Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"No Evidence" Won't Stop Progressive Democrats from Demanding an Inquisition to Convict the Trump Team of Helping the Russian Hackers

No Evidence means No Evidence. Is that too complicated for Progressive Democrats and their MSM comrades to understand??? • • • NO EVIDENCE OF TRUMP-RUSSIA HACKING COLLUSION. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes stated on Monday morning that there was no evidence from the intelligence community of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives. Nunes said : “As of right now, I don’t have any evidence of any phone calls. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist....What I’ve been told by many folks is that there’s nothing there.” Nunes explained that is why there is no need at this time for a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of contact between Russian officials and Trump campaign aides. • But, Nunes raised another very important point -- he said the “major crimes” that have been committed are the leaks to the news media on the subject of Russia, as well as other leaks of what should be confidential dealings with the Trump White House, including calls with foreign leaders like the Australian prime minister. Nunes said : “There’s been major crimes committed. What I’m concerned about is no one is focusing on major leaks that have occurred here....We can’t run a government like this. A government can’t function with massive leaks at the highest level.” • The Washington Post reported that this is the first time a leading House Republican -- in this case, the lawmaker who is leading the investigation in the lower chamber -- has said flatly that he has not seen any evidence of inappropriate communications between Trump aides and Russia. The FBI is investigating Russia’s role in last year’s elections, and potential ties between Trump associates and Russia. On Monday, according to the WP, Nunes also rejected the call by Democrats for him to request Trump’s tax returns, which they believe would shine light on possible Trump business dealings with Russia. Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are probing Russia’s alleged interference in last year’s US elections -- that, Washington Post added, were "aimed at helping to elect Trump" but there is no evidence of that either, despite an intelligence community report commissioned by then-President Obama that has yet to be made public, and eight months of the Progressive MSM and Democrat drumbeat that Hillary lost because Russia made it happen. • Nunes also signaled that his House committee would operate under its own rules instead of working in close tandem with the Senate, which has pledged a bipartisan investigation of Russian involvement in the election. He also rejected the idea that former Senator Jeff Sessions -- a Trump senior campaign advisor who is now Attorney General -- should recuse himself from any Justice Department probe on the topic. • Nunes said he talked to the New York Times about its story saying there were frequent contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, mentioning ousted national security advisor General Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former campaign aide Carter Page, as well as Trump associate Roger Stone. In a rare display of Beltway reason these days, Nunes said : “At this time, I want to be very careful that we can’t just go on a witch hunt against Americans because they appear in news stories.” • INQUISITION / DRUMHEAD COURT / SHOW TRIAL. This might be a good time to label what goes on regularly on Capitol Hill and why Chairman Nunes was right to point it out in polite terms. • Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines "Inquisition," when capitalized, as the former Roman Catholic tribunal for the discovery and punishment of heresy [made infamous by the 16th-centruy Spanish Inquisition]. The modern use of "inquisition" is defined by Webster to mean an investigation conducted with little regard for individual rights; or a severe questioning. • Webster's defines "Drumhead Court," actually drumhead court-martial, as a summary court-martial that tries offenses on the battlefield; it got its name from the use of a drumhead as a table; the term's first known use was in 1796. [Herman Melville's Billy Budd is about such a court onboard a naval vessel.] • Webster's defines "show trial" as a trial (as of political opponents) in which the verdict is rigged and a public confession is often extracted. [Stalin's Soviet Russia used show trials to eliminate powerful political opponents.] • In current usage in Washington, inquisitions, drumhead courts or show trials are termed "special prosecutors," who investigate minority party players for evidence of pre-determined guilt related to actions that the majority party thinks would be looked upon unfavorably by their supporters. • So, Representative Nunes is right in wanting to control an entry into special prosecutor land, without first determining at least the possibility of criminal activities. President Bill Clinton's special prosecutor Ken Starr looked into his affair with Monica Lewinsky -- a good example of wasted time and taxpayer money because it was clear from the beginning that Bill Clinton's extra-marital affair with Lewinsky, and even his lying to Congress about it, had no impact on his governing and would not lead to his conviction under the impeachment raised against him at the end of the special prosecutor's work. He could well have been investigated for other acts, such as Whitewater, but he wasn't. On the other hand, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was accused of misuse of her office for personal gain and of continual mishandling classified information. That called out for a special prosecutor, but the Democrat majority in Congress and Democrat President Obama shielded her. • As for Trump aides and Russian hacking, there is as yet No Evidence. And, even if there were, it would be highly unlikely that the Attorney General appointed by President Trump and approved by a GOP Senate would name a special prosecutor to investigate the Republican President -- because the real prey of the Progressives Democrats in relation to Russian hacking is not the Trump team, it is Donald Trump. The Democrats and mainstream media now yelling for a special prosecutor know this -- they are simply trying to use the issue for political gain so that they do better than their expected disaster in the 2018 mid-term elections, and have any chance at all in 2020. • • • BUT THE POLTICAL GAMES GO ON. Chairman Nunes' comments come after a Washington Post story describing Trump administration efforts to enlist the intelligence community to "knock down media stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia." [That is so blatantly biased and inaccurate that I hesitate to point it out -- but I will. There is No Evidence about "Trump associates' ties to Russia," and the meeting White House chief of staff Reince Priebus had with senior FBI officials that is referenced by the WP as "efforts to enlist the intelligence commuinity to knock down stories" about the "ties" was a permissible meeting. The Post knows this, but it will smear Trump any time it can.] • Nunes said that his committee is still determining the scope of its investigation into alleged Russian participation in the US elections to tilt the outcome toward Trump, an unproven conclusion of the intelligence community. • But, in addition to trying to be logical in his approach to the investigation, Nunes was reluctant to blame General Flynn for inappropriately discussing sanctions before Trump’s inauguration with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States -- the WP added "according to current and former intelligence officials" -- as President Reagan would say, "There they go again." There is No Evidence that FLynn and Kislyak discussed sanctions. • Flynn was asked to leave the White House by President Trump after Flynn misled Vice President Pence about his discussions with Kislyak. What General Flynn said was that he may have discussed sanctions but he couldn't remember -- and the phone call transcripts that would verify the conversations' content have not been released. However, Nunes' comment here is informative -- he said we should be thanking Flynn for his service to the country and that the retired General was "only trying to prepare a new President for office" -- so we might guess that Nunes probably has some indication of what is in the transcripts. He said he has not seen the transcripts of Flynn’s call with the Russian ambassador, which would have been “illegally leaked” if he had. He described Flynn as having done a “big favor” by “keeping lines of communication” open with Russia after President Barack Obama expelled Russian officials from the United States in response to allegations that country interfered in the US elections. Nunes said we should “be thanking” Flynn and “not going after him.” • Nunes also took issue with the definition of "sanctions" -- which were imposed on Russia in 2014 for the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Nunes said that, in his view, Flynn was not discussing official sanctions in his conversations with Kislyak but rather the “petty” retaliation against such officials by Obama -- is this another indication that Nunes has some indication of the transcript contents?? This is not an accusation of collusion by Nunes -- but there is very little that stays totally secret, even if it is classified, for very long in Washington. • Nunes called “ridiculous” any suggestion that Flynn could be charged under the Logan Act -- a 1799 statute that has never been used to prosecute US citizens for interfering in foreign policy. • • • DEAR READERS, this is one of the reasons that White House press secretary Sean Spicer's cracking down on White House staff to prevent leaks is important. Measures to try to prevent leaks included checks of both government-issued and personal electronic devices for White House staffers, according to Politico -- although that Politico knows this is in itself is a leak, because Spicer told those of his communications staff present at the meeting not to leak details of it, but obviously somebody told Politico. Politico says Spicer reportedly assembled the group in his office, where he conducted the phone checks, monitored by White House attorneys, and discussed his frustrations with the leaks that have been revealed in news reports. He also warned his staffers about leaking the details of the phone checks and new security measures. During the same meeting, according to Politico, Spicer criticized his staff for using encrypted messaging apps, such as Confide and Signal, that automatically delete messages, thus violating the Federal Records Act. • President Trump has repeatedly shown his frustration over leaks about, or in, his administration. Most recently, Trump slammed the FBI last Friday for being "totally unable" to stop leaks within its own agency. And, if the Trump White House and Cabinet are to function properly, leaks must be stopped. This is especially true in regard to the Russian hacking probe -- such leaks could be dynamite planted by frustrated or hostile staff, not yet rooted out, in order to magnify the 'urgency' in the Progressive Democrat call for a special prosecutor. While that will not happen -- unless the congressional Republicans who are anti-Trump Fake Conservatives take leave of what little sense they have left -- it could make it impossible for the Trump team to implement meaningful reform. And that certainly could influence both the 2016 and 2020 elections. Playing politics is a game that never ends inside the Beltway, and what describes it best actually is connected to Russia. The game often feels like Russian Roulette.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Oscars, MSM Propagandists, Fake Conservative Bottom-Feeders, and President Trump

I watch the Oscars -- every year -- I've watched them since I was a child and I will go on watching them, no matter how badly handled they are by the current bunch of under-informed propagandist followers of their Progressive idol, Barack Obama. Why do I persist? Because cinema is an art, and when done well, it lifts the human spirit and opens the human mind with a human-to-human immediacy that no other art form possesses. Sunday's 2017 Academy Awards were both entertaining -- who can resist Justin Timberlake's singing and dancing? -- and boring -- who actually thinks President Trump would tweet back to host Kimmel? And, Sunday's Oscars proved one thing -- the folks who are telling us how bad Trump is and how wrong we are about the future of America can't even put their 'winner' envelopes together properly -- so why would they expect us to believe they could govern La La Land, let alone America. • • • THE FOREIGN FILM PROPAGANDIST TANK. The directors of films nominated for Academy Awards as Best Foreign Film (Iran, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Australia) issued a long statement before the Oscars ceremony condemning America. In part, it read : "On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the US and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians. The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on -- not only as artists but as humans : the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly 'foreign' and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental : from discovering that we are all not so different." • The Oscar went to the Iranian, Asghar Farhadi, for his film, The Salesman. He didn't attend the ceremony as a protest against the Obama[?]-Trump ban on citizens from chaotic and terrorist countries entering the US : "I am sorry I am not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the 'Us' and 'Our Enemies' categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war." • What Farhadi left out of his condemnation of America's "inhumane law" [to be precise, it isn't a law, it is an executive order now on court hold, with no indication about when President Trump will act to re-instate it] was Iran's division of the world into the 'US' and 'Our Enemies' categories that are actually causing "fear" and providing Iran with a "a deceitful justification for aggression and war." Nor did he mention the Iranian habit of hanging dissidents and LGBTs. • American Thinker cites a recent video posted Sunday showing Islamic Republic strategist, Hassan Abbassi, discussing the destructive potential of Iran’s hidden army within the US -- yes, inside America. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Abbassi admitted to having terror cells situated and ready to strike in the United States. Abbassi : "I’ll be brief. We have two million Iranians there. Be certain that I will raise a guerilla army from amongst them against you. You know this well. Look how vulnerable you were on 9-11 when four Arabs who don’t know how to fight managed to endanger your foundations." This is the same Iran that is slaughtering civilians in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon -- for them, women, children, and the elderly are all the enemy, but this doesn't bother Oscar winner Farhadi or the Academy voters who awarded him the statue. Iranian generals proudly boast of having missiles that they plan to use to destroy Israel. The missiles are inscribed in Hebrew with "Death of Israel." Asghar Farhadi can put his Oscar on his bookshelf in inhumane, barbaric, war-mongering country of Iran -- and thank the 'fanatical' United States for making him famous and giving his films box office value. Maybe he will use the extra money to escape from his Ayatollah-led paradise. • • • PROG-DEM ANGER AT ELECTION OUTCOME. Progressive Democrats seem to agree with Farhadi. A blogger on American Thinker wrote on Monday : "While Donald Trump may be the ostensible target of all the maniacal Democrat political wrath and public protests, the reality of the matter is far more sinister. Truth is, the real targets of all that insane anger and adolescent denial are folks like you and me who voted for him." He showed a map that is overwhelmingly red, meaning that the vast majority of US counties voted for Trump. The blogger says the map shows that while "Democrats taunt that Clinton won the popular vote, the truth is that Trump won 2,600 counties compared to Hillary’s 500. One hundred of Clinton’s counties were the most populous in America [and on the two coastal slivers of America], which gave her that popular vote margin. Without those 100 counties, she would have lost by 11.5 million votes. She was quite clearly the urban favorite, but even more clearly, she and her party were thoroughly rejected throughout the land that lies between the coasts." The conclusion is that Democrats are angry and fear Trump supporters because they "do not believe our vote has a value equal to their own, which it most likely would not should their totalitarian views ever prevail." A commenter at American Thinker last week noted that Trump voters make up a vast geopolitical entity between Interstate-5 and Interstate-95, which is generally true except for some major urban centers, most college towns and a few counties with Hispanic, black, or Native American majorities. Other blue counties are in the Rocky Mountain States, where the blogger says "wealthy coastal, environmentalist émigrés pursue their ongoing, metastatic process of poisoning local political waters with their elitist liberal lunacy." Beware the Progressive slippery slide that is now attacking Trump supporters by refusing to acknowledge our votes -- the next Progressive step would be to deny us our vote altogether. • • • THE MSM DELIVERS THE PROGRESSIVE MESSAGE. Accuracy in Media pointed out again last week that : "It is becoming increasingly clear that the oppositional mainstream media will only promote stories which contain an angle designed to make President Donald Trump look bad. That this is the opposite of how President Barack Obama was treated by the media only exposes reporters’ ongoing double standard." AIM uses a Wolf Blitzer interview to tell the tale : "CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, in his February 20 show...repeatedly attempted to bait the Secretary General of NATO into criticizing Trump for his promise to insist that NATO allies must pay their fair share...'You were with the vice president when he said that the US commitment to NATO is firm'....Were you reassured by those words?' Refusing to follow Blitzer, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that he was reassured. 'Absolutely, because it is a very consistent message,' Stoltenberg said....Stoltenberg continued, 'I have heard from President Trump in two phone calls, from the vice president today in Brussels, but also in Munich on Saturday and in meetings with Secretary Mattis, Secretary Kelly, and phone calls with Secretary Tillerson. And the message from all of them is that the United States is strongly committed to the trans-Atlantic alliance, to NATO, and will continue to support us not only in words but also in deeds. Because we see that the United States is now increasing their military presence in Europe in new forces and more equipment.'....Blitzer then aired a segment featuring Trump saying, 'The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense. And if not, the US must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.'....But what happens -- what happens if they don’t [increase expenditures]?' Blitzer asked Stoltenberg. 'You heard the vice president, Mike Pence, say the patience of the American people will not endure forever. What happens, for example, if rich countries, like France, Germany, Italy, Canada, if those countries don’t step up and meet that two percent threshold?' Stoltenberg replied that his focus 'is on ‘what can we do to make sure that we succeed,’ not prepare for the worst. 'And we are -- it is quite encouraging to see that defense spending has started to increase. The picture is still mixed but it’s much better than it was just a year ago.' ” • After Stoltenberg’s strong performance, Blitzer admitted that NATO countries committing less than 2% of their gross domestic product is “a problem.” But, Wolf appeared stunned at Stoltenberg's unexpected answers. What Blitzer didn’t mention -- but Stoltenberg did -- is that the 28 member states of NATO committed to spend two percent of their GDP to NATO preparedness back in 2014. So Trump’s policy is to merely hold these countries to the promises that they have already made. And, later, Stoltenberg told CNBC that there had been a 4% increase in European and Canadian spending in 2016 : “Meeting the target will take longer for some countries than others," he told CNBC, but Stoltenberg said he is “confident all allies will meet the benchmark within a decade, as promised.” • As is often the case, Blitzer showed video reflecting the negative view of mainstream media against Trump and didn't add the following statement from Trump press secretary Sean Spicer : “As a candidate for office, President Trump actually called attention repeatedly to the fact that for too long, many of our NATO allies have not been sharing the financial burden. The President looks forward to working closely with NATO to advance our shared objectives. A strong NATO means a safer world.” What's wrong with a President Trump who understands the value of NATO, but wants the countries involved to pay their fair share? Nothing. But AIM notes that journalists like Blitzer prefer to fearmonger about him, and air segments that emphasize the risks of Trump’s actions, rather than the potential rewards of holding other countries accountable. In a related story, the New York Times wrote that “It is a time of great anxiety in Europe, in no small part because of the rise of Mr. Trump, who has brushed aside long-held tenets of American foreign policy.” • AIM concluded that : "Blitzer’s interview with Secretary General Stoltenberg was just another attempt to elicit a soundbite which could be used to embarrass the administration. Members of the media, as they attempt to tarnish Trump’s reputation, fail to consider the ramifications of their bias, and how it might -- just as much as Trump’s own potential missteps -- harm America’s standing in the world." • • • POLLS SHOW PUBLIC BACKS TRUMP. According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published Sunday, 51% of Americans say the media has been too critical of Trump; 41% say the media has been mostly fair and objective; 6% say the media has not been critical enough; and 2% are not sure. The poll also revealed that 53% of Americans believe the media has exaggerated the problems in the Trump administration, including 79% of those who consider Fox News as their primary news source, and even 40% of those who consider the liberal MSNBC their primary news source. Even the poll results were reported with bias, as NBC News used the headline : "Trump’s Job Approval Stands at Just 44 Percent as Partisan Splits Reign." The NBC News' story did not reference the majority believing the media has been too critical. The Wall Street Journal report Sunday, meanwhile, led with the angle of media being too critical. • • • OMG, HILLARY IS BACK. One Progressive who takes real pleasure in beating up on President Trump is Hillary Clinton. She 's back trying to hold on to whatever role she still has in the Progressive-Democrat leadership -- and now that her friend, Obama's Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who was on Hillary's short list for VP, is DNC chairman, her role may be once more increasing. On Friday, Hillary hit the political spotlight with a three-minute address to Democrats, applauding them for being the "resistance" against President Trump. She urged Democrats to "keep fighting and keep the faith," adding, "I'll be there right with you every step of the way." Clinton's message was released in conjunction with the Democrats' meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, where the Democratic National Committee elected Perez chairman. Perez in turn named his losing opponent, radical Keith Ellison, as vice chairman. So, any hope among traditional Democrats that the Democrat Party had learned its lesson in November and would move a bit back toward the center was dashed. Hillary's 'all-but' announcement of her intention to run in 2020, when she'll be 73, was clear. Hillary was stumping : "'Nearly 66 million votes are fueling grassroots energy and activism and everywhere people are marching, protesting, tweeting, speaking out and working for an America that's hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted. From the Women's March, to airports where communities are welcoming immigrants, refugees and people of every faith, to town hall meetings where people are speaking up for healthcare, the environment, good jobs and all the other issues that deserve our passionate support." Hillary used what may be her new calling card : "Let resistance plus persistence equal progress for our party and our country." • Hillary should study recent past American politics. The GOP lost a lot of elections just "resisting" Democrat Progressivism. It took Donald Trump's bold attack with a clear and positive conservative message to get the across-the-board win in November 2016. • • • REAL CONSERVATIVES SUPPORT TRUMP. There are smiles on the faces of most Republicans, while Democrats shout and protest. That's the scene since Trump was elected and began to check off his campaign promises punch list -- the wall will be built, the bidding process has begun / Trump task forces will eliminate anti-business and anti-job regulations / the US pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and will renegotiate NAFTA / federal hiring is frozen in the first step toward reining in big government / the Keystone and Dakota pipelines will move forward / the opening for Obamacare repeal came as Trump directed federal agencies to take steps “to ease the burden of Obamacare” / immigration reform and deportation of criminal illegals are proceeding / funding for sanctuary cities will be cut / new tax cuts are coming this summer / a massively depleted military will be rebuilt / the neglected relationship with Israel is being rebooted. • So, why are some Republicans unhappy? Trump’s cabinet has a more conservative rating than even Reagan’s, according to the American Conservative Union. His first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is described as a textualist and originalist in the mold of Justice Scalia. • The Bushes, McCain and Romney couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything on the Trump agenda. Could it be that they are not really conservatives? For example, George Will, described in his Wikipedia entry as “a conservative political commentator,” believes conservatives “will turn on Trump by mid-summer.” George left the Republican Party over Trump’s election, lost his role as a Fox News contributor, and now appears on leftist MSNBC. Conservative principles? Bill Kristol, editor of the supposedly conservative Weekly Standard, prefers a political victory of “the deep state to the Trump state.” He is joined by Senator John McCain, referring to President Trump as a “dictator.” McCain is more critical of his party’s President than he ever was of his 2008 presidential opponent Barack Obama. • And, Monday, former President George W. Bush took a firmly anti-GOP stand on NBC's Today Show by saying "we all need answers" on the extent of contact between President Donald Trump's team and the Russian government, and didn't rule out the idea that a special prosecutor could be necessary to lead an investigation. GWB also defended the media's role in keeping world leaders in check, noting that "power can be addictive," as he warned against immigration policies that could alienate Moslems, saying : "I am for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law." On the issue of immigration and Trump's recent attempt to ban travelers from seven terrorist-ridden nations that Progressive MSM calls "Moslem-majority" in order to attack Trump from a 'religious' angle, Bush warned that if the US freezes out other countries and turns inward, that would only make it more difficult to fight the Islamic State group and other foreign extremists. • Bravo, President Bush -- support for Progressive Trump-bashing and weak-kneed answers about immigration are really a sign of non-conservative values. • President Bush is not alone. So-called conservative Republicans -- I don't really like the sound of RINO, but that's what they are, Republicans in Name Only -- sound more like Nancy Pelosi than President Trump. They are simply not conservatives. Why else would they oppose a once in a lifetime opportunity to realize conservative goals? The Bush family and Mitt Romney friends are RINO examples, as are George Wills and Bill Kristol. They wouldn’t support Trump's candidacy and won’t support his presidency. We all have friends or relatives -- supposedly conservative Republicans, who called Trump a lunatic and unfit for public office, and who voted for Hillary Clinton. They are still angry about Trump and spit out their venom on socal media and on MSM to anyone who will listen. Would they really prefer that we have a Madame President today, raising taxes, opening borders, pushing single-payer healthcare, and appointing far left cabinet officials and Supreme Court justices? • • • DEAR READERS, my grandfather's generation used to say : "Fish or cut bait." Trump is decisively fishing, and one specie of fish he is catching is the "Fake Conservative," a small blue-hued bottom-feeding fish with yellow stripes down its sides and a big mouth. After beginning to eliminate eight years of hard-left social, political and economic drift in America, President Trump is shining a light on Fake Conservatives as he fishes them out of the GOP leadership lakes and streams. They should not to be listened to, or trusted, or taken seriously as conservatives. • Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis observed, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Trump's sunlight is disinfecting Fake Conservatives.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Media Attacks Trump on Russia Hacking, but Ignores Real News about British Military Weakness and Russian Military Build-up

There is no question that the longer the Russian hacking story stays in the mainstream media's focus, the more opportunity Progressive Democrat losers have to argue that Trump is a flawed President elected by Russia. We've heard all that and are tired of the MSM song and dance. But it stays in their repertoire, nevertheless. • • • PRIEBUS TALKS TO FBI AND THE MSM GOES BALLSITIC. The Washington Examiner reported on Sunday that "the war between the White House and CNN escalated to nuclear Friday when Trump spokesman Sean Spicer blasted the cable network as 'pathetic' for running a story about pressure on the FBI over alleged contacts with Russia that his team had spent hours explaining as wrong. In a background 'gaggle' with reporters Friday, Spicer directly challenged CNN's Joe Johns, telling him that he was 'disgusted with the way CNN handled the story,' according to a White House official in the session. Other words from Spicer included 'irresponsible and pathetic,' 'disgraceful,' and 'indefensible.' • There isn't much left to say after the Spicer unloading on CNN -- except "yes." • The issue is CNN's promotion of a story Thursday and Friday that the White House pressured the FBI to challenge an earlier New York Times story on alleged calls between Russian intelligence officials and Trump's campaign team. The White House said that the FBI told the White House that the report was wrong. And during a meeting on another topic, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked FBI officials to dispute the Times story. They declined, and instead authorized Priebus to say it was wrong last week. • End of 'story?' Not for CNN. The story was revived by CNN's pressure report and the suggestion that the White House violated a standing practice of not discussing pending cases with the FBI. CNN commentator Joe Johns raised the rule, which CNN pundits have been beating on TV, and Spicer explained that it includes a "carve out" for public affairs. Thus, it was OK to talk about it because Priebus and the FBI officials were discussing the Times story, not any investigation into contacts. Spicer told Johns to "get his facts straight," adding : "I know this is a CNN issue. You guys have a credibility problem." • End of the 'story?" Not for CNN -- they never learn, do they? It stood by its story. And that led to Democrats and Trump critics, and their propagandists in the MSM, to jump on the CNN angle. The Democratic National Committee compared it to Watergate -- yes, once more, when the Prog-Dems run out of words for the GOP and President Trump, Watergate is always their fallback position. • Trump and the White House have repeatedly denied they had discussions with Russian officials during the campaign, but critics and some in the media keep the story alive because they are supporters of Hillary Clinton and want to believe she was hurt by email leaks, some from her own campaign manager and the Democratic National Committee, that were reportedly orchestrated by Russians. The AP on Friday wrote up the administration's timeline in a report that included the news that it was the FBI that reached out to the White House about clearing up the Times story : "White House officials said it was the FBI that first raised concerns about the Times reporting but told Priebus the bureau could not weigh in publicly on the matter. The officials said [Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe and [FBI Director James] Comey instead gave Priebus the go-ahead to discredit the story publicly, something the FBI has not confirmed." But the AP report didn't stop CNN from later running a headline claiming that it was the White House that pressured the FBI. "We didn't do that," Spicer said at the gaggle. • • • THE AP REPORT ON THE FBI STORY. The AP's Julie Pace wrote : "The White House on Friday defended chief of staff Reince Priebus against accusations he breached a government firewall when he asked FBI Director James Comey to publicly dispute media reports that Trump campaign advisors had been frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents. President Donald Trump's spokesman, Sean Spicer, argued Priebus had little choice but to seek Comey's assistance in rebutting what Spicer said were inaccurate reports about contacts during last year's presidential campaign. The FBI did not issue the statement requested by Priebus and has given no sign one is forthcoming. 'I don't know what else we were supposed to do,' Spicer said. The Justice Department has policies in place to limit communications between the White House and the FBI about pending investigations. Trump officials on Friday not only confirmed contacts between Priebus and the FBI, but engaged in an extraordinary public airing of those private conversations. Spicer said it was the FBI that first approached the White House about the veracity of a New York Times story asserting that Trump advisors had contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the presidential campaign. Spicer said Priebus, at a previously scheduled meeting, then asked both FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe if they would condemn the story publicly, which they declined to do. 'The chief of staff said, well, you've put us in a very difficult situation,' Spicer said. 'You've told us that a story that made some fairly significant accusations was not true. And now you want us to just sit out there.' The FBI would not comment on the matter or verify the White House account. The CIA also declined to comment." • The AP reported that the White House also asked for help from Republicans on Capitol Hill to talk to reporters about the New York Times story. Jack Langer, a spokesman for Representative Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the White House asked Nunes to speak with one reporter. THE KEY COMMENT from Langer was that he said the chairman told the journalist the same thing that he has said publicly many times before - that he had asked but not received any information from intelligence officials that would warrant a committee investigation of any American citizens' contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Langer acknowledged that this could make it harder to convince people that the House investigation into the matter will be independent and free of political bias, but he said the White House did not tell Nunes what to tell the reporter, or give him "talking points." • The ranking Democrat on the committee, California Representative Adam Schiff, said if the White House indeed contrived to have intelligence officials contradict unfavorable news reports, it threatens the independence of the intelligence community : "Intelligence professionals are not there to serve as the president's PR firm. For its part, the intelligence community must resist improper efforts like these by the administration to politicize its role." • The Washington Post reported Friday that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee also was enlisted by the White House. The newspaper quoted Senator Richard Burr, saying he had conversations about Russia-related news reports with the White House and engaged with news organizations to dispute articles by The New York Times and CNN. • The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, said Friday night that he had called CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Burr to express his "grave concerns about what this means for the independence" of the congressional investigation already underway. Warner said he emphasized to the two that he would "not accept any process that is undermined by political interference." He said if the Senate Intelligence Committee cannot conduct a proper probe, he will support whomever can do it. • • • TRUMP AND THE INTEL COMMUNITY. Trump has accused intelligence officials of releasing classified information about him to the media, stating in a tweet Friday morning that the FBI was "totally unable to stop the national security 'leakers' that have permeated our government for a long time." • House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Priebus of "an outrageous breach of the FBI's independence" and called on the Justice Department's inspector general to look into all conversations Priebus and other White House officials have held with the FBI on ongoing investigations. Pelosi said : "The rule of law depends on the FBI's complete independence, free from political pressure from the targets of its investigations." • THE DEMOCRATS SEEM TO HAVE FORGOTTEN the day last summer when Bill Clinton boarded Attorney Genral Loretta Lynch's plane and spent 38 minutes talking about "golf and grandchildren" while the DOJ's FBI was investigating Clinton's wife, Hillary, who was exxonerated by FBI Director Comey a few days later, after Lynch recused herself from deciding the Hillary email server case because of her talk with Bill. Recused -- but what Bill told her about her future under a 'President Hillary' or what Lynch told Comey, remains a mystery. • • • THE RUSSIAN HACKING. President Trump has been shadowed by questions about possible ties to Russia since winning the election. US intelligence agencies have "concluded" that Russia meddled in the campaign in an effort to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. That there is no proof of this, that there has been no evidence presented anywhere to support the contention, is unimportant to the Prog-Dems and MSM, who are using the Russian gambit to try to bring down the Trump presidency prematurely. • • • THE MEDIA PERSISTS IN IT WAR ON TRUMP. Trump has been vociferously critical of the press, spending a large part of his 77-minute a press conference last week in teaching the media how to ask questions, reminding them of their low approval ratings, and leveraging national press coverage to skewer the press corps. Trump supporters love it. His base adores his direct words. And for good reason -- Trump is telling the political media what consumers have been saying all along -- you are biased. We would think that after a month of public humiliation for their obvious preferences for all things Progressive, Democrat and Clintonian, that after being exposed as biased in the extreme in a profession where bias should not even exist, members of the political media set would start asking themselves questions. But, no -- they persist -- seeing no need to mull over how they ended up becoming an “enemy of the American people.” Instead, they have taken the opposite approach -- and it has made them the laughingstock of the vast majority of Americans. They are so out of touch that the editor-in-chief of Reuters had to specifically instruct reporters in this frightening, new post-Obama world to : “get out into the country and learn more about how people live, what they think, what helps and hurts them, and how the government and its actions appear to them, not to us.” They should’ve been doing exactly that all along. The the self-important whining, the “un-American” hyperbole -- it all reinforces what Americans already believe about the media, and that is exactly what President Trump is saying. • • • A REAL ISSUE RELATING TO RUSSIA. In their continuing obsession with bringing down President Trump, the MSM has missed some really important news about Russia. • Reuters reported last week that the very Trump administration the media accuse of being in bed with Russia condemned an attack on special monitoring missions in eastern Ukraine and called on Russia and the separatist forces it backs to immediately observe the ceasefire under the Minsk agreements. The Trump State Department said : ‎"We condemn Friday's targeting of OSCE special monitoring mission (SMM) monitors and the seizure of a SMM unmanned aerial vehicle by combined-Russian separatist forces. It is imperative that these forces halt their attacks on civilian infrastructure, including the Donetsk water filtration station. We call on Russia and the separatist forces it backs to immediately observe the cease-fire, withdraw all heavy weapons, and allow full and unfettered access to the OSCE monitors." • The UK's National Interest journal reported on Saturday that a British military report states : "Russia could defeat the British Army's single combat-ready division 'in an afternoon.' " The headline blared “Over by Teatime,” when the British tabloid The Sun reported on the military evaluation. The Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research (CHACR), a British Army think tank run by the Sandhurst military academy, held a two-day conference of active-duty and retired officers, which concluded that budget cuts have so depleted the army that it could be destroyed by a “competent enemy” such as Russia. Apparently, the British army is down to just 83,000 active-duty soldiers, from 102,000 in 2010. This means that Britain can field just one “war-fighting” division (compared to three million men and forty-six divisions in 1945). And even deployment of that sole division isn’t guaranteed, because of shortages of transport ships, cargo aircraft and tank transporter vehicles, according to CHACR. The Sunday Times said : “The last time the UK sent a division to war was in 2003 before the invasion of Iraq but experts believe it would currently not be able to deploy much more than a brigade of between 5,000 and 10,000 troops." The Times said that as the British Army shifts from small-unit counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, to potential big-unit mechanized warfare in eastern Europe, that combat-ready division is supposed to expand from thirty thousand soldiers to fifty thousand soldiers : "In other words, the bulk of Britain’s active-duty soldiers will be concentrated in a single oversized division, which doesn’t leave a great deal of depth and resilience when confronting Russia’s army of 750,000 active soldiers." The Times added : "Such brittleness may hamstring the British government from committing troops to operations. “The ‘prospect of losing the division in an afternoon’ will weigh heavily on the chain of command...as politicians appreciate the stakes involved in committing the division to battle.” The CHACR report acknowledged that Britain isn’t likely to fight a division-sized land battle today, but it also pointed out that it wasn’t inconceivable either. National Interest asked : “This raises an important question : is the British Army ready for such a possibility? If one merely sees preparedness through net manpower and kinetic force capacity, the answer might be a simple ‘no’: the British Army is at its smallest and has faced years of budget cuts.” • The British Ministry of Defense responded to the outcry with a bland statement that Britain is capable of deploying a division-sized force. Not surprisingly, the CHACR report was played up by Russian media such as RT and Sputnik News, as well as Iran’s PressTV. But, says National Interest : "Of course, when an army -- British, American or anyone else’s -- suffers budget cuts, there are always dire warnings coming out of the military–think tank complex. The greater shock would have been if the report had lauded Britain’s army for being in fine shape. Nor is it likely that Britain would fight a big land battle alone, rather than as part of a coalition that would include the United States. Nonetheless, Britain has the world’s fifth-largest economy, as well as an increasingly muscular foreign policy that has deployed troops to eastern Europe and the Middle East. And it can only muster a single combat division on short notice. What would Churchill have said?" • If we know Sir Winston at all, we know that he would have said now what he said in the 1930s to the British Parliament -- get ready because they are coming. • • • THE RUSSIAN MILITARY BUILD-UP CONTINUES. The Diplomat reported on February 24 that Russian TASS news agency has said : "the majority of missile units within the Russian Ground Forces (RGF) have been retrofitted with the short-range nuclear-capable road-mobile 9K720 Iskander-M ballistic missile system as the obsolete Soviet-era OTR-21 tactical missiles are being phased out." TASS was quoting the head of the RGF, Colonel-General Oleg Salyukov, who told reporters on February 22 that : "work continues in the ground forces to re-arm military units and formations with the modern types of armament and military hardware. The ground forces’ missile formations are switching over in a planned procedure from the Tochka-U tactical missile complex to the Iskander-M system. As of today, over 80 percent of missile formations have received the new missile systems.” The general noted that two more missile units will be re-armed with the Iskander-M ballistic missile in 2017. • Separately, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on February 22 in the lower house of the Russian Parliament that the RGF will complete the switch to the new ballistic missile system by the end of 2017 : “We’ll complete the rearmament and the switchover to Iskander complexes across the country this year. Some of our [radar] stations are on experimental combat duty today but this year all of them will switch over to the mode of combat alert and we’ll fully cover the entire perimeter, all the country’s radar field for missiles of all types, all trajectories, including ballistic paths.” The Diplomat quotes an RGF spokesperson as saying that the RGF last test fired an Iskander-M missile in August 2016 during a large-scale military exercise in Russia’s Far East : “The launch was carried out from a training site in the Jewish Autonomous Area. The missile hit a target at a proving ground in the Amur region 300 kilometers away.” In February 2017, RGF reportedly fired four Iskander-M ballistic missiles against targets in Syria’s Idlib province, according to US press reports. • The two-stage solid propellant missile allegedly has a range of 400-500 kilometers (310 miles) and its nuclear-capable single warhead can carry a payload of about 700 kilograms. It has been specifically designed to evade Western missile defenses and reportedly is able to operate in temperatures ranging from -50 to 50 degrees Celsius (-58 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit). The tactical ballistic missile can be deployed to destroy many different targets, including missile and multiple launch rocket systems, artillery batteries, as well as command posts and communications centers. It can be armed with a variety of different warheads. The total number of 9K720 Iskander-M missile systems currently deployed in the RGF is estimated to be over 100. A shorter-range export variant of the 9K720 Iskander-M missile system has been offered to China, India, and South Korea. However, only the domestic version of the missile can be armed with a nuclear warhead. • • • DEAR READERS, instead of trying to bring down President Trump, the MSM ought to be reporting about his plans to return the US military to the superior position it held since the Second World War, until Obama began demolishing it. Instead of attacking Trump, the MSM ought to be supporting his calls for NATO allies to beef up their defenses to agreed levels. If the US is going to have to be prepared to defend Europe again -- this time in Ukraine and the Baltics -- at least Europe must be prepared to do its fair share to save itself. • And, doesn't that make Trump's efforts to open a new dialogue with Russia -- ignored by Obama and squelched by his accusing Russia of hacking -- a very reasonable and logical thing to do?? Now, if only the MSM could grasp that...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Saturday Politics : the First Amendment, the Founders, and Progressive Democrat Subversion of Religious Freedom

Sometimes Saturday Politics is about religion. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states : "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." • • • MELANIA RECITES THE LORD'S PRAYER. Daniel John Sobieski, a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and other publications, wrote an article in American Thinker on Wednesday about "Church, State, and Melania Trump." In it Sobieski said : "Those who have made a career of trying to drive all vestiges of religion from the public square, from manger scenes at Christmas to mentioning God in the Pledge of Allegiance, were not happy when First Lady Melania Trump recited the Lord’s Prayer at her husband’s rally in Florida. The fake 'tolerant' left mocked the accent of a woman and an immigrant who speaks five languages. They moaned that it was an affront to those who are not Christian. And they brought out that old canard about the separation of church and state." • • • THE FOUNDERS : FREEDOM OF, NOT FROM, RELIGION. The First Amendment guarantees freedom OF religion -- not freedom FROM religion. George Washington is said to have gotten down on one knee in prayer at Valley Forge. The 1780 Massachusetts constitution authorized towns, parishes, precincts and other bodies politic to levy taxes "for the institution of public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality." Connecticut and New Hampshire had similar laws. Virginia, on the other hand, moved after the Revolutionary War to disestablish the Anglican church and separate the state from formal religious institutions. We should note that no Framer of the Constitution ever declared that Massachusetts, with its state-supported religious education, or Virginia, with its official secularism, were guilty of violating the First Amendment or any other fundamental constitutional principle. • The phrase "separation of church and state" actually doesn't appear in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to a group of Danbury Baptists assuring them that the First Amendment prohibited Congress from establishing a national church, such as the Church of England. Jefferson also wrote in a letter written to his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush dated September 23, 1800, the words that were later carved into the Jefferson Memorial : "I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Thomas Jefferson also wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our unalienable rights come from our Creator, not government or Progressives. He feared what the British Crown had done could happen in America -- impose a state church on all the American people. But, the fact remains that in Jefferson’s time, the state and the church were in fact inextricably linked. • Sobieski says : "The Founding Fathers did fear the possible establishment of a national church like the Church of England and to prevent it they wrote the First Amendment to say that 'Congress' shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion, meaning any particular religion. But it says nothing about the states and also says that Congress shall make no laws restricting the free exercise of religion. The Constitution mandates government’s neutrality to religion, but its alleged desire to avoid any endorsement of religion has mutated into unmistakable hostility. Perhaps the most egregious example occurred in April, 1995, when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed and attorneys for the Clinton administration were ready to deny churches the same disaster assistance that every other building with collateral damage received because of the alleged separation of church and state. It took special congressional action to prevent this absurdity. I don’t think this is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind." • • • TEACHING KIDS ABOUT ISLAM APPARENTLY DOESN'T VIOLATE THE FIRST AMENDMENT. The Patriot News Daily online reported Tuesday that parents in Chatham, New Jersey, are demanding answers from the local board of education concerning what their children are being taught in their 7th grade social studies class. According to Nancy Gayer and Libby Hilsenrath, their children are being given lessons about Islam that would never be acceptable if they were about Christianity. In fact, Gayer said at a board meeting on Monday that her son was specifically chastised a few years ago when he gave a PowerPoint presentation that briefly mentioned his religious views. Gayer said he was told to stop “proselytizing” when he included a Bible quote in his slideshow. The teacher told him that a quote like that “belongs in Sunday School.” Gayer and other parents asked the board to explain why that was forbidden, but it was perfectly fine for the teacher to have the students learn about the religious tenets of Islam. Gayer said : "“My sincere issue -- according to policy 2270 -- the board of education directs that no religious beliefs be promoted or disparaged. I’m asking the board meet with the policy committee and eliminate the teaching of Islam and all other religions.” At the school board meeting, Hilsenrath passed out materials being used in the classroom, which included a cartoon that made extraordinary statements about Islam. Hilsenrath explained : “It even goes so far as even making a statement 'There is no God except Allah,' in the video that also states that Allah is the maker of everything, the one true God, etc. The main character in the cartoon video is looking for converts.” Hilsenrath said the argument that the educational materials would expose the students to religions they don’t know much about did not pass muster. She argued that many of the students were almost certainly ignorant about the finer points of Judaism and Christianity as well, yet those religions were barely mentioned in the classroom. Certainly, she said, they were not taught in the same way as Islam. The Patriot Daily News concludes : "It’s real simple: Either religious studies need to be barred from public schools, or there needs to be equal time given to all of the world’s major religions. Anything that strays from that premise invites unnecessary controversy, especially when the teachings are as off-the-wall as the ones seen here. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen parents outraged over islamic indoctrination in the school system. The more it occurs, the more you have to wonder if there isn’t something a bit more sinister going on behind the scenes." • America has drifted a long way from the Founders’ clear intent about the relationship between the free exercise of religion and the government being prohibited from interferring. Today, Americans are no longer free to apply their religious beliefs to their businesses -- as the vendettas against Hobby Lobby and the Little Sister of the Poor show. America was founded by those seeking freedom of religion and the free speech and free exercise that comes with it. When Melania Trump recited the Lord’s Prayer at a public event in the public square, she was making Thomas Jefferson proud. • • • AMERICA vs PROGRESSIVISM. Despite the enormous agenda Trump and his Cabinet have taken on and the strides they have made in just one month, there are no signs that the Progressive Democrat war on President Trump is abating -- whether religion or sexual orientation or immigration is the issue. There may be fewer street protest right now, but the protesters have moved into traditional townhalls -- where citizens and their elected officials come together to discuss current issues -- are now full of hatemongers attacking House and Senate members with signs, shouts, whistles and ugly words. And, every day there are videos of small protests shown on MSM, used to pound home the Prog-Dem narrative that somehow America disagrees with President Trump, although surveys and the massive crowds the President turns out for his rallies belie this kind of Progressive fake news. And as I write this blog, Representative Keith Ellison, the radical Moslem who supports the Moslem Brotherhood and CAIR, and who has a good chance of being elected the next chariman of the Democratic National Committee, has called for the impeachment of President Trump. Ellison told CNN, as reported by the New York Post : “‘I think that Donald Trump has already done a number of things which legitimately raise the question of impeachment. On day one, he was in violation of the emoluments clause. This is a part of the Constitution that says as President, you can’t get payments from a foreign power." The CNN audience, assembled for a TV debate between prospective DNC chairs, broke into applause. Ellison added : "The day people checked into his hotel and started paying him, who were foreign dignitaries, he was in violation of that law. There’s already a lawsuit filed against him. And right now, it’s about only Donald Trump. It is about the integrity of the presidency.” • Ellison probably has conveniently forgotten that Trump has assigned all payments made by foreign officials anywhere in the world while he is President to the US Treasury. • Wars begin when, in a major crisis, no peaceful solution can be found. America seems near that point. The war is political, but Progressive Democrats have taken it to the streets as violent protest against any act or word they consider conservative, Republican or otherwise representative of Trump and his supporters, whopm they see as deplorable, irremediably evil and dangerous. This is how they justify engaging in violence, sending their version of "Brown Shirts" into streets and townhalls and college campuses to prevent conservatives and Republicans from even speaking. Their ministry of propaganda (a.k.a., the mainstream media) is working full time, vilifying and lying about every action President Trump takes. Their armies of lawyers intend to clog up the courts with so many lawsuits and other legal tactics that the Trump administration will be prevented from achieving anything. Progressive Democrats will not yield without political bloodshed -- jamming airports, blocking highways and shutting down choke points of US infrastructure, with as many protesters as Soros money can buy. Why?? They face a game-changing loss of political power. Their nightmare scenario is that a year from now, Trump's policies will have worked, improving the US economy so much that a large majority of Americans will be grateful to him and to the Republican Congress. Prog-Demw have gotten to the destructive place where they believe anything good for America is now fatal for them. They see Progressivism permanently discredited, out of power, and cut off from the billions upon billions of dollars they now wallow in at the expense of regular Americans. That's also why Trump is being attacked so viciously in the European media -- Europe is already Progressive, but its leaders know that if Trump succeeds, he will pull into power in Europe many other national populists who want to re-create government as an institution run by the people for the people. • • • DEAR READERS, Lincoln was right when he spoke those immortal words at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 : "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." • We are "now engaged" in a new civil war. There may not be massed armies facing each other, but the stakes are just as high as they were when President Lincoln spoke 154 years ago. America is in play and we are the soldiers in the war to save the Republic and its citizens -- to prove once again "that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." The First Amendment is a symbol of our fight. So, let's end the week with this : God bless President Trump, God bless Americans, and God bless America.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Radical Islamization in Sweden and Germany -- a Warning for America?

The mainstream media and Progressive Democrats would like us to believe that our worries about radical Islam inflitration into the US are fantasies. Maybe not. • • • JOHN BRENNAN. We talked last week about John Brennan’s apparent involvement in the breach of Obama’s passport records in 2008. Three unnamed contract employees for the State Department breached the passport file of Democrat presidential candidate and then-Senator Barack Obama, using their authorized computer network access to look up and read Obama’s records within the State Department consular affairs section that “possesses and stores passport information.” While the passport files of candidates John McCain and Hillary Clinton had also been breached, Obama was the only one of the three presidential candidates involved who had his passport file breached on three separate occasions. At the time, the New York Times noted the two State Department contract employees who were fired had worked for Stanley Inc., a company based in Arlington, Va., while the reprimanded worker continued to be employed by the Analysis Corporation of McLean, Va., headed by John Brennan, a former CIA agent who was then serving as an advisor on intelligence and foreign policy to Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. After Obama’s inauguration, Brennan joined the White House as assistant to the President and deputy national security advisor for homeland security and counter-terrorism before becoming CIA director. • On March 22, 2008, the Washington Times reported that the State Department investigation had focused on the contract worker for Brennan's Analysis Corporation, because he was the only one of the three involved in breaching the passport records of both Obama and McCain, the two presidential candidates whose eligibility as “natural born” citizens was being questioned. In July 2008, the State Department Office of Inspector General issued a 104-page investigative report on the passport breach incidents, stamped “Sensitive But Unclassified,” that was so heavily redacted that it was virtually useless. Scores of passages were blacked out entirely, including one sequence of 29 consecutive pages that were each obliterated by a solid black box that made it impossible even to determine paragraph structures. Investigative reporter Kenneth Timmerman said a well-placed but unnamed source told him that the real point of the passport breach incidents was to cauterize the Obama file, removing from it any information that could prove damaging to his eligibility to be President. According to the theory, the breaches of McCain’s and Clinton’s files were done for misdirection purposes, to create confusion and to suggest the motives of the perpetrators were attributable entirely to innocent curiosity. • But that was not the end of the story. Two weeks after the report that Obama’s passport records had been breached, candidate Obama made the surprising disclosure at a private fundraiser on April 7, 2008, that he had traveled to Pakistan during his college years. Jake Tapper, now at CNN but then senior White House correspondent for ABC News, commented that Obama’s disclosure that he had taken a college trip to Pakistan was “news to most of us.” Tapper said “it was odd we hadn’t heard about it before, given all the talk of Pakistan during this campaign.” Tapper reported that, according to the Obama campaign, Obama visited Pakistan in 1981, the year he transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University, and that he had visited his mother and sister Maya in Indonesia on the same trip. The question never answered was why Obama disclosed for the first time that he had traveled to Pakistan just after his passport files were breached. Theories circulated, including the possibility that Obama used an Indonesian passport to travel to Indonesia and Pakistan in 1981, and that was he concerned the breach of his passport records might end up disclosing that, if true. The attempt to preempt such a disclosure could explain the timing of Obama’s decision to suddenly reveal to the friends assembled for the fundraiser the previously undisclosed trip to Indonesia and Pakistan. In the poor-quality audio tape of the Obama disclosure, those who have heard it say one can hear Obama saying : “I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college. I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.” • It seems the more we learn about Barack Obama, the less we really know about him. But, one thing is becoming clear. • • • AN OBAMA RADICAL MOSLEM AND THE WOMEN'S MARCH. Theories from 2008 about Obama's passport may seem irrelevant today, although he is reportedly preparing to retake control of the Progressive war against President Turmp and his conservative administration. And, we might want to consider the February 15 American Thinker article titled "The Moslem Face of the New Democratic Party;" by Karin McQuillan, who writes : "Obama yanked the [Democrat] party hard left. He personally championed the jihadi movement, be it by trying to install the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt or giving the pariah state Iran billions of dollars and [making] the obsequious Iran deal. Obama's legacy : Hard-left Moslem-Americans are rising to positions of prominence in the Democrats' grassroots organizations. This alliance between Western socialists and islamists dates back to the Cold War, but it has gained traction in America since 9/11. One case, among countless others is the fact that the anti-Trump women's march was co-led by an islamist in a hijab. It is well worth reading about Linda Sarsour because she is a leader of so many of the causes that Obama promoted as President : Occupy Wall St., BDS [Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative using public protest, economic pressure, and lawsuits to advance the Hamas agenda of permanently destroying Israel as a Jewish nation-state], Black Lives Matter, the Moslem Brotherhood." • According to McQuillan, after 9/11, Sarsour rose in power while in her 20s, by promoting the jihadi fiction of "Islamophobia," used by the Democrat Party to fight Republican national security measures and to give itself a facade of moral superiority. • Sarsour's islamic group prevented the New York Police Department from conducting surveillance of Moslem groups and mosques suspected of promoting terrorism. For her work, Sarsour was honored by President Obama as a "White House Champion of Change" and was invited to the White House seven times. She was a delegate to the Democrat National Convention. • Linda Sarsour is a Progressive, and an alleged radical Palestinian who, as the New York Times puts it, "deeply involved in the Black Lives Matter movement." She denied in the NYT interview that she had any contact with Hamas or other radical Moslem groups, because if it were true, she said she never would have received a “Champion of Change” award from President Obama. In 2004, Sarsour told a reporter for a Columbia University article about Arab-American voters that one of her cousins had been in Israeli jails for 25 years. A man she described as a family friend was serving a 99-year prison sentence in Israel. Her brother-in-law, she said, was also serving a 12-year sentence, accused of being an activist in Hamas, the religious militant group, though, she said, he was secular in his beliefs. Despite those concerns, she said, she was more worried in 2004 about her own future in America, She said she had been questioned by US authorities, and her Palestinian husband, after seven years in America, faced deportation proceedings. Sarsour recently refused to talk to the Snopes fact checker website about any of these allegations. • • • AN AMERICAN IN EGYPT AND THE WOMEN'S MARCH. Cheri Berens is an American researcher in Cairo, who experienced Egypt’s 2011 and 2013 revolutions and witnessed the Moslem Brotherhood takeover and violence that followed. Berens says that 100 Moslem Brotherhood front groups took part in the Women's March. Berens describes the scene in a coffee shop in Cairo, where she stayed up all night to watch Trump's inauguration and the Democrats' post-inauguration protest -- as did many Egyptians. She writes in her blog : "The coffee shop roared loudly with cheers when Trump said "radical Islam will be eradicated from the planet." We here in Egypt have experienced many terror attacks and all of us have experienced the death of a friend or family member ... who fight ISIS[.] On the third night ... we sat in silence and horror[.] ... [W]e saw protesters smashing windows and torching cars. Hushed murmuring began around me as every single Egyptian in the coffee shop could be heard saying the words : "Moslem Brotherhood". ... Then on the TV we began to see video of the "Women's March." The entire coffee shop gasped in disbelief at the vision of American women donning the headscarf. And worse, some of the headscarves were made of the American flag. ... The women in the coffee shop began to get visibly agitated. …"The headscarf will take your rights!" one woman shouted at the TV." • Even Egyptians know that America should beware of radical Islam. • • • SWEDEN AND TRUMP. The media and Progressives' ridicule of President Trump for criticizing Sweden’s refugee policies took a big hit when residents of a Stockholm suburb populated mostly by immigrants clashed with police on Mondat night. The Boston Globe cynically reported : " About 20 to 30 masked men threw stones and other objects at police after they arrested a man on drug dealing charges. It’s not the same as suicide bombers blowing up an airport or gunmen mowing down concert-goers." The Globe says the incident "shows the risk in treating all Trump utterances with equal contempt. Some are more contemptible than others....During the time frame referenced by Trump, nothing bad happened in Sweden." Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister tweeted : "Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.” • Actually, Trump had watched a Fox News segment that featured a Tucker Carlson interview with documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz, who who produced a film that links rape and violence in Sweden to an increase in refugees from Moslem countries. Horowity later defended his investigation of refugees in Sweden after the backlash against President Donald for citing his work : "Between 2012 and 2016 the murder rate [in Sweden] is up almost 70%,"[citing the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention]. Rape between 2007 and 2015 is up a similar number, almost 70%. These are their statistics, not my statistics." • According to a BBC report, Sweden took in 162,000 people seeking asylum in 2015. Almost one-third came from Syria. With a population of 9.5 million, Sweden is also reported to have produced the highest number of ISIS fighters per capita in Europe. About 140 of the 300 who went to Syria and Iraq have now returned to Sweden. • The rise in Swedish rapes and murders didn’t just happen last night, but Trump is right that it is happening and that it is tied to the rapid and unrestricted influx of refugees from Moslem countries racked by chaos and terror. As Jihad Watch reports, Sweden reflects the consequences of the 'Islamization' of Europe. When it comes to rapes, islamized Sweden is already in a state of war. If we want to understand who's committing these thousands of rapes and other types of sexual assaults yearly, we can turn to another Scandinavian country, Sweden’s neighbor Norway, the country most similar to Sweden, where 100% of all rapes in the last five years in Oslo were committed by immigrants from “non-Western” countries. In Stavanger, a major Norwegian city, 90% of rapes are committed by “immigrants.” • Forty years ago, the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogenous Sweden into a multicultural country. Since then, violent crime has increased by 300% and rapes by 1,472%. Sweden is now number two on the list of rape countries, surpassed only by Lesotho in Southern Africa. • In Sweden, and elsewhere in Europe, you can be jailed for “hate speech,” even if it is true, but Swedish police detective Peter Springare decided to warn his fellor Swedes anyway, writing on social media that Swedish authorities are covering up a massive crime wave among primarily African and Middle Eastern migrants that has law-enforcement and the rest of society's institutions on the brink. The revelations, subsequently confirmed by another officer, blew a giant hole in the Swedish government's imploding narrative that all is well in Sweden. Springare, a 47-year veteran of law enforcement, painted a picture of absolute chaos -- and he was describing only the small town of Örebro with just over 100,000 residents. Here is Springare's report : “Here we go; this is what I’ve handled from Monday-Friday this week: rape, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, rape-assault and rape, extortion, blackmail, assault, violence against police, threats to police, drug crime, drugs, crime, felony, attempted murder, rape again, extortion again and ill-treatment.” Springare added : “Suspected perpetrators; Ali Mohammed, Mahmod, Mohammed, Mohammed Ali, again, again, again, Christopher … Mohammed, Mahmod Ali, again and again.” Springare noted that the solitary Swedish name, Christopher, did “sneak in on the edges” of a drug crime. Springare listed the countries of origin of those committing the crimes : “All the crimes this week: Iraq, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Somalia, Syria again, Somalia, unknown, unknown country, Sweden. Half of the suspects, we can’t be sure because they don’t have any valid papers. Which in itself usually means that they’re lying about their nationality and identity.” • DAR AL-ISLAM IN EUROPE. Europe in general, and Sweden in particular, have embraced the failed concept of multiculturalism and are losing much of their historical identity. Moslem refugees entering Sweden, Germany or Denmark refuse to assimilate, instead clustering in islamic enclaves that rapidly become “no-go zones” for police. For islamic predators and terrorists, Europe is a target-rich environment. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized in 2014, Sweden had already become radical Islam’s first caliphate in Europe : "The perils of multiculturalism and open borders have reached critical mass in Sweden. There are Moslem enclaves where postal, fire and other essential services -- even police officers themselves -- require police protection." A police report released last month identifies 55 "no-go zones" in Sweden. These zones are similar to others in Europe in recent years that form when large Moslem populations emigrating to politically correct and tolerant European states refuse to assimilate and set up virtual states within a state where the authorities fear to tread. Soeren Kern of the Hudson Institute has documented the proliferation of these zones, which are de facto Moslem micro-states under Sharia law that reject Western values, society and legal systems. In these districts non-Moslems are expected to conform to the dictates of fundamentalist Islam or face violent consequences. Middle Eastern expert Daniel Pipes says : "A more precise name for these zones would be Dar al-Islam -- the House of Islam or the place where Islam rules. • • • WARNING SIGNS IN AMERICA. Similar refugee enclaves are already appearing in American cities such as Dearborn, Michigan and Minneapolis, with its concentration of Somali refugees called “little Mogadishu.” Minneapolis has become a recruiting ground for ISIS, with one airport worker who had access to the tarmac at the Minneapolis airport going on to die for the ISIS on the battlefield. Fox affiliate KMSP-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul has reported the case of Abdirahmaan Muhumed, who, before he went to Syria to fight and die for ISIS, worked at Delta Global Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. His job was to clean aircraft, and he had a security clearance that gave him unfettered access to the tarmac and passenger jets. The New York Daily News reported that the 29-year-old Muhumed died in the same battle as 33-year-old Douglas McCain, another Minnesotan recruited by ISIS. Muhumed and McCain were said to be friends in high school. Muhumed becoming politically active in the Twin Cities Somali community. He was one of at least 16 Minnesotans, according to Reuters, who have gone overseas to fight and train with ISIS. What Trump reported happening in Sweden and the rest of Europe happens most nights and it could happen in America. • • • DEAR READERS, mainstream media, which President Trump has increasingly and correctly dismissed as “fake news,” tried to peddle fake news surrounding his Sweden comments. In fact, many MSM claimed Trump invented a “terror attack” in Sweden. President Trump himself later took to Twitter to point out that he was referring to the Fox News segment that highlighted the effects of mass migration on Sweden -- not a “terror attack” that the MSM falsely claimed he had referred to. He again hit the media : “Give the public a break -- The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!." • The New American has documented the growing wave of migrants flooding into Europe from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and beyond, showing that it has Europe on the ropes. And that is the point, says American Thinker : "globalists deliberately engineered the situation, first bombing and destroying multiple Third World countries -- Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more -- and then offering huge sums of tax money to migrants who made it to Europe. The United Nations has overseen much of the scheme. And now, with the problems becoming obvious for all to see, the same globalist establishment that caused the chaos is exploiting it to wage war on liberty, national sovereignty, and even nationhood....Humanity must resist, starting by holding the establishment perpetrators behind the tragic situation accountable for their crimes." • To come full circle to America and Barack Obama's apparent Progressive agenda to push radical Moslems into the US government, McQuillan says in her American Thinker article : "Democrat champion Linda Sarsour is not a fluke. She did not sneak into the White House or get placed on the podium of the Women's March by mistake. The Democratic Party rejects moderate Moslems and is happy to ally itself with Moslem-American radicals....The new head of the DNC is likely to be Keith Ellison, another anti-Semitic Moslem who supports cop-killers and is funded by Moslem Brotherhood groups. Linda Sarsour is the face of Barack Obama's new Democrats. Expect to see more of her and others like her. She is one of many." • Another American Thinker article titled A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Germany: January 2017, by the same Soeren Kern mentioned above, gives a day-by-day summary of migrant-related crimes in Germany in January. Kern's summary is chilling : "German authorities issued 105,000 visas for so-called family reunifications in 2016, a 50% increase over the 70,000 visas issued in 2015, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The 105,000 visas for family members were in addition to the 280,000 new asylum seekers who arrived in Germany in 2016....Police say Sudanese migrants, many of whom were allowed to enter Germany without having their fingerprints taken, have "created a business model" out of social security fraud. Local officials have been accused of covering up the fraud....An employee at a social security office handed her boss a file with 30 cases of suspected fraud. After he refused to act, she contacted the police. She was fired for "overstepping her authority."....Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble revealed that the migrant crisis would cost German taxpayers €43 billion ($46 billion) during 2016 (€21.7 billion) and 2017 (€21.3 billion)....The Bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, said there could be no reconciliation between Christians and Moslems. Islam is a "post-Christian phenomenon, with the claim to negate the core content of Christianity," he said. You can read Kern's full report at https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9959/germany-islam-january. • Not that Obama and his Progressive Democrats seem to care about migrant crime. They’re too busy whipping up fake outrage about fake accusations that Donald Trump is a racist anti-Semite, ignoring those who are the most reliable, most consistent, most ardent anti-Semites in the world -- radical Islam. We have been warned.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pence Assures Europe and Nato of Trump Support and Demands End to Russian Aggression

Mainstream media is focused right now on whether President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security can deport all the illegal immigrants now living in the United States. Of course they can, but with time and logistical difficulties. But, the MSM is not concerned with the logistics of deporting them. The MSM is stressed about how President Trump could "criminalize" all these people, driving them underground where they will no longer be safe in seeking US social sservices and where they will be afraid to report other illegals engaged in criminal activity. But, isn't that the goal??? At least the part about getting them off social services rolls and out of the country. Let's leave the Progressives to their lament. There are more interesting things to discuss -- why, for example, Progressives and their MSM have not mentioned the real facts coming out of Vice President Mike Pence's trip to Europe. • There is little reporting about the Pence trip because it has been made explicitly clear by both his staff and the White House that he was on a mission for President Trump. And it was a mission that provides facts to negate the MSM litany of fake news attacks on Trump and his team, accusing them of being 'soft' on Russia at best, or having signed on as KGB operatives at worst. • • • THE PENCE MESSAGES TO EUROPE. The Associated Press on Friday provided a running account of Vice President Pence's meetings with European and other leaders while he was in Germany for the annual Munich Security Conference. (1) Pence met with the president of Ukraine and assured him of US support. Pence's office says he "underscored US support" for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and underlined that the US does not recognize "Russia's occupation and attempted annexation" of Crimea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office says during Saturday's meeting with the Vice President in Munich his country "received a powerful signal that the US stands with Ukraine, that Ukraine is among the top priorities for the new US administration." (2) Vice President Pence reaffirmed US commitment to the security of the Baltic states in a meeting with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Pence's office says the Vice President noted the Trump administration's support for the collective defense of NATO allies and the need for NATO to counter terrorism. Pence's office said the leaders expressed their concerns over the ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine and discussed the need to make progress toward the full implementation of the Minsk agreement to resolve the conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists. (3) Pence met separately with the leaders of Iraq and its Kurdistan region, thanking both for committing to fight ISIS. The White House says Pence also commended Iraq's security forces for their battlefield success during his meeting with Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Officials say both leaders underscored the importance of continuing progress in the fight against ISIS, as well as on Iraq's economic recovery and freeing the city of Mosul from ISIS. In the meeting with Masoud Barzani, the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Pence thanked Barazani and said the US continues to support a unified, federal and democratic Iraq. The White House says Pence encouraged close cooperation between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan regional government. (4) The White House said Vice President Pence expressed support for Afghanistan's national unity government during a meeting with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. They talked about ways to improve relations between their countries and to advance mutual interests, particularly on counterterrorism cooperation and economic development. The White House said they also affirmed the importance of continuing the "strategic partnership" between the US and Afghanistan. (5) The White House reported that Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have committed to continue close cooperation on a range of global issues. Both leaders separately addressed the Munich Security Conference before their meeting. Pence and Merkel also discussed the need for NATO member countries to meet their "burden-sharing" commitments. The White House says they also agreed that the alliance must continue to transform itself to meet 21st century threats. Pence thanked the chancellor for leading on Ukraine and expressed appreciation for Germany's contributions in Afghanistan and to the coalition fighting ISIS. (6) In his Munich speech, the Vice President reinforced the Trump administration's message that NATO members must spend more on defense. NATO's 28 member countries promised in 2014 to commit to spending 2% of their gross domestic product on defense within a decade. Pence said in his remarks that only the US and four other NATO members are meeting the standard [Britain, Italy, Hungary and Estonia]. President Trump has called on NATO members to spend more on their militaries and Pence said the "time has come" for allies to boost spending because the dangers they all face are growing and changing every day. He added that failure to meet the spending commitment undermines the alliance's ability to come to each other's aid. Vice President Pence said in his address that the United States will "hold Russia accountable" even as President Trump searches for new common ground with Russia at the start of his presidency. Pence told the Security Conference that with regard to Ukraine, the international community must hold Russia accountable and demand that it honor the 2015 Minsk peace agreement aimed at ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists. Pence also offered assurances of the US commitment to NATO and the European Union. The Vice President also assured NATO allies that the United States strongly supports NATO and "will be unwavering in our commitment to this trans-Atlantic alliance." He said President Trump "will stand with Europe." • We know what Progressive Democrats and their MSM propagandists are saying about Trump being in Putin's pocket, or being so naive that he is being used as an 'unwitting' Russian agent. But consider this : Vice President Pence touched every hot button Europe has with Trump in relation to NATO, Ukraine, Crimea, and Russian aggression. Would President Trump bother to send his Vice President to Europe to deliver these pro-Europe pro-NATO messages and report on them individually as they were delivered if the Trump administration had no intention of acting on them? We know Donald Trump too well to believe he would waste time doing such a thing if he weren't committed to it. • • • PROGRESSIVES DEMOCRATS FEAR TRUMP. Last week, American Thinker published an article by Jeffrey Ludwig titled "Democrats fear Trump's success with Russia." Ludwig wrote that in one of his latest tweets, President Trump stated : "The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by 'intelligence' like candy. Very un-American!" Trump, says Ludwig, "is rightly concerned that he is being portrayed as soft on Russia, and even of cooperating with the Russians in their nefarious plots." • Calling Trump "soft" on Russia is bewildering when we consider Obama's multiple weaknesses when facing Russia. Ludwig lists the major Obama failures : "an arms agreement was signed between US and Russia; Russia and the US were on the same page regarding the Iran deal; Obama relented on his Syrian red line, so called, by accepting Russian intervention to get Bashar al-Assad to eliminate his chemical weapons (whether or not he did is still the $64,000 question); and Russia was allowed to take Crimea with nary a peep from the USA. Further, we all recall Obama saying to Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev when he thought the microphones were off that he would be able to work more closely with the Russians once he was re-elected. Thus, it seems to any impartial observer (including Hillary) that the Obama administration was quite open to deals with Russia. Yet, because of some positive remarks about Vladimir Putin from Trump, the public position taken by the Dems as a whole has been that Trump is soft on Russia....their criticism is more of a political ploy....Trump is against the Iran deal and will be no pushover regarding Russian aggression, but there might be common ground between the US and Russia in the fight against ISIS and other maniacal Islamic groups. This possibility is deeply offensive to the Democrats who insist, against overwhelming evidence, that there is no threat to the US or the West from adherents of Islam." • • • DEAR READERS, Donald Trump has long understood that the Russia relationship was badly bent to favor Russia during 7 years and 10 months of the Obama presidency. Then when it suited him politically, Obama accused Russia of hacking Democrat headquarters and colluding with Trump to beat Hillary Clinton -- all fake news used to cover the stunning electoral loss suffered by the Progressive Democrats. Trump sees the need for a re-orientation of America's relationship with Russia. The Democrats are afraid of such a reorientation -- one that, according to Ludwig : "will successfully lead to an abandonment of the Iran deal and the deliverance of a knockout blow to the Islamic maniacs in the Middle East and around the world. Those successes would prove that the Democrats are weak and silly creatures. Further, Trump has reintroduced a personal element into the insipid world of diplomacy and has a sense that Putin's macho man persona matches more with his own than with the Obama effeminacy." • President Trump's words and actions are proof that he supports NATO and will not desert Europe, but that he is willing to deal with Russia in areas where there is common ground -- all without becoming a weak President, as Barack Obama was in allowing Russia to get the upper hand in the first place. When Donald Trump says he will try to get along with Vladimir Putin, that is not capitulation. It is a firm hand once more at the helm in the White House.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

General Flynn and the Russian Ambassador -- Maybe It Is Simply a First Rate SpyTale, but It Could Represent a Paradigm Shift

President Trump on Monday named Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, a warrior-scholar who is an expert in counter insurgency, to be the director of the White House's National Security Council. Trump also announced that Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg will remain as the NSC’s chief of staff. McMaster, sitting with Trump and Kellogg in Trump's Mar a Lago home in Palm Beach, said : “I’m proud to continue my service to the nation.” Kellogg added : "I'm honored and privileged to serve alongside General McMaster. He's a great statesman." McMaster is currently director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. He joined the Army in 1984 and distinguished himself seven years later during the Gulf War in what would become known as the Battle of 73 Easting. As captain of the prestigious 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment's Eagle Troop, McMaster led a force of just nine tanks that took out more than 80 Iraqi Republican Guard tanks and armored vehicles. He is also the author of the 1997 book, "Dereliction of Duty," which criticized the US government's handling of the Vietnam War. In his latest role, McMaster was tasked with gauging the US military capability against future threats. He warned Congress last April that years of military cuts have left the US vulnerable : “We are outranged and outgunned by many potential adversaries,” McMaster said. “[And] our army in the future risks being too small to secure the nation.” • • • BUT WHAT ABOUT GENERAL FLYNN? The 54-year-old McMaster -- extremely well-qualified, a remarkable military commander and strategist -- replaces retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as the President’s national security advisor after Flynn was forced to resign for allegedly lying about talking to Russia about the sanctions imposed by President Obama in December for what the US intel community said was Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton senior aides. Flynn was a private citizen at the time of the alleged contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, about the sanctions because President-Elect Turmp had not been sworn in yet as President. • The New York Times made the disclosures that brought down General Flynn. A NYT February 14 article alleged that President Trump's campaign team and other associates had repeated dealings with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, citing telephone records and intercepted calls disclosed to the Times by US officials -- who were and remain nameless "sources" because, as the NYT explained it : "All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified." According to the Times, the Trump team/Russia data were intercepted at about the same time that US intelligence officials were investigating Russian hacks into the Democratic National Committee and other party operatives last summer. The intel inquiry was then broadened to determine whether the Trump campaign was involved with the Russian hacking or other efforts to sway the election -- and officials told the NYT no evidence of such cooperation had been detected. • In addition, the NYT reported : "Officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, which Russian intelligence officials were on the calls, and how many of Mr. Trump's advisors were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself." The Times named only one former Trump associate detected on the calls -- Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, whose work as a political consultant in Ukraine is not news -- it was disclosed last summer. Manafort slammed the accusations as "absurd" Tuesday, telling the Times : "I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government, or the Putin administration, or any other issues under investigation today. It's not like these people wear badges that say, 'I'm a Russian intelligence officer.' " The officials declined to name any other Trump associates who might have been identified on the calls, according to the NYT. • The Times says that the National Security Agency initially captured the communications -- and the FBI asked the NSA to "collect as much information as possible about the Russian operatives on the phone calls, and to search through troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed." • BUT, the Times makes it clear that the data from wiretaps that were asked for by the FBI in the Trump team inquiry are not the data taken from the wiretapped conversations in December between General Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that reportedly detailed discussions about sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia earlier in December. • • • THE NYT STORY LACKS VERIFIABLE FACTS. The New York Times pointed an accusing finger at General Flynn based on wiretaps leaked from a non-related classified investigation -- such leaking is a criminal offense -- that was focused on alleged Russian hacking of Democratic campaign records AND that was expanded by the FBI to cover whether Trump's campaign team was involved in the Russian hacking AND that then collaterally found wiretappings of conversations between Flynn and Kislyak. NO EVIDENCE of Trump team involvement was uncovered. The intel community "leakers" remain unnamed by the NYT because of the classified nature of the investigation. The NYT used information from three of the four present and former officials interviewed for its story. Why did the NYT use information from only three of the four leakers for the article -- why not use the fourth leaker's information, too? The NYT does not explain -- is the fourth leaker dead or in disagreement with the version of the other three?? We do not know. Did anyone in the Trump team except Manafort, who denies the NYT allegation, talk to Russians? We do not know. President Trump and his Chief of Staff deny it and no evidence to prove otherwise has been revealed. What did General Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak discuss? Did Flynn decide on his own to contact Kislyak or, if he was directed, who directed Flynn to talk to Kislyak, and why. We do not know. • • • ENTER THE JERUSALEM POST. On Sunday, the Jerusalem Post published an interview with former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, as part of its effort to sort out the Flynn situation. Why? The JP begins the interview by saying that on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that some US intelligence officials are withholding certain intel from Trump because of continued concerns it will be compromised or leaked. President Trump and his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus have both denied that the WSJ article was accurate, saying that President Trump is getting full intel briefings. • But, according to the JPost, in December and January, stories started to circulate in the media that Israel, the UK, Australia and others might be reconsidering whether they could fully openly share intelligence with the Trump administration when incoming US President Trump, Flynn and others seemed so close to Russia. Then, on Thursday the disputed Wall Street Journal article reported that some US intelligence officials are withholding certain intel from Trump because of continued concerns it will be compromised or leaked. • So, the JPost asked former Mossad head Yatom and other former Israeli and US intel officers whether there are concerns in the Israeli intel community that Israeli intelligence may have been compromised. The JPost says that when it talked to US and Israeli officials in January and early February, they dismissed the concerns. But Flynn's resignation on Tuesday -- for allegedly having spoken to Russian officials about removing sanctions before Trump entered office as well as for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about what he discussed with the Russian ambassador -- made the JPost talk to Yatom and others again, leading to the Sunday JPost article. • Key to the JPost interview with Yatom is the fact that Flynn's meetings with the Russian ambassador were, according to the JPost, sandwiched in close proximity "to his secret meetings with Mossad Director Yossi Cohen," raising a red flag for the JPost about "whether Israeli intelligence has or could be leaked to Moscow." Some former intelligence officials indicated that they could not be sure one way or another about the fate of any Israeli intelligence given to Flynn, with one official saying, “He was a US general, I hope he was not a traitor.” Another former official said that Israel has no choice about whether to share intelligence with the US, noting : “We also receive. We can’t say yes and then no” about Israel asking for the US to share information and then refusing to share or refusing to share in an equal manner. • It was then, according to the JPost, that former Mossad director Danny Yatom came out strongly, saying he knew Flynn personally and affirming that he would not have leaked Israeli intelligence information to Russia even if he may have violated certain US norms by discussing sanctions relief with Russia before Trump took office. Asked about the possibility of a leak, Yatom said, “I don’t think so, from my personal evaluation. Flynn was very experienced. No one thinks he was a Russian spy. He was experienced and smart enough. Maybe he made a mistake even with no intention, but that can happen to anyone. I don’t think we need to worry that our intelligence will go to Russia.” Yatom even speculated that Flynn may have even “been thrown under the bus,” seeming to agree with theories that Flynn’s discussion of sanctions with Russian officials may have been under orders from Trump, but that at this point he may have “fallen on his sword” to protect the US President from fallout. • In any case, Yatom told the JPost that Flynn’s dismissal should not have a huge impact on Israeli-US intelligence cooperation for a very important reason -- Yatom explained that Israeli information meant exclusively for the US goes directly to the CIA or the National Security Agency : “Only after it gets to the NSA does it get to the President. The CIA and NSA don’t need to tell the President and others at the White House who is the source of the intelligence they received -- they don’t need to know.” Yatom explained that if the US President does not know the source of the intelligence, then there is no danger to Israel’s sources and no danger to sharing the intelligence. • Yatom also described a second kind of intel that he labeled : “intelligence we intentionally want to give to Russia. We give them a paraphrase. We don’t give them the actual original material which would let them analyze potential sources of the material. We give intelligence to Russia, for example, to convince them that Iran is not standing by its obligations. Some of the facts we present to Russia directly and some through the US, but we do it in a smart way so they can’t figure out the source.” Overall, Yatom said he was most worried by reports that US intelligence officials did not trust Trump enough to give him the full picture. • • • ISRAEL AND SAUDI ARABIA VS IRAN. While former Mossad director Yatom was supporting General Flynn, the Jerusalem Post broke another story on Monday about an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman responding to anti-Iran comments made by Israeli and Saudi officials, claiming their shared stance comes as no surprise. The comments were made at the Munich Security Conference -- where Senator McCain attacked President Trump. Both Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir addressed the Conference, and each said that Iran constitutes a threat to each of their countries, that Iran has not moderated its behavior in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal and that it should face renewed economic pressure from the international community. The JPost reported that the Israeli and Saudi ministers stopped short of saying they would cooperate to thwart Iran, but Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that Jerusalem and Riyadh are already working "hand in glove" in the Middle East and their matching assessments given on Sunday came as no surprise. Iran rejected Israeli and Saudi claims that the Islamic Republic was a destabilizing force in the region, repeating that it is no surprise that Jerusalem and Riyadh share the same views. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif called out Israel's "audacity," saying Iran will never develop nuclear weapons. Iranian official news agency Press TV quoted Zarif spokesman Qassemi as saying : “The parallelism between the positions of the Saudi foreign minister and the Israeli war minister on Iran is not coincidental. Many instances of evidence indicate coordination between the two regimes in regional cases.” Qassemi said Liberman's and Jubeir's claims against Iran reflected their countries' "painful desperation. Both regimes think they should stir the international atmosphere against Iran as a means of making up for their multitudinous defeats and frustrations in the region." Qassemi said Israel's attempts to enlist a Moslem country in its efforts against Iran were "pathetic." • While Liberman called for an alliance with sunni states, Jubeir did not directly respond when asked if he envisions a coalition with Israel against Teheran. Jubeir, who spoke after Liberman, pointedly rejected a new Iranian call for a dialogue with sunni Arab Gulf states, telling the Conference that the Islamic Republic is trying to “upend the order” in the Middle East and seeks the destruction of Saudi Arabia : “The Iranians speak of wanting to turn a new page, wanting to look forward, not backward. This is great, but what about the present? We can’t ignore what they are doing in the region. We can’t ignore their constitution which calls for the export of the revolution. How can one deal with a nation whose intent is to destroy us?” Liberman also accused Iran of trying to undermine Saudi Arabia and termed Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force [Quds Force is the foreign operation of the IRG], “the No.1 terrorist in the world. If you ask me, ‘What is the biggest news in the Middle East?’ I think that [for] the first time since 1948 the moderate Arab world, sunni world, understands that the biggest threat for them is not Israel, not Jews and not Zionism, but Iran and Iranian proxies,” Liberman said, pointing to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and the Houthi militia in Yemen. • • • ON THE SAME DAY, RUSSIAN UN AMBASSADOR DIES. The media reaction was one of stunned disbelief when Russian officials announced that Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin died Monday in New York. His death was also announced inside the UN Trusteeship Council Chamber, where there was also stunned shock. Churkin died one day before his 65th birthday at the Russian Embassy on East 67th Street on Monday when he experienced a “cardiac condition,” the New York Post reported. He was rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital at around 9:30 a.m. unconscious and in need of CPR. Churkin had been Russia's envoy at the United Nations since 2006 and was considered Moscow's great champion at the UN. He had a reputation for an acute wit and sharp repartee, especially with his American and Western counterparts. He was currently the longest-serving member of the Security Council, the UN's most powerful body. Among many other issues, he had recently raised Russia's views on the conflict in Syria, a close ally protected by Russia at the UNSC, sparring with diplomats from the US and other Western countries over whether to impose sanctions or take action to end the conflict in Syria. President Vladimir Putin was notified of the death, according to the state news agency TASS. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said : "The President was grieved to learn about the death of Vitaly Churkin. The head of state highly estimated Churkin's professionalism and diplomatic talents." • • • ON THE SAME DAY, ISRAELI MINISTER SUPPORTS TRUMP PEACEMAKING. Israel Today quotes Israel Public Security Minister Gil’ad Erdan as saying on Monday said that with US President Donald Trump rewriting the rule of Mideast peacemaking, there was now a real chance for a genuine agreement between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors. At his press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, Trump said he was not married to the two-state solution, and would consider any reasonable proposal for peace, so long as Israel likes it. Speaking at a gathering of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, Erdan said that attitude from an American President is a game-changer : "We have an opportunity to create, together with the administration, the conditions for serious peace negotiations, by changing the basic approach of the international community. I believe that peace is possible. Every time Israel had a real partner for peace, we were willing to take far-reaching steps. If we have a true partner for peace, and we have to check that we have a true partner, we can make a deal, as some like to say. You probably know who I’m talking about.” • • • DEAR READERS, here we have a lot of what could be seen as interacting information being released in a short timeframe by interested parties. There are connections among the parties -- they are all major players in the Middle East; they are all vital to making a Middle East peace happen; and they are all lined up either on the American side or the Russian side of the issue. Can we build a plausible scenario from these recent events? Here is one possibility. General Flynn was on a clandestine mission for President-Elect / President Trump to create change in "the basic approach of the international community" as Erdan called it -- a paradigm shift in the Middle East equation -- by bringing Russia over to the American side. He was talking to the Russian ambassador and to the Israeli Mossad intel director simultaneously as part of his mission. Israel was at the same time talking to Saudi Arabia to keep the Kingdom in the loop. The discussions were not about an Israel-Palestine peace deal but about a new Middle East alliance that would bring together the US, Israel, the sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia AND Russia. Its goal would be to isolate and de-fang Iran as the terrorist leader of Middle East unrest. Russia had apparently agreed in principle during the Flynn conversations because it saw its allegiance to Iran as leading only to a renewed isolation featuring sanctions and a greatly reduced voice in the international arena. Saudi Arabia, which for some time allegedly has been secretly cooperating with Israel on defense situations, saw the Russian acceptance of the paradigm shift as the opportunity to make the sunni Arab-Israel alliance quasi-official. Former Mossad director Yatom, in speaking to the Jerusalem Post, was delivering a re-enforcing coded message to Russia that it could rely on the Flynn conversations because they came with Trump approval, and that Russia could therefore ignore US media and intel leaks about Russian trickery, as well as its own direct 'fake' intel from Obama holdovers. Churkin was a weak link in the Russian chain because he came from the Soviet era and deeply distrusted the US and Israel. Thus, his sudden 'heart attack.' As for Flynn, the wiretap intercepts caught him in a spotlight he could not explain away easily without ruining the mission. So, he resigned to save the clandestine mission's goals and his boss President Trump, the leader in the effort to bring about the paradigm shift. • If this scenario is close to being correct -- something I have no way of knowing -- then we can expect an announcement after a respectable passage of time that Russia supports the Israel-sunni Arab de facto detente and will work with it to bring about peace in the Middle East. I feel sure we will never hear Russia condemn Iran, or Syria or Palestine for that matter, but its actions will speak volumes about the paradigm shift having occurred. • And, that dear readers, is the end of my John Le Carré SpyTale for the day.