Archive for the ‘Democrats and Russia’ category

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.

How Obama Used Hillary’s Dossier to Spy on Trump

October 26, 2017

How Obama Used Hillary’s Dossier to Spy on Trump, FrontPage Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, October 26, 2017

(Please see also, We Need an Investigation of the Entire Justice Department Now. — DM)

Hillary and the DNC hire Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS hires Steele. Steele contacts an FBI pal. The FBI takes up the dossier. And then it’s turned into a pretext for eavesdropping.

But there isn’t supposed to be a link between the Democrats and the eavesdropping. 

That’s why Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign and DNC lawyer who hired Fusion GPS, had denied it in the past. It’s why Fusion GPS fought the investigation so desperately. Opposition research isn’t a crime. A conspiracy to eavesdrop on your political opponents however is very much a criminal matter.

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How do you legally spy on your political opponents?

At some point in time that question was asked in the White House, at the DNC or in the hotel suites where Hillary and her staff were staying during her speaking tours. It wasn’t exactly asked that way.

But it was asked. And now we know more of the answer.

What Hillary and Obama did wasn’t Watergate. That was amateur hour. Its sophistication is a tribute to the left’s deep knowledge and control of the workings of Washington, D.C. The men and women who planned this and carried it out understood not only government, but had an intimate familiarity with the loopholes in the laws and the networks of contacts that could realize their highly illegal plans.

The eavesdropping on Trump officials carried the ‘fingerprints’ of an administration that bypassed Congress to fund left-wing groups by blackmailing banks into huge settlements paid out to political allies in a billion dollar slush fund and sent pallets of foreign currency to Iran on unmarked planes. A complete lack of ethical norms was combined with the careful use of legal loopholes to protect the actions of the perpetrators even while they were engaging in a criminal conspiracy.

The revolutionary cell is embedded into left-wing organizing. These cells combined into networks across government, the media and the non-profit sector to pursue a collective agenda. The latest revelations about the Trump dossier give us greater insight into how Obama and Hillary’s people conspired to legally eavesdrop on political opponents by breaking up that eavesdropping into a series of legal actions carried out across different cells.

The road that led to Susan Rice and Samantha Power ‘unmasking’ Trump officials began with the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funding a dossier pushing Trump-Russia conspiracies. The dossier was sourced through Fusion GPS which is notorious for handfeeding material to reporters.

The Clinton campaign was seeing to it that whatever Fusion GPS produced would make its way into media stories without having Hillary’s fingerprints on it. Indeed the only reason we learned that Hillary and the DNC were ultimately behind the dossier was a congressional subpoena that risked exposing other Fusion GPS clients.

But the second reason was far more devious and devastating.

Fusion GPS’ man for the job was Christopher Steele. The former British intelligence figure had connections with FBI people. Hillary Clinton wasn’t just doing “opposition research” as her former press secretary has claimed.  The best way to do opposition research in an American election doesn’t involve hiring a Brit in London with contacts in Russian intelligence and the FBI.

That is however the best way to independently produce information that can be injected into an intelligence investigation. (It’s also, perhaps not coincidentally, a great way for the Russians to inject their own material into a presidential election without getting their fingerprints on it.)

Hiring Fusion GPS and then Steele created two degrees of separation between the dossier and Hillary. A London ex-intel man is a strange choice for opposition research in an American election, but a great choice to create a plausible ‘source’ that appears completely disconnected from American politics.

What would an ex-M.I.6 agent have to do with Hillary, Obama or Trump?

The official story is that Steele was a dedicated whistleblower who decided to message an FBI pal for reasons “above party politics” while the Fusion GPS boss was so dedicated that he spent his own money on it after the election. Some figures in the FBI decided to take Steele’s material, offering to pay him for his work and reimbursing some of his expenses. Portions of the dossier were used to justify the FISA eavesdropping on Trump officials and were then rolled into the Mueller investigation.

That is how cells coordinate by breaking up a larger plot into a series of individual actions that just happen to produce the ideal result. Hillary and the DNC hire Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS hires Steele. Steele contacts an FBI pal. The FBI takes up the dossier. And then it’s turned into a pretext for eavesdropping.

But there isn’t supposed to be a link between the Democrats and the eavesdropping.

That’s why Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign and DNC lawyer who hired Fusion GPS, had denied it in the past. It’s why Fusion GPS fought the investigation so desperately. Opposition research isn’t a crime. A conspiracy to eavesdrop on your political opponents however is very much a criminal matter.

A forensic examination of the dirty dossier’s journey shows us that this modern Watergate was a collaborative effort between an outgoing Democrat administration and its expected Dem successor. The effort was broken up into two big pieces. The Clinton side would generate the material. The Obama side would make use of it. Steele was positioned as the interface between the two sides of the effort.

The London detour created and laundered the dossier. Moving the operation offshore tangled the connection between the Clinton side and the Obama side. This was important because what Steele produced wasn’t really opposition research, but a pretext for a government investigation.

That pretext couldn’t come directly from Hillary. But the FBI was too politically divided to generate it.

Obama Inc. needed that pretext, but it also didn’t want to generate it internally. Any investigation of the political opposition was inherently explosive. It was better if the intelligence came from outside and especially overseas. That was why Fusion GPS brought in Steele.

The first FISA request was filed in June. It was shot down by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That was the same month we were told that Fusion GPS hired Steele. The second FISA request came through in October. That was the month, Steele did his first media interview with Mother Jones.

Two birds were being killed with one stone.

Obama’s Watergate depended on extensive compartmentalization. The process that led to the eavesdropping on Trump officials and their unmasking at the hands of his officials had to appear as ‘clean’ as possible. Susan Rice and Samantha Power could make unmasking requests to the NSA, but they couldn’t be involved in generating the investigation that led to those requests.

Seeding the media with an astroturf campaign through Fusion GPS created the appearance of an organic push to investigate Trump-Russia ties. Targeting the lefty fringe of the media, Mother JonesThe Guardian, would bake in the narrative among a demographic already prone to conspiracy theories.

The operation was vastly more sophisticated than the crude ugliness of Watergate. But it was not unique in that regard. The fusion of government loopholes, political campaigns, media operations, opposition research and covert funding had occurred more than once during the Obama era.

The most recent example of such a fusion before Trump-Russia was the Iran Deal in which members of Congress were eavesdropped on, money was moved around through non-profits to influence the media, a White House operation planted stories in the media and billions were smuggled to Iran. This mixture of influence operation, propaganda, eavesdropping and laundering has likely happened far more often in the previous administration than we know.

The IRS targeting of conservatives, shutdown theater and the Libyan War offer more examples.

Obama’s eavesdropping on Trump didn’t break the norms. They had already been thoroughly broken. The network that is being uncovered, the interfaces between media insiders, top government officials and private interests, demonstrates why Obama Inc. believed that it could get away with it.

It had gotten away with all its old abuses. There was no reason to doubt it could do so again.

America still has elections. The rule of law exists. In theory. But the network being uncovered in the dossier investigation looks very much like something that would be found in a totalitarian state.

The combination of media propaganda, government surveillance and contrived investigations of political opponents is the sort of thing you would expect to find in… Russia. The key players were wary enough that they compartmentalized their conspiracy, breaking it up across the private and public sector, the media, private firms, law enforcement figures and even another country. But that just makes it look like a cross between terrorist cells and organized crime.

And that is what we are dealing with here.

The left’s networks are becoming increasingly malignant. They executed a sophisticated attack on the political process while contriving to blame it on their victims. What the attack reveals is just how much the levers of power in our political system are embedded in the shadowy networks that operate in and around government. And what those networks are willing to do to win.

Trump’s ‘America First’ vs. McCain’s ‘America Last’

July 29, 2017

Trump’s ‘America First’ vs. McCain’s ‘America Last’, PJ MediaDavid P. Goldman, July 28, 2017

Europeans suspect that the U.S. wants to sabotage Russian natural gas deliveries to Europe and replace them with LNG exports from the United States. Neither the Trump administration nor its opponents in Congress entertain such a Machiavellian agenda. On the contrary, the Trump administration initially supported sanctions against Russia as a bargaining chip, to be played to extract concessions from Moscow over the Ukraine, Iran and other matters of contention. The House and Senate bills in their present form effectively tie the president’s hands, turning what was a bargaining chip into a declaration of trade war. This would not be the first war to begin when what was intended as a feint was interpreted after the fact as a threat.

America won the Cold War by driving a wedge between Russia and China, and by persuading a frightened Western Europe to point medium-range missiles at the Russian heartland. Russia sought to compensate for its economic inefficiency by turning Europe into an economic colony, and the most dangerous operations of the Cold War were undertaken to prevent this. Now, for narrow political reasons, Trump’s enemies propose to undo the whole structure of relationships that won the Cold War and drive Europe into the arms of the Russians and Chinese. I do not believe for a moment that McCain and Schumer have a clue about this—they are like the “sleepwalkers” in Christopher Clark’s brilliant history of the outbreak of the First World War—but if I were a Russian operative, I would try to invent someone like John McCain, if McCain did not already exist.

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Not the supposed protectionist Donald Trump, but the “free trade” wing of the Republican Party has taken the United States into a trade war that it can only lose. New sanctions against Russia passed by the House and Senate last week force Europe into a de facto alliance with Russia against the United States, and by extension with China as well. It is the dumbest and most self-destructive act of economic self-harm since the United States de-linked the dollar from gold on August 15, 1971, and it will have devastating consequences. The charade in the House and Senate may embarrass Trump, but it also poses a threat to European energy supplies as well as an extraterritorial intrusion into European governance. Berlin, Paris and Rome will conspire with Moscow to circumvent the sanctions while attacking the United States at the World Trade Organization and other international fora.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and their counterparts in the House of Representatives allowed their dudgeon against a sometimes provocative president to overwhelm their sense of self-preservation. The sanctions will hurt Russia, but not nearly as much as they will hurt the United States over the long term. The White House envisioned sanctions as a bargaining chip, to be used to persuade Moscow to behave in the Ukraine and to limit the ambitions of its Iranian ally of convenience. In their present form, however, the president will have no authority to remove sanctions imposed by Congress. That turns a feint into a threat. Wars have been started over less.

The Democrats along with the McCain Republicans, it will be remembered, accused Trump of undermining the Atlantic Alliance, of isolating the United States, and of handing a diplomatic victory to Russia. Not Trump, but his detractors have given Moscow a degree of leverage over Western Europe to which it has not aspired since the height of the Cold War in 1983, when Soviet premier Yuri Andropov considered a pre-emptive Russian attack in response to Western plans to deploy medium-range missiles in Germany.

Supposedly it was Trump who ignored the exigencies of international relations in favor of domestic political theater. Yet it is the Establishment wing of the Republican Party and its Democratic allies who combined to embarrass the president, without a moment’s consideration of the consequences of their actions. Among Washington’s elite, Trump Derangement Syndrome has nothing to do with ideology. It is about jobs and patronage. This is not hypocrisy. It is chutzpah.

Trump humiliated the Democrats and the Establishment rump of the Republican Party last November. The losers now face the prospect of permanent exile from political life. Writing in the Times Literary Supplement July 25, historian Edward Luttwak predicted a Trump dynasty lasting sixteen years, in which Ivanka Trump Kushner would succeed her father. “No wonder that leading Democrats and non-Trumpers continue to act hysterically even eight months after the election. President Trump’s plan threatens to exclude them all from office until long past their retirement age,” Luttwak wrote. The hopes of high office of the defeated Establishment can be realized only by stifling the Trump administration in its cradle.

That is the motivation behind the Black Legend of Russian collusion that continues to occupy the waking hours of the American media while putting most Americans to sleep. As Sen. McCain said after the Senate vote July 27, the sanctions “respond to Russia’s attack on American democracy….We will not tolerate attacks on our democracy. That’s what this bill is all about. We must take our own side in this fight, not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Americans.”

The notion that Russian machinations explain Trump’s electoral victory is fanciful, although Russia’s intelligence services no doubt sought targets of opportunity in the American electoral scramble. McCain’s outrage over the violation of America’s political virginity, though, rings rather hollow. Some of his friends, for example National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, publicly advocate regime change in Moscow, a topic that has been a matter of on-and-off public debate in Washington for years. A 2016 Defense Intelligence Agency document reported that Russia believes that the United States favors regime change. The U.S. supported the 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine, which threatened Russia’s access to its Crimean warm-water port. America’s capacity to influence political events in and around Russia is vastly greater than Russia’s.

After the fall of Communism, the dominant strain of American thinking held that the march of liberal democracy was unstoppable, and that it would transform the Muslim world as well as Moscow. I played a bit part in this project; in 1992, then Ambassador to Moscow Robert Strauss arranged for me to advise President Boris Yeltsin’s finance minister, Yegor Gaidar. Strauss did so at the behest of private equity investor Theodore Forstmann, who had funded a proposed study of the Russian economy. As it turned out I had little advice to give to the Yeltsin government, which was acting as a family office for various Russian oligarchs who divided up the Russian economy. The free-for-all of theft left the economy in ruins. One needed a large shopping bag full of currency to do ordinary shopping. A few hundred meters from the Kremlin, old people sold used clothing to buy food, and World War II veterans wore their medals to beg in the streets. No-one who had first-hand experience with Russia’s brief experience with democracy was surprised at Vladimir Putin’s subsequent popularity. The oligarchs continued to steal, but in a measured and organized fashion that allows ordinary life to proceed without catastrophic disruption. Putin rules Russia by means I sometimes find abhorrent, but his is a land where people don’t talk of Ivan the Reasonable.

An ideological residue of the utopian attitudes of the 1990s colors the Republican Establishment’s attitude towards Trump, but it does not really inform them. This is not about the U.S. elections, or Putin’s nastiness, or freedom and democracy. It’s about privilege and the pecking order in the Washington swamp. McCain and Schumer want to destroy Trump because a successful Trump administration would destroy them, and destroy the reputation of an entire generation of diplomats, intelligence officers, academics and military officers who achieved rank by promoting the export of democracy, nation building, counterinsurgency, and so forth.

The trouble is that the Schumer-McCain combination has taken aim at Russia but inflicted collateral damage on the Europeans. The sanctions legislation in its present form allows the United States to impose heavy fines on European companies involved in energy infrastructure with Russia, and threatens several major projects now in progress, including the Nord Stream II natural gas pipeline, the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas Project, and the Russia-Turkey Blue Stream pipeline, among others. EC Commission chief Klaus Juncker warned July 27, “The U.S. bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests. If our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. ‘America First’ cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.”

The Trump administration has annoyed America’s trading partners previously by complaining about the exchange rate of the euro and about Germany’s trade surplus with the U.S. But those were cosmetic issues compared to sanctions which the Europeans see as a threat to essential economic interests. The French and German foreign ministries denounced the sanctions as a “violation of international law” and national governments as well as the European Commission are preparing as yet unspecified countermeasures.

Europeans suspect that the U.S. wants to sabotage Russian natural gas deliveries to Europe and replace them with LNG exports from the United States. Neither the Trump administration nor its opponents in Congress entertain such a Machiavellian agenda. On the contrary, the Trump administration initially supported sanctions against Russia as a bargaining chip, to be played to extract concessions from Moscow over the Ukraine, Iran and other matters of contention. The House and Senate bills in their present form effectively tie the president’s hands, turning what was a bargaining chip into a declaration of trade war. This would not be the first war to begin when what was intended as a feint was interpreted after the fact as a threat.

Not Trump, but his domestic opponents have set in motion an unprecedented disturbance in Atlantic relations, and effectively put Berlin, Paris and Rome in the same camp with Moscow in opposing American policy. European governments are already consulting with Moscow about mechanisms to get around the sanctions. Russia has responded by expelling a large number of diplomats from the embassy in Moscow, but that is merely a symbolic gesture. There are more disagreeable measures that Moscow might take, such as providing advanced weapons to Iran, giving close air support to Iranian-controlled militias in Syria, and increasing military cooperation with China. Russia and China, as I have reported elsewhere, already back Iran’s international brigades of Shi’ites as a counter-toxin to Sunni jihadists shaken loose by America’s blunders in Iraq.

America won the Cold War by driving a wedge between Russia and China, and by persuading a frightened Western Europe to point medium-range missiles at the Russian heartland. Russia sought to compensate for its economic inefficiency by turning Europe into an economic colony, and the most dangerous operations of the Cold War were undertaken to prevent this. Now, for narrow political reasons, Trump’s enemies propose to undo the whole structure of relationships that won the Cold War and drive Europe into the arms of the Russians and Chinese. I do not believe for a moment that McCain and Schumer have a clue about this—they are like the “sleepwalkers” in Christopher Clark’s brilliant history of the outbreak of the First World War—but if I were a Russian operative, I would try to invent someone like John McCain, if McCain did not already exist.

The Russian Collusion Story: The Acme of Fake News

July 16, 2017

The Russian Collusion Story: The Acme of Fake News, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, July 16, 2017

Richard Fernandez is one of the most brilliant authors on the Internet. This week he wrote:

Conventional wisdom posits the chief challenges facing the post-Cold War World are Global Warming and the decline of international institutions. But maybe that assurance is a species of Fake News. Suppose the most pressing problems in the next decade is finding new energy supplies to 1) keep the price of oil low enough to contain Russia (and Islamism); and 2) adapting to a disruptive information revolution no one can seem to control. Who will hand you that unconventional wisdom unless you come to it yourself.

He’s right, as I explain, but the significance of his observation is this: which of the two candidates — Hillary or Trump — was more likely to tap into America’s huge energy resources to contain both Russia and the Islamists? And when you answer that as you must — Trump — you can dismiss all the folderol about Donald J. Trump Jr’s, 15 minute meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer as evidence of “collusion” with Russia.  As I further explain, the non-stop media promotion of some nefarious scheme between Russia and Trump does not pass even the most cursory forensic examination, proving once again in the age of fake news, you cannot remain a passive consumer of news. You have to bring to each story the good sense and diligence with which you handle your most important personal affairs.

A. Russia and Environmental Groups

As Fernandez explained:

The oil crash collapsed the ruble and forced a 27% reduction in the Kremlin’s military budget in 2016.  With oil prices set to stay flat the Russians have to keep drilling and investing simply to stay level as the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies notes.  The Kremlin doesn’t make any real spending money until world oil price gets above levels before the great oil crash of 2014, which may not happen any time soon.[snip] You would think this a Eureka moment: to contain oil prices is to contain Russia (and Islamism). But cheap fossil fuels are not everyone’s cup of tea.  “Drill, baby, drill” is not popular on the left.  Even though liberals understand the power of cheap energy — one of Hillary’s supposedly hacked emails even alleged anti-fracking and environmental causes were a Russian plot to depress oil production — to advocate it is bad progressive politics. This probably led the Saudis to Hillary’s camp in 2016. “According to Bob McNally, president of consulting firm Rapidan Group, countries in the oil-producing Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, are hoping for Hillary Clinton to become president.”

If you’re looking for collusion with Russia, it is not to be found in the Trump Tower meeting.  Paul Mirengoff of Powerline details the Russian efforts through environmental groups — at best Stalin’s “useful idiots” — to tamp down US energy production.

 Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, tells James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal:

If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking. They have established an elaborate scheme that funnels money through shell companies in Bermuda. This scheme may violate federal law and certainly distorts the U.S. energy market. The American people deserve to know the truth and I am confident Secretary Mnuchin will investigate the allegations.

To help Sec. Mnuchin conduct such an investigation, Rep. Smith, along with Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber, sent him a letter. They noted:

According to the former Secretary General of NATO, “Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.” Other officials have indicated the same scheme is unfolding in the U.S.

Reps. Smith and Weber add that, according to public sources including a 2014 report from Republican staff on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “entities connected to the Russian government are using a shell company registered in Bermuda, Klein Ltd. (Klein), to funnel tens of millions of dollars to a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) private foundation,” which supports various environmental groups. Klein denies this allegation.

Regardless of the conduit for the money, the allegation of funneling appears to be substantial. Indeed, says Freeman, it appears to have been noted by none other than Hillary Clinton:

If a document posted last year on WikiLeaks is to be believed, Clinton campaign staff summarized in an email attachment Hillary Clinton’s remarks on the subject during a private speech:

Clinton Talked About “Phony Environmental Groups” Funded By The Russians To Stand Against Pipelines And Fracking. “We were up against Russia pushing oligarchs and others to buy media. We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort, oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you, and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia.” [Remarks at tinePublic, 6/18/14]

Freeman suggests that Mnuchin commence his investigation by speaking with Mrs. Clinton, who “obviously knows the terrain.” He also thinks John Podesta would be a useful source.

Podesta is invested in and acts for a “green energy company backed by the Russian government.”

B. The Media Has lost all Credibility, Serving as the semi-official newsroom for the Democratic Party

Just as Fernandez detailed the rise of Samizdat in Russia as the official press was uniformly distrusted, the growth on alternate media in the U.S. is disrupting the old news models .

Our trust hierarchies have collapsed. As with Soviet Russia, the “official” media sources are now distrusted as purveyors “fake news”.  To fill the gap a peer-to-peer grapevine, similar to the “friends and family”, a samizdat is emerging to pick up the slack. Sonya Mann at Inc uses a startup to illustrate the growing division of society into trust groups. “Pax Dickinson wants to fund the revolution. Not a blood-in-the-streets revolution, but one where hardcore right-wingers can economically secede from the parts of society they vehemently dislike. “We need parallel everything. I do not want to ever have to spend a single dollar at a non-movement business.

Nothing so illustrates why the media has  deservedly lost all credibility than it’s unending, overdone effort to fit any action on the part of the President or those around him into a narrative of Russia somehow colluding with him to defeat Hillary. This week’s take was the short meeting his son held with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower last summer.

The clearest summary of the facts surrounding the meeting with Trump’s son last summer is to be found in The American Spectator.  Scott McKay writes:

[Natalia] Veselnitskaya’s  [The Russian lawyer’s] presence in the United States alone ought to be the source of suspicion that not only is the Trump-Russian collusion narrative suspect in this case but that the real inquiry ought to be into whether the encounter was a small part of a larger attempt to trap the Trump campaign.

The Russian lawyer wasn’t even supposed to be here. She had been denied a visa for entry into the United States in late 2015, but given a rather extraordinary “parole” by the federal government to assist preparation for a client subject to asset forfeiture by the Justice Department. That was in January. The client was Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company suspected of having been paid some portion of $230 million stolen by Russian mobsters. When Sergey Magnitsky a Russian lawyer representing a company that had been the victim of the theft, reported it to authorities in Moscow he was promptly jailed and beaten to death. The American response to this atrocity was the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned several individuals connected to human rights abuses. The Russian government retaliated by preventing American adoptions of Russian children.

But in June, she was permitted to fly back to the U.S., have the meeting with Trump Junior  —  at Trump Tower, no less  —  and then end up in the front row for a congressional hearing involving testimony from a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, then turning up at a D.C. showing of a documentary film on the negative effects of the Magnitsky Act, and later appearing at a dinner involving Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and former Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) who is now a lobbyist for the Russians. The repeal of that legislation is a priority item for the Russians and a personal project of Veselnitskaya’s; it, rather than any Clinton dirt, was reportedly the primary subject brought forth at the meeting with Donald Trump Jr.

All of this without a visa! Not to mention Veselnitskaya didn’t file a FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) document before acting as a lobbyist for a foreign entity, as required by law. Neither, apparently, did Dellums. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a fascinating letterTuesday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking them to please find out what in the hell Veselnitskaya was doing in this country last June.

And further, it turns out Veselnitskaya was connected to Fusion GPS, the Democrat opposition research firm which employed a former British spy who used Russian contacts to produce the infamous and debunked Pee Pee Dossier smearing Trump. Veselnitskaya hired Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson to work on behalf of Prevezon, the company she was allowed into the country to represent, in its efforts to repeal the Magnitsky Act. Fusion then hired Christopher Steele, the British spy who drew on Russian sources to produce that dossier, and made him available for private briefings on the dossier with left-leaning media sources such as Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News, the New Yorkerand CNN in September.

Naturally, John McCain is involved  —  if that fact should produce his resignation, all of this will have been worth it.

By the way, there is Veselnitskaya’s social media account, which is decidedly more aligned with the Fusion GPS side of this equation than the Trump side.

And the meeting came about largely due to hyped-up promises made by a publicist for a Russian pop star who was connected to the Trump family from the Miss Universe pageant having been held in Moscow in 2013  —  promises which don’t appear to have been fulfilled. If this whole thing doesn’t look like an old-fashioned dangle to you, then you haven’t watched enough spy movies.

If timelines are interesting to you, there is this  —  reportedly, the Obama administration sought permission to electronically monitor Trump Tower in early June, and the FISA court would not grant it. But in October, that warrant was given. [snip]

And once that meeting  —  which on its surface was a waste of everyone’s time  —  was had, the Obama administration now had something to sell to the FISA court to get that warrant  —  from which they snagged Mike Flynn and gave the Democrat party and the media a mechanism to shroud the Trump administration in what can best be described as a rather dubious scandal. Remember how Hillary Clinton was accusing Trump of being a Putin’s puppet at the October 19 debate?

C. Donald J Trump’s son had every reason to believe that there was evidence of Hillary’s collusion with Russia

If this seems farfetched, consider this Veselnitskaya  was barred from entry to the US until Loretta Lynch granted her an excedptional “immigration parole” to appear in a judicial proceeding; a federal judge considered — but we can find no ruling — her motion  on January 6, 2016,to extend her stay by a week, and then  with no explanation of how this occurred, she was back in the US on June of that year  where she met with Donald J Trump Jr and attended as a front row guest a Congressional hearing on the Magnitsky act which imposed sanctions on Russia.

To add a dash of extra color to the story the media reported that with the lawyer was a “former Russian counter intelligence officer”, Rinat Akhmetshin.  He denies this.

“I am an American citizen since 2009 who pays taxes, earned his citizenship after living here since 1994, and swore an oath of loyalty to the United States of America,”

Kayleigh McEnany in The Hill characterized this as a “conspiracy theory desperately in earch of evidence”.

Bill Clinton had given a $500,000 speech in Russia.  Clinton had given her approval in handing one-fifth of U.S. uranium to Russia, after which her foundation received $2.35 million from the Russian-controlled company.  Suspiciously, Clinton did not disclose the transaction.

Likewise, Clinton campaign chief John Podesta sat on the board of a company that received $35 million from the Russian government alongside fellow board members Anatoly Chubais, a senior Russian official, and Ruben Vardanyan, an oligarch.

Given this context, why wouldn’t Trump Jr. be open to taking a meeting that offered evidence of incriminating Clinton dealings with Russia, particularly when most of the media refused to look into Clinton’s question-raising actions?[snip] We likewise know that several foreign countries known for their human rights violations  —  like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Brunei, and Algeria  —  donated millions to the Clinton foundation, and yet few publications construed their “support” in a negative way.

Taken together, the micro story of Donald Trump Jr. seeking opposition research  —  much like Clinton allies did in their dealings with the Ukrainian government  —  does nothing in the way of proving the macro allegation that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in hacking the DNC and releasing Clinton’s illegally obtained emails.

The American people see through this leftist-purveyed Russia conspiracy theory.  That’s why a full 56 percent want Congress and the media to focus on real issues, not Russia.  If the left continues to concoct Russian collusion evidence, they can fully expect for the 2018 congressional elections to look a lot like the special elections in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, and Georgia  —  Republican victory.  Voters dismiss the salacious in favor of solutions, and as of now, the left have nothing besides an evidence-free smear campaign.

In any event, isn’t it curious that those who claim to consider a meeting to listen to opposition research, bought hook line and sinker the ridiculous-on-its-face Dossier concted by GPS against Trump, a far more likely piece of Russian intel disinformation? Or why they ignore DNC officials meeting with Ukrainian government officials for dirt on then Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Politico detailed the many ways the Ukrainians worked to help Hillary beat Trump.  As you might guess, they indicated these efforts were “far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.” Covering with the word “alleged” a smear without any evidence but for the mutterings of Crowdstrike, a private outfit which was the only investigation the DNC allowed , a misstep by the Comey FBI which let this pass.

In any event, Legal commentators on both sides of the aisle have confirmed there was nothing illegal about the meeting.   I suppose we can’t expect much more of a press corps so stupid it mistakes the Star Spangled Banner for France’s La Marseillaise, and Bastille Day for the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. entry in WW I.

You’ll just have to work harder in the face of such ignorance and bias to find out what you need to know.

There’s Nothing About Comey

June 8, 2017

There’s Nothing About Comey, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, June 8, 2017

The FBI, as Comey lays out in a tedious opening that he knows his Democrat admirers will skip over to get to the juicy Trump stuff, was conducting a “counterintelligence investigation” not a criminal investigation. So there was no crime. Nor was the FBI investigating Trump. Nor is Trump being accused of obstructing an FBI investigation. 

All those carefully documented memos, the painstaking labor, amount to absolutely nothing.

But that’s because there was no crime to begin with. The rest is innuendo. The drip drop of a scandal without one ever materializing. Comey’s testimony will be another drop from that leaky faucet. Its only substance is theatrical. Detailed documentation creates the appearance of wrongdoing. Constant hearings maintain the illusion that something is being uncovered. Even when nothing is.

***************************

Never has one man broken more leftist hearts than James Brien Comey Jr.

The 6’8 former FBI director is once again the object of the left’s adoration. “A Beltway dreamboat, handsome as a movie star,” Salon gushes. “Our handsome young FBI director,” Gizmodo flutters its eyelashes. “How tall is James Comey? Tall. Like, really tall,” the Boston Globe coos. 

Now the Beltway dreamboat will be appearing live and in person in the Senate. It’s the biggest show in a big government town. Teenage girls hunting for Justin Bieber tickets have nothing on the media frenzy.

“The Comey Testimony: When, Where and How to Follow,” the New York Times breathlessly posts. As if it’s the World Series instead of awkward exchanges between a resentful lifer government man, Senate Democrats trying to prove that President Trump didn’t win the election and the moon landing was faked, and Senate Republicans trying to get on with the business of running the country.

And the left shouldn’t get too caught up in its new romance with James Comey. Not when his on and off again relationship with the media is Washington’s biggest soap opera.  Comey saved Hillary. Then he got the blame for costing her the election. He was a hero for supposedly investigating Trump. Then his Hillary testimony led to media outrage.  Trump fired him and he became a hero again.

The Washington Post went from “James Comey just stepped in it, big time” to “James Comey, is this man bothering you?”, “20 questions senators should ask James Comey” and “James Comey’s written testimony inspired this playlist” in one month.  Tomorrow it might be, “James Comey, we baked this cake for you.” Or it might be, “James Comey, we hate you and never want to see you again.”

Because James Comey has nothing except resentment at losing a cushy job he wasn’t very good at.

Comey’s career was doomed when he became a player in Democrat conspiracy theories. First, the left blamed him for Hillary’s defeat. Then it enlisted him as its champion to prove the election was hacked.

And the Beltway dreamboat can’t deliver. The curtain rises. The spotlight comes down. And Comey coughs out his carefully worded memos that describe in detail the furniture of the Oval Office.

No really.

“When the door by the grandfather clock closed… Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock… I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock.”

Slate gushes, “James Comey’s Senate Testimony Is a Pulpy, Literary Treat.” If you really like grandfather clocks. Why write about grandfather clocks? Because Comey doesn’t have anything else to write about.

There’s no “there”, there.

The FBI, as Comey lays out in a tedious opening that he knows his Democrat admirers will skip over to get to the juicy Trump stuff, was conducting a “counterintelligence investigation” not a criminal investigation. So there was no crime. Nor was the FBI investigating Trump. Nor is Trump being accused of obstructing an FBI investigation.

All those carefully documented memos, the painstaking labor, amount to absolutely nothing.

But that’s because there was no crime to begin with. The rest is innuendo. The drip drop of a scandal without one ever materializing. Comey’s testimony will be another drop from that leaky faucet. Its only substance is theatrical. Detailed documentation creates the appearance of wrongdoing. Constant hearings maintain the illusion that something is being uncovered. Even when nothing is.

The better question is why do the memos even exist?

The left would like to believe that Comey was gathering evidence on President Trump. But they don’t contain anything incriminating about him. Instead Comey was trying to preemptively protect himself. To understand that is to understand who Comey is and why he got into this mess.

Never has one man broken more leftist hearts than James Brien Comey Jr.

The 6’8 former FBI director is once again the object of the left’s adoration. “A Beltway dreamboat, handsome as a movie star,” Salon gushes. “Our handsome young FBI director,” Gizmodo flutters its eyelashes. “How tall is James Comey? Tall. Like, really tall,” the Boston Globe coos.

Now the Beltway dreamboat will be appearing live and in person in the Senate. It’s the biggest show in a big government town. Teenage girls hunting for Justin Bieber tickets have nothing on the media frenzy.

“The Comey Testimony: When, Where and How to Follow,” the New York Times breathlessly posts. As if it’s the World Series instead of awkward exchanges between a resentful lifer government man, Senate Democrats trying to prove that President Trump didn’t win the election and the moon landing was faked, and Senate Republicans trying to get on with the business of running the country.

And the left shouldn’t get too caught up in its new romance with James Comey. Not when his on and off again relationship with the media is Washington’s biggest soap opera.  Comey saved Hillary. Then he got the blame for costing her the election. He was a hero for supposedly investigating Trump. Then his Hillary testimony led to media outrage.  Trump fired him and he became a hero again.

The Washington Post went from “James Comey just stepped in it, big time” to “James Comey, is this man bothering you?”, “20 questions senators should ask James Comey” and “James Comey’s written testimony inspired this playlist” in one month.  Tomorrow it might be, “James Comey, we baked this cake for you.” Or it might be, “James Comey, we hate you and never want to see you again.”

Because James Comey has nothing except resentment at losing a cushy job he wasn’t very good at.

Comey’s career was doomed when he became a player in Democrat conspiracy theories. First, the left blamed him for Hillary’s defeat. Then it enlisted him as its champion to prove the election was hacked.

And the Beltway dreamboat can’t deliver. The curtain rises. The spotlight comes down. And Comey coughs out his carefully worded memos that describe in detail the furniture of the Oval Office.

No really.

“When the door by the grandfather clock closed… Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock… I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock.”

Slate gushes, “James Comey’s Senate Testimony Is a Pulpy, Literary Treat.” If you really like grandfather clocks. Why write about grandfather clocks? Because Comey doesn’t have anything else to write about.

There’s no “there”, there.

The FBI, as Comey lays out in a tedious opening that he knows his Democrat admirers will skip over to get to the juicy Trump stuff, was conducting a “counterintelligence investigation” not a criminal investigation. So there was no crime. Nor was the FBI investigating Trump. Nor is Trump being accused of obstructing an FBI investigation.

All those carefully documented memos, the painstaking labor, amount to absolutely nothing.

But that’s because there was no crime to begin with. The rest is innuendo. The drip drop of a scandal without one ever materializing. Comey’s testimony will be another drop from that leaky faucet. Its only substance is theatrical. Detailed documentation creates the appearance of wrongdoing. Constant hearings maintain the illusion that something is being uncovered. Even when nothing is.

The better question is why do the memos even exist?

The left would like to believe that Comey was gathering evidence on President Trump. But they don’t contain anything incriminating about him. Instead Comey was trying to preemptively protect himself. To understand that is to understand who Comey is and why he got into this mess.

Kushner Added to Russian Conspiracy Theory

May 30, 2017

Kushner Added to Russian Conspiracy Theory, Front Page MagazineMatthew Vadum, May 30, 2017

News consumers are now suffering through the practiced, hyperbolic, omnipresent outrage that follows revelations that presidential adviser Jared Kushner allegedly tried to create what the New York Times is calling “a secret channel between his father-in-law’s transition team and Moscow to discuss the war in Syria and other issues.”

According to the leaders of the ongoing witch hunt against the Trump administration, Kushner even had the temerity during the presidential transition process to exchange words with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

This supposedly important news about Kushner put the White House in panic mode, we are told by our betters in the media, forcing Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus to return prematurely from a presidential trip overseas to control the public relations damage.

The fateful conversation took place on Trump’s home turf, according to the Old Gray Lady:

The discussion took place at Trump Tower at a meeting that also included Michael T. Flynn, who served briefly as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser until being forced out when it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about a separate telephone conversation he had with Mr. Kislyak. It was unclear who first proposed the secret communications channel, but the idea was for Mr. Flynn to speak directly with a Russian military official. The channel was never set up.

And that’s all of it. There was a meeting. No deals came out of this Russian round table. No evidence exists of nefarious activities. No quid pro quo. Nothing. It is yet another nothing burger in a long series of nothing burgers.

A late-breaking Fox News story Monday night absolves Kushner of responsibility for the back channel proposal, indicating the idea came from the Russians.

The December meeting between Kushner and Kislyak “focused on Syria,” an unidentified source said.

During the meeting the Russians broached the idea of using a secure line between the Trump administration and Russia, not Kushner, a source familiar with the matter told Fox News. […] The idea of a permanent back channel was never discussed, according to the source. Instead, only a one-off for a call about Syria was raised in the conversation. In addition, the source told Fox News the December meeting focused on Russia’s contention that the Obama administration’s policy on Syria was deeply flawed.

NBC reports that Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter and fellow presidential adviser Ivanka, is reportedly being investigated by the FBI as part of the fanciful, politicized probe into supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The Fox account continues:

Kushner suggested the use of Russian diplomatic facilities as a way to shield pre-inauguration discussions with Kislyak from monitoring, according to The [Washington] Post.

Kislyak allegedly then relayed the suggestion to his superiors in Moscow. That was based on intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials, although neither the meeting nor the communications of the Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials told the Post.

The source has told Fox News that Kushner is eager to tell Congress about the meeting and any others of interest.

While the investigation moves forward and the manufactured mass hysteria continues to build in Congress and the media, Americans need to be reminded that merely communicating with an unfriendly foreign power in peacetime is not an inherently seditious or even suspicious behavior. It’s the content of the discussions that matters, not the mere fact that Americans and foreign officials broke bread.

Russian envoys and other pro-Russia special pleaders routinely meet with American officials, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill and administration officials regardless of which party controls the White House.

Never mind that the virtue-signaling Barack Obama routinely reached out to hostile foreign governments –swapping five Taliban generals for a single American traitor, to provide just one notorious example of the fruit of Obama’s plotting– when he was president. Obama even wore such illicit cloak-and-dagger communications with head-cutting barbarians as a badge of honor. Democrats and their Deep State allies didn’t give a farthing’s cuss at the time.

But that was when Democrats controlled the apparatus of the American state. Now that a Republican is president the rules have been changed.

Sunday on “Meet the Press,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel tried to inject some sanity into the debate, saying the current discussion is “astonishing” and “absolutely divorced from reality.”

“Let me set the scene for you,” she explained.

It’s 2008, we are having an election and candidate Obama, he’s not even president elect, sends William Miller over to Iran to establish a back channel, and let the Iranians know should he win the election they will have friendlier terms. Okay? So this is a private citizen going to foreign soil, obviously in order to evade U.S. intelligence monitoring and establishing a back channel with a sworn enemy of the United States who was actively disrupting our efforts in the military in the Middle East.

So, is that bad judgment? Is that a bad thing that happened? Back channels are completely normal, they happen all the time. Reagan did them. Obama did them. Everyone did. So, I am not quite sure why, supposedly having at least the president [who] is now elected setting up a back channel with the Russians, it is somehow out of bounds.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster had previously said much the same thing.

We have back channel communications with any number of countries, so, generally speaking, about back channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner. It doesn’t predispose you to any kind of content in that conversation.

Strassel and McMaster are right, of course.

And it was President Obama himself who openly encouraged keeping in touch with governments not aligned with the United States.

Recall the answer then-Sen. Obama gave to a question during a July 23, 2007, debate. He was asked if he would be “willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?”

Obama famously replied in the affirmative. “I would, and the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.”

He added that “Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire.”

And no one colluded with Russia more than Obama when he became president.

Obama worked “behind the scenes for months to forge a new working relationship with Russia, despite the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in repairing relations with Washington or halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine,” Bloomberg News reported in 2014.

Obama advanced Russia’s interests in so many ways.

In 2009 Obama killed President Bush’s missile defense program for the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. Then he renegotiated the New START nuclear arms agreement, which curbed the U.S. missile defense arsenal while letting the Russians add to theirs. In March 2012 Obama was caught on an open microphone telling then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to wait until after the upcoming election when he would be able to make even more concessions on missile defense. As Russia engaged in what one expert called the largest military buildup since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Obama flipped off Mitt Romney during a presidential debate. After Romney on the campaign trail referred to Russia as “without question, our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” Obama mocked him, saying “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” And Obama did virtually nothing but talk when Putin invaded Ukraine.

Obama was the most pro-Russian U.S. president of all time, which makes the Left’s conspiracy theory about Trump’s collusion with Russia seem especially far-fetched.

The claim that “Russia ‘hacked’ the American election –to the extent that it changed the outcome– never made any sense,” observes Michael Walsh, who previously described the outlandish theory as the driving force behind a “rolling coup attempt” by the Left.

This “fever dream” was “cooked up by Sore Loser Hillary and her malignant consigliere, John Podesta … [and] began its demonic life as a way to explain Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton’s astonishment and anger at losing an election all her media buddies told her was in the bag, and for which she felt sure the fix was in.”

Those of us who habitually smell rats knew right off that there was nothing to it. But from that night forward, the Clintons, the Leftist media and the Democrats have been pounding the notion that, somehow, the Russians affected the election and that Trump is corrupt, morally unfit, an imbecile and an embarrassment to America. Take a good look at their reaction, ladies and gentlemen, for not since Linda Blair rotated 360 and spewed puke on a priest have we seen such deracinated contempt.

Democrats have much to fear from the congressional investigation into the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory, he adds.

Before last November Democrats “never met a communist they didn’t like or a Russian they didn’t want to embrace.” They have “overplayed their hand” and in so doing have placed themselves in jeopardy.

“They’re so fully invested in this fairy tale that when it blows up in their faces, and another underlying reason for its concoction becomes clear, years of lamentation and wandering in the electoral wilderness should follow.”

This, of course, assumes Republicans will stand up for President Trump.

It is a risky assumption.

Has Anyone Ever Leaked so Much to so Little Effect?

May 29, 2017

Has Anyone Ever Leaked so Much to so Little Effect?, Power Line, John Hinderaker, May28, 2017

The number of anonymous leaks that have assailed President Trump since his inauguration is staggering. They have come from the intelligence agencies, the FBI, and all over the executive branch, including the White House. Gateway Pundit enumerates the leaks that liberal media have reported on breathlessly during just the last two and a half weeks: 17 of them, almost exactly one a day.

Most have something to do with Russia, but God only knows what. Each of the last three administrations has sought better relations with Russia. George W. Bush looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and thought he saw his soul. (He was mistaken.) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton tried to “reset” relations with Russia, blaming the disillusioned W. for the hostility between the U.S. and Russia that then prevailed. And Donald Trump and his advisers have likewise reached out to Russia in hopes of developing a more constructive relationship.

Why? Because we share several vitally important interests with the Russians, notwithstanding our historic enmity. First, as the world’s leading nuclear powers, we have an interest in avoiding nuclear proliferation and catastrophic war. Second, Islamic terrorism poses a problem for both us and the Russians; it is actually worse for them. In principle, we should be able to work together, to some degree, on this issue. Third, China is aggressive and expansionist in the Far East. Russia shares our interest in containing Chinese ambitions.

So it is entirely appropriate that our leaders should seek common ground with the Russians, where possible, in pursuit of our national interests. George W. Bush did it, Barack Obama did it, and Donald Trump is doing it. The main difference between Obama and Trump is that Obama was a pushover for Putin, and Trump isn’t.

All of this is so obvious that I have stopped paying attention to the Left’s coverage of alleged “scandals” relating to Russia. The Democrats desperately hope that someone on Trump’s campaign team may have conspired with the Russians to phish the DNC’s email server, as well as the RNC’s. (Not sure how that works, but liberal conspiracy theories don’t have to make sense.) But we know there is no such evidence. If there were, Democrats in the intelligence agencies, who, it now appears, were violating the law to a massive extent in search of dirt on Donald Trump, would have leaked it before the election.

Absent evidence of collusion, the Left’s hysteria over Russia is going to fizzle out. In the end, it will look silly. Meanwhile, everyone knows that the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, the Associated Press, etc., are using anonymous leaks in an effort to bring down the Trump administration on behalf of their party, the Democrats. I doubt that ten percent of the population could deny that proposition, and pass a lie detector test. So if nothing else, we have achieved clarity.

Trump’s triumphant foreign trip is a reminder, as Steve notes, that the antidote to the Left’s torrent of ineffective leaks is simple: govern. Here, the biggest concern, in my opinion, is Congress, not the president. Republican representatives and senators should get out of Washington and observe how little the people who voted for them are impressed by the Left’s assault on our president. Congress needs to pass the legislation the voters want–tax reform, Obamacare repeal, and the rest. And they need to do it soon.

The Real Winner in the Russia Investigations Is Iran

March 31, 2017

The Real Winner in the Russia Investigations Is Iran, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, March 30, 2017

The best interests of the United States would be to woo Russia away from these maniacs — and we very well could have.  We are, at least for now, still the world’s biggest GNP and control a great deal of the global economy.  Greedy despots like Putin know that as well as anybody.  They may not feel good about it, but to some degree they might play with us.  And if they wanted to enough, if we sweetened the pot enough, they’d even disengage from the mullahs, leaving them with no ally of value, no substantial defender.

Trump — or some people close to him — may have had this in mind when they started speaking with the Russians way back in the Paleolithic Era of the transition days.  They’d have been fools not to.  They wouldn’t have been doing their duty to the United States or to the civilized world for that matter.

Now Trump or his people can no longer even consider making such inroads. They would be accused immediately of treason or something close. The possibility of separating the Russians from Iran has been destroyed by these investigations — first by the House, now by the Senate, and always by the media.

*****************************

While the Evil Party and the Stupid Party continue to bludgeon each other into extinction over whether Putin was manipulating our election, the real winner from our politicians’ current endless Russia-fixation is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Sound like a stretch? Not at all. The reasons should be evident.

Russia is not rich. It currently ranks 12th  in overall GNP, about even with Australia, which has roughly one-seventh Russia’s population. It’s a dismal 47th in per capita GNP — unimpressive, to say the least, for the world’s largest country with immense natural resources spread over 11 time zones.

And things have not been looking up. Their population has been declining since 1991.  The price of oil — by far their largest export -0 is down.  Making matters worse, Donald Trump, allegedly Putin’s best friend, has opened the U.S. energy spigots, threatening to drive that price even lower. (Putin would have done a lot better with Hillary’s anti-fracking position, assuming that wasn’t a phony.)

Yes, they have a powerful nuclear arsenal with potent missiles to deliver them, but Russia needs friends, badly — especially to shore up its forces in the seemingly never-ending civil war in Syria. Enter Iran.  From Reuters Monday:

Iran’s president met Russia’s prime minister on Monday in a bid to develop a warming relationship that has been greatly strengthened by both sides’ involvement on the same side of the war in Syria.

Beginning a visit to Moscow, President Hassan Rouhani told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: “I hope that a new turning-point in the development of our relations will be reached.”

Iranian arms purchases and Russian investment in the Iranian energy sector are likely talking points for Rouhani, less than two months before Iran’s May 19 presidential election.

Iranian media say he will discuss several economic agreements – potentially valuable prizes for the moderate leader [sic], who is keen to show his people that Iran is benefiting from its 2015 deal with world powers to rein back its nuclear programme in returning for an easing of international sanctions.

Aside from Reuters’ credulous nonsense that Rouhani is in any way moderate, where did all the mullahs’ new deal-making money come from in the first place?  Well, we know.  Iran, for reasons still unfathomable, received huge amounts — sometimes in cold, hard cash — from the Obama administration after the Iran deal and later apparently to preserve it. (The contents of that deal, unknown to all but a few, are what really deserve a congressional investigation, not the present kangaroo court.) What did the mullahs do with the cash? Help their impoverished citizens or buy $10 billion worth of modern weapons from the Russians? Well, we know that too. Obama’s deal helped create a match made in Hell.

And the worse part of this Hellish match is Iran, not Russia (although she’s no picnic).  Vladimir Putin is obviously a dictatorial plutocrat with massive ambitions, but he’s more or less sane.  The mullahs of Iran are also dictatorial plutocrats, but they’re not (sane).  Some of them believe absolutely delusional theories dreamed up in the seventh century and have set out to prove them true — in Iran, in Syria, in Yemen, in North Korea, in South America,  and on and on.  They are as crazy as ISIS and far more dangerous because they already have a large country from which to enact their imperialist/millennialist fantasies.

The best interests of the United States would be to woo Russia away from these maniacs — and we very well could have.  We are, at least for now, still the world’s biggest GNP and control a great deal of the global economy.  Greedy despots like Putin know that as well as anybody.  They may not feel good about it, but to some degree they might play with us.  And if they wanted to enough, if we sweetened the pot enough, they’d even disengage from the mullahs, leaving them with no ally of value, no substantial defender.

Trump — or some people close to him — may have had this in mind when they started speaking with the Russians way back in the Paleolithic Era of the transition days.  They’d have been fools not to.  They wouldn’t have been doing their duty to the United States or to the civilized world for that matter.

Now Trump or his people can no longer even consider making such inroads. They would be accused immediately of treason or something close. The possibility of separating the Russians from Iran has been destroyed by these investigations — first by the House, now by the Senate, and always by the media. They go on and on even though there has been no genuine evidence of collusion between the Trump team and the Russians. By now it’s like a bad mini-series that somehow wound its way onto your Netflix queue and you can’t get rid of it. Eventually, I suppose, someone, somewhere will be caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar.  It will be highly ambiguous and most likely for minor personal gain, but nevertheless he or she will will be endlessly excoriated in the press, ever anxious to prove themselves right.  But it will all be a meaningless waste of time in the end.

Meanwhile, Iran has won big.

Still, there has been one valuable piece of information to emerge from this pointless muddle.  Which leads me to a last question.  Who, in the final analysis, spied more on our government — Putin or Obama?  I bloviate. You decide.

A Times Source Outs Herself

March 29, 2017

A Times Source Outs Herself, Power Line, Scott Johnson, Power Line, March 29, 2017

(Weaponizing intelligence information for political purposes:

Meanwhile, the Democrat media continue to try to shift public focus to alleged Russian ties of Trump and his colleagues while ignoring the very substantial ties of the Clintons, Podestas, et al. — DM)

Evelyn Farkas is the former Obama administration deputy secretary of defense — and now an MSNBC analyst. Appearing on air among her friends at MSNBC yesterday, she all but outed herself as a key source for the seminal New York Times story on the Obama administration’s efforts to subvert the incoming Trump administration.

The March 1 Times story ran under the headline “Obama administration rushed to preserve intelligence of Russian election hacking” under the byline of Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt. The Times reporters noted that they protected the identity of their sources because, you know, their cooperation with the Times was criminal or because their actions were otherwise legally problematic. The Times reporters put it this way in their March 1 story:

More than a half-dozen current and former officials described various aspects of the effort to preserve and distribute the intelligence, and some said they were speaking to draw attention to the material and ensure proper investigation by Congress. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing classified information, nearly all of which remains secret.

In her comments on MSNBC Farkas uses one term of art that requires translation. The term of art is “the Hill,” i.e., Capitol Hill. By “the Hill” Farkas means congressional Democrats and their staffers. As MSNBC flashed an image of the Times story on the screen, Mika Brzezinski states that Farkas “actually knew about this attempt to get and preserve information…and were doing some work yourself.” That’s nice “work” if you can get it.

Thus spake Farkas:

Well, I was urging my former colleagues, and, and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can – get as much intelligence as you can – before President Obama leaves the administration. Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy, um, that the Trump folks – if they found out HOW we knew what we knew about their, the Trump staff, dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods — meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia. So then I had talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew that they were also trying to help get information to the Hill…That’s why you have the leaking.

The video of Farkas’s response is below. The entire segment including Senator Debbie Stabenow is posted here.

(The video is at the link. A longer video, with similar but longer content is at the Fox News article linked below.– DM)

I have lifted the video and slightly modified the transcript of Farkas’s response from the post here by Sundance at the The Conservative Tree House site. Sundance has more in the way of commentary in an update that may or may not be on point or withstand scrutiny. I agree with Sundance on this point: “Looks like Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee ha[ve] a new person to bring in for testimony.” Yes, indeed, let us hear more from Ms. Farkas regarding “the Hill people” and her underlying project under oath.

UPDATE: FOX News covers the story here. (Here is the video embedded in the Fox News post. — DM)

 

Trump’s Greatest Deal

March 24, 2017

Trump’s Greatest Deal, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, March 24, 2017

(Before the Flynn debacle, Trump’s efforts to get Russia to divorce itself from Iran appeared to be proceeding well. Please see, Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked. Part b of the article is titled “Flynn telephone conversations.” Part c is titled “General Flynn, Russia and Iran.” Flynn’s departure from the Trump administration and America’s current Russophobia do not augur well for future success in pushing for the divorce. — DM)

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

If Trump can convince Russia to ditch Iran, then he has a chance of dismantling the regime in Tehran and so defusing the Iranian nuclear program and destroying Hezbollah without having to fight a major war.

The payoff to Russia for agreeing to such a deal would be significant. But if Trump were to adopt this policy, the US has a lot of bargaining chips that it can use to convince Putin to walk away from the ayatollahs long enough for the US to defuse the threat they pose to its interests.

The problem with the Russia strategy is that since Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, the Democrats, their allied media outlets and powerful forces in the US intelligence community have been beset by a Russia hysteria unseen since the Red scares in the 1920s and 1950s.

The fact that Obama bent over backward to cater to Putin’s interests for eight years has been pushed down the memory hole.

***************************************

What can be done about Iran? In Israel, a dispute is reportedly raging between the IDF and the Mossad about the greatest threat facing Israel. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot thinks that Hezbollah is the greatest threat facing Israel. Mossad Director Yossi Cohen thinks Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest danger facing the Jewish state.

While the media highlight the two men’s disagreement, the underlying truth about their concerns has been ignored.

Hezbollah and Iran’s nuclear program are two aspects of the same threat: the regime in Tehran.

Hezbollah is a wholly owned subsidiary of the regime. If the regime disappeared, Hezbollah would fall apart. As for the nuclear installations, in the hands of less fanatical leaders, they would represent a far less acute danger to global security.

So if you undermine the Iranian regime, you defeat Hezbollah and defuse the nuclear threat.

If you fail to deal with the regime in Tehran, both threats will continue to grow no matter what you do, until they become all but insurmountable.

So what can be done about Tehran? With each passing day we discover new ways Iran endangers Israel and the rest of the region.

This week we learned Iran has built underground weapons factories in Lebanon. The facilities are reportedly capable of building missiles, drones, small arms and ammunition. Their underground location protects them from aerial bombardment.

Then there is Hezbollah’s relationship to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

For more than a decade, the Americans have been selling themselves the implausible claim that the LAF is a responsible fighting force capable and willing to rein in Hezbollah. Never an easy claim – the LAF provided targeting information to Hezbollah missile crews attacking Israel in 2006 – after Hezbollah domesticated the Lebanese government in 2008, the claim became downright silly. And yet, over the past decade, the US has provided the LAF with weapons worth in excess of $1 billion. In 2016 alone the US gave the LAF jets, helicopters, armored personnel carriers and missiles worth more than $220 million.

In recent months, showing that Iran no longer feels the need to hide its control over Lebanon, the LAF has openly stated that it is working hand in glove with Hezbollah.

Last November, Hezbollah showcased US M113 armored personnel carriers with roof-mounted Russian anti-aircraft guns, at a military parade in Syria. The next month the Americans gave the LAF a Hellfire missile-equipped Cessna aircraft with day and night targeting systems.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun is a Hezbollah ally. So is Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf and LAF commander Gen. Joseph Aoun.

Last month President Aoun told Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, that Hezbollah serves “a complementary role to the Lebanese army.”

And yet the Americans insist that it continues to make sense – and to be lawful – to arm the LAF.

You can hardly blame them. Denial is an attractive option, given the alternatives.

For the past eight years, the Obama administration did everything in its power to empower Iran. To make Iran happy, Obama did nothing as hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed and millions more were forced to flee their homes by Iran and its puppet Bashar Assad.

Obama allowed Iran to take over the Iraqi government and the Iraqi military. He sat back as Iran’s Houthi proxy overthrew the pro-US regime in Yemen.

And of course, the crowning achievement of Obama’s foreign policy was his nuclear deal with the mullahs. Obama’s deal gives Iran an open path to a nuclear arsenal in a bit more than a decade and enriches the regime beyond Ayatollah Khamenei’s wildest dreams.

Obama empowered Iran at the expense of the US’s Sunni allies and Israel, and indeed, at the expense of the US’s own superpower status in the region, to enable the former president to withdraw the US from the Middle East.

Power of course, doesn’t suffer a vacuum, and the one that Obama created was quickly filled.

For decades, Russia has been Iran’s major arms supplier. It has assisted Iran with its nuclear program and with its ballistic missile program. Russia serves as Iran’s loyal protector at the UN Security Council.

But for all the help it provided Tehran through the years, Moscow never presented itself as Iran’s military defender.

That all changed in September 2015. Two months after Obama cut his nuclear deal with the ayatollahs, Russia deployed its forces to Syria on behalf of Iran and its Syrian and Lebanese proxies.

In so doing, Russia became the leading member and the protector of the Iranian axis.

Russia’s deployment of forces had an immediate impact not only on the war in Syria, but on the regional power balance as a whole. With Russia serving as the air force for Iran and its Syrian and Hezbollah proxies, the Assad regime’s chances of survival increased dramatically. So did Iran’s prospects for regional hegemony.

For Obama, this situation was not without its advantages.

In his final year in office, Obama’s greatest concern was ensuring that his nuclear deal with Iran would outlive his presidency. Russia’s deployment in Syria as the protector of Iran and its proxies was a means of achieving this end.

Russia’s alliance with Iran made attacking Iran’s nuclear program or its Hezbollah proxy a much more dangerous prospect than it had been before.

After all, in 2006, Russia supported Iran and Hezbollah in their war against Israel. But Russia’s support for Iran and its Lebanese legion didn’t diminish Israel’s operational freedom. Israel was able to wage war without any fear that its operations would place it in a direct confrontation with the Russian military.

This changed in September 2015.

The first person to grasp the strategic implications of the Russian move was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu recognized that with Russian forces on the ground in Syria, the only way for Israel to take even remedial measures to protect itself from Iran and its proxies was to drive a wedge between President Vladimir Putin and the ayatollahs wide enough to enable Israel to continue its raids against weapons convoys to Hezbollah and other targets without risking a confrontation with Russia. This is the reason that Netanyahu boarded a flight to Moscow to speak to Putin almost immediately after the Russian leader deployed his forces to Syria.

Israel’s ability to continue to strike targets in Syria, whether along the border on the Golan Heights or deep within Syrian territory, is a function of Netanyahu’s success in convincing Putin to limit his commitment to his Iranian allies.

Since President Donald Trump entered the White House, Iran has been his most urgent foreign policy challenge. Unlike Obama, Trump recognizes that Iran’s nuclear program and its threats to US economic and strategic interests in the Persian Gulf and the Levant cannot be wished away.

And so he has decided to deal with Iran.

The question is, what is he supposed to do? Trump has three basic options.

He can cut a deal with Russia. He can act against Iran without cutting a deal with Russia. And he can do nothing, or anemically maintain Obama’s pro-Iran policies.

The first option has the greatest potential strategic payoff. If Trump can convince Russia to ditch Iran, then he has a chance of dismantling the regime in Tehran and so defusing the Iranian nuclear program and destroying Hezbollah without having to fight a major war.

The payoff to Russia for agreeing to such a deal would be significant. But if Trump were to adopt this policy, the US has a lot of bargaining chips that it can use to convince Putin to walk away from the ayatollahs long enough for the US to defuse the threat they pose to its interests.

The problem with the Russia strategy is that since Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, the Democrats, their allied media outlets and powerful forces in the US intelligence community have been beset by a Russia hysteria unseen since the Red scares in the 1920s and 1950s.

The fact that Obama bent over backward to cater to Putin’s interests for eight years has been pushed down the memory hole.

Also ignored is the fact that during her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton approved deals with the Russians that were arguably antithetical to US interests while the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars in contributions from Russian businessmen and companies closely allied with Putin.

Since November 8, the Democrats and their clapping seals in the media and allies in the US intelligence community have banged the war drums against Russia, accusing Trump and his advisers of serving as Russian patsies at best, and Russian agents at worst.

In this climate, it would be politically costly for Trump to implement a Russian-based strategy for dismantling the Iranian threat.

This brings us to the second option, which is to confront Iran and Russia. Under this option, US action against Iran could easily cause hostilities to break out between the US and Russia. It goes without saying that the political fallout from making a deal with Russia would be nothing compared to the political consequences if Trump were to take the US down a path that led to war with Russia.

Obviously, the economic and human costs of such a confrontation would be prohibitive regardless of the political consequences.

This leaves us with the final option of doing nothing, or anemically continuing to implement Obama’s policies, as the Americans are doing today.

Although tempting, the hard truth is that this is the most dangerous policy of all.

You need only look to North Korea to understand why this is so.

Seemingly on a daily basis, Pyongyang threatens to nuke America. And the US has no good options for dealing with the threat.

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged during his recent trip to Asia, decades of US diplomacy regarding North Korea’s nuclear program did nothing to diminish or delay the threat.

North Korea has been able to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles while threatening the US with destruction because North Korea enjoys the protection of China. If not for the Chinese, the US would long ago have dealt a death blow to the regime.

Israel has moved Russia as far away from Iran as it can on its own. It is enough to stop convoys of North Korean weapons from crossing into Lebanon.

But it isn’t enough to cause serious harm to Tehran or its clients.

The only government that can do that is the American government.

Trump built his career by mastering the art of deal making. And he recognized that Obama’s deal with Iran is not the masterpiece Obama and his allies claim but a catastrophe.

The Iran deal Trump needs to make with the Russians is clear. The only question is whether he is willing to pay the political price it requires.