Rep Nunes, Trump, and Russia

I think that’s the full version of the press conference, which is what I wanted because I don’t really trust anyone’s editing anymore.

This is my comment yesterday on a Brit blog whose author said they are seeing very little on it. I think it’s fairly close.

My best guess, from my reading (which I’m informed I do too much of, since I managed to cross names on Twitter) is that NSA and/or GCHQ slurp up nearly every electronic communication in the US. That was the point of that hugely expensive new installation in the west. What happened here, I think, is that somebody in the former administration ran one (or more) data searches specifically on Trump and/or his close supporters. The next stage was that Obama quietly authorized wide distribution of that information, and some/most/all of it was leaked, by what we’re currently calling the deep state, and the most supposedly damaging (to Trump) published to damage his administration.

Or something like that. Will we ever know? Maybe, maybe not. The Russians? Why would they favor Trump over a proven non-leader when he was fairly obviously going to revive American business, especially oil exploration and export to their detriment as well as reinvigorating the American military. Putin is simply another fall guy, I think. At least, that’s how I see it, after reading some of Nunes testimony. There are some really wild conjectures floating around, and while I don’t give them a lot of credence, in this “Alice in Wonderland” world, I won’t say they’re impossible either.

I have found Mollie Hemingway to be a pretty reliable source, here’s her take from The Federalist yesterday.

In the last three months of the Obama presidency, significant personal information from and about the Trump transition was collected and widely disseminated at intelligence agencies, according to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

Dozens of intelligence reports provided to Nunes by an unnamed whistleblower were floating around during the sensitive transition period following the election, he said. The information collection itself may have technically been legal, but the failure to properly mask the information “alarmed” the California congressman, who notified the White House of the surveillance and dissemination of information on Wednesday afternoon.

Many of the reporters present didn’t seem to grasp the significance of what Nunes revealed. You can — and should — watch that press conference here.

Nunes began his remarks by reiterating his Monday request that anyone with information on surveillance of Trump or his team come forward. “I also said while there was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower, I was concerned that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.” While Nunes’ earlier refutation of Trump’s wiretap claim received outsize attention by the media, his concern about other surveillance did not.

He then dropped the bombshell: “First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Second, details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. Fourth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.” Again:

Ace did the bullet points for us.

1. “I briefed the president on the concerns I had concerning the incidental collection of data.”

2. The reports I was able to see did not have anything to do with the Russian ties investigation.

3. Reporter gets huffy and demands to know why he is briefing the president about this matter, as the reporter thinks Trump is a criminal and should not be told about the Legal Noose tightening around his gangster neck.

4. He answers that the reason is that from what he saw, the surveillance had nothing to do with the Russian investigation.

5. “Brings up a lot of concerns about whether things were properly minimized or not” (minimized = masking/redacting names of US citizens before disseminating)

6. “What I’ve read bothers me, and it should bother the President himself and his team, because some of it seems inappropiate.”

7. “It definitely goes beyond General Flynn.” “We don’t know how [that name] was picked up [collected, intercepted].”…

More at both links. Well, that what I think, and why I think it. I could easily be wrong, of course. We’ll just have to see. But if I am anywhere right, we have a major problem in the government, and we’d best start thinking how to fix it.

Judicial Tyranny

This terrific overreach by the federal judiciary is becoming most concerning. Donald Trump, like the first 44 incumbents, is President of the United States, whether you (or the federal judges) like it or not. He has all the rights, obligations, and duties of his predecessors. Like most of us, I worried about Obama’s overreach into prerogative rule with his pen and his phone. But we’ve seen none of that with Trump, his every action has been well within the Constitution. Mark Pulliam has some thoughts.

Daniel Horowitz’s Stolen Sovereignty: How to Stop Unelected Judges from Transforming America (2016), published before the presidential election, is proving to be prescient—even prophetic.

Horowitz is a columnist for Mark Levin’s Conservative Review who writes frequently about constitutional issues. In Stolen Sovereignty he decries “a runaway judicial oligarchy and an unaccountable bureaucratic state.” He is concerned that the Left “has irrevocably co-opted [the courts and bureaucracy] into serving as conduits for their radical and revolutionary ideas—to the point that even if we win back the presidency and elect only constitutional conservatives to Congress, . . . it won’t matter.”

These words may have seemed like hyperbole at the time, but the federal courts’ implacable opposition to President Trump’s executive orders on immigration suggest that they were on the mark. In a recent post, I expressed dismay at the judicial resistance to the President’s first executive order on immigration (E.O. 13769). Unelected federal judges blocked the President from fulfilling a campaign promise to the American electorate—without even citing the federal statute that expressly authorizes his action.[1]

Some commentators saw the Ninth Circuit’s ludicrous decision as nothing short of a judicial coup d’état. Rather than challenge it in the deadlocked U.S. Supreme Court, on March 6 President Trump issued a revised executive order (E.O. 13780), attempting to correct the alleged defects. Incredibly, the revised order has met with even stronger judicial resistance, spurring  multiple lawsuits and injunctions: a limited temporary restraining order issued by Judge William Conley of the Western District of Wisconsin, a partial injunction issued by Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland, and a nationwide injunction issued by Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii. (All three were appointed by President Obama.)

This judicial obstruction of the executive branch on matters expressly entrusted to the President by Congress grossly violates the separation of powers and constitutes a grave threat to our republican form of government. The courts’ usurpation of presidential authority should be deeply troubling regardless of one’s political affiliation. Indeed one libertarian legal scholar, Josh Blackman, who is no fan of the President (he signed the Originalists Against Trump statement prior to the election), has harshly criticized the judges’ interference with these immigration orders, calling the Ninth Circuit’s ruling a “contrived comedy of errors.”

In a three-part blog post for Lawfare on the revised executive order, Professor Blackman concludes that the President’s authority to act unilaterally pursuant to Section 1182(f) is well-established:

Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama all issued proclamations under § 1182(f), and there was never even the hint that the notice-and-comment process was required.

No court has ever held that aliens that are seeking entry, who have zero connection to the United States, or its residents, have due process rights. . . . . In short, the small subset of aliens who would in fact be denied entry under this policy have no cognizable due process rights, and to the extent that courts find some interest exist, the review and denial by a consular officer provides all the process that is due.

(…) In Horowitz’s view, the modest concept of judicial review expressed in Marbury v. Madison (1803) “has been transmogrified into complete authority over the future of sovereignty, marriage, culture, and the power to regulate every industry in our economy.” Simultaneously, the federal courts have become a bastion of liberal politics; unelected judges now wield more power than legislators; and judicial activism has become the favored means of Progressive policymaking.

via Judicial Tyranny’s Final Frontier – Online Library of Law & Liberty

That’s all true and very troubling, but what can we do about it? These are all Article III judges appointed during good behavior (which is not defined)m in other words, essentially for life, although they can be impeached, it is a very rare occurrence. It is also just possible that they could be removed by a writ of scire facias, a form of Chancery order which dates back to Edward I. The actual writ of scire facias has been suspended in the Federal district courts by Rule 81(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but the rule still allows for granting relief formerly available through scire facias by prosecuting a civil action.

Other than that, there is little legally to be done. I seem to remember that while the Supreme Court is constitutionally mandated, all the rest are the creation of the Congress, and could simply be disestablished, and new ones established, although at best, that would have the effect of retiring the judges, not firing them, and would certainly be messy for all concerned.

But perhaps there is a less, shall we say, formal method. Paul Mirengoff at Powerline writes this:

President Trump admires Andrew Jackson. He sees himself as Jacksonian.

Accordingly, it might instructive to recall how President Jackson is said to have responded when the Supreme Court ruled, in Worcester v. Georgia, that Georgia laws calling for the seizure of Cherokee lands violated federal treaties. Here is the statement Jackson may have made:

John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.

Jackson may never have uttered these words. However, both Georgia and Jackson ignored the Supreme Court’s decision. Chief Justice Marshall’s decision was never enforced.

At the rate liberal judges are going, we might see similar defiance of the judiciary by President Trump. I don’t expect Trump to respond that way if the ruling that he cannot temporarily ban immigration from six countries fails to survive judicial review. That ruling doesn’t seem important enough to defy the judiciary over.

I don’t either, but I can foresee occasions where it might be necessary. The founders considered the judiciary the weakest branch, and so there are fewer safeguards here, than anywhere else. That started changing with John Marshall and Marbury v. Madison, and that unchecked power has metatized rather badly in the last fifty years. I don’t know what the answer is, but a solution is needed.

Budget Day

Yesterday, OMB Director Mulvaney had a press conference on the new budget. Pretty good one in my view. $0 for NPR, PBS, and NEA, 50% reduction for the UN, down 30% + for EPA, a lot for State as well, more for the Pentagon which needs it (it also needs much better and leaner management). Nothing about entitlements in this one, that comes later.

Here’s Mulvaney, he a joy to listen to, a man who knows his subject thoroughly, stays calm and answers the question. And the budget is a good start.

Trump vs.the Deep State: Herbert Meyer’s Perspective

From PowerLine and very much worth your time, as are the comments over there, as is Meyer’s speech at Imprimis. Steven gives us the highlights.

The performance of our country’s intelligence service is the latest example of an issue exploding into the headlines and becoming a shouting match, while failing to clarify anything about the issue itself. This explosion was ignited last fall by allegations that the Russians hacked into Hillary Clinton’s campaign to help Donald Trump win the election. The blast radius expanded after the election, when rumors surfaced that the Russians had deployed their nasty tactic of kompromat to undermine President Trump’s credibility by spreading rumors about his private behavior while in Moscow years ago. All this, on top of failures that had already wreaked havoc at the CIA and our other intelligence agencies—the 9/11 attacks themselves, the mess over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the weird 2007 National Intelligence Estimate whose key judgment was that Iran had abandoned its nuclear bomb program, Edward Snowden’s NSA espionage activities—has kept the issue of our intelligence service in the headlines. . .

Back in January, when U.S. intelligence chiefs released an unclassified version of the briefing they gave to President-Elect Trump about Russian efforts to influence the November election, Americans learned a phrase that’s unique to the world of intelligence: key judgment. It was a key judgment that Russia had hacked into John Podesta’s email server, and a key judgment that Vladimir Putin preferred Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton. Since these key judgments understandably erupted into a nasty political brawl, let’s take a moment to understand what a key judgment really is. Simply put, it’s the conclusion reached by our most senior intelligence officials, based not only on the evidence they were able to collect, but also on the insights it enabled them to reach based on their knowledge and experience.

A key judgment isn’t the same as a jury verdict. A jury verdict is based solely on the evidence presented to it. In a murder trial, unless the prosecutors can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, you must vote for acquittal. But in a National Intelligence Estimate, you reach a key judgment by starting with the evidence, then combining it with your own knowledge and experience to reach a conclusion. . .

So why has our intelligence service suffered so many failures during the last decade or so, losing the trust of so many? Because it’s been run by career bureaucrats and administrators who rose to the top by managing intelligence rather than actually doing it. That’s like putting an airline executive with an MBA and a law degree into the cockpit of a jumbo jet. And like bureaucrats and administrators everywhere, our recent intelligence chiefs focused on structure rather than on people. Of course all organizations, including intelligence services, need the proper structure. But especially in an intelligence service, good structure is worthless without the right people—in this case world-class analysts who are deeply knowledgeable about the Mideast, China, Russia, terrorism, and all the rest. Make a list of our country’s leading experts on these subjects. How many of them have held top-level jobs in our intelligence service during the last dozen or so years? How often have the leaders of our intelligence service reached out to these people to seek their advice? The correct answers are: none and rarely.

We are still in the early days of the Trump administration, but to borrow an overused Washington cliché, we should be cautiously optimistic about the future of our intelligence service. Neither Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats nor Director of Central Intelligence Mike Pompeo are professional bureaucrats. They’ve built their careers on substance rather than on management. Each of them has proven he can talk about the key issues that confront us with an impressive level of personal knowledge and insight. Each is capable of actually doing intelligence rather than merely overseeing it. . .

via Trump Vs. The Deep State: Herbert Meyer’s Perspective | Power Line

Meyer also talks a bit about why the CIA never looked at weaknesses in the Soviet Union. He says they were never asked. I have no problem with believing that, until Reagan, we were playing defense, playing to not lose, not to win. Part of the trouble is, I think, playing not to lose is a sucker bet. It a winner for administrators and bureaucrats. Why? Because it maintains the status quo, over entire careers and lifetimes. But it isn’t a winner for the country. Winning is a winner for the country.

What for example, would the world be like if the Soviet Union had disappeared at the time of the Hungarian uprising in 1956? From all the information I’ve seen, we would have been very lucky indeed to have made that happen. But Eisenhower didn’t try. I like Eisenhower, but even as a general he tended to be too tied to the plan, and the plan for the cold war was not to lose, it was never to win. Makes you wonder what MacArthur or Patton in the White House might have done. Maybe the same thing, neither was foolhardy.

Anyway, something to think about. What? You thought I had all the answers? I don’t even have all the questions. But I’ll say this, Trump needs, above all, to get control of the government, that has to be ‘Job 1’. If he doesn’t he’ll accomplish very little.

The Week that Was

The perils of working from home!

Some say (Hi Gilia!) The best band in all the land! 🙂

I suspect I’m not the only one who resembles this cartoon.

Who? Us? Nah, must be the guy next door!

How you came to have a suit in your closet (or on your back)!

There’s an old saying that only two countries in the world don’t have a native costume. When we get dressed up we all dress like an Englishman, the rest of the time we dress like an American. It’s pretty much true.

Those rowdy Canucks! 🙂

Very well done for a student film.

Pretty brave, too in the current environment. Well done.

COOKIES!!! And their history!

And just a few from PowerLine’s always great Week in Pictures.

Sadly!

Funny how that works!

Indeed!

Exactly…

And finally, since the useless women took a strike day this week (did anyone notice?).

The one we’d miss! 🙂

Happy Saturday!

McCarthyism of the Left

It might have been better English if I had said ‘on the Left’, but it wouldn’t be correct. It has become inherent to the Left, an organic part of it, like the riots at the drop of a hat, the general contempt for truth, and an inability to differentiate between good and evil.

In any case, when Ooobie talks, I have learned to listen, one she nearly always right, not least because she knows whereof she speaks. And besides, she’s been there, and knows people who still are.

Joe McCarthy only found 205 spies in the State Department. Imagine that, and all the hysteria surrounding the claim. Quite recently, nine hundred State Department “professionals” signed a dissent channel message that was pretty clearly coordinated with the media for maximum impact. It was an act of political defiance against the president and his supporters among the US public.

But onward to other traitors. There are of late a few serious commentators who are trying to focus public attention on the swelling sociopathic intolerance in the US. This McCarthyism is exercised in its current incarnation by the left, not the right, which only goes to prove the dictum that the extreme left and extreme right are identical in all ugly essentials. Such experts in Russian and US-Russian affairs as Dr. Stephen F. Cohen of NYU are trying to call attention to the dangers of this intolerance, which is expressed in ostracism of and sometimes violence against anybody not on board with the meme that Russia is an enemy of America. They are trying to swamp the airwaves with the idea that Russia in collusion with Trump was responsible for Hillary Clinton’s appalling loss. Cohen disarticulates their allegations brilliantly in his discourses, but the bottom line is: no evidence to prove charges that appear to be politically motivated. He sees the relentless campaign of half-truths and lies as destructive of US-Russian relations and an effort to impede any improvement. He concludes that these goals are part of the Democrat game plan. I myself have never experienced such a wave of hysteria among a public agitated by the propagandists (hence agit-prop). Obama calls these people community organizers and sees himself as the King of All Community Organizers. Their goal: to deliberately undermine the government and remove the sitting president from office. To replace said president with a nominee of the Deep State and its financiers.

In their battle to take the White House, the left long ago sacrificed truth. Truth is whatever serves their crusade for permanent power and global socialism. The Russian card was planted before the Obama Administration left the premises, likely as an ace in the hole, a tasty bit of blackmail against what the planters thought would be be a Republican minority. When the US voters shafted the Democrat party, the Russia ploy took on major importance as a red herring leading the public to focus not on the corrupt Dems and their corrupt candidate as the cause of defeat, but on a treacherous Trump somehow in bed with the Russians. The Dems operate on nearly one hundred percent supposition and assumption. Recall that the first document to kick off the campaign, surfaced by Deep State agent John Brennan, was an “intelligence assessment,” shorthand for this is a result of brain-storming without actual evidence or only bits and bobs of evidence. (See “Intelligence Assessment and Unpredictability” at https://sourcesandmethods.blogspot.com/2014/04/intelligence-assessment-and.html). A few members of the intelligence community came out and gave their blessings to the story, although not all were equally enthusiastic about it. And nobody offered evidence, instead falling back on the old trust us. Long time intel folks were certainly not convinced, no doubt remembering story lines from the past. And our professional diplomats such as Jack Matlock and political ambassadors such as the anti-Putin Michael McFaul are not convinced either. They and the rest of us in this vast field of “Russology” don’t think the Russians are amateurs who leave giant clues around to track their activity. Our own government doesn’t leave tracks, either, and you can ask Angela Merkel about that. So unless we get something substantive as proof, we have to hold onto our doubts.

via McCarthyism Lives | Ooobie on Everything

Keep reading at the link, cause I have little to add except that I think she is correct.

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