Catching Up

‘She reports, we decide she’s hot’

Well, we’ve been a bit British heavy this week, no apologies, for two reasons, it has been an important week there, and you all kept reading. But some other stuff has been going on, so let’s play a bit of catch-up. First and least important Meghan Kelly had her debut on NBC, I didn’t watch but it sounds like her interview with Putin didn’t go well. Imagine that! Why is it here, I needed a picture for the post, most of the rest don’t lend themselves to that. Too bad, back in Obama’s first term, when she was working hard on being a reporter, she was a good one.

Qatar got itself isolated from its neighbors for its support of Iran, Russia, and terrorism. Ace had the best write up I saw.

First of all, though there’s some recent news which seems to be sparking this — leaked documents showing cooperation between the UAE and Israel, leaked documents showing Qatar cozying up to Russia — in fact, those are just shots being fired in an information operation war that has been going on for years. Those are not the cause of the tensions, just the recent signs that the Gulf States are no longer willing to paper over its problems with Qatar.

Although states like Saudi Arabia are frequently charged with inciting terrorism or permitting their citizens to fund terrorism, they are, at least officially, anti-terrorist-uprising/anti-Islamist-takeover, if only for reasons of self-preservation. States that align against destablilization by Islamists are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait.

And Egypt, which was briefly given to the Islamists, gift-wrapped by Barack Obama.

Also Jordan, a fairly friendly country, and also, kind of secretly, Israel. The Gulf States do not openly brag about their cooperation with Israel, and Israel keeps it quiet so as not to embarrass them, but Israel is a quiet secret partner against the Islamists.

Meanwhile, there’s a pro-Islamist slate of powers in the region: the once secular, now Islamist Turkey, the Mohammad Brotherhood (not an official power, but can’t say Obama didn’t try), and… Qatar, which openly supports Islamist movements itself, and propagandizes for them through its Al Jazeera network.

Meanwhile, not only is Qatar funding and fueling Sunni Islamist movements, but they’re also cozying up to Obama’s favorite country Iran, against which most of the Sunni Muslim world is allied.

You can expect to hear more pro-Qatar propaganda from the usual sources, Anti- Saudi too, of course.


Connected maybe, or maybe not, there was a terrorist attack in Tehran this week. At the shrine to Khomeini, and at the the parliament. You remember Khomeini, of course, he was the terrorist that with Carter’s help toppled the Shah, leading to the hostage crisis, that destroyed Carter’s presidency and helped give us Reagan. From Powerline.

What seems surprising is that ISIS (or some other terrorist group) was able to carry out successful attacks in the heart of the ayatollahs’ police state. As the Post notes, security forces are deployed at prominent sites, and Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps maintains a vast network of informants and allies around the country.

The security forces apparently weren’t up to the job. The attackers reportedly entered the parliament building through the main entrance. Their siege lasted more than an hour. Moreover, according to the New York Times, one attacker left the building an hour into the siege, “ran around shooting on Tehran’s streets,” and then returned.

Perhaps the regime has become complacent given its success in taming the population. Perhaps it’s just extremely difficult to prevent these kinds of attacks even in a police state.

The regime, which must be hugely embarrassed, has responded, predictably, by blaming the U.S. and the Saudis. The Revolutionary Guard stated:

The public opinion of the world, especially Iran, recognizes this terrorist attack — which took place a week after a joint meeting of the U.S. president and the head of one of the region’s backward governments, which constantly supports fundamentalist terrorists — as very significant.

Taking a rather different line, and displaying characteristic indifference to human life, Ayatollah Khamenei characterized the attack as the setting off “firecrackers.”

Best part of the response was President Trump’s statement:

We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.

Perfect.


Former director (and current weasel) James Comey testified before the Senate this week. Seems like he might have told something resembling the truth (for a change). In any case, he more or less confirmed what Trump has been saying, and destroyed any number of fake news stories. I tried to watch, but got bored, and went back to British election news. Which is still continuing to rumble about, where it’ll come out, I doubt anybody really knows. Maybe we’ll find out next week, the Brexit negotiations start soon, so they have to get a move on. [Added] I just heard (on Sky) that her joint chiefs of staff, a couple of young American style advisors have resigned. If I got it right, these are the two fools who wrote that insane manifesto.

London, Again

NBC News

Well, 30 + injured about 6 dead, it’s been done again, in London, this time. Well, we’ll pray for them all, the dead, the injured, and yes, our British cousins, in general. It’s what one does when one can’t do much else. This may be the saddest Tweet I’ve ever read, One should never see such a warning about one of the most civilized cities in the world, but we know it could easily have been New York, or Omaha, or a thousand others both here and there.

Thursday the British will vote in the General Election, they will be voting for their Member of Parliament, who will choose the next (or the same) Prime Minister. It’s considerably different from our system, but like ours, it has defended freedom for a long time.

Terrorism raises major and fundamental problems for a free society. How much of our freedom should we give up to our intelligence agencies who may well need that information to defeat this type of threat, but it is still none of the government’s business what you do and say, within very broad guidelines. All solutions are imperfect, I don’t have the answer if there is one, neither does President Trump, or Prime Minister May, or anybody else. The solution rests, I suspect, on the other half of our rights of freedom, our duty to defend it. Pay attention, and act as a responsible person would. That is your duty. And duty is a much-underused word, and yes, concept, in our countries these days.

That also lends point to why we, and Britain, all countries who are, or aspire to be, free must control their borders. There are very strict limits to the constraints we can impose on our citizenry, and very rightly so. But we can control who enters the country, and we must. This is a most insidious form of supporting terrorism, but support it is.

And I was quite impressed with the Metropolitan Police last night, both in the way they flooded the zone, and in the fact that within eight minutes of the attack kicking off, the perpetrators were assuming room temperature, and that in a country where the average cop is not armed. Heck, it would be good in any of the heavily armed US cities. Well done, guys and girls. They have also been doing a pretty good job of letting people know what is going on.

Donald Trump Tweeted this last night:

That’s nearly all any of us can do, at this point, but we are here, as always.

Soon, it will be time for free people to find a way to remove this scourge, and we will be there then, as well. For truly, as Burke wrote…

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one,

an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

Swamp Status: Rising, with Alligators

Are you enjoying watching the Democrats run around hysterically demanding investigations and impeachment of Donald Trump? I find it rather funny actually, not least because the sound and fury does signify something. It conceals a scandal. Not that it has anything to do with Trump, except that he might expose it. It belongs exclusively to Barack Obama and our intelligence community. Glenn Reynolds writes in USA Today.

In 1972, some employees of President Nixon’s re-election committee were caught when they broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters to plant a bug. This led to Nixon’s resignation and probably would have led to his felony prosecution had he not been pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.

But if a single bugging of the political opposition is enough to bring down a presidency — and maybe lead to an unprecedented criminal prosecution of a former president — then what are we to make of the recently unveiled Obama administration program of massively spying on political opponents in violation of clearly established law?

Because that’s what was unveiled last week.

When the FBI wants to wiretap a domestic suspect, it goes to court for a warrant. But when listening in on foreigners, the National Security Agency hoovers up a vast amount of stuff in bulk: Conversations between foreigners, conversations between Americans and foreigners, conversations between Americans who mention foreigners, and sometimes just plain old conversations between Americans.

There are supposed to be strict safeguards on who can access the information, on how it can be used and on protecting American citizens’ privacy — because the NSA is forbidden by law from engaging in domestic spying. These safeguards were ignored wholesale under the Obama administration, and to many Republicans, it is no coincidence that intelligence leaks damaged Democrats’ political opponents in the 2016 election. […]

A report from journalists John Solomon and Sara Carter last week, based on recently declassified documents, exposed what went on. As Solomon and Carter write:

More than 5%, or one out of every 20, searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards President Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa. …

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying that the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor,” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans. …  The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard Americans’ privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

As former anti-terrorism prosecutor and national security expert Andrew McCarthy writes in National Review, this is a very serious abuse. And potentially a crime. If such material were leaked to the press for political advantage, that’s another crime.

McCarthy observes: “Enabling of domestic spying, contemptuous disregard of court-ordered minimization procedures (procedures the Obama administration itself proposed, then violated), and unlawful disclosure of classified intelligence to feed a media campaign against political adversaries. Quite the Obama legacy.”

There is considerably more at the link. But the point Glenn makes, and I completely agree with is this: If this is even medium close to true, and everything I’ve read says it’s much closer than that, then we can no longer afford our intelligence agencies as they are presently constructed. They are a more clear and present danger to our freedom than our enemies.

What we are seeing in the press is no more and no less than a chimera, a smokescreen deployed to protect the guilty, and damage or destroy the innocent. There is very likely no misconduct whatsoever in the Trump administration, particularly at the White House level. But there is more than plenty in our intelligence agencies, sadly it is not designed to work to America’s benefit, but is directly opposed to her interests.

The members of the community that participated in this despicable scheme, from Obama on down need to be indicted, prosecuted and incarcerated, if proven guilty. Nothing else will suffice. That is the overriding mission entrusted to President Trump, and it is a huge one, against very vociferous opposition. Can he do it? I don’t know. Nor do I know if he has the guts for this mission, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t. But maybe that why he is President and I am not. I hope so.

But he must, America itself depends on it.

Hat tip to John at PowerLine

The Rule of Law (UK Style)

On NEO there are 228 articles dealing with the ‘Rule of Law‘ or so says the search box. It’s been one of the most common topics here since day one. It continues to be, for cause. Here’s why, from the £ Daily Mail.

An ‘extraordinary’ Oxford University student who stabbed her Tinder lover with a bread-knife could be spared jail after a judge said a custodial sentence would damage her future career as a heart surgeon.

Lavinia Woodward, 24,  swiped at her boyfriend with the blade, before stabbing him in the leg.

She then hurled a laptop, a glass and a jam jar at him, during the drink and drug-fuelled clash at Christ Church college, Oxford.

Woodward, who currently lives in Milan, Italy, previously admitted unlawful wounding at an earlier hearing.

Judge Ian Pringle said the offence would normally mean a prison term, but instead delayed sentencing and slapped her with a restraining order to stay drug-free and not to re-offend.

He told the court: ‘It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinary able young lady from not following her long-held desire to enter the profession she wishes to, would be a sentence which would be too severe.

‘What you did will never, I know, leave you but it was pretty awful, and normally it would attract a custodial sentence, whether it is immediate or suspended.’

Prosecutor Cathy Olliver said Woodward met her ex online and at the time of the attack, September 30, her behaviour ‘deteriorated’.

The student’s boyfriend called Woodward’s mother on Skype, and his then-girlfriend punched him in the face before assaulting him with the knife.

Defending, James Sturman QC said his client’s dreams of becoming a surgeon were ‘almost impossible’ as her conviction would have to be disclosed.

Woodward had a ‘very troubled life’, struggled with drug addiction, and had been abused by another ex, Mr Sturman said.

Lavinia Woodward will be sentenced on September 25.

To American eyes, British sentencing looks pretty mild at any time, but even there one would expect a custodial sentence for a drugged binge, including assault with a deadly weapon on one partner, even if one were attending Oxford hoping to be a doctor. You know, us provincial Americans, “You do the crime, you do the time”. Yeah, we know a woman, especially a fairly cute one, won’t catch as severe a sentence usually, that’s a bit wrong, but it’s a cultural thing with us, and not that big a deal, because women usually aren’t as violent as men anyway.

But this is well beyond that point, It’s a hard thing to ruin someone’s future, even for cause, but it seems hardly a good thing for the average Briton to have unstable, drug abusing, prone to violence, heart surgeons. That’s why we take people off the street, not so much to punish them (in theory, anyway) but to help them get their life straightened out.

But I wonder if the Mail provided us with the answer, after all. Here’s another picture of poor Lavinia.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’m pretty sure that ain’t cattle class on Ryanair. Yep, it’s a private jet of some kind, and they are not economy class. Mind, one doesn’t have to be close to being Donald Trump to have one, and they often make business sense, but it is not the way we usually go off to Podunk U, to fulfill our dreams.

I won’t say there is bribery involved here, although there certainly could be, in one manner or another. After all, not all bribes are money, many are access, or influence, or other things, and they may actually be more harmful.

But even that is problematic, what I really suspect is that it is simply class solidarity, can’t send our kind to prison, she’d have to deal with all those [insert your own group] here.

And that is why it is pernicious. What has made Great Britain, America, and very few more countries what we are is that the law applies equally to everyone.

And forgetting that will destroy much of the reason they work.

Moral Cowardice, the FBI, and Us

Bookworm had some more to say about Comey and the FBI in general.

Comey pretended that his moral cowardice was a virtue, a dangerous attitude that empowers weak people and that permeates the entire FBI.

As Comey’s firing as FBI director continues to roil the Left, all sorts of interesting things are emerging. For example, it was Comey who gave Bill Clinton a pass in 2002 following an investigation into Clinton’s Marc Rich pardon. Having been one of the Whitewater investigators, you’d think Comey would have figured out early that, where there’s a Clinton, there’s a rat to be smelled, but somehow . . . he didn’t.

Comey was also the one who authorized the FBI to spend $100,000 investigating Dinesh D’Souza’s $20,000 illegal campaign finance donation. One could say that keeping elections clean is so important that money is no object, but that’s not what the FBI and other government branches had said before they got D’Souza — a prominent Obama and Democrat Party critic — in their sights. Previously (and since then), for small dollar campaign finance violations, the government had handed out small punishments. […]

Kimberly Strassel has written a scathing article detailing Comey’s ongoing corrupt practices, made all the more damning by the fact that she pretends to take Comey at his word — namely, that he sees himself as a model of virtue and rectitude constantly saving the day:

. . . [I]t seems the head of the FBI had lost confidence—even before TarmacGate—that the Justice Department was playing it anywhere near straight in the Clinton probe. So what should an honor-bound FBI director do in such a conflicted situation? Call it out. Demand that Ms. Lynch recuse herself and insist on an appropriate process to ensure public confidence. Resign, if need be. Instead Mr. Comey waited until the situation had become a crisis, and then he ignored all protocol to make himself investigator, attorney, judge and jury.

By the end of that 15-minute July press conference, Mr. Comey had infuriated both Republicans and Democrats, who were now universally convinced he was playing politics. He’d undermined his and his agency’s integrity. No matter his motives, an honor-bound director would have acknowledged that his decision jeopardized his ability to continue effectively leading the agency. He would have chosen in the following days—or at least after the election—to step down. Mr. Comey didn’t.

Which leads us to Mr. Comey’s most recent and obvious conflict of all—likely a primary reason he was fired: the leaks investigation (or rather non-investigation). So far the only crime that has come to light from this Russia probe is the rampant and felonious leaking of classified information to the press. Mr. Trump and the GOP rightly see this as a major risk to national security. While the National Security Agency has been cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee and allowing lawmakers to review documents that might show the source of the leaks, Mr. Comey’s FBI has resolutely refused to do the same.

And where is the rest of the FBI in all of this? Some agents are taking a “brave” and “virtuous” stand too. In true FBI tradition, showing the backbone and strength for which they’re known, they’re changing their Facebook pictures to show Comey’s face, rather than their own [that’s sarcasm, in case you wondered]:

FBI agents are reportedly changing their Facebook profile photos to pictures of James Comey — or pictures of them with Comey — to show their support for the sacked FBI director.

The Daily Beast reported that at least a dozen agents had changed their photos, a gesture usually reserved for fellow agents slain in the line of duty.

According to Gateway Pundit, though, some agents are thinking of going public about their disagreements with Comey. The link in that article is to an October 17, 2016 article in which anonymous FBI agents say they’re displeased with Comey’s handling of matters.

Isn’t that special? They’ve changed their profile picture like any good twelve-year-old girl would do.

Bookworm calls it craven moral cowardice, I think that might be a bit strong, although basically right.

Here’s the thing, for the ordinary street agent (or his supervisors) it’s a tough call that I’m not all that willing to make for them. Think about it, you’re in (probably) your forties, married, mortgage (probably a big one if your at HQ) car payments, kids who you want to go to college, all the various and sundry financial commitments that American collect, plus likely student loans still, since these guys are all accountants and/or lawyers. Add to that the fact that most of your friends work for the government.

How likely would you be to jeopardize your entire life over a moral issue that requires you to defy your chain of command? We all sitting out here in the heartland say that we would in a heartbeat, but maybe we ought to think about it for a bit. Those things happen to us all, they’re the minor little things (seemingly) that lead us off the straight and narrow. There’s some in my life, and I’ll bet there’s some in yours. Some I did the right thing, and some I didn’t. Maybe you always did. Good for you, you’re a better man than I, or a man that lies to me and himself. We ain’t none of us perfect.

Remember when we were dating, we didn’t ask the girl to marry us when we picked her up at her parent’s for the first date – that comes later maybe, it’s a progression. So is this, it starts with a minor thing, covering an extra cigarette break, and then one gets one’s loyalty involved in the group.

We’ve heard a lot about Comey wanting to become another J Edgar Hoover, that’s a scary thought, right? Well, which one? When Hoover got the job back in 1927, his mandate was to clean up an agency badly corrupted by the Teapot Dome scandal, he did a ruthless and good job – to the point that still, to this day, we expect absolute honesty from an FBI agent. That’s some legacy, that is. Yes, he went mad, figurately (and maybe literally) when his love of power corrupted him, and the whole thing went off the rails. That’s why it’s a ten-year maximum term now. Live and learn.

But for Comey, maybe it started with the pass he gave in Clinton back in 2002, but maybe it was much earlier, and much less important. I don’t know, and I doubt Comey does either. But yes, Book is right, he’s a moral coward (perhaps a craven one) but you know, most of us are.

One of the reasons our founders are so revered is that they put everything, including their unstretched necks, on the line, and many of them paid that price. They were very exceptional men. Another one who did is Martin Luther.

One who almost did is Thomas Cranmer, Elizabeth I’s Archbishop of Canterbury when Mary came to the throne, he lost everything, and confessed the charge of heresy, at the stake he recanted his confession. That’s a noble act, but he no longer had anything to lose, no matter what he said or did, they were going to burn him at the stake. I’ve said it, so have you I bet. Nothing left to lose may as well do the right thing.

Well, Comey was there, trusted by nobody, he had little to lose, and he failed that test, as well.

God help him.

Book ends with this, she is completely correct.

The above is why those voters who pay taxes like President Trump. He’s not beholden to anybody and he reacts as a taxpayer would: This guy is doing a bad job, he’s abusing his power, and he shouldn’t be getting a salary. He needs to be fired.

No wonder Trump terrifies the resident rats in the D.C. Swamp.

 

Comey, Enforcing the Law, and Integrity

Director James B. Comey speaks during an F.B.I. press conference at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. on Monday, June 23, 2014.

I suppose we should talk a bit about Comey getting his butt fired since it seems everyone else is. The best I’ve read is here.

J Edgar Hoover ran the FBI as if it were his private secret police force. He exceeded his authority, and spied on, blackmailed, harassed, intimidated, and threatened everyone. He became politically unstoppable. He was in power for 48 years. Though hated and feared by several presidents (all of whom had the power to fire him) none dared to oppose him. The only thing that removed Hoover from power was death. The man was a monster.

James Comey was the Director of the FBI. He was fired yesterday. He wasn’t remotely as bad as Hoover.

Yet.


Life is cruel. Sometimes it puts you on the horns of a dilemma. If you do the right thing… you’re fucked. If you do the wrong thing… you’re fucked.

Regardless of his flaws or merits, recent events gave Comey a shit sandwich. There’s no good answer for the role he had to play. What the hell would you do?

Imagine that you’re the head of the FBI. The most powerful nation in the world is trying to democratically elect it’s next leader, who will be your boss. The shit has been hitting the fan all year. Now it’s getting worse.

Your staff shows up with incontrovertible evidence that the leading candidate engaged in serious shitweaseling. This would sink any other person on earth, including you. Normally this would lead to a trial and very possibly time in “Federal pound me in the ass prison“. But this is the favored presidential candidate we’re talking about!

You’re sick with worry. You’re not hungry but you eat a stale donut left from the morning briefing. This information has you trapped.

Do you proceed? Recommend criminal prosecution for a person who’s acted criminally based on the overwhelming evidence of crime? Normally you would, but the other candidate is an orange tinted blowhard who makes everyone in DC break out in hives. The press is screaming that the guy is “literally Hitler”. Whatever you do will influence the election. Who needs this shit? Three hundred million people in the US and they couldn’t come up with two who are squeaky clean?

The donut went down badly. You remind yourself to have a doctor tweak your blood pressure meds. Your secretary is making Vince Foster jokes behind your back. The punchline is “assisted suicide”. You know there’s an office pool; they’re betting on whether you’ll be transferred to Guam or a windowless office in the basement. This job sucks!

The evidence of malfeasance on your desk grows. Objectively, it’s much worse than Watergate. You can say it’s literally bigger than Watergate and be using the word “literally” properly.

Do you wanna’ be Dudley Do Right and send this on for prosecution? Are you sure? The criminal in question is really good at getting away with stuff and she’s probably going to be your boss!

Keep reading the AC, he’s got this one nailed, plumb and square, too. Later on, he says this,

If Comey was like a certain irrelevant and obscure blogger he’d give up and light the fuse. Have an epic ten minute press conference composed of mostly swearing and hand out all (or most) of the relevant evidence. I don’t think like secret squirrel people. I don’t want to be the sole possessor of any potential president’s dirty laundry! The whole thing would end with something like “Fuck it. These people aren’t just criminals, they’re idiots. I don’t care what you do with this information because I quit. I’m going fishing.”

Yep, so would I. Like him, I’m not nuanced enough for this stuff. Probably why I’m not a politician, I can’t lie effectively to myself. And make no mistake, that’s what it is. Like AC, I’m a simple man, who likes it that way.

I feel sorry (kind of) for Comey. He got himself in a very tight spot, no good answers and not much of any way to salvage your career, legacy, whatever you want to call it. But not very. The man took an oath to uphold the Constitution, to enforce the law. There wasn’t a supersecret clause that said except against Clinton, Inc, nor was there one that said unless it hurts Donald Trump.

He’s hardly alone, this sort of moral cowardice is the very substance of the ‘Swamp’, and it is very seductive. We’ve all seen it, although probably not on this level, the little white lie, no one will know, it won’t matter, all that bushwah. Well, that’s exactly how Comey destroyed his life, and maybe his organization. He didn’t intend to get caught in a web of lies and deception, he simply told a little one, one day, to make his life easier. And then every day, he had to tell more to protect the one that went before.

That’s what it means when you hear us say, with Niccolo Machiavelli in his Discourses,

“For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.”

The way my mom taught that lesson, lo these many years ago is this.

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember what you said.

And it ties back into something else, we prattle on about sometimes, usually because it’s being violated.

“The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Makes life simple, somehow.

Back in the stone age, when I grew up, we had a word for it. That word was integrity. It’s right there on the FBI shield, in English, even. Maybe some people should read a bit better.

%d bloggers like this: