The IG Report

So, the much awaited Inspector General from the Department of Justice is out. I haven’t yet read it, and may not bother. I increasingly detest bureaucratese, and since retiring, avoid it whenever possible. But it is important, and I’m interested, but Mollie Hemingway read it so I don’t have to. In my experience, she often comes to very much the conclusion I would, never exactly, but often close. So, what does she say, in one of those annoying Federalist 11 things posts? 🙂

  1. [And this is perhaps the most important takeaway of all. Who the author reports to and supports matters, especially when many things are subject to interpretation.]Learn How To Interpret An IG Report
    The best way to understand an inspector general (IG) report is less as a fiercely independent investigation that seeks justice and more like what you’d expect from a company’s human resources department. Employees frequently think that a company’s human resources department exists to serve employees. There’s some truth in that, but it’s more true that the human resources department exists to serve the corporation.

    At the end of the day, the HR department wants what’s best for the company. The FBI’s IG Michael Horowitz has a good reputation for good reason. But his report is in support of the FBI and its policies and procedures. As such, the findings will be focused on helping the FBI improve its adherence to those policies and procedures. Those who expected demands for justice in the face of widespread evidence of political bias and poor judgment by immature agents and executives were people unfamiliar with the purpose of IG reports.

    The IG is also a government bureaucrat producing government products that are supposed to be calm and boring. In the previous report that led to Andrew McCabe’s firing as deputy director of the FBI and referral for criminal prosecution, his serial lying under oath was dryly phrased as “lack of candor.” In this report detailing widespread problems riddled throughout the Clinton email probe, the language is similarly downplayed. That’s particularly true in the executive summary, which attempts to downplay the actual details that fill the report with evidence of poor decision-making, extreme political bias, and problematic patterns of behavior.

  2. FBI Agent Who Led Both The Clinton and Trump Probes Promised He’d Prevent Trump’s Election
  3. Comey Mishandled The Clinton Probe In Multiple Ways
  4. Comey Is Slippery And Weird
  5. FBI Has A Massive Leak Problem And Is Doing Nothing About It
  6. FBI Almost Got Away With Ignoring Clinton Emails On Weiner Laptop
  7. Breathtaking Bias
  8. Clinton Got Breaks, But Some Backfired
  9. Obama Lied When He Said He Knew Nothing About Hillary’s Secret E-mail Scheme
  10. FBI Agent Joked Clinton Associate Who Lied Would Never Be Charged, Questioned Legitimacy Of Investigation
  11. FBI’s Insulting Response

 

Other than the first, I just gave you Mollie’s bullet points, she documents them well, and you do need to read them, which you can in her article, 11 Quick Things To Know About The Inspector General’s Report.

And that last one is very troubling. The FBI doesn’t think it has a problem. It does, it has gotten to the point that a fair size plurality of the electorate is calling for its abolition, and with cause. It is out of the control of anybody, and its bullying practices are increasingly abhorrent, as it’s seen that it is no longer properly enforcing the law, but persecuting individually selected people.

After reading a fair number of reports in the last couple days, I think this is the fairest one, not glossing over problems, but neither contributing to the witchhunt. On the other hand, more often than not lately, the worst interpretations have been the most correct, but one continues to hope for a bottom to the swamp. But we may not be to it yet.

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Populism: the Last 50 Years

Frank Cannon at The American Spectator has some thoughts about the assassination of Robert Kennedy 50 years ago this month. Yeah, 1968 was quite the year, a major watershed, seemed like it then and it has proved so.

His impact has resonated well beyond 1968, however. As my late friend Jeff Bell argued in his book, Populism and Elitism, Robert Kennedy’s short-lived campaign drew strongly on populist impulses — that is, an optimism about the ability of people to make decisions about their own lives, rather than relying on elites to do it for them. This approach seemed to be giving Kennedy the momentum in the race, until that fateful moment on June 5th:

Kennedy’s assassination on the night of the California primary put a halt to that effort, not just for 1968 but (in large part) for the decades since. No subsequent liberal leader has made an effective effort to develop a form of left populism… Subsequent polling in 1968 found many white Kennedy voters lining up for Richard Nixon and George Wallace, although, with great difficulty, [Hubert] Humphrey got some of them back by the November election. But no Democratic presidential nominee has ever done as well as Humphrey with these voters in the five elections since. In short, the effort to keep the Democrats’ majority coalition together with a more populist appeal began and ended in the three months of Robert Kennedy’s campaign.

That is, I think beyond question. Many of Kennedy’s policies didn’t appeal to me, even then, but he did, then and now. In truth, of the brothers, with what we know now, he is the only one who does.

In addition, it strikes me that perhaps this is where the traditional liberalism was mortally wounded, as misguided as much of it was, in my view, it was honest and really did want to help people. What we have now merely uses people in an attempt to take and keep power.

In 1964, with the nomination of Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party had taken its first tentative steps towards a conservative populism. Since the 1950s, it had been defined by such leaders as Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller, who could best be described as conservative elitists. However, beginning with the tumultuous election campaign of 1968, this ground quickly began to shift. Richard Nixon and his “silent majority” powered a counter-conservative Republican populism, culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan a decade later. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party came to be dominated by elite progressives, who had begun to gradually take over vast swaths of the culture and American institutions.

Since then, this state of affairs has come to predominate, though not without a few twists along the way. After Reagan, the conservatives who had found success with him during his presidency formed their own elite establishment, best represented by institutions such as the Chamber of Commerce, which dominated conservative policymaking, elevating business-friendly policies to the detriment of more populist issues — at least until 2016.

And then came Trump, the heir of both Bobby Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. The author makes the point that Trump is different still again. Rather than conservative, he is anti-progressive (and a lot of that is conservative in nature). But it also owes a fair amount to Teddy Roosevelt, and his love for “The Strenuous Life”.

And in some ways, I suspect it is a very specifically American thing. We really are different, rowdier, prouder, and more passionate about our system, than pretty much anybody in the world. That doesn’t (and never has) precluded us from cooperating with other organizations who have similar goals or opposing those who would overly compromise freedom in any place or time. The main difference really, is that it is the almost unfiltered views of the American people. And the ‘elites’, left and right, don’t like that one bit, but that is how you get more Trump, longer.

Tommy Robinson and Liberal Democracy

Over the weekend Paul Mirengoff of Powerline wrote an article called Getting “World Order” Wrong. It’s a very good one. Here’s some…

In this post called “Getting Italy wrong,” I argued that when EU types say populism threatens liberal democracy they usually mean it threatens their policy preferences, which often are not particularly democratic. The same is largely true, I think, of complaints that Donald Trump threatens the “world order.”

This story by Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post — “In Trump, some fear the end of the world order” — is full of moans that, as the pompous Donald Tusk puts it, Trump is challenging “the rules-based international order.” But how is Trump doing this?

Through tariffs? What rule prohibits Trump from imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum? I disagree with Trump’s decision to do so, but surely the rules-based international order does not depend on the absence of these tariffs. Canada imposes ungodly tariffs on U.S. agricultural products without threatening the world order. Why should our tariffs threaten it?

They don’t. Eurocrats and their friends are just using buzz words to defend their economic interests.

And that is the exact truth, what Donald Trump threatens is a lot of corporatist rice bowls. Those people who aren’t good enough to make in on their own and so run to the government to protect them from those who are.

You know, maybe he does threaten the world order, if so he does so by attempting to reintroduce the American order, where merit is the sole determinant of success. It’s never been quite that clean-cut, of course. Paul Revere founded the Revere Copper Works to make the copper bottom for the USS Constitution, and Abraham Lincoln was a railroad lawyer (and a good one). But both of them, and many others provided real quality for a realistic price.

Now what we have in most instances are people providing shoddy merchandise and services for an inflated price which includes a kickback for the politicians.

And do not think it doesn’t carry beyond business either. Why is Tommy Robinson in jail (or gaol, if you prefer)? Because he threatens the system, which enriches politicians who turn a blind eye to abuses, like industrial scale rape and abuse of working-class girls, for a price. The British system can no longer exist in sunlight but must hide in the shadows of the night to exist. It is that corrupt.

And so in time-dishonored fascist fashion, Robinson was frog-marched through a risible parody of a conviction, for not much and consigned to a prison where he has a fair chance of being murdered. If he is, his blood will be on the government of the United Kingdom. This is such a bad thing that it is a parody of the infamous star chamber which the Stuart kings used to try and defenstrate Parliament.

The Dutch MP Geert Wilders spoke to a very well attended rally in Whitehall not long ago to demand Robinson’s release. His address is here.

This is the ‘liberal democracy’ (two lies for the price of one!) that they are so very afraid that Donald Trump and America, in whose name he acts, will tear down.

By God, I hope so!

In 1653, Oliver Cromwell spoke to what we call the Rump Parliament. I think his comments just as applicable today:

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place,

which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!

The time has again come, all across Europe.

Repristinating America

So Donald Trump is President, and things are looking up. Really, they are. The world is settling down as the word gets around that the sheriff, knows how to use not only words but the Glock on his hip. There are rumors of war (and trade war), but there always are when America asserts itself. But who really wants to fight America, apart from two or maybe three other powers, an American brush fire war is an existential struggle for existence. Not since Edwardian days has one power been so dominant. That one got out of hand and led to the Great War when Britain did the honorable thing (arguably) and played continental power (quite effectively) but in winning the battle lost the war.

Daniel Oliver at The Federalist had some good thoughts along this line the other day. Let’s take a look.

Conservatives tend to be skeptical of joining great political movements because they tend to be skeptical of both politics and movements that are great. They prefer the little platoon, the shire, which they know to be safe—or at least probably safer than what lies beyond. Not all politics may be local, but all politics that isn’t local tends toward the totalitarian, however far short of it it may actually fall.

That sounds almost like a philosophy of government—though not a government that any American alive today has experienced. But times can change, and they have with the election of Donald Trump. Conservatives who have been asking, “Where do we go from here?” have discovered the answer may be: “Where Donald Trump is going.”

Most conservatives and many Libertarians saw the conservatism of William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of modern American conservatism, as a compromise (today’s Libertarians tend to see it as just compromised). Buckley was a free marketeer who opposed radical social experimentation. But he accepted the superstate (even knowing it was a threat to freedom at home) because it was necessary to do battle with the threat to freedom from abroad: communism, the force of darkness that threatened the globe for almost half a century.

That’s true enough, my formation as a conservative came from reading Buckley, and his formulation still resonates with me. Sure Communism is gone (other than the US Democratic party, and such) but big government always has totalitarian tendencies, but to a point (and a very limited point) has necessary functions.

One could read about those in the US Constitution, and the totalitarian tendencies in almost everything the federal government has done since Wilson was President, with the partial exemption of Reagan, and the much more complete one of Coolidge. But there are still dragons to slay, and borders to secure. So we need much more of a state than McKinley needed, faster transportation and communication (mostly) has made it so.

Skipping a lot that you should read, let’s continue…

So what should a conservative polity look like? It comes as a shock—like a Bob Mueller raid in the dark of the night—to realize that many of the policies promoted by President Trump are out of the conservative playbook.

Trump is no pious Christian, but he is proud of his role, synecdochically significant, in making it safe to say “Merry Christmas” again. He has wooed people who cling to their Bibles (and to their guns). And he may be the most anti-abortion president we’ve ever had.

Trump prefers America to other countries, a preference reported as scandalous because of his accurate, if … famously unusual, description of some of those other hell-hole countries.

Trump seems naturally federalist—e.g., in wanting to get rid of those “lines around the states” that restrict the health insurance companies from writing policies on people who don’t live in their states. He seems instinctively opposed to the superstate: his deregulation efforts have already gotten America moving again, and he’s making it easier to fire workers who work for the federal bureaucratic leviathan state.

He seems to care about communities that have had their middle class jobs shipped overseas. The free trade purists have their arguments: they tell us that free trade makes the world richer, and that may be true. But the US share of world GDP has gone down in the last 15 years, while the share of the Industrializing Six countries has gone up.

Could it be that “Make America Great Again” qualifies as a modern formulation of an ancient truth, even if not written in Carolingian minuscule? Many Americans, perhaps excluding the editors of some national political journals, would agree.

I’m going to leave it there, mostly because this is getting long. But he’s correct, Buckley, through us, may have made the greatest conservative convert in history, in Donald John Trump, or alternatively, and not entirely unlikely to my mind, he always was conservative, but played the corrupt New York business game to win, and so no one knew.

I doubt he knows himself or cares. And you know, I don’t either, actions speak much louder than words, that may be the lesson of lessons the teens have to teach us this century. And so we have that rarest of things, a repristination (see the article) of not only a great power, but it’s people. Because, you know, it hasn’t felt this good to be an American since the early sixties (with a reprise in the ’80s).

MAGA, Indeed

 

The Round up

Lots going on, let’s just look around today.

Bruce Bawer has written an excellent column on the Tommy Robinson fiasco for Gatestone.

  • The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Tommy Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying.

  • Without having access to his own lawyer, Robinson was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.
  • Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced Robinson also ordered British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. All this happened on the same day.
  • In Britain, rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.

The ban on talking about Tommy’s case has been lifted, which is too little too late. The damage has been done to Britain’s reputation as a member of the free world. #FreeTommy.

Warsclerotic has a pretty good write up (I think) on the somewhat clarifying mess in Syria. Well worth reading.

Russia, too, is dealing with a public relations problem. It is trying to link a withdrawal of Iranian forces from the Syrian border with a withdrawal of US forces around al-Tanf–this was the location where Russian mercenaries got the snot beat out of them by US forces back in February. Without some sort of face-saving deal, Russian prestige will suffer and the Iranians will start thinking the Russians are looking for an exit. And they are.

What had started out as a venture to procure a Mediterranean port and supporting logistics facilities and airbases to project Russian naval power into the Eastern Med has become an oozing ulcer, costing Russia cash and lives.

None of this just happened. Leon Hadar has an interesting article in The National Interest called Trump’s Strategy for the Middle East Is Working. In it he juxtaposes the way Middle East crises used to work and the deft change of calculus made by Trump (I’m using Trump as a metaphor for his administration because guys like Mattis and Bolton and Pompeo have watched the Middle East for a while).

Ireland voted last week to allow pretty much-unrestricted abortions in the first trimester. As we know, from both the US and the UK, intentionally violating the right to life echoes around a countries morality and damages it in manifold ways. Too bad that Ireland decided to join the cesspit of Europe on this one.

In the US (which never voted for abortion), on the other hand, for the first time, it looks like there may be a real chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, the monstrosity that made abortion legal nationwide. That’s still a long shot, but more and more states are restricting abortion, often to where the heartbeat is detectable, my understanding is that is about 6 weeks. Not enough, but trending the right way. More here.

And we’re number 1 again. So says Bloomberg and the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center. The Runners-up are Hong Kong, Singapore, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Also: The US economy will remain strong for the next three years, 71% of global CFOs believe.

And: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is forecasting economic growth will exceed 4% for the current 2nd quarter of 2018.

A NorK terrorist general is in New York talking to the State Department about the upcoming (maybe) summit.

So, overall, the British Isles are sinking into the quagmire, but the eagle continues to climb.

Yeah, OK, #MAGA

Police State Britain

Someplace back about two lifetimes ago, I read a book by Len Deighton, well actually more than one. But the one that jolted into my mind yesterday morning was “SS-GB”. It is historical fiction about the German occupation of Great Britain in 1941. It was a pretty dark novel, but a very good one. But it is what we call a counterfactual, something that could have happened, but didn’t.

Or did it?

The other day, Tommy Robinson was arrested for a public order offense, as near as I can tell for filming a bit too near to a courthouse, which was also possibly what an American would call a parole violation. Yes, he has been known to get into a bit of trouble for his views, more on that later. In any case, he was arrested, tried, convicted, and on his way to prison (with a 13-month sentence) within an hour. Not sure I think that’s exactly justice, but it’s damned well speedy.

Information is thin on this because the judge also issued a gag order on British writers, preventing them from writing/talking about the case. Leading to the following Tweets between a couple of quite influential Christian bloggers in Britain.

And that is quite frankly a chickenshit move by the judge, even if countenanced by the law. It’s not uncommon in Britain these days, especially where Muslim/ Islamists are concerned. And this trial was one of the Muslim ‘grooming’ gangs. It has gotten to the point where telling the truth is defined as a hate crime. Freedom of speech is mostly a memory for the cousins.

We, of course, revere the words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That is our First Amendment, and we guard it jealously. We do so so that travesties like this don’t happen here. But that is only in the United States, think about that: ONLY in the United States.

It is this kind of thing we are talking about when we talk about America as the keeper of the flame of liberty, it is the simple truth. Without America, liberty will die, at the hand of the Globalists, the Islamists, or both.

I’m reminded of what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may want to ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

It’s also useful to others, while this is primarily an American blog, between 20% and a third of our readers are British (mostly English), and we can fearlessly publish stories like this. We have done it here before, when a Reformed preacher, in Norwich, Norfolk was nearly prosecuted for handing out leaflets at a gay pride event a  few years ago. I won’t say we were instrumental, neither were we the only ones doing so.

Tommy Robinson is not a favorite of mine, probably because my British friends consider him far right. But, I’ve done a bit of a crash course today on him, and I’m not so sure they are right. The best interview I could find was with Dave Rubin, who is himself a liberal. An old style one, that listens and thinks, not the progressive trash yelling all the time we have now. Here is that interview, like most of Dave’s, it is a fairly long interview, but it’s also a complex subject.

See what I mean, he doesn’t sound all that different from most of us. I saw little there that I strongly disagree with, anyway.

Now, about that sentence, it seems pretty long for that offense to me, and if you listened to the interview, you already have some idea of what I’m going to say. There are quite a few people who are claiming it to be a disguised death sentence. I’m far from sure that they are not correct. You probably remember the man who was sentenced to a year for leaving a bacon sandwich at a mosque, he was killed within six months, the inquest was not released for almost two years.

Note that this is a screenshot. Caolan Robertson was forced to delete the Tweet because of the gag order. Stefan Molyneux:

The Nazis called this sort of thing Nacht und Nebel (night and fog), one of the more descriptive terms of art for it is “to disappear a person”. Both Stalin and Mao were also fond of the practice. Britain can’t quite pull that off yet but give them a bit of time and practice, I’m sure they’ll figure it out. It’s nothing less than a method of rewriting history.

But do understand, the right to free speech is inherently the right to offend. That is why in The Friends of Voltaire, Hall wrote the phrase: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it“. (which is often misattributed to Voltaire himself) as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs.

The only acceptable limitations are words that cause a panic, like shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater, although note it is recommended if there is a fire in that theater, and is also fine if the theater is empty, the other one is what we call fighting words, which will almost inevitably lead to a physical fight or violence.

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