WELL, IT’S A DAY ENDING IN “Y,” SO: Another errant anti-Trump hit piece from the Washington Post.
WELL, IT’S A DAY ENDING IN “Y,” SO: Another errant anti-Trump hit piece from the Washington Post.
FASTER, PLEASE: Silicon Valley’s Immortalists Will Help Us All Stay Healthy.
REMEMBER THIS NAME AND REMEMBER THIS DATE: The name is Michael Horowitz. The date is Jan. 12, 2017. Horowitz is the Inspector-General of the Department of Justice. January 12, 2017, is the date Horowitz announced an investigation of these factors:
• Allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection with, or in actions leading up to or related to, the FBI Director’s public announcement on July 5, 2016, and the Director’s letters to Congress on October 28 and November 6, 2016, and that certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations;
• Allegations that the FBI Deputy Director should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters;
• Allegations that the Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from participating in certain matters;
• Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information;
• Allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.
The Horowitz probe is why Peter Strzok’s amazing emails were discovered. As sensational as those emails are, the more important question is what occasioned their becoming available to the Horowitz investigators. The DOJ IG is nobody’s fool and his report is just over the horizon. Just ask American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson.
There are more than 70 IGs in the federal government in positions created in 1978 during the Carter administration. There have been some bad eggs among the IGs over the years but collectively, the IG community has been the unsung hero in efforts to expose and prosecute waste, fraud and abuse in government. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has been the IGs’ strongest advocate in Congress.
And there’s this: The journo community in the nation’s capital has been rumbling in recent days about a bombshell report supposedly being prepared for publication by the Washington Post that will ruin the careers of dozens of Members of Congress, from both parties.
Fasten your seatbelts, folks.
ANOTHER OPEN THREAD. You know what to do.
“Our record as journalists in covering this Trump story and the Russian story is pretty good,” legendary reporter Carl Bernstein recently claimed. Pretty good? If there’s a major news story over the past 70 years that the American media has botched more often because of bias and wishful thinking, I’d love to hear about it.
Four big scoops recently run by major news organizations—written by top reporters and, presumably, churned through layers of scrupulous editing—turned out to be completely wrong. Reuters, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and others reported that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office had subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s records from Deutsche Bank. Trump’s attorney says it hadn’t. ABC reported that candidate Trump had directed Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials before the election. He didn’t (as far as we know). The New York Times ran a story claiming that K.T. McFarland, a former member of the Trump transition team, had acknowledged collusion. She hadn’t. Then, CNN topped off the week by falsely reporting that the Trump campaign had been offered access to hacked Democratic National Committee emails before they were published. It wasn’t.
Forget your routine bias. These were four bombshells disseminated to millions of Americans by breathless anchors, pundits and analysts, all of whom are feeding frenzied expectations about Trump-Russia collusion that have now been internalized by many as indisputable truths. All four pieces, incidentally, are useless without their central faulty claims. Yet there they sit. And these are only four of dozens of other stories that have fizzled over the year.
CHANCES OF PASSAGE ARE LOOKING DECENT: GOP Senators unanimous in support for tax bill. If they can pass this, they will have delivered on numerous campaign promises, including the ObamaCare mandate repeal that looked like it was never going to happen.
THE INSTA-WIFE: Was Dan Johnson’s Death a High-Tech Lynching?
PAUL KRUGMAN ON ELECTION NIGHT: “If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.”
GO LONG ON PURELL: Health Department says the flu is running rampant in New York.
AT AMAZON, Deals Galore on Top Gift Ideas.
“Look, I just feel like we’re having a really unfair conversation here, I’m trying to have a conversation on the merits of the principle of unintended consequences,” Velshi whined. “And you’re dropping a lot of legal-ese.”
“The legal-ese is the merits though, Ali,” McDowell asserted. “That’s what’s at play here, and maybe you haven’t read these laws.”
“I’m very familiar with net neutrality,” Velshi snarked back. “I’m really not that familiar with being condescended to.”
Because it’s absolutely impossible to out-smug an MSNBC anchor. Read and/or watch the whole thing.
GENE EPSTEIN: Where Is Nat Turner?
YOUR PIXELS, PLEASE: Germany starts facial recognition tests at rail station.
As Mark Steyn wrote last year regarding Angela Merkel, “You can take the girl out of East Germany, but you can’t take the East Germany out of the girl.”
LORD OF THE RINGS DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON: YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE THE WEINSTEINS BLACKBALLED ASHLEY JUDD AND MIRA SORVINO.
What makes this even more compelling is the relative stature of both women in the entertainment industry. Judd’s mother and sister had risen to the top of the country charts before her Hollywood career had taken off; Sorvino’s father Paul is a popular actor who appeared in classic films such as Goodfellas. Sorvino herself had won an Oscar and a Golden Globe two years before this took place for Mighty Aphrodite. If Weinstein could derail their careers with a smear campaign, how many other actresses and whistleblowers of lesser stature got blackballed out of the industry?
The pull-quote making the rounds from Jackson’s interview with Stuff is “My experience, when Miramax controlled the Lord of the Rings (before New Line took over production of the film), was of Weinstein and his brother behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies.”
Second-rate Mafia bullies? Shades of the circa 2000 incident the late David Carr described in New York magazine:
“You know what? It’s good that I’m the fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town.” Weinstein said that to Andrew Goldman, then a reporter for the New York Observer, when he took him out of a party in a headlock last November after there was a tussle for Goldman’s tape recorder and someone got knocked in the head. Weinstein deputized himself and insisted that Goldman apologize. His hubris would be hilarious if he weren’t able to back it up. Several paparazzi got pictures of the tussle, but Goldman bet me at the time that they would never see print.
I mailed him his dollar a week later. I’d talk to Goldman about it, except he now works for Talk magazine, which is half-owned by Miramax.
I’m pretty sure that David Chase didn’t create Tony Soprano to be a how-to guide for career advancement. Though as with Mad Men, I wonder how many of the incidents shown in that series were inspired by Hollywood itself.
SPOILER-FREE REVIEW OF THE LAST JEDI: Star Wars Thrill Ride Takes the Force in an Exciting New Direction.
PEAK 2017 REACHED: Entire Family Turns Transgender.
The 21st century isn’t working out the way I had hoped, to coin an Insta-phrase.
In what would speed up Boom Technology’s dream of making supersonic passenger jet, Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced its strategic partnership with the company. The new-generation superfast aircraft will travel at the speed of Mach 2.2 (1,451 mph / 2,335 km/h), which is more than double the speed of the average airliner (Mach 0.85).
Japan Airlines has agreed to invest $10 million in Boom besides helping to refine the aircraft design and has the option to purchase up to 20 Boom aircraft through a pre-order arrangement.
“We are very proud to be working with Boom on the possible advancement in the commercial aviation industry. Through this partnership, we hope to contribute to the future of supersonic travel with the intent of providing more ‘time’ to our valued passengers while emphasizing flight safety,” said Yoshiharu Ueki, President of Japan Airlines, in a statement obtained by PRNewswire.
“Ninety minutes from New York to Paris” has a nice ring to it.
AT AMAZON, Lightning Deal, Everlasting Comfort 100% Pure Memory Foam Back Cushion – Orthopedic Design for Back Pain Relief.
E-COMMERCE WARS: Target acquires Shipt, will roll out $99/year, same-day delivery.
Better pick up your copy of The Graduate on Blu-Ray now; though I am looking forward to seeing the likely upcoming version in which Christopher Plummer is CGIed in as Benjamin Braddock…
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT: Erdogan Says Muslim nations to seek UN ‘annulment’ of Trump’s Jerusalem move.
“FBI appears to have investigated – and considered prosecuting – FOIA requesters“: Investigative reporting blog and FOIA tool provider Muckrock shows that as far back as 2016, the FBI refused to produce documents that had the names of deceased FBI staff (nullifying any privacy concerns), but consistently failed to redact personal information about the requesters — a clear violation of privacy:
“Despite redacting the names and email addresses of the public servants handling the case, the FBI released not only the author’s name and address in the file (technically improper since there was no waiver, albeit understandable) but the name, email address and home address of another requester who also used the script to file requests. Their name along with their email and physical addresses were left unredacted not once, not twice, not thrice – but seven times, not including the email headers, several of which also showed their name and email address.”
Other emails show that the FBI’s Obama-era FOIA office consulted a number of people from the Criminal Justice Information Services division for the purpose of singling out “suspicious” FOIA requests for possible prosecution targeting.
I’d love to know what they considered a “suspicious” FOIA request.
SHOCKING NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF SCIENCE: As wineglasses get larger, people drink more wine.
AT AMAZON, today’s the last day for free shipping with delivery before Christmas.
Plus, STEM Toys for Kids.
TOO BAD FOR THEM THAT BOTS AND SOCKPUPPETS DON’T HAVE THE VOTE: Dems Vow to Take Net Neutrality to SCOTUS, Make FCC Move a Midterm Issue.
FROM MY COLLEAGUE MAURICE STUCKE, AND OXFORD’S ARIEL EZRACHI, IN THE HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the U.S. Antitrust Movement.
ANDREW KLAVAN: Trump Has Made Our Government More Moral.
Trump has made our government more moral by making less of it: fewer regulations, fewer judges who will write law instead of obeying the law, fewer bureaucrats seeking to expand the power of their agencies, less money for the government to spend on itself. He has made government treat us more fairly and equally by ceasing to use the IRS and Justice Department for political ends like silencing enemies and skewing elections.
This is what moral government looks like. And if every male senator in America is grabbing the buttocks of some unsuspecting female while, at the same time, voting for more limited and less corrupt government, the senators are immoral, yes, but the government is more moral. That is why we should never let the leftist press game us with scandal hysteria, but should keep focused on voting in those who will help fulfill government’s moral ends.
Also, hearing the lamentations of the left is nice, too: “More than 700 employees have left the EPA since Scott Pruitt took over,” Think Progress tweeted today. Curiously, they seem to be implying that’s a bad thing.
Mr Ulyukayev was responsible for the Russian economy until a sting operation before dawn on 15 November last year. His downfall was orchestrated by Rosneft chief Igor Sechin, a powerful associate of Vladimir Putin. After inviting the former minister to his offices, he handed him a basket of sausages and another locked bag, containing $2m. Mr Ulyukayev was stopped by security agents waiting outside, and became the first cabinet minister to be arrested since Stalin’s henchman Lavrenty Beria in 1953.
The former minister insists he believed the bag contained fine wine, and in court challenged Mr Sechin to appear for cross-examination. On four occasions, the Rosneft chief refused.
Today, the judge mumbled through the verdict, somewhat nervously, and often repeating herself. In almost every detail, she sided with Mr Sechin and the prosecution. She was trembling as she read out the sentence.
Last week, prosecutors asked for a sentence of 10 years in prison colony. Mr Ulyukayev, 61, and visibly frailer than a year ago, likened this to a “death sentence.” In his final word, Mr Ulyukayev insisted on his innocence and compared his case to Stalinist show trials. “Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls,” he said. “It tolls for you.”
Why was the judge so nervous?
The Daily Caller released a funny video Tuesday of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai defending the committee’s upcoming net-neutrality rollback. Through Wednesday and Thursday, liberals and others who dislike Pai’s political position lost their minds. And by Friday morning, Google, one of the most powerful companies on the planet, had censored the video based on a bogus claim from a politically motivated man.
It took seven crucial hours and the full force of our news site to push Google and YouTube to reverse this political censorship. We were able to prevail because of the sizable contacts and resources of TheDC. An average citizen showcasing a political viewpoint Google and the left disagreed with would almost certainly have had a far more difficult — and fruitless — time fighting back.
I’m not a big fan of antitrust, but if any company deserves some tough regulatory scrutiny, it’s Google.
After [Peter Travers of ABC] suggested that the disappearance of confidentiality agreements would surely be a good thing, Damon appeared to backtrack: “One hundred per cent,” he added. “I think that it’s important, especially in that, you know, we believe every woman who’s coming forward with one of these stories needs to be listened to and heard.”
Damon also insisted that he did not know about Harvey Weinstein’s predations, despite previously admitting to Good Morning America in October that he was aware in the Nineties that Weinstein had sexually harassed actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who was formerly in a relationship with Damon’s friend and frequent collaborator Ben Affleck.
“Everybody knew what kind of guy he was in the sense that if you took a meeting with him, you knew that he was tough and he was a bully, and that was his reputation. And he enjoyed that reputation, because he was making the best movies out there,” Damon said. “[With regard to the rape allegations,] nobody who made movies for him knew… Any human being would have put a stop to that, no matter who he was. They would’ve said absolutely no.
“I knew I wouldn’t want him married to anyone close to me,” he continued. “But that was the extent of what we knew, you know? And that wasn’t a surprise to anybody. So when you hear Harvey this, Harvey that — I mean, look at the guy. Of course he’s a womaniser … I mean, I don’t hang out with him.”
Curiously, Travers apparently chose not to ask Damon about his role, along with Russell Crowe, in personally calling at least one New York Times reporter in 2004 to gut a story on one of Weinstein’s bagmen.
THE SOLUTION TO ANY GOVERNMENT-CREATED CRISIS IS ALWAYS MORE GOVERNMENT: L.A’s “Solution” To Affordable Housing Scarcity Is A Circular Firing Squad.
Related (From Ed) At Ricochet, Richard Epstein on California’s Single-Family Home Gridlock.
WE ARE UNDERPREPARED FOR THIS: Game-changing attack on critical infrastructure site causes outage: Attack will serve as a blueprint for future attacks on other industrial systems. “The malware was most likely designed to cause physical damage inside the unnamed site, researchers from the Mandiant division of security firm FireEye said in a report. It worked by targeting a safety instrumented system, which the targeted facility and many other critical infrastructure sites use to prevent unsafe conditions from arising. The malware has been alternately named Triton and Trisis, because it targeted the Triconex product line made by Schneider Electric.”
This report is from Bridget Johnson, whose unexplained and unacknowledged Twitter banishment remains unexplained and unacknowledged by Twitter management.
QUESTION ASKED: Is The Oil Glut Set To Return?
Late last month, when OPEC agreed to extend its production cuts through the end of 2018, the U.S. EIA came out with data – on the same day as the OPEC announcement – that showed an explosive increase in shale output for the month of September, up 290,000 bpd from the month before.
Although there is a time lag on publishing production data, the huge jump in output in September, plus the spike in rig count activity over the past few weeks, points to strength in the U.S. shale sector. Against that backdrop, the IEA predicted that non-OPEC supply would grow by 1.6 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2018, a rather significant upward revision of 0.2 mb/d compared to last month’s report.
Adding insult to injury for OPEC, the IEA sees oil demand growing by just 1.3 mb/d. In other words, supply will grow at a faster pace than demand next year, opening up a global surplus once again.
Maybe I should buy a faster car.
J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS: New Poll Reveals Patriotism Gap. “NFL Seen as Unpatriotic, Majority Says American Ideological Divide Can Never Heal.”
SAY, HAS AL FRANKEN RESIGNED YET?
HE’S GOT A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS: The Last Jedi is reviewed by Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon.
Related: As Allahpundit tweets, the Last Jedi is getting “ratio’d” at Rotten Tomatoes. As of the time of this post, it has a 93% critics rating — and a 60% audience score.
Viking announced a couple of years ago a plan to bring its luxe longboats to the Mississippi River, but last week the city manager from one those little communities got word Viking had terminated its plans, WQAD in the Quad Cities reports. The cruise ships Viking had been wanting to build and operate would have ended up costing double what they had planned, according to the report.
“As the details were being refined, it became the economics did not meet Viking’s goals,” a company statement read.
No new tourists. No new tourist revenue. No new tourism jobs.
Our own federal laws are to blame. More specifically, President Grover Cleveland’s Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA). The 1886 law requires that in order to ferry passengers between ports in the United States, the ship must have been built in the United States and be owned and operated by Americans.
If the absurd contours of this law sound suspiciously familiar, it’s because these restrictions are just like the Jones Act, the terrible protectionist law that uses similar rules and ultimately drives up the costs of shipping goods to U.S. islands and territories.
The supply/demand curve works — right until it crashes to zero against the brick wall of government.
Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic candidate for Congress, will drop out of the race after the Kansas City Star asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the case told The Star that the man reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources. Court documents show that the man, Gary Funkhouser, and LabOne agreed to dismiss the case permanently after mediation in 2006.
Ramsey, a 56-year-old retired business executive from Leawood, was one of the Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 in Kansas’ 3rd District.
She was running with the endorsement of Emily’s List, a liberal women’s group that has raised more than a half-million dollars to help female candidates who support abortion rights.
Ramsey will drop out on Friday, her campaign said.
I’m sure there are more cases out there. Maybe men will finally feel safe coming forward.
ANOTHER SHINING MEDIA MOMENT: Drunk NY Daily News Reporter Arrested After Causing a Scene at Hospital.
Did his Twitter obsession with Net Neutrality lead to the above headline? Or was it simply working at the New York Daily News?
In any case, shades of Iowahawk warned in his classic 2008 “Bylines of Brutality” piece, “As Casualties Mount, Some Question The Emotional Stability of Media Vets.”
California lawyer Lisa Bloom’s efforts included offering to sell alleged victims’ stories to TV outlets in return for a commission for herself, arranging a donor to pay off one Trump accuser’s mortgage and attempting to secure a six-figure payment for another woman who ultimately declined to come forward after being offered as much as $750,000, the clients told The Hill.
The women’s accounts were chronicled in contemporaneous contractual documents, emails and text messages reviewed by The Hill, including an exchange of texts between one woman and Bloom that suggested political action committees supporting Hillary Clinton were contacted during the effort.
Bloom, who has assisted dozens of women in prominent harassment cases and also defended film executive Harvey Weinstein earlier this year, represented four women considering making accusations against Trump last year. Two went public, and two declined.
In a statement to The Hill, Bloom acknowledged she engaged in discussions to secure donations for women who made or considered making accusations against Trump before last year’s election.
Read the whole thing.
THESE ARE THE CRAZY YEARS: A top aide to the Texas Attorney General had to resign after sharing (on Facebook) that much-shared “Can We Be Honest About Women?” piece in The Federalist.. From the comments: “The man was guilty of a thoughtcrime. He’s lucky they didn’t let rats gnaw his face.”
Plus: “Society has decided that honest opinions should only come from retired people.”
Here’s the Federalist piece.
WELL THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW (Part Deux): Voice of America reports that “Virtual Reality Allows Patients to Preview Their Own Surgery.”
The night before Luna’s surgery, Collins gives her a headset to wear and lets her travel through her own brain. Luna admits being “a nervous wreck” before seeing the path Steinberg would take to locate the aneurysm. She sees where he will clip off its growth so the clot can be resorbed, eliminating her pain. “Now I understand exactly what’s going to happen,” Luna says. Her husband also took a turn at the virtual reality flight. “This makes me understand it 100 percent,” Rene Luna says. “That extra understanding gives me a lot more confidence.”
Good pilots file a flight plan, so why not brain surgeons? Also sounds like a good way to ward off frivolous malpractice suits by developing a record before surgery.
Plus, fresh Gold Box and Lightning Deals. New deals every hour.
And you can still shop shop the Twelve Days of Deals! We appreciate your patronage very much.
CHANGE: Gillibrand, Cruz Bill Would Give Capitol Hill Sexual Harassment Victims More Rights. “Gardner, other senators want to end mandatory non-disclosure agreements, taxpayer-funded settlements, and confidential settlements.”
WELL THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: The Marine Corps Is Testing a Fully Autonomous Huey Helicopter.
The tests, which took place in late November, involved a hardware and software kit known as Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) which includes both hardware and software and can be installed on any rotary wing aircraft. The Marines currently fly three different helicopters: the CH-53E Super Stallion heavy transport helicopter, the AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopter, and the UH-1Y utility/light attack helicopter.
The hardware side of the AACUS kit involves a LiDAR sensor for ranging and ground mapping, and cameras for obstacle avoidance and route planning. According to USNI News, the hardware used were commercial, off-the-rack components easily sourced in the civilian market. The software, including flight algorithms, was developed by Aurora.
The autonomous tests consisted of three simulated missions, in which the unmanned UH-1H “Huey,” given guidance by Marine infantrymen with just “mere hours” of instruction by Aurora engineers, flew supplies to a remote outpost. The Marines interacted with the Huey via a tablet and laptop computer.
Not bad for a platform which first flew in 1956.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LAWS-ARE-FOR-THE-LITTLE-PEOPLE EDITION: College ignores judge’s rejection of its Title IX procedures, re-tries student with same approach.
California’s Pomona College got slapped down in court in October for denying a “fair hearing” to a student accused of sexual misconduct.
Its response? Replace the Title IX investigator, but use the same “evidence” and procedures faulted by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel to re-try “John Doe.”
The member institution of the private Claremont Consortium is pursuing the same strategy as Pennsylvania State University and the University of Texas when courts found serious problems with their Title IX adjudications, according to Brooklyn College Prof. KC Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy. . . .
Pomona ignored repeated credibility problems with Doe’s accuser, its hired investigator relied heavily on school-requested Title IX investigations for business (suggesting conflict of interest), and it let the accuser skip the campus hearing – meaning she was never asked any questions by anyone in cross-examination.
Despite Judge Strobel telling the school that this failure to even indirectly cross-examine the accuser was unlawful, and that it violated its own rules by inventing an unwritten procedure to accommodate the accuser, Pomona is going forward with a new hearing against Doe.
Title IX Coordinator Sue McCarthy told Doe last month that the “same Investigation Report, Investigation Notes, and Statement of Alleged Policy Violation” issued before the May 2016 hearing would be used in the rehearing.
If I were Judge Strobel, I would not be amused.
MATTHEW WALTHER: Net neutrality is dead. Good riddance.
Even if there were no other compelling arguments in favor of killing net neutrality (though there are), the end of net neutrality would be welcome because it will frustrate the hopes of the largest group temper tantrum thrown by non-toddlers in recent American history.
Has this country ever seen a more simperingly childish mob than the one responsible for the outcry over this boring prudential question concerning the allocation of hertz? Has so much canned emotion ever been spilled over so bland and technocratic and uniquely prudential an issue? Having strong feelings about net neutrality — which essentially mandates that your internet service provider treats all internet traffic and data equally — is like getting upset over a public-access TV debate on the generic ballot or the proceedings of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs.
If nothing else, ludicrous statements like the one from the heads of the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens Public Library systems calling the proposed change “appalling” and the gravest threat to education this country faces do the helpful work of reminding us that, like public schools, libraries in this country are now little more than transmission centers for digital entertainment.
Meanwhile, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has received death threats against his children.
The choreographed temper tantrum has been… sadly typical.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Conservative group has funding suspended after hosting Dennis Prager.
AT AMAZON, Hot New Releases, Updated Hourly.
Plus, new Kindle Daily Deals.
LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Possible Deep State Coup, Nat. Sec. Strategy Preview and Much, Much More.
JONATHAN ADLER: Good and Bad Critiques of the Mueller Investigation.
ROGER SIMON: The FBI’s Ship Of Fools.
Of the many astonishing revelations now emerging from the Russia investigation, not enough has been made of the fact that — that Zelig of the FBI who mysteriously appeared at every controversial moment — was second in command for counterintelligence.
That’s right, counterintelligence — that activity “designed to prevent or thwart spying, intelligence gathering, and sabotage by an enemy or other foreign entity.”
And yet that same Mr. Strzok was conducting a clandestine extra-marital affair with an FBI colleague over thousands of text messages that could be and likely were (more of that in a moment) intercepted by those same foreign intelligence agencies — or were, at the very least, recklessly exposed to them.
Now you don’t have to be James Jesus Angleton or even have read a novel by John le Carré to know one of the most important vulnerabilities in the intel world is just such dangerous liaisons, frequently used for blackmail of all sorts.
Yet, our second in command in counterintelligence conducted his in full digital view of anyone and did so replete with idiotically extreme comments about the president of the United States that would make our Peter a prime candidate for blackmail.
Given that an FBI counterterrorism supervisor recently had his gun and wallet stolen by a stripper, this is less of a surprise than it might have been.
THE DEEP STATE STRIKES BACK: State Department Employing ‘Pretzel Logic’ in Defiance of Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital.
President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week, but the State Department will not recognize that fact on official documents, maps, and passports, saying boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations.
“We’re working with something here I like to refer to as pretzel logic, and it’s something we see from this State Department quite often, especially when it comes to issues like Israel,” Kredo said.
Kredo said hostility toward Israel is deeply embedded at the State Department. His sources told him that career diplomats at the agency strongly opposed Trump’s decision to make the recognition announcement last week.
“The White House really dragged the State Department along on this,” Kredo said, adding that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was forced to call Arab leaders about the announcement.
“Twisting and turning to not actually fully implement the president’s will,” Kredo said of the State Department.
SecState Tillerson has a personnel problem in his Department, which could be ameliorated with a few high-profile firings — so why won’t he?
BREVITY IS THE SOUL OF WIT: Reporter uses 1,992 words to explain why young people aren’t buying Obamacare. I only need 12 words.
Obamacare has made healthcare too expensive and too inflexible for young people.
That’s really all you need to know, but if you want to know how that’s the case, here are 395 more words:
The key problem takes root in Obamacare’s creation of an artificial price-premium on younger, healthier Americans. Obamacare imposed a 3:1 price ratio, which meant older Americans could only be charged three times the insurance premium of younger Americans. The problem with this regulation is that it has forced younger Americans to pay absurd premiums to unjustly subsidize their elders. And be under no illusions, this state of affairs is morally unjust.
It’s not just that older Americans have higher earnings and the potential to have saved more for their health needs, it’s that older Americans are about to get a great health deal anyway. Consider, for example, that the average Medicare recipient now receives three times more in lifetime out-payments from the government than what they paid into the program. Why shouldn’t near-Medicare age Americans be forced to pay a more proportionate cost for their healthcare?
While Republican healthcare reform efforts would have raised the age-cost ratio to 5:1, they were blocked by the moral fictions of former President Barack Obama and much of the media.
Making matters worse, younger Americans are never going to get those same Medicare benefits our parents are receiving. Oh no, we’ll be paying off the extraordinary national debt.
Young people should be the most government-debt-averse and old people the least, but it’s backwards.
PROBABLY OVERDUE: Oh my: FBI deputy chief Andrew McCabe headed for the exit?
McCabe has spent the past year popping up in the news for all the wrong reasons. In February 2016 he was promoted to deputy director and assumed oversight of the Hillary Emailgate investigation — after his wife had received nearly $700,000 from Democratic groups for a failed run for Virginia state senate. This past February he got caught talking to then-chief of staff Reince Priebus about an allegedly bogus Russiagate story in the NYT, a no-no since DOJ investigations are supposed to be independent of politics. His latest news cameo was (apparently) in the infamous text in August 2016 from FBI agent Peter Strzok to Lisa Page: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he [i.e. Trump] gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” Who’s “Andy”? Almost certainly it’s Andrew McCabe.
What was the “insurance policy” against Trump’s presidency that was discussed in McCabe’s office? McCabe is scheduled to testify about it before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
Comey’s plan to trigger a special counsel? Plus: “By the way, a new poll from Harvard shows a majority of the public now believes Mueller has a conflict of interest in the investigation by dint of his friendship with Comey. That’s fertile political soil for Trump.”
CALIFORNIA CONTINUES ITS MOVE TOWARD BLADE-RUNNER-LIKE DYSTOPIA: Robots are being used to deter homeless people from setting up camp in San Francisco. Programming them to shout “Exterminate! Exterminate!” was maybe a bit over the top. . . .
LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Flood of Venezuelans are fleeing depressed country.
“Leaving was tough, but staying would have been tougher,” said Andrea Sequiera, 29, as she waits at the back of the line with her husband Luis, 31, and 8-year-old son Fabian. ”We know lots of people who would like to get out of Venezuela but can’t afford the ticket.”
Although Venezuelans for years have been fleeing the “socialist revolution” first launched by the late Hugo Chávez in 1999, in recent months the trickle has turned into a flood as living conditions become ever more dire — from hyperinflation to acute shortages of food and medicine to one of the worst homicide rates in the world.
In response to protests over the once-wealthy country’s seeming demise, President Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian regime has cracked down on opponents, making prospects for improved times less and less likely.
THAT SEEMS WISE: Pence Delays Trip to Preside Over Senate Tax Vote. “Vice President Mike Pence will remain in Washington next week to preside over the Senate’s vote on the Republican tax overhaul bill, his chief spokeswoman said, a signal GOP leaders expect to thread the needle. . . . The questionable attendance of Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who both face health complications, raises doubts about whether the GOP will have the requisite votes.”
THE HILL: Conservative group sues FBI for records on agent dismissed from Mueller probe. “A conservative watchdog group said Thursday that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request into the FBI’s removal and reassignment of a top counterintelligence official from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team probing Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Judicial Watch announced it had filed the request for all employment forms and records of FBI agent Peter Strzok’s involvement in the Russia case after it said the FBI failed to respond to its prior FOIA request in August.”
Why “conservative” rather than “nonpartisan watchdog group?”
I ALWAYS THOUGHT SURGEONS COULD BE EGOTISTICAL, BUT… Surgeon pleads guilty to burning initials into patients’ organs.
The exhibit included debris from what the U.S. said were the missiles used in attacks against Saudi Arabia, as well as a small explosive drone, another small missile and components used to make a self-propelled power boat filled with explosives that could target ships. A Saudi ship was attacked with such a weapon earlier this year.
U.S. officials pointed to components of the displayed weapons as proof that each was made by one of eight Iranian state-owned industries. Each of those firms, according to the Pentagon, are linked to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and its Armed Forces Logistics Agency, an arm of the ministry.
Ms. Haley noted the nine valves on the side of one of the missile components. U.S. officials maintain that only Iran produces missiles with nine valves.
All of the evidence the Pentagon disclosed was provided or loaned to the U.S. either by Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, according to U.S. officials. The embassies of those countries in the U.S. didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Houthi insurgents fired missiles into Saudi Arabia on July 22 and on Nov. 4, in the midst of the war in Yemen, prompting Saudi Arabia and the U.S. to accuse Iran of arming the rebel group and calling for international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The U.N. report, which was expected to be released Thursday, said international investigators had found the remnants of both missiles to have the same diameter as widely used Scud missiles.
Tehran got away with murder in Iraq under George W. Bush, and were let completely off the leash under Barack Obama.
Maybe times are changing.
I WONDER WHY: The Hill: Poll: 54 percent say Mueller has conflict of interest. “‘The special counsel has serious perception issues as a clear majority now see him as having a conflict of interest,’ said Mark Penn, co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris survey.”
I DON’T SEE WHY, THEY SEEM PRETTY DAMN GOOD AT IT ALREADY: Senators push for funding bill to include money for sexual harassment training.
IN THE EMAIL FROM TOM KNIGHTON: Hostile Territory.
Tommy Reilly and the misfit crew of the cargo ship Sabercat just managed to make it off of the planet Ararat with their load, but that was the easy part. Now they have to land on a planet completely controlled by a church many consider more of a cult than a religion, all so they can get their hands on some information, information that could free all the colonies from the control of the Earth Defense Command.
Unfortunately, a master criminal got his hands on it first, which means the crew of Sabercat have to get it back, then escape from a planetary government known to shoot first and ask questions later.
Yep. It seems Tommy has landed his ship and his new family deep inside hostile territory.
AND YES, MY FRIEND IS STILL READING “WHAT HAPPENED”: Look, it’s hard to stage an intervention. She lives in Texas. Also this post is exceptionally good. Possibly because she was really mad at Hillary. Making History – Amanda S. Green.
OKAY, NOW THAT’S JUST… WHAT? Giant, muscle-bound penguin ruled prehistoric bird world.
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS: Los Angeles Animal Shelters May Put Dogs on Vegan Diet.
EVERY DROPLET A WAVE: Post-Roy Moore, Please Spare Us the ‘Blue Wave’ Claptrap.
THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION PROCEEDS APACE: Spurlock denounces himself.
EVIDENCE WOULD SEEM TO SAY SO: Do Lefties Live in a Parallel Universe? Let’s Explore.
OBJECTION! DIMWITS ARE BRIGHTER THAN THIS: Dimwit Sheila Jackson Lee Confronts a Befuddled Rod Rosenstein.
FEMALE PRIVILEGE! It really does take longer for men to recover from viruses, colds.
CIVIL RIGHTS NEWS: Why Combating Terrorism In Large Cities Requires Gun Rights Reform.
NEWS THAT ARE BESIDE THE POINT: These Type A personality traits could help you live a very long life.
I KNOW IT’S A CRAZY IDEA, BUT YOU COULD… MODERATE YOUR DRINK? How to hide your holiday hangover from your boss.
AT AMAZON, Shop Amazon Exclusives-Baby.
No, but I can.
YES, ANOTHER OPEN THREAD. Discuss away; people seem to like it.
WHY IS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUCH A CESSPIT OF MISOGYNY AND ABUSE? Tom Carper Admitted to Hitting His Wife in 1998 Interview: Carper said allegation was ‘without basis in fact’ during first campaign for Congress. “Carper represented Delaware first in the House, then was elected governor in 1993, and has been in the Senate since 2001. He fought the accusation that he hit his wife when it first emerged during his 1982 run for Congress, saying it was ‘without basis in fact’ and pledging to sue the New York Post, which first published the accusation in 1982, for libel. Carper won in 1982 largely by attacking his Republican opponent for his ‘vicious’ efforts to ‘smear’ him and his wife, but 16 years later he admitted to Delaware reporter Celia Cohen that the accusation was true all along.”
IT HAPPENS SLOWLY, THEN ALL AT ONCE: Is The Higher Education Bubble Starting To Pop?
THIS IS HOW AN OBITUARY SHOULD BE WRITTEN: Robert Charles Sproul – aka “R.C.” – passed away earlier today. Sproul was known, loved and profoundly respected among American and European evangelical and reformed thinkers and evangelists but relatively obscure to the general public. That’s the nation’s misfortune. Dr. Al Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and increasingly America’s pre-eminent evangelical public intellectual, explains why in a moving tribute that includes this arresting paragraph and much more:
“He was, as the British would say, a man in full. He never made a half-argument, presented a half-correction, preached a half-sermon, or laughed a half-laugh. He was all in, all the time. His voice would fill the room, his preaching would shake the timbers, and his passion would spread like a virus. He showed up as everything he was and with everything he believed – every time.”
Whether you’re a Christian or not, wouldn’t you want to live that kind of life?
I’VE WRITTEN SEVERAL TIMES ABOUT ZAEVION DOBSON, the heroic teenager who was killed shielding 3 girls from gunfire. Today, his killers were convicted. I’m glad that justice was done, though it won’t bring him back. The judge in the case is one of my former students, which makes me feel old.
I’M SORRY, BUT THAT SORT OF OBJECTIFICATION IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND IT IS NOT OKAY!. Shockingly enough, women find strong arms and muscles attractive when they look at pictures of shirtless men.. “The results show that most male bodily attractiveness stems from cues of formidability and physical strength, and that strength increases attractiveness in a linear fashion. This effect of height and weight on attractiveness may be due to mate choice mechanisms responding to cues of health, or to the benefits that height and lean bodies have in protracted aggression, hunting and other aspects of fighting ability.”
So you can dismiss this as social-construction, or you can believe in evolution, but it’s hard to do both.