayers. That’s not very pro-life, but it’s a ways to the center from what appears to be Democrat orthodoxy that claims abortions as healthcare. That also includes knowing how to handle an AR-15, something more than a few of us can’t lay claim to, but that Connor Lamb can, and he showed voters that he did on video for his campaign..

So after all the celebrating by progressives and left-leaning media over the victory of a pro-life and not-gun-phobic candidate in Western Pennsylvania, the question then becomes: will candidates like Connor Lamb be the exception to Democrats’ campaign for the mid-terms? Operating at the margins and only praised when they win an election and then shut down by party leaders the rest of the time? Or will the Democrat Party grudgingly accept that in many districts which they want to flip, radical candidates will not do the job?

Right now that question has been pushed to the background amid all the gloating over how supposedly Trumpism only works for Trump and maybe no longer even that. It’s all about how Trump undercuts candidates and has staked his presidency on mistaken candidates in Alabama and now Pennsylvania. Yes, the GOP is being roiled every week by President Trump, but the divisions on the other side are real and do matter. They will matter even more if Democrats take back either or both Houses of Congress.

The Democrats have to decide if they will continue to ignore large swaths of America that they are openly hostile towards under their current progressive leadership. And who Hillary continues to blame for her loss in 2016, to such an extent that many in her party truly and heartily wish she would shut up.

So let the celebrations continue over a district that will be re-drawn and which Connor Lamb will have to contest once again. Who and what the Democrats are is just as much a question as who and what the Republicans are.




Play Ball!

2018-03-12T19:16:05Z

Play Ball! © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Here’s a thought and I’d love to hear some responses. There are about 120,000,000 households in the US. That’s about 2.75 people per household, since the total US population is around 330,000,000 people. Now, the poverty rate is around 15% or roughly 50,000,000 people living in […]Play Ball! © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Here’s a thought and I’d love to hear some responses. There are about 120,000,000 households in the US. That’s about 2.75 people per household, since the total US population is around 330,000,000 people. Now, the poverty rate is around 15% or roughly 50,000,000 people living in poverty. I realize that poverty is a relative term, whose meaning changes over time and in comparison to other countries. There is a huge difference between living between “poverty” here and living in poverty in one of the poorest countries in Africa. The meaning and nature of “poverty” can also be said to be quite different in the 1930’s to what it is today. Nonetheless, let’s not get bogged down in those semantic particulars. Let’s just agree that “poverty” means whatever you understand it to be. Liberal Democrats are always carping about so-called income inequality, the gap between what the richest and poorest make, or the difference between a CEO’s compensation and that of their average employee. In reality, it’s a non-issue since one person’s income is pretty much totally independent of another’s. Your neighbor’s financial fortunes do not affect yours. If they suddenly hit Powerball, the income inequality between the two of you has abruptly skyrocketed to astronomical proportions, yet, for you, nothing has changed. Your financial ability to provide for your family and pay your bills is totally unaffected by whether your neighbor’s income is equal to yours or 1000 times greater than yours. The economic concept of “income inequality” is a hoax, a straw man, vaporware. It’s merely a liberal pretext to justify higher taxes on the wealthy and create evermore income redistribution policies to buy voting support. However…what if there was a solution to poverty? Immediate, total, complete, permanent? There is. Jeff Bezos Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Warren Buffet. They own Amazon and the Washington Post, Microsoft, Apple and Berkshire Hathaway. They have lots of dough—combined, over 500 billion dollars. Bezos’ personal fortune alone is estimated to grow by 2.8 billion dollars/day, an amount normal people can’t actually comprehend. They could combine to give everyone in the country a few thousand bucks. and they wouldn’t even notice. $76 billion (that’s four thousand bucks to every person in America, young, old, black, white, brown, chartreuse, any/all genders, etc.), to them is ppfffftttt, nothing. That’s 76 billion. They’ve got 500. In a month, they’ll have 75 billion more. In two months, 150 billion more. In English: It’d be like giving away 76 dollars if you had 500 bucks in your pocket. It’d be like buying dinner for yourself and a friend. Tomorrow. They could do this tomorrow. They’re generous, caring, feeling, compassionate, concerned, green, altruistic, liberal icons. So they should, right? Let’s look at households—120 million. 15% are in poverty, so that’s 18 million households living in poverty. How much debt are they in? Let’s look at that realistically. What will it take to get them out of debt, pay off their bills? One thousand each? 5 thou? 10 grand for each household to get the lights back on, buy some decent clothes, fix the ’02 Olds, send Jr. to community college? Just enough to get them out of poverty. Let’s say an average of 10 grand for 18 million households. That’s 180 billion. They have 50[...]



You’re Fired!

2018-03-09T13:57:48Z

You’re Fired! © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. “You’re fired!” Those are the sweetest two words in the entire language. Those two words make possible everything that’s good in our daily lives: our freedom, our safety, the many modes of transportation at our disposal, the rich abundance of foods we get to choose from, […]You’re Fired! © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. “You’re fired!” Those are the sweetest two words in the entire language. Those two words make possible everything that’s good in our daily lives: our freedom, our safety, the many modes of transportation at our disposal, the rich abundance of foods we get to choose from, the widely-varied forms of entertainment we enjoy, the incredible array of medical technologies that keep us healthy and the expansive selection of schools that educate us. “You’re fired.” Those are the lyrics to the Anthem of the Free Market, which is the engine that keeps us safe, healthy, well-fed, entertained and educated. Those are the words that indicate that, in our system, there is personal accountability and responsibility and that there are negative consequences for doing a poor job. The most obvious and familiar indicator of the free market is the profit potential that exists for success. Whether it’s an innovative new medical device or life-enhancing pharmaceutical, a viable large-scale alternative energy source, or a great new political drama on Netflix, in a market economy, virtually unlimited profits await the inventor or company that delivers a winning product or service, and deservedly so. Driven by hungry competitors looking to wrest their paying customers away, individual entrepreneurs and large corporations alike are motivated to perform at their best in order to stave off their adversaries. The consumer benefits from continually improving products as a result. The penalty for marketplace failure is financial ruin. If the quality and value of a company’s offerings slip, then the company loses market share or goes out of business altogether. The threat of this degree of disastrous marketplace penalty (going out of business) is an even stronger motivator than the promise of unlimited riches. Being one of many successful entities in one’s realm is perfectly acceptable; there is no absolute requirement that you be no. 1, as long as you’re active and viable. Mazda is a profitable and ongoing company. They don’t have to overtake General Motors to be considered a successful business. But they do have to avoid making the ill-fated product and marketing decisions that sank American Motors and Studebaker. The threat of free-market penalty is what drives them. The concept of free-market reward/penalty applies perfectly all the way down to the individual worker level. Any individual can be considered to be a small “company”: they have their product attributes, they are in a competitive environment against other “companies” vying for the same “customer,” perhaps a promotion or a new position. When the individual performs well—a TV writer creating a compelling script, an engineer improving the fuel efficiency of an engine or a research scientist synthesizing a new pain reliever without side effects—the company that employs them becomes stronger in their particular market sphere and either maintains or strengthens its financial standing. Employees continue to be employed.  Money continues to be earned. Bills continue to be paid. It’s the fear of marketplace penalty that keeps many individuals motivated to go a good job. Yes, of course many people do an excellent job because of personal pride and a strong work ethic, or because their innate talent and aptitude enables them to perform their responsibilities w[...]



Walter Shaub – ​FDR’s Grave Roller & the Hatch Act

2018-03-08T23:07:28Z

The Hatch Act of 1939 was signed into legislation by a reluctant FDR as a legislative remedy for a political and partisan problem with FDR’s Works Progress Administration – it’s employees to be precise – in local or state or senate elections. Employees of the WPA were accused of campaigning for FDR’s favorites in campaigns. […]

The Hatch Act of 1939 was signed into legislation by a reluctant FDR as a legislative remedy for a political and partisan problem with FDR’s Works Progress Administration – it’s employees to be precise – in local or state or senate elections. Employees of the WPA were accused of campaigning for FDR’s favorites in campaigns. So the fact that the WPA (it was renamed the Works Projects Administration in the same year the Hatch Act was passed: 1939) was the administration’s public works jewel-in-the-crown (if you take a progressive viewpoint) and employed millions and doled out huge amounts of money and jobs, made it a perfect vehicle for campaigning by the administration.

Now, here’s the fussy point, because we’re talking about whether Kellyanne Conway did or didn’t violate the Hatch Act. If senior FDR (or any) administration officials wanted (or want) to use a specific project as backdrop for a campaign that is not prohibited by the Hatch Act. What is prohibited is lower-level government employees actively campaigning for any given candidate. In other words, federal employees and some state and local employees are the target of the Act’s restrictions, and only on certain political activities.

Senior administration officials who are involved in policy decisions are exempt.

Was Kellyanne Conway targeted because the Office of Special Counsel felt she was just ever-so-slightly low enough on the totem pole that they could stick a charge of a Hatch Act violation on her forehead and see if it could stick? She’s not a Cabinet level official, we can go for her!

Because this is really a symbolic poke in the eye of the President by the OSC. Who decides Kellyanne Conway’s fate according to the Hatch Act?? Uh … the President does. And either an official reprimand by the President or a fine of up to $1,000 are the penalties generally available; if the President sees fit to apply them.

Give me a break.

Who filed the complaints that led to the OPS determination regarding Conway’s two televised interviews on the Roy Moore v Doug Jones Alabama election last December? Why former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub who called her interviews a “slam dunk” violation back then.

Now Democrat politicians like Elijah Cummings are demanding Trump deliver “swift and serious” punishment . Which he won’t. Which Democrats know perfectly well because Conway’s case is at best a borderline fussy finagling interpretation of what in fact does (or doesn’t) constitute a partisan display on the part of a federal employee during an election. It’s part of Conway’s JOB to go on TV and talk about those sorts of things.

Accusing Conway of violating the Hatch Act in a town populated by federal employees leaking classified information in order to disrupt and even sabotage the Trump administration is an ostentatiously blatant exercise in partisan hypocrisy.

So Trump’s rightfully refusing to punish Conway will then be used to talk about the “corruption” in the White House. Even FDR would roll over in his grave.




​Broward County Was A Laboratory For Progressive School Policy on Discipline and Violence

2018-03-06T21:50:53Z

First it was Scot Peterson, the armed Broward Sheriff’s Deputy, waiting outside the school in Parkland as the gunfire sounded for a period of several minutes, and only calling for back-up rather than going in. Then, we find out he was also on the radio with the Sheriff’s Office and likely receiving instructions. In other […]

First it was Scot Peterson, the armed Broward Sheriff’s Deputy, waiting outside the school in Parkland as the gunfire sounded for a period of several minutes, and only calling for back-up rather than going in.

Then, we find out he was also on the radio with the Sheriff’s Office and likely receiving instructions. In other words, Peterson, along with several other Broward Deputies who sheltered behind their vehicles, were likely following orders.

Then we find out that Broward Sheriff Scott Israel had received countless calls and several explicit warnings, and had responded to many house calls, all relating to Nikolas Cruz and his family. But Cruz was never charged and therefore there was no information on Cruz in law enforcement data bases. It’s not just that Miami’s FBI Field Office didn’t act on information. There was No. Criminal. Record. on Cruz. So officially he couldn’t be flagged.

Why in the world did the Broward County Sheriff’s Office refuse to charge Cruz?

Because of a change in policy under the Obama administration that was intended to shut down the “pipeline” from school to prison for young offenders, especially minority offenders. And among the 50 odd counties in America that put this new policy into practice (it was seen as a rollback of zero-tolerance policies) Broward County was a leader in implementing the new policy.

In a revealing and disturbing article in Real Clear Politics, Paul Sperry outlines this change in policy and how it was put into place in Broward County. First of all, you had a key player in the shape of Robert Runcie, Broward School Superintendent. Runcie is a Chicago-born and bred, Harvard-educated and with close ties to Obama and to Obama’s then-education Secretary, Arne Duncan.

Runcie put in place a collaborative agreement with local police that downgraded various misdemeanors and other offenses to incidents that would no longer be reported to police. Sheriff Scott Israel signed that agreement around 2013, and became an enthusiastic supporter of the new discipline guidelines. Expulsions and suspensions plummeted, violence in schools increased, and Runcie obtained millions in grants from his old boss, Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education. While Runcie raked in the subsidies and grants, teachers’ lives became far more risky with apparently increased incidents of student violence against teachers.

So, it wasn’t so much a case of negligence in Nikolas Cruz’s disturbing and horrific example. It was a matter of deliberate, progressive government policy being put into action in Broward County.

So while Runcie might have proudly claimed he was giving students a chance and turning back overly strict disciplinary codes that could ruin a student’s life and their chances to get a job, or go to college, or join the military, he and Duncan and Israel were putting in place the blinkers that deliberately overlooked Cruz’s behavior and allowed him to even remain in the school system, rather than in jail or an institution.

A program with good – if misguided – intentions becomes a sweeping social experiment in education and sets the stage for a horrifying tragedy. Should we be shocked and angry? Yes, by all means. Should we truly be surprised? No.




​Trump’s Distrust of Due Process is a Sign of the Times

2018-03-02T17:06:08Z

Impatience with due process. Legally, it’s not a crime unless you do something against the law as a result of that impatience. Politically, it’s not really an impeachable offense, unless enough members of both Houses of Congress decide it somehow is. But it can make for bad politics as in Trump’s latest impatience with due […]Impatience with due process. Legally, it’s not a crime unless you do something against the law as a result of that impatience. Politically, it’s not really an impeachable offense, unless enough members of both Houses of Congress decide it somehow is. But it can make for bad politics as in Trump’s latest impatience with due process. Although he has been quoted in a way that does not reference the targeted context – people displaying dangerous behavior and how local law enforcement and the courts should deal with those types of people. So when President Trump says this: Take the guns first, go through due process second. You know the headlines won’t mention that he was talking about people like Nikolas Cruz. But even if that was the context, one wonders how his base will react. Especially gun owners in general. But even more than just the headlines, what Trump’s comment did was give an opening to his critics – like the Washington Post’s James Hohmann – to describe him as the President who tramples due process. And of course heres the main reason why Hohmann riffed on this in his Daily 202: AG Jeff Sessions. And the President’s anger at his use of the DOJ’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, to investigate potential abuses of the FISA warrants issued against Carter Page in 2016 and 2017. President Trump is angry that Sessions is using an Obama appointee – Horowitz who apparently is a well-respected official who has worked with both GOP and Democrat administrations – rather than DOJ lawyers to investigate possible FISA abuse by the FBI and by the DOJ itself. Republican officials and conservative commentators in places like National Review have sided with Sessions, unsurprisingly. And the Attorney General pushed back with this statement: As long as I am attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and the constitution. Sessions also said that the Inspector General’s investigation is the appropriate process to be using. Yes, part of the reason Trump won the election was his promise to poke a finger in the eye of due process and to: Drain. The. Swamp. And unfortunately, government and its various institutions and branches are viewed with suspicion and precious little trust by majorities or significant pluralities of voters, depending on what specific institution we’re talking about. But if the only way to ensure justice – and President Trump has every right to feel that many in government would love to see him impeached – is through unconstrained partisan behavior at every level of government, then why even have a Department of Justice? Why even have an AG? Why even have an Inspector General? It would all just be sham. And even if it already basically is a partisan sham – a geniune possibility – how do you regain voters’ trust? It may be too late. Trust is at all time lows. We’re getting worked up about an inspector general who is investigating if the FBI and the DOJ followed due process with Hillary’s server investigation and now with Carter Page’s surveillance warrants courtesy of the FISA courts. We’re investigating the Russ[...]



​Barbara Streisand Blames Trump for Parkland

2018-02-28T17:49:26Z

Barbara Streisand thinks Trump is to blame for the school shooting in Parkland. According to her: I think even that shooter was affected because Trump brings out the violence in people. Ok Barbara, let’s look at some historical data on school shootings and then maybe we can blame some more people who were in the […]Barbara Streisand thinks Trump is to blame for the school shooting in Parkland. According to her: I think even that shooter was affected because Trump brings out the violence in people. Ok Barbara, let’s look at some historical data on school shootings and then maybe we can blame some more people who were in the White House when the shootings happened. If you read Allie Nicodemio and Lia Petronio’s piece at this link https://goo.gl/tCHYtn you’ll see that school shootings are down since the 1990’s when Bill Clinton was president. A graph of mass school shootings which clusters the injured and the dead, shows that the late 90’s were one of the worst periods for school shootings in terms of fatalities and injuries. But Streisand wouldn’t think of connecting those shootings to Bill Clinton because of his policy positions (for moderate gun control). The worst cluster of deaths is of course in 2012 with Sandy Hook. Obama’s reaction and his attempts at moving some sort of gun control legislation make him beyond criticism for what occurred on his watch, if you’re Streisand and most Democrats in general. In other words, the data on actual school shootings under any given administration doesn’t matter, it’s your position on gun control that makes you an enabler of school shooters in Streisand’s world. If only we had gun control like in Norway, we could keep our schools safe. If only Hillary had been elected president, Parkland wouldn’t have happened. Sorry Madame Streisand, Parkland was a ticking time bomb in the shape of Nikolas Cruz. Had the authorities – whether local Broward Police, FBI, or school officials – behaved the same way they actually did on February 14, 2018, with the same lack of reaction to the information they were given or the calls they had to take on Cruz himself, it is likely that Cruz would have been able to take weapons to school and shoot innocent students and teachers. Whether it was Hillary or Trump in the White House. This is what Criminology, Law, & Public Policy Professor James Alan Fox of Northeastern University, and who put together the study linked above, says about mass (more than 4 victims) school shootings in America: There is not an epidemic of school shootings. HIs study showed that there are around 55 million school children in the United States and on average over the past 25 years about 10 students per year were killed by gunfire at school. Yes, that’s 10 too many, but mass shootings and school shootings have occurred with a statistical consistency over the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now President Trump. We can argue about how effective gun control regulations would be or whether NRA policy positions will be nudged by Trump, but to say that Trump – unlike previous presidents – is somehow to blame for Parkland is ridiculous. But go back further in time Madame Streisand. Wikipedia has a list of school shootings throughout most of America’s history. It may be less than foolproof or not perfectly authoritative, but it’s a bit of an eye opener. There have been school shootings for a long, long time. Vicious and vengeful or crazed or alcohol-fueled. Involving teachers and students and parents and outsiders. This did not [...]



​Gun Control – Mike Allen Reveals SuperTrump to America

2018-02-23T16:29:14Z

Mike Allen of Axios – who I think of as a former Obama official given his rabid necessity to defend the former president’s legacy by attacking the current administration constantly – thinks Trump is all powerful now. At least that’s the direct conclusion one is forced to draw after reading this: President Trump has a […]Mike Allen of Axios – who I think of as a former Obama official given his rabid necessity to defend the former president’s legacy by attacking the current administration constantly – thinks Trump is all powerful now. At least that’s the direct conclusion one is forced to draw after reading this: President Trump has a rare political superpower – he can get Republicans to do what seems like the impossible: Allen then lists evil things the superpower has achieved like getting the GOP to soften its stand on Putin – a debatable point if you look at this administrations actions and not Trump’s personal reticence to criticize Putin. Then he says this: Every few months, friends, family and advisers like Ivanka Trump, Rupert Murdoch, and Gary Cohn fantasize that Trump will tap his superpower as a force for good – to pass a big infrastructure bill, fight global warming, strike an epic immigration deal. Ok, so is this a blatant clue as to who does lots of leaking in the White House? I wouldn’t be surprised at all that Ivanka would chat constantly with certain key members of the press. But that’s not Mike Allen’s point. It’s this: Now they (Ivanka, Murdoch, and Cohn) dream of new gun controls to protect schools, kids, and the innocent. He could. No politician can move Rs to unthinkable places and provide more cover in the toughest of states or districts. So now Mike Allen is telling us that President Trump is superman, if he only would take the kryptonite/guns out of the hands of evil/clinging/bible-reading American gun owners? Because SuperTrump could?? Or is it that Ivanka is telling Mike Allen that her dad is superman if only he would listen more to Ivanka instead of that annoying former general in the Chief of Staff’s office? Look, it appears that President Trump will put together some modest gun control reforms, (bump stock bans, increasing the age limit for long guns, more background checks), that hopefully don’t anger his base too much and have the appearance of action after the growing momentum (yes, some of it helped by gun-control activists but it’s real regardless) gathering around the NeverAgain movement. But one suspects that Ivanka and Cohn, and Murdoch, (who perhaps wants an Australian-style attempt at confiscation of guns), all want more than what President Trump will propose shortly. Like the country, the White House appears deeply divided on the issue of gun control, and across America the divisions grow deeper with each shooting. It’s hard to say what could bridge that gulf. Because the NeverAgain movement is preaching to the converted, while GOP voters are far more negative on things like banning automatic weapons than they were back in the 90’s when the last ban was put in place, and then lifted. Will Trump signal an important shift in the GOP’s gun-control policy positions? And what does that mean for Democrats and the upcoming midterms? Could gun-control be the issue that sweeps Mueller’s probe off center-stage? With SuperTrump himself handling the broom? For the record, and it’s hardly surprising, Mike Allen thinks SuperTrump will stay in the phone booth as far as gun-control goes. That might be a mistake, because w[...]



​John Davidson Forces Us to Ask – What is the Price of Freedom?

2018-02-21T03:31:46Z

While proposals like banning bump stocks or tightening up guidelines for gun sales to mental health sufferers might be part of the post-Parkland shooting media landscape, there’s a far more direct argument being made by The Federalist‘s John Davidson, a veteran reporter who tends to think through issues to their logical conclusion. Despite the uncomfortable or […]While proposals like banning bump stocks or tightening up guidelines for gun sales to mental health sufferers might be part of the post-Parkland shooting media landscape, there’s a far more direct argument being made by The Federalist‘s John Davidson, a veteran reporter who tends to think through issues to their logical conclusion. Despite the uncomfortable or horrifying ends that those thought processes might lead to. This will be upsetting, I’m warning you. Davidson uses a thought experiment done by author David Foster Wallace in Atlantic magazine in 2007 that had to do with 9/11, and the policies put in place in the wake of the terrifying and horrifying event in 2001. Foster asked the question: What price are we willing to pay for freedom? An overused word, because there is not much freedom left. But a word that is a cornerstone of any democratic state, and a loadstone for everyone who needs to believe and live at least some freedom in their lives, freedom that is not constrained by the ever expanding laws and regulations that govern every last little detail of one’s life nowadays in America, never mind places like Europe, or say Canada. Basically Foster asked if we would be willing to accept a certain amount of deaths as a result of terrorism in exchange for less NSA surveillance, less TSA frisks and metal detectors at airports, less DHS bureaucrats with their rules, less spying on Americans; less wars abroad, and so on. Would we? In other words, are those freedoms worth some of us dying for? Most of us would likely say no. Wouldn’t we? Ever since progressive ideas – starting with Woodrow Wilson – have become the accepted goals of a modern and post-modern society, keeping us safe has become far more important than keeping us free. Now, here’s the leap into the abyss that Davidson takes: Would we be willing to consider the deaths of innocent young girls and boys with their lives ahead of them and their parent’s love nourishing and guiding them into the future, would we consider their deaths a price we would pay to keep the 2nd amendment in the constitution? Because that’s what it would take, following Davidson’s line of thought. I have a 7 year old son. I ponder every syllable of the 2nd amendment and it’s nuanced construction that still provokes such debate over 200 years later. I am not a gun owner but I know full well that statistics show that gun-owning towns in Texas – for example – are some of the safest places to live in America. But when put in the terms Davidson puts it, I can’t say yes. My reptilian cortex (preservation of self or family) and my limbic cortex (emotional bonds) outweigh my neo-cortex’s reasoning. Of course, a gun owner would say that’s precisely why she or he upholds the 2nd. Because – as Davidson points out, bravely following the logic of his argument – that’s what it’s going to take to make a difference. America adopting European style regulations and restrictions on gun ownership. Anything else is just dicking around the margins and is only a way to deflect the anger and pain and show some sort of action is being taken. If you[...]



Can’t Anyone Take a Joke?

2018-02-16T14:31:57Z

Can’t Anyone Take a Joke? © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. We have two adult daughters. Both are married with children of their own. One of them lives overseas in Italy (don’t ask, it’s a long story, but it gives us a great place to visit), the other lives 10 minutes away in the […]Can’t Anyone Take a Joke? © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. We have two adult daughters. Both are married with children of their own. One of them lives overseas in Italy (don’t ask, it’s a long story, but it gives us a great place to visit), the other lives 10 minutes away in the same upper-middle-class suburban town as my wife and me, in the eastern part of the country. One of our local daughter’s neighbors is a broadcaster for a sports radio talk show. He and his wife are perfectly nice, normal people. Their young daughter plays with our daughter’s 6-year-old several times a week. They are remarkably unremarkable, regular in every sense. A few days ago, he made an on-air a quip in which he mimicked the stereotypical speaking style of a foreign ethnic group. It was a joke, the kind of thing every one of us has done a thousand times, in reference to any one of a dozen or two well-known ethnic/national groups. Well, apparently in this highly-charged, everyone’s a victim, incredibly thin-skinned and humorless environment in which we all now live, it wasn’t a joke. It was a heinous personal crime, betraying a shocking lack of sensitivity and cultural awareness on the part of the “joke” teller, injurious to the self-image of the target group to an irreversible degree. The morally-indignant brigade struck with Blitzkrieg-like (I probably can’t say that, either) suddenness and fury: No less than three very high-profile sponsors immediately—and very publicly—announced that they were pulling their advertising from the station. The station, trying desperately to get in front of what could be a PR disaster, instantly issued a public apology on all fronts—on-air, on social media and on its web site. And of course, they wasted no time announcing that the offending on-air host was suspended at once without pay, pending further investigation—with the implication that a firing might be imminent. This relatively recent development of widespread social/professional victimhood coincides very closely with the rise in identity politics, particularly as practiced by liberal politicians and supported by the liberal media. Liberals seem to orient their political strategy and activity around the notion of identifying special interest groups based on age, ethnicity, gender and gender-orientation, religion, socio-economic class and education. Liberal politicians then convince the group in question that they’ve been victimized (either by society at large or by conservatives in particular) and so the liberal politician proposes a specific program to cure their ill and garner their vote. Humor has no place in the liberal paradigm. There is no innocent humor; there are only intentional, degrading insults, designed to maliciously hinder or prevent the group in question from advancing to their deserved standing in our culture. Really? Every joke is meant to harm someone and prevent them from progressing? I work in the music industry, in the marketing department of a very large company that owns and manufactures several very well-known brands of electronic musical instruments and keyboards, DJ gear, recording equipment and musical composition computer software. It’s a “hip” company—everyone is into music and we have fre[...]



​A Day or Two to Get Immigration Right?

2018-02-15T00:00:12Z

The Grand Immigration Debate has begun, under a deadline that may not be deadline, and with several competing plans, some of which we don’t have all the details yet. And it all may be for naught in the end anyway, as anything that can muster 60 votes in the Senate (which means at least and […]The Grand Immigration Debate has begun, under a deadline that may not be deadline, and with several competing plans, some of which we don’t have all the details yet. And it all may be for naught in the end anyway, as anything that can muster 60 votes in the Senate (which means at least and likely more than 9 Democrat senators voting in favor) will have a hard time passing the House, which is whipping up its own plan at the same time. Then there’s a couple of judges – U.S. District Court Judge Garaufis in Brooklyn and U.S. District Judge William Alsup in California – who have placed injunctions on President Trump’s executive order that ended Obama’s executive order that created D.A.C.A. With the Supreme Court about to rule this Friday on whether to directly hear the government’s appeal against the Alsup injunction; or to let the case percolate up through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Does that clear it all up? Let’s take a closer look. Here are some of the proposed plans: The Secure and Succeed Act 2018, sponsored by Iowa’s Grassley and Arkansas’ Cotton. It’s a Four PIllar Plan: Pillar 1 Border Security with $25 billion for a “border wall system” (talk about covering all angles) and lots of specific security tightening measures, including enacating Kate’s Law; Pillar 2 ends chain migration; Pillar 3 cancels the Visa Lottery; and Pillar 4 provides a 10-12 year path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million Dreamers. Trump likes it seeing it’s close to what the White House has proposed. The Senate Bi-partisan bill, sponsored by Collins and perhaps Jeff Flake and perhaps Tim Kaine and perhaps Don Rounds and who knows who else but not Lindsey Graham who will not support a “narrow” bill which means kicking out at least one or two of the GOP pillars in the Secure and Succeed Act. Coons and McCain have a proposal that would give legal status to Dreamers without any money – at least not right away – for border security or wall construction. Not a serious contender at this point. The Goodlatte bill in the House is Secure and Succeed plus. The plus being plans to force employers to ensure they hire legals through an E-Verify program as well as authorizing the Department of Justice to withhold grants from sanctuary cities. It would also include an agricultural guest worker program which people like Bernie Sanders liken to “slavery.” Will Secure and Succeed pass the Senate? That’s a tough call and if it does it almost certainly will be watered down to get Democrat votes and reach 60 votes over all. And if the House Goodlatte bill passes (no Democrat will vote for it in the House so only 22 House Republicans can defect) that means a large gap between the Senate and the House on what kind of solution to the Dreamers and immigration they each see as viable. Immigration has been radicalized and weaponized by the left, and arguably by some on the alt-right side of things. It’s no longer about the laws on the books. It’s about painting the other side as racist or as un-American. This kind of debate cannot be done in a week, if ever. [...]



Please Don’t Blame the Liberal

2018-02-13T13:51:53Z

Please Don’t Blame the Liberal © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Why is it that liberal politicians and liberal causes always seem to escape severe criticism and close scrutiny while their conservative counterparts are continually fighting off one allegation after another, no matter how fanciful and misleading those allegations might be? The standards to […]Please Don’t Blame the Liberal © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Why is it that liberal politicians and liberal causes always seem to escape severe criticism and close scrutiny while their conservative counterparts are continually fighting off one allegation after another, no matter how fanciful and misleading those allegations might be? The standards to begin an investigation into rumored conservative wrongdoing appear to be essentially non-existent, while the requirement for serious media attention into liberal misdeeds must be something more ironclad than a non-Photoshopped image of a person standing over a body holding the dripping knife. Some recent examples: Uranium One Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One mess seems pretty significant, doesn’t it? Supposedly, she facilitated the sale of some 20% of American uranium and mining rights (through a Canadian intermediary) to a Russian firm in exchange for three million dollars to be paid to the Clinton Foundation. If true, it looks to be a clear case of “pay-to-play” influence peddling, done while Hillary was still Secretary of State. The United States imports more than 90% of its uranium, so it’s a rare commodity already. We produce very little ourselves. Why we would sell off such a significant portion of the material used to make nuclear bombs and nuclear reactors to our most dangerous worldwide strategic adversary defies even the smallest semblance of logic. The details of the development of the entire transaction were provided in minute detail to three Congressional committees by an FBI informant who had followed the Russian and American players for several years. His account of what happened certainly has passed the threshold needed to take a closer look into the matter. The subject is deadly serious to our national security, as opposed to its being merely political rooting points. The details provided by the FBI informant are credible enough to take seriously. The American players involved are very high profile. It merits “investigation,” no? Investigation. Not pre-judgment, but certainly investigation. Me too Another pet liberal cause is the “Me Too” initiative, where women who’ve been subjected to past gender-related pressures and improper treatment have been encouraged to come forward with their stories under the #metoo hashtag, naming names and exposing these past offenses for all their inglorious unseemliness. That this long-term objectionable behavior is now coming to light is a very good thing. Gender-based oppression and discrimination has absolutely no place in civilized society and many of the actions that have been reported are far past “shameful.” They are intolerable and inexcusable. However, as is often the case, liberal politicians and the liberal mainstream media pick and choose who to vilify and who to let off the hook. When California Democratic assemblywoman Christina Garcia—a central figure in the Me Too movement—was cited as accosting a male staffer, it went largely unreported. The liberal #metoo narrative is all about male mistreatment of women, not about inappropriate sexual pressures in general. [...]



​A New Chapter in the Trump Russia Saga Gets Opened Up by the GOP

2018-02-07T22:55:24Z

The Democrats have moved their retreat to the Capitol complex. Which means they’re not moving anywhere over the next few days. Which means that maybe, or even likely, a shutdown will be avoided with full-year defense funding balanced by Community Health Centers and a lifting for 2 years of spending caps. In other words with […]

The Democrats have moved their retreat to the Capitol complex. Which means they’re not moving anywhere over the next few days. Which means that maybe, or even likely, a shutdown will be avoided with full-year defense funding balanced by Community Health Centers and a lifting for 2 years of spending caps. In other words with lots and lots of spending.The House has just passed their version of the spending bill, but the Senate has yet to add their touches, which may be significant, if the leaks about lifting spending caps turn out to be true.

Meanwhile, Christopher Steele – the British former MI6 spy of Dossier fame – apparently also wrote a memo which is now being called the October memo. Apparently because a few things about this memo – which listed Steele’s concerns about Trump’s campaign and alleged connections with Russia – are rather unclear at this point.

  • In The Hill’s piece on the October memo by Jonathan Easly and Katie Bo Williams they write: The memo, dated October 19, was given to Steele by a contact at the State Department and was based on information provided by “a friend of the Clintons” Grassley said. So again, Steele is not the source just like when he was a third or fourth or even fifth-hand transmitter of information from his Russian contacts for the Steele Dossier.
  • The contact at State seems to have been Jonathan Winer, former Special Envoy to Libya and former deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement.
  • The actual sources for the October memo are two Clinton aides from the 90’s: Sydney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, according to unnamed GOP officials.
  • On Sunday Talk, former Obama Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said this: Chris had a friend at the State Department and he offered us that reporting free so that we could also benefit from it. … He passed to two to four short pages of notes of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction to that was this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian federation.
  • In other words, a deputy assistant secretary of state hands Steele some information, perhaps from Clinton confidants. Steele makes notes and hands those notes back to the State Department, who then contact the FBI.

Does this strike you as just a tad circular? And unverified? Just asking.

So now it looks like Nunes and the House intel committee want to turn their sights towards the State Department while Schiff and the Democrats cry breach of House committee rules. And another chapter gets started in the Trump Russia saga.

 




The “Real” Russia Collusion: Oil

2018-02-06T14:00:56Z

The “Real” Russia Collusion: Oil © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Russian collusion is indeed a major issue threatening the well-being of our country. It’s just not the Russia collusion that’s been bandied about in the news for over a year. No, it’s Russia colluding with OPEC to intentionally raise world crude oil pricing. […]The “Real” Russia Collusion: Oil © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Russian collusion is indeed a major issue threatening the well-being of our country. It’s just not the Russia collusion that’s been bandied about in the news for over a year. No, it’s Russia colluding with OPEC to intentionally raise world crude oil pricing. That is a real threat to our economy and living standard, unlike that other, totally imaginary Russia collusion. In case you haven’t been paying attention, crude oil prices have been on an upward tear for the better part of the last two years. From a low in the high-20’s/barrel range in February of 2016, WTI (West Texas Intermediate) closed at $65.45 on Friday Feb 2nd. Goldman Sachs goes so far as to say that North Sea Brent crude oil (the other benchmark oil besides WTI) will likely top $80 within six months. WTI generally runs about 5% lower, so look for WTI to be around $76/bbl by the summer of 2018. Before we look at why this is happening, it’s a good idea for a quick refresher on the four main drivers of crude oil/retail gasoline pricing. Why is oil and gasoline rising? What’s happened?  First, let’s dispense with any simplistic “the oil companies are conspiring to raise prices” nonsense.  That’s not what’s happening. Oil is a commodity, traded on the world market like any other commodity, such as gold, copper, natural gas, diamonds, etc. Oil is subject to market forces like every other commodity is. There are four main factors that influence the price of crude oil-retail gasoline on the world market: World supply/demand Exploration/extraction activity and technology Refining/delivery capacity Geopolitical influences (Iran, North Korea, terrorism, etc.) (There’s also a 5th factor: currency value, or the “exchange rate,” since oil is traded in dollars. However, this is normally a peripheral factor that only shades oil pricing a little bit one way or the other.) Today’s situation is primarily one of tightening supply coupled with greater demand as the worldwide economy, led by the U.S., continues to improve. See #1 above. When the world was awash with over-abundant oil in 2015-6, with loaded tankers sitting by the dozens offshore, unable to unload their cargo for lack of empty storage facilities, it seemed as if low-priced crude oil and $1.899/gallon gasoline was a permanent fixture on the US economic landscape. Never again would we be beholden to the arbitrary whims and evil manipulations of greedy, anti-American, anti-Semitic Arab oil sheiks. The over-supply of oil was primarily because of the shale oil boom (fracking) in the U.S. With newly-developed exploration and extraction techniques, America was finally able to tap the previously unreachable mother lode of crude oil trapped in the huge shale rock deposits in the western and southern parts of the continental U.S. With a huge influx of additional oil being delivered to the world market, supply exceeded demand and world pricing plummeted. At first, OPEC was unsure how to respond. Initially, Saudi Arabia actually increased their oil production in an effo[...]



Pieces of the Same Puzzle: SOTU, DACA, FBI

2018-02-02T13:53:08Z

Pieces of the Same Puzzle: SOTU, DACA, FBI © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. There are three issues swirling around in the news lately that may appear to be unrelated: The recently-delivered State of the Union (SOTU) address, the ongoing controversy over the DACA immigrants, and the about-to-be-released FBI memo regarding the basis of […]Pieces of the Same Puzzle: SOTU, DACA, FBI © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. There are three issues swirling around in the news lately that may appear to be unrelated: The recently-delivered State of the Union (SOTU) address, the ongoing controversy over the DACA immigrants, and the about-to-be-released FBI memo regarding the basis of the FISA warrants in the Russia collusion investigation. They are not unrelated. Quite the opposite: They are all incredibly important pieces of the same puzzle. Let’s look at them individually and then put the pieces together into one big picture. Piece 1—The State of the Union Address President Trump, by all accounts, delivered a very direct, surprisingly inclusive, clearly-America-first State of the Union address last week. Polls indicate Republican and Independent approval of the speech in the 75-80% range and even Democratic voters gave him a mid-40% approval rating. On issue after issue, he pointed to clear evidence of the success of his policies and approaches, coupled with a clear vision for moving the country forward. His harshest critics, the ones who will never concede to him even the smallest smidgeon of credit, the ones to whom he is an “embarrassment,” an “aberration,” had their minds made up about his SOTU speech before he uttered even a single word. Their take on his dynamic, inspiring performance was—sadly, predictably— “Well, he did a pretty good job of reading a speech that someone else wrote, but in my mind, he doesn’t deserve credit for that.” As if every president doesn’t “read a speech that someone else wrote.” The president may or may not actually write a majority (or any!) of the speech itself, but regardless, the speech is directly, accurately reflective of the president’s policies, plans and future strategies. The president edits, shapes, tweaks and ultimately approves the speech. The SOTU speech is the president’s speech, regardless of the actual authorship. The written/spoken line, “We’re going to keep Guantanamo Bay open” was as indisputably Trump’s as “I’m going to close Guantanamo Bay” was Obama’s. Regardless of who originally wrote it, those lines represent each president’s intended policy and they each deserve the credit or criticism as appropriate. That’s the way it is with the entire SOTU speech…and with every speech given by any president, for that matter. However, much to his opponents’ unending irritation, President Trump has an unambiguous, clear, and yes, inspiring manner of expression. He is capable of reaching and convincing a significant portion of the undecided “casually-attentive” voting bloc. That talent was clearly on display this past January 30th. The sophisticated liberal sect and their liberal media allies would never succumb to such a simplistic, transparent presentation. Instead, they purport to see right through his rhetoric, as if it was nothing more than the intentionally-misleading, disingenuous pap of an old-time snake-oil huckster. Unfortunately for the Democrats in Congress and CNN/MSNBC, Pre[...]



​Code is Law – Social Media and Our Collapsing Institutions

2018-02-02T02:40:52Z

Warren Henry is the pen name of an Illinois attorney who writes an annoyingly compact and nuanced email that I receive. Annoying to me, because apparently his purpose is to “question his priors” and his emails often contain enough OTOH’s to leave one begging for a positive affirmation that does so in no uncertain terms. […]Warren Henry is the pen name of an Illinois attorney who writes an annoyingly compact and nuanced email that I receive. Annoying to me, because apparently his purpose is to “question his priors” and his emails often contain enough OTOH’s to leave one begging for a positive affirmation that does so in no uncertain terms. He is undoubtedly a very thorough lawyer. One of his latest missives deals with technology – social media in particular – and the dangerous collapsing of institutions in terms of trust, but also in terms of how they are run. He links to a wonderfully written if alarmist article in Buzzfeed by the site’s political editor Katherine Miller titled: Donald Trump, #Me Too, Facebook, And The Breakdown Of Institutional Power. In her article she links the sex abuse scandals by the powerful towards those who lack it, to the general degradation of institutions: Smash the exterior of an institution and you may reveal catacombs of cruelty, shame, sickness, all the terrible things people with power can do to those without it in the corridor of a hotel suite, inside an office, inside a home, in small places you feel you are not meant to be. After wondering why our institutions do not foster and protect virtue, or kindness (she leads her list with the church and the military, two of the institutions that try to do precisely that and have not fallen nearly as far as somewhere like Hollywood or mainstream media or Congress) she turns to the new institutions of social media: And then there’s all of us, consuming this weird year through our phones, living inside new institutions that are mind-blowing in scale and horribly ill-equipped for the task of handling us. Or is it that we are ill-equipped to handle the way we interact on social media platforms and the way we seek out information on them? The connected global village (to use a phrase that is so quaint nowadays it seems hopelessly archaic) has turned out to be a rather toxic place. Back when people didn’t laugh at you for using phrases like “global village”, radical academic Lawrence Lessig wrote this: Ours is the age of cyberspace. It, too, has a regulator. This regulator, too, threatens liberty. But so obsessed are we with the idea that liberty means “freedom from government” that we don’t even see the regulation in this new space. We therefore don’t see the threat to liberty that this regulation presents. This regulator is code — the software and hardware that make cyberspace as it is … For unless we can understand how cyberspace can embed, or displace, values from our constitutional tradition, we will lose control over those values. I can barely write a few (mostly wrong) lines of code in Python or HTML, but let me just say it’s really the software we’re talking about here when we say code. No kidding huh? But to the bigger point: Code is Law. That seems to be the creed for hacktivists whether related to Wikileaks or to the fact that you were dumb/unlucky enough to let som[...]



​FBI Deputy Director McCabe’s Terminal Leave, Howie Kurtz’s Book & That Memo

2018-01-31T02:28:16Z

I’m guessing that Howie Kurtz doesn’t spend as much on grooming as Michael Wolff does. And he likely will never have Hillary Clinton read from his book at the Grammy Awards. But if I had to decide which book – Kurtz’s Media Madness or Wolff’s Fire and Fury – has better journalistic standards, it wouldn’t even be close. And […]I’m guessing that Howie Kurtz doesn’t spend as much on grooming as Michael Wolff does. And he likely will never have Hillary Clinton read from his book at the Grammy Awards. But if I had to decide which book – Kurtz’s Media Madness or Wolff’s Fire and Fury – has better journalistic standards, it wouldn’t even be close. And it might be that now-former-although-not-quite-yet-retired-due-to-pension-considerations Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe agrees with me. He has announced his retirement on the Monday after portions of Media Madness suggested he was possibly part of an entrapment scheme involving then White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus back about a year ago in February 2017. Ok, actually McCabe’s on “terminal leave” effective immediately until he official retires in mid-March when he becomes eligible for a full pension. So what does Kurtz’s book say about McCabe that seems to have precipitated in part at least his sudden “terminal leave.” According to Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, here’s how Kurtz’s book detailed how the scheme/process worked. McCabe drops by the White House around February, 2017 to tell Priebus that a NYTimes and by extension a related CNN story on supposed contacts between Trump aides and Russian Intelligence agents were false or “bulls–t.” Priebus apparently pointed to the TV screens which were obviously carrying the story 24-7 and asked if the FBI would publicly make some sort of statement to the same effect as what McCabe had just told Priebus personally. McCabe said he’d check to see what was possible and left. He then called later to say that he couldn’t comply with Priebus’ request. Director Comey then phoned a while later to say he couldn’t publicly say anything directly but that he would brief the Senate Intelligence Committee on the matter who would apparently then release the information that the FBI considered the NYT/CNN story false. About a week later a story broke on CNN that the FBI had turned down a request by Priebus to “knock down” the story on Trump aides meeting with Russian intel agents. The contents of the leaked story suggested that the FBI leaker had intimate knowledge of the conversation McCabe had with Priebus the week before. The story strongly suggested that Priebus had initiated the conversation and was possibly guilty of obstruction of justice. In June, Comey testified before Congress that the original NYT story was “not true.” The NYT insisted their sources in the FBI confirmed the story. As Mollie Hemingway puts it: There seems to be a disparity between what FBI officials tell reporters under the cloak of anonymity and what they admit under oath or to those more knowledgeable of the matters at hand. And she adds this: As Comey admitted under oath he did tell President Trump three times that Trump was not under investigation. These private statements to[...]



​Trump’s Offer – How Much is a Dreamer Worth?

2018-01-26T21:03:31Z

Where were you on Sunday, May 25th, 1986? I wasn’t there, as in holding hands from one end of continental America to the other. I was somewhere else. But never mind. Hands Across America apparently linked around 6.5 million people from one coast to the other, raising money and awareness though for exactly what isn’t […]Where were you on Sunday, May 25th, 1986? I wasn’t there, as in holding hands from one end of continental America to the other. I was somewhere else. But never mind. Hands Across America apparently linked around 6.5 million people from one coast to the other, raising money and awareness though for exactly what isn’t too clear all these years later. And it’s not quite clear that hands were linked all across every single yard. Also, people lined up 6 to 10 deep in cities that the route deliberately went through, following a zig zag pattern to be able to include populated metropolises. So it’s hard to say how many people actually and truly linking hands it would take to cover every single yard of the southern border. How about 690,000? The original number of registered Dreamers if you will who signed up for DACA. It’s a long border isn’t it? From Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California it’s almost two thousand miles, all the way. 1,954 to be exact. So how much is each Dreamer worth as a bargaining chip? That sounds a tad medieval doesn’t it, especially when you throw in language like chain migration. Gives Democrats like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris a chance to weep and grandstand and polish up there safe-space skills for 2020. But that’s exactly what’s going on right now with the White House’s release of a broad deal on immigration. It’s what’s been haggled and negotiated over in explicit terms since the Trump administration announced early last September that it was letting DACA expire on March 5, 2018. How much will we give you for the wall Mr. President and how many Dreamers will you give us for our cherished amnesty? That’s the question that’s been coming from the Democrats, and from their GOP allies like Graham and Collins. Even if they don’t frame it that way. And Trump has just given them his answer. 20 Billion for the wall + 5 billion for added non-wall border security including the border with Canada + 5 billion to hire additional border agents and immigration judges. That’s 30 billion in total. And let’s please not forget that Trump’s deal also means: Ending the visa lottery Restricting family immigration to members of the immediate family. No abuelas hombre. But returning to the wall, let’s divide that 30 billion by not 690,000 but now by 1.1 million + 690,000 which adds up to almost 1.8 million registered and unregistered Dreamers. Which is Trump’s offer. That works out to a little over $16,700 of additional border security (wall and non-wall) per Dreamer. For a wall that will cost a little over $10 million per mile. Assuming these numbers are anywhere near actual costs. Ridiculous isn’t it? Actually no it isn’t ridiculous. Not in the least bit. This will help solve – and help further prevent – a decades if not generations old problem that has affected entitlement costs and the costs of other public goods in America, and has had[...]



​What Would it Mean if There Was a Secret Society in the FBI?

2018-01-24T23:59:26Z

A Starbucks in suburban Virginia. Maybe one of the ones near Arlington National Cemetery. Five men in their forties and early fifties in jeans and windbreakers huddle in the parking lot. The tallest one – really tall – tells a worried-looking younger man, the youngest of the group: I swear to God, I will never, […]A Starbucks in suburban Virginia. Maybe one of the ones near Arlington National Cemetery. Five men in their forties and early fifties in jeans and windbreakers huddle in the parking lot. The tallest one – really tall – tells a worried-looking younger man, the youngest of the group: I swear to God, I will never, ever forget. Do you understand now? The worried younger guy gulps and says Yes. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? So, the point being that according to Texas GOP Rep John Ratcliffe – who’s also Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity – there is a reference to a “secret society” within the FBI, in the texts exchanged between FBI Agent Strzok and former FBI Attorney Page. Of which now there appears to be a few months of missing texts – from mid December 2016 to May 2017, when Mueller was appointed special prosecutor. Close to 50,000 texts apparently, gone, missing in action. Due to a glitch. Let’s take a leap of conspiratorial speculation and assume for a moment there may have been (or still be) a rogue group within the FBI, and this is what the words “secret society” refer to. We have no idea at this point what evidence there may be of their purpose. We can guess, however, that it would involve spreading incriminating information – or disinformation – on the Trump campaign, then on the Trump transition team, and finally, on the Trump administration itself. All in order to prevent, and then frustrate, and perhaps resist an elected administration. Or even help overturn it. Do they have secret codewords and rotate their meetings between parking lots around Northern Virginia and D.C.? Uh, no, surely not. In other words, the evidence that any supposed group of FBI employees might have or might still exist will have to be parsed from convoluted, bureaucratic procedures, and mountains of partial evidence that on it’s own may appear trivial at times but within a larger context may prove damning. But why do we have to go looking for a secret society? When former intel chiefs are in the media warning of the dangers of President Trump? When Sally Yates – Deputy Attorney General and Acting Attorney General for 10 days in January 2017 – defied her new boss over the first travel ban, rather than resign. She sided with the 9th Circuit rather than the White House, stating: For as long as I am the acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of th[is] executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so. Did you applaud? Would you care if I pointed to Scalia’s dissent in Morrison v. Olson in 1988, and how it illuminates the entire special counsel/independent counsel dilemma? If you applauded you don’t care about Scalia’s theory of the “unitary executive” of which the Department of Justice is part. Trump shouldn’t be president and Sally Yat[...]



​Angry Phone Calls in Maryland & Revenge Porn Leaks

2018-01-19T19:31:51Z

From David Frum’s Philip Roth-like cover story in Atlantic few days after President Trump’s election – one that echoed Roth’s The Plot Against America – to Chelsea Handler practically pleading and insulting on Twitter with America’s military brass to launch a coup last summer. From the anarchist and resistance protests on Inauguration Day that left […]From David Frum’s Philip Roth-like cover story in Atlantic few days after President Trump’s election – one that echoed Roth’s The Plot Against America – to Chelsea Handler practically pleading and insulting on Twitter with America’s military brass to launch a coup last summer. From the anarchist and resistance protests on Inauguration Day that left cars torched and stores vandalized to the constant leaks and half-truths from government employees that can have the vengeful salaciousness of revenge porn. From Ross Douthat suggesting that the Trump administration should use the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from the office of President of the United States to which he was duly elected, to Maryland Democratic Rep Jamie Raskin proposing a bill to essentially declare Trump mentally unfit for office. Aggressive, even extreme, and occasionally explicitly violent. All in the name of nullifying November 8, 2016. And in ways that would undermine America’s Republic long after this administration is gone. Look to countries like Turkey or Argentina, if you need a clue to some of the things that could happen. They won’t of course. America will never descend to those levels, as much as many in the Resistance are blindly encouraging processes that would nudge the country in undesirable directions. But never mind any of that. It’s all part of the #Resistance by any means, it seems. And apparently, there’s a real and dangerous threat of violence that recently happened. As stated above Maryland Democrat Raskin has continually pushed for a committee in Congress to analyze and of course declare President Trump unfit for office. And he recently had the support of a group of psychiatrists who blatantly disregard the Goldwater Rule – don’t analyze someone who has not been in your office for therapy, analysis etc. – and declared Trump a danger to the human race in hysterical and alarmist tones. You’re welcome Kim Jong-un. One of those is Associate Professor Bandy X. Lee (of Yale) who was scheduled to speak with Baskin at a Maryland seniors center. According to Baskin and Bandy Lee – sorry but I do not consider them impartial purveyors of the supposed events – angry Trump supporters threatened the gathering and they had to cancel. Thereby proving their thesis that President Trump will blow up the world anytime soon now. Did they get angry phone calls? Yes, it is likely and no, it isn’t a good thing. Letting them instead reveal their theory’s ridiculousness is a much better way to dissipate their fear-mongering. But it is absurd to suggest that humanity is threatened because, for example, Trump is taking a tougher stand on North Korea, and further, that some angry calls to a senior center in Maryland is confirmation of this absurd belief on Lee and Baskin’s part. The doom and disaster p[...]



If Democrats Take the House, They’ll Impeach Trump

2018-01-18T14:08:16Z

If Democrats Take the House, They’ll Impeach Trump © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Historically, the first mid-term elections in a new president’s first term result in major losses for the President’s party. The most famous recent example was in 1994, following the 1992 election of Bill Clinton. In spite of Clinton’s oratory skill, […]If Democrats Take the House, They’ll Impeach Trump © 2018 Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved. Historically, the first mid-term elections in a new president’s first term result in major losses for the President’s party. The most famous recent example was in 1994, following the 1992 election of Bill Clinton. In spite of Clinton’s oratory skill, favorable media coverage and appealing looks/smooth demeanor, the 1994 mid-terms were a disaster for the Democrats. Led by the “villainous, scary” Newt Gingrich, Republicans won 54 House seats. In what came to be called the “Republican Revolution,” they wrested Congressional control away from Democrats for the first time since 1952. Once in control, Gingrich instituted his Contract with America programs, a series of Congressional initiatives designed to implement what the Republicans felt was their electoral mandate from the populace. The liberal media hated Gingrich and the Republicans and resented their victory tremendously, ceaselessly deriding the Republican-controlled efforts and referring to it as the “Contract on America.” Similarly, during Ronald Reagan’s first term in 1982, his Republican Party lost 27 Congressional seats, despite Reagan’s overwhelmingly lopsided presidential victory over the hapless Jimmy Carter just two short years prior. It appears that even popular presidents coming off strong wins are susceptible to profound Congressional losses in the first contest out of the gate. The Republicans may well lose control of Congress in 2018 for the first time since 2006. This is significant, because one of the things a Congressional majority has the power to do is bring articles of impeachment against a sitting president. In recent (post-World War II) history, this has only been done once, when the Republican House voted in 1998 to impeach President Clinton for his alleged lying under oath and obstruction of justice during the Monica Lewinsky matter. It certainly would also have happened during the President Nixon/Watergate affair in 1974, but President Nixon resigned before any formal charges were brought. The standard for Congress to level charges against a sitting president are a clear and willful commission on the president’s part of “high crimes and misdemeanors” against the country, such that the rule of law, national security or the common good is grievously threatened. It’s an inexact standard, to be sure, subject to the political whims and mood of the controlling Congressional party. To say that Democratic politicians in DC, Hillary’s 60+ million voters and the liberal mainstream media regard President Trump as an illegitimate president is an understatement. They have been complaining and protesting his presence in the Oval Office since day one, starting with their invention of “Crowdgate,” where they purported to show how much bigger President Obama’s Inauguration Day attendance was [...]