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Obama Denounces ‘Special Interests’ At The University of Chicago . . . And Then Quietly Accepts $400,000 For First Speech From Wall Street Special Interests

JONATHAN TURLEY

President Barack Obama was at my alma mater yesterday and used his first public statements to decry how  “special interests dominate the debates in Washington.” Then will now be setting off for his first speech . . . to Wall Street special interests at Cantor Fitzgerald, which will pay him $400,000.  This is the same politician who called such banks “fat cats” who exercise undue influence over our leaders.

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CIA Plane Lands at Wellington Airport Ahead of Five Eyes Meeting 

Chloe Winters reports: Secret agents from one of the most powerful spy agencies in the world may have just touched down in the capital.

What looks to be just another private jet parked at Wellington Airport may in fact be carrying a plane-load of spies who are said to be in the country for a secret meeting in Queenstown.

The tail number – five small, black digits on the back of the plane – reveals the private jet belongs to none other than the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, also known as the CIA.

SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

The aircraft’s arrival ties in with a top-secret meeting of the Five Eyes nations in Queenstown.

The plane, with the registration number 10030, was spotted at Wellington Airport on Saturday morning, NewsHub reports. Read the rest of this entry »


Ronald Bailey: Do Researchers Risk Becoming Just Another Leftwing Interest Group?

“We face a possible future where people not only ignore scientific evidence, but seek to eliminate it entirely,” warns the march’s mission statement. “Staying silent is a luxury that we can no longer afford. We must stand together and support science.”

From whom do the marchers hope to defend science? Certainly not the American public: Most Americans are fairly strong supporters of the scientific enterprise. An October 2016 Pew Research Center poll reported, “Three-quarters of Americans (76%) have either a great deal (21%) or a fair amount of confidence (55%) in scientists, generally, to act in the public interest.” The General Social Survey notes that public confidence in scientists stands out among the most stable of about 13 institutions rated in the GSS survey since the mid-1970s. (For what it’s worth, the GSS reports only 8 percent of the public say that they have a great deal of confidence in the press, but at least that’s higher than the 6 percent who say the same about Congress.)

The mission statement also declares, “The application of science to policy is not a partisan issue. Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone—without exception.”

I thoroughly endorse that sentiment. But why didn’t the scientific community march when the Obama administration blocked over-the-counter access to emergency contraception to women under age 17? Or dawdled for years over the approval of genetically enhanced salmon? Or tried to kill off the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility? Or halted the development of direct-to-consumer genetic testing? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] CNN Panel Laughs at Democratic Party Disunity, Sanders Refusing to Call Himself a Democrat 


Krauthammer: Stale Democratic Candy Has Lost its Chewy Ideological Center

The fact that the most popular politician, particularly among Democrats, is Bernie Sanders, who’ll be 78 in 2020, gives you an idea of the extent of the devastation Obama has left behind in the Democratic party. In his eight years he did okay in ‘08 and ’12, but they have lost, as you enumerated before, the House, the Senate, the presidency, two-thirds of the governorships, two-thirds of the statehouses. He has torched their entire minor-league system. AAA, AA, single-A — there’s nothing left, and that’s why the leadership is in their 70s. It’s the old progressive, Bernie Sanders, vacationing-in-the-Soviet-Union hard Left, which energizes a lot of students. I don’t think it’s going to carry the party anywhere. Ask yourself, what do they stand for? Higher minimum wage? Fine, but that’s not a program. I think what they have lost is kind of an ideological center. Remember, the real problem in the Clinton campaign was: What was her message? What does she believe? She had to farm it out to 20 people, and nobody had an answer. I don’t know what the party stands for other than it’s right now anti-Trump and it will thrive on that, but beyond that, there’s nothing on the positive side other than the hard Left, and that’s got no appeal beyond these university towns and some cities.

Source: The Corner – National Review


[VIDEO] OH HELL YES: House Republicans to Charge Lois Lerner with Criminal Activity 


Communist Victims Receive Heartfelt Salute from Spunky Young American Leftists

The obscene action appears to be part of a protest against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference, a pro-Israel annual gathering last month where Vice President Mike Pence was a keynote speaker. Outside of the conference, an estimated 1,000 people gathered in Washington DC to protest it and push the idea that Israel should give up more land in an effort to appease hostile neighbors.

The same account belonging to an individual who describes himself as a Black Bolshevik and aligned with the #BlackLiberationMovement and #FreePalestine tweeted out anti-Israel, anti-police, and pro-Palestinian photos of demonstrators just minutes before issuing the photo of a group of people flipping off the memorial. Read the rest of this entry »


Syria Strikes Signal an End of ‘Leading From Behind’

Hugh Dugan writes: With his surprise, 180-degree decision to avenge innocents in Syria, President Donald Trump entered the particle accelerator that is foreign affairs.

The barrage of urgencies—inhumanity, chemical weapons, Syrian civil war, North Korean missiles, Russian warships, truck bombings, ISIS—has streamed his focus into a statesmanship that impresses even his detractors.  This reminds us of Trump’s speech to Congress in February where he grew visibly into his presidential shoes.

Taking decisive action in Syria indeed was in the U.S. national interest, not only an understandable human response to a human atrocity. How is it in the national interest? Chemical weapons cannot be tolerated a bit. No excuse exists. Any shadow of their acceptability would quickly become a black cloud over a world cowed into suspicion and fear. Our national interest depends upon a world open to itself and to the future. Read the rest of this entry »


Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?

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One clue: The Russia story is a replay of how the former White House smeared pro-Israel activists in the lead-up to the Iran Deal.

Lee Smith writes: The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

[Read the full story here, at Tablet Magazine]

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

***

Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Charles Krauthammer: Susan Rice Appears to be Contradicting Herself

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Fresh Evidence the Russia ‘Scandal’ is a Team Obama Operation

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Do you suspect that the noise over Trump campaign contacts with the Russians is just a political hit arranged by Obama insiders before they left?

You got fresh evidence of that Monday, with news that then-national security adviser Susan Rice was behind the “unmasking” of Trumpites in transcripts of calls with Russian officials.

Again, nothing on the public record so far shows that anyone on Team Trump said anything improper on those calls.

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It’s no surprise that US spooks intercept foreign officials’ calls. But intelligence community reports don’t disclose the names of US citizens on the other end. To get that info, a high official must (but rarely does) push to “unmask” the Americans’ names.

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Bloomberg’s Eli Lake now reports that Rice started doing just that last year.

That was perfectly legal. But we also know that the Obama administration later changed the classification of the “unmasked” transcripts, and other similar material, in order to spread the information as widely as possible within the government.

[Read the full editorial here, at NYPost]

The motive for that was (supposedly) to prevent Team Trump from burying it all once it took over. But the result was that it made it relatively safe for someone (or someones) to leak the info to the press.

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Which made it likely somebody would leak. So Team Obama’s “spread the info” initiative certainly broke the spirit of the laws. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: On Possible Unmasking, Democrats ‘Are Pretending It Is Not an Issue’

Charles Krauthammer argued that the Russian investigation now involves multiple issues, and that it is a partisan maneuver to say that one or another is the only one that matters.

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Stephen Miller writes:

…As the facts about who surveilled whom during the transition get sorted out, it is useful to remember why Trump’s team and his supporters have reason to be suspicious, thanks to a long documented history of Obama using shady surveillance tactics on both political opponents and international allies. Rhodes himself knows this history but that doesn’t seem to matter as he once again attempts to make people believe he fell out of the sky and onto Twitter on January 21st, 2017.

To help jog Rhodes’ memory, below are all the documented instances of the Obama administration using and in some cases abusing surveillance.

1. Fox News reporter James Rosen

In 2013 the news broke that Eric Holder’s Justice Department had spied on James Rosen. Obama’s DOJ collected Rosen’s telephone records as well as tracked his movements to and from the State Department from where he reported. Rosen was named as a possible co-conspirator in a Justice Department affidavit. Rosen claims that his parents phone line was also swept up in the collection of his records and DOJ records seem to confirm that. Despite the targeting of Rosen, there were no brave calls to boycott the White House Correspondents Dinner.

2. Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA

CIA officers penetrated a network used to share information by Senate Intel committee members, including Sen. Diane Feinstein, the committee’s Democrat chair. The bombshell New York Times report went on to disclose:

The C.I.A. officials penetrated the computer network when they came to suspect that the committee’s staff had gained unauthorized access to an internal C.I.A. review of the detention program that the spy agency never intended to give to Congress. A C.I.A. lawyer then referred the agency’s suspicions to the Justice Department to determine whether the committee staff broke the law when it obtained that document. The inspector general report said that there was no “factual basis” for this referral, which the Justice Department has declined to investigate, because the lawyer had been provided inaccurate information. The report said that the three information technology officers “demonstrated a lack of candor about their activities” during interviews with the inspector general.

The Obama White House defended CIA director John Brennan’s actions and response. Imagine that.

3. Prism
In 2013, it was revealed how the Obama administration and NSA were facilitating a secret government mass surveillance program called Prism, because the name Orwell would have been too obvious, I guess. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Michelle Malkin: Mainstream Media Ignores Report Obama Aide Unmasked Trump Transition Team

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A National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of Americans caught up in incidental surveillance revealed Rice’s requests, Bloomberg reported.

The identities of citizens collected are normally redacted from the intelligence reports and are designated as something like “US Person One,” Bloomberg reported.

Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the NSC’s senior director for intelligence, uncovered Rice’s multiple requests related to the Trump transition in February while conducting the review and alerted the White House General Counsel’s Office, which undertook another review of Rice and told him to stop his investigation into the unmasking, the website reported.

The intelligence documents contained summaries of conversations monitored between foreign officials talking about the Trump transition. They also contained some instances of communication between Trump associates and foreign officials, the report said.

The data, according to a US official, included sensitive information about whom the Trump associates were meeting and their views on foreign policy issues.

Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment, the website said.

During an appearance on “PBS NewsHour” on March 22, Rice was asked about whether Trump transition officials were swept up in incidental monitoring.

“I know nothing about this,” she said.

House and Senate committees are investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates had any contact with the Kremlin during that time. … (read more)

Source: NYPost


[VIDEO] Smoking Gun that Obama Administration Wiretapped on Trump?

Smoking gun


Barack Obama Changed How NSA Intercepts of Americans Could Be Shared

John Solomon and Sara Carter reports: As his presidency drew to a close, Barack Obama’s top aides routinely reviewed intelligence reports gleaned from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad, taking advantage of rules their boss relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats, Circa has learned.

Dozens of times in 2016, those intelligence reports identified Americans who were directly intercepted talking to foreign sources or were the subject of conversations between two or more monitored foreign figures. Sometimes the Americans’ names were officially unmasked; other times they were so specifically described in the reports that their identities were readily discernible. Among those cleared to request and consume unmasked NSA-based intelligence reports about U.S. citizens were Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice, his CIA Director John Brennan and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Some intercepted communications from November to January involved Trump transition figures or foreign figures’ perceptions of the incoming president and his administration. Intercepts involving congressional figures also have been unmasked occasionally for some time. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Should Obama be Subpoenaed Over Trump’s Wiretapping Claim? 

Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice on whether Barack Obama should be subpoenaed over President Trump’s wiretapping claim.


CNN Highlights Presidential Stairphobia

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[VIDEO] Gavin McInnes Interviews Tucker Carlson: The Free Speech Podcast, 2015

Gavin McInnes interviews Tucker Carlson, co-founder of The Daily Caller, and a Talk Show Host of Crossfire, Tucker, and now Tucker Carlson Tonight. They cover a plethora of topics in this great interview ranging from feminism, racism, political correctness, and much more. Very funny and educational at the same time. Originally aired April 2, 2015.

 


Why Nunes’ Obama Spying Revelations Are Such A Big Motherfreakin’ Deal

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House Intel Chief Devin Nunes revealed Obama’s intelligence agencies may have been improperly spreading significant information about Trump’s transition.

Dozens of intelligence reports provided to Nunes by an unnamed whistleblower were floating around during the sensitive transition period following the election, he said. The information collection itself may have technically been legal, but the failure to properly mask the information “alarmed” the California congressman, who notified the White House of the surveillance and dissemination of information on Wednesday afternoon.

[Read the full story here, at The Federalist]

Many of the reporters present didn’t seem to grasp the significance of what Nunes revealed. You can — and should — watch that press conference here.

Nunes began his remarks by reiterating his Monday request that anyone with information on surveillance of Trump or his team come forward. “I also said while there was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower, I was concerned that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.” While Nunes’ earlier refutation of Trump’s wiretap claim received outsize attention by the media, his concern about other surveillance did not.

He then dropped the bombshell: “First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Second, details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Read the rest of this entry »


Bob Woodward: Obama Officials Possibly Facing Criminal Charges for Unmasking Scheme

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said earlier that he had briefed Trump on new information, unrelated to an investigation into Russian activities, that suggested that several members of Trump’s transition team and perhaps Trump himself had their identities “unmasked” after their communications were intercepted by U.S. intelligence officials.

The revelation is notable because identities of Americans are generally supposed to remain “masked” if American communications are swept up during surveillance of foreign individuals.

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During an interview on Fox News, Woodward said that if that information about the unmasking is true, “it is a gross violation.” Read the rest of this entry »


Potential ‘Smoking Gun’ Showing Obama Admin Spied on Trump Team, Source Says

Nunes’ Trump surveillance claims raise more even questions.

James Rosen reports: Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News.

Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms at a bombshell Wednesday afternoon news conference, came from multiple sources, Capitol Hill sources told Fox News. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretappedhim in a series of now-infamous tweets posted on March 4.

The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.

The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.

The FBI hasn’t been responsive to the House Intelligence Committee’s request for documents, but the National Security Agency is expected to produce documents to the committee by Friday. The NSA document production is expected to produce more intelligence than Nunes has so far seen or described – including what one source described as a potential “smoking gun” establishing the spying.

[Order James Rosen’s book “A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century” from Amazon.com ]

Some time will be needed to properly assess the materials, with the likely result being that congressional investigators and attorneys won’t have a solid handle on the contents of the documents – and their implications – until next week.

Because Nunes’s intelligence came from multiple sources during a span of several weeks, and he has not shared the actual materials with his committee colleagues, he will be the only member of the panel in a position to know whether the NSA has turned over some or all of the intelligence he is citing. However, Fox News was told Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had been briefed on the basic contents of the intelligence described by Nunes. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: ‘There’s Going to Be a Sea Change in Opinion’ on Illegal-Immigrant Sanctuaries

Discussing the alleged rape of a 14-year-old student by two illegal immigrants, Charles Krauthammer argued that publicity around cases like this has the potential to change public opinion about how best to protect communities in the face of illegal immigration.


Trump Signs NASA Bill, Ponders Sending Congress to Space

The measure amends current law to add human exploration of the red planet as a goal for the agency.

Darlene Superville reports: President Donald Trump signed legislation Tuesday adding human exploration of Mars to NASA’s mission. Could sending Congress into space be next?

Flanked at an Oval Office bill-signing ceremony by astronauts and lawmakers, Trump observed that being an astronaut is a “pretty tough job.” He said he wasn’t sure he’d want it and, among lawmakers he put the question to, Sen. Ted Cruz said he wouldn’t want to be a space traveler, either.

“For almost six decades, NASA’s work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on earth. I’m delighted to sign this bill. It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed, reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology.”

— President Donald Trump

But Cruz, R-Texas, offered up a tantalizing suggestion. “You could send Congress to space,” he said to laughter, including from the president.

Trump, who faces a crucial House vote later this week on legislation long promised by Republicans to overhaul the Obama-era Affordable Care Act health law, readily agreed. The health care bill is facing resistance from some conservative members of the party.

“What a great idea that could be,” Trump said, before turning back to the space exploration measure sponsored by Cruz and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

The new law authorizes $19.5 billion in spending for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the budget year that began Oct. 1. Cruz said the authorization bill is the first for the space agency in seven years, and he called it a “terrific” achievement. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Morality of Profit

The free market needs and deserves a moral defense.

Source: Libertarianism.org


CRACKDOWN: FBI Arrests Man for Alleged Seizure-Inducing Tweet to Triggered Journalist Kurt Eichenwald

The FBI arrested a man accused of sending Dallas reporter Kurt Eichenwald a tweet that Eichenwald claims triggered an epileptic seizure.

The name of the suspect has not yet been released, but FBI spokeswoman Lauren Hagee confirmed that an arrest in the case was made Friday morning.

Eichenwald tweeted that the man who “assaulted” him faces federal charges and is also expected to be indicted by the Dallas district attorney on different charges in the next few days.

Eichenwald, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Newsweek, first said in December that a Twitter troll sent him a flashing video with the message, “you deserve a seizure,” which triggered an epileptic episode. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Charles Krauthammer on Trump Budget Proposal: Cuts Dead on Arrival, Entitlements Are What Matter 

Charles Krauthammer dismissed Trump’s budget as “dead on arrival” and pointed out that entitlements are what matter, even if proposed cuts focus on domestic discretionary spending such as public broadcasting:

“This is a budget, like every other one I’ve seen in decades that I’ve been here, it is dead on arrival at Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill is a huge morgue of presidential budgets. There is not one that actually croaked into life. They all come in dead. They are wish lists. They are expressions of one’s interests, and a way to respond to promises. The beginning of this, the premise of this is defense. In the eight years under Obama, we had a real destruction of the defense budget. Obama came in, it was about 4.6 percent of GDP. When he left, it was 3.2 percent. To put it in context, under the sainted John Kennedy it was around 10 percent. We are at the lowest ebb since about Pearl Harbor, and you can see it in the readiness, so that had to be done.”

“All the real stuff, where the money is — the Willie Sutton bank money — is in entitlements, which isn’t even in here. The problem is it’s not in here because we’ve got a president who promised in the campaign, unlike just about every other Republican opponent, he wasn’t going to touch a hair on the head of entitlements. So if you don’t, it all has to come out of the domestic discretionary spending, and when you do that, you end up with these cuts which are never going to happen, and you get the old perennials. Big Bird is going to get roasted again, or at least proposed to be. I guarantee you, he will or she will — I’m not sure which it is these days — it is going to escape unscathed.”

Source: National Review


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Schumer Throwing the Kitchen Sink at Trump Discredits Valid Criticism of Him 

Charles Krauthammer said that Trump’s tax-return reveal was only favorable for him, and went on to argue that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hurt his own cause by stridently criticizing the president.

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DEEP, DARK, AND UNACCOUNTABLE: Agencies Use Regulatory ‘Dark Matter’ To Avoid Trump Admin Reforms

‘It’s uncertain how many federal regulatory agencies exist.

Ethan Barton writes: Government agencies use “regulatory dark matter” to insert themselves into everyday life without congressional or public approval, a conservative nonprofit watchdog group reported Tuesday.

“The problem with regulatory dark matter is that it allows the executive branch of our government to rule sectors of our economy through mere announcements, rather than actual lawmaking or even proper rule-making.”

Federal regulatory orders include presidential and agency memoranda, guidance documents, bulletins and public notices that don’t require prior congressional consent, and empower the government to interfere in business and personal lives, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute report.

 “There are hundreds of ‘significant’ agency guidance documents now in effect, plus many thousands of other such documents that are subject to little scrutiny or democratic accountability.”

“Congress needs to take back its authority over federal agencies,” CEI Vice President Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. said. “The problem with regulatory dark matter is that it allows the executive branch of our government to rule sectors of our economy through mere announcements, rather than actual lawmaking or even proper rule-making.”

Crews praised President Donald Trump’s efforts to curb government regulations, but said agencies “can still create dark matter behind the scenes,” and that additional congressional action is needed to curb the problem.

Recent examples of federal regulatory dark matter include Obamacare mandate waivers that extended employer mandate deadlines, Department of Justice guidance on transgender students, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s driverless car guidance.

“Congress lacks a clear grasp of the amount and cost of the thousands of executive branch” dark matter regulations, the CEI report said … (read more)

Source: The Daily Caller

What is Regulatory Dark Matter?

How do regulations get made? Agencies have to follow specific procedures, first outlined in the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. The trouble is that many agencies simply ignore the law. Wayne Crews documents several cases of such procedural abuse in his new paper, “Mapping Washington’s Lawlessness 2016: A Preliminary Inventory of ‘Regulatory Dark Matter.’”

The rulemaking process has been updated and amended over time, and it can get technical. But the basic principles are pretty simple. For a detailed look at the process, see Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito’s excellent primer. Wayne’s point is that more and more often, agencies are ignoring proper procedure. Perhaps folks at the EPA, HHS, and other agencies should read Dudley and Brito.

The first principle is that only Congress can legislate. Agencies can’t just unilaterally issue regulations; Congress has to pass legislation directing them to issue rules. Agencies do have some discretion, but their regulations do have to have statutory authority. More and more, agencies are flouting Congress and acting on their own. In 2014, Congress passed 224 laws—while agencies issued 3,554 regulations. Recent examples of non-congressional legislating include net neutrality, carbon emissions, and subsidies to health insurance exchanges—which led to the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case.

Another principle is public participation and transparency. Before a new regulation can take effect, an agency has to publish a proposed version of the rule in the daily Federal Register. Once it’s published, that opens a comment period where anyone, from the general public to policy experts, can submit comments about the rule. Comment periods vary, but typically last from 30 to 90 days. Agencies are required to respond and take into account the public’s comments before the final version of the regulation takes effect. Read the rest of this entry »


Russia ‘Conflicted’ on How to Mark 100 Years Since Revolutions

Moscow (AFP) – It was the year that ended centuries of royal rule, brought two revolutions, ushered in Soviet domination and changed the course of Russian history irrevocably.

A century later, the country seems unsure how to treat the tumultuous events of 1917 that saw it hurtle from the abdication of the last tsar Nicholas II to a Communist dictatorship in a matter of months.

During seven decades of Soviet rule the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks was celebrated with pomp by the Kremlin and the tsarist regime was demonised.

But after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 there was a u-turn that saw the royal family canonised and public opinion increasingly view the upheavals not as a triumph but as a tragedy that sparked generations of bloodshed and suffering in Russia.

Now, over a quarter of a century after the Communist empire founded by Vladimir Lenin vanished, current leader Vladimir Putin appears to be performing a balancing act.

Some 500 conferences, round tables, exhibitions and art festivals are planned to mark the centenary — but so far, at least, there are no signs that there will be any major fanfare.

“Russian society needs an objective, honest and profound analysis of these events,” Putin said in a speech last year.

“The lessons of history are needed primarily for reconciliation, to strengthen society,” he said, adding that it is “impermissible to let the splits, malice, resentment and bitterness of the past into our life today.”

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A former Soviet-era intelligence officer, Putin has turned himself into what many see as a kind of modern tsar and surrounded himself with a new super-wealthy elite.

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

His mantra has been restoring stability, strength and unity to the country after the upheaval that followed the end of the Soviet Union, and returning Russia to the conservative values of the past.

Following mass anti-Kremlin rallies in 2011-12 and the ouster of the Russian-backed leader of Ukraine by protesters in 2014, authorities have been increasingly wary of any popular revolt that could impact their grip on power. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Democrats Flip-Flop On Russia 


Preet Bharara proved Trump Right

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York on March 11, 2017. (Photo: Kathy Willens, AP)

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York on March 11, 2017. (Photo: Kathy Willens, AP)

The former U.S. attorney’s petty defiance shows why he needed to be shown the door.

Glenn Reynolds writes: In the excellent Paul Newman legal thriller, Absence of Malice, Wilford Brimley faced a misbehaving Justice Department prosecutor who refused to resign. He fired him. It was Brimley’s breakthrough role, as a no-nonsense older guy there to fix a mess. In a way it prefigured what’s going on with President Trump and former U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. Bharara refused to resign, and Trump fired him.

There’s been a lot of faux outrage about this decision of Trump’s, but it’s all bogus. And Bharara’s refusal to resign was childish, an effort to score anti-Trump points with Democrats that, all by itself, demonstrated why Bharara was unfit for office and why Trump was right to let him go.

Here’s the thing to understand: United States attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. The prosecution of crimes, including the decision of which crimes to prosecute and which crimes not to prosecute, is at the discretion of the executive branch, which ultimately means the discretion of the president. U.S. attorneys work for the president in that capacity. And if the president thinks someone else would be better, he’s free to fire them and replace them.

And there’s nothing whatsoever unusual or improper about doing so, something the press has no trouble remembering when the incoming administration is run by Democrats. When Barack Obama took office, he dismissed a bunch of U.S. attorneys. Attorney General Eric Holder explained that “Elections matter — it is our intention to have the U.S. attorneys that are selected by President Obama in place as quickly as they can.”

Likewise, when Hillary Clinton was running for the White House in 2007, she said that replacing U.S. attorneys is “a traditional prerogative of an incoming president.” And, of course, she was right, and there was no outrage from the press. (As journalist and former Democratic staffer David Sirota tweeted, presidents have been replacing U.S. attorneys for decades. Why is this now a scandal? Well, because it’s Trump, and for the press, everything Trump does is a scandal.)

It’s traditional for new administrations to request the resignation of holdovers from the previous administration. It’s considered more polite than outright firing people. But that’s all it is: politeness. Read the rest of this entry »


The Rise of Political Correctness

“Comrade, your statement is factually incorrect.”
“Yes, it is. But it is politically correct.”

Angelo M. Codevilla writes: The notion of political correctness came into use among Communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself. Because all progressives, Communists included, claim to be about creating new human realities, they are perpetually at war against nature’s laws and limits. But since reality does not yield, progressives end up pretending that they themselves embody those new realities. Hence, any progressive movement’s nominal goal eventually ends up being subordinated to the urgent, all-important question of the movement’s own power. Because that power is insecure as long as others are able to question the truth of what the progressives say about themselves and the world, progressive movements end up struggling not so much to create the promised new realities as to force people to speak and act as if these were real: as if what is correct politically—i.e., what thoughts serve the party’s interest—were correct factually.

Communist states furnish only the most prominent examples of such attempted groupthink. Progressive parties everywhere have sought to monopolize educational and cultural institutions in order to force those under their thumbs to sing their tunes or to shut up. But having brought about the opposite of the prosperity, health, wisdom, or happiness that their ideology advertised, they have been unable to force folks to ignore the gap between political correctness and reality.

Especially since the Soviet Empire’s implosion, leftists have argued that Communism failed to create utopia not because of any shortage of military or economic power but rather because it could not overcome this gap. Is the lesson for today’s progressives, therefore, to push P.C. even harder, to place even harsher penalties on dissenters? Many of today’s more discerning European and American progressives, in possession of government’s and society’s commanding heights, knowing that they cannot wield Soviet-style repression and yet intent on beating down increasing popular resistance to their projects, look for another approach to crushing cultural resistance. Increasingly they cite the name of Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), a brilliant Communist theoretician for whom “cultural hegemony” is the very purpose of the struggle as well as its principal instrument. His writings envisage a totalitarianism that eliminates the very possibility of cultural resistance to progressivism. But owing more to Machiavelli than to Marx or Lenin, they are more than a little complex about the means and are far from identical with the raw sort of power over culture enforced by the Soviet Empire or, for that matter, that is rife among us today.

My purpose here is to explain how progressives have understood and conducted their cultural war from the days of Lenin, and how Gramsci’s own ambiguous writings illustrate the choices they face in conducting that war in our time and circumstances—especially with regard to political correctness in our present culture war.

Culture Wars

Every form of progressivism bases itself on the claim of a special, “scientific,” knowledge of what is wrong with humanity and how to fix it. The formula is straightforward: the world is not as it should be because society’s basic, “structural” feature is ordered badly. Everything else is “superstructural,” meaning that it merely reflects society’s fundamental feature. For Marx and his followers that feature is conflict over the means of production in “present-day society.” From the dawn of time, this class warfare has led to “contradictions”: between types of work, town and country, oppressors or oppressed, and so on. The proletariat’s victory in that conflict will establish a new reality by crushing all contradictions out of existence. Other branches of progressivism point to a different structural problem. For Freudians it’s sexual maladjustment, for followers of Rousseau it’s social constraint, for positivists it is the insufficient application of scientific method, for others it is oppression of one race by another. Once control of society passes exclusively into the hands of the proper set of progressives, each sect’s contradictions must disappear as the basic structural problem is straightened out.

But wherever progressives have gained power, all manner of contradictions have remained and new ones have arisen. Progressive movements have reacted to this failure by becoming their own reason for being. Theoretically, the Revolution is about the power and necessity to recreate mankind. In practice, for almost all progressive movements it is about gaining power for the revolutionaries and making war on those who stand in their way. For example, transcending private property, the division of labor, and political oppression was never Marxism-Leninism’s core motive any more than worker/peasant proletarians were ever its core protagonists. In fact, Communism is an ideology by, of, and for ideologues, that ends up empowering and celebrating those very ideologues. This is as true of progressivism’s other branches as it is of Marxism.

Lenin’s seminal contribution was explicitly to recognize the revolutionary party’s paramount primacy, and to turn the party’s power and prestige from a means to revolution into the Revolution’s candid end. Lenin’s writings, like Marx’s, contain no positive description of future economic arrangements. The Soviet economy, for all its inefficiencies, functioned with Swiss precision as an engine of privilege for some and of murderous deprivation for others. The Communist Party had transcended communism. The key to understanding what progressive parties in power do is the insight, emphasized by “elite theorists” like Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, that any organization’s practical objectives turn out to be what serves the interests and proclivities of its leaders.

[Read the full story here, at claremont.org]

What serves progressive revolutionaries’ interests is not in doubt. Although each of progressivism’s branches differs in how it defines society’s “structural” fault, in its own name for the human reality that it seeks to overcome, and in the means by which to achieve its ends, progressives from the 19th century to our time are well nigh identical in their personal predilections—in what and whom they hate even more than in what they love. They see the culture of what Marxists call “bourgeois morality” as the negation of their identity and authority. That identity, their identity, is to be promoted, endlessly, by endless warfare against that culture. That is why the cultural campaigns of otherwise dissimilar progressives have been so similar. Leninist Russia no less than various Western democrats have tried to eradicate religion, to make it difficult for men, women, and children to exist as families, and to demand that their subjects join them in celebrating the new order that reflects their identity. Note well: cultural warfare’s substantive goal is less important than the affirmation of the warriors’ own identity. This is what explains the animus with which progressives have waged their culture wars.

Yet, notwithstanding progressivism’s premise that individual minds merely reflect society’s basic structure and hence are incapable of reasoning independently about true and false, better and worse, reality forces progressives to admit that individuals often choose how they think or act despite lacking the “structural” basis for doing so, or that they act contrary to the economic, social, or racial “classes” into which progressive theories divide mankind. They call this freedom of the human mind “false consciousness.”

Fighting against false consciousness is one reason why Communists and other progressives end up treating cultural matters supposedly “superstructural” as if they were structural and basic. They do so by pressuring people constantly to validate progressivism’s theories, to concelebrate victories over those on the “wrong” side of history by exerting control over who says what to whom. Read the rest of this entry »


Shelby Steele: The Exhaustion of American Liberalism

White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority.

Shelby Steele writes: The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trumppresidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos.

Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy—hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism.

[Check out Shelby Steele’s book “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era” at Amazon.com]

All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?

America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.

“When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy.”

White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.

[Order Shelby Steele’s book “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country from Amazon.com]

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

“White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.”

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’être; moral authority is.

“To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having ‘no name in the street’ as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.”

When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power.  Read the rest of this entry »