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Commentary on politics and the continuation of policy by other means.

Updated: 2018-02-17T15:45:46.119-06:00


LeBron James damages his brand by going political


The Hill:
Fox News host Laura Ingraham reignited a feud this week over whether athletes should get political.

Ingraham on her show suggested NBA stars shouldn't talk politics, telling Kevin Durant and LeBron James to "shut up and dribble." Durant and LeBron in a video had criticized President Trump.

Multiple players rallied against Ingraham, and Durant called her comments "racist."

The feud follows the recent debate, centered around the NFL football season, over whether players should use their platform for political statements.

Last year, Trump sparked a national controversy over players who protest police brutality and racism by kneeling during the national anthem before games. He called for NFL team owners to fire players who don't stand.
The reality is that the NFL players hurt the league and their future earnings by getting political and buying into the "hands up, don't shoot" lie that came out of events in Ferguson.

NB players are making the same mistake by alienating a large portion of their audience and fan base by pursuing a ruinous victimization narrative.   Multi-millionaires make poor spokesmen for victimization.  They can expect to see their sneaker and jersey business also fade as well as their appeal to advertisers.

It is a mistake to call Ingraham's statement racists since she actually wrote a book telling entertainers in Hollywood to do the same thing.  It was called Shutup and Sing.(image)

FBI's failure to pursue lead in Florida shooting is strike three for significant screw ups by the agency


Washington Post:
FBI’s misstep in Florida case brings more scrutiny to bureau at a precarious time

Conservatives already had been reviewing the bureau’s handling of two hotly charged political matters: the Russia probe and the now-closed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
The Clinton "investigation" was an absolute sham from beginning to end.  On top of that, the FBI embraced the Steele dossier paid for by Hillary using third-hand hearsay from Russians whom she also paid.  Both of these screw ups were the result of the political bias of senior people in the FBI against Donald Trump.

Then FBI inexplicably failed to follow up a tip about a threat to kill school children.

The first two screw ups made it almost impossible for the administration to move against the Russian meddling.(image)

The media and Democrats Russian collusion narrative have hampered response to meddling


NY Times:

Trump’s Silence Leaves Struggle Against Russia Without Leader

    After more than a dozen Russians were charged with interfering in the 2016 elections, President Trump’s first reaction was to claim “no collusion.”
    But an indictment secured by the special counsel underscored the broader conclusion that Russia is engaged in a virtual war against the United States.
The media's push of the Democrat narrative about Trump campaign collusion with the Russians made it impossible for the President to get actively involved in fighting the meddling.  Many in the media are now denying that they were involved in such a narrative, but they are still reporting on Adam's Schiff's push of the bogus charges.

They want to charge the president with treason and act like it had no impact on events.  Where is the apology for the false allegations? 

BTW, Trump did sign the sanctions against Russia passed by Congress because of the meddling.  Perhaps he can do more now that spurious allegations are no longer part of the narrative.  Or the Democrats can try to keep them alive to show that they hate the President more than they want to do something about Russian interference.(image)

A misguided attack on Ted Cruz


Washington Post:
A host called Ted Cruz ‘afraid’ to talk guns on CNN. Then the senator showed that he had.

Called out by Chris Cuomo, the senator from Texas tweeted a photo of himself in front of a mic and asked when it would air.
CNN let its hostility toward conservatives show with its attack on Cruz whose IQ is probably greater than the combined IQ of the news crew and host of CNN.(image)

Trump's Russian hoax claim was tied to a challenge to his legitimacy, he is right to feel vindicated


NY Times:

Indictments Make Trump Hoax Claim Harder to Sell

By laying out in excruciating detail the evidence of Russian meddling spanning the last four years, the special counsel instantly created a new political reality for President Trump.
Trump is not a lawyer and does not speak with the precision of one when he talks about things like the charge that his election was tainted by Russian interference.  He objected to the assertion that his win was the result of Russian interference.  The Mueller indictments demonstrate that Trump was right about that.  The media is probably disappointed to learn that because many of them hoped that Trump's win could be attributed to the Russian.  That is why we get stories like this one that judges his comments on a more expansive measure of what constitutes a hoax.

It is clear from Deputy AG Rosensteins comments that the attempted interference did not effect the election.  Indeed, the media would be hard-pressed to find anyone whose vote was actually changed by the meddling.  I know mine was not.  I think that is what Trump was talking about when he said the word hoax.  I think opinion pieces like this one in the Times are an attempt to justify the previous run of bias stories against Trump.  It is a way of trying to avoid the fact that Trump's election was legitimate.

The collusion story has also been shown to be a hoax.  It was one perpetrated by the media and by the Democrats.  The attempt at self-congratulations by the media at this point is misplaced.(image)

Democrats lose again after Mueller indictments show no collusion


Michael Goodwin:
After 18 months of Russia, Russia, Russia, we finally meet a cast of real Russians. But par for the convoluted course, they were pretending to be Americans.

The indictments obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller on Vladimir Putin’s attempts to create discord in the 2016 election and eventually support Donald Trump are important both for what they say and what they don’t say.

They offer huge victories for Trump — and thus more defeats for Hillary Clinton — but they don’t close the books on everything about 2016.

The very good news for the president is that the indictments are firm in saying that any Americans contacted by the 13 charged Russians, including Trump campaign associates, did not know they were dealing with Russians.

The indictments also state forcefully that despite their social media efforts, which ranged from creative to clumsy, the Russians had no impact on the election results.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced those findings in a flat monotone that belied their significance.

“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” he said. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Those are dramatic statements by any measure.

Rosenstein’s statements should end Clinton’s disgraceful claim that Trump stole the election.
This is a devastating blow to those who hoped to find some evidence to justify a coup attempt against Trump.  Whether they will finally surrender to reality may be another question.  They are still too invested in their Trump hatred to just move on at this point I suspect.(image)

The failed leadership of the FBI


Roger Simon:
It's bad enough for a law enforcement agency to be biased. It's even worse for it to be biased and incompetent.

But the latter seems to be an apt characterization of our Federal Bureau of Investigation in the wake of the killings in Parkland, Florida, where, by their own admission, the organization overlooked warnings about the killer that could have saved seventeen students and teachers from mass murder. This is no mere bureaucratic slip-up and the demand by Governor Scott for the resignation of FBI Director Wray is understandable considering the number of dead children in his state.

The incompetence, moreover, is not just restricted to Parkland. It pervades an institution that—frequently blinded by the most rote political correctness—interviewed and then released terrorists who ultimately perpetrated horrific attacks from the Boston Marathon to the Orlando nightclub massacre. (There are several more.)

Those, to be kind, oversights demonstrate aspects of bias mixed with incompetence, but that lethal combination became yet more apparent throughout the Russian collusion investigation. For the last few weeks we have been digesting the nauseating probability that the FBI used a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and ginned up by an assembly of creepy political hatchet men and women (Blumenthal, Shearer, Steele, two Ohrs, etc.) with input from various "friends of the Kremlin" in order to spy on an American citizen and, undoubtedly, Donald Trump, before and after he became president.
There is much more.

The liberal bias appears as insidious at the FBI as it is in the mainstream media.  It leads to poor judgment and sloppiness.  It could use a healthy dose of discipline imposed by a Marine Corps general and sergeant-major.(image)

Do not wallow in victimhood


Fox News:
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said in a rare public appearance Thursday he’s exhausted with how everyone seems to consider themselves a victim these days.

“At some point, we’re going to be fatigued with everybody being the victim,” Thomas, the second African American to serve on the Supreme Court, said during an on-stage interview at the Library of Congress in Washington.

Thomas, a conservative appointed to the bench in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, recalled recently being with a young black woman in Kansas who told him, “I’m really tired of having to play the role of being black. I just want to go to school.”

“I just get worn down,” Thomas said.

The justice said his grandfather had a tough life but never considered himself a victim.

“When I was a kid, there were tons of people who were in really bad circumstances,” Thomas said. “My grandfather would not let us wallow in that.”

Thomas added: “He’s my hero. He’s the single greatest human being I’ve ever met. With nine months of education. But he never saw himself as a victim.”
I share his disdain for the culture of victimhood.  I think it holds people back from achieving their potential.  People with a determination to succeed can overcome obstacles placed in front of them.  They should never accept that their failures are permanent.(image)

Who knew?


PJ Media:
Study Reveals That More Cops Means Less Crime
Sometimes it is an issue of the force to space ratio.  You can eliminate crime on a given spot if you have enough police in that same area.(image)

Session orders a review of FBI's failure to follow up on tip about Florida school shooter


The Hill:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ordering a review of the FBI and Justice Department's procedures after the bureau revealed it had failed to act on a tip about the teenager accused of carrying out a deadly mass shooting in Florida.

“It is now clear that the warning signs were there and tips to the FBI were missed. We see the tragic consequences of those failures," Sessions said in a statement Friday.

“The FBI in conjunction with our state and local partners must act flawlessly to prevent all attacks. This is imperative, and we must do better."

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will conduct the review, he said.

The FBI acknowledged on Friday that it had failed to act on a tip it received in January from someone close to the accused shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

The tipster warned about Cruz's gun ownership, mental stability and desire to kill, and expressed concern that he could potentially carry out a school shooting. The FBI did not investigate the claims, nor did it notify its Miami field office of the tip.
Who took the tip and what did they do with it?  Why wasn't it referred to the Florida field office for a follow up?(image)

Mueller indicts 13 Russians, finds no evidence of collusion by Trump campaign


Indictments could be 'short-term relief' for Trump administration Indictments could be 'short-term relief' for Trump administration
34 Mins Ago | 05:36
Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday released a surprise indictment of 13 Russian individuals and three Russian entities alleged to have sown discord through "information warfare" in then-candidate Donald Trump's favor during the 2016 presidential election.

The 37-page document outlines specific ways in which Russia, through numerous individuals and organizations, sought to influence the election — from abroad, online and on U.S. soil.

Here are some of the most important quotes:

  • The so-called Internet Research Agency, a Russian corporate entity registered in July 2013, "sought, in part, to conduct what it called 'information warfare against the United States of America' through fictitious U.S. personas on social media platforms and other Internet-based media.'"
  • The Internet Research Agency "focused on the U.S. population and conducted operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter."
  • "By in or around May 2014, the organization's strategy included interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the stated goal of 'spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.'"
  • The defendants sought disruption by staging events for and against Trump after the election: "After the election of Donald Trump in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election."
  • It goes on: "For example, in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally in New York through one organization-controlled group designed to 'show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump' held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through another organization-controlled group, organized a rally in New York called 'Trump is NOT my President' held on or about November 12, 2016. Similarly, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally entitled 'Charlotte Against Trump' in Charlotte, North Carolina, held on or about November 19, 2016."
  • The defendants attempted to discourage African-American turnout in the election: "In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their organization-controlled personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate."

It is interesting that the Democrats quickly embraced the "Not my President" theme and still use it.  I think the Russians greatest success was tricking Democrats into a virulent opposition to the President.  No Americans were found to be knowingly involved with the Russian ploy.  That is a crushing defeat for people like Adam Schiff and many in the media who pushed the bogus collusion scam.(image)

Media seems not to notice immigration ideologues in the Democrat party


Washington Post:
Immigration failure shows the ideologues are ascendant in the Trump White House

President Trump could have gotten his border wall. Democrats were willing to cave on that in exchange for saving the “dreamers.” That would have fulfilled the president’s single biggest campaign promise. But then Trump moved the goal posts.
The Democrats staked out a position that is unpopular with voters.  A large majority favor doing away with chain migration and the immigration lottery.  Those were the two issues that Democrats balked on and I suspect it was because they see people who come on that system rather than a merit system as more likely to be Democrat voters. 

A merit-based system would bring in smarter and more capable people not based on any race or creed.  Democrats must fear smart people becoming citizens.  They are less likely to be dependent so they do not fit their preferred demographic.

Polling shows that voters overwhelmingly favor a merit-based immigration system.  Republicans should hammer Democrats on that issue.(image)

Are the charges against Netanyahu an Israeli coup attempt?


NY Times:

In Netanyahu’s Israel, the Divisiveness Is Now All About Him

Israeli politics has always been noisily contentious, but with the prime minister facing possible bribery charges, the toxicity threatens to reach new heights.
I do not know the political motivations of those behind the allegations against Netanyahu, but they seem strange.  Netanyahu has been an effective Prime Minister for Israel who has managed to grow support for the country despite a hostile environment in several quarters including the UN and EU. 

I frankly do not understand the support for the Palestinians by these entities.  The Palestinians have become a beggar culture run by leaders who enrich themselves by skimming the donations of others and provide crumbs to their people.  They produce nothing of value and have a weak argument for ties to the land that Israel claims.

Netanyahu has been winning elections despite opposition from politicians like Obama and some in Europe.  Israel is a prosperous country that is developing natural resources and has one of the highest standards of living in the region.  I just find the charges puzzling.  They look like an attempt to take down a leader that they cannot takedown politically.(image)

US gives Pakistan a target list of terrorists to pickup or take down


The Trump administration has given Pakistan a new “hit list” of nearly a dozen top militants to detain, to show its willingness to fight terrorism, but the U.S. won’t share intelligence that would help lead to their capture, and has snubbed Pakistani requests to meet CIA chief Mike Pompeo in Washington, a senior Pakistani official tells The Cipher Brief.

In response, senior U.S. administration officials would only say that Washington has asked Pakistan to take “specific” action against the Taliban and the Haqqani network, which have been blamed for recent violent attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan. The officials tell The Cipher Brief that Pakistan’s intelligence service and military have failed to sever ties with either militant group and continue to protect their top leaders within Pakistani territory.

“We have seen Pakistan take some modest steps that appear to be responsive to some of our concerns, but we haven’t seen the decisive action against the Taliban and Haqqani network,” one of the officials said. “They are doing the minimum necessary to alleviate the pressure.”

The he-said, she-said highlights the continued tension between the Trump administration and Islamabad that spiked in January when President Donald Trump greeted the new year by tweeting that Pakistan has shown “nothing but lies and deceit” in return for U.S. aid.

Two Pakistani officials say that since that tweet, Islamabad has turned over more than two-dozen militants to Afghanistan who were on an earlier list of militants the U.S. asked Pakistan to “lawfully detain.” That includes the senior leaders of the Haqqani network, the official said. Siraj Haqqani is at the top of that list, as he’s wanted by the FBI for his roles in running military operations for both the Haqqani network and the Taliban, according to Bill Roggio of FDD’s Long War Journal.

The officials said they don’t believe the high-level targets on the new U.S. list are in Pakistan, and they griped that the U.S. won’t share coordinates of where the high-level targets are, even though Pakistan has “offered to fly U.S. operatives anywhere in Pakistan and bomb whatever they tell us to bomb,” one of the officials said.
This seems like a reasonable approach to the problem, But it is probably hampered by Pakistan's lack of a robust response to the project.  It has always been a country that does the absolute minimum when it comes to dealing with teh terrorists within its borders.(image)

Mueller's staffing shows questionable judgment


Sara Carter:
Mueller’s ‘Pit Bull’ Andrew Weissmann Busted for Withholding Evidence in Previous Case

“Reprehensible and subject, perhaps, to appropriate disciplinary measures”
Early in my legal career, I prosecuted fraud cases for the State of Texas.  I found that the most effective way to deal with a fraud crime was to tightly draw the indictment by alleging only unarguable counts. 

I had no problem providing defense attorneys with evidence to support the indictment.  What usually happened was a guilty plea.  I think the big mistake some prosecutors make is to overcharge in hopes that something will stick.  This tends to make the case too complicated for a jury to follow and gives the defense wiggle room to challenge the whole case. 

I see no excuse for withholding evidence the other side is entitled to see.(image)

Law enforcement not buying Democrat spin that Trump is against them


Paul Bedard:
Law enforcement is pushing back hard on Democratic charges that President Trump’s criticism of top FBI and Justice officials is a demoralizing attack on the rank and file, with one top cop saying there is “no doubt” that Trump has been better for police than former President Obama.

“The majority of law enforcement is very, very pleased with this administration because he truly does support law enforcement and it doesn’t matter at what level. He supports law enforcement and that’s very important,” said Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas, and president of the National Sheriffs’ Association.
Eavenson, overseeing the group’s legislative meeting in Washington this week, said he has heard support for Trump from the streets to the management of the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

“I have talked with some of those guys at the supervisor level down to the agent level and they are absolutely enthralled with President Trump. They like him because they can do their the job the way it is supposed to be done,” he said in an interview.
There is much more.

This is another reason why people should not trust Rep. Adam Schiff when he talks about the FBI abuses by senior management.  Trump is much more supportive than Barack Obama was whose first response seem to be to blame the cops.(image)

The US deep state of political espionage


George Neumeyer:John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, gives himself this description on his Twitter account: “Nonpartisan American who is very concerned about our collective future.” In other words, Brennan is still in the disinformation business.Liberal partisan who is very concerned about our collectivist future — that would be a more apt description for one of the most politicized CIA directors ever, whose ascent to the top of the CIA began with a lie-detector test in which he revealed that he was a supporter of the Soviet-controlled American Communist party.Brennan was the fox guarding the henhouse — a role he played to the hilt for Hillary Clinton in 2016 as he set in motion a sham investigation into the Trump campaign. NBC recently signed Brennan up as a “national security” correspondent. So the fox will now get to comment on the henhouse he raided.Where are the successors to the Kalb brothers to tsk-tsk news programs for using as “correspondents” on a story figures who have a vested interest in its outcome? Brennan is under Congressional investigation for possible perjury. But instead of challenging his yarn-spinning about the Steele dossier, NBC gives him a platform to continue it. How much longer before the media adds Sally Yates, Susan Rice, and (if they could get him) Christopher Steele as “correspondents”? What a farce.Last week, in keeping with the media’s ho-hum atmosphere of normalized political espionage, Jonathan Winer blandly outed himself as a State Department cog in Obamagate. He made his role in it — briefing John Kerry and company on the Hillary-financed Steele dossier in the heat of the campaign, then passing material from Cody Shearer, another dirt-diver for Hillary, to Steele (who then gave it to the FBI) — sound like just another day at the State Department.Part of Kerry’s retinue of conspiracy-minded radicals — Winer once tried to write a film treatment for Oliver Stone (see Eric Hamburg’s JFK, Nixon, Oliver Stone, and Me) — Winer works hard to affect a nonchalance about it all, casting his friendship with Steele and Sidney Blumenthal in a nonpartisan light (he met Blumenthal, he hastens to tell us in a laughable virtue-signaling aside, during the righteous days of Iran-Contra when Blumenthal “was a reporter at The Post”). Winer plays dumb about Shearer, calling him absurdly a “journalist” whose work “I did not know.” But once apprised of his Trump-Russian notes by Blumenthal, Winer decided — “on his own,” he guiltily emphasizes — to share them with Steele in order to get his “professional reaction.” You know, just one professional talking to another.He then primly informs us that he didn’t dare tell his colleagues about Shearer’s notes: “Given that I had not worked with Shearer and knew that he was not a professional intelligence officer, I did not mention or share his notes with anyone at the State Department. I did not expect them to be shared with anyone in the government.” Oh, but they were — by his trusted “professional” colleague Steele who just so happened to be an opposition researcher for Hillary. Winer writes the piece in a comically innocent and blameless tone — “I am in no position to judge the accuracy of the information generated by Steele or Shearer” — but then with considerable cheek (given that he is a blatant example of how the U.S. government interfered in the election) wraps up with a lecture about the Russian government and Trump: “I believe all Americans should be alarmed — and united in the search for the truth about Russian interference in our democracy, and [...]

Venezuelan despot worried about a US oil embargo


President Nicolas Maduro sharply warned Trump on Thursday not to ban Venezuelan oil from the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that the United States was considering a ban to pressure Maduro to adopt democratic reforms.

The oil embargo would be "one of the biggest mistakes in international politics that @realDonaldTrump would commit," Maduro tweeted Thursday after a press conference. He added: "The oil embargo is an illegal measure in light of international law, [and] an inconvenient measure in light of U.S. interests."

Experts say a U.S. ban would almost certainly choke off the South American nation's main source of income. Crude oil makes up about 95% of Venezuela's exports, and the government makes next to nothing domestically from taxes.

Related: Venezuela's oil production is plummeting

The Trump administration is considering the ban because Maduro's administration scheduled a presidential election on April 22 — without any competitors.

Maduro had blocked prominent opposition leaders from running, noting that they didn't participate in gubernatorial elections last year. Those elections, along with a critical vote in Julythat silenced the opposition, were dubbed fraudulent by world leaders. Trump and many others have labeled Maduro a dictator.

Trump has already imposed financial and individual sanctions on Venezuela and dozens of its leaders. But they haven't forced Maduro from office or forced him to govern more democratically.
Venezuelan refugees are already fleeing the country with the bulk of them going to Colombia.   Maduro appears to be a man incapable of comprehending how bad his policies are.  Instead, he blames others for his own failures and has enough lackeys around him to impose his failed policies on a shrinking population of shrinking bellies.

Bloomberg reports that refineries are already looking for new suppliers.  They should be looking to convert their refineries to using light crude like that from US shale wells.  That would lead to greater energy security and less reliance on imported oil.(image)

The CIA has a leak dilemma in New York court


Daily Caller:
Intelligence officials can selectively release classified information to trusted journalists while withholding the same information from other citizens who request it through open records laws, CIA lawyers argued Wednesday.

In a motion filed in New York federal court, the CIA claimed that limited disclosures to reporters do not waive national security exemptions to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies frequently deny records requests on the basis of protecting sensitive national security information, one of nine exemptions written into the federal FOIA law.

The case stems from lawsuit against the CIA by New York-based independent journalist Adam Johnson, who had used FOIA to obtain emails between the agency’s public information office and selected reporters from the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and The New York Times. The emails the CIA provided to Johnson were redacted, leading him to question why he was not allowed to see the same information that had been given to uncleared reporters.

Johnson challenged the redaction in court, arguing that the CIA, once it has selectively disclosed information to uncleared reporters, cannot claim the same information is protected by a FOIA exemption.

The judge in the case appeared to find Johnson’ argument compelling. In a court order last month, Chief Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York said FOIA laws do not authorize limited disclosure, to favored journalists or otherwise.

“In this case, CIA voluntarily disclosed to outsiders information that it had a perfect right to keep private,” she wrote. “There is absolutely no statutory provision that authorizes limited disclosure of otherwise classified information to anyone, including ‘trusted reporters,’ for any purpose, including the protection of CIA sources and methods that might otherwise be outed.

McMahon also said it didn’t matter if the journalists in question published the information they received, only if the CIA waived its right to deny the information.
It would be interesting to know who the leakers at the CIA were and what the purpose of the leaks were for.  Were the leaks for political purposes or were they in response to a story that was previously published? (image)

Russians were aware their mercenaries were attacking a US position in Syria


Eli Lake:...When reporters asked U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis about the incident, he called the whole thing perplexing. "I have no idea why they would attack there, the forces were known to be there, obviously the Russians knew," he said. "We have always known that there are elements in this very complex battle space that the Russians did not have, I would call it, control of."Now, it should be said that Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps General, is a very smart man. His perplexity in this case is probably what Plato called a "noble lie," a falsehood spoken by a leader to achieve a greater social good. If Mattis acknowledges the obvious -- that the Kremlin authorized a direct assault on a U.S.-sponsored base by non-uniformed personnel -- he risks an escalation spiral in Syria. Better to express bewilderment and give Russian President Vladimir Putin a chance to back down and deny culpability, which he ended up doing despite the heavy casualties suffered by his mercenaries. But make no mistake: There is overwhelming evidence that those Russian contractors were working at the behest of the Kremlin. What's more, the Russians knew U.S. military personnel were in Deir Ezzor, which has been part of successive agreements to separate, or "deconflict," forces fighting in Syria.Let's start with the fine reporting of my colleagues at Bloomberg News who discovered that the wounded mercenaries were flown out of Syria and treated at military hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg.U.S. officials who monitor Syria tell me that there is no doubt that the Russian military knew all about the attack in Deir Ezzor. Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia during the Obama administration, told me Thursday: "Any Russian mercenaries, whether they are in Ukraine or Syria, work for the Russian government." This is not an accident, particularly for the contractor in question, Wagner. One of its leaders, Dmitry Utkin, is a former lieutenant colonel in Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU. He and the firm have been closely tied to the oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef" because he owns the Kremlin's food-service providers.Contractors like Wagner are a key part of Russia's broader strategy of "hybrid warfare," a mix of kinetic and information aggression to advance Russian interests -- such as the deployment of fighters without uniforms that helped take Crimea from Ukraine in 2014."They help Russia obfuscate Russia's role in Syria," Matti Suomenaro, a researcher for the Institute for the Study of War told me this week. "In eastern Syria, the Russian Ministry of Defense can say, 'We don't know they were doing this.' But it's very likely this had some kind of direction from higher-ups in the Kremlin."...The Russians were actually talking with the US on their deconfliction channel when the attack was taking place.  It is unlikely that they were not aware of the composition of the forces attacking the US position.  That stretches credulity to a breaking point.What seems clear is that Russia has learned the limits of it hybrid warfare strategy.  Those forces had some success in Ukraine which does not have a robust air war ability.  The US was able to attack teh Russian mercenaries with an array of weapons from Reaper drones which took out a Russian tank, to attack helicopters and conventional fighter jets.  The Russians were unable to respond without giving away their "plausible deniability."I think the US response was also [...]

Media was complicit in bogus Russian collusion story


Lee Smith:Half the country wants to know why the press won’t cover the growing scandal now implicating the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice, and threatening to reach the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, and perhaps even the Obama White House.After all, the release last week of a less-redacted version of Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s January 4 letter showed that the FBI secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to search the communications of a Trump campaign adviser based on a piece of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The Fourth Amendment rights of an American citizen were violated to allow one political party to spy on another.If the press did its job and reported the facts, the argument goes, then it wouldn’t just be Republicans and Trump supporters demanding accountability and justice. Americans across the political spectrum would understand the nature and extent of the abuses and crimes touching not just on one political party and its presidential candidate but the rights of every American.That’s all true, but irrelevant. The reasons the press won’t cover the story are suggested in the Graham-Grassley letter itself.The letter details how Christopher Steele, the former British spy who allegedly authored the documents claiming ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, told the FBI he wasn’t talking to the press about his investigation. In a British court, however, Steele acknowledged briefing several media organizations on the material in his dossier.According to the British court documents, Steele briefed the New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo! News, The New Yorker, and CNN. In October, he talked to Mother Jones reporter David Corn by Skype. It was Corn’s October 31 article anonymously sourced to Steele that alerted the FBI their informant was speaking to the press. Grassley and Graham referred Steele to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation because he lied to the FBI.The list of media outfits and journalists made aware of Steele’s investigations is extensive. Reuters reported that it, too, was briefedon the dossier, and while it refrained from reporting on it before the election, its national security reporter Mark Hosenball became an advocate of the dossier’s findings after November 2016.BBC’s Paul Wood wrote in January 2017 that he was briefed on the dossier a week before the election. Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald likely saw Steele’s work around the same time, because he published an article days before the election based on a “Western intelligence” source (i.e., Steele) who cited names and data points that could only come from the DNC- and Clinton-funded opposition research.A line from the Grassley-Graham letter points to an even larger circle of media outfits that appear to have been in contact with either Steele or Fusion GPS, the Washington DC firm that contracted him for the opposition research the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee commissioned. “During the summer of 2016,” the Grassley-Graham letter reads, “reports of some of the dossier allegations began circulating among reporters and people involved in Russian issues.”Indeed, it looks like Steele and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson may have persuaded a number of major foreign policy and national security writers in Washington and New York that Trump and his team were in league with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Those j[...]

The destruction of 'little green men' forces attacking a US position in Syria show the weakness of the strategy


Bill Gertz:
Mercenaries Killed in Syria Were Part of Russian-Backed Hybrid Force

Wagner private army funded and armed by Russian intelligence, Ukraine says
While the strategy had some success in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine, it was a disaster when it came up against a force that could respond with combined arms attacks and air superiority.  That is probably good news for NATO if Putin attempts such "little green men" attacks against US allies in Europe.(image)

Another company repatriates $67 billion because of new tax law


Wall Street Journal:
Cisco to Bring $67 Billion to U.S. After New Tax Law

Company expects to spend much of the newly repatriated cash on share buybacks and dividends
While their expenditures of teh returned profits may not be what many would prefer, the money will enter into the US economy and those who sell their stock in Intel will reinvest it in other companies or spend the profits on the stock in ways that will continue to spur growth. 

The bottom line is that it will be more productive here than it was sitting in an overseas bank.(image)

Mainstream media more likely to have spread Russian meddling?


Washington Post:
Russia used mainstream media to manipulate American voters

The analysis of more than 36,000 tweets sent by Russian accounts showed that obscure or foreign news sources played a comparatively minor role, suggesting that the discussion of “fake news” during the campaign has been somewhat miscast.
 I am sure that I was not manipulated nor were the people who voted.  I probably came across some of the Russian tweets but found most of them so disgusting or ridiculous that I just quit using Twitter during the campaign.  The insults and invective just were not interesting.

It was the straight reporting in the mainstream media that convinced me that Hillary Clinton was not an acceptable alternative to Donald Trump who I reluctantly voted for.  I have never regretted that vote.  In fact, he has exceeded my expectations on the substance of most issues despite the distractions of all the drama that seems to surround him.

While the mainstream media tried to downplay her mishandling of classified material I found her actions unacceptable as someone who put his life on the line in handling top-secret material.  I know that the FBI would not give me or anyone else a pass like the one they gave Clinton.  The current investigation by Congress reveals what a shame their investigation was.  For that alone, Comey deserved to be fired.

I do not think that it is possible for the media to assert that any voter was manipulated.  Have they produced any voters who say they were?  People voted for Trump because they either liked him or they did not like Hillary Clinton and that would have happened if Russians had been banned from Twitter or advertising on Facebook.

While there may be evidence of attempted meddling, just because the results were different from what the media wanted does not mean Russia had a material impact on the outcome.  The alleged meddling has become an excuse for Democrats to attack the legitimacy of the President.  They are the ones who should be ashamed.(image)

How did Obama get a security clearance?


Washington Post:
 White House climate adviser resigns after past pot use blocked security clearance

And how did the Post come to select such an unflattering picture of this guy?  Is this rule going to block the appointment of many people from California and Colorado now?  Why didn't it apply to Obama?  How common is pot use among the climate change crowd?

BTW, I have never used it.  I was mildly surprised at a law school reunions to find that several of my classmates were having pot parties while we were in school.  I did not feel left out.  In fact, I was pleased to learn that they knew I had no interest.(image)