Archive for the ‘Hillary Clinton and Russia’ category

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.

Obama, Russia, The Election, and A Visitor From Mars

December 11, 2016

Obama, Russia, The Election, and A Visitor From Mars, PJ Media, Claudia Rosett, December 10, 2016

(But Obama says his Administration is the most transparent in history.

You can see right through him. — DM)

So, as chance would have it we are currently hosting a newly arrived visitor from Mars, who has been avidly following the headlines. Having studied our world for some time, he is intrigued by the news, as reported first by the Washington Post on Friday: “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House.”

This is the story in which U.S. “officials” told the Post it is “now ‘quite clear’ that electing Trump was Russia’s goal.” Earlier in the week, according to White House spokesman Eric Schultz, President Obama “instructed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of the pattern of malicious cyber activity related to our presidential election cycle.” Obama wants this report completed and submitted to him before the end of his term, Jan. 20 — now less than six weeks ahead.

Since this story broke, we have been trying to field questions from our inquisitive Man from Mars, who seems oddly disinclined to take things at face value. (We think our visitor is a he, so I’ll proceed on that assumption, though we have not inquired about gender identification).

I’m sharing below some excerpts from our chat. For convenience, I’ve abbreviated “Man from Mars” as MFM. Our replies, I am attributing simply to “Us.”

MFM: This is shocking news about Russia, but surely meddling in America’s elections is not new. What were the findings of the deep-dive report produced at speed by the Obama administration, its concerns leaked in advance to the press, over the effects, starting early in his first term, of the IRS targeting conservative groups?

Us: There was no such report. There were congressional hearings in which a prominent witness from the IRS took the Fifth. There were tussles over destroyed hard drives, emails not turned over, or some turned over long after the deadlines, and this year brought news that the targeting may still be going on — see Kim Strassel’s May 19 column in the Wall Street Journal on the “The IRS’s Ugly Business as Usual.”

MFM: But wasn’t Obama deeply worried that this targeting might silence a lot of conservatives, skew public debate and warp America’s political process?

Us: Nah. In 2014, Obama in a TV interview dismissed it all as nothing worse than “bone-headed decisions,” saying there was “not even a smidgen of corruption.” So much for that.

MFM: OK. But what about the deep-dive report Obama demanded, urgently, prior to the 2012 presidential election, to shed light on his own administration’s lies about the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi. You remember, all that “messaging” about an ad hoc mob, and blaming the “video.” That sure looked like Obama was trying to mislead the American public in order to bolster his campaign line that “the tide of war is receding,” plus his administration’s claims that leading-from-behind in Libya was a success. I mean, there were four Americans murdered, including — as I discern from your Earth records — the first American ambassador killed on the job in 33 years. Obama, who had the authority to send help directly to Benghazi, never did. What does Obama’s urgently ordered, in-depth and surely impartial report tell you about what Obama himself was doing that night?

Us: Get real. Obama was hardly likely to order an all-out urgent investigation of himself and his team, especially during the final weeks of his reelection campaign. He was already booked to go to Vegas, he needed his sleep. Anyway, by the morning after the Benghazi attack, the damage was already done. So — as somebody-or-other told Congress — “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

MFM: Right-o. I can see that a president needs his sleep. But I’m still puzzled over these latest news stories that imply President Obama thinks Russia is an enemy trying to subvert the United States. Yes, but…wasn’t Obama a buddy of Vladimir Putin?

Us: Well, yes. But only for the first six or seven of Obama’s eight years in office. There was Obama’s chummy 2009 “Reset” with Russia — you remember that mislabeled red button Hillary Clinton presented to Russia’s foreign minister. Obama threw in, as a bit more swag for Putin, the gift of shelving missile defense plans for Eastern Europe. And when NATO missile-defense plans became a sore point with the Kremlin during Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, there was that open-microphone moment in which Obama was caught promising Putin’s sidekick, Dmitry Medvedev, “After my election I will have more flexibility.” To which Medvedev replied, companionably, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.” Pretty friendly, actually. But, hey, dude, that was like four years ago.

MFM: Fair enough. But wasn’t there a bit more to it?

Us: OK, yeah, but let’s not get too bogged down in the past. There was Obama’s 2013 red line in Syria over chemical weapons, which he erased by way of basically turning over the Middle East to Putin — and, of course, to Iran. And of course there was the case that same year of Edward Snowden, the guy who fled the U.S. with a trove of National Security Agency secrets. After a quick sojourn in Hong Kong, Snowden washed up as Putin’s guest in Russia, where Putin has not gotten around to sending him back. Obama apparently didn’t like that, but he didn’t let a transient thing like wholesale plundering of the NSA, or Moscow’s asylum for the plunderer, interfere with buddying up to Moscow to clinch the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

MFM: Well, at least when Putin snatched Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Obama made him give it back.

Us: Umm, actually, no, he didn’t. Russia now owns Crimea, has roughed up more of Ukraine and seems to be eyeing the Baltics. Though Obama did impose sanctions on Russia, which Putin didn’t like.

MFM: And those sanctions, of course, stopped Russian aggression and put Putin back in his box?

Us: Would you like more coffee?

MFM: Thanks. You Earth people have such nice customs.

Us: Coffee’s even better with sugar, not salt. Try it.

MFM: Wow. Who knew? Which brings me to just a few more questions. In the stories this week about the urgent report Obama has ordered — following up on conclusions reached secretly with “high confidence” by U.S. “intelligence agencies” that Russia acted covertly to promote Donald Trump over Hillary — why are all the official sources anonymous? I see a couple of officials quoted by name, commenting on the need for such a report, including Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, who had breakfast recently with some reporters. But the whole thing seems based on specifics which the press has attributed only to anonymous “officials briefed on the matter,” or officials “who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

Us: Look, this is delicate stuff. The intel guys have to worry about exposing sources, and there are clearly big secrets involved. Check out the cloak-and-dagger stuff in the penultimate paragraph of the Washington Post story, telling how administration officials briefed select members of Congress, in ” a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information.” That ought to tell you just how extremely secret and classified this stuff is.

MFM: Call me an idiot, but how secret is an assessment that has details of its contents leaked to one of America’s major newspapers, including the sweeping conclusion that, as one nameless “senior U.S. official” told the Post, “Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected.” Isn’t Obama, with his concerns for the integrity of state secrets, trying frantically to stop these anonymous officials from leaking these secrets to the press? Haven’t people lower down the food chain gone to prison for leaking classified information?

Us: Yes, but as you say, those jailbirds were lower down the food chain. Maybe Obama doesn’t know who exactly is leaking this information to the press. As you say, they’re anonymous.

MFM: Give me a break. If these anonymous officials have it right about Russia’s cyber abilities, I’d bet the Russians already know who these same anonymous officials really are. Surely Obama could find out. If he can’t find out direct, maybe he could order U.S. intelligence to steal the information from the Russians? Can’t he order up another urgent report, to get to the bottom of who’s leaking some of the state secrets that inspired him to order up the original urgent report?

Us: Enough already. You may know plenty about Mars, but you’ve got a lot to learn about White House politics under Obama.

MFM: Speaking of Mars, we Martians love conspiracy theories. There’s lots here that we don’t know, but all this leaking seems tilted toward delegitimizing the victory of Donald Trump, even before he takes office. I mean, how does someone defend himself, when accusations are all over the headlines, conveyed by anonymous officials, while the actual basis for these stories is officially secret? Is that what Obama meant when he promised to run the most “transparent” administration ever?

Us: Give it a rest. U.S. elections are sacred to our democracy, and if anyone — and we mean anyone — tries to fiddle them, we have to get to the bottom of it.

MFM: Calm down. I’m just curious. If the Russians did try to intervene, by hacking and flooding the public with emails humiliating to Hillary and the Democrats, but not to Trump, then did Trump have any control over this? Wasn’t it the responsibility of Obama to protect the country, and the election, from any such intrusions?

Us: You’ve been reading too much fake news. Obama’s a busy guy. He’s been trying for years to control the level of the oceans. He can’t cover everything.

MFM: And if the Russians, emboldened by Obama’s reset and flexibility and vanished red lines, did actually try to tip the 2016 American election, did they succeed? Did it make a difference?

Us: Look, please stop with the questions. We’re just the little guys here. Normal Americans. We don’t have time to read reams of emails dumped out by anybody. We come home tired from our day jobs. Or we’ve been reading about the wealth and fashions of the liberal elite, and the fat pensions of the federal bureaucracy, while we work the part-time night shifts, and look for any extra income we can scrounge up.

I’ll tell you what we read during the recent presidential campaign. We read the letter that arrived a week before the election, from our health insurance company, informing us of the double-digit rate hike slated for our premiums, yet again. We read about the terrorist attacks — in Paris, Nice, San Bernardino, Orlando — inspired or linked to ISIS, the “JV team” that was expanding its murderous reach while Obama was still boasting about killing Osama bin Laden. We listened to Obama exhorting people to vote for Hillary, in order to cement and extend his legacy. We listened to Hillary denouncing tens of millions of Americans as “deplorables.” Did Russia make her do that?

MFM: Don’t ask me. I’m from Mars.

Us: We get it. But watch out. If you keep asking questions like these, someone’s going to report you as part of a Russian plot. Speaking of… enough with the coffee. It’s gonna take more than caffeine to get through these next six weeks. Ever tried vodka?

How Clinton’s National-Security Cluelessness Emboldened Putin

November 4, 2016

How Clinton’s National-Security Cluelessness Emboldened Putin, Center for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, November 4, 2016

whatmeworry

Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung authored an important column for the Washington Post yesterday in which they tried to explain Hillary Clinton’s supposed feud with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  According to Warrick and DeYoung, when Clinton left the State Department in 2013, she advised President Obama to snub Putin, avoid working with him and turn down any invitations by Putin for a presidential summit.

Clinton also counseled Obama that “strength and resolve were the only language Putin would understand.”

Clinton’s advice reflected her frustration that the so-called U.S.–Russia reset she attempted in 2009 went nowhere. Instead, U.S.–Russian relations deteriorated drastically while Clinton was Secretary of State and Russia engaged in destabilizing and belligerent behavior in Ukraine and Syria.

Clinton’s recommendation that President Obama snub Putin goes to the heart of her foreign-policy incompetence. While the United States obviously does not condone Russia’s foreign adventurism and support for the genocidal Assad regime, Russia is nevertheless a major power with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, thus Washington must maintain an ongoing dialogue with Moscow, especially at the head of state level. Despite the bashing Donald Trump has endured from the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media for supposedly admiring Putin, Trump seems to understand this since he has called for America to find a way to work cooperatively with Russia.

Trump gave his best response to Clinton’s criticism of him over Russia and Putin at the last presidential debate on October 9 when he said that “Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way. From everything I see he has no respect for this person [Clinton].”

Clinton’s call to snub Putin ignores the reality that our country frequently must deal with many regimes accused of violating international law and having abysmal human rights records.

For example, China’s active oppression of Tibet and Xinjiang is far worse than anything Putin has done in Ukraine. China also has significantly increased international tensions by its naval maneuvers to seize control of the entire South China Sea. If Clinton believes the United States must shun Russia because of its human rights record and aggressive behavior, why did she not also call for China to be shunned?

And of course there is Cuba and Iran. The Obama administration decided to ignore both countries’ abysmal human rights records because it wanted to strike historic agreements – normalization of relations with Cuba and the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran – with both states.    The world sees these agreements for what they really are: American hypocrisy and appeasement.

Making this worse was Clinton’s advice that “strength and resolve were the only language Putin would understand.” I agree, but it is laughable that such a weak Secretary of State representing one of the weakest presidents in history would say this. Putin never sensed resolve or strength from the Obama administration or Clinton.

Instead of strength and resolve, the Obama administration’s Russia policy has consisted of fecklessness and confusion. President Obama and Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry constantly issued ultimatums and endorsed sanctions in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and support for the Assad regime. These actions undermined America’s credibility since Russia ignored them and Washington failed to back them up.

At the same time the Obama administration was condemning Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, it was simultaneously trying to engage it as a partner to negotiate the nuclear deal with Iran and has tried to work with Russia on the Syrian crisis.  This obviously undermined the Obama administration’s efforts to isolate Russia over Ukraine. But even worse, Russia exploited both situations to expand its influence with these countries and throughout the Middle East at America’s expense.

There was a good example of the Obama administration’s toothless Russia policy in September 2016 when Secretary of State Kerry told Moscow after it ignored a two-week old U.S.–Russia Syria cease-fire plan by stepping up airstrikes on the Syrian city of Aleppo that the United States would cease Syria talks with Russia if it continued to violate the cease-fire.  In a joint statement, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham perfectly captured the absurdity of this threat.

Finally, a real power move in American diplomacy. Secretary of State John “Not Delusional” Kerry has made the one threat the Russians feared most – the suspension of U.S.-Russia bilateral talks about Syria. No more lakeside tête-à-têtes at five-star hotels in Geneva. No more joint press conferences in Moscow. We can only imagine that having heard the news, Vladimir Putin has called off his bear hunt and is rushing back to the Kremlin to call off Russian airstrikes on hospitals, schools, and humanitarian aid convoys around Aleppo. After all, butchering the Syrian people to save the Assad regime is an important Russian goal. But not if it comes at the unthinkable price of dialogue with Secretary Kerry.

Warrick and DeYoung cite officials who claim Putin dislikes Clinton because of policy differences and her condemnation of Russian elections.  Many experts have claimed this may be why Russia could be behind the WikiLeaks disclosures of Clinton campaign and DNC emails.  Although I don’t doubt Putin dislikes Clinton, I believe his aggressive policies and possible interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are in response to his perception of American weakness under the Obama administration and have little to do with any personal animus toward Hillary Clinton.

The overall consequences of the failed Obama/Clinton/Kerry failed approach to Russia are much more alarming. In recent years there have been significant improvements in Russia’s nuclear ballistic missile arsenals, drastically improved air and missile defenses, and hardened shelters against nuclear attacks, apparently in preparation to survive a nuclear war. Russia also has stepped up economic, cyber, information and intelligence warfare against the United States to undermine American security and create a new global order.

The Center for Security Policy addresses these issues in a new book, Putin’s Reset: The Bear is Back and How America Must Respond.  This series of essays I edited by nine U.S. national security experts — Dr. Stephen Blank, Kevin D. Freeman, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Dr. Daniel Gouré, Cliff Kincaid, Roger W. Robinson, Jr, David Satter, Dr. Mark B. Schneider, and Dr. J. Michael Waller — document how the threat from Russia is growing as it gears up, at best, for a do-over of the Cold War. And at worst, how Russia is creating what the Soviets used to call “a correlation of forces” that will enable the Kremlin to engage decisively in actual hostilities against the United States.

The bottom line in this book is that the cluelessness of President Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry undermined American credibility to such an extent that it emboldened Putin’s belligerent and destabilizing behavior.

Strength and resolve are the only language Putin understands.  We haven’t seen that from the Obama administration. I am certain we would not see in in a Clinton presidency.

I am hopeful that Donald Trump, if he wins the 2016 presidential election, will launch a new U.S. approach to Russia that deals with Russia from a position of strength and restores a relationship of trust and respect between Moscow and Washington.

Clinton Cash Revisited, National Security Edition

November 4, 2016

Clinton Cash Revisited, National Security Edition, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, November 4, 2016

shhh

And people worry that Donald Trump had a few nice things to say about Vladimir Putin.  The Clintons, to feather their own nest, have actually empowered him. Extraordinary. Despicable. Disqualifying.

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Back in May, I had the opportunity to see a screening of Clinton Cash, the documentary based on Peter Schweizer’s  book of the same title. I wrote about it in this space here.  Now that the commentariat is finally beginning to catch up with reality — at last count, there were five, count ’em five, FBI investigations into the machinations of the money factory known as the Clinton Foundation — I thought it might be worth briefly revisiting the subject.

In May, I asked my readers: “Are you worried about ‘money in politics’?” If so, I suggested that they “Stop the car, get an extended-stay room, and take a long, hard look at the Clintons’ operation for the last sixteen years.”

 The Associated Press estimated that their net worth when they left the White House in 2000 was zero (really, minus $500K). Now they are worth about $200 million.

How did they do it? By “reading The Wall Street Journal” (classical reference)?

Not quite. The Clintons have perfected pay-to-play political influence peddling on a breathtaking scale. Reading Clinton Cash [which I recommend] is a nauseating experience.

At the center of the book is not just a tale of private greed and venality. That is just business as usual in Washington (and elsewhere). No, what is downright scary is way the Clintons have been willing to trade away legitimate environmental concerns and even our national security for the sake of filthy lucre.

It’s this last item that’s most worrisome.  That the Clintons are a greedy, money-hoovering machine has been clear since they left the White House with cartloads of swag in tow (the exact amount is disputable: that they did so is not). There are some who say her mishandling of classified material is no big deal — it’s  just a technicality, who really cares? Can’t we put this behind us? Can’t we move on? At this point what difference does it make?

Well, there used to be such people.  If they still exist, they are scarce on the ground now.  Thanks to Wikileaks and some recent FBI revelations, it is now clear that Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material was no casual act of inadvertence. It was not, as she at first claimed with false naiveté, done simply as a matter of convenience by someone who was technically ill-informed and maladroit.

No, the whole process was a thoroughly calculated tactic. Given what we know now, there is something slightly nauseating about watching clips of Clinton lie when asked about her emails.  One classic is this clip, in which, when asked about whether she wiped her server she said coyly “Like with with a cloth or something?” She knew all about wiping servers, since her IT guys employed a sophisticated tool called Bleach Bit to do the job. (The company even uses an image of Hillary Clinton at their web page.)

Scrutinize Clinton’s performance in this clip. In a way it’s quite masterly.  Watch how she coolly modulates between impatience, naiveté, evasion, and outright lies.  We turned over the server, she says, what more can we do?  “We turned over everything that was work related, every single thing.”

We now know (well, we’ve always known, but now we really do know) that assertion is a lie — not just an untruth, but a deliberate lie.

It’s hard to know what is the most brazen thing about her behavior.  Turning over a server for investigation after having it professionally wiped is a candidate for the prize.  But for my money the most outrageous thing was responding to a Congressional subpoena by destroying 33,000 emails. (Andy McCarthy lays out the whole story with his customary clarity here.)

The revelation by the FBI last week that material that could be “relevant” to the Clinton email investigation had been found on a laptop shared by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, amateur photographer and penpal to pubescent multitudes Anthony Weiner, propelled the story to a new and vertiginous stage. Apparently, we are talking about 650,000 emails. How many had to do with yoga routines? How many concerned State Department business?  How many did Anthony Weiner see or share?  These are just a few of the questions prompted  by this ever more bizarre story.

The really amazing thing about the Clintons’ greed is how cavalier it has made them about national security issues. “Oh, that’s just a despicable right-wing talking point,” I sometimes here. Well, here’s what that well known right-wing publication The New York Times had to say in a long and devastating story about the how the Clintons sold out some twenty percent of American uranium assets to a Russian company controlled by Vladimir Putin. “At the heart of the tale,” the Times reported:

… are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Worried yet? It gets worse:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

And people worry that Donald Trump had a few nice things to say about Vladimir Putin.  The Clintons, to feather their own nest, have actually empowered him. Extraordinary. Despicable. Disqualifying.

Ex-CIA Chief’s Comments Reflect ‘What US is Secretly Doing in Syria’

August 11, 2016

Ex-CIA Chief’s Comments Reflect ‘What the US is Secretly Doing in Syria , from Sputnik News, August 10, 2016

(??????????????????????????? — DM)

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who has recently endorsed Hillary Clinton, has caused a firestorm when he said that the United States should covertly kill Russians and Iranians in Syria, with Russian lawmakers denouncing the remarks as “monstrous” and experts saying that he merely confirmed what Washington has secretly been doing.

Vladimir Vasilyev, a senior research fellow at the Moscow-based Institute of US and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, maintained that Morell’s comments should be taken at face value.

This is “what the United States has secretly and surreptitiously been doing and most importantly what Washington will do if Hillary wins presidential election,” he told RIA Novosti. “Russia should understand who it is dealing with. In fact, Moscow could thank Morell for leaking important informationon Washington’s true goals in Syria.”

“Monstrous remarks”

Russian MP Irina Yarovaya, the head of the State Duma Committee for Security, echoed these sentiments, saying that Morell made “monstrous remarks.” He essentially confirmed that Washington is capable of carrying out “covert killings … to pursue its own devastating plans.”

Yarovaya also noted that Morell’s comments point to a hidden agenda in Washington’s counterterrorism activities. “The US State Department must issue a clear statement on the issue. Otherwise, there are grounds to assume that the former CIA deputy director inadvertently revealed an existing top secret CIA plan.”

Morell’s remarks are meant to “fuel tensions between Russia and the US,” Dmitry Gorovtsov, the deputy chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for Security, told RIA Novosti, adding that such rhetoric is unacceptable. He also called Morell’s plan “extremist” and “akin to fascist ideology.”

Morell “does not understand what he is talking about”

First deputy chairman of the defense and security committee in the Federation Council of Russia Franz Klintsevich referred to Morell’s remarks as “absurd.”

“I think that Michael Morell does not understand what he is talking about. Modern surveillance equipment that covers all Syria renders any ‘covert’ killings impossible,” he said. Russia’s cutting edge technologies allow Moscow to determine the name, the date, the place and the goal of any such activity if it took place.

Moreover, Morell’s advice “would automatically lead to an open confrontation between Russia and the US, which the Americans, as far as I understand, do not need,” Klintsevich added.

On Monday, Michael Morell, who served as CIA’s acting director twice, told talk show host Charlie Rose that the US “must make” Russia and Iran “pay a price” in Syria by “covertly” killing their nationals. “You don’t tell the world about it, right? You don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say, ‘we did this.’ Right? But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran,” he added.

Morell also suggested “scaring” Bashar al-Assad by bombing government offices and presidential guard positions, but added that he did not urge to assassinate the Syrian president.

Journalist and political commentator Murtaza Hussain pointed out that the former CIA deputy director championed “efforts that later helped incubate al-Qaeda,” referring to a strategy that the United States employed in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

He also warned that if Morell’s plan is given the green light, it “would entail a massive escalation of American covert military involvement in Syria that would bring the United States much closer to direct confrontation with Russia and Iran.”

How Hillary Helped U.S. Investors Fund Russian Research for Military Uses

August 1, 2016

How Hillary Helped U.S. Investors Fund Russian Research for Military Uses, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, August 1, 2016

Clinton is responsible for helping create a Russian “Silicon Valley” that has enabled the Kremlin to boost its military and surveillance capacity. And let’s not forget her role in enabling Russia to gain control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.

Russia has been well-served by Hillary Clinton’s cluelessness and greed.

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Clinton is responsible for helping create a Russian “Silicon Valley” that has enabled the Kremlin to boost its military and surveillance capacity. And let’s not forget her role in enabling Russia to gain control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.

Russia has been well-served by Hillary Clinton’s cluelessness and greed.

Russia has become a major issue in this year’s presidential campaign. It should have been a major issue in the last one, but President Obama countered Mitt Romney’s attempt to inject Russia into the debate with his sophomoric quip that “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Whether it’s ISIS (aka “the jayvee”) or Russia, Obama sure knows how to spot trouble.

This year, both parties agree that Russia poses a serious threat. In this respect, and perhaps only this respect, the 2016 campaign is an improvement over last time.

With attention now being paid, Peter Schweizer’s latest piece on the Clinton Foundation will perhaps make a mark. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Schweizer shows that under Hillary Clinton’s leadership, “the State Department recruited and facilitated the commitment of billions of American dollars in the creation of a Russian ‘Silicon Valley’ whose technological innovations include Russian hypersonic cruise-missile engines, radar surveillance equipment, and vehicles capable of delivering airborne Russian troops.”

Here’s how it happened. As part of Hillary’s Russian reset, the Kremlin committed $5 billion over three years to fund Skolkovo, an “innovation city” on the outskirts of Moscow billed as Russia’s version of Silicon Valley. Clinton’s State Department worked aggressively to attract U.S. investment partners and helped the Russian State Investment Fund identify American tech companies worthy of Russian investment.

Dozens of U.S. tech firms, including top Clinton Foundation donors like Google, Intel, and Cisco, then made major financial contributions to Skolkovo. According to Schweizer, by 2012 Skolkovo had 28 Russian, American and European “Key Partners.” Of the 28 key partners, 17 have made financial commitments to the Clinton Foundation, totaling tens of millions of dollars, or sponsored speeches by Bill Clinton.

Russian money also flowed to the Clinton Foundation. Schweizer reports that Andrey Vavilov, the chairman of SuperOx, part of Skolkovo’s nuclear-research cluster, donated between $10,000 and $25,000. Skolkovo Foundation chief and billionaire Putin confidant Viktor Vekselberg also donated through his company.

As the Slolkovo project gained momentum, U.S. defense experts became alarmed. The U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Program at Fort Leavenworth warned:

The Skolkovo Foundation has, in fact, been involved in defense-related activities since December 2011, when it approved the first weapons-related project—the development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine. . . . Not all of the center’s efforts are civilian in nature.

Similarly, Lucia Ziobro, an assistant special agent at the FBI’s Boston office, stated that “the FBI believes the true motives of the Russian partners, who are often funded by their government, is to gain access to classified, sensitive, and emerging technology. . .” Ziobro added, “The [Skolkovo] foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application.”

Hillary Clinton knew about the dual-use problem while she was Secretary of State. Schweizer notes that a State Department cable sent to then-Secretary Clinton (and obtained via WikiLeaks) mentioned possible “dual use and export control concerns” related to research and development technology ventures with Moscow.

Clinton ignored the problem. Was this due to the millions of dollars in Clinton Foundation donations by Skolkovo’s key partners?

Only Hillary knows for sure. But the burden should be on her to provide a more convincing explanation.

In any event, Clinton is responsible for helping create a Russian “Silicon Valley” that has enabled the Kremlin to boost its military and surveillance capacity. And let’s not forget her role in enabling Russia to gain control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.

Russia has been well-served by Hillary Clinton’s cluelessness and greed.

Who Is Putin’s Real Ally?

July 28, 2016

Who Is Putin’s Real Ally? PJ MediaRoger L Simon, July 27, 2016

put hill

There’s money in them thar reset buttons!

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Oh, the vapors, the vapors!  Donald Trump has done it again. He has a gone a bridge too far for the 150th time, but on this occasion taken us all the way across the Bering Straits to the very edge of the Gulag Archipelago. He has urged Vladimir Putin to reveal the contents of Hillary Clinton’s gazillion missing emails the FBI somehow couldn’t find.

Traitor!  Traitor!  yell the well-intentioned, like former SecDef Leon Panetta. This selfish yellow-haired plutocrat must be disqualified from the presidency!

Never mind that Putin would need no encouragement whatsoever from any outsider to hack the wide-open server of the former secretary of state, nor would the intelligence services of at least a dozen other first-world countries (they all do it—we were listening to Merkel’s cell phone ourselves, it will be recalled), not to mention the who-knows-how-many non-state actors and twelve-year-old high-tech whippersnappers with the skill to do this.

Never mind that Trump was undoubtedly far less interested in making friends with Putin than in calling attention to the obvious relationship between Hillary’s home-brew server and the similarly wide-open server of the DNC that Mrs. Clinton claimed to know nothing about. Her media lackeys on 60 Minutes made sure no one paid attention (hello, Scott Pelley!).

Meanwhile, discussion is curiously mute on a far more substantive alliance with Putin by, yes, the Clintons themselves that could actually change the balance of power in the world in a way far more dangerous than Trump mouthing off about Vladimir.  It probably already has.

But don’t believe me. I’m biased. Believe that center of the “great right-wing conspiracy,” The New York Times, which ran the article “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal” on April 23, 2015.

The headline on the website Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when its precursor served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”

The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.

At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Wait a minute.  According to the sainted Times, one-fifth of U.S. uranium production now belongs to the Russians thanks to Ma and Pa Clinton?! If you wanted to talk treason, wouldn’t that be the textbook definition?  Do the folks at the Democratic National Convention know about this?

If I had to, I would guess at best three-to-five percent do and they’re certainly not telling the others. Neither are the media, so hell-bent are they on defeating Donald Trump.  I mean he’s uncouth and makes fun of people. That’s worse than a few measly atom bombs, isn’t it?…  Okay, perhaps more than a few…. Well, isn’t it?

Nasty business, huh? You could put it another way: There’s money in them thar reset buttons!

Yes, we live in an era of true evil when disinformation and distraction is king.

Nevertheless, some of the truth is out there. Two movies have opened and are doing quite well—Clinton Cash and Dinesh D’Souza’s Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party.  I have seen Dinesh’s movie and can recommend it.  I plan on seeing Clinton Cash soon.  See them both and try to bring your liberal and independent friends.  They’re the ones who should be there.  Just bring some ibuprofen for them.