Swamp Report: CIA Running Scared

New today, at The American Spectator, from Jed Babbin is this:

[L]ast Wednesday the intelligence community launched its first attack on Attorney General William Barr’s investigation into its illegal acts and abuses of power during the 2016 election. In a New York Times article entitled “Justice Department Seeks to Question CIA in its Own Russia Investigation,” the IC makes clear its fear of the results of Barr’s investigation of their spy operation on candidate Trump in 2016 that continued through his early presidency.

The article, obviously written at the behest of its intelligence community sources — “current and former American officials” — is the first of many concerted attacks on Attorney General William Barr’s investigation of the joint CIA/FBI spy operation. Many other articles, based on carefully crafted leaks to the media and Congress, are sure to follow because current and former high-ranking officials of those agencies (and probably the NSA as well) have a lot to lose.

John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, is running the investigation under Barr’s direction. From the Times report, we can easily deduce the fact that those who ran the spy op — including CIA Director Gina Haspel — are running scared from the Durham investigation.

Start with the sourcing: “current and former American officials.” That includes all of the people who were in the Obama White House, Comey’s FBI, Brennan’s CIA, and everyone else who’s ever held a government job in, for example, the Obama White House.

The third paragraph says, in part:

While the Justice Department review is not a criminal inquiry, it has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny.

Two points are made there and both are clearly wrong.

It damned well is an investigation not a “review.” James Comey — probably at the behest of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — only referred to the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s felonious use of a private, unsecured email system as a “matter.” By doing so he tried to exclude the possibility that it was a criminal investigation despite the fact that it very much was one. So is the Barr/Durham investigation. It’s not a “review.” By definition, such an investigation is an investigation into possible criminal actions.

The reason the CIA’s “analytical work” is being subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny is that there is a lot of evidence of criminal conduct by the CIA and FBI. That’s one of the fundamental differences between the Barr/Durham investigation and the Mueller investigation into the imaginary conspiracy between candidate Trump and his campaign and the Russians.

Keep reading, link above.

It’s damned well time, I think. The so-called intelligence community has been an insular walled-off community of its own far too long. In that time not only has it conspired against the American people, and their elected officials, often to our detriment, They have gotten damned near every important call, since before the fall of the Soviet Empire, including the fall of the Shah.

Maybe if they did reasonable work, I’d be a bit more tolerant, although I doubt it, but since I think Harvey Lunchbucket in Hoboken is about as qualified as anybody in the puzzle palace, I don’t see any upside in tolerating their arrogance built on friendship made in some of the most expensive and least educational universities in the world. Nurtured in a hothouse where nobody was responsible for anything, and the people came way back in last place.

It’s time to try something else. But first, its time to see these failed arrogant tools in the dock, instead of living the high life on our dime.

America is a tolerant country, but karma remains our girlfriend, but she’s a cold bitch to her enemies.

Sunday Funnies: Into the Silly Season

Summer has always been the silly season. Looks like little has changed. But we are still paying attention.

And yep, I hear this quite a lot from my British friends.

Only the Turks know for sure!

Good on AOC with this one, but she’s off message

And, of course

A Very British Protest

Americans are likely the foremost proponents of individual freedom in the world. We have been as long as there have been Americans. There sits John Winthrop’s “Shining Citte on a hill’. Over there is the Declaration that fueled both the French and Russian Revolutions, although they both let it get out of hand, which we didn’t. There is a Constitution that almost uniquely has been honored for over 200 years more in its use than its breach.  But that is our heritage, above all that is what makes Americans, Americans. But it didn’t spring forth like Pallas Athena from Zeus’s brow on 4 July 1776, where did it come from? Edmund Burke knew and put it as well as anyone ever has when he said…

First, the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation, which still I hope respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favourite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness. It happened, you know, Sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country were from the earliest times chiefly upon the question of taxing. Most of the contests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily on the right of election of magistrates; or on the balance among the several orders of the state. The question of money was not with them so immediate. But in England it was otherwise. On this point of taxes the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues, have been exercised; the greatest spirits have acted and suffered. In order to give the fullest satisfaction concerning the importance of this point, it was not only necessary for those who in argument defended the excellence of the English constitution, to insist on this privilege of granting money as a dry point of fact, and to prove, that the right had been acknowledged in ancient parchments, and blind usages, to reside in a certain body called a House of Commons. [emphasis mine]

But we are not, and never have been alone. This is the heritage of Britain, seen undiluted in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and some others, and imperfectly in others such as India. But it is the most powerful drive in the world. Take another look at the picture that leads this article. That is not London, nor any other great British city. That is a picture of the protests last weekend in Hong Kong. The former crown colony, now belonging to China, but with guarantees till mid-century about its English style justice system which is now being threatened by mainland China.

A good write up in The Federalist.

Last Sunday, more than 1 million Hong Kong residents, despite brazing heat, took to the streets to protest the government’s controversial extradition bill. Should this bill become law, Beijing will be able to demand Hong Kong authorities extradite anyone, including pro-democracy dissidents and human rights activists.

The Sunday protest is the largest since the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong over to Beijing in 1997. The protest was peaceful until midnight, when a small group of protestors clashed with local police. For an event involving 1 million people, a mostly pacifist protest is a no small accomplishment.

In some way, Sunday’s protest feels like Hong Kongers’ Alamo moment. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive appointed by Beijing, vowed the day after the massive protest that she would push ahead with the extradition bill in spite of dissent. She probably doesn’t have much choice, because Beijing won’t allow her to back down. Since 1989, Beijing has always suppresed any dissent immediately and ruthlessly.

Hong Kongers Want to Keep Their Freedoms

But Hong Kongers won’t back down either. More protests are taking place this week. What’s amazing is that, unlike 2014’s “umbrella movement,” which demanded universal suffrage, there is no single visible leader like Joshua Wong who is in charge of this week’s protests. Instead, ordinary Hong Kongers—students, airline crews, office workers, labor union organizers, Catholic Church workers, business people, and even some legislators—are taking part in these protests of their own initiative.

Teachers’ unions called for closing schools on Wednesday so teachers and students could participate in the protest. Art galleries, restaurants, and many other businesses gave their employees a day off so they could join. These grassroots efforts demonstrate that the protest isn’t only about opposing the extradition bill. Hong Kongers are fed up by the constant economic and political squeeze by Beijing. They feel that Beijing has broken its promise of respecting Hong Kong’s autonomy. They are also deeply disappointed in Hong Kong authorities’ submissive attitude. Now, ordinary Hong Kongers are showing they won’t go down without a fight.

Protesters have surrounded Hong Kong’s legislative building since Tuesday, which forced the pro-Beijing legislature to temporarily delay the second round of debate of the bill. However, the Hong Kong government’s responses to the peaceful protests have become more hawkish.

The legislature resumed the debate of the extradition bill on Wednesday. Lam called the protests “riots,” which reminded people of the language Beijing used against the 1989 pro-democracy protest in Tiananmen Square. The latest video shows Hong Kong police are firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd. According to a government report, more than 70 people, including both police and protesters, were injured during the clash.

The most likely outcome of this extraordinary event in Hong Kong is that the legislature will pass some version of the extradition bill. So are Hong Kongers’ efforts futile? I don’t think so.

Helen in her article thinks President Trump should make a statement supporting the protestors. I want to agree, I admire them greatly. But like Hungary in 1956, we cannot effectively support them, so do we risk increasing their casualties by encouraging them, or do we sadly remain silent, recognizing that there are things even the United States cannot do. I don’t know that answer.

But I do that the Hong Kong protestors are in the best tradition of Anglo-American freedom, and I’m cheering for them.

But think of that, it was twenty years ago that Britain gave up control of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, and now like a phoenix, its flag again flies, carried by the former colonists. Takes a special sort of empire for that to happen.

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

On American Greatness, Victor Davis Hanson asks this question. It’s a good one, I think. Because almost all of us of the middling sort are pretty angry about things. So let’s have a look.

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and the stunning recent Australian re-election of conservatives?

Put simply, the middle classes are revolting against Western managerial elites. The latter group includes professional politicians, entrenched bureaucrats, condescending academics, corporate phonies and propagandistic journalists.

What are the popular gripes against them?

One, illegal immigration and open borders have led to chaos. Lax immigration policies have taxed social services and fueled multicultural identity politics, often to the benefit of boutique leftist political agendas.

Two, globalization enriched the cosmopolitan elites who found worldwide markets for their various services. […]

He gives us six, in all. All are, as one would expect, cogent and accurate. So go and read them.

One common gripe framed all these diverse issues: The wealthy had the means and influence not to be bothered by higher taxes and fees or to avoid them altogether. Not so much the middle classes, who lacked the clout of the virtue-signaling rich and the romance of the distant poor.

In other words, elites never suffered the firsthand consequences of their own ideological fiats.

That’s a huge part of it in my estimation. It’s one thing if all these things are good for us, or necessary for the world to survive, or something. It’s an entirely different kettle of fish if you’re telling me how important this trash is, but it doesn’t apply to you and your friends. “Do as I say not as I do” doesn’t work any better leading a company, group, country, civilization, or anything else than it does trying to raise a kid. Never has, never will.

What it does is bring rebels. It did when my high school said we couldn’t wear blue jeans. Suddenly my entire class showed up in them. What are you going to do now, Mr. Principal? Give a quarter of the school detention? Makes you look sort of bad, doesn’t it, that your leadership is so bad?

The same principle applies when you and a few hundred of your closest friends fly their private jets into Davos for a party disguised (badly) as a conference.

Elites masked their hypocrisy by virtue-signaling their disdain for the supposedly xenophobic, racist or nativist middle classes. Yet the non-elite have experienced firsthand the impact on social programs, schools and safety from sudden, massive and often illegal immigration from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia into their communities.

As for trade, few still believe in “free” trade when it remains so unfair. Why didn’t elites extend to China their same tough-love lectures about global warming, or about breaking the rules of trade, copyrights and patents?

Do you know anybody who believes any of this tosh, unless, perhaps, their livelihood depends on it, or the indoctrination they received in school hasn’t been rubbed off yet? I can’t think of one that I do. I know a few trolls who say they do, but I’d bet they’re paid to say that. I do know one person who believes in Global Warming, but he also believes it is beyond the tipping point, so we may as well ‘Rock on’.

If Western nations were really so bad, and so flawed at their founding, why were millions of non-Westerners risking their lives to reach Western soil?

How was it that elites themselves had made so much money, had gained so much influence, and had enjoyed such material bounty and leisure from such a supposedly toxic system—benefits that they were unwilling to give up despite their tired moralizing about selfishness and privilege?

So where does it end?

Because elites have no answers to popular furor, the anger directed at them will only increase until they give up—or finally succeed in their grand agenda of a non-democratic, all-powerful Orwellian state.

Or in an armed revolt, which I discount less each month. The people are not going to go quietly into the night.

 

Dawning of the Pelagian Age

Senator Josh Hawley

The other day, in trying to sort out the various types of conservatives, here, we mentioned Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, as one of the rising stars of conservatism, in the Post Liberal group. I’m not the only one who noticed his article in Christianity Today So did Gene Veith over at Cranach, my favorite Lutheran blog. Here’s some of what he said.

That we are unused to hearing this level of analysis from an election official is itself telling, but Sen. Hawley, the youngest member of the Senate at 39, is being hailed as a rising star of the conservative movement and the Republican party for his ability to bring together conservatism and populism, as in the way he is leading the charge to apply anti-trust law to Google, FaceBook, Apple, and Amazon.

At any rate, consider what he says:

Pelagius held that the individual possessed a powerful capacity for achievement. In fact, Pelagius believed individuals could achieve their own salvation. It was just a matter of them living up to the perfection of which they were inherently capable. As Pelagius himself put it, “Since perfection is possible for man, it is obligatory.” The key was will and effort. If individuals worked hard enough and deployed their talents wisely enough, they could indeed be perfect.

This idea famously drew the ire of Augustine of Hippo, better known as Saint Augustine, who responded that we humans are not achievement machines. We are fragile. We are fallible. We suffer weakness and need. And we all stand in need of God’s grace.

But Pelagius was not satisfied. He took his stand on an idea of human freedom. He responded that God gave individuals free choice. And he insisted that this free choice was more powerful than any limitation Augustine identified. . . .Pelagius said that individuals could use their free choice to adopt their own purposes, to fix their own destinies—to create themselves, if you like. That’s why a disciple of Pelagius named Julian of Eclanum said freedom of choice is that by which man is “emancipated from God.”. . . .

Perhaps the most eloquent contemporary statement of Pelagian freedom appears in an opinion from the United States Supreme Court, in a passage written by former Justice Anthony Kennedy. In 1992, in a case called Casey v. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, he wrote this: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

It’s the Pelagian vision. Liberty is the right to choose your own meaning, define your own values, emancipate yourself from God by creating your own self. Indeed, this notion of freedom says you can emancipate yourself not just from God but from society, family, and tradition.

The Pelagian view says the individual is most free when he is most alone, able to choose his own way without interference. Family and tradition, neighborhood and church—these things get in the way of uninhibited free choice. And this Pelagian idea of freedom is one our cultural leaders have embraced for decades now.

But here’s the paradox. For all the big talk about individual freedom, Pelagian philosophy has made American society more hierarchical, and it has made it more elitist.

This is no accident. Pelagius himself was most popular with the old senatorial families of Rome—the wealthy, the well-connected. The aristocrats. They were his patrons. And why? He validated their privilege and their power.

Because if freedom means choice among options, then the people with the most choices are the most free. And that means the rich. And if salvation is about achievement, then those with the most accolades are righteous, and that means the elite and the strong. A Pelagian society is one that celebrates the wealthy, prioritizes the powerful, rewards the privileged. And for too long now, that has described modern America.

[Keep reading. . .]

Sen. Hawley goes on to explore the political and economic implications of Pelagianism.  Let’s think some more about the moral and cultural issues.

A question presents itself:  If we reject Pelagianism, doesn’t that mean we reject freedom?  Not at all!  Freedom is a good thing.  It is a moral necessity, since there can be no virtue if a person is forced to do the right thing.  An action must be taken freely if it is to have moral significance.  The will is a crucial faculty of the mind and the personality.

But for all of their importance, freedom and the will are not determinative.  They do not save us.  They do not determine what we should do.  They do not determine what is real.

But this is exactly what we are seeing in the Age of Pelagius.

As I have often pointed out, postmodernist ethics are built around the will.  Advocates of abortion call themselves “pro-choice.”  Whatever the woman chooses in regards to her pregnancy and her child is right for her.  If she is forced to have a child she does not want (another “will” term), that would be evil (which is why those who seem to be moral relativists can still demonize pro-lifers).  What determines the rightness or wrongness of an action is the presence of a willful choice.  This applies also in other issues, such as euthanasia (“if the patient chooses to die, who are we to say ‘no’?”).

Indeed, Keep Reading, including the comments

Sometimes with an article like this, I feel like I’m cheating, giving you someone else’s views rather than my own. That could be true, but it is not, because I completely agree with Dr. Veith (as I usually do, and do here) and he is a better writer than I am, so why hurt the message by trying to rephrase it. It’s the classical case for reblogging, of course, which I, like most of us, occasionally do. I dislike reblogging though because it is not particularly fair to the article you are reblogging because the snippet used is usually not enough to make sense of the author’s point

What Senator Hawley says (or what I say comparatively quietly) doesn’t do much of anything about solving the problem, of course, except that to solve a problem, first you need to figure out the basics of what the problem is. This moves along that course.

The other thing about this is that it is analysis by an elected official of a type not seen in the US in at least 150 years, since the heirs of the Founders, the generation of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, culminating in Lincoln. It’s been sorely missed.

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong: Anti-extradition protesters block government HQ | World News | Sky News

Have you heard much out of Hong Kong lately? Me either. But there is a lot of protesting going on there. Why? Because China wants to extradite people to stand trial in China rather than Hong Kong with its western (British) rule of law. From Reuters.

Hong Kong braced for strikes, transport go-slows and another mass demonstration in protest against a proposed extradition law that would allow people to be sent to China for trial, as the Chinese-ruled city’s leader vowed defiance.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would push ahead with the bill despite deep concerns across vast swaths of the Asian financial hub that triggered its biggest political demonstration since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

In a rare move, prominent business leaders warned that pushing through the extradition law could undermine investor confidence in Hong Kong and erode its competitive advantages.

That’s no doubt true, but I doubt it is the most important reason than HK with its westernized population, used to proper courts and such, is up in arms.

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China under a “one-country, two-systems” formula, with guarantees that its autonomy and freedoms, including an independent justice system, would be protected.

But many accuse China of extensive meddling, denying democratic reforms, interfering with local elections and the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers, starting in 2015, who specialized in works critical of Chinese leaders.

Sunday’s protests plunged Hong Kong into political crisis, just as months of pro-democracy “Occupy” demonstrations did in 2014, heaping pressure on Lam’s administration and her official backers in Beijing.

She warned against any “radical actions”, following clashes in the early hours of Monday between some protesters and police after Sunday’s otherwise peaceful march.

Police erected metal barriers to secure the council building as a small number of protesters started to gather on Tuesday evening despite torrential rain and thunderstorm warnings. Police conducted random ID checks at train stations.

Nearly 2,000 mostly small retail shops, including restaurants, grocery, book and coffee shops, have announced plans to strike, according to an online survey, a rare move in the staunchly capitalist economy.

Eaton HK Hotel, which is owned by Langham Hospitality Investments and operated by Great Eagle Holdings, said it respected workers’ “political stances” and would allow them to rally.

The student union of several higher education institutions and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union urged people to strike on Wednesday. Nearly 4,000 teachers said they would rally.

Human rights groups have repeatedly cited the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions, forced confessions and problems accessing lawyers in China, where the courts are controlled by the Communist Party, as reasons why the Hong Kong bill should not proceed.

“When the fugitive extradition bill is passed, Hong Kong will become a ‘useless Hong Kong’” said Jimmy Sham, convenor of Civil Human Rights Front. “We will be deep in a place where foreign investors are afraid to invest and tourists are afraid to go. Once the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ (it) will become nothing.”

The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong called on the government not to pass the bill “hurriedly” and urged all Christians to pray for the former colony.

Read it all, I have little to add, save that there is little we, Britain, or anybody else can do. I had a bad feeling when the UK handed the colony back, even if the lease was running out. In truth, it lasted longer than I thought it would, but it has worked to China’s advantage, apparently China no longer thinks it does.

But it wasn’t one of Britain’s greatest hours.

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