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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: February 05, 2018, 05:34:42 PM
crafty - always glad to contribute when possible.

The Nunes memo summarizes some evidence learned on the classified side of the House Committee's oversight investigation into the issue of the Obama Administration's use of counterintelligence tools under the pretext of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Because this info was classified, it was kept in a secure reading room and one member of the Committee only could actually read it.  The Committee chose Trey Gowdy for this assignment.  Rep. Gowdy examined the evidence and then reported on what he read to the Chairman Nunes.  Then, in consultation with Gowdy, Nunes prepared a classified memo for distribution to the Republican members of his committee.  The memo confirmed some of the worst fears about how the FISC may have been manipulated into granting a warrant to spy on US citizens.  The Page case became one example of this abuse of power.

Remember that the committee is investigating a series of possible abuses that include misleading the FISC.  The Committee is also investigating the possible abuse of the power to unmask the identity of US citizens involved in conversations with foreign agents that are lawfully having their conversations intercepted.  This led to Flynn and his process crime of lying to an investigator about talking to the Russian ambassador.  The Committee also is likely investigating other possible abuses of power.

Nunes and Gowdy, I suspect, both fear that the Obama administration abused its foreign intelligence power in more than one way in order to spy on Trump.  They are trying to build a case that will result in more reforms and perhaps the prosecution of those who violated the law.  They both saw the Russian collusion political ploy as an opportunity to train the oversight powers of the Congress onto these potential abuses and expose them for the public to see.  Thus, when the Democrats wanted the Congress to investigate Russian interference and potential collusion with Trump in the last election, they supported the investigation.

The Nunes memo should be viewed as one piece of direct and circumstantial evidence that will lead to proving or disproving their hypothesis about Obama admin abuses.  Both Gowdy and Nunes have made no secret of the fact that they both fear past similar abuses of power in the disclosures about the Benghazi debacle and the IRS actions to deny tax-exempt certification to pro-Republican, Tea Party, and other groups that sought to support Romney during the 2012 election.  

In addition, Andy McCarthy has made a strong case that President Obama himself may have been behind the whole scheme in order to hide his emails he sent under a false name to Hilary's personal email account.  The Russian collusion story then becomes a replay of the anti-Muslim video scenario that was used to justify why we were surprised that in a North African nation, Libya, on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, that a mob suddenly attacked our compounds in Benghazi.  You invent a story, punish a scapegoat or two and hide from the public what really happened.  

Mrs. Clinton's personal email server would require disclosure of these emails from the President under a false name.  Suddenly, thousands of emails are scrubbed, bleached, and cannot be found.  Kind of like losing 18 minutes of tape ...

And when the political campaign would then bring up the Clinton Foundation's dealings with Russian lobbyists, the response is that Trump did it, too.  And when a lot of emails are phished from Podesta's personal gmail account because he fell for a phishing scam, the response is that not only did Trump work with the Russians on business deals, but also he colluded with them to steal the election from Hilary.  

To apply a phrase from the Nixon years, the Obama admin and its supporters went into full hold-out and, then, cover-up mode.  Just as Nixon did abuse certain powers and tried to get other agencies to join him, the Obama admin also did the same thing.  Instead of using "plumbers", they used the secret FISC process.  Instead of using burglars, they abused the unmasking process.  Etc., etc., etc ...

This certainly seems to be a reasonable hypothesis to investigate.  The Nunes memo is the first step in a long process of using Congressional oversight to obtain the proof - for or against such a hypothesis.  The Nunes memo certainly supports more investigation into the facts to determine whether this hypothesis is the truth.  The fact that it cannot be readily disproved at this time is the fact that most disturbs me today.  
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: February 05, 2018, 11:44:34 AM
We need to see all warrant requests made to the FISC by DOJ or other government agencies that involved Carter Page - not just the initial one that was granted in October 2016.  Were there requests made before October 2016 that were not granted by the FISC? 

We need to learn the identities of all US citizens who were subjected to federal investigation, surveillance, or any other inquiries by any agency of the federal govt (not just the Special Counsel) as a result of information learned through the Page FISC-authorized surveillance.  Whose bank records were seized?  Whose neighbors, friends, or business associates were interviewed?  In other words why was the surveillance re-authorized 4 more times? 

Were subsequent requests for extension of the Page FISC order also supported by the intercepts of Flynn and others talking to the Russian ambassador?

In other words, there exists strong probable cause to believe that Comey, Strzok and Page leaked to the press certain information learned from the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.  How were they acquiring all of this information in that investigation?  Certainly, not just from the Page surveillance. 

If these actors would go to these lengths to get FISC authorization for surveillance on Page, what else were they doing under color of federal law once the investigation commenced in mid-2016? 

One main assessment that can be made here is that the entire story of Trump collusion with Russia was a deliberate disinformation effort concocted to conceal a lot of other really bad stuff.  Human behavior patterns do repeat themselves. 
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: social justice wars , SJW warriors, gender warriors , victimhood on: November 17, 2017, 05:28:36 AM
Pence does not look so stupid now for never being alone with a woman other than his wife. 

All of these stories remind me of the Salem witch trials.  Mass social hysteria.  Who will be the progressive's Cotton Mather? 
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Saudi Arabia & the Arabian Peninsula on: November 07, 2017, 03:55:42 PM
The last time that a major Sunni power fought a war in Yemen, many unanticipated bad things followed.  That was Egypt in the 1960's.  I'm more concerned about the Saudi-Iran conflict and the various proxy wars that could spin out of this conflict than I am concerned about the Nork's.

Egypt's failures in Yemen led it to gin up conflicts - one of which was the Six Days War.  Just sayin' ...
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: October 31, 2017, 05:44:51 AM
The Podesta Group is very likely one of the two companies named in the Manafort indictment as being hired by Manafort to lobby in the US for his pro-Russia Ukraine clients.  Tony Podesta resigned yesterday as the head of The Podesta Group and blamed Fox News.

What the Sp Counsel alleges against Manafort is that he earned a bunch of money overseas, did not declare it as income, deposited it into various undeclared on FBAR's foreign bank accounts that he and Davis controlled, and, brought back part of those funds into the US without declaring that as income and paying income tax on it.  In the midst of this, they also allege money laundering.  This will be difficult to prove because it is not illegal to earn money for political consulting in foreign countries. 

But, if the Sp Counsel can prove that Manafort and Gates controlled certain banks opened in the names of foreign companies that they also controlled, then this is the same principle as income tax evasion. 

In the end, we are going to learn that Russia was actively lobbying here for many things.  And this does not even touch the entire UraniumOne issue.  Of course, by passing Magnitsky Act, Congress was attempting to influence internal Russian policies. 
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: October 30, 2017, 10:16:48 AM

what is truly amazing there is nothing here that cannot be said of Clinton,  Podesta, and Schultz and one or more of the lawyers

Nothing !

If these allegations are true, then Manafort and Gates will not be the first to have tried such a scheme ... and they will not be the last as long as the US taxes worldwide income regardless of where the income was earned.  There was a local married couple near me who tried the same thing with income earned from the operation and sale of medical schools located on several Caribbean islands.  You are OK until you try and bring the money back into the US without declaring the relevant portion of it as income.  Any transaction of any size creates reports at your receiving US banks that get filed with FinServ at Treasury. 

The Swiss banks used to provide very specific advice to their clients on setting up off-shore companies like these in order to avoid the tax.  Then, the US went after them and held their ability to do business in the US hostage until they agreed to abandon their long-term commitment to customer confidentiality. 

Also, what is also weird here is that the US had provided an amnesty window for filing FBAR reports on foreign bank accounts.  Manafort and Gates could have escaped most all liability here if they had filed accurate FBAR's during that amnesty period. 
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: October 27, 2017, 07:26:52 PM
The Washington Free Beacon has admitted to hiring Fusion GPS in the fall of 2015.  This website was founded originally by the Center for American Freedom as anon-profit entity.  Bill Kristol is a board member of the Center for American Freedom.

The editor in chief of the Free Beacon is Matthew Continetti.  This publication went private in 2014 or 2015.  Continetti remains as Editor in Chief of the Free Beacon.  He is the son-in-law of Bill Kristol. 

An alleged investor in the for-profit Free Beacon is hedge fund operator Paul Singer who is the chairman of Elliott Management.  This company is an activist investor.  One of its more successful activist endeavors was its reorganization of Juniper Networks. 
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: October 26, 2017, 06:41:47 AM
I heard somewhere recently that O'Reilly, who was divorced in 2011, had been dating Lis Wiehl.  And then there was a falling out between the two.  There could have been business relationships intertwined with their personal relationship.

The only thing I would note about the timing of the complaints is that these women complainants appear to play this card when their contracts are up for renewal.  Fatal Attraction was big at the box office in the late 1970's.  I guess the lesson of that movie has been forgotten by many - even those old enough to have seen it during its original release.   wink 
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: October 26, 2017, 06:31:37 AM
In late 2015 or early 2016, there was a donor funding a Republican Stop-Trump movement.  There was even a website.  This person could have been the donor who paid others to retain Fusion GPS. 
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: October 25, 2017, 01:41:39 PM
I wonder if Bill Kristol hired Fusion GPS.  Or if he had enough money to hire them.  Just speculating here.
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: October 25, 2017, 03:54:36 AM
who was the Republican ?

Bush campaign?

One of 15 possibilities.  Could also be Romney or McCain or someone close to them like Graham.

If the information in this dossier was used in probable cause affidavits for FISA warrants or other law enforcement investigative actions, then the Russian interference campaign will have achieved results beyond expectations.  It has caused the US federal government to spend hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of personnel hours chasing a classic disinformation campaign that used a political opposition research firm to spread its magic dust. 

Unfortunately, I sense that this is a huge ball of yarn that is not anywhere close to being unraveled.  And a lot of other data points like the bleached emails, the Clinton Foundation, Uranium One and a bunch of other things are tied into this effort. 

Nothing reported about this issue for the past 18-20 months can be trusted.

12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: October 24, 2017, 07:47:05 PM
Well. Well. Well.

From the Washington Post

By Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett and Rosalind S. Helderman October 24 at 7:21 PM

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

Fusion GPS gave Steele’s reports and other research documents to Elias, the people familiar with the matter said. It is unclear how or how much of that information was shared with the campaign and the DNC and who in those organizations was aware of the roles of Fusion GPS and Steele. One person close to the matter said the campaign and the DNC were not informed by the law firm of Fusion GPS’s role.

The dossier has become a lightning rod amid the intensifying investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia. Some congressional Republican leaders have spent months trying to discredit Fusion GPS and Steele and tried to determine the identity of the Democrat or organization that paid for the dossier.

Trump tweeted as recently as Saturday that the Justice Department and FBI should “immediately release who paid for it.”

Elias and Fusion GPS declined to comment on the arrangement. Spokesmen for the Clinton campaign and the DNC had no immediate comment.

Some of the details are included in a Tuesday letter sent by Perkins Coie to a lawyer representing Fusion GPS, telling the research firm that it was released from a ­client-confidentiality obligation. The letter was prompted by a legal fight over a subpoena for Fusion GPS’s bank records.

People involved in the matter said that they would not disclose the dollar amounts paid to Fusion GPS but that the campaign and the DNC shared the cost.

Steele previously worked in Russia for British intelligence. The dossier is a compilation of reports he prepared for Fusion GPS. The dossier alleged that the Russian government collected compromising information about Trump and that the Kremlin was engaged in an effort to assist his campaign for president.

U.S. intelligence agencies later released a public assessment asserting that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to aid Trump. The FBI has been investigating whether Trump associates helped the Russians in that effort.

Trump has adamantly denied the allegations in the dossier and has dismissed the FBI probe as a witch hunt.

Officials have said that the FBI has confirmed some of the information in the dossier. Other details, including the most sensational accusations, have not been verified and may never be.

Fusion GPS’s work researching Trump began during the Republican presidential primaries, when the GOP donor paid for the firm to investigate the real estate magnate’s background.

Fusion GPS did not start off looking at Trump’s Russia ties but quickly realized that those relationships were extensive, according to the people familiar with the matter.

When the Republican donor stopped paying for the research, Elias, acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, agreed to pay for the work to continue. The Democrats paid for research, including by Fusion GPS, because of concerns that little was known about Trump and his business interests, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Those people said that it is standard practice for political campaigns to use law firms to hire outside researchers to ensure their work is protected by attorney-client and work-product privileges.

The Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, according to campaign finance records, and the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting’’ since November 2015 — though it’s impossible to tell from the filings how much of that work was for other legal matters and how much of it related to Fusion GPS.

At no point, the people said, did the Clinton campaign or the DNC direct Steele’s activities. They described him as a Fusion GPS subcontractor.

Some of Steele’s allegations began circulating in Washington in the summer of 2016 as the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation into possible connections between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Around that time, Steele shared some of his findings with the FBI.

After the election, the FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering intelligence about Trump and Russia, but the bureau pulled out of the arrangement after Steele was publicly identified in news reports.

The dossier was published by BuzzFeed News in January. Fusion GPS has said in court filings that it did not give BuzzFeed the documents.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that Steele was respected by the FBI and the State Department for earlier work he performed on a global corruption probe.

In early January, then-FBI Director James B. Comey presented a two-page summary of Steele’s dossier to President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump. In May, Trump fired Comey, which led to the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia matter.

Congressional Republicans have tried to force Fusion GPS to identify the Democrat or group behind Steele’s work, but the firm has said that it will not do so, citing confidentiality agreements with its clients.

Last week, Fusion GPS executives invoked their constitutional right not to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee. The firm’s founder, Glenn Simpson, had previously given a 10-hour interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Over objections from Democrats, the Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), subpoenaed Fusion GPS’s bank records to try to identify the mystery client.

Fusion GPS has been fighting the release of its bank records. A judge on Tuesday extended a deadline for Fusion GPS’s bank to respond to the subpoena until Friday while the company attempts to negotiate a resolution with Nunes.
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Second American Civil War on: October 12, 2017, 08:14:48 AM
Story turned out to be false.

Please ignore.
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: September 19, 2017, 06:18:51 PM

Well. Well. Well.  Trump Tower was indeed wiretapped.   
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Second American Civil War on: August 15, 2017, 04:19:25 PM
People are judging Trump's response assuming that the identity of the driver was known at about 4:30 pm EDT when Trump tweeted and then gave his first formal remarks.  My recollection is that the news about the driver's identity broke after Trump's speech.

At the time of the Saturday afternoon speech, there was news about a riot between antifa and nazis over the RE Lee statue.  There was the video of the car plowing into the crowd.  However, the news of the person's arrest and the release of his identity came many hours after Trump's first comments.  Trump issued condolences to the family of the woman killed by the driver and called her innocent.

What galls me here is that people are not accurately reporting the timeline of events and criticizing Trump's initial comments as if there was clear evidence that the nazis were the only ones at fault.  

And then there is this article about the Charlottesville Mayor proclaiming his city to be the capitol of "the resistance."
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Second American Civil War on: August 15, 2017, 06:03:19 AM
We have seen this story in the past.  For example, Germany from 1917 to the mid 1920's.

Spain in the mid-1930's.

Unless people are willing to acknowledge that antifa and the nazis are equally evil, we will descend in the same manner as Germany and Spain.

I heard Hayes say the same thing.  And Krauthammer.  People forget that Stalin and Hitler were allies from August 1939 until June 1941.  They carved up Poland together.  There is little difference in concept between the two forces.  They just choose different groups against which to spew their hate.
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Second American Civil War on: August 14, 2017, 08:31:19 PM
Just pointing out that Trump's original tweets occurred before it was confirmed that a Nazi was behind the wheel of the car that killed and injured those people in Charlottesville, but that it occurred after video showed violent clashes between antifa thugs and Nazi thugs.  He then offered condolences to the family of the woman killed by the Nazi.  He then went silent for about 40 hours.  He then gave his speech earlier today specifically including white supremacists, Nazis and the KKK as among those groups espousing hate.

Both extremes got the riot they desired.  The fact that this time it was the Nazis who committed Saturday's most heinous crime does not excuse the acts of antifa earlier in the day.  A pox on them both.
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: August 05, 2017, 06:53:53 PM
Len Blavatnik is not exactly a secretive person.

Blavatnik's investment company's office is on the 20th floor of a large office building across the street from Trump Tower.  So is the Argentine Consulate and many other business.

The gist of the professor's article is that because Blavatnik may know Deripaska and because Deripaska is connected to Putin and other pro-Putin oligarchs, ergo, Blavatnik's donations to the Republican PAC's are motivated by pro-Putin interests rather by Blavatnik's interest in maintaining good relations with the party that might control the SEC and other regulators that have authority over his US based investment business. 

The author's bio

I am unimpressed with her reasoning in the article.  For example, 48% does not constitute a majority stake in any company.  I thought a CFP and a business professor would know that.  Also, it appears that she is connected with many of the same Ukrainian characters that attempted to assist Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign.  In other words, she does not seem all that more credentialed than many posters on this forum.  Yet, she published a sloppily written column designed to make a political point. 
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: August 02, 2017, 05:37:35 AM
Lawyers performing a counterintelligence investigation is a recipe for disaster.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 28, 2017, 06:16:12 PM
When one follows the money to Fusion GPS and the phony "Russian dossier" that it pushed to anti-Trump people, one can see the links to Putin and his efforts to rescind the Magnitsky Act.  All you need know here is that the retired Brit who authored the "dossier" defended a libel action against him in the UK by claiming that he thoroughly disclosed to Fusion GPS that his sources were Russian. 

Comey, McCain, and a cast of thousands were duped by that dossier because it confirmed their pre-existing opinions of Trump.  Comey likely used the dossier to ratchet up the counterintel investigation of Trump people.  Information in it was used to obtain a FISA warrant against certain Trump associates. 

Of course, the Russians had the other alternative covered.  If Hillary had been elected, then we'd be having investigations into the emails, servers, and other stuff.  I am confident that Russian intel operatives were behind the leak of the Podesta emails to Wikileaks; but I am not confident that they did the original phishing scam on Podesta. 

The most likely scenario here is that Putin outfoxed the DC swamp and the swamp does not want to admit it.  Hence, it is in full cover-up mode.  And, its cover-up consists mainly of attacking Trump in order to deflect the spotlight from them.

So, Putin and Russian intel has suceeded in neutralizing Trump with a special counsel investigation based upon a phony dossier that was spoon-fed to anti-Trump oppo research peeps by Russian operatives.  And the entire meeting with Trump Jr was a set-up designed to ascertain whether his group would be friendly to Russia and its efforts to overturn Magnitsky.  When Trmup Jr, Kushner and Manafort walked away, the effort shifted to the current effort to undermine Trump by using political opponents as unwittings.

21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 28, 2017, 01:18:16 PM
It looks more and more like Russia played both sides of the election and sought destabilization of US politics in retaliation for passage of the Magnitsky Act by Congress in 2012.

Russia appears to have succeeded in its efforts as well as the UK succeeded with the Zimmerman Telegram 100 years earlier.
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 15, 2017, 10:09:59 AM
It turns out that "the Russians" who met with Trump Jr., are also connected to Fusion GPS, the company that commissioned the fake British dossier.

Trump, Jr. declined to collude with these Russians and declined their "help" against Hillary.  Shortly afterwards, a dossier of alleged Trump Sr. indiscretions began to circulate.  And Senator McCain was somehow linked to requesting this info.  In addition, this dossier gets to the FBI and Comey.

Fusion GPS is at the center of all of these "collusions." 

23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 15, 2017, 06:41:52 AM
This pseudo-scandal is beyond laughable.

So, now, the big deal is that other Russian lobbyists and an interpreter accompanied the lawyer.  But the meeting was with the lawyer and the lawyer did all of the talking through an interpreter.

According to another lobbyist who was in the Russian "delegation",  the lawyer claimed to have information showing a flow of illicit funds from Russia to the DNC.  Trump Jr then asks her whether she has evidence to back up her claim including proof of the actual flow of money.  The lawyer then replied that the Trump campaign would have to research it more.'s-meeting

At this point, Trump Jr lost interest.  Kushner left the room.  The lawyer pivots to bring up the real reason she was there - to lobby for repeal of the Magnitsky Act so that Putin would rescind restrictions on Americans adopting Russian children.  Trump Jr ends the meeting after a total of 20-30 minutes.

In other words, in reality, Trump, Jr. decided not to work with "the Russians."
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 13, 2017, 01:06:04 PM
The Russia interference scenario is a corollary of the "Manafort is a Russian dupe" scenario that was directed at Trump beginning in May or June 2016. 

This was their pre-emptive strike against the Clinton Foundation and the uranium deal argument that they knew would be an issue in the campaign.  As well as a pre-emptive strike against the Podesta was phished problem.  If the Dems could blame that whole debacle on sophisticated Russian spies instead of Podesta falling for an obvious phishing scheme, then they can escape responsibility for their own failures.

If you recall, the anti-Trump Repub's and the Dem's went all in against Trump because Manafort had previously consulted for the preferred Russian political leader in Ukraine.  This is why Ukraine operatives tried to help Clinton in the 2016 election.  The argument went something like this: because Manafort had once consulted for pro-Russian politician, ergo Trump must be pro-Putin.

Then, the AZ airport meeting between Lynch and Bill Clinton was revealed.

Then, Comey held his first press conference at which he announced that he would recommend against not indicting Hillary over her email issues, but during which he made serious allegations against Hillary's email security.
The Mnafort line of attack stopped working after the Trump campaign replaced Manafort with Bannon and Conway.

Afterwards, when it became clear that Wikileaks had obtained Podesta's emails and would be releasing them, the Dem's began to shift the emphasis of this towards Russian hackers having illegally obtained these emails.

The shift in Dem talking points also occurred about the same time, August 2016, when Obama first learned of Russian attempts "to interfere in the election."

And, today, we learn that it was Sen. McCain who first sought to use the fake dossier on Trump. 

25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 13, 2017, 06:39:28 AM
What's not being talked about here is how this info was discovered.  Kushner and Manafort disclosed the meeting to relevant federal governmental authorities.  Thus, it is likely that the leakers were members of the staffs of the relevant federal authorities who received those disclosures along with the emails.

But the story is written from the point of view that Trump, Jr. did not disclose the same meeting that was disclosed by the other two.  Trump, Jr is not a federal employee (Kushner) and is not a registered foreign agent (Manafort).  He is not required to disclose anything.  And it is likely that the investigators got the emails from Kushner.  

Now,it turns out that the lawyer herself was admitted to the USA only to attend the trial of one of her clients, a Russian company.  But she broke the terms of her visa and used her presence in the USA to conduct unregistered lobbying to amend the Magnitsky Act.  And she got a meeting with Trump, Jr., Kushner, and Manafort by falsely claiming to the singer and his father that she had some dirt on Clinton.  

In other words, this was NOT an effort by the Russian government to interfere or influence the 2016 elections.  It was a lobbying effort to persuade the Trump campaign to support repeal of the Magnitsky Act.  It was part of an open effort that involved a film presentation at the Newsuem in DC and meetings with or introductions to up to 80 Congressmen.  And one of the backers of this lobbying effort was former Congressman Ron Dellums, a well-known leftist from the San Francisco area.
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 12, 2017, 05:35:00 AM
Likely scenario.

The singer and his father had been bragging to others in Russia about their connections to Trump.  One of those persons was the private lawyer who last was a Public Prosecutor in 2002 and who also likely represents Americans and Russians who are engaged in business or wish to become engaged in business in Russia.  Also, likely, she had a lucrative adoption business involving American clients.  The lawyer wants a meeting in order to begin lobbying for reinstatement of her adoption business.

After Trump wins Indiana and secures the nomination, the lawyer persuades the singer and his father to get her a meeting with Trump.  They use their PR rep and tell him to say that the lawyer has some dirt on Hillary.  The PR guy gets Trump, Jr to meet the lawyer.  The PR guy describes the lawyer first as a "Crown Prosecutor" and then as a government lawyer.  Both are false.

Trump, Jr thinks the meeting is for the lawyer to pitch to him the negative information about Hillary.  The lawyer wants the meeting to get the Trumps on board for reinstating the adoption business.  When it becomes clear early  why the lawyer wanted the meeting, Kushner walks out and Trump Jr ends the meeting 10-20 minutes afterwards.  They all view it as a waste of time and the move on to more important issues.
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: July 11, 2017, 03:45:11 PM
Just wondering how there could be a crown prosecutor of Russia when the crown and his family were all murdered 99 years ago?

Or did Crown Princess Anastasia have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren?
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump Transition/Administration on: July 03, 2017, 06:32:38 AM
While I take delight at the chaos and chagrin at CNN and this is sort of funny on one hand I have to admit there is something unnerving about this with a person whose ego is in outer space on the other hand:

Actually, it was a very humorous way to expose how the media was OK with Shakespeare's Julius Casesar being altered in Central Park to have a Trump lookalike stabbed to death in the Roman Senate.  That was just free expression said the media and the Left in reply to criticisms of the Right that it would incite violence.

OK, how about we show CNN being body-slammed by Trump to prove a point?  The media responds with the same refrain that they criticized the Right for making in reply to the play.  WWE is fake wrestling.  CNN is fake news. 

Point.  Counterpoint.   
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: June 24, 2017, 08:21:34 AM
IMO, many Dem's think this is retaliation for the Obama was born in Kenya narrative made by many after his election in 2008.  Especially since Trump himself attempted to profit from it with his "reward" for "the real birth certificate."

Big difference though.  None of the actors in that false narrative were government officials, leaked government information, or created a plethora of government funded "investigations" to decide the issue. 

Also, if you scream loudly about the alleged "wolf" of Russian interference, you can distract investigators from those events that might be highly embarrassing to your side.  For example, Podesta's ties to Putin-backed Russian operatives get subsumed by the Trump narrative.  So, does Clinton's uranium deal.  And so does Podesta's embarrassing fall for a Russian phishing scheme for his gmail account.  And so does the Russian hack of the DNC network.   

This is why the Dem's began complaining loudly about Manafort's prior political consulting deals with the pro-Russian candidates in Ukraine.  And why they expanded upon it to include any Trump associate who may have done business in Russia - including the Trump corporations themselves. 

And when Trump surrogates float an idea to fire Mueller, that part of the bureaucracy responds with a leak that Mueller's group is "investigating" Trump's ties to Russia.  Which is nothing more likely than some people in that group were reviewing the FBI files on the entire matter.

The result will be billions of dollars and thousands of man hours spent investigating a non-event while the real Russian interference attempts get short shrift and the needed security measures to reduce the likelihood of successful future hacks are ignored and not implemented in the same manner that so many government agencies still operate on 30-50 year old computing networks that do not communicate with each other.

The inertia continues because all anyone seems interested in is protecting their phony baloney jobs.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: June 24, 2017, 08:07:59 AM
Andrew McCarthy's opinion piece

31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: June 08, 2017, 06:25:21 PM
Rubio's questioning of Comey distills well the gist of this political soap opera.

Comey did not like how his firing was handled by Trump.  He felt embarrassed and defamed (his own word) by some of Trump's comments about how he was viewed by others in the Bureau.  He then does not like Trump's tweet about Comey better be sure that Trump himself does not have any tapes of their conversations before he begins leaking to the press. So, Comey leaks his CYA memos recounting his conversations with Trump to the NYT via a friend who is a law school professor.  In other words, Comey did what Trump thought he would do ... leak. 

This enables Trump to get publicized that he has never been under investigation in the Russia probe.  And Comey is forced to admit that Trump agreed with him that it would be good to get the whole story out there and that it would be good for Trump to learn if some of his "satellites" in the campaign were in fact violating the law.

32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: June 07, 2017, 09:36:31 PM
I was glad to see the WSJ editorialize in favor of Comey's dismissal by Trump because in his prepared testimony to the Senate tomorrow, he wrote

"That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch."

The WSJ wrote:

"The most troubling part of Mr. Comey’s statement is his belief in what he calls “the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch,” which he invokes more than once. Independent? This is a false and dangerous view of law enforcement in the American system.

Mr. Comey is describing an FBI director who essentially answers to no one. But the police powers of the government are awesome and often abused, and the only way to prevent or correct abuses is to report to elected officials who are accountable to voters. A director must resist intervention to obstruct an investigation, but he and the agency must be politically accountable or risk becoming the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover."

This goes back to my earlier posts about the unitary executive.  The FBI Director is subservient to the President because the FBI is carrying out part of the executive power of the federal government; i.e., the statutory authority given by Congress to investigate violations of federal laws and the authority to conduct certain counterintelligence investigations.  In these respects, the FBI is exercising executive powers.  And Article II of the Constitution vests all executive power in a President of the United States.

Comey viewed Trump's Feb 14 comments as simply a request that the FBI not extend its investigation of Flynn to the matter of Flynn's allegedly inaccurate or misleading statements made to the VP about his meetings with the Russian ambassador. 

If I were Trump and my FBI Director viewed himself as independent of my executive authority, I would have fired him, too.  It also explains more clearly the Deputy AG's rationale in his memo to the AG that was attached to the press release announcing Comey's immediate dismissal.  Comey botched the handling of the Clinton investigation and he botched the handling of the Russia probe because he was asserting an authority for FBI Director that was far greater than permitted under Article II of the Constitution.  As the WSJ states in its editorial, this was the same problem presented by J Edgar Hoover.  Whether Trump understand these constitutional issues when he decided to fire Comey, he got the result correct and upheld his oath as President to preserve and protect the Constitution. 
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 31, 2017, 06:58:38 PM
House subpoenas unmasking records concerning Rice, Brennan, and Samantha Power, UN Ambassador and wife of Cass Sunstein.
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 26, 2017, 09:10:19 AM
As to Seth Rich, he can be a leaker to Wikileaks without his murder being part of a conspiracy to shut him up.  That could be a coincidence like when Chandra Levy's murder led to her relationship with Condit, her boss, being publicized.  However, the only leaked evidence from the anonymous DC police source to the private detective said there was evidence on Rich's computer that he had been in contact with Wikileaks.  That could mean a lot of things.  Before anyone begins speculating about the nexus of his murder to these contacts, they first better be able to ascertain what constituted these contacts.  Did he just go to the Wikileaks website?  Were there email exchanges between him and Wikileaks?  And what were the dates of these contacts?  Quite frankly, I don't believe much of what Assange says because he has his own agendas.  I don't think it is a disgrace to purse this hypothesis.  However, I don't think it is wise to fixate on it until you have definitive proof that Rich actually leaked something to Wikileaks.  If his contacts were something else, then the whole thing is a false flag planted by Assange to hide how he really obtained the emails.

I do recall public accounts stating that Podesta's personal Gmail account was phished.  Unknown third parties obtained his Google username and password by convincing him to give it to them.  I recall reading some articles that blamed an IT guy in the DNC for telling Podesta that it was OK to answer that phishing email.  That data was then sold or given to others who sold or gave it to "the Russians" who then used it access and download all of his emails.  But who are those Russians?  They could be government agents.  Or they could be just crooks.  The fact that agents ofthe Russian government may have been doing other things to try and disrupt the election; e.g., using bots to flood comments sections of various articles published online, does not prove that agents of the Russian government also were the ones behind the successful phish of Podesta's Gmail account and the ones who gave those emails to Wikileaks.  Just like in the matter of Seth Rich, there's a whole lot of hypothesizin' goin' on.

We are beginning to learn facts that point to the Obama administration's decision to investigate the Russian leaks as a justification for conducting intelligence operations against Trump for political reasons.  Disclosing confidential information has been the MO of every Obama campaign.  Someone leaked his challenger's sealed divorce records to the press when he ran for Senate.  Someone leaked Joe the Plumber's sealed records to the press in 2008.  The IRS prevented many Tea Party groups from organizing for the 2012 election by not acting upon their requests for designations under the IRC; e.g., the Lois Lerner matter.  They falsely blamed an obscure video for the Benghazi compound assault that killed our ambassador and 3 other Americans on 9/11/2012.  (I happened to look at that video on 9/12/12 and there were about only 80 views.)  We know that his NSA routinely violated an order of the FISA court.  And we can begin to isolate the persons who unmasked Flynn and others.  And we know that in early January 2017, the administration increased the permitted zone of distribution for these unmasked conversations of Trump aides.  All of this constitutes strong initial evidence of a circumstantial nature that the Obama Adminsitration used the Russian investigation as a pretext to spy on their political opponents.

35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 20, 2017, 06:55:36 PM
Both theories hold that the President is a unitary executive.

The plain language I cited from Article II, Sec 1 says so. 

Congress has a check on the President through the Senate's power to confirm appointments of those officers to whom the President wishes to delegate part of his executive power.  This is a separate power written in Article II, Sec. 2.  Congress does not have the power to prevent the President from firing an officer; but it could express its political displeasure by screwing around with the confirmation proceedings for the successor. 

The President has a right to expect loyalty from his officers.  Of course, that expectations cannot include illegal acts.  But it does include policy preferences.  Thus, if Comey did not see the importance of investigating the leaks and unmaskings of Trump people, then Trump has the power to fire him and replace him with an FBI Director that will investigate those issues. 

This is not Watergate where the burglars were caught in the Watergate Office complex during the commission of that felony against office of the DNC.  And the burglars were directed by a member of the President's staff and were funded in part by campaign contributions to the Committee to Re-Elect the President.  And, then, Nixon used his powers as President to keep the investigation from uncovering the links between the burglars and his aides and campaign staff.

This is a case in which Trump did not trust Comey to carry out his policies.  He saw how Comey had interfered in the election.  Comey would not give him any affirmation of loyalty to Trump's policy priorities.  So, Trump did not order any investigations stopped.  But he wanted to get his own guy in there.  Whether or not Trump's assessment of Comey is accurate, Trump still has the power to fire him and replace him with a different FBI Director.

36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dershowitz on Tucker Carlson: Where's the crime? on: May 20, 2017, 05:13:44 AM
How come it's OK for Obama to fire Flynn for not being loyal to Obama's policies; but it is not OK for Trump to fire Comey for refusing to say that he will be loyal to Trump's policies?

The FBI works for the President.  It is not an autonomous directorate.  Or do some want another Hooveristic bureau if it acts that way to further their political goals?

37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 19, 2017, 06:15:11 PM
Given the performance of the same group of agenda-driven people after Benghazi in 2012, I distrust every alleged leak coming from unnamed sources. 
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 19, 2017, 01:14:18 PM
Craft Dog wrote:

Are you saying that the President can ask the FBI Director to back off an investigation of a friend of his?

IMO, yes.  He has the constitutional authority to do so. He has the constitutional authority to order the FBI to stop investigating his friend. 

The very first sentence of Article II:  "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."

The issue is whether the request is such an abuse of that power that it constitutes an "other High Crime and Misdemeanor."  Or whether the friend bribed him for the request. Otherwise, such an order or request is a political issue that gets resolved in an election.  For example, the President can order the pardon or commutation of a friend's conviction and sentence.  He could even receive money like Bill Clinton received from the wife of Marc Rich.
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 19, 2017, 07:20:50 AM
The current atmosphere really demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the power of the President as executive and the legislation that created the 10 year term for the FBI Director.

All executive power is vested in the President.  Congress cannot take any of that power away from the President by legislation.  The President can order the DOJ or the FBI to conduct any investigation he wants conducted.  Also, he can order the DOJ and FBI Director not to conduct any investigation that he does not want conducted.  The President can make his views about any investigation known to the FBI or DOJ.  The President is the ultimate executive power and his delegation of duties to members of his cabinet or staff does not strip the President of that constitutional power.

This is no different than the Commander-in-Chief clause.  The President can overrule any commander's decision about anything.  He is the top dog in that chain of command.  In fact, many writers applaud JFK's decision to override the Joint Chiefs during the Cuban Missile Crisis and impose a naval blockade instead of ordering air strikes.  Same with Truman and MacArthur during the Korean War.

The 10 year term for FBI Director was established to prevent another J. Edgar Hoover from recurring.  That term places a limit on how long the Director can act before his position requires a review and oversight by both the President and Congress.  This limit was not added in order to make the Director somehow independent of the President.  You would not want a national police force to be independent of oversight for 10 years. 

The constitutional issue is whether the President abused his executive power when he asked Comey to move on from Flynn now that Flynn had resigned the day before.  And whether the President abused his power when he fired Comey on May 9.  And when he asked Comey whether he (Trump) was the subject of any FBI investigation.

IMO, the answer in all 3 cases is, "No."  Looking at these issues in reverse order.

3.  Trump, as the repository of all executive power under the Constitution, has a right to know if he is the subject of any FBI investigations before he makes any decisions that could constitute an abuse of power.  That includes the decision to fire Comey.  The AG and his underlings owe any President that duty because each President is elected by the majority of votes in the Electoral College.  Those election results reflect the consent of the governed for that 4-year term.  And the duty of all federal employees and officers is to the Constitution.  An act that constitutes an abuse of power under one set of circumstances and not an abuse of power under another set should not depend upon the decision of an underling not to disclose certain facts to POTUS.  Trump had a right to know all of the facts relevant to any personnel decision before making it.

2.  Comey served at the pleasure of any President who held office during his maximum term as FBI Director.  He owed any President loyalty to the extent that the President did not violate the Constitution or was seeking not to faithfully execute the laws of the land.  If Comey did not see the current leaks from the Executive office as a priority, then Trump had every power, right and duty to fire him.  Comey had no more power to set the parameters of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia or any other investigation into anything related to the 2016 election than MacArthur had to cross the Yalu into China aganst TRuman's wishes.

1.  Any President has the power to tell any subordinate what he thinks should be done in any investigation.  Clearly Trump did not tell Comey to end any investigation into Flynn because that investigation has supposedly progressed to grand jury subpoenas.  The actions of Comey and the Bureau after the Feb 14 conversation prove that Comey was not ordered to do anything.  Thus, Trump did not abuse his executive power.
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 18, 2017, 04:48:14 PM

This has the video clip of Comey testifying under oath before the Senate committee that he has never been asked to stop an investigation for political reasons by the Attorney General or DOJ.

Gregg Jarrett column on same issue.  He is also a lawyer.

41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 18, 2017, 05:50:58 AM
Good choice for independent counsel.  But this will not stop the drumbeat.
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 17, 2017, 02:26:27 PM
FBI reviewed Flynn's calls with Russian ambassador and found nothing illegal.  So, I ask again.  What investigation was Trump obstructing on Feb 14? 

From the 1/23/17 Washington Post

"The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump — but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.

The calls were picked up as part of routine electronic surveillance of Russian officials and agents in the United States, which is one of the FBI’s responsibilities, according to the U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss counterintelligence operations.

Nonetheless, the fact that communications by a senior member of Trump’s national security team have been under scrutiny points up the challenge facing the intelligence community as it continues its wide-ranging probe of Russian government influence in the U.S. election and whether there was any improper back-channel contacts between Moscow and Trump associates and acquaintances."

43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 17, 2017, 10:09:40 AM
marc - why is it inappropriate for the President to tell the FBI Director how he sees the priorities in the counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference when there is not AG and no Deputy AG?  Was it unwise?  Yes, due to the fact that Comey was part of the swamp.  But not inappropriate and not obstruction of justice.  My guess is that when we see the entire memo and hear its full context, Trump was telling Comey to investigate the leaks with as much vigor as they were investigating the Russians.  In that context, getting past Flynn now that he has resigned is a completely proper comment since Yates had presented the whole issue as a personnel problem - not a criminal investigation. 
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 17, 2017, 04:07:13 AM
Thanks, Marc.  I figured here was one place where these issues could be discussed sensibly.

On Feb 14, was there a criminal investigation of Flynn underway at the FBI?  If not, Trump cannot be obstructing justice by telling Comey that he hopes that now that Flynn has resigned that the FBI can move past this issue.  As far as we know, there is no criminal investigation of Flynn underway at the FBI.  There is a counter-intelligence investigation underway of Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.  In that context, expressing a hope that the counterintelligence investigation can move past Flynn is not obstruction. 

Under the Hillary rule, wouldn't you need to prove intent in order to charge Trump anyway?

As to subpoenas of any Trump tapes of his meetings with Comey and separation of powers, it's a good question.  The Nixon decision at the Supreme Court held that executive privilege does not shield these things from a special prosecutor when there is probable cause that a crime has been committed.  In that case, there had been a burglary and Nixon was trying to use his power to cover up the burglars' links to his own campaign. 

An argument can be made that Comey's notes of his meetings with Trump are also protected by executive privilege. 

Right now, I don't believe anything being leaked to the press because the leaks are selective, misleading and designed to advance many agendas.  E.g., some are trying to sabotage Trump's meetings with Israel and Saudi Arabia by leaking that Israel was the source of the intel that was supposedly given to the Russians.  But who leaked this?  The people who talked to WaPo and the NYT. 

If you recall, firstt there was a story floated that allowing he Russians into the Oval Office without US press there may have led them to inadvertently discover classified info sitting in the open around the office.  When that did not generate any buzz, the WaPo publishes the story based upon hearsay info.  But McMaster said in no uncertain terms that nothing inappropriate was told to the Russians at that meeting.   "I was there and it didn't happen." 

In response, the media pays its next card, NYT says that on Feb 14 Trump tells Comey that he hopes you can put the Flynn matter behind you now that Flynn has resigned.  But what criminal investigation is Trump trying to obstruct when he says that?  Nothing. 

White House says that Trump never tried to stop the Russia investigation or any criminal investigation. 

45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: May 16, 2017, 06:29:25 PM
If this is so bad, then why didn't Comey report it or resign?  After all, this supposedly occurred 3 months ago.  And the investigation of Flynn has continued.  

Since Comey worked for the FBI, his memos are FBI property.  We should be able to see all of Comey's memos about all of his meetings with superiors while he was FBI Director.
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 11, 2013, 06:32:35 AM
crafty -

The risk to Putin would have been more thorough UN inspections after the strikes.  At that time, a Russian link to the chemical weapons could have been discovered.  So, Syria (with Russian support) agrees to turn over the weapons.  Note - that does not state permit inspections before turning over the weapons.  Both Assad's father and Saddam Hussein received Soviet military aid.

Also, I don't think that Kerry's comment was a throw-away.  I think that he was urged to make that statement - and make it seem a throw-away. 
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: September 09, 2013, 04:40:18 PM
The Russian offer is a good way for Putin to get back those chemicals, delivery mechannisms and other agents that he and the USSR sent to Assad's father and to the late Saddam Hussein.  We would not want to find that a permanent member of the UN Security Council had been trading those items in violation of the 1993 UN Treaty - would we?
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: June 03, 2013, 05:38:57 PM
The whole point of Watergate was that not even the most powerful government official is above the law.  The first specified charge in Article II of the Articles of Impeachment alleged that Nixon, "acting personally and through his subordinates," violated the rights of citizens by causing "income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner."

How soon they forget!
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comments from a federal grand juror on: May 31, 2013, 05:45:08 AM
Yesterday, I finished a one year term as a federal grand juror.  Every other week we would meet and review the cases presented to us by the US Attorney before any case could proceed to indictment and arrest.  It was a great inconvenience to my work.  It also interfered with my ability to participate consistently in this group.

Inside the jury room, I was impressed by the seriousness that some of “the lowest common denominator” jurors applied to their duty.  Everyone understood that we stood between an unjust indictment and the accused.  And many of the presumptive more highly educated (mainly teachers) were pushovers for government authority.  

Here are some thoughts.

1.  Every federal agent is called a special agent; but no one could explain to me why they are special.

2.  The federal government has defined for itself a huge amount of power; and it has assumed all of that power and then some.  The lip service paid to the Commerce Clause is scary.  Everything is now a federal crime as long as something used in the crime has been a part of interstate commerce at one time in its existence.  That includes a firearm or ammunition purchased legally in a private sale in your own State as long as that firearm or ammo was manufactured years earlier in another State. (When this applies to a convicted felon, there is not a lot of sympathy.  But when will it be applied to everyone?)  It also includes file sharing if the contents of the file were ever involved in interstate commerce even though the accused himself did not use interstate commerce to obtain the file.  The government's theory is that if an ISP owns a server in another State, that is a sufficient interstate nexus even if the user's packets never left the State. (Again, when this concept is applied to a person selling child pornography, it engenders little sympathy for the accused.  What happens when it is applied to someone sharing a political file?)There is no crime for which the Federal government cannot prosecute a person.  (For example, it is a federal crime to possess or brandish a firearm if that action would constitute another crime.)  The most cynical were bank fraud cases in which a lender makes a bad loan and then co-opts the federal criminal justice system to try and collect the bad debt via criminal prosecution by flyspecking a liar loan application.

3.  The federal government is devoting a lot of its resources to the apprehension and eviction of illegal aliens.  That was the largest group of cases that we heard.  But the southern border is like a sieve.  Unless that border is secured, there is no point to other reforms.

4.  I wonder what is intended for the new agency called Homeland Security Investigations.  Keep an eye on this agency because it seems to be popping up in a lot of different situations.  It was originally the new name for ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement).  But we encountered their “special” agents in more than just immigration and customs cases.

5.  Be very careful with your personal data.  The new growing crime is acquisition of your personal data by crooks who then electronically file false income tax returns under your data and receive large refunds sent to debit cards that they control.  They get your information from all sorts of different places including medical facilities.   They don't get the data from hacking computers.  They have people on the inside who are authorized to look at your data.  They are paid to record it and transmit it to the ringleader.  

6.  The IRS does not need a search warrant to invade your privacy.  To us, it was apparent that it was out of control months before the current scandal hit the media.

7.  HHS seeks to indict people and recover money on the basis of statistical samples from "audits" rather than actual proof of every fraudulent billing.

I was glad that I served.  There are a lot of well-intentioned and hard working bureaucrats.  However, the power assumed by the federal government is all-encompassing.  We no longer have a real federal system.  We have a national government with a lot of subservient provinces instead of a federal republic of States.  When the feds need to bolster their stats, they reach into the State system and federalize a case.  And the States are only too happy to transfer the financial cost of these prosecutions to the Feds.

I'm not as concerned about the federal employees as I am concerned about the Congresses that have enacted all of these laws.  They all took oaths to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.  Now, the social contract seems to be ignored for the mere sake of expediency.
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi, The Petraeus/Susan Rice affair; and related matters on: February 10, 2013, 06:06:39 PM
The knives are coming out against Brennan.
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