Archive for October 27, 2017

The Arc of Regulation, Yesterday and Today

October 27, 2017

The Arc of Regulation, Yesterday and Today, Power Line,  Steven Hayward, October 27, 2017

Big things are afoot in the world of federal regulation. While the media and liberals (but I repeat. . .) obsess over Trump’s tweets and other unconventional speech acts, the Trump Administration is quietly but determinately going about the task of, in Steve Bannon’s words from February, “deconstructing the Administrative State.” Certainly they are rolling back old regulations and stopping new ones at a rate not seen since the best days of the Reagan Administration.

Much remains to be done on a fundamental level, about which much more in future posts. But I came across this very nice short video from the Federalist Society featuring my regulatory rabbi and former boss Chris DeMuth, reviewing the first great wave of deregulation back in the 1970s and 1980s. I have the sense that we’re in the midst of another such moment today:

Conway to CNN: We Can’t Get You to Cover Russia ‘Now That the Shoe Is on the Other Foot’

October 27, 2017

Conway to CNN: We Can’t Get You to Cover Russia ‘Now That the Shoe Is on the Other Foot’, Washington Free Beacon , October 27, 2017

(Thought experiment: If it were revealed that Melania Trump had promised Putin that President Trump would let Russia get 20% of America’s Uranium in exchange for a $500,000 campaign contribution, what would the reaction of CNN et al have been? — DM)

 

Camerota asked Conway whether Trump wants the former FBI informant to testify, noting, “Clearly he has some interest.”

The Justice Department has given the informant the green light to testify before Congress, CNN reported.

“Shouldn’t you?” Conway responded. “Shouldn’t we all? CNN is so vested in Russia, Russia, Russia, don’t you want to hear from everybody now? Or are we just going to drop the word Russia forever morning because it gets a little too close to the woman who ran last time?”

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Friday rebuked the media for not covering a controversial deal that gave Russia control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, arguing the press was “obsessed” with Moscow when the main story concerned potential Russian ties to President Donald Trump.

Conway sparred with CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota about U.S. relations with Russia, focusing on the sale of a Canadian uranium mining company, Uranium One, to Russia’s Atomic Energy Agency, Rosatom, that was approved by the Obama administration in 2010.

The White House counselor first said that she wanted to talk about the current opioid epidemic in the United States, which Trump declared a public health crisis on Thursday, before addressing the Uranium One deal.

“Well, first of all, the president is not worried about Uranium One. The people who should be worries about Uranium One are the people who benefited from it,” Conway said. “His spouse didn’t go make a half-a-million-dollar speech in Russia while he was secretary of state, then turn around and be part of the decision-making process for them to get 20 percent of our rights. He wasn’t secretary of state or president at the time when Russian folks were trying to infiltrate the State Department and get an advantage for this particular deal.”

Conway was referencing how former President Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and the Clinton Foundation received millions in donations from parties interested in the uranium deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government body that approved the agreement.

Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit the Clinton Foundation, the Hill reported last week, adding that, according to FBI and court documents, “federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings, and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

Camerota asked Conway whether Trump wants the former FBI informant to testify, noting, “Clearly he has some interest.”

The Justice Department has given the informant the green light to testify before Congress, CNN reported.

“Shouldn’t you?” Conway responded. “Shouldn’t we all? CNN is so vested in Russia, Russia, Russia, don’t you want to hear from everybody now? Or are we just going to drop the word Russia forever morning because it gets a little too close to the woman who ran last time?”

“We have talked about this for the last year so let’s at least close the loop, can’t we?” Conway added. “And look at what the Clinton campaign and the Democrats did.”

Camerota pressed Conway on what about the uranium deal bothered her if the deal should have been struck.

Zero,” Conway said. “What bothers me it is that we can’t get all of you who have been obsessed about Russia, Russia, Russia to cover it now that the shoe is on the other foot.”

“I think it’s exactly what people hate about corruption and politicians and the swamp,” she added. “I think they look at that and it’s not difficult for them to connect the dots that you have one spouse giving a half-a-million-dollar speech, [and] you have another one that’s the secretary of state.

“Whole 20 percent of the US. uranium rights go to a Russian interest. That’s not difficult for people to understand,” she added.

Sanctions on Hizbollah Unanimously Passed by US Congress

October 27, 2017

Sanctions on Hizbollah Unanimously Passed by US Congress, Iran News Update, October 26, 2017

(Please see also, Hezbollah denounces US sanctions bill targeting its cash flow. — DM)

The bills will now move to the Senate where another vote is expected, before the new legislations are sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This process is expected to take approximately one month.

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INU – US escalation toward the Iranian government and the Lebanese Hizbollah moved forward when on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican members of Congress unanimously voted through measures designed to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program and Hizbollah’s funding. Three resolutions were approved, after nearly six months of deliberations and amendments, that tighten the economic screws on Tehran and the Shiite militant party.

Democratic and Republican members of Congress unanimously voted orally in unison, and passed the following resolutions: 1- H.R 359 – Urging the European Union to designate Hizbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization; 2-H.R. 3342 – Sanctioning Hizbollah’s Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act; 3-H.R. 3329 – Hizbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 (HIFPA).

On Thursday, Members will vote on Resolution H.R. 1698 – Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act. These Ballistic missile sanctions put a stop to any outside support for Iran’s missile program, and are significant in terms of timing and efforts by the Trump administration to push for concessions from Tehran on the issue.

In terms of scope and reach of the proposed sanctions, the HIFPA bill represents the largest escalation against Hizbollah. It authorizes new sanctions against the group and its financial networks, and it requires the US president to release an annual estimate of the net worth of Hizbollah leaders and backers, including its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah.

Also targeted by the bill are Hizbollah affiliates, including Bayt Al Mal, Jihad Al Bina, the Islamic Resistance Support Association, the Foreign Relations Department of Hizbollah, the External Security Organization of Hizbollah, and its media outlets — Al Manar TV and Al Nour Radio.

An expert on Hizbollah at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hanin Ghaddar, said that “official Lebanese visits to Washington in 2017 have somehow succeeded in protecting the Lebanese banks from these sanctions.” She added, “But that doesn’t mean that Lebanon’s economy won’t be affected.”

Joseph Bahout of The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agrees with Ghaddar. He said “Hizbollah itself has mastered new financial engineering to navigate through sanctions but the real impact will be felt on banking system in Lebanon.” Mr Bahout continued, “If the Lebanese banks were to fully implement all the measures [requested under HIFPA] lots of foreign capital would flee the system.”

Hassan Nasrallah, an Hizbollah leader, previously boasted that “all the banks of the world cannot stand as an obstacle to Hizbollah.” He said, “As long as there is money in Iran, we will have money.”

Ms. Ghaddar said, “Hizbollah will not be directly affected as we all know how money comes from Iran — in bags — and sanctions won’t stop this flow.” However, she also said that this may hurt Hizbollah, as “its backers’ financial assets will have to be revealed, and its institutions will be sanctioned, this will create a serious gap and mistrust between Hizbollah and its community.” Ms. Ghaddar added that as a result, many in business community “will try to distance themselves from Hizbollah for fears of sanctions.”

Mr. Bahout said HIFPA may complicate Hizbollah’s activities locally, “like paying employees of their agencies [that are targeted] or doing business with organizations, commerce tied to them, and a whole range of minute day-to-day annoyances that could follow.”

There are concerns over possible Hizbollah retaliation. Ms. Ghaddar pointed out that the last time a lighter version of HIFPA passed in 2015, “Blom bank in Verdun was blown up few months after.”

The bills will now move to the Senate where another vote is expected, before the new legislations are sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This process is expected to take approximately one month.

How Sore Loser Hillary Created a National Obsession With Russia

October 27, 2017

How Sore Loser Hillary Created a National Obsession With Russia, Power Line,  Paul Mirengoff, October 27, 2017

“In short,” Sperry concludes, “Hillary couldn’t beat Trump with the political dirt she secretly purchased during the campaign, so she tried to cripple his presidency with help from an overwhelmingly anti-Trump media.” And, it appears, from elements of the U.S. government.

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Scott has linked to an article by Paul Sperry in the New York Post called “How Team Hillary played the press for fools for fools on Russia.” Sperry’s article is also one of our “Power Line picks.”

Many of our readers will come across Sperry’s article, either via Power Line or in some other way. However, I think portions of it are worth quoting here, just in case.

Sperry writes:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign didn’t just pay for the Kremlin-aided smear job on Donald Trump before the election; she continued to use the dirt after the election to frame her humiliating loss as a Russian conspiracy to steal the election.

Bitter to the core, she and her campaign aides hatched a scheme, just 24 hours after conceding the race, to spoon-feed the dirty rumors to an eager liberal media and manufacture the narrative that Russia secretly colluded with her neophyte foe to sabotage her coronation.

The hatching of this scheme is documented by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in their book“Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.” They reported:

Within 24 hours of [Clinton’s] concession speech, [campaign chair John Podesta and manager Robby Mook] assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

The plan succeeded. As Sperry reminds us: “After the election, coverage of the Russian ‘collusion’ story was relentless, and it helped pressure investigations and hearings on Capitol Hill and even the naming of a special counsel, which in turn has triggered virtually nonstop coverage”

How relentless was that coverage? Sperry tells us:

A new Media Research Center study finds that, since the inauguration, major TV news networks have devoted an astonishing 1,000 minutes out of a total 5,015 minutes of Trump administration coverage discussing speculation that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Moscow in hacking Clinton campaign emails, “which means the Russia story alone has comprised almost one-fifth of all Trump news this year.”

In contrast, they so far have devoted just 20 seconds to the more substantive scandal of Hillary and her husband possibly trading US uranium rights for Russian cash.

Who fuels the nonstop coverage?

MRC analysts also found that more than a third of the networks’ Russia “scandal” coverage was based on anonymous sources who worked in the Obama administration, including Hillary’s State Department.

Thus, Team Hillary’s plan is working. Sure, stories it planted have been retracted and reporters fired. But that’s just collateral damage. Sperry is right: “Trump’s approval ratings have suffered, and the Russia investigation has distracted the administration.”

This is just what Team Clinton intended, as former Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri made clear to the Washington Post in March.

There is no doubt, then, that Team Clinton played the press. In my view, many in the press were happy to be played.

It’s worth noting, however, that even our gullible, left-leaning mainstream media didn’t take the bait when the Trump dossier, put together with Russian collusion for the Clinton campaign, was dangled before it. The mainstream media refused to run with the dossier because its assertions couldn’t be corroborated and, perhaps, because some of them seemed ridiculous.

It was our intelligence community that ran with the dossier, though I doubt it was duped. The full extent of its reliance on the dossier is not clear. However, James Comey certainly put it to use, and by sharing it with the president, helped make it news.

“In short,” Sperry concludes, “Hillary couldn’t beat Trump with the political dirt she secretly purchased during the campaign, so she tried to cripple his presidency with help from an overwhelmingly anti-Trump media.” And, it appears, from elements of the U.S. government.

Right Angle – Racist – 10/25/17

October 27, 2017

Right Angle – Racist – 10/25/17 via YouTube, October 26, 2017

(Please see also Not Satire | Professor Claims Math, Algebra And Geometry Promote ‘White Privilege’. — DM)

 

The blurb beneath the video states,

Is math racist? Does your skin color determine your ability to succeed in math? University of Illinois Professor Rochelle Gutierrez thinks so! She claims that white people are the ones able to achieve success in mathematics and therefore math only serves to perpetuate “Whiteness” because minorities are unable to conduct abstract reasoning. What does this even mean? Bill, Steve, and Scott try to sift through this madness and find some answers.

Can Sakharov save the Venezuelan opposition?

October 27, 2017

Can Sakharov save the Venezuelan opposition? Venezuela News and ViewsDaniel Duquenal, October 26, 2017

It is just heart breaking that the incompetence of the opposition in handling its internal squabbles is letting us no other choices but to wait for hard sanctions as our only way out.

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No.

At least not in its current form.

The day started in a stupendous note: the European parliament awarded its Sakharov prize to the Venezuelan opposition, namely the National Assembly that the regime has voided, the political prisoners, and the youth killed during the first half of 2017.

The rest of today’s news was not so good. The regime of course dismissed the award as a direct attempt by these nasty Europeans to rekindle violence in Venezuela. The cynicism to even say such a thing goes beyond the Cuban training of these people. They are thoroughly rottenly vile.

But the regime also advanced the district mayor election to December 10, taking advantage of the opposition disarray, in a tight schedule that leaves no chance for the opposition to even name its candidates or blurb out some campaign. The regime, we know now, had long ago decided who was going to be mayor and where.  They might as well proceed to name them so we can save ourselves the anguish of an election. That the rest of the world is not going to recognize these elections is the least of the regime’s worries.

And for good measure the victor of Zulia, Guanipa, who refused to swear in his job in front of the illegal and unrecognized constituent assembly has been stripped of his victory and a new election is called for Zulia.He will not be allowed to run again.

It is now clear that the refusal to hold any election last year was due to the surprise of the regime loss in December 2015. They needed to regroup and reorganize the control of the populace and the electoral system. So we had CLAP food program, and Tarjeta de La Patria which allowed the regime to label the said populace with home address and all.  Then it would be much easier to manipulate electoral rolls, etc, etc.  Once ready they went ahead and since it worked so well they are now in a rush to organize all sorts of elections before the opposition recovers. Make no mistake, the goal of the regime is 90% at the very least of all elective office. The few point are just a pretense number for propaganda purposes.

And the opposition is obliging. Let’s look at today snippets.

Henri Falcon loser of Lara, blaming the abstention without wondering why there was such an abstention in Lara, went ahead to say that he would worry if Capriles were to be president of Venezuela.  I would worry too, but the detail here is that he was Capriles campaign manager three years ago. So now he tells us…  Credibility gap anyone?  For good measure he also said that the young folks that run Voluntad Popular, and allegedly Primero Justicia, are immature.  Me thinks he is ready to go back to chavismo for good.

Newest punching ball Ramos Allup made an elaborate press conference where he told among other things that Capriles has “glandular responses” to what he does not like. He tried to convince us that the had nothing to do with the 4 AD governors swearing in and that they “self-expelled themselves” from AD according to article X, alinea Z.  And some unnecessary gossip to hide, I presume, the gossip about his own relatives finance activities.  The fact of the matter is that he is not going to take sanctions against the gang of 4, meaning that he is going to let the dust settle some and then reconcile with them.  In short, he finished off the opposition alliance MUD.

Meanwhile a group of losers, of people that have not been able to make any significant mark in Venezuelan politics for the last 20 years signed an outrageous document basically approving of the gang of 4.  So there you have it, the regime surefootedly establishing its “loyal” opposition. Communist countries have done that, a famous example being Poland with “opposition” parties that voted 99% of the time for the commies.  I have also read analysts that I know are not chavistas entertaining the thought that the regime did win the election. Forgetting that the polling stations remained open illegally for up to three hours and Jorge Rodriguez himself saying that half an hour more and they’d gotten Zulia. The immense stupidity of some is truly awesome.

But the very worst for me is the silence of the “abstention party”. Now that they claim that the defeat of the opposition was due to the discontent of its supporters (read: we the abstencionistas), we are expecting them to tell us what is our next step. The only thing we heard was bravos for the in exile court first rulings that are totally unenforceable in Venezuela today.  So?  Maria Corina Machado? Any concrete ideas?[crickets chirping].

So yes, I wonder if the Sakharov prize is going to do any good. I suspect that there will be a fight as to who goes to Europe to receive it…….  If they had any decency they would chose a freed political prisoner, a torture victim and an exiled one to form the trio going to the European Parliament. But what do I know…..

But the regime would be well advised not to crow too much. It is leaving no other option to the world but to step in directly. Nobody wants a “stable” narco state. Today Spain arrested two corrupt officials of PDVSA, ministers of Chavez…  ISIS danger is soon going to be over, time to turn attention to other criminals.

It is just heart breaking that the incompetence of the opposition in handling its internal squabbles is letting us no other choices but to wait for hard sanctions as our only way out.

The Roots of the Dem’s Russia Obsession

October 27, 2017

The Roots of the Dem’s Russia Obsession, FrontPage Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, October 27, 2017

If Hillary had won, the Russia-Trump narrative would have been quickly disposed of. Even most Dems had trouble taking the allegations seriously. And they weren’t aimed at Russia, so much as at Trump.

But once Hillary lost, everything changed.

The narrative was no longer about tying Trump to a corrupt foreign government. It was about a vast conspiracy that had hijacked the election. Trump had been reinvented as the Manchurian Candidate.

The Russians were trying to influence American politics for their own benefit. And they were frankly apolitical about it. The Russia trail has led to the Clintons and Uranium One, to Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary’s campaign chair, and, ironically enough, to Fusion GPS.

The very organization that helped birth the Trump-Russia meme was in bed with the Russians.

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Five years ago, Mitt Romney was hammering Barack Obama for being soft on Russia. And Obama was ridiculing him as a Cold War fossil. The Russia exchanges may seem confusing today, but back then they were a natural outgrowth of the respective Democrat and Republican foreign policy positions.

The Dems had accused President Bush of alienating Russia with the Iraq War. The McCain-Obama debates echoed the Romney-Obama debates with McCain taking a harder line on Russia. In ’08, Vladimir Putin even suggested that relations would improve once Obama took office. By ’12, Obama was caught on a hot mic promising more flexibility for Russia after the election was over.

Until the end of the Obama era, foreign policy fell along these predictable lines. Republicans focused on the old Cold War need to maintain NATO against Russian expansionism. Democrats had their own Cold War reflex. Whenever they heard Russia, they began to talk about nuclear disarmament.

And that was exactly what Obama did.

It’s hard to overestimate how much of our foreign policy consisted of unthinking virtue signaling.

For example, no one is quite sure why Obama decided to launch his disastrous Afghanistan surge with its accompanying horrifying death toll. But a debate exchange with Mitt Romney offers one possibility.

“Governor Romney,” Obama said. “I’m glad that you recognize that Al-Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al-Qaeda.”

Obama’s obsession with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, long after the group had ceased to matter there, was initially based on a claim that his administration knew was a lie. But the simplest explanation may be that the Dems had spent so much time accusing President Bush of neglecting Osama bin Laden to fight Saddam Hussein that pulling out of Iraq and going to Afghanistan became another reflexive response.

Even as ISIS took over a sizable piece of the Middle East, Obama didn’t want to hear about Iraq.

Thousands of Americans died and were maimed in Afghanistan while Iraq nearly became the center of a new terror state because some Dem strategist had decided that his party should counter Bush by emphasizing Afghanistan over Iraq. And so a cynical slogan eventually became a disastrous policy.

Similarly, Obama’s relationship to Russia was based around nuclear arms reduction because that had been the Dem line for generations. Obama and Hillary’s appeasement of Putin was a legacy of the Cold War. The major reset that turned the Dems from appeasers into antagonists also remains a mystery.

And the explanation for it may be every bit as disastrous as Obama’s pivot to Afghanistan. The origins of the Trump-Russia narrative appear to have come from the infamous Fusion GPS dossier. And that dossier was funded in part by a Clintonworld figure. But Fusion GPS had also been doing work for the Russians. Why did Fusion GPS choose to link Trump to Russia? It might have been a stray mouse click.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research on President Trump. Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele whose specialty was Russia. Why was Fusion GPS interested in Russia?

The answer appeared to be a Washington Post hit piece titled, “Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Putin.”

The article was one of a flurry of disposable hit pieces aimed at Trump. But the timing was crucial. It was June 2016. A month earlier, Trump had become the presumptive nominee. Fusion GPS’ old GOP client was no longer paying for anti-Trump material and the smear firm was casting around for Dem clients. It needed something juicy to offer them. And Russia just happened to be the flavor of the week.

After generations, the Dem position on Russia flipped drastically due to a smear firm’s need for money.

If Hillary had won, the Russia-Trump narrative would have been quickly disposed of. Even most Dems had trouble taking the allegations seriously. And they weren’t aimed at Russia, so much as at Trump.

But once Hillary lost, everything changed.

The narrative was no longer about tying Trump to a corrupt foreign government. It was about a vast conspiracy that had hijacked the election. Trump had been reinvented as the Manchurian Candidate.

But the Russian influence operation that was uncovered looked like an update of the Cold War with social media thrown into the mix. The initial rush to find connections to Russia on the right exposed troll farms that just as eagerly posed as Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock and militant feminists.

The old KGB had built networks of leftist front groups in the same way. The only difference was that with the internet and social media, Russian troll farms could recruit black nationalists online. Or pretend to be them on Twitter and Facebook. The best way to put forward their own agenda on issues like Crimea or Syria that most Americans didn’t care about was to set up fake identity politics front groups.

The Russians were trying to influence American politics for their own benefit. And they were frankly apolitical about it. The Russia trail has led to the Clintons and Uranium One, to Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary’s campaign chair, and, ironically enough, to Fusion GPS.

The very organization that helped birth the Trump-Russia meme was in bed with the Russians.

Did the Russians help create the Trump-Russia meme? The now infamous meeting in Trump Tower took place the same month as Fusion GPS’ pivot to the Russian narrative. When Trump Jr. shot down the Russians, the dossier may have been payback. The fatally flawed material in the dossier would hurt Trump, discredit anyone who used it and build the illusion of Russian influence. Just as Fusion GPS handfed stories to reporters, the Russians may have handfed the story to their pet researcher.

But they wouldn’t have anticipated the avalanche that it would set off.

Hillary’s campaign funded a dossier accusing Trump of Russian ties that might itself have been a Russian influence operation. But the Clintons and their associates, not to mention Fusion GPS, were no strangers to those. And as the Russian narrative stings the Dems, it will be as quickly forgotten as Obama’s mockery of Mitt Romney. The Reset Button will be pushed one more time.

The Dems loved Russia before they hated it. And they will learn to love it again.

Beyond the breaking news and the trending headlines, the real story is the unseriousness of Dem foreign policy. After two terms in the White House, the world is a mess. And the decisions responsible for that mess have haphazard ideological roots. ObamaCare was born because Obama needed a selling point. It was poorly thought out, poorly implemented and yet the Dems will die to defend it.

The Afghanistan surge remains one of the great scandals that no one will discuss. And even fewer will discuss the illegal Libyan invasion which emails revealed had a good deal to do with Hillary’s election bid. The Dems had spent generations appeasing Russia, before deciding that they really needed a good anti-Trump hit piece. And so they did what they weren’t willing to do in the face of nuclear annihilation, mass murder, assorted acts of terrorism and, more recently, an invasion or two, because Hillary lost.

Hillary and the Dems have argued that they are the responsible adults in the room. This is their idea of responsibility and what they are responsible for.