America Burning

I don’t know if you noticed, but I certainly have that over my lifetime, forest fires (and similar wildfires) have increased dramatically, both in number and in scale and intensity. Why? Well many of us, who are blessed with experience and common sense have noticed it is because of how we manage these areas. Paul Driessen at PA Pundits – International tells us that might finally be changing.

President Trump promised to bring fresh ideas and policies to Washington. Now Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are doing exactly that in a critically important area: forest management and conflagration prevention. Their actions are informed, courageous, and long overdue.

Westerners are delighted, and I’ve advocated such reforms since my days on Capitol Hill in the 1980s.

As of September 12, amid this typically long, hot, dry summer out West, 62 major forest fires are burning in nine states, the National Interagency Fire Center reports. The Interior Department and Ag Department’s Forest Service have already spent over $2 billion fighting them. That’s about what they spent in all of 2015, previously the most costly wildfire season ever, and this season has another month or more to go. The states themselves have spent hundreds of millions more battling these conflagrations.

Millions of acres of forest have disappeared in smoke and flames – 1.1 million in Montana alone. All told, acreage larger than New Jersey has burned already. However, even this hides the real tragedies.

The infernos exterminate wildlife habitats, roast eagle and spotted owl fledglings alive in their nests, immolate wildlife that can’t run fast enough, leave surviving animals to starve for lack of food, and incinerate organic matter and nearly every living creature in the thin soils. They turn trout streams into fish boils, minus the veggies and seasonings. Future downpours and rapid snowmelts bring widespread soil erosion into streambeds. Many areas will not grow trees or recover their biodiversity for decades.

Most horrifically, the conflagrations threaten homes and entire communities. They kill fire fighters and families that cannot get away quickly enough, or get trapped by sudden walls of flames.

In 2012, two huge fires near Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, CO, burned 610 homes, leaving little more than ashes, chimneys, and memories. Tens of thousands of people had to be evacuated through smoke and ash that turned daytime into choking night skies. Four people died. A 1994 fire near Glenwood Springs, CO, burned 14 young firefighters to death.

These are not “natural” fires of environmentalist lore, or “ordinary” fires like those that occur in state and privately owned and managed forests. Endless layers of laws, regulations, judicial decrees, and guidelines for Interior and Forest Service lands have meant that most Western forests have been managed like our 109 million acres of designated wilderness: they are hardly managed at all.

Environmentalists abhor timber cutting on federal lands, especially if trees might feed profit-making sawmills. They would rather see trees burn than let someone cut them. They constantly file lawsuits to block any cutting, and too many judges are all too happy to support their radical ideas and policies.

Thus, even selective cutting to thin dense stands of timber, or to remove trees killed by beetles or fires, is rarely permitted. Even fire fighting and suppression are often allowed only if a fire was clearly caused by arson, careless campers, or other human action – but not if lightning ignited it. Then it’s allowed to burn, until a raging inferno is roaring over a ridge toward a rural or suburban community.

The result is easy to predict. Thousands of thin trees grow on acreage that should support just a few hundred full-sized mature trees. Tens of billions of these scrawny trees mix with 6.3 billion dead trees that the Forest Service says still stand in 11 Western states. Vast forests are little more than big trees amid closely bunched matchsticks and underbrush, drying out in hot, dry western summers and droughts – waiting for lightning bolts, sparks, untended campfires, or arsonists to start super-heated conflagrations.

Do keep reading, he goes into what is starting to change, finally, and it is quite interesting.

And that is the thing I’ve noticed as long as I’ve lived in the west, and that is about 30 years or a bit more by now, the so-called environmental do-gooders organizations don’t and never have, really given a damn about the forest, the rivers, the fish and wildlife, erosion, or any of the other things they jabber on about, all they care about is curtailing civilization, and power over others. Knowing this explains a good bit of my (and probably others, as well) skepticism with regard to global cooling/global warming/climate change. It’s brought to you by the same bunch of Luddites. There may be a bit more to it, but it is far from proven, which is why we see religious furor, rather than reason used to advance the cause.

It also likely has to do with why we use mostly Canadian lumber to build in the United States. I don’t have a problem with that, but a bit more competition would be good, as it always is, for the consumer. And the timber companies have long since proved that they know far better than government how to manage forests. The government management of forests as shown in the linked articles (more here) is not designed for the good of the forest, or of the people, but to advance an agenda, which is to destroy modern civilization, and thus to quite literally kill people. This agenda is, as we have all seen, advanced with the religious fervor of a dervish attack.

It’s time for common sense to finally break out, and it looks like Secretaries Zinke and Perdue are starting to do so. May their efforts be rewarded.

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Charlottesville and Norks; Through a Glass Darkly

Well, we certainly are living in interesting times, aren’t we? Between North Korea and our homegrown fascists, it’s hard to know which is important. Or maybe both are, and if one happens to like conspiracy theories, the ground is very fertile. Not least because we saw in Charlottesville last weekend reminded us that the white supremacy folks and anti fas are simply two facets of the same evil thing. They want us to believe they are of the right and the left, but they are not, they are both of the totalitarian left. As such, neither is pro American, although some of the useful idiots in the streets may think they are – they have jumped the shark, they are not supporting the president, they hurt him, and they hurt America. I doubt either group is grassroots, both are funded by shadowy figures and groups whose aim is to end western civilization. Who else noticed? Melanie Phillips did clean over in London.

The first shocking thing was just the very sight of neo-Nazis and white supremacists openly parading with swastika flags, demonstrating their bigoted, hateful and violent ideology.

The next horrible thing was the violence that broke out between the neo-Nazis and counter-demonstrators. It’s unclear who started it, but there is evidence that at least some of it was unprovoked on both sides.

There was then a shocking car-ramming terrorist attack against anti-Nazi demonstrators which killed one person and left several others injured. The driver is widely assumed to have been a white supremacist supporter; although a man has been arrested and charged with second degree murder, at time of writing it has not been confirmed that he was the driver.

All of this was absolutely terrible.

What’s even more frightening is the violence increasingly erupting in America, as it did in Charlottesville, between two types of people who perpetrate hatred and intolerance, stand against freedom and reason and seek to impose their view of society and human nature by force.

For this battleground does not set fascists against anti-fascists. It is a clash between two armies of demagogues, each worshipping power and violence and smashing anyone who stands in their way. “Antifa” are not, as their name declares them to be, anti-fascists. They are fascists of the left – and in their Black Lives Matter incarnation, anti-white racists too.

What’s yet more appalling still is the double standard being used and the way in which the alt-left have seized upon these events in order to smear Donald Trump by association.

The fact that the former Ku Klux Klan “grand wizard” David Duke – who was at the Charlottesville demonstration – claims to support Trump’s agenda is being used by the alt-left to smear Trump himself as a white supremacist. In other words, Trump is being defined by these particular supporters.

The hypocrisy here is breathtaking. Under President Obama, America was repeatedly subjected to race riots with demonstrators running amok, inciting violence against the police and trashing and looting stores. Since these violent demonstrators were overwhelmingly likely to have been Obama supporters, did the alt-left conclude that Obama himself – who consistently blamed the police – was responsible for black thuggery? Of course not. They blamed the police too.

Since Trump’s ascendancy began, there has been repeated violence against Republicans at Trump rallies by anti-Trump demonstrators. Does the alt-left conclude that, because these demonstrators are Democratic party supporters, the Democrats are thugs themselves?

Quite.

Do read the rest.

Whoever you think is supporting this execrable nonsense, do not make the mistake these fools do, this is not America, these are fringe groups beholding to a few fascists, Nazis, and/or communists amongst us. Which reports to whom? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. They all have the same rationale for existence, the destruction of the United States as we have known her. It is, in fact, time for us to heed the words of one of America’s greatest soldiers, General Robert E. Lee. Thanks to Practically Historical for the quote.

“It is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony…Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans.”

Then there are the North Koreans. If something isn’t done, they are just likely to pull off the destruction of western civilization. Sometimes being considered crazy is an advantage, and so it is here. This should actually be as simple as the invasion of Poland in 1939, just as welcome, too, but that is what kicking cans down the road gets you. But again some shadowy figures have made the simple complicated. From Beyond the Cusp, who I always enjoy reading but tends to long form content that is difficult to summarize.

The United States has not ever been known to be alone in the world with friends which can be counted on her two hands. Those days are almost upon us. Very soon the United States will be finding herself blamed for acting when she acts and for standing aside when she doesn’t act. She will start facing denunciations in the General Assembly of the United Nations by votes resembling those only Israel has faced before where 130 will vote to denounce her with maybe a dozen supporting America and the remainder abstaining and in the United Nations Security Council she will find only her own Veto will prevent her facing sanctions. Whenever the United States acts there will be accusations of unilateralism even when her actions are to rescue a nation from hostile acts of their neighbors. What could possibly bring on such condemnations? Well isn’t it obvious? Her own leftists and their NGO’s in their inevitable rush to try and discredit and destroy President Trump will result in their also discrediting the necessary actions he may soon be called upon to decide as certain things reach critical levels after being pushed aside for decades. These situations reaching these points, these deplorable stages, are doing so largely due to President after President kicking the can down the road because to act required somebody actually being the adult in the room and taking the responsibility of what would inevitable be an unpopular series of events.

This will burst upon the scene initially with probably facing down the North Korean menace Kim Jong-un and his ever-increasing threat which advances with each missile test. Most observers place his current level of threat lower than it actually is, a common thread in politics where avoiding bad news and terrible situations is often done by underestimating the possibilities. Currently, President Trump and his military are properly giving North Korea and its potential threats its rightful attention but they are likely to back away from confrontation if for no other reason than their knowledge of the firestorm which would follow any military action against the Kim regime. They probably already made the deal not to intervene in exchange for allowing one more set of sanctions just passed by the United Nations Security Council to work. If somebody could give us a reason why these sanctions will function with any superior results than the past five sets of sanctions since the armistice was signed in the early Eisenhower years, that would at least be amusing. The problems with these sanctions are the same as with the previous sanctions, North Korea largely trades with China and some with Russia and little else. These are the two nations which can be counted upon to ignore the sanctions after a brief period of observing them so as to grant them the appearance of working. Sanctions are not the magic tool for breaking the bond that China and Russia have with North Korea. For these two adversaries, North Korea is their arrow in the flank of the United States which seriously hampers the American image and drains off the attentions of the United States from their acts of belligerence. One will always pay attention to the leader threatening nuclear annihilation over those merely pressuring neighboring nations in order to increase their spheres of influence.

[…]

This is why Kim Jong-un need be countered on the United States terms and not wait for him to become an actual threat. That leads us to President Trump and the current situation. President Trump currently has his hands tied until Kim Jong-un either carries out a nuclear test or another missile test this time using both stages being solid-fueled systems. This will prove his ability to launch on command instead of having an hours waiting for fueling for launch when ready, not immediate. With this proven technology, the United States will be on notice that Kim Jong-un will be readily capable of striking any number of targets potentially within the Continental United States, that would be CONUS Command, and possibly any target within the United States as well as Europe. Whatever the perceived and admitted abilities of North Korean missile technology, they are frighteningly close to their desired capability and already are capable of striking the United States with a devastating EMP device which could bring down most, if not all, of the North American electrical grid. We would call that a very definite threat to the well-being of every American as such a devastating strike would minimally kill three-quarters of the population of North America. Canada would also be direly adversely affected. This places President Trump with the unenviable decision of does he act now, before anything horrific occurs or does he wait for a provocation which nobody could fail to recognize and admit he acted according to the betterment of the American people or did he act as a warmonger seeking personal glory. We may as well face the reality of this situation. Should President Trump act to prevent any of the dire consequences of a nuclear capable Kim Jong-un, then the media, Congress and other world leaders and especially the United Nations and their army of NGO’s and Agencies will all unite to condemn the man who destroyed the peace solely for self-aggrandizement. And should President Trump wait until Kim Jong-un acts and attacks the United States then President Trump would be pillories as the President who did not have the foresight or the willingness to act in the face of impending danger and allowed the needless suffering of the people of Japan, South Korea or wherever Kim Jong-un ordered the strike and if it was the United States, all the more Trump will be condemned. If Kim Jong-un were to strike Japan and President Trump responds by attacking North Korea then he will be criticized if his attack is too large in scale or if it is considered insufficient in scale. The secret is if it leaves Kim Jong-un with any ability to strike further, then the attack proved to be insufficient and Trump is an incompetent. If, on the other hand, the attack decapitates North Korean military and political structure and removes all threats, then Trump is a warmonger bringing undue suffering to the people, the innocent people of North Korea. If then China were to take hold of most of North Korea, well, then Trump is an incompetent again for not seeing this inevitability and acting to prevent the Chinese from taking over the northern half of the Korean Peninsula and thus threatening South Korea even worse than Kim Jong-un had threatened them. If United States and South Korean troops enter the North and unite the peninsula, well then Trump did it for the land and to force democracy war upon North Korea without even asking them if they desired such. You basically get the idea, either he is a warmonger or he was unprepared or he was a warmonger just before he was unprepared or he is a warmonger land grabber. Whatever President Trump does about North Korea, or does not do about North Korea will prove to have been wrong in the immediate media coverage and in the halls of Congress. We predict that if President Trump were to take steps to replace Kim Jong-un and manage this without firing a single shot or missile and all of North Korea were hailing him as their savior, impeachment charges would be brought up in the House of Representatives on charges of unnecessarily involving the United States in regime change for no reason. Of course, if he waits and Washington D.C. becomes a target, then there likely will be no action from Congress, as they will be scrambling to get far enough from the Capital in the period they have between warning and strike. With the EMP scenario, Congress might meet and actually still have electricity as the coasts might survive such a strike, and they would most definitely be bringing impeachment even if they were doing so by candle light. The end result of any action or inaction on North Korea will be impeachment, that is about the only sure bet.

Those ellipses cover a lot of ground which I do want you to read, and a tip of the Stetson to Oyia Brown for bringing us Beyond the Cusp.

I’m hardly a conspiracy theorist, I have both too much belief in Ockham’s Razor, as well as a belief that a secret can be kept by two people if one be dead, to be. But there are troubling indications of currents beneath the surface in the matters. I do not believe that it is part of a plot to remove Trump, although that could easily be a part of it, not least because for all his faults, he tends to speak for and to the folks you made the Great Republic what it is. But if this is correct he, like many millions of others will be collateral damage, in a most remorseless restructuring of the world. It will not be to the benefit of common people, anywhere. It will, on the other hand, strengthen those who would like to gather power into their own hands. It is time, and past time, to act, but I like most of us, have not found the proper button. So for the moment, watch wait, and think, because acting in the wrong way, merely strengthens the enemy. I think.

Grenfell Tower

So let’s try to unpack this horror a bit, shall we? I happened to watch it almost in real time (on Sky) and I was appalled as it went up. As I said yesterday, it reminded me of the WTC more than anything – essentially all the heroism in the world from the emergency services (and they were, as always) of very little utility, the effects were more like the actions of a particularly malevolent god than anything else.

The best general write up I’ve read as to underlying causes was, not surprisingly on The Conservative Woman. In the immense comment stream, it degenerates a bit into partisan backbiting. Well, what doesn’t these days?

But here’s what I think I know.

  • It’s a high rise (24 stories) with one staircase and two elevators. Not uncommon, there or here, but one must always remember that once you get past roughly 10 floors the fire department is restricted to internal access. 150 feet is about all mobile equipment can reach.
  • Supposedly it was constructed to contain fire, reinforced concrete construction, fire doors and such. Normal stuff, not all that expensive, usually effective. Failed here.
  • A cladding was applied to the building, for appearance and insulation. Some reports say it was not fire resistant. It’s possible it wasn’t, but apply enough heat and almost anything will burn. What appeared to happen here is that fire got behind the cladding and into the insulation. I’ve heard that insulation described as Celotex (may or may not be true), but almost all insulation will either burn or melt, and if it does behind the cladding, it will form a flue (much like a chimney) and heat will rise very quickly feeding the flames. That is what the fire looked like on TV.
  • No sprinklers. May or may not have mattered in the public spaces. Which is all that is usually required. If they had been installed in the apartments may well have contained it, and most also have an automatic alarm, both local and fire department, which would help. Apparently, this building grandfathered the requirement, but best practice would have seen them installed.
  • No (or inaudible) local fire alarm. Inexcusable, in my mind at least.
  • Open windows. England has little air conditioning, and none here, so windows were open, increasing draft for the fire. Well, not really a lot you can do about that.
  • Lots of immigrants in the building. Not a big deal, maybe, but cultural practices do matter. May have been lots of flammable artifacts about, prayer rugs, this, that, and the other. I have also seen immigrants here cooking over open flames (improvised firepits and such) very dangerous in a multi-story building. Don’t know, but might be worth looking at. Also were firedoors kept shut? Canada, for instance, requires that the door to a connected garage have an self-closing mechanism.
  • One that will surprise Americans. There are reports of an exploding refrigerator. That’s something that just doesn’t happen here. Why? Because we use CFCs for refrigerants. If they leak and burn, they can cause phosgene poisoning, but the systems are sealed and pretty much bulletproof. Never, not once, in the last 50 years have I heard of a problem. Europe is different. They use Isobutane, essentially what we call LP gas. Yeah, the same stuff that we use in our barbecue grills, and sometimes stoves and furnaces where natural gas is not available. I won’t have it in my house for any reason, not least because, unlike natural gas, it is heavier than air and will accumulate, and a very small spark (static electricity from a woolen rug, say) can set it off. The other thing is, it’s a small molecule (unlike CFCs) and much harder to seal permanently. LP is every bit as flammable as acetylene that is used for welding, in fact, Oxy-propane is very often used for cutting torches because it burns hotter. Now get a leak in your refrigerator, and a spark in the thermostat, and you have an explosion, and not a small one. Why do they do this? Because the EU has banned CFCs for environmental reasons (we’ve changed our formulations too. The new ones aren’t as effective, but less damaging to the ozone layer).¹

Overall, this was a systemic failure, old Murphy was working overtime. The problems just piled one on the other, and as a result, likely more than a hundred people are dead and died horribly. If I understand the building was council owned (rather like an overpowered city council combined with the zoning board) and managed by a (no doubt connected) non-profit. Strikes me as plenty of room for corruption to sneak in as well, although I have no proof of anything like that. But the one thing we know about bureaucrats is that they can almost never be forced to take responsibility for anything. I doubt anything different than that here.

And yes, the pseudo pious virtue signaling, blame passing, and all those games have already started. Not to mention the wingeing about how we don’t have enough money.

¹ ISOBUTANE

The Pony in the Manure

Clarice Feldman at American Thinker has an article up summarizing the mess regarding the intelligence community. It’s a good one. If you care about America and/or the world, I’d advise you to read it, and try to understand it as well. Here’s a bit

There’s so much in print and online about the House and Senate intelligence committees and Russian “collusion” with Trump that I can’t blame people with real lives to lead who just throw their hands up and garden or go hiking. Some will assume there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere, as Ronald Reagan used to joke about the kid digging through manure. I think there is, but it isn’t that Russia corrupted the 2016 election, it’s that Obama and his closest aides, including some at the highest level in the intelligence community, illegally intercepted one or more Republican candidates’ communications before the election, circulated them widely to their cohorts and then tried to use this information to defeat and later to hamstring Trump when Hillary — to their surprise — lost the election.

I also suspect that the attacks on Flynn have nothing to do with his Russian contacts which he disclosed, but, rather, to misdeeds respecting the Middle East, particularly Iran, the country he observed as Obama’s head of the DIA.

The Surveillance and “Unmasking” of Trump and his Associates 

We learned this week that surveillance of Trump began long before he was the Republican nominee, and that the names in the intercepted communications were “unmasked” — that is, identified by name or context — by someone high up in the intelligence community.

In addition, citizens affiliated with Trump’s team who were unmasked were not associated with any intelligence about Russia or other foreign intelligence, sources confirmed. The initial unmasking led to other surveillance, which led to other private citizens being wrongly unmasked, sources said.

“Unmasking is not unprecedented, but unmasking for political purposes… specifically of Trump transition team members… is highly suspect and questionable,” an intelligence source told Fox News. “Opposition by some in the intelligence agencies who were very connected to the Obama and Clinton teams was strong. After Trump was elected, they decided they were going to ruin his presidency by picking them off one by one.”

Nunes and Surveillance Reports

The best summation of this week’s distraction — respecting chairman of the House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes — is Victor Davis Hanson’s which I urge those of you interested to read in its entirety. [I do too, Neo]

First, the central question remains who leaked what classified information for what reasons; second, since when is it improper or even unwise for an apprehensive intelligence official to bring information of some importance to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee for external review — in a climate of endemic distrust of all intelligence agencies?[snip] Nunes also said that the surveillance shown to him “was essentially a lot of information on the President-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.” Further, he suggested that the surveillance may have involved high-level Obama officials. When a reporter at Nunes’ second March 22 press conference asked, “Can you rule out the possibility that senior Obama-administration officials were involved in this?” Nunes replied, “No, we cannot.” Ipso facto these are startling disclosures of historical proportions — if true, of an anti-constitutional magnitude comparable to Watergate. Given the stakes, we should expect hysteria to follow, and it has followed. [snip]

Some notion of such intrigue, or rather the former nexus between Congress, the Obama administration, the intelligence agencies, and the monitoring of incoming Trump officials, was inadvertently disclosed recently by former Obama-administration Department of Defense deputy assistant secretary and current MSNBC commentator Evelyn Farkas. In an interview that originally aired on March 2 and that was reported on this week by Fox, Farkas seemed to brag on air about her own efforts scrambling to release information on the incoming Trump team’s purported talks with the Russians. Farkas’s revelation might put into context the eleventh-hour Obama effort to more widely disseminate intelligence findings among officials, one that followed even earlier attempts to broaden access to Obama-administration surveillance.

She goes on to specify at least most of the major players and their roles. Do read it, it’s the best rational guidebook to this that I have seen.

Nor do I have much to add except that in my experience, the only reason to overcomplicate and obfuscate almost anything is to avoid responsibility and blame. That what this whole thing reeks of. From the intelligence community, especially CIA, FBI, and NSA, from Clinton, Inc, far beyond the campaign, and from the news media, but then I threepeat myself, for they are all interlocked in so many hidden ways. And as a bit of an aside, this is far more important than any scandal in my lifetime, including Watergate.

Time to muck out the stable, and see if the pony really is there. Nothing really new here, though, Sir Walter Scott observed back around 1808

Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive.

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.

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