Archive for the ‘Media and Trump’ category

Putin Wins Big

June 23, 2017

Putin Wins Big, Jewish Media Resources, Jonathan Rosenblum, June 23, 2017

(Putin is winning because the national focus is on non-events. Hence, our faith in the electoral system has been damaged and the ability of the Trump administration to focus on the agenda Trump was elected to pursue has been limited. The Congress, rather than focus on legislating, is preoccupied with investigations of non-events. That’s good for America’s enemies and bad for America. President Trump’s successes in focusing on his agenda despite the many distractions speak well of him. — DM)

Smith makes an insightful distinction between “consolations, vicious self-sung lullabies” and “conspiracy theories.” Examples of the former would be: Hillary lost because the Russians hacked the election; our children died because the Jews poisoned the wells.

But such “consolations,” as vicious as they may be, only become full-blown conspiracy theories when weaponized through the mass media for political use. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be the classic example of such a conspiracy theory. And, Smith points out, Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” do not have the platforms “to proliferate weaponized narratives capable of doing real damage to our polity – the elites do.” And those elites — the press, the intelligence community, political parties – have been used to legitimize a conspiracy theory.

James Kirchik, another anti-Trump pundit (as well as a brilliant analyst on many issues) laments the way the “confirmation bias” has resulted in well-meaning, liberal anti-Trump journalists reporting stories that they want to be true and are emotionally true for them – e.g., stories of threatened or actual violence against minorities – but are factually false.

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It is certain that Russia launched a massive hacking campaign to undermine the U.S. electoral process in 2016. That is a major issue that needs to be thoroughly investigated, and steps taken so that it does not recur.

Though the Russian involvement in the 2016 election targeted both presidential candidates at various times, it likely damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign more. Confirmation in the emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee that the DNC had actively favored Clinton over her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders, infuriated Sanders supporters. Conceivably enough of those supporters could have decided not to vote for Clinton based on those emails to have made a difference in the three crucial battleground states – Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Thus far, however, the primary focus on the Russian hacking has been with respect to the far-fetched claim that the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign fashion in some fashion The obsessive focus on that issue has turned the hacking into a major victory for Vladimir Putin by introducing an unparalleled degree of rancor and paralysis into the American political system.

James Kirchik writing in the May 3 American Interest (“Who Killed the Liberal World Order”), describes how at last September’s G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, then President Obama confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Russian hacking of the DNC, and told him to “cut it out” or “face serious consequences.” In October, according to Bloomberg News, the White House used a cyber version of the “red phone” to convey to the Kremlin detailed evidence of Russian hacking of voter data banks in numerous states. On both occasions, Putin, who had long since taken Obama’s measure, did nothing in response.

WHATEVER THE REASON Putin decided to interfere with the 2016 election, it was not because he feared Obama or Obama’s legacy-bearer, former Secretary of State Clinton. Starting with Clinton’s declared “reset” of relations with Russia, shortly after the Obama administration entered office in 2009, until Obama issued his warning at Hangzhou, the United States had repeatedly stood down in every possible confrontation with Russia.

The 2009 reset itself took place in the wake of the assassinations by Russian intelligence agents of Alexander Livinenko in London, where the former Russian intelligence operative he had been granted political asylum, and of Russia’s leading investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Russia was also busy hardening control of areas of Georgia occupied by Russian troops. As part of the reset, the Obama administration abandoned plans to provide Poland and Czechoslovakia with anti-missile defenses.

During the 2012 presidential debates, Obama mocked his Republican opponent Mitt Romney for listing Russia as the United States’ primary international foe. “The 80s called. They want their foreign policy back,” teased Obama. And even prior to the 2012 campaign, Obama told Putin’s sidekick Dmitry Medvedev that he’d be able to be “more flexible” after the campaign, and asked for a little breathing room from Russia.

All Obama’s shows of good will, however, went unreciprocated by Putin. In 2013, Putin granted asylum to Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who had exposed the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance methods. The same year Putin cracked down on foreign-funded NGO’s, and invaded the Ukraine. Obama refused to supply the Ukrainians with defensive weapons, as the United States had committed to do in the Budapest Memorandum, drafted when the former Soviet republics gave up their nuclear stockpiles.

In 2015, Soviet forces entered Syria in force to shore up the Assad regime, fairly daring the United States to challenge them. Previously, Putin had humiliated Obama by offering him a lifeline, when the latter refused to enforce his own redline against Assad’s deployment of chemical weapons.

PUTIN HAD reasons to prefer Trump to Clinton. He harbors a paranoid belief that Hillary orchestrated protests against him in 2011. And, writes Kirchik in the Los Angeles Times, he appreciated that Trump’s ignorant outbursts made “American politics – and by extension America – look like a foolish country.”

Putin may also have thought that Trump’s neo-Jacksonian, quasi-isolationist campaign talk would serve Russia’s interest in carving out a sphere of interest in its near abroad. But, as Kirchik notes in his American Interest piece, Obama’s “interconnected world,” without American power to back it up, had already resulted in a reduction of American influence and allowed Putin free rein in Russia’s near abroad.

The Russians were as shocked as everyone else, however, by Trump’s victory. Their goal was not so much to defeat Clinton, as to render it difficult for her (or Trump) to govern and to thereby “weaken the world’s last superpower,” writes Professor Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations Prague in Tablet. And their means for doing so was to reduce America’s democratic legitimacy by calling the election results into question and reducing the scope for compromise and consensus in the American political system.

Or as veteran Moscow correspondent David Satter argued in the June 12 Wall Street Journal, Putin did not so much support Donald Trump, as he sought American political paralysis. The differences between Trump and Clinton were simply not that significant in his view.

Putin’s method is to sow chaos, to light a hundred brushfires and see which ones turn into full-fledged forest fires. “Putin is not a chess player,” writes Galeotti. “He and his people are improvisers and opportunists. They try to create multiple potential points of leverage, never knowing which will prove useful or not.”

One of those prongs was the so-called “Trump dossier, compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele based on information “sold” to him by Russian intelligence officials. The document bears all the marks of a classic Russian disinformation campaign. “The kind of gossip that fills the Trump Dossier, writes Galeotti, is common currency in Moscow, “even if very little of it has any authority behind it aside from the speaker’s own imagination.”

One thing is almost certain: The Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians. Both Senator Diane Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees investigating Russia’s electoral involvement, respectively, have confirmed that they have seen nothing to implicate Trump or his aides in collusion with Russia.

The absence of collusion is, moreover, logically demonstrable. If there were collusion, the Russians would undoubtedly possess evidence of it. Since coming to office, the Trump administration has taken a much more aggressive anti-Russian stance than Obama ever did – targeting with cruise missiles an airfield and planes of Russian ally Bashir Assad and just this week shooting down a Syrian plane in a dogfight; allowing Montenegro’s entry into the NATO alliance; denying Exxon-Mobil a waiver for energy exploration in Russia; and sharply criticizing Russian support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. If Putin possessed incriminating evidence on Trump, he would have already revealed it in order to destroy President Trump. Elementary, my dear Watson.

DESPITE THE LACK OF ANY PLAUSIBLE EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION, Russian interference in the 2016 election has set in motion a “self-sustaining process,” in Galeotti’s words, in which “America is tearing itself apart with little need for Russian help.”

It is hard to know for sure whether those most actively promoting the Trump-Russian collusion narrative really believe it themselves or just see it as the best way of bringing down the president. About the latter they might be right. Already the anti-Trump forces have succeeded in gaining the appointment of a special prosecutor, and the scope of the special prosecutor’s investigation has expanded to legally flimsy charges of obstruction of justice against Trump. Once a special prosecutor is in the saddle there is no way of knowing where things will go. The longer the investigation continues the greater the chance of a prosecution for something entirely tangential to the original investigation.

Patrick Fitzgerald, for instance, was appointed special prosecutor to investigate the outing of CIA employee Valerie Flame. From the very outset of the investigation, he knew the source of that information; Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage was the one who told it to columnist Robert Novak. Armitage, however, was never prosecuted. But Fitzgerald carried on for years, until he claimed the scalp of Vice-President Richard Cheney’s top aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, on perjury charges, over statements given to investigators about which there were conflicting memories.

Putin has succeeded in driving a wedge between President and the intelligence agencies upon which he must rely for crucial decisions. Every week, a new leak emerges from some anonymous intelligence official – leaks which, if true, would subject the leaker to up to ten years in prison. Yet the source of these leaks has received little attention from the FBI or other investigative bodies.

Lee Smith bemoans in Tablet that the president’s very real flaws, which are “plain to every sentient being on the planet,” have been supplanted as a topic of discussion by a “toxic fabulism typical of Third World and Muslim societies.” “A vulgar conspiratorial mind-set [has become] the norm among the country’s educated elite . . . and is being legitimized daily by a truth-telling bureaucrats who make evidence-free and even deliberately false accusations behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Smith makes an insightful distinction between “consolations, vicious self-sung lullabies” and “conspiracy theories.” Examples of the former would be: Hillary lost because the Russians hacked the election; our children died because the Jews poisoned the wells.

But such “consolations,” as vicious as they may be, only become full-blown conspiracy theories when weaponized through the mass media for political use. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be the classic example of such a conspiracy theory. And, Smith points out, Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” do not have the platforms “to proliferate weaponized narratives capable of doing real damage to our polity – the elites do.” And those elites — the press, the intelligence community, political parties – have been used to legitimize a conspiracy theory.

James Kirchik, another anti-Trump pundit (as well as a brilliant analyst on many issues) laments the way the “confirmation bias” has resulted in well-meaning, liberal anti-Trump journalists reporting stories that they want to be true and are emotionally true for them – e.g., stories of threatened or actual violence against minorities – but are factually false.

He points to the non-stop anti-Trump vitriol from the Twitter feed of the New York Times assistant Washington D.C. editor, Jonathan Weissmann – anti-Trump vitriol that matches his own – as an example of the mainstream press having lost any claim to the public’s trust about the news stories it publishes.

In the short-run the beneficiary of the mainstream media’s reporting of baseless stories, such as that the Russians successfully hacked voting machines in key states, is Donald Trump. By refuting the wilder accusations, he can evade the more substantive ones and, at the same time, stoke the anger that brought him to the presidency in the first place.

But in the long-run, the current state of political toxicity, manifested last week in an assassination attempt against GOP congressman, and the loss of credibility of our major media organizations weakens America and its place in the world. And the big winner from that is Vladimir Putin.

The Leftist News Media, Unmasked

June 21, 2017

The Leftist News Media, Unmasked, Front Page MagazineDiscover The Networks, June 21, 2017

(Please see also, After Last Night. — DM)

Andrea Mitchell, poster woman of the propaganda mill.

If there’s anything that the most recent presidential campaign and its aftermath have made crystal clear, it’s that the major news media in America are teeming with leftists who overtly and covertly promote leftist worldviews and agendas. Andrea Mitchell, who has been the chief foreign-affairs correspondent at NBC News since 1994, is emblematic of the media’s pitiful devolution into nothing more than a propaganda mill.

Like a dutiful leftist, for instance, Mitchell has long viewed white Republicans and conservatives as being particularly inclined toward racism. During a June 2008 appearance on MSNBC, she referred to a heavily pro-Republican area of southwestern Virginia where then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was campaigning, as “real redneck, sort of, bordering on Appalachia country.”

In a December 2015 discussion about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for a temporary halt on Muslim immigration to the United States, Mitchell said: “I will tell you that the [Obama] White House views the Trump Muslim ban as pure racism … My first campaign, 1968 as a young reporter, was [that of segregationist] George Wallace. I have seen this before.”

Mitchell objected strongly in June 2016 when Donald Trump said he was being treated unfairly by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, an Indiana-born American citizen whose parents originally hailed from Mexico. Trump described Curiel, who was presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University, as “a member of a club or society [La Raza Lawyers of San Diego] very strongly pro-Mexican,” and said that it was “just common sense” that Curiel’s connections to Mexico, and his disagreement with Trump’s past calls for stricter border controls, were responsible for his anti-Trump rulings. According to Mitchell, Trump’s remarks were “blatantly racist.”

In November 2016, Mitchell covered the annual conference of the National Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank that promotes white nationalism. Though the gathering consisted of scarcely 200 attendees, Mitchell tried to emphasize its significance as a barometer of anti-black racism among Donald Trump’s political backers: “Supporters of Donald Trump’s election and the alt-right gathered in Washington this weekend at the Reagan Building … to celebrate with white supremacist speech and echoes of signature language from Nazi Germany.” Later in that segment, Mitchell related an anecdote she had heard about a four-year-old black girl in Harlem who, by Mitchell’s telling, “said she wants to be white” because of her fear “that black people are going to be shot under [President] Trump.” Trump’s election victory, said the news woman, was having a profound “effect on children in minority, in communities of color.”

Over the course of her broadcasting career, Mitchell has made plain her affinity for leftist Democrats. For example, in an April 2016 interview in which Senator Harry Reid said that “Hillary Clinton’s qualifications” for being president were more impressive than those of anyone “since the Founding Fathers,” Mitchell responded by saying that only “John Quincy Adams, maybe,” had compiled a résumé equal to that of Clinton. Just before the election that November, Mitchell characterized a Clinton campaign rally that featured appearances by such notables as Lebron James and James Taylor as “extraordinary” and “magical.”

In a similar spirit, Mitchell lauded outgoing President Barack Obama‘s “extraordinary” July 2016 speech at the Democratic National Convention as “the most optimistic speech, the most generous speech, politically,” that anyone could have expected to hear. She marveled at “the genuine affection” that Obama expressed for Hillary Clinton “when he said there’s never been anyone, not man or woman, not me, not Bill [Clinton], as qualified to be president of the United States.” Extolling also “the creativity” of Obama’s “own brilliant speech writing,” Mitchell said: “His gift is unique. I don’t think we’ve ever had a President save Lincoln, who is as great a speechwriter as this man.”

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Mitchell feared that he would recklessly undo many of the supposedly vital achievements of President Obama. For example, when the Trump administration announced in April 2017 that it would be reviewing the Iran nuclear deal in light of Tehran’s ongoing support for Islamic terrorism, Mitchell lamented that “the new administration appears to be ready to rip up” the “landmark” agreement which had been structured to “stop Iran from getting a bomb.” Further, she suggested that if the United States were to “break out of that deal,” it would “send a signal to North Korea and other rogue nations that the U.S. can’t be trusted to keep its end of the bargain.”

In contrast to her dripping contempt for Donald Trump, Mitchell more than once has issued words of praise and admiration for Cuba’s longtime Communist dictator, the late Fidel Castro. In a December 15, 1999 report from Cuba, for instance, she described Castro as an “old-fashioned, courtly – even paternal” man and said: “He’s not just the country’s head of state, he’s the CEO.” After Castro’s death in November 2016, Mitchell reported that many Cubans were “overcome with grief,” as exemplified by one young person who allegedly said: “It’s painful for our country. This is the president we all loved.” “Leaders around the world” were “praising Castro,” Mitchell added, noting that “Cuban TV paid tributes all day and all night to the founder of the revolution, still a towering figure in the nation’s imagination.” Emphasizing Castro’s keen intelligence, Mitchell described him as “a voracious reader [who was] very, very aware of everything that was going on, very, very smart and very wedded to his revolutionary ideology.” In a separate report, Mitchell noted that Castro was “a declared socialist” who had “dramatically improved healthcare and literacy” in Cuba, and who, over time, had grown to “sho[w] a new tolerance for religion, welcoming Pope John Paul II in 1998.” She also suggested that Castro’s mass arrests of dissidents were sometimes carried out in response to American policies, such as after “the Bush administration tightened sanctions, cutting off most travel to the island.”

This, then, is Andrea Mitchell. One leftist fish in a vast sea of leftist fishes.

Congressional Hearings and Witch-Hunts

June 13, 2017

Congressional Hearings and Witch-Hunts, Front Page MagazineBruce Thornton, June 13, 2017

America’s longest running soap opera is not General Hospital. It’s the Congressional Hearing, usually a venue for pontificating, show-boating, histrionics, preening for the cameras, insulting political enemies, and accomplishing little of value. Meanwhile the real work of the Republic either gets neglected or proceeds in silence at a glacial pace.

James Comey was the star of last week’s latest episode of the eternal DC soap. The one-time FBI director stayed true to his character, preening morally, striking Boy Scout poses, indulging faux-folksy interjections like “Lordy,” pretending to be sober and judicious, but all the while revealing the instincts of a bureaucratic cartel sicaria. He was obviously thirsting for revenge against the hated DC outsider and “liar” who unceremoniously fired him, so much so that he admitted to cowardice on multiple occasions, from failing to immediately confront Trump over his supposed sinister “direction” (Comey’s translation of Trump’s “hope”) that Mike Flynn get let off the hook; to his groveling obedience to AG Loretta Lynch’s politicized, justice-obstructing order to call the investigation into Hillary Clinton a “matter.” He displayed a brazen arrogance in admitting to leaking a memo, written in his professional capacity, to the New York Times through a cut-out, perhaps one of numerous other leaks emanating from this self-proclaimed pillar of professional rectitude even before he was fired.

So we got a few more details about a man we already knew was a publicity hound and power -hungry operator. But that portrait was painted back in July of last year, when Comey publicly laid out the predicates for an indictment of Hillary Clinton, then usurped the authority of the AG to let Hillary (and Loretta “Tarmac” Lynch) off the hook based on a legally irrelevant consideration of “intent.” The only thing interesting last week was watching how far Comey would debase himself to square the many duplicitous circles he had spun over the last few years.

Great fun for political junkies, but what useful purpose will be served by that spectacle? The media are happy, since they get free programming and more chum for their talking heads. They’re celebrating the 19 million viewers who supposedly tuned in, though that sum represents a little more than 10% of registered voters. Normal citizens were working their jobs and tending to their lives. From their perspective, the drama inside the Beltway cocoon is bureaucratic white noise. If they think about it at all, it’s to wonder whether the guilty leakers will be hunted down and punished, or just be “investigated” for months and months and then, like Hillary, given a pass. And Hillary is just one of numerous miscreants that need exposing and punishing for their corruption of the public trust in order to serve their political preferences or careerist ambitions.

Don’t hold your breath. More likely we’ll see a repeat of the 2003 Valery Plame inquisition, that ginned-up crisis about the illegal “exposure” of an alleged “covert” CIA agent. By the time it was all finished, Comey’s buddy Patrick Fitzgerald who, despite knowing the true identity of the leaker, like some low-rent Javert for three years hounded White House staffers until Lewis “Scooter” Libby was questionably convicted of four crimes. So fat chance the biggest offender of all, Hillary Clinton, will ever answer for putting national security at risk and treating the State Department like an ATM. Some small-fry staffers might get caught in the net, but the whales will just swim right through.

What’s really maddening, though, is that we’re into the second year of Trump’s critics still being infuriated by his style, even as they ignore or downplay the much grosser offenses of numerous Democrats. Much of the whole “Russia collusion” fantasy has been generated by Trump’s refusal to abide by the media and establishment-created protocols presidents are supposed to follow. Republican Trump critics are just as bad, still not figuring out that their fealty to exalted “protocols” and good taste are just what energized ordinary citizens, those folks grown sick of bipartisan elites who seemed to have more in common with each other than with the people they’re supposed to represent.

So, for example, we hear once again from the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan––who seems bent on spending the rest of her career playing Margaret Dumont to Trump’s Groucho Marx––whining about Trump’s asking Comey for “loyalty.” “Presidents don’t lean on FBI chiefs in this way,” Noonan sniffed. “It is at odds with traditional boundaries, understandings and protocols.” Really? Sez who? LBJ probably applied worse pressure than that before lunch every day. And few presidents “leaned on” J. Edgar Hoover only because the G-man had some pretty thick files on them.

As for “traditional boundaries, understandings and protocols,” where do they come from? Andrew Jackson? Political decorum and comity are good things, but in democratic politics they usually serve as gate-keepers separating the elites from their clients. They also are camouflage for disguising collusion or incompetence or inaction. They’re just the air-freshener for the political sausage factory. What matters is getting the sausage made.

But the only rule-book that matters is the Constitution. And it says a president can fire any executive employee, including the head of the FBI, any way he wants and for any reason he sees fit. The FBI is a federal agency, not a separate arm of the government, answerable to the Chief Executive, who, unlike Comey or Lynch, is directly answerable to the sovereign people. If they’re unhappy with the president’s tweets or brashness or actions, they’ll let him and his party know at the ballot box.

And that’s what’s objectionable about these opera-buffa “hearings.” The media and politicians are obsessing over superficial issues of presidential style, progressive fake news, and he-said-he-said squabbles, while the real work that needs to get done is being neglected. And Obama left behind some huge messes that Trump promised to clean up. We don’t need “hearings” about Russian interference in the election. That’s a dog-bites-man story. Just shoot the dog by increasing cyber-security, and stop talking about it. We don’t need hearings about alleged “Russian collusion” with the Trump campaign. Just shut up, investigate, and if necessary charge, prosecute, and convict the guilty. Ditto with the federal agencies leaking like a colander, the only substantive story in the Trump-and-Comey puppet show.

All of us need to get focused and hold the politicians’ feet to the fire and to make them deliver the changes necessary for restoring economic growth, reforming our broken health-care system, and straightening out our Kafkaesque tax code. These are hard problems with harder solutions, but they won’t get fixed if Congress is off mugging for television cameras or taking the whole month of August off.

Many Congressmen assure us that they are hard at work below the media’s radar. I hope that’s true, because if the Republicans and Trump fail to deliver on his promises with substantial change, we might see in our country a reprise of what just happened in England’s snap election, where a hard-left buffoon perhaps fatally wounded the Tories’ government. Trump promised to win so much the people will get sick of winning. He’d better make it happen, or else the people who put him in office will get sick of him. And our own country has plenty of hard-left buffoons itching to take his place.

Crossing the line to flirt with an assassination fantasy

June 13, 2017

Crossing the line to flirt with an assassination fantasy, Washington Times, , June 12, 2017

(Here’s a video of the assassination scene:

If a similar production featuring the assassination of President Obama had been presented, what would have been the reaction? — DM)

Julius Caesar

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The liberals and the left have been flirting with the fantasy of an assassination of Donald Trump since the early hours of last Nov. 9. If all the rants and diatribes, which make up the conversation where snowflakes, “intellectuals” and the morally elite gather to chat and chew, can’t accomplish the elimination of the president by peaceable means, then why not by “any means necessary?”

Such fantasies are all over the internet, dismissed as the raves of the ignorant, the crazy and the foolish, but beginning to seep into respectable conversation, so called. The idea of terminating the president with extreme prejudice is the stuff of theatrics now, as in comedienne Kathie Griffin’s severed bloody head of the president. That was widely and roundly denounced, eloquently by Chelsea Clinton, once a first daughter with knowledge of what it’s like to deal with threats to the family. She rightly remarked that jokes about assassinating a president, any president, “are not funny.”

But that’s only the first public joke about killing this president. The second time, as this week in a presentation of the killing of a not-at-all disguised Donald Trump cast as Julius Caesar in a play in New York City’s Central Park, the “joke” was treated respectfully with all the caveats accorded by the educated and the respectable: “It’s art, don’t you know?” So shut up and applaud.

When Delta Air Lines and the Bank of America (both based in the South) withdrew their sponsorship of the play, part of Manhattan’s “Shakespeare in the Park,” The New York Times made a point of quickly endorsing the play as worthy of its continued corporate sponsorship, good citizenship be damned. Art must be served, whether art in behalf of mocking those clinging to guns and religion or art as a fantasy of killing a sitting president loathed by “people like us.”

A spokesman for Delta, which has sponsored Shakespeare in the park for four years, said that “no matter what your political stance may be, the graphic image of ‘Julius Caesar’ at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park, does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values. Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.”

Bank of America, a spokesman told Deadline magazine, “supports arts programs worldwide, including an 11-year partnership with the Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public Theater chose to present ‘Julius Caesar’ in a way that was intended to provoke and offend. Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”

Whether the director, Oskar Eustis, intended to stir up the mob or not, even someone of the artsy-craftsy persuasion should know that in the present atmosphere, not just in Gotham but everywhere else, fruitcakes and even more or less respectable “activists” need no encouragement to do great and fatal harm to America’s institutions.

In their fury to assuage their anger and feed righteous hysteria, many liberals and “progressives” cannot restrain their rage that Donald Trump, crude and all-around lout, has through lawful and constitutional means become the leader of the government. A fruitcake with a gun, bomb or long-bladed scimitar rightly imagines that these millions of Never-Trumpers would applaud whatever dirty deed fulfills their dreams and fantasies.

Eustis’ updating of Shakespeare’s play allows nothing subtle to get in the way of making his point. Julius Caesar is depicted as a petulant, blond tyrant in a blue suit, bathing in a gold bathtub, with a pouty Slavic wife standing by with wifely promise.

The drama critic of The New York Times observes that the play adds “immeasurably to the feeling that the story is not unspooling in some dim past but in Central Park tonight. In that sense this ‘Julius Caesar’ is a deeply democratic offering befitting … the public, and the times. If in achieving that goal it flirts a little with the violent impulses it otherwise hopes to contain, and risks arousing pro-Trump backlash, that’s unfortunate but forgivable. [The director] seems to have taken Cassius’s admonition to Brutus when Brutus is still on the fence about taking action. ‘Think of the world,’ he begs.”

But this is only a play, and the arteests and other retailers of Trump hatred insist that art is only art, and it’s up to the audience to keep art and reality straight. At least when it’s art in behalf of a righteous cause.

What could be more righteous to the millions suffering Trump Derangement Disease than someone eliminating the president? Like all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, the critic of The New York Times observes, “Julius Caesar” begins “with astonishing rhetoric and ends as an abattoir.”

Corruption and Collusion: Obama, Comey, and the Press

June 11, 2017

Corruption and Collusion: Obama, Comey, and the Press, PJ Media, Andrew Klacan, June 11, 2017

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

My point is simply this: when you are listening to Comey, and when you are listening to the news media sanctifying Comey or indeed demonizing Trump, just remember who it is you are listening to: unindicted co-conspirators in an administration that was rotten to the core.

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It now seems clear that Barack Obama was a corrupt machine politician in the worst Chicago mold. He used the IRS to silence his enemies, and the Justice Department to protect his friends. His two major “achievements” — a health care law that doesn’t work and a deal that increased the power and prestige of the terrorist state of Iran — were built on lies to the public and manipulation of the press. And that’s according to his own allies! Only the leftist bias and racial pathology of the media kept his administration from being destroyed by scandal, as it surely would have been had he been a white Republican.

I don’t mention this to bring up old grudges, but for what it says about the current moment and the week just passed. Here’s some of what we recently learned:

Former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate testimony concerning former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s corruption confirmed our worst suspicions about the Obama DOJ. In an apparent attempt to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Lynch told Comey to refer to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s abuse of classified material as “a matter” rather than an investigation. And, as we already knew but Comey confirmed, Lynch’s secret tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton so underscored Comey’s sense of her crookedness that the self-serving drama queen Comey actually went around her to publicly declare Hillary guilty-but-not-guilty.

“It won’t get much attention, but that was pretty damning,” said CNN’s John King of Comey’s testimony about Lynch. You can translate “it won’t get much attention” into “we won’t give it much attention.”

But all that was nothing compared to the brutal, nearly 300-page report released last week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a report absolutely blasting the previous Obama AG, Eric Holder. The report details how Holder and the Obama administration labored to cover up the details of the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal — a scandal which, unlike the non-collusion-with-Russia non-scandal, was implicated in the murder of an American law officer. Even the mom of the slain officer couldn’t get the truth out of Holder and his cronies. The report says Holder considered the officer’s family a “nuisance” because they were trying to get him to tell them how exactly the lawman died at the hands of gangsters who were wielding guns Obama’s DOJ had allowed them to buy.

We’ve heard a lot from Comey and the press this week about the precious independence of the Justice Department. And yet Attorney General Holder once said, “I’m still the president’s wing-man, so I’m there with my boy.” Holder was also the first attorney general ever to be held in contempt of Congress for not turning over documents relating to Fast and Furious. And, speaking of obstruction of justice — we were speaking of obstruction of justice, weren’t we? — President Obama asserted executive privilege to make it easier for Holder to keep those docs in the dark. Hey, nothing’s too good for the president’s wingman!

What a sleazy bunch they were! Hiding their corruption behind the color of their skin. Criticized for Fast and Furious in 2011, Holder said: “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him, both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.” What a sleazy bunch.

So let’s remember. Obama is the nefarious machine pol who appointed James Comey to head the FBI in the first place. This is the Comey who took no notes when he spoke with Obama, no notes when he questioned Hillary about her emails, no notes, apparently, during the cover-up conversation with Lynch that left him with “a queasy feeling,” but who suddenly began documenting his exchanges with Trump — exchanges that Trump says never happened. This is the Comey who let Hillary off the hook because he somehow knew she didn’t intend to share classified information (a matter that doesn’t exist in the relevant law), but who cannot comment on whether Donald Trump intended to obstruct justice when Trump expressed his hopes about an investigation.

And the Obama administration — this crooked gang of liars and colluders — this is the gang that was deemed “scandal free” by virtually every “mainstream” news outlet. Indeed, investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson had to leave CBS News in large part because CBS would not run her work on Fast and Furious.

My point is not to excuse Trump for any of his inappropriate and sometimes boorish behavior. I hope he learns better. My point is simply this: when you are listening to Comey, and when you are listening to the news media sanctifying Comey or indeed demonizing Trump, just remember who it is you are listening to: unindicted co-conspirators in an administration that was rotten to the core.

History, Precedent and Comey Statement Show that Trump Did Not Obstruct Justice

June 8, 2017

History, Precedent and Comey Statement Show that Trump Did Not Obstruct Justice, Gatestone InstituteAlan M. Dershowitz, June 8, 2017

Comey has also acknowledged that the president had the constitutional authority to fire him for any or no cause. President Donald Trump also had the constitutional authority to order Comey to end the investigation of Flynn. He could have pardoned Flynn, as Bush pardoned Weinberger, thus ending the Flynn investigation, as Bush ended the Iran-Contra investigation. What Trump could not do is what Nixon did: direct his aides to lie to the FBI, or commit other independent crimes. There is no evidence that Trump did that.

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The statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch James Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context, and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguards in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.

The first casualty of partisan efforts to “get” a political opponent — whether Republicans going after Clinton or Democrats going after Trump — is often civil liberties. All Americans who care about the Constitution and civil liberties must join together to protest efforts to expand existing criminal law to get political opponents.

Today it is Trump. Yesterday it was Clinton. Tomorrow it could be you.

In 1992, then-President George H.W. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger and five other individuals who had been indicted or convicted in connection with the Iran-Contra arms deal. The special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, was furious, accusing Bush of stifling his ongoing investigation and suggesting that he may have done it to prevent Weinberger or the others from pointing the finger of blame at Bush himself. The New York Times also reported that the investigation might have pointed to Bush himself.

This is what Walsh said:

“The Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed with the pardon of Caspar Weinberger. We will make a full report on our findings to Congress and the public describing the details and extent of this cover-up.”

Yet President Bush was neither charged with obstruction of justice nor impeached. Nor have other presidents who interfered with ongoing investigations or prosecutions been charged with obstruction.

It is true that among the impeachment charges levelled against President Nixon was one for obstructing justice, but Nixon committed the independent crime of instructing his aides to lie to the FBI, which is a violation of section 1001 of the federal criminal code.

It is against the background of this history and precedent that the statement of former FBI Director James must be considered. Comey himself acknowledged that,

“throughout history, some presidents have decided that because ‘problems’ come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.”

Comey has also acknowledged that the president had the constitutional authority to fire him for any or no cause. President Donald Trump also had the constitutional authority to order Comey to end the investigation of Flynn. He could have pardoned Flynn, as Bush pardoned Weinberger, thus ending the Flynn investigation, as Bush ended the Iran-Contra investigation. What Trump could not do is what Nixon did: direct his aides to lie to the FBI, or commit other independent crimes. There is no evidence that Trump did that.

With these factors in mind, let’s turn to the Comey statement.

Former FBI Director James Comey’s written statement, which was released in advance of his Thursday testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, does not provide evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice or any other crime. Indeed it strongly suggests that even under the broadest reasonable definition of obstruction, no such crime was committed.

The crucial conversation occurred in the Oval Office on February 14 between the President and the then director. According to Comey’s contemporaneous memo, the president expressed his opinion that General Flynn “is a good guy.” Comey replied: “He is a good guy.”

The President said the following: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this thing go.”

Comey understood that to be a reference only to the Flynn investigation and not “the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to the campaign.”

Comey had already told the President that “we were not investigating him personally.”

Comey understood “the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.”

Comey did not say he would “let this go,” and indeed he did not grant the president’s request to do so. Nor did Comey report this conversation to the attorney general or any other prosecutor. He was troubled by what he regarded as a breach of recent traditions of FBI independence from the White House, though he recognized that “throughout history, some presidents have decided that because ‘problems’ come from the Department of Justice, they should try to hold the Department close.”

That is an understatement.

Throughout American history — from Adams to Jefferson to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Kennedy to Obama — presidents have directed (not merely requested) the Justice Department to investigate, prosecute (or not prosecute) specific individuals or categories of individuals.

It is only recently that the tradition of an independent Justice Department and FBI has emerged. But traditions, even salutary ones, cannot form the basis of a criminal charge. It would be far better if our constitution provided for prosecutors who were not part of the executive branch, which is under the direction of the president.

In Great Britain, Israel and other democracies that respect the rule of law, the Director of Public Prosecution or the Attorney General are law enforcement officials who, by law, are independent of the Prime Minister.

But our constitution makes the Attorney General both the chief prosecutor and the chief political adviser to the president on matters of justice and law enforcement.

The president can, as a matter of constitutional law, direct the Attorney General, and his subordinate, the Director of the FBI, tell them what to do, whom to prosecute and whom not to prosecute. Indeed, the president has the constitutional authority to stop the investigation of any person by simply pardoning that person.

Assume, for argument’s sake, that the President had said the following to Comey: “You are no longer authorized to investigate Flynn because I have decided to pardon him.” Would that exercise of the president’s constitutional power to pardon constitute a criminal obstruction of justice? Of course not. Presidents do that all the time.

The first President Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger, his Secretary of Defense, in the middle of an investigation that could have incriminated Bush. That was not an obstruction and neither would a pardon of Flynn have been a crime. A president cannot be charged with a crime for properly exercising his constitutional authority

For the same reason, President Trump cannot be charged with obstruction for firing Comey, as he had the constitutional authority to do.

The Comey statement suggests that one reason the President fired him was because of his refusal or failure to publicly announce that the FBI was not investigating Trump personally. Trump “repeatedly” told Comey to “get that fact out,” and he did not.

If that is true, it is certainly not an obstruction of justice.

Nor is it an obstruction of justice to ask for loyalty from the director of the FBI, who responded “you will get that (‘honest loyalty’) from me.”

Comey understood that he and the President may have understood that vague phrase — “honest loyalty” — differently. But no reasonable interpretation of those ambiguous words would give rise to a crime. 
 Many Trump opponents were hoping that the Comey statement would provide smoking guns.

It has not.

Instead it has weakened an already weak case for obstruction of justice.

The statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context, and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguards in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.

The first casualty of partisan efforts to “get” a political opponent — whether Republicans going after Clinton or Democrats going after Trump — is often civil liberties. All Americans who care about the Constitution and civil liberties must join together to protest efforts to expand existing criminal law to get political opponents.

Today it is Trump. Yesterday it was Clinton. Tomorrow it could be you.

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 3: Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on the FBI on Capitol Hill May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

 

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.

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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.