Epstein

Like so many others, I’m having trouble taking Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide seriously. Yes, we should, of course, but my word…

Steven Hayward pretty much nailed it on Twitter:

And

That pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it? Everything we know tells us Epstein was a bad man, but how in the world does the main witness in one of the most important cases the government has manage to hang himself. In short, it has been a very long time since the government has encouraged us to have confidence in it. And this event has made it quite a bit worse.

Steven also says this in his article:

Attorney General Barr is asking for an FBI investigation and and Inspector General investigation. Why an IG investigation, too? Maybe he doesn’t trust the Clinton-friendly FBI? (On the other hand, if this IG report takes as long as most of them do to finish, we’ll be dead from global warming before we see it.)

Yep.

Jonathan Turley adds:

The suicide comes a day after the release of documents implicating an array of powerful figures around the world. Epstein catered to friends from Bill Clinton to Prince Andrew. The timing has already caused some to question whether this was a true suicide or an effort to get rid of a man who was becoming a major threat to major players in politics and business. Given the low likelihood of success for Epstein, 66, in his criminal case and the prospect of spending the rest of his life in jail, a suicide attempt was likely. However, that raises the question of how a man who was once on a suicide watch could be allowed the material, let alone the opportunity, for a suicide.

And if I understand the timeline, only a few hours after he was taken off suicide watch. Which doesn’t explain why nobody checked on him for at least several hours that night.

Prison officials say that Epstein was declared dead at 6:30 am. They say the cause was cardiac arrest but reports indicate it was a suicide. Two weeks ago, Epstein was was found nearly unconscious in his cell with injuries to his neck.

It is the timing that is likely to spur conspiracy theories. Documents released yesterday detail allegations by Virginia Giuffre that she was told to have sex with an assortment of Epstein’s friends, including former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell; asset manager Glenn Dubin, modeling executive Jean Luc Brunel, the late MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, Prince Andrew and Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz. The next day, Epstein is dead.

Unless one counts revenge on his so-called friends, it is rather hard to see what Epstein had to live for, looking at a long criminal proceeding and then most likely life in prison, but:

Yet, how could such a high suicide risk be allowed the opportunity for a suicide? At a minimum, a suicide would indicate gross negligence by the prison officials in Manhattan. Much like the murder of Whitey Bulgar at Hazelton, the death would only be possible with an utter lack of competence by correctional management and staff.

This is how huge conspiracy theories start when nothing at all makes sense. Attorney General Barr would be well advised to build a hot enough fire under his subordinates to get some answers rather quickly because I can’t think of anyone who believes the government’s story at this point. All I’m hearing is a disagreement on whether it was the Clinton Crime Family or the Deep State if there is either a distinction or a difference between them.

This is one of those times when justice delayed is decidedly justice denied, and the American people are pretty much fed up with the bullshit.

Impeachment and the Rule of Law

George Parry wrote yesterday in The American Spectator about the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He (like me) thought Clinton deserved to be removed, but also came to realize (as I have) that impeachment while a legal maneuver is actually an unmoored political action. He got to attend one day of the trial, and what he saw is germane.

[…]the Democrat senators were merely demonstrating for us unsophisticated good-government rubes that the true criterion for convicting a president had nothing to do with the welfare of the country or the rule of law. Rather, the only real consideration was party affiliation and loyalty. The House managers could have shown a videotape of Clinton committing murder in the Oval Office, and it wouldn’t have changed a single Democrat vote. […]

But by far the best summation on behalf of the president was given by former Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers, an old friend and political ally of the Clintons. Humble, self-deprecating, and utterly candid about his friendship and regard for the president, Bumpers delivered a powerful argument against removing Clinton from office. He reviewed the debates at the Constitutional Convention and brought them to bear in support of his friend Bill Clinton. Noting how “dangerous” impeachment was to the political process, he cited the words of Alexander Hamilton who had so long ago contended that “the greatest danger was that the decision [to convict the president] would be based on the comparative strength of the [political] parties rather than the guilt or innocence of the president.”

Bumpers then posed the question,

How did we come to be here? We’re here because of a five-year, relentless, unending investigation of the president. Fifty million dollars, hundreds of FBI agents fanning across the nation examining in detail the microscopic lives of people. Maybe the most intense investigation not only of a president but of anybody ever.

I feel strongly about this… so you’ll have to excuse me, but that investigation has also shown that the judicial system in this country can and does get out of kilter, unless it’s controlled, because there are innocent people innocent people who have been financially and mentally bankrupt[ed].

One woman told me two years ago that her legal fees were 95,000 dollars. She said I don’t have $95,000 and the only asset I have is the equity in my home, which just happens to correspond to my legal fees of 95,000 dollars. And she says the only thing I can think of to do is to deed my home. This woman was innocent; never charged; testified before the grand jury a number of times. And since that time, she has accumulated an additional $200,000 in attorney fees. Javert’s pursuit of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables pales by comparison.

I doubt that there are few people, maybe nobody in this body, who could withstand such scrutiny. And in this case those summoned were terrified not because of their guilt, but because they felt guilt or innocence was not really relevant.

But after all of those years and 50 million dollars of Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, you name it, nothing, nothing, the president was found guilty of nothing, official or personal.

We’re here today because the president suffered a terrible moral lapse, a marital infidelity; not a breach of the public trust, not a crime against society, the two things Hamilton talked about in Federalist Paper number 65 — I recommend it to you before you vote — but it was a breach of his marriage vows.

Bumpers then cogently overcame the House managers’ argument that Clinton’s perjury and obstruction of justice subverted the rule of law when he observed that

the rule of law includes presidential elections. That’s a part of the rule of law in this country. We have an event, a quadrennial event in this country which we recall “presidential elections.” And that’s the day when we reach across this aisle and hold hands, Democrats and Republicans. And we say, “Win or lose, we will abide by the decision.” It is a solemn event, presidential elections, and it should not, they should not be undone lightly; or just because one side has the clout and the other one doesn’t.

He closed with this peroration:

Colleagues, this is easily the most important vote you will ever cast. If you have difficulty because of an intense dislike of the president — and that’s understandable — rise above it. He is not the issue. He will be gone. You won’t. So don’t leave a precedent from which we may never recover and almost surely will regret.… But if you vote to convict, you can’t be sure what’s going to happen. James G. Blaine was a member of the Senate when Andrew Johnson was tried in 1868, and 20 years later he recanted. And he said: “I made a bad mistake.” And he says “as I reflect back on it, all I can think about is having convicted Andrew Johnson would have caused much more chaos and confusion in this country than Andrew Johnson could ever conceivably have tried.”

And so it is with William Jefferson Clinton. If you vote to convict, in my opinion you’re going to be creating more havoc than he could ever possibly create. After all, he’s only got two years left. So don’t, for God’s sakes heighten people’s alienation that is at an all-time high toward their government.

The people have a right and they are calling on you to rise above politics, rise above partisanship. They’re calling on you to do your solemn duty. And I pray you will.

And you know, Senator Bumpers was right then, he was right in the case of Andrew Johnson, and he is right now, as well. If the Democrats win the house this fall, they likely will impeach Donald Trump. They have no legal case really, merely their hatred, but as Mr. Parry reminds us, Congressman Gerald R. Ford said in 1970,  “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” That’s true, impeachment is a political maneuver, not a legal process.

There is a reason that the British abandoned the process almost concurrently as we adopted it. In an ideal world, it would be an effective check on government officials, just as Parliament as the Supreme Court seems reasonable. But we don’t live in that world. The world we live in is one where the best intentions get politicised, and where men have motives other than the good of the country.

So if the Democrats take the House, they probably will impeach the President, and like it did with Clinton, the country will pretty much stop to watch the spectacle, and it will do more harm to the country than Trump could do in a lifetime. And if he is acquited (and he will be), they will guarantee his reelection.

Such is life in the big city.

A Wave of Summitry, Illustrated

 

From USA Today

Bwhahaha!

 

From Archbishop Cranmer, after Caravaggio:

The Globalist Last Supper

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And, of course…

Most but not close to all from PowerLine.

The System IS the Scam

I grew up watching Chicago television, and the obvious and ongoing corruption was not so much normal as a cost of doing business, like the flames shooting out of the blast furnaces at US Steel. It just was, always had been, and likely always would. As somebody at Second City Cop said recently, the last time Chicago Aldercreatures were honest was sometime before early 1837. But it was honest corruption, in a sense. You could get things done, it just cost a ridiculous amount, and often wasn’t done all that well. But not too many people died, and the pols got rich, so…

But, this, even by that standard is ridiculous. From The American Spectator.

The best rackets are legitimate.

A century ago, the people accepted flagrant public corruption. Dim cynicism the popular spirit, it’s likely they’d still be so disposed today. But the politicians and their swarms of supplicants have acquired subtlety and subterfuge. Why press their luck?

We still have the graft and boodle that Lincoln Steffens chronicled in The Shame of the Cities, but now it’s all above-board. The best schemes are almost indistinguishable from the regular function of government. Almost. In the back rooms, somebody puts in a word for somebody, somebody threatens somebody, but that’s the part we don’t hear about.

It’s the bad luck of Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton barnacle-turned-Democratic governor of Virginia and a rumored presidential candidate in 2020, that his wheedling and arm-twisting inside the federal bureaucracy is now a matter of public record. He got sued last week, along with Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham, accused of running “a $120 million scam” to defraud Chinese immigrants.

Did McAuliffe break the law? That’s almost beside the point. The essence of modern graft is crony capitalism — you don’t break the law, you make the law work for you.

The game: set up an obstacle, then offer a way past it for a price. We usually think of crony capitalism as tilting the field in favor of one company or one industry through preferential regulation, but McAuliffe’s arrangement was an even purer form. After all, what is the nature of government? It is to forbid, to restrict, to alter affairs from their natural course. Government creates problems and then pretends to offer a solution.

The EB-5 investor visa program is one long chain of government-created problems and solutions.

Foreign direct investment is of course an unalloyed good for the U.S. economy, but immigration law stands in the way of many potential investors. The laissez-faire thing to do would be to make visas freely available and get out of the way, but that would be too simple.

Much better to complicate it with all sorts of rules and red tape, that can’t all be complied with so the only solution is to buy yourself some interest (otherwise known as pull).

McAuliffe was one of the guys who ran GreenTech, a company whose business model was designed to fit even more government regulations and incentives: GreenTech made electric cars, little Neighborhood Electric Vehicles that go 25 mph, and cost $16,000. You’ll notice I said “made,” and not “sold,” as there has been zero consumer interest in a pricey golf cart that can’t even hold golf clubs. […]

That had a lot to do with why the state of Virginia had refused to get involved with the project, despite McAuliffe’s pull there. In 2009, the state’s veteran economic development director told colleagues, “(I) still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.”

When an economic development official, whose business is crony capitalism, finds your model suspect, I think you’re due some congratulations. That’s like making Louis C.K. blush.

Eventually, McAuliffe set up shop in Mississippi, thanks to $8 million in land, grants, and other incentives. The state is now in litigation to claw back $6.4 million from the company.

It’s true when the influence peddlers think your scheme is too blatant a fraud, well maybe your scheme is, uh fraudulent.

The real problem, the more general problem, is that the government is in any position to be assessing the viability of a commercial venture, one that’s bent out of shape from the start thanks to political dictates.

If we’re going to do investor visas, they ought to be straightforward, and useful for any type of legitimate investment in American business. Allowing unapproved start-ups, of course, could open the door to different sorts of scams — a fake business goes belly-up and slips the cash back to its “investors.”

But that is a different problem, one with reasonably straightforward solutions, if one wants to solve problems, rather than create new ones to solve, for a price. Usually a very high price.

You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd

English: Number of self-identified Democrats v...

With politics this year, all seems in flux, doesn’t it? The GOP is in Public disarray, and the Democrats aren’t all that far behind. Why is that so? I suspect we are seeing a major realignment in the parties, neither of the Washington establishments seem to have much in common with their voters anymore, and like Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” True then, true now.

So what’s going to happen? Nobody knows, but some people have enough guts to tell us what they see, although it is truly through a glass darkly. Here’s what Michael Lind sees.

For political observers, 2016 feels like an earthquake — a once-in-a-generation event that will remake American politics. The Republican party is fracturing around support for Donald Trump. An avowed socialist has made an insurgent challenge for the Democratic Party’s nomination. On left and right, it feels as though a new era is beginning.

And a new era is beginning, but not in the way most people think. Though this election feels like the beginning of a partisan realignment, it’s actually the end of one. The partisan coalitions that defined the Democratic and Republican parties for decades in the middle of the twentieth century broke apart long ago; over the past half century, their component voting blocs — ideological, demographic, economic, geographic, cultural — have reshuffled. The reassembling of new Democratic and Republican coalitions is nearly finished.

What we’re seeing this year is the beginning of a policy realignment, when those new partisan coalitions decide which ideas and beliefs they stand for — when, in essence, the party platforms catch up to the shift in party voters that has already happened. The type of conservatism long championed by the Republican Party was destined to fall as soon as a candidate came along who could rally its voters without being beholden to its donors, experts and pundits. The future is being built before our eyes, with far-reaching consequences for every facet of American politics.

The 2016 race is a sign that American politics is changing in profound and lasting ways; by the 2020s and 2030s, partisan platforms will have changed drastically. You may find yourself voting for a party you could never imagine supporting right now. What will that political future look like?

***

Today’s Republican Party is predominantly a Midwestern, white, working-class party with its geographic epicenter in the South and interior West. Today’s Democratic Party is a coalition of relatively upscale whites with racial and ethnic minorities, concentrated in an archipelago of densely populated blue cities.

In both parties, there’s a gap between the inherited orthodoxy of a decade or two ago and the real interests of today’s electoral coalition. And in both parties, that gap between voters and policies is being closed in favor of the voters — a slight transition in the case of Hillary Clinton, but a dramatic one in the case of Donald Trump.

During the Democratic primary, pundits who focused on the clash between Clinton and Sanders missed a story that illuminated this shift: The failure of Jim Webb’s brief campaign for the presidential nomination. Webb was the only candidate who represented the old-style Democratic Party of the mid-20th century — the party whose central appeal was among white Southerners and Northern white “ethnics.” Even during the “New Democrat” era of Bill Clinton, white working-class remnants of that coalition were still important in the party. But by 2016, Webb lacked a constituency, and he was out of place among the politicians seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, which included one lifelong socialist (Bernie Sanders) and two candidates who had been raised as Republicans (Hillary Clinton and, briefly, Lincoln Chafee).

On the Republican side, the exemplary living fossil was Jeb Bush. Like his brother, Jeb pushed a neo-Reaganite synthesis of support for a hawkish foreign policy, social conservatism, and cuts in middle-class entitlements to finance further tax cuts for the rich. From the Reagan era until recently, the GOP’s economic policies have been formulated by libertarians, whose views are at odds with those of most Republican voters. In March of this year, a Pew Research Center poll showed that 68 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters opposed future reductions in Social Security benefits — almost the same amount of support found among Democrats and Dem-leaning voters (73 percent). Republicans who supported Trump were even more opposed to Social Security benefit cuts, at 73 percent. And even among those who supported Kasich, 62 percent opposed cuts in Social Security benefits — even though Kasich, himself, is in favor of cutting entitlements.

As country-and-western Republicans have gradually replaced country-club Republicans, the gap between the party’s economic orthodoxy and the economic interests of white working-class voters in the GOP base has increased. House Republicans repeatedly have passed versions of Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which is based on cutting Social Security and replacing Medicare with vouchers.

via This Is What the Future of American Politics Looks Like – POLITICO Magazine

I don’t agree, or maybe I just don’t want to, with all he says, but I do think he’s on to something here. The gaps between base and party, on both sides, have simply become too big to bridge. Will it happen as he says? Probably not, bet he may well be at least partially right,and if we care about the future, we need to be thinking about this.

The title? Here you go!

Is The Clinton Foundation Just A Foreign Laundering Scheme?

150220_POL_Hillary.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargeI’ve always thought it sad that we have commented more or less forever that we have the best Congress money can buy. particularly since it so often seems true. We deserve better but we are lazy and don’t demand it, so we don’t get it.

Still this nonsense just leaves me shaking my head in bewilderment that anybody thinks that an aging woman with no accomplishments should be president, after she sold out the US State Department to the highest bidder.

BloombergPolitics reported this morning that the Clinton Foundation refused to disclose the identities of at least 1,100 donors, most of whom are not U.S. citizens, to a Clinton Foundation affiliate. The donations were routed through the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada), or CGEPartnership, a Canadian charitable organization. That organization then effectively bundled the foreign donations and sent them along to the Clinton Foundation itself, and it did all of this without ever disclosing the individual foreign sources of the income.

If that sounds to you like more of a laundering operation than a charitable organization, that’s because it certainly looks like more of a laundering operation than a charitable organization. In this case, however, rather than taking cash from blatantly illegal activities (as far as we know) and then cleaning it up by running it through legitimate businesses before it ends up at its final destination, the Clinton Foundation mops up cash from wealthy foreigners, bundles it within a larger organization to hide the money’s original source, and then funnels the cash from that legitimate charity right into the Clinton Foundation coffers.

After the New York Times uncovered the connections between uranium mining magnate Frank Giustra, his Canadian charitable organization, the Clinton Foundation, and official actions taken by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that benefitted Giustra’s global uranium mining operations, the Clinton Foundation immediately entered spin mode.

Is The Clinton Foundation Just A Foreign Laundering Scheme?.

Hillary Clinton; likely the best candidate for US president that Foreign money can buy!

Is that what we really should have?

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