FISA Memo Is Scarier than Watergate.
Victor Davis Hanson write: The Watergate scandal of 1972–74 was uncovered largely because of outraged Democratic politicians and a bulldog media. They both claimed that they had saved American democracy from the Nixon administration’s attempt to warp the CIA and FBI to cover up an otherwise minor, though illegal, political break-in.
In the Iran-Contra affair of 1985–87, the media and liberal activists uncovered wrongdoing by some rogue members of the Reagan government. They warned of government overreach and of using the “Deep State” to subvert the law for political purposes.
We are now in the midst of a third great modern scandal. Members of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice sought court approval for the surveillance of Carter Page, allegedly for colluding with Russian interests, and extended the surveillance three times.
But none of these government officials told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the warrant requests were based on an unverified dossier that had originated as a hit piece funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign to smear Donald Trump during the current 2016 campaign.
Nor did these officials reveal that the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, had already been dropped as a reliable source by the FBI for leaking to the press.
Nor did officials add that a Department of Justice official, Bruce Ohr, had met privately with Steele — or that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, had been hired to work on the dossier.
Unfortunately, such disclosures may be only the beginning of the FISA-gate scandal.
Members of the Obama administration’s national security team also may have requested the names of American citizens connected with the Trump campaign who had been swept up in other FISA surveillance. Those officials may have then improperly unmasked the names and leaked them to a compliant press — again, for apparent political purposes during a campaign.
Because they have lost the ability to cover real news when it happens.
Lee Smith writes: As widespread anti-regime protests in Iran continue on into their third day, American news audiences are starting to wonder why the US media has devoted so little coverage to such dramatic—and possibly history-making—events. Ordinary people are taking their lives in their hands to voice their outrage at the crimes of an obscurantist regime that has repressed them since 1979, and which attacks and shoots dead them in the streets. So why aren’t the protests in Iran making headlines?
“The problem, of course, is that the places that have obsessively run those stories for the past year aren’t really news outfits—not anymore. They are in the aromatherapy business.”
The short answer is that the American media is incapable of covering the story, because its resources and available story-lines for Iran reporting and expertise were shaped by two powerful official forces—the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Obama White House. Without government minders providing them with story-lines and experts, American reporters are simply lost—and it shows.
It nearly goes without saying that only regime-friendly Western journalists are allowed to report from Iran, which is an authoritarian police state that routinely tortures and murders its political foes. The arrest and nearly two-year detention of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian drove this point home to American newsrooms and editors who might not have been paying attention. The fact that Rezaian was not an entirely hostile voice who showed “the human side” of the country only made the regime’s message more terrifying and effective: We can find you guilty of anything at any time, so watch your step.
The Post has understandably been reluctant to send someone back to Iran. But that’s hardly an excuse for virtually ignoring a story that threatens to turn the past eight years of conventional wisdom about Iran on its head. If the people who donned pink pussy hats to resist Donald Trump are one of the year’s big stories, surely people who are shot dead in the streets in Iran for resisting an actual murderous theocracy might also be deserving of a shout-out for their bravery.
Yet the Post’s virtual news blackout on Iran was still more honorable than The New York Times, whose man in Tehran Thomas Erdbrink is a veteran regime mouthpiecewhose official government tour guide-style dispatches recall the shameful low-point of Western media truckling to dictators: The systematic white-washing of Joseph Stalin’s monstrous crimes by Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty.
Here’s the opening of Erdbrink’s latest dispatch regarding the protests:
Protests over the Iranian government’s handling of the economy spread to several cities on Friday, including Tehran, in what appeared to be a sign of unrest.
“Appeared”? Protests are by definition signs of unrest. The fact that Erdbrink appears to have ripped off the Iran’s government news agency Fars official coverage of the protests is depressing enough—but the function that these dispatches serve is even worse. What Iranians are really upset about, the messaging goes, isn’t the daily grind of living in a repressive theocratic police state run by a criminal elite that robs them blind, but a normal human desire for better living standards. Hey, let’s encourage European industry to invest more money in Iran! Didn’t the US overthrow the elected leader of Iran 70 years ago? Hands off—and let’s put more money in the regime’s pocket, so they can send the protesters home in time for a hearty dinner, and build more ballistic missiles, of course. Erdbrink is pimping for the regime, and requesting the West to wire more money, fast.
Selling the protesters short is a mistake. For 38 years Iranian crowds have been gathered by regime minders to chant “Death to America, Death to Israel.” When their chant spontaneously changes to “Down with Hezbollah” and “Death to the Dictator” as it has now, something big is happening. The protests are fundamentally political in nature, even when the slogans are about bread. But Erdbrink can hardly bring himself to report the regime’s history of depredations since his job is to obscure them. He may have been a journalist at one point in time, but now he manages the Times portfolio in Tehran. Read the rest of this entry »
Lohan first responded to a screenshot of a Breitbart article about British baby Charlie Gard, who suffers from a currently incurable disease. His story has made global headlines and received Trump’s support after the parents raised money for the baby to undergo experimental treatment, despite the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling that the hospital can take him off life support.
“THIS IS our president,” Lohan wrote. “Stop #bullying him & start trusting him. Thank you personally for supporting #THEUSA” Read the rest of this entry »
President Trump was accused of abuse of power and fascism during the mainstream media’s coverage of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
On CNN, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called the firing a “grotesque abuse of power” by the president, saying this is the sort of thing that is done in “non-democracies.”
Toobin said he’s seen nothing like this since 1973 when President Richard Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
“This is not normal. This is not politics as usual,” he said.
Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews said there was a “little whiff of fascism” and that Trump was demonstrating that he does not care about the law. Read the rest of this entry »
Tucker Carlson: NBC did more to meddle in 2016 election than Russia by being behind the worst of all leaks – the infamous Access Hollywood Trump tape to WaPo, which could have swayed the elections more than Russian hackers. #Tucker
On CNN Anderson Cooper 360, Political Analysts and Commentators Van Jones, Ryan Lizza, Matt Lewis, Gloria Borger, Paul Begala and Jason Miller discusses the 2005 President Trump’s Tax returns released by the White House showing that Trump paid $38 millions in taxes, though the legitimacy of the tax return has not been verified.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) March 15, 2017
Random thoughts on the fifth anniversary of his death
Andrew Breitbart died five years ago last week, so I’m thinking it might pay to remind people where the name “Breitbart” hails from: a man who is no longer on this earth, but seems to be felt everywhere.
First, Andrew was one of the deepest, funniest, smartest individuals I’ve ever met — and the world deserves to know him. Most people know of my relationship with A.B. — though I don’t talk about it much, unless I’m asked.
[Order Andrew’s legendary book “Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!” from Amazon.com]
In short, we wrote together, talked daily about everything. We conspired hourly for weeks at a time — from our start at the Huffington Post (yes, kids, he launched that site, and I wrote for it) to the Anthony Weiner episode — almost entirely and accidentally choreographed by Breitbart himself. He graced my show Redeye many times, peppering it with memorably absurd appearances. We always drank and sometimes got into trouble afterward (see the Opie and Anthony appearance after the Anthony Weiner press conference). I edited his pieces sometimes, helped organize his second book and helped when I could on his latest endeavors. This went on for nearly a decade, until his death.
“Andrew died a great man, and his life — and death — spawned a movement. In my humble opinion, you could not have had the election of Donald Trump without the phenomenon that was (and still is) Andrew Breitbart.”
Sadly, I had the honor that no one wants when it comes to a close friend: to speak at the reception following his funeral.
If Breitbart is part of your everyday lexicon, then you should know where the moniker hails from. Andrew Breitbart was a joyful, hilarious man. How many people know that? They must know that.
There is a grim silver lining when you die young. There’s no additional 30 years of assorted career changes, gaps of non-exciting employment and detours into events that muddy early great achievements. If you live
long enough, you become disappointing.
Andrew died a great man, and his life — and death — spawned a movement. In my humble opinion, you could not have had the election of Donald Trump without the phenomenon that was (and still is) Andrew Breitbart.
* * *
Andrew was about waging war with the left by using the left’s tactics. His foot soldiers are everywhere now, and their footprints are all over the faces of the shocked liberals who never saw them coming.
Andrew was inclusive, not solely ideological. He was a party leader who wanted a tent big enough for everyone, not a litmus test for locksteppers. He might have rubbed shoulders with the religious, the vocally right-wing, the hardcore moralistic — but he had no tolerance for those who demonized by lifestyle. Did you know Andrew backed out of CPAC because it initially refused to allow gay groups to speak?
When groups planned to boycott CPAC 2011, Andrew promised to throw a bash for right-wing gays. He wanted to call it the “first annual Roy Cohn CPAC Breitbart Homocon Welcoming ’80s Extravaganza.” Breitbart loved exceedingly long titles. Overdoing it was his way of doing it.
* * *
Andrew once was a liberal, but like all liberals with a brain, he wised up. He was a crappy student (he wasn’t much of a reader, he admitted) who liked to party, and he was a default liberal — simply because it was easy and without risk. But when he saw the Clarence Thomas hearings, he transformed from a goofy, partying liberal into a libertarian/conservative Reaganite. He worked for Matt Drudge and then he gravitated toward Arianna Huffington, working as her researcher before helping launch her celebrity-drenched site. He told me his purpose at HuffPo: By giving a voice to liberal celebrities about political issues, he could show the world how absurd their beliefs really were. Read the rest of this entry »
‘The enemy of my enemy is my ally’
Human monkey behavior is often an under-explored element in articles about group dynamics in politics. That’s why we’re pleased to find National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg liberally including quotations from evolutionary psychologist John Tooby. This is from Jonah’s weekly column in the LATimes:
Jonah Goldberg writes:
…From the outset, many on the right who do not consider themselves part of the Cult of Milo opposed his invitation. The disturbing thing is that, absent these videos, we would have lost the fight.
“John Tooby, the evolutionary psychologist, recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public it would be the ‘coalitional instinct.’ In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If ‘you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership … This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird’.”
Even now, Schlapp defends the initial decision to invite Yiannopoulis. On Monday’s ”Morning Joe,” he insisted: “The fact is, he’s got a voice that a lot of young people listen to.” A lot of young conservative people, he should have added, precisely because he enrages so many young liberals.
“If ‘you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,’ Tooby wrote on Edge.org. ‘This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.’”
John Tooby, the evolutionary psychologist, recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public it would be the “coalitional instinct.” In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If “you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,” Tooby wrote on Edge.org. “This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.”
We overlook the hypocrisies and shortcomings within our coalition out of a desire to protect ourselves from our enemies.
Today, the right sees the left as enemies — and, I should say, vice versa. Read the rest of this entry »
Inauguration Day: This is MSNBC‘s front page right now.
[VIDEO] Rachel Maddow Says First Question to Trump on Her Show Would Be if He Would Put Her, Anyone Else in a CampPosted: January 5, 2017
“Journalists from outlets including the Huffington Post, MSNBC, and CNN took to Twitter to sound off their frustration with the president’s last speech of the year.”
The president, who was delivering his final 2016 news conference, implied the media’s “obsession” with Clinton’s leaked emails did more damage to the former secretary of state than the Russian cyber attacks against Democratic political networks.
“This was an obsession that dominated the news coverage,” Obama said. “So I do think it is worth us reflecting how it is that a presidential election of such importance, of such moment, with so many big issues at stake and such a contrast between the candidates came to be dominated by a bunch of these leaks.”
Obama also spent much of the press conference defending his foreign policy legacy. He spoke at length about the decaying situation in Syria, conceding that while he felt personally responsible for some of the bloodshed, he still believes he did all that he could. Read the rest of this entry »
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes: In the clip above, Conway wonders aloud what message Democrats thought they were selling during the campaign. “I don’t know what her message was to America,” Conway says, “other than ‘I’m not Donald Trump and you shouldn’t vote for him’.” Conway also argues that Hillary didn’t do much to move the needle with women, scoring 54/41 in exit polls, almost identical to Barack Obama’s 55/44 over Mitt Romney in 2012. How did she fail to leverage that advantage, Conway asks?
The near-hysteria generated by advocates of this latest social panic has reached almost ludicrous heights. In the past 48 hours, we have now been lectured about “fake news” by Hillary Clinton, former NBC News anchor Brian Williams, and outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Hillary’s reliance on lies and half-truths in the campaign was well documented, especially when it came to her e-mail scandal and the slow unfolding of contradictory facts that exposed those lies — let alone Hillary’s claim to have been in New York City on 9/11, “Tuzla Dash” claims in 2008, her supposed rejection by the Marine Corps over her gender, and especially the attempt to slough off the planned terror attack on our Benghazi compound in 2012 as a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video when speaking to the families of those killed in the attack. Brian Williams lost his position as anchor for repeated instances of fabulism, including in on-air remarks. Read the rest of this entry »